‘But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matthew 13:23).’
I have a great grandson who was born with impaired hearing. In fact he was almost deaf at birth. This affected his understanding of the world around him, particularly in the first couple years of his life. In his formative years he found difficulty in acquiring a basic vocabulary. Communicating by speech was hard for him. Pronouncing words and stringing them together to form sentences was challenging. But with the addition of a bespoke hearing aid and the help of a speech therapist he progressed, and his confidence grew. Instead of being reluctant to play with other children he interacted well with them. By the time he started school, cognitively he was behind his peers, but only marginally. In terms of motor ability, i.e., using his limbs, walking and running, he was ‘normal’. Nursery school was good for him. His interest in the world around him rapidly grew, and he had a healthy curiosity wanting to understand how things work. Three-Dimensional puzzle toys with multiple components requiring assembling and dissembling were his delight. Lego was a favourite. He would play with it for hours.
I’m pleased to say that he continues to make progress, and he has settled well into his junior school.
Hearing and Understanding
Now, what is the connection between the experiences of my great grandson and the gospel of Jesus Christ? Directly, none; but indirectly there is a connection that is crucial. First of all, the gospel has to be heard. People who receive the gospel must first hear the word from preachers who are called (Romans 1:1), equipped and sent for the task (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
Romans 10:15-17 sums it up nicely:
‘And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Essentially, without hearing there can be no faith. That’s an absolute fact confirmed by God’s Word, and without faith (Ephesians 2:8) there is no salvation.
As with my great grandson, unless people ‘hear’ what is being said to them, there is no way they can understand what the speaker wishes to communicate. Hearing is essential for understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1). Hearing alone is insufficient; there must be understanding (Matthew 13:19, 23), and this is not just head knowledge. It is an inner, heart-felt, real, meaningful experience – a conviction of the truth (John 14:6). Believers are convicted of their sin and the righteousness of Jesus (John 16:8). They believe for sure what He has done for them. He has saved them from death (James 5:20) and He has given them life by His Spirit (John 3:3-8).
Taking in the gospel in this way affects the ‘heart’ and the ‘soul’ (Matthew 22:37). It deeply affects one’s inner being. That is ‘saving faith’ – believing with the heart (Romans 10:9, 10; Acts 8:37), i.e., the regeneration of the soul by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8).
The One who is to be heard is Jesus the Prophet: ’ For Moses truly said to the fathers,’The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear the Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people (Acts 3:22, 23)’.
‘And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him (Luke 9:35)!”’
‘By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which were visible (Hebrews 11:3).”