The claim is made that Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 13:13 gives his formula for abandoning what he considers to be unbelievers! The thought was presented that Jesus “tells us that he speaks in mysterious parables to that the unbelievers can NEVER perceive, and that the unbeliever can NEVER understand!” Although not stated, the claim appears to be denouncing Jesus as being unjust, and the Bible as unreliable, possibly with the traditional view of “hell-fire” that has been added to the Scriptures.
What Jesus actually said:
Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they don’t see, and hearing, they don’t hear, neither do they understand. — Matthew 13:13, World English Bible translation.
Yes, Jesus did speak in parables so that the unbelievers would not perceive; this does not mean, however, that the unbeliever of today will “NEVER ‘understand’!” Jesus did not say that they will NEVER perceive, or that will NEVER understand. Jesus certainly did not say that those in this condition would spend an eternity in indescribable excruciating pain, as some have claimed.
The real question is why did Jesus say what he said? And some related questions are: Why does God permit such a great portion of the earth to remain in darkness? Why is the Bible, to a large degree, a book of parables, symbolisms and dark sayings? Why is it not completely open and clear so that everyone, everywhere would be able to understand it? Why is it that Doctors of Divinity find its details perplexing, mysterious, incomprehensible? What excuse can be offered for the secrecy connected with a subject in which all should be interested? Will those that Jesus spoke of spend an eternity of conscious indescribable suffering?
The four gospels of the Christian Scriptures (commonly called New Testament) are supposed by many to be the simplest and plainest portion of the Bible. They tell about the deeds and words of Jesus Messiah while he was on this earth. However, in harmony with the prophecies, the Great Teacher himself delivered his message in parables and dark sayings. “He never spoke to the people without using a parable,” that “Hearing they might hear and not understand; and seeing, they might see and not perceive.” (Matthew 13:14) There are many mysteries or secrets connected with the Bible. We have not reached the time when absolutely everything can be understood in the Bible, not even by the true servants of God. No one on earth today can grasp absolutely everything about the Bible. The conditions of Isaiah 29:18,24, when the deaf will hear the words of the book, and when the blind will see out of obscurity and out of darkness, have not yet come. But the Bible does say that “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more until the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). We have not yet attained that perfect day.
We know that many say that Jesus spoke in parables or illustrations so that the people might understand better, but this is not the reason Jesus himself gave. The followers of Jesus once asked him why he spoke to the people in parables. In giving his answer he said: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matthew 13:13) Jesus then quoted from Isaiah 6:9,10, which we will quote from the Jerusalem Bible: “Go and say to this people, `Hear and hear again, but do not understand; see and see again, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people gross, its ears dull; shut its eyes, so that it will not see with its eyes, hear with its ears, understand with its heart, and be converted and healed.” Then Jesus said to his followers: “But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear!” (Matthew 13:16, JB) In Mark 4:11,12, Jesus’ answer to his disciples is very clear: “Unto you it is given to know the mystery [secret] of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand.” If this explanation is to make any sense at all, we must conclude that he was saying that he spoke in parables to keep the multitudes of people from understanding his message, while a few, his true followers, were permitted to understand.
This, of course, must be the way that God has intended for it to be. But why? Because God knows, even as he promised, that eventually `all will be saved, and come the knowledge of the truth.’ (1 Timothy 2:4) He knows that the time will come when “the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and darkness” and that
those “who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmured will learn doctrine.” (Isaiah 29:18,24 — New King James Version, hereafter referred to as NKJV) Yes, the time will come when he will “turn to the peoples a pure language” that they may all call upon him with one consent. (Zephaniah. 3:9) However, that time is not yet come.
