And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not hear (Luke 8:10).
A reader asked: "Is this election and reprobation, or just acknowledging that some just will not turn and believe (as some commentaries maintain)?" I began to treat this question in the last issue. I asked our readers to save that issue so that they could refer to it and re-read the last article before reading this one.
In that issue I quoted the parallel passages to Luke 8:10 in Matthew 13 and Mark 4. I also pointed out that Jesus explains in these passages that His purpose in His use of parables as a method of instruction is to make the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven so clear that everyone can understand them. Jesus wants to be sure that not only His disciples, but all the people, including the scribes and Pharisees, understood as clearly as possible the truths of the kingdom He had come to establish.
That this is indeed the purpose of the Lord is evident from the expressions in the text. All three gospel narratives emphasize that all men see and hear the mysteries of the kingdom. Luke says, "... seeing they might nor see, and hearing they might not hear." Matthew and Mark quote the prophecy of Isaiah more fully, but both use the same words. Men see and hear, and Isaiah 6:9-10 is fulfilled, which passage stresses that "seeing they see, and hearing they hear." Mark refers to the same passage and quotes it in an identical way. So the text teaches that all who heard Jesus' parables heard and even saw the parables. And hearing and seeing the parables, they heard and saw the mysteries of the kingdom so they understood what the truth of the kingdom of heaven was.
By way of a parenthesis, it is interesting to note, that the word that Jesus uses for see is a word that means "understand." It is exactly what we mean when we are puzzled by something, an explanation is given us, and we say, "Now I see."
But the question now is: Why was it so important that all men heard and understood the truths concerning the kingdom of heaven?
The answer is that the wicked must be without excuse. The wicked Jews constantly rejected the teachings of Jesus and rejected Jesus Himself as the promised Messiah who had come to establish the everlasting kingdom of heaven. Although they pretended to be pious, God-serving, keepers of the law, and the true children of Abraham, they were actually terribly wicked. Their piety was outward, their righteousness was self-righteousness, their claims to be children of Abraham were claims based only on natural descent, and their sin was great.
And their sin must be shown for what it really is: proud self-righteousness. Jesus tipped the mask of their hypocrisy from their faces and exposed them for what they really were. He did this by making the truths of the kingdom of heaven as clear as it is possible to make them by His use of parables. In this way, it became evident that their rejection of parables was due to their own depravity and wickedness and not due to ignorance or inability to understand. They rejected Christ and the gospel He preached because they hated God and His Christ. Since they were blinded by their own self- righteousness, they did not see the need of the cross of the Savior.
In the judgment day they will have to give an account of their rejection of Christ and the kingdom He established. When they stand before Christ, they will not be able to say, "We did not know what the kingdom was all about. We did not understand something so spiritual. If things had been made more clear to us, we would have believed on Christ as Savior." The answer to such excuses will be: "The Lord spoke in parables and made clear beyond all contradiction the truths of the kingdom. You did not refuse to enter the kingdom because you did not understand. You rejected the kingdom because you hated it, for in it there is no room for your self-righteousness. It is a kingdom established in the cross of Christ."
This is clearly the reason why the Lord taught in parables. The use of parables exposed the sin of unbelief. It is well that we remember this, for what was true in Jesus' day, is still true today. The gospel of the kingdom includes parables. Parables make the truth concerning the kingdom so clear that everyone can understand it. Their refusal to believe is not born in ignorance. It is the fruit of their terrible sin. Those who reject the gospel have no excuse. Their terrible punishment is deserved.
And, we must add, in this way God is completely justified in all that He does. God is shown to be righteous and holy. When God sends to hell, no one will ever be able to say that God is unjust in punishing the sinner. Even the wicked themselves will have to admit that their punishment is what they truly deserved.
But this does not yet answer the question whether this passage teaches election and reprobation. That question is very important. As I already intimated, the answer to that question is an emphatic affirmative. Yes, the passage teaches election and reprobation. It teaches this doctrine so clearly that the truth of sovereign predestination cannot be denied without doing violence to the text.
We shall address this question in the next issue (DV). Again, please save these last two issues of so that you can refer to them next time.
- Volume: 8
- Issue: 25
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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