YOU CANNOT CONVINCE GOATS OF TRUTH MEANT FOR SHEEP!
In all your evangelizing and preaching efforts, please understand this – that generally speaking ‘sheep’ do not ‘argue’! They may ask a few sincere questions, but for the most part they will just hear the voice of the Shepherd which is speaking THROUGH YOU.
When you ‘officially’ preach the gospel of Jesus Christ . . . “It is NOT ye that speak but the SPIRIT OF YOUR FATHER which speaketh in you!” [Matt 10:20]. And as our Lord Himself told the unbelieving Jews of His day, “He that is OF GOD heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because YE ARE NOT OF GOD.” [John 8:47]
And John 8:47 above is not a stray verse quoted out of context! There are many more. Consider these –
“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. EVERY ONE THAT IS OF THE TRUTH heareth My voice!” [John 18:37] (i.e. Every one who belongs to the Truth!)
“But ye believe not, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT OF MY SHEEP, as I said unto you. MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE, and I know them, and they follow Me!” [John 10:26,27]
“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; HE THAT IS NOT OF GOD HEARETH NOT US. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error!” [1John 4:6]
Yes we ought to preach the Gospel and God’s Truth to every creature! But we have to use a little DISCERNMENT in all our preaching! “The Gospel is a message of ‘good news.’ To whom? To sinners! But to WHAT sort of sinners? To the giddy and unconcerned, to those who give no thought to the claims of God and where they shall spend eternity? Certainly not! The Gospel announces no good tidings to them: it has no music in it to their ears. They are quite deaf to its charms, for they have no sense of need of the Saviour!” [A.W. Pink]
“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine!” [Matt 7:6]
Commenting on this verse preacher Gilbert Beebe said long ago – “Dogs have no use for holy things, they can do them no good, for they are not adapted to their nature or suited to their appetites; besides, it is a desecration of holy things to give them to dogs or to swine. It is true, that the Gospel is to be preached to every creature, to all nations, and in all the world, for a witness to all nations, but only those who have ears to hear can hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
The ministers of Christ have nothing but the Gospel to preach, and that they must preach wherever God is pleased to open a door for them to preach, and its effect will be to discriminate between the living and the dead. All who have been pricked in the heart by the life-giving power of the Spirit will gladly receive the Word, as did the quickened on the day of Pentecost, while all others will mock and reject the testimony.
But what we understand as being intended by this admonition, is that WE ARE FORBIDDEN TO ATTEMPT TO CHRISTIANIZE UNREGENERATED MEN, BY TEACHING THEM THE LETTER OF THE WORD, and applying to them the ordinances of the Gospel as a means of salvation, by Catechisms, Bible classes, Sunday Schools, etc…as though we could so improve their carnal minds as to make them acceptable to God, without being born of the Spirit.
According to our understanding of the subject, every effort to apply the things of the Spirit of God to unregenerated men, is to give that which is holy to dogs! Theological institutions for giving ministerial qualifications to graceless youths for preaching, and to unrenewed children and adults for church membership, and for evangelizing the world by humanly devised plans and schemes, is an attempt to give that which is holy to the dogs, and is clearly a transgression of the authority of our Lord, and an open violation of the words of our text: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine.”
It is not in the nature of swine to appreciate the value or beauty of pearls any more than it is the nature of dogs to relish the rich pasture on which the sheep feed. The children of God are in possession of jewels of inestimable value, which none but the children of God can appreciate or enjoy. Their spiritual privileges, their Christian love and fellowship, their gifts and graces, their experimental joys and peculiar exercises, their knowledge of divine things, are all pearls of great value to them, but their Excellency cannot be known or appreciated by those who know not God. There is a fitness and utility in exhibiting these pearls among those of like precious faith, but those who have never possessed them would rudely trample on them if cast before them, as swine would trample upon the most costly and precious jewels.
Christians are greatly edified and comforted by speaking often to each other of all the way in which the Lord has led them; they can talk freely one to another of their joys and sorrows their conflicts and victories, but should they make these things the theme of their conversation in the streets and market places, or in the synagogues of Satan, they would be treated roughly; infidels, Arminians, will-worshipers, like swine, would trample them under their feet, and turn and rend the child of grace.
The psalmist said, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul.” They who fear the Lord can understand the language, they know too well the value of such precious pearls to despise or trample on them. But those WHO HAVE ONLY RELIGION OF THE WORLD neither divide the hoof nor chew the cud and like swine, serve only their swinish appetites, their god is their belly and their glory is their shame!” [Elder Gilbert Beebe 1832]
My own personal study of the Scriptures along with my experience in preaching has taught me that much of this ‘discussing the Scriptures’ and ‘debating’ is for the most part unprofitable and vain. The same Paul, concerning whom it is written – “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures” [Acts 17:2], later wrote to Titus – “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for THEY ARE UNPROFITABLE AND VAIN. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition REJECT” etc [Titus 3:10]
I guess all those years of arguing and trying to reason with the carnal Jews had taught Paul a much need lesson, i.e. “you cannot pour new wine into old bottles” [Mark 2:22]. And one of the cardinal laws in any kind of Gospel preaching is to “avoid the devoid”!
As every child of God knows, it takes ‘GRACE FROM ABOVE’ to receive what we hold and preach! And if we think that we can TALK someone into these truths by either our eloquence or debating skills, we can be sure that someone more eloquent than us can talk them out of it! Only GOD can convince someone of the truth of divine Predestination!
“A man can receive nothing, EXCEPT it be given him from Heaven!” [John 3:27]