“For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.” — Romans 11:32
In the Bible, the special illumination of truth through the Holy Spirit was direct toward the apostles — not all of the church, as some suppose. (John 14:26; 16:4-13; Acts 1:2; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:2) Therefore, we who are not apostles have the truth revealed to us by means of God’s holy spirit through the writings of the apostles, the sayings of Jesus, and also through the prophets in Old Testament times. (Mark 12:36; Luke 4:11; 10:21; 24:27,44; Acts 1:16; 2:33; 10:38; 28:25; Hebrews 1:1,3; 3:7; 1 Peter 3:10-12; 2 Peter 1:21) Christians today have these truths available in the writings of the Bible itself. (Ephesians 3:3-12; Colossians 1:25,26; 1 John 4:6) One has to, however, walk after the spirit in order to understand the spiritual things revealed in the scriptures. The natural man, being by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), who walk by the flesh, not the unseen things of the spirit (Romans 8:4; 2 Corinthians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 10:3; 2 Peter 2:10), cannot appreciatively understand these matters not yet seen except by the eye of faith. — Mark 4:11; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10; Hebrews 11:1.
Even true Christians who have received God’s spirit, however, can fall short of walking fully in the spirit, may offend the holy spirit of God — the mouth of God, in effect speaking or acting in disobedience to the mouth of Yahweh (1 Kings 13:21; Ephesians 4:30), so that on some matters their minds are carnal. (1 Corinthians 3:1,3,4; James 4:4; 2 Peter 3:17)
Most Christians remain babes all of their life. They never allow the holy spirit to operate in them so that they can understand the deeper things of God.
In this age, thousands may read the Bible but fail to understand it. As strange as this may seem, God is keeping its truths secret from the unbelievers at the present time, not because he does
not love them, but because he does love them. Under the present conditions
the truth would be injurious to the majority of people. This is because of
the sinful nature of mankind as shown in Isaiah 29. But God still loves
them, and whom he loves he disciplines. (John 3:16; Hebrews 12:6) So God has
“shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.” (Romans
11:32) How well the true believer today may exclaim: “O the depth of the
riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” — Romans. 11:33.
There are many scriptures that speak of the secrecy connected with the
message of the Bible. The apostle Paul refers to its tidings as the message
“which was a hidden mystery for generations and centuries and has now been
revealed to his saints [dedicated ones].” (Colossians 1:26, JB) At this
point we want to emphasis that the Good News of the Bible was not made known
to the world at large, but only to his “saints”. Jesus also, when speaking
to his Father in prayer, said: “I bless you, Father, Ruler of heaven and of
earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing
them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do.”
(Matthew 11:25-26, JB) Often those that are well spoken of and respected by
men are passed by, while outwardly despicable people may be chosen to
receive His secrets. — 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
Proceeding the apostle Paul shows us the necessity for this
secretiveness as respects the true message of Good News. He shows that if it
were generally known amongst men, the Divine program would at times be
interfered with. He tells us that none of the princes or prominent ones of
the world understood the wisdom of God — for had they known it, they would
not have put Jesus to death. As he explains: “But as it is written [in
Isaiah 64:4]: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the
heart of man the things God has prepared for them that love him. But God has
revealed them to us by his Spirit …. We have received, not the spirit of
the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things
that are freely given to us of God.” — 1 Corinthians 2:8-13.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says
Yahweh. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher
than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:8,9
But isn’t God interested in converting the world? Doesn’t he want to
save as many as possible? And if he is, why didn’t he make the Bible so that
everyone could easily obtain and understand it? The God who created the
Universe is thoughtful of all the interests of his people. All their needs
have been supplied as far as He has seen good. He made food for the
nourishment of our bodies, and beautiful things for our eyes to see, and
sweet sounds for our ears. If he would provide these for us, would he not
also provide things for our minds concerning the future?
