Those who have ears to hear – Stuart Johnson

There is nothing that beats face-to-face interaction when discussing the gospel.  The medium of cyberspace sometimes lacks the courtesy and respect when engaging in a debate.  In addition to this there are some who act like trolls looking to derail any reasonable proposal or enquiry.  The only reason theological discussion is able to occur is the fact of Christ in us who is united to our whole human being, our soul, our flesh and our rationality.  This means the rationale of God overlaps our rationale and actual dialogue can take place.  What complicates matters in theological discussion is the mere fact that what we say about God should actually line up with what God says about Himself.  The more we understand the mutual and indwelling relationship between the Father, Son and Spirit, the more we realise the significance of the Incarnation of God as the man Jesus Christ who is the Spokesperson for the whole of the Triune God.  Therefore His actions are united with His words as an outpouring of His being in union with the Father making all that He says and does a precise reflection of who Triune God actually is.  It is this dialogue that is united with our mind and rationale and sings deep within our beings.

Hebrews 1:3

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

If this is not a reality embedded in our souls, we are lost in our sins.  If we drift from this precision of God revealed in Jesus Christ then we are no longer engaged in the conversation of God with us.  We have opted for a conversation on the world’s terms rather than talking after the Spirit.  If people are conditioned to talk from the world’s understanding of God, then they will live according to it as if this is the only truth there is.  Those in the world find it difficult to come to grips with the event of the Incarnation of God as the full revelation of God.  There is the appeal to the knowledge outside of God to support their arguments.  Thus what they talk about will shape a picture of God that has lost its grip in the knowledge contained in what is disclosed in Jesus Christ.  If this is all they know and if this is all they want to know, then nothing we say will penetrate.  They may be seeing the Light as darkness and something that is of the devil rather than of the Spirit.  In these situations, we tell them then we move on.  The fact we see the Light of Jesus Christ is a window into the heart of the Triune God is a miracle.  Some see and some don’t and there is no logical reason for it.

Mark 4:9

“And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Jesus Christ as the One who is all of man and is all of God gives us the confidence to understand that the entirety of the Triune God is disclosed to us in Him.  Furthermore, because He is all of man we can turn to Him and know that in Him we, as human beings, have been brought into the presence of the Father.  Jesus Christ who is all God means that every human being is included in Him.  Jesus Christ who is entirely God and entirely human means God and humanity have been brought together.  Even if there are some who do not see this, does not diminish this truth.  For many of us, we began walking what we believe to be the Light.  Once the Light truly revealed Himself to us and our eyes were able to see God in His Triune nature, it was then we realised the Light we thought we were walking in was actually darkness.

Matt 13:16-17

But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.  For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Understandably this can work both ways.  We can accuse those who are against us of being Pharisees who refuse to hear what we hear and see what we see.  On the other hand, those we accuse of being Pharisees would conclude that from their worldview, we are the ones who refuse to see what they see and hear what they hear.  This goes on and on, and round and round, even within those who are in the Trinitarian camp.  Some embrace Trinitarian theology but reject the significance of the ancient tradition.  If we look closely at the ancient church there is the tendency to want to adopt some dualisms to support an argument that will somehow place a wedge, no matter how small, between the being of Jesus Christ and the being of the Father.  Athanasius was so very precise in how he applied himself in his rigorous discipline of theology that focused squarely on the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  Irenaeus conducted himself with the very same care to preserve what had been handed to him from St John through Polycarp and those who were in earshot of the apostles.  Cyril of Alexandria exercised an unwavering Christological precision in his theological work.  Those who refuse to see and to hear what they articulate in their work will not see and hear what we propose.  So we should just let it go and be assured the Spirit of Christ in His mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son is also at work in them.

To begin a proper theological discussion we must have a starting point.  The starting point of theology always begins with God.  The only way we are going to know anything about God is if God makes Himself known to us and teach us things of Himself.  This is precisely what has happened in the Incarnation of God as the man Jesus Christ.  It is knowledge that comes to us to which we must conform.  We talk about what God shows us in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  The clarity of who God is can only be seen in Jesus Christ.  The ancient church says we see with our ears.  This is deeply profound because it means the only way we see God is if we first listen to Him.  Then we must be obedient to what God says regarding Himself.  Therefore, we develop our statements on what God has revealed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  It is through Him we establish insight into the nature of God as Triune.  Thus the nature and character of God revealed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ is also the very same nature and character of the Father and the Spirit.

Whatever statements we derive and declare can be verified by others who turn to the point of contact made in Jesus Christ and draw the very same conclusions.  This can only work if the starting point is Jesus Christ.  If the story begins anywhere else then we lose our precise Christological grip that keeps us unified in our statements.  If we submit ourselves and fall into the ritual of submitting to God disclosed in Jesus Christ, then what we see and hear from Jesus Christ will be the same as what we say to each other.  What we say to each other will be the very same as what we declare to the whole world.  This would mean we actually have to make an effort to overcome our differences in doctrines that at the end of the day are of no real concern except to bring disunity with our community and a conflicting message to the world that is devoid of power.

We do not want our message to sound as if one needs to educated to understand it.  If we cannot explain the gospel to someone who has had very little general education, then we might need to review what it is we are trying to teach.  If we look at the stories in Acts, we should remind ourselves that each person or group of people who saw the truth in the message was the sign of the miracle working Spirit of Christ in them.  There is no formula that will guarantee success in bringing in the numbers.  Each person who says yes to God’s yes is the miracle of God’s at work of which we should be astonished and amazed.  Instead, we try to capitalise on such events and work out the secret keys to make it happen again and again.  What about a “Thankyou! More please!”  That is, we should be grateful for being given the privilege of participating in the miracle.

I am always encourage by the fact that the truth of Jesus Christ is so simple and straightforward.  We are the ones who tend to overcomplicate it.  So much so, we literally drive people away with our endeavour to have people to conform to what we think rather than helping them to put on the mind of Christ and allow the Spirit to teach.  Sharing the gospel and teaching is allowing the space and room for others to see and hear for themselves from the One who is in them.  Those who have ears to hear let them hear.  Those who do not have ears to hear, we shake the dust of our feet and move on.  Yet, we are comforted by the fact that the Spirit of Christ continues His work in a courtship of love in His endeavour to remind them all what Jesus said and come home to the Father.