Hearing the Gospel


All Scripture Quotations are taken from the King James Bible


By Dr. Ken Matto


{14} How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  {15} And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!  {16} But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?  {17} So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  (Romans 10:14-17)


Many who advocate free will believe that all you have to do is just hear the gospel being preached and then based on what you hear you make a decision to either accept or reject Christ.  The problem is that they do not understand what the word hearing means.  Yes there is a physical hearing of the gospel and if a person is deaf then they can read the gospel or have it signed to them.  In the Bible there is a word behind the word “hearing or hear” which is tied specifically to the gospel.


For a person to become saved they must understand the Scriptures being expounded and we have learned that an unsaved person is spiritually dead and unable to understand spiritual things, namely the Scriptures.  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  (1 Corinthians 2:14)  Since the natural man is unable to receive the things of the Spirit of God, then how can a person accept the Lord if they are divinely deprived in that area?


This is explained very well in the following Scripture.  Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,  (Luke 24:45)  This Scripture is taken from the section where the two disciples were on the road to Emmaus and met Jesus.  They were traveling to Emmaus which would have been about 7½ miles (12 km) from Jerusalem.  They were discussing the events which took place over that weekend namely the crucifixion.  While they were discussing these things Jesus had joined them and an interesting thing happened.  But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.  (Luke 24:16)  At this point they did not recognize Jesus because their spiritual eyes were not yet opened. The word in the Greek text for “were holden” carries with it the meaning of “were restrained.” Now that word is in the passive voice which means that their spiritual eyes were intentionally kept closed by the Lord and not attributed to the ignorance of the disciples. At this time He did not want them to recognize Him.


Why would the Lord keep their eyes closed?  Those in the free will movement would not understand this because the initial meeting with the two disciples was not the time of their understanding.  They must have travelled a long while because they also decided to make camp for the night and invited Jesus to stay with them.  It wasn’t until we get to verse 45 when we read that the Lord opened their understanding to the scriptures and at that point they recognized him.  Just like He did to the two disciples from Emmaus, if the Lord Jesus does not open the Scriptures to us, we will not understand them and always come to a wrong conclusion. They would now be able to read the Hebrew Scriptures and then come to a proper conclusion concerning the Messiah when they came to passages about Him. No longer would the Scriptures be shrouded but by the Holy Spirit, they will all be open.


13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.  14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:  15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.  16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.  (Matthew 13:13-16)


The free willers believe and teach that God wants everyone to be saved.  If that is the case, then why in the above verses is the Lord disdaining the idea of all of Israel becoming saved. Notice the term in verse 15 where it says “…lest at any time…”  The free willers throw around the word “whosoever” as if it means any time and any place.  Here the Lord is rejecting that idea of salvation being initiated by themselves.  Notice in verse 16, the Lord speaks to the disciples that they are blessed because their spiritual eyes and spiritual ears are open.


We finally get to the essence of this chapter concerning the word “hear or hearing” found in Scripture.  In the above verse Matthew 13:16 notice the Lord says to the disciples that their ears hear.  This is not just speaking about physically hearing the gospel but is speaking about spiritually hearing the gospel.  The word behind “hear” in Matthew 13:16 is the Greek word “akouw” which is pronounced “ah-koo-oh” and is used 438 times throughout the New Testament.   It means hearing with understanding versus just physical hearing.  Remember 1 Corinthians 2:14 at the beginning of this chapter?  If a person is unsaved, that is, in the flesh they cannot understand the things of the Spirit and it is the Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures and therefore they must be spiritually discerned.  The problem is that unsaved man cannot spiritually discern them because they are not given understanding.  When a person becomes saved, then the Lord opens the Scriptures to them as he did to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  They were with Jesus a while before he opened their understanding.  The key is that a person must become saved first before they can understand the Scriptures because the Holy Spirit will indwell them and then be able to give them understanding of the Scriptures.  So it is not just a question of physically hearing the gospel, it is the fact of hearing with understanding and the only way a person understands is when salvation takes place first. 


The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were with the Lord Jesus Christ a while before he opened their understanding.  This teaches us that a person can hear the gospel being preached a number of times before they are given understanding, that is, before they become saved.  Some may hear hundreds of sermons and never become saved because they were not predestined to be saved.  Let me give a personal testimony here.  When I was 12 years old I purchased a crystal AM radio receiver. When you connected the alligator clip to the screw on an electrical outlet, the whole  house then became an antenna.  After I went to bed, I would connect the alligator clip and would then listen to the stations I could pick up.  At that time I lived 25 miles (40 km) south of New York City where I picked up WOR 710 AM which was a clear channel powerful station.  Every Sunday night I would listen to them and they had broadcasted the ministry of blind evangelist Ralph Montanus.  He was preaching the true gospel and at the age of 12 I heard the true gospel presented for the first time.  However, at that time I did not become saved because it was not my time of visitation.  I became saved at the age of 27.  So I physically heard the gospel at 12 but did not have the hearing with understanding till I was 27 which was the predestined time of my salvation.  If a person hears the gospel and does not respond, it does not mean they are lost for good, it may mean that that particular time was not their time of visitation.


There is another verse which the free willers like to toss around and they believe that it shows that anyone at any time can become saved.  It is Revelation 22:17.  And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.  (Revelation 22:17)  If you recall I wrote the following.  The word “whosoever” does not mean “anytime, anyplace, anywhere, or any time according to their will can become saved.”  That word “whosever” carries with it the meaning of “everyone or all.”  That rules out the word “whosoever.”  Then we came to another word which we have looked at in detail in this chapter and that is “heareth” which in this verse also is the Greek word “akouw.”  Notice how Revelation 22:17 is worded.  The word “heareth” is before “come” and “take.”  This means that the prerequisite for those is to hear first which means only those who are saved will be thirsty to take the water freely.


Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.  (Matthew 5:6)  Matthew 5:6 answers “And him that is athirst” from Revelation 22:17.


But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.  (John 4:14)  John 4:14 answers “…the water of life freely” from Revelation 22:17.


The fact that it is the “Spirit and the bride” who are bidding means it is only those who have become elected to salvation will respond.  He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.  (Revelation 22:11)  Those who are not elected to salvation will remain in their sinful state and those who are saved will remain in their righteous state.


This is personal, when I speak about the doctrine of predestination to someone I tell them I had a hand in saving both my parents before I was even born.  I was born May 1, 1953.  My father served in World War 2 in the Pacific.  One day he was pinned down by a Japanese sniper until the mud Marines came in and quickly rectified that situation.  Then in 1947 when my brother Rod was being born, my mother heard the nurse yell to the doctor that they were losing her as she was fading but she was revived.  Now how did I save both my parents when I was not yet born.  I look back with 20/20 hindsight and in understanding the doctrine of predestination knowing I had to be born so God could save me since he named me before the foundation of the world.  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  (2 Peter 3:9)  2 Peter 3:9 is erroneously used by the free willers to prove that God wants everyone saved.  The real understanding of 2 Peter 3:9 is that none of the Elect whom God named before the foundation of the world will perish and I think that has been proven out in my life.  Now I say it jokingly that I saved my parents because it was all of the Lord, after all how could I do any saving or anything if I was not born yet.  The bottom line is that the biblical doctrine of predestination saved both my parent’s lives.  If either of them died, I could not have been born, and if I could not be born, then one of the Elect would perish and that would mean the scripture would be broken.  Isn’t it amazing how the doctrines of the Bible affect our lives and those around us?