If we had been living before God gave His people a Bible, and He had
told us that he would give man His revelation in a book, we would have
looked forward to it eagerly, and with pleasant anticipation, and we would
wonder what kind of book it would be. A man who writes a book generally
tries to make his subject as plain as possible, so that his meaning can be
easily understood. Likewise some might conclude that if God should provide a
book, He would make it so plain that none could fail to understand. We might
expect that it would be so wonderful, that it could not be written by man,
but by angels; that he would put a bright shining light around it, so all
would know that it was His book; that it would have a miraculous power which
would heal the sick; and if anyone should say anything against it, he would
drop dead instantly; and that all might be born with this wonderful book,
and be able to understand it. But when we read scriptures such as Isaiah
55:8-11, we answer: “NO! God thinks differently from man.” Therefore, God
has given us a Bible, and a message, very different from what man might
expect. Instead of angels writing it, poor imperfect men wrote it. There is
no bright shining physical light gleaming from it. No one drops dead talking
against it. There are millions on earth today that still do not even know
that there is a Bible, much less be born with it or understand it. Yes, God
could have made the Bible so plain that one could not get more than one
meaning from it. How easily we might think that the world could be converted
if such were the case. But God knows better than we, and therefore the Bible
that we have is the best kind of Bible, better for us than the miraculous
kind would have been.
However, it is a mistake to suppose that God is not interested in
converting the world. (Psalm 22:27; 150:6; Romans 14:11) He is more
interested in it than any human could possibly be. Why then did He not give
us a simple Bible? The reason for its obscurity must be that men have failed
to understand the heavenly Father’s design and purpose for the present
world. We have already given evidence that He confirmed that there would be
much misconception and misunderstanding of Him and His purpose. But once we
understand God’s purposes, then we can answer the question.
The Truth is…
God Is Not Now Trying to Convert the World
We must get rid of the misconceived idea that God is NOW trying to
convert the world, or that he is NOW trying to save as many as possible from
some eternal doom, as most religious people suppose. If God were trying to
convert as many as possible of the world to save them from some eternal
doom, would he have not been anxious for his disciples to go to all peoples?
Instead he told his disciples NOT to go to the Gentiles. (Matthew 10:5)
Jesus was not here being cruel, but he knew of His Father’s purposes to
enlighten the whole world at a future date. We know that God is not now
trying to convert the world, because the world is not converted — far from
it! God accomplishes everything he purposes to do. (Isaiah. 55:10,11) If it
were God’s purpose to convert the world NOW, then the Good News failed — it
did not accomplish its work. But God has not been trying to convert the
world. He does not have to try, because He is omnipotent (John 12:37-40). If
people of the world had understood the true Bible message, they would have
believed, but that was NOT God’s purpose (Matthew 13:10-17; 11:23; 10:5,6;
Acts 16:6,7; 1 Peter 1:10-12). God did NOT intend that they should NEVER be
converted, because he has promised a time to come when they will be
converted, but this has not yet begun, nor will it be accomplished as long
as this present evil world continues (2 Timothy 3:1,2; 2 Peter 3:3,4;
Matthew 24:37; Isaiah 6:9-11; Dan. 12:1; Zephaniah 3:8-13). The Bible tells
us that in “the time of the end” of this world there will be a “time of
trouble”. This will mean great distress and sorrow for the world of mankind.
But this does not mean the destruction of this planet, for the promise is
that the earth will blossom as the rose. (Isaiah 35:1,2; Genesis 8:21,22;
Ecclesiastes 1:4; Isaiah 45:17,18; Genesis 13:15; 15:18; Acts 7:4,5) The
present order of things will be destroyed, and a new order of things will be
established. God’s Word will continue to be misunderstood until this age
(this present evil world) is over. (Zephaniah 3:8,9) Then the darkness
surrounding the true Good News will be removed (Isaiah. 25:7; Haggai 2:7).
God has purposed the conversion of the world, but not during the past 2000
years. The reason why the Good News is kept secret is that his plans might
be hidden from all but the truly meek and lowly at heart who respond to his
call, until the due time for all to know. Our Lord was glad that these
things were hidden, and thought it right for the Heavenly Father to keep
them hidden from the worldly. — Matthew 11:25,26.
