Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

What do I Hear?

Mark 4:23-24 “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.


The Bible talks a lot about the way people hear or listen.  One of the most quoted Old Testament passages in the New Testament is found in Isaiah 6:8-9 when Isaiah is commissioned to speak to a people who he is told will not hear:

And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull,  And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”

When Stephen is stoned in Acts 7, he speaks truth courageously to the people of Israel.  In Acts 7:57 we read that they “stopped their ears.”  They didn’t want to hear what Stephen was saying.  In 2 Timothy 4:3, Paul warns Timothy that a day is coming when people will want teachers who “satisfy” their audience’s itching ears rather than teaching sound doctrine.

The Question

Do I hear what the Lord is saying or do I only hear what I want to hear?  I am a firm believer in the Holy Spirit’s ability to convict and convert sinners through the preaching of the truth.  I am just as firm a believer in the Holy Spirit’s ability to teach the believer and to guide them into all truth after we are saved.  But in order to be saved and in order to obey the truth of Scripture after we are saved, our minds must be open to the Lord’s teaching.  We cannot come to the Lord with our minds made up.  The reason for this is found in Isiah 55:8 where the Lord says “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.”  God just doesn’t think like a sinful man thinks.  It turns out that His ways are by far better than ours and his thoughts are far better than ours.

I noticed in reading Mark 4 that the disciples of the Lord were astounded when the Lord calmed a storm.  They said in verse 41,  “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”  I think one of the ways that the heavens declare the glory of God is that the stars are orderly and can always be found where they are supposed to be with mathematical precision.  Why is it that the wind and the sea obey the Lord, the stars obey the Lord, but humans have so much trouble with hearing and obeying what they hear.

The Problem

I am glad that I am not called upon to obey all of the Old Testament commands.  We know that God’s moral truth has not changed but the way violations were dealt with in the Old Testament seem to be different than in the New Testament.  For example, stoning was called upon for certain crimes in the Old Testament.  I saw a stoning on the news recently in an Arab country and I have to admit that if the Lord still asked us to stone people, I would not “hear” Him.  That is a confession of sin in one sense since my mind is made up.  But I don’t believe I am called upon to stone people in the New Testament.  The New Testament asks the church (the Lord’s people in our day) to excommunicate in places where the nation of Israel (the Lord’s people in that day) carried out capital punishment.  As believers, we are told to separate from those professing believers who commit certain vile sins.  But the New Testament always allows for confession and restoration.  I am glad that I do not live in Old Testament times as a Jew.  I am glad that “grace and truth” characterized the Lord.

I could list a number of areas where I think New Testament Christians are following a set of religious beliefs that are not Biblical.  They are “hearing” the teaching of reformed preachers on many issues relating to the doctrines of the kingdom of God.   But then I have to ask myself, “Is my mind closed to the truth or am I open to what the Lord really wants me to believe and do?  Do I listen to the Lord?

My Prayer

I am convinced that we all come with “baggage” that makes it hard for us to have “ears that hear.”  But to the extent that it is humanly possible, I want to have ears that are open to the Lord.  We all need to take heed to what we hear.  I personally want to hear the voice of the Lord.  I may hear that voice through others, but I view with suspicion any teachers who cannot tell me how they passed from death unto life (John 5:24).  I also want to know if they have followed the Lord in baptism to identify with the Lord after being saved.  Adhering to those two guidelines would keep us from a lot of the confusion that is being taught as Biblical truth today

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of February 23, 2014

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