In Mark 7:34 Jesus said to a person who was deaf and had difficulty in speaking and was brought to him for healing, “Ephphatha” which was Aramaic for “be opened.”
Mark 7:34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”).
That has been my prayer for the church today. “Be opened” give us eyes to see and ears to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.
When Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would guide and lead us into truth, I can believe what we are hearing today in most of Christianity is truth.
John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
I am on YouTube a lot looking for clips to use in some of the podcasts I produce for the clients who hire me to produce them for their ministries. In this process, I come across all kinds of preaching and teaching. Some of it is plainly pathetic because it has a good feel to the theme of the sermon, but it is not based upon a Biblical theme. It often has good intentions, but it is not God’s Word, nor does it even come close to it.
I watched one national pastor talk about how we need to see our potential as blessed and nothing less. He was referring to our station in life, that our potential must be in raising our sights to becoming wealthier, more influential, and more prosperous. This attracts a crowd because everyone wants to have those things. Yet, where does any of this fit into a Biblical model? God is our prosperity, His truth is our prosperity, and our sacrifice will bring about our prosperity. These are the things the Bible speaks about over and over again when defining prosperity.
Several years ago, I saw this message being preached in Ghana and it drew large crowds to the churches that preached it. Poor third-world believers wanted what this message promised them.
That is why so many messages are false and misleading because they promise a hope that is not Biblical. Our hope is not in the prosperity of this world, it is in the prosperity of the Cross and of the person who died there. The message of the Cross is the most prosperous promise the earth has ever known, and anything that competes with it is an anathema to God.
This is why I echo the words of Mark 7:34, “Ephphatha” “be opened” for our ears are deaf and our speech is slurred. We are not hearing God clearly today, and what we speak today is not being understood as coming from God, because it may not be. Again, this might not be what you want to hear, but it is the truth. Fewer and fewer people are changing their lives by what they hear in church, and the question is why?
Barna Research tells us this story from their research:
Despite believing their church emphasizes spiritual growth, engagement with the practices associated with discipleship leaves much to be desired. For example, only 20 percent of Christian adults are involved in some sort of discipleship activity—and this includes a wide range of activities such as attending Sunday school or fellowship group, meeting with a spiritual mentor, studying the Bible with a group, or reading and discussing a Christian book with a group.
If the admonition by the founder of Christianity was to ‘go and make disciples,’ it seems as if 80% of us haven’t understood the Great Commission. Studying the Bible and going to church are great activities, and necessary for our spiritual growth, yet that is not the admonition of ‘go into the world and make disciples.’ Doing the kind of Christian activities most of us do may prepare us for making disciples, but most of us don’t.
So, what’s wrong?
I think part of what is wrong is that we are not hearing God correctly, and we are not speaking the words that matter to people. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, our eyes have to see what God sees, and our ears have to hear God when He speaks. That is why Jesus said:
Matthew 13 16But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
Hearing and seeing are critical for being a disciple. A blind and deaf spiritual leader will never help you navigate your spiritual life. We need leaders who are not trendy or prone to be persuaded to be popular or successful in the eyes of their peers. Our spiritual leaders need to stop adding Jesus to their agenda and instead make Him the agenda. It is one thing to just add more and more spiritual content to your life, thinking it will make you holy and right with God. Adding content to your life means little if it doesn’t act as a catalyst for bringing change to your life.
The only way that the spiritual content of God’s Word has changed my life is when I was vulnerable and needed a change. Like the alcoholic who hits rock bottom, they never thought there was a problem until it was too late. Open your ears and eyes now and ask God to change you to into a fully engaged disciple of Christ.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler