Lucia's Blog: THE IMPLANTED WORD OF GOD
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, October 26, 2017

THE IMPLANTED WORD OF GOD


"And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 'A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold. As he said these things, he called out, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear... "' 
(Luke 8:4-21)


We have five senses by which we perceive our world. Most of us treasure our sight above the other five, but our sense of hearing is a close second. We cannot always believe what our eyes see, but even less can we believe everything that our ears hear. Jesus calls on us to discern. He that has ears to hear should listen carefully because the world is full of deceitful words and false teaching. Jesus has come from heaven as the merciful and just Son of God with the message of Truth that can set us free from sin and darkness, but most men will miss it. They have ears, but they hear not. Jesus taught the Parable of the Sower precisely to warn us about careless, faithless listening.

Lately, I have been reflecting on the Parable of the Sower, (Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:1-21) and as I read and examine this parable, I notice there are many responses to the preaching and teaching of Jesus.  Some are positive, and others are negative.  This is the first parable that Jesus spoke.  It is recorded in all three synoptic gospels:  Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  The parable in Mark is the most thorough, (Mark 4:3-9).  This parable is titled and interpreted by Jesus.  I will be focusing on Luke's account of the interpretation, (Luke 8:4-21).  Jesus' primary focus in this parable, is the soils.  The soils represent the hearts of men.  If I were to subtitle this parable, it would sound like "The Hearts' Reception of the Word of God."  All Christians must examine their hearts as to the soil of their mind.

As I study this parable, I notice that four different categories are associated with the soil.  Fundamentally, Jesus is stressing the need for receiving with meekness the implanted Word.  He is calling all hearers to have the right kind of heart for receiving and accepting the Truths of God.  Jesus wants His listeners to listen with open hearts. The intended purpose of this parable is to show the reasons why many reject or accept His teachings. It is through this parable that Jesus draws attention to His ministry.  In this parable, the soil represents the various conditions of man's heart.  The question for every Christian is:  How can we apply this parable to our own lives?  Since all Christians are drawn by the implanted Word of God, they must consequently be quick to hear that same Word, slow to speak against it and slow to become angry at its sacred Message, (James 1:21) to be saved.

For us to receive and accept God's Word, we must be willing to remove all that might hinder us, especially the sin that is in our life:  all filthiness and wickedness.  To be saved by the implanted Word of God, we must first receive the Word with meekness.  The Word of God is the seed that is sown, (Luke 8:11).  The Word of God is the seed that must be planted into spiritual soil, that is, the heart of man.  The success of the implanted seed will depend primarily on the type of soil in which is planted.


I.    TAKE CARE THEN HOW YOU HEAR:   (Luke 8:1-21)
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
          
In Luke 8:4-8, Jesus