Hope or Despair, Which Do You Prefer?

A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. (John 3:27)

John the Baptist gave his questioners a brief sentence that I have called the “hope and the despair” of mankind. He told them that “a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.”

John was not referring to men’s gifts. He was speaking of spiritual truth. Divine truth is of the nature of the Holy Spirit, and for that reason it can be received only by spiritual revelation.

In his New Testament letters, the Apostle Paul declares again and again the inability of human reason to discover or comprehend divine truth. In that inability we see human despair.

John the Baptist said, “… except it be given him from heaven”—and this is our hope! These words do certainly mean that there is such a thing as a gift of knowing, a gift that comes from heaven. Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit of truth would come and teach them all things.

Jesus also prayed: “I thank thee, O Father, because thou hast hid these things from the wise, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Luke 10:21).

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