by Steven Chan
O the joy of knowing and feeling the love of God that led us to accept the gift of God! It is well expressed in the oft-sung hymn:
”O what a wonderful, wonderful day – day I will never forget;
After I’d wandered in darkness away, Jesus my Saviour I met.
O what a tender, compassionate friend – He met the need of my heart;
Shadows dispelling, With joy I am telling, He made all the darkness depart.
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
When at the cross the Saviour made me whole;
My sins were washed away –
And my night was turned to day!!”
The apostle Paul described it in this manner in 1 Tim 1:13-15 and 2 Cor 8:9:
“Although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief…For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”
If indeed we have tasted that the Lord is gracious, the apostle Peter in his epistle encourages us to do the following in 1 Peter 2:1-3:
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking;
as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”
Having been blessed with such a great blessing of salvation from the Lord, in rejoicing over our blessedness, we need to remember that Jesus called us to be His disciples (Luke 9:23) and to learn from Him (Matt 11:28-30) and to walk in His steps (I Pet 2:21-25):
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Having tasted the Lord is gracious, we need to “lay aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking”. We need to transform our lives by deciding to no longer be conformed to the way of this world (Rom 12:2) and put to death our old/former manner of life (Col 3:5; Gal 5:19-21), and deciding to live holy lives as children of God “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-17)
Brethren, if we have tasted that the Lord is gracious, there NEEDS to be a discernible CHANGE in our LIFE! No more excuses for bad temper or “outburst of wraths” (Gal 5:20), no more “selfish ambitions” (Gal 5:20); “neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting”( Eph 5:4) – this means watch or be careful what you “like” or “share” or “comment” in Face Book (no more endorsement or sharing of inappropriate photos or filthy or unwholesome words). Have you ever wondered whether there may well be some truth in the allegation by some unbelievers that there are “hypocrites” in the church – for while they profess to follow Jesus with great joy because of His incredible grace, they are still filled with “malice, guile, hypocrisy and all evil speaking”!! Brethren, these things ought not to be so! (James 3:10)
Having tasted that the Lord is gracious, the apostle Peter says that we must “desire the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby”. God wants us to grow in our love for Him and for one another, grow in our new spiritual life as we are transformed by the renewing of our mind as we grow in our knowledge and understanding of God and His Will (Rom 12:2; Eph 4:23; 2 Cor 3:18 – “we all beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”).
The grave danger is that some of us may lose our appetite for God’s Word. Listen to what the Bible say about this danger of not having appetite for God’s Word:-
Jesus warned us of the danger of “hearing and not understand” in Matt 13:14-16 when He quoted Isaiah and said of the people:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; 15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’ 16 “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;”
AND brethren, the reason for that sad malady, according to Jesus, is because “the hearts of this people have grown dull” – no wonder many may have been attending Bible classes for years and have listened to thousands of sermons, and YET they have neither heard nor understood the Will of God – because “their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.”
According to the apostle Paul in 2 Tim 4:3-5, “they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” – desiring for teachers and preachers who have “smooth words and flattering speech” (Rom 16:18) – being critical of teachers and preachers who are not prolific with “smooth words and flattering speech”. They have ignored what the apostle Paul said in 1 Cor 2:4-5: “my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
This is not to say that teachers of God’s word need not seek to be “able to teach” (2 Tim 2:24) but we should be wary of putting a premium on “ability to speak or eloquence” (Apollo was an eloquent man but was also mighty in the Scriptures- Acts 18:24) instead of “the truth of God” being taught. The people of Paul’s day were critical of his speeches: “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible” (2 Cor 10:10) – but Paul disagreed/rejected their criticism in the next verse.
When we lose our appetite for food – more often than not it is usually because we are sick and so we lose our taste/appetite for food. It is not because the food tastes awful. When we are “hungering and thirsting” for God’s Word, we shall be filled with His Word (God’s spiritual food for us all – Matt 4:4) even if it was delivered to us on paper plates or banana leaves!! The question was recently posed to a new convert about the teachings delivered in our bible classes. The answer given was that “the lessons were just right and exactly what we needed” – and the reason could well be that he was seeking, searching and was hungry for the truth of the Word of God – never mind the teacher’s bodily presence was weak or his speech less than eloquent! Let’s not misunderstand here that it is being suggested that teachers do not need to spend time preparing scripturally-sound logically-presented lessons or sermons – as Paul himself said to King Festus in Acts 26:25 that “I speak the words of truth and reason”. The Bible warned teachers in James 3:1: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment”. So, there’s no doubt that teachers ought to strive to be competent in their teaching.
However, it could well be that the problem may not be the chef or the cook or the butler who prepared or served the food; the problem could well be with the one who has lost his taste for food because of his own ailment.
In Heb 5:11, the Bible says: “of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.” It appears that the teachers faced the difficulty/challenge of explaining the lesson and the problem was because the students “have become dull of hearing”! How do we know where the problem lies?
Let the Bible answer in Heb 5:12-14:
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil”
Brethren, if we have tasted that the Lord is gracious, let’s transform our lives by His grace (I Cor 15:10), let us live by His grace (Heb 4:16; 2 Cor 12:9; Phil 4:6; Matt 7:7-8) and let us feed on “the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified”(Acts 20:32).