In Isaiah 29:11 it is declared prophetically that the vision of all
things (Lesser) is become as the words of a sealed book. Men have turned
things upside down, as was foretold (vs. 16). The world needs to be
enlightened! Will the world be enlightened by missionaries being sent out in
this present evil world? The facts indicate that it will never happen this
way. The day in which the world will be enlightened is called in the Bible
the “judgment day”. It is not a 24-hour day, but as shown in 2 Peter 3:7,8,
it is a 1000 year day. During that judgment day the inhabitants of the earth
will learn righteousness. — Isaiah 26:9
What now stands in the way of the enlightenment of world? -1- Satan
the Devil puts evil thoughts and desires into men’s minds and hearts. Hence,
if the world is to be enlightened, Satan must be removed that he might not
use his power to mislead people. (Revelation 20:2,3) -2-Imperfect
missionaries now lack the power and means to accomplish the work. Worldly
governments interfere. It will not be so in that Millennial day, for the
entire world will then be under the control of Jesus and his authorized
agents. (Daniel 2:35,44; Isaiah 11:9; Psalm 72:2-8) -3-Suitably trained
teachers must be chosen. Men have thought that they could chose and train
them, but only God can do that, and instead of a three or four years’
training, it takes all of a dedicated lifetime (Romans 8:18,19; 1
Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 26:9). -4-Ignorance, darkness,
confusion prevail now, and there are many confusing, contradictory, false
religious teachings; but in that day the knowledge of God will fill the
whole earth, and all will know him. (Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34) The Good
News message contained in the Bible will come out of its obscurity as its
message is made plain (2 Corinthians. 4:4; 1 Corinthians. 11:13-15). Will
God give mankind a new Bible? We do not think so. However, provisions will
be made so that its books will be opened and all will be judged by the
things written in those books (Revelation 20:12,13; Isaiah 29:18). God will
remove the vail that is spread over all nations (Isaiah 25:7; 2 Corinthians
4:3). The way will then be made so plain that even a foolish man will not
err therein (Isaiah 35:8). Now the Good news message is so obscure that even
the wise men stumble at it (John 6:60,61). Yes, the day of judgment is
coming, when Jesus will judge everyone in righteousness — Acts 17:31.
But what about those who have died — especially those who have died
without ever hearing of Jesus (Jesus)? How will they benefit from this
enlightenment if they are dead? God has promised that he will awaken all of
these from the sleep of death. “Marvel not at this, for an hour is coming,
in which all those in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth,
they that have practiced good to a resurrection of life; and they that did
evil, to a resurrection of judgment [Greek — krisis].” (John 5:28,29 —
King James II Version). Jesus is the true light that enlightens every man
that comes into the world (John 1:9). The light will enter their hearts also
(1 Timothy 1:4). God wills all men to be saved [delivered from death], and
to come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4) The salvation
spoken of here is not salvation into life for all eternity, but rather
salvation [deliverance] from the death state. Having arisen from the dead,
they are then taught the truth that they might be saved eternally.
Someone may ask, “Does the Bible declare that everyone will live
forever?” We answer: “No.” (Psalm 18:44; 66:3) As soon as they understand
about God and his purposes, many will obey him, but will still not develop
the right heart attitude. With some, as they see the goodness of God and
happiness righteousness brings, this feigned obedience will change to
meekness and heart obedience. But others will refuse to obey at heart. “Show
favor to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness, in the land of
uprightness will he deal falsely.” (Isaiah 26:10) Some will thus show that
they are wicked at heart. For such there will be no excuse. There will then
be no inherited weaknesses, and none will suffer for the sins of others; it
will no longer be said that “the fathers have eaten the sour grapes, and the
children’s teeth are set on edge.” — Jeremiah 31:27-30.
Will The World Receive A Second Chance?
