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NOVEMBER 15 2015

Parable of the Sower Part Two

 

Last week we listened to, and eleven of us told the story of, the parable of the Sower. We discussed it and, by the Lord’s grace, we have a better understanding of this story that Jesus told and intends for us to understand. Not everyone was here last week. May I get a volunteer to tell the story? 

 

There is a teaching within this parable that remain to be brought forth. I asked a group of Christians this past week, after reviewing the parable, where they saw themselves in the parable. They all answered that they were the good soil. Maybe that is true. In the end it will not be we who determine what kind of soil we are. It will be the Lord. Every professing Christian is not the good soil. If they were there would be no reason for Jesus to even tell this parable. Although every Christian does not have good oil, we can say that every Christian desires that they have good soil.

 

[I] How may we be the good soil? We desire it. Just being a Christian does not make it so. How can we have it? I believe the answer to that question is within the parable itself.

 

 Note that Jesus tells us that there are four kinds of soil. This strongly implies that is if one is not of the first three kinds of soil then one is, by blessed necessity, the fourth kind of soil. According to the parable, if we are not the hard soil, nor the rocky soil, nor the thorny soil, then we are good soil.

 

[A.] We can evade being the soil along the path, the hard soil, by understanding what we have heard. The parable is found in all three of the synoptic gospels. Regarding the soil along the path, Matthew records the words of Jesus:     When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.

(Matthew 13:19 ESV)

Some people hear the gospel but they do not understand it. They either fail to see the seriousness of their own rebellion against God or they fail to appreciate the sacrifice of Christ and its meaning for them. To ensure that we are not the hard soil we must be certain that we understand the gospel and believe it.

 

[B.] How may we evade being the rocky soil? When Jesus explains the rocky soil Matthew records:            As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.      

(Matthew 13:20-21 ESV)

We may evade being the rocky soil by, first, being aware that tribulation or persecution will arise on account of our believing the word of God. Paul promised Timothy:       Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

(2 Timothy 3:12 ESV)

It may be true that the persecution in this nation is light, it will still arise. We must not think that everything will be wonderful once we come to Christ and neither should we communicate that when we proclaim the gospel to others.

 

Second, Jesus says that this one had “no root in himself.” What does that mean? Remember that the plant that is growing represents the seed coming to fruition. The seed is the word of God. The soil represents the human heart. Not having a firm root means that the word of God was not deeply imbedded in the heart of the hearer. It represents one who hears and merely believes intellectually. This one does not believe deeply. Oh! We must believe deeply! We must believe with all that we are! And we can! Because Jesus is the One who teaches these things and he can be trusted above all others.

 

Third, the rocks may represent something. Jesus did not provide an interpretation of the rocks and it may be that they are only intended to communicate the lack of depth of the topsoil. However, more than one reputable commentator thinks that the rocks represent sins.  The prophets Jeremiah and Hosea both liken fallow ground to sinful hearts. Of course, fallow ground has many stones within it. It may be that the rocks represent sins in our life that we refuse to let go of. The cure for this is heartfelt repentance.

 

To evade being the rocky soil we:

 

  • Must be aware that trouble will come because of belief in the word of God.
  • Must believe deeply, wholeheartedly. No half-way beliefs.
  • Must not be retaining any secret sins. We must repent and forsake all sin. No sin is more lovely than the Lord Jesus. Do not be deceived! Sin is a lie! It promises pleasure but results in misery in the end.

 

[C.] How may we evade being the thorny soil? A number of years ago we owned a house in another state. It was a new house, so when we moved in we had to plant grass seed. As the grass came up so did the weeds. We were able to get rid of most of the weeds except one: the dandelion. There are actually many good things about the dandelion plant. They are both edible and nutritious. They are even known to have medicinal properties. But they are unsightly in lawns. The leaves, though good to eat, are ugly. No matter how many times we pulled them out they kept coming back. It felt as if we had more dandelions than grass at times! One time I brought a homeless man to our property to pull them all.  After 90 minutes he gave up because there were too many, so we fed him, paid him, and sent him on his way. We were able to get rid of the other weeds, but not the dandelion.

 

There were three kinds of thorns which Jesus describes in the gospel of Mark as "the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things." I have seen many Christians overcome by the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth. They are of no use in God's kingdom because they either are overly concerned about the necessities of life or they are trying to gather wealth.

 

How may we evade being the thorny soil?  We must guard our hearts against the cares of this world consuming our thoughts and our time. We must not allow the lure of wealth to direct our goals in life. But the weed that keeps coming back is the "desire for other things." Like the dandelion, some things have many good qualities and are not wrong in themselves. It's that those "other things" leave the place where they can do the most good and take up residence in the human heart and there grow untamed. What other things are keeping you from serving the Lord?

 

[D.] Our Lord used several different allegories and metaphors to express the nature of the Christian life.  We are plants growing. We are vines. We are God’s building. We are hungry people.

 

There is one other thing that we can do to ensure that we produce fruit. It is to be nourished. Turn with me to John 6:48-63. READ.

 

In order for us to live and grow we must eat Christ. This was a hard word for the Jews. They were offended by it. It is still a hard word, even today, but it is so true. Even some Christians are offended by these words. Yet, we must take in Christ to be our life and our life-supply, not just when we first come to Him, but continually.

 

We take Him in as the Spirit for Christ became the life-giving Spirit. We have a human spirit that was meant to be filled with the Spirit of Christ. This filling takes place when we eat Him, when we partake of Him. Practically, what this means is that we open ourselves to His wonderful presence as we take in His words. His words are Spirit and they are life and we must take these words in to grow and be fruitful.

 

The Lord’s Table is a practice, an ordinance, some would call it a sacrament, that is designed to teach us. It is blessed and effective because it incorporates the uses of all our senses, making it more memorable. It is important because the Lord only instituted two ordinances, or sacraments, for His church. The other being baptism.

 

What does it teach us? Primarily, it teaches us that the death of Christ is for the remission of our sins. Thank the Father that He has made a way for us to be forgiven! The Lord’s Table reminds us that we are forgiven.

 

The Table also reminds us that we depend on the Lord Jesus for our everyday living. We must eat of Him to have life. This morning let us focus on this aspect of the Lord’s Supper. As we partake of the elements think of how much you need the Lord Jesus and thank God for the supply of life that is found only in Christ.