[This is the third of three brief articles, intended to bolster the faith of Christians and to give them confidence when contemplating the anti-Christian viewpoints of some people in the ‘intellectual class.’]
The first article in this brief series showed that Jesus validated His claims to authority (and indeed to Deity) by the empirically verifiable event of healing a paralytic, and that the most potent and fundamental verifiable event to validate everything He claimed was and is the resurrection. In the second article, we saw that a person’s perception of spiritual truth can be quite dependent on their receptivity to this truth. (Perhaps this could be summarized as “Receptivity brings perceptivity”?)
Here in this final article we will see a similar truth to the second, yet phrased quite bluntly by the Lord Jesus. He says explicitly that a person’s willingness to obey the Father is an essential condition for being able to perceive the truth of what Jesus says.
John 7:16-17: Jesus therefore answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself.”
Do you see? This is as true of us who follow Jesus as it is of those who do not, that our willingness to obey will have a huge impact on our perceptivity, our ability to receive it as coming from God.
As the philosopher J. Budziszewski says in a wonderful article, “Escape from Nihilism” (http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9801/budziszewski.html – perhaps taken from a speech?), “modern ethics is going about matters backwards. It assumes that the problem of human sin is mainly cognitive–that it has to do with the state of our knowledge. In other words, it holds that we really don’t know what’s right and wrong and that we are trying to find out. Actually the problem is volitional–it has to do with the state of our will. In other words, by and large we do know the basics of right and wrong but wish we didn’t, and we are trying, for one reason or another, to keep ourselves in ignorance.”
The human Will, left to itself, rebels against God. This is why Jesus says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him,” and this too is why we must pray for those whom we care about. It is the cause as well that the best reasoning of those opposed to the Gospel, no matter how impressive or high-sounding, is flawed because at its heart is a self-destructive problem of the Will. Reason itself is tugged wayward by human sin.