Will it then be a second chance? This question could be answered yes
and no, for it depends on which way you are viewing matters. We must
remember that our first chance to live forever was lost for us through Adam
when he disobeyed in the Garden of Eden (Romans 5:12,15-18). The human race
that descended from Adam never received an individual chance in that trial.
But in the Millennial day each person will be tried individually — and in
that sense it will not be a second chance, but the FIRST real opportunity
they have ever had to understand and respond to the Good news. Yet none who
have had a full opportunity in this present evil world will have another one
(Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-29). A full opportunity means one that is broad and
complete, such as few have had amidst all the confusion and turmoil in this
present evil world. Even in countries where the Bible is printed in
abundance, children are raised with such incorrect training of mind and
inclinations, and there is so much confusion as to what is and what is not
right, can one honestly say that these have received any complete and
absolute chance for life? Jesus said that such are not judged NOW but that
they will be judged in the “last day” — that judgment day when they will be
enlightened. (John 12:47,48; Isaiah 26:9; 29:18,24) This will actually be
their FIRST individual chance to live forever.
There is yet another reason that the Bible message is kept secret from
the world of mankind. It is only by keeping it secret from the world that
the world seeks to try out all its own devices separate from God. God wants
to teach man a lesson concerning the vanity of life separated from him. As
the wise King Solomon said concerning all of man’s own works: `Vanity of
vanities; all is vanity.’ (Ecclesiastes 1:2) `Seeing there be many things
that increase vanity, what is man the better? For who knows what is good for
man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow?
For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?’ (Ecclesiastes
6:11,12) `What profit is there for the worker in that which he works? I have
seen the travail which God has given the sons of men to be exercised by it.’
(Ecclesiastes 3:9,10) Man tries to better this world in many ways. He tries
one thing after another, not realizing the vanity of his efforts. All of
mankind’s experimentations are being permitted by God. God is allowing man
to rule over another to his own hurt, so that they will better appreciate
who Yahweh is and the righteous rule that will come. (Psalm 83:18;
Ecclesiastes 8:9; Isaiah 2:1-4) It is a disciplinary process that will
eternally benefit all who avail themselves of Messiah’s righteous rule.
While the whole world is now being subjected to this vanity by the will of
God, God knows that he will bring the world of mankind out of this
corruption and back into harmony with him (Romans 8:19-22). What a happy
prospect for those who are now blinded by Satan’s evil influence!
For a proper appreciation of the true Gospel, more is required than
what is popularly taught by the nominal churches. Jesus said that true
worshipers must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23) It is not enough to
say that you claim Jesus as your savior and lead what is considered a good
moral life. God does not accept worship that is not in accord with his will.
Again Jesus said, “Not every one that says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter
into the kingdom of heaven; but he who is doing the will of my Father who is
in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, `Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your
name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess to you, `I never
knew you: depart from me, you who work illegally.'”
In Proverbs 2:3-6, we are promised: “If you cry for discernment,
lifting up your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and
search for her as hidden treasures, then you will understand the reverence
of Yahweh, and find knowledge of God.” See what is required? This seeking
must become the most important thing in our life. Our minds must rise above
everything we see, feel and touch so that we might receive the holy spirit.
(1 Corinthians 2:10,12) Jesus said: “True worshipers will worship in spirit
and truth, for the Father seeks such who worship him. God is a spirit, and
they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23,24)
Without this total dedication to seeking and the doing of God’s will, one
may understand a few bits and pieces here and there of God’s word, but he
will not be given the more precious things of the treasures hidden in its
pages. With whole-souled dedication, we will continue to seek and understand
more and more each and every day. These words of our heavenly Father become
to us more precious than any earthly treasure. Praise Yah!
“Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment”
Regarding hell, and the condition of the dead, we recommend some of the other studies at:
Ronald Day, May 19, 2008
Some items written by others:
Christ Teaching By Parables
Why Has God Given Us a Bible So Hard to Understand?
Clicking on the the numbers below will take you to sites that present different idea on this verse; we do not necessarily agree with the ideas being presented.
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