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The Hearing Ear the Willing Heart

“He that hath an ear to hear let him hear that the Spirit saith unto the churches.” [Rev. 2:7; 2:11; 2:17;2:29; 3:6; 3:13; 3:22]

The gift of hearing is from God.

It is a marvelous gift not only to hear sounds, but also to be able to interpret them, and to be able to comprehend the meaning of sounds. God has not only made sounds but he has also made distinctive sounds. We believe that there is such a thing as objective sound in the world, just as there are objective objects which the light rays bring upon the lens of our eyes.

Lights and sounds are not merely subjective in our eyes and in our ears. If this were not true the entire world would be one terrible confused delusion. There would be no revelation from God in creation. The creatures would not be “a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are so many characters leading us to contemplate the invisible things of God, namely His power and divinity, as the apostle Paul saith, Rom. 1:20” (Art. II of the Belgic Confession).

If the sounds of God’s creation were not objective, heaven would not be heaven and hell would not be hell; there would be neither objective reality about us, nor would there be reality to the subjective testimony of man’s conscience.

But now there is a depth of arresting grandeur in the words of Him Who walks between the seven candlesticks: he that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches!

The Bible can, therefore, speak of an attentive ear. We must pay attention. It is a debt which we owe to God in the new obedience of faith and love. The disobedient will not hearken, will not be attentive. Sometimes there are parents who are like the foolish father, who would not send his boy to school because he had to pay attention. Perhaps, in all seriousness, this is a very hard debt to pay, unless we love to hear the thing which are said. When the Gospel was preached by Jesus concerning the kingdom of heaven, those who paid attention were those who had a great spiritual need to be fulfilled. They needed to hear concerning the free-grace of God of the forgiveness of sins. And Jesus preached very powerful sermons; He authoritatively preached: come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest! What a message of hope and life! Rest for weary souls! Jesus preached the old and tried way to publicans and sinners!

Do we not read: and there were drawing near to him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him”? Luke 15:1) The hearts of these sinners, by nature unwilling and unable to hear, were made very willing by the Lord Himself. Do we not read “and a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, was hearing, of whom the Lord opened the (her) heart to attend to the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14).

Lydia belonged to those who had an ear to hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Such hearing is indicative of spiritual sensitivity.

It is an attentive ear. A gift from God’s grace to the deaf sinner. When Jesus was on earth: the blind received their sight and the deaf were made to hear. Such a hearing ear, a gift of divine grace, we need.

Then we go to church as covenant young people, and we are like the tender youth Samuel in the Tabernacle, who hearing God call to him in the night said: Speak LORD, for thy servant heareth. (I Sam. 3:3-10)

Such who have hearing ears, are taught of God Himself.

When God says in His Decalogue: I am the LORD thy God, Who hath brought you forth from the Egypt of sin, death and hell, from the cruel bondage of death and the grave, do you then also say: I am thy child Father, and we all are Thy children and people, we shall not have other gods before Thee? For when the minister reads the Law on Sunday morning in the divine worship service, and he reads, “Honor thy father and thy mother, that it may go well with thee and thou mayest live long upon the earth” do you pay attention to these words, and reflect upon them and seek to know the implication of these words for yourself and for your spiritual peers? Have you ever taken the Psalter in hand and read attentively, what we read in Question and Answer 104?

There are young people who stand at the death-bed of their father and of their mother. They speak of their thoughtful father, their loving mother, but they never really honored them. They did not obey them in the Lord Jesus. They did not say: Those parents represented the authority of Christ my Lord and my God in my life; hence, their sorrow was only natural. They could not say: I bless the memory of my parents because they never cease to warn and instruct me, neither did they spare the rod to treat me like one would treat a bastard child.

When one has such a wise ear, one has also a reasonable ear. We read “a wise man will hear and will increase learning” (Ps. 1:5). To be a wise man, one tries words. A wise man will be willing to be taught. Jesus says in John 6:45, 46 some very instructive words: “It is written in the prophets, and they shall all be taught of God.” This is a spiritual hearing of the Word. Isaiah predicted some very wonderful blessings: he spoke in glowing terms of the greatness of the children of God in the New Covenant composed of Sarah’s Freeborn Sons. Writes Isaiah in lofty strains, “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Of this Jesus speaks in John 6:45, “everyone that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me.”

You learn of the Father from our Lord Jesus Christ!

Then you are coming unto Christ, as did the above mentioned publicans and sinners; yes, then you come unto Him because the heavenly Father has drawn you powerfully in irresistible love. Did not Jesus say to the unbelieving Jews of His day, “No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day”. When one is hearing, he knows that he has received, from God the Father, hearing ears. It is given unto him to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, while those who reject the things heard in the Gospel-preaching were not given to know these mysteries!

When we have attentive ears, yea, willing ears, it is because we receive from God grace to observe in ourselves with spiritual joy, the infallible fruits of election pointed out in God’s word. (Canons of Dordt, First Head of Doctrine, Art. 12) Yes, thus we make our calling and election sure! (II Pet. 1:10)

The other side of the coin is what we read in Isaiah 48:8, “Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened, for I knew that thou wouldest deal treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.” Only those whose ears are opened in sovereign grace have ears to hear. These are given the opened, the pierced ears of Christ. This is the hearing of the new man in Christ Jesus into whom we have been ingrafted in sovereign grace.

You go to church, do you not? Do you know that faith cometh through the hearing, and hearing comes by the Word! Not all who heard the very clearly spoken word of the prophet Isaiah believed the things heard. They did not all believe. It seemed to the Christ, in Isaiah 53:1, that nearly no one believed. No man believed “the report”, hearing they heard and did not hear. The more they heard, the less they believed. Yet, faith cometh by truly hearing the Gospel-preaching, and the report comes by the preached words of God (Rom. 10:17).

Catechism time is here again. Society meetings are a weekly experience. We have just heard the Word at the Young People’s Convention. Now be honest: what was the great attraction for you at the Convention? The instruction from the Word of God? If so this means that you really have basically ceased listening to the alluring words which come to you from the world, Satan and from your own sinful flesh.

Yes, the Lord Jesus says: he that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.

To these hearers is given the victory of faith. They overcome the world. And theirs is a reward of grace for works of grace.

  1. They are given to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Rev. 2:7)
  2. They shall not be hurt with second death; they shall not be cast into Hell with the false prophets and with the beast. Yea, they will be given a crown of life, the victor’s laurel! (Rev. 2:10, 11)
  3. It shall be given them to eat of the hidden manna, and will be given a white stone, and in the stone a new name, which no man knoweth saving he who receiveth it (Rev. 2:17).
  4. They shall be given power over the nations. . .to rule with a rod of iron. . .they will be given the morning star (Rev. 2:26-28).
  5. Their name shall not be blotted out of the book of life, but Christ their Saviour shall confess their names before the very angels in heaven (Rev. 3:5).
  6. They will be made a pillar in the temple of Christ’s God, and they shall go out no more; yes, Christ will write upon them the “name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and I will write upon him my new name” (Rev. 3:12).
  7. They will be given to sit with Christ in His throne, even as He overcame, and is now set down with His Father in His throne (Rev. 3:21).

Behold, then, the sevenfold laurel- crown which is set before you to hear the Word of God unto salvation and to reach out for the victor crown, the goal unto which you have been called.

We must not assume the false notion that we have already attained. There is but one thing to do. In the words of the Holy Spirit through Paul we say: I count not that I have already attained, to have fully apprehended that for which I have been apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching out unto those things which are before I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!