It all begins with the willingness to listen

In John 6:63-64 Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” And why didn’t they believe? Because, Jesus “went on to say” in verse 65, “no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

But that doesn’t seem fair, that people only believe if the Father enables them to believe. Non-Christians could justifiably say to Christians, “Your God plays favourites. He chose you and gave you belief, but he ignored us entirely. And he made belief easy for you because he helped you believe, but we get blamed and threatened with hell for not believing. But how can we believe if God didn’t choose us to believe in the first place? It’s not fair.”

So does God only help some people to believe and not others? No, verse 45, because “It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will ALL be taught by God.'” God does not play favourites. He’s willing to enable anybody to believe. But first – finishing off verse 45 people have to be willing to listen, because “Everyone who LISTENS to the Father and learns from him comes to me.”

It all begins with the willingness to listen. That’s all God asks of us. We don’t have to believe right away, just listen. The problem with so many of those in Jesus’ day, however, was their UNwillingness to listen (Matthew 23:37). They didn’t think Jesus had anything worth listening to. And Jesus knew that, which is why he spoke to them in parables. They’d already closed their ears to anything he had to say, so God certainly wasn’t going to help them believe. Nor was he going to force them to believe against their will, either.

But in Acts 17:32 some were willing to listen: “We want to hear you again on this subject,” they said, and look at the result in verse 34 – “A few men became followers of Paul and believed.” And where did that belief begin? In their willingness to listen. And when did people not believe? When they weren’t willing to listen – like those in Acts 7:57 who literally covered their ears so they couldn’t hear Stephen speak.

That’s why the gospel went to the Gentiles instead, because “they WILL LISTEN!” Acts 28:28. And because they listened “All over the world this gospel is producing fruit.” God enabled all kinds of people to understand “God’s grace in all its truth,” Colossians 1:6. Why? Because “Faith comes from HEARING  the message,” Romans 10:17. Listen first, and then God enables belief – in ANYONE humble enough to hear him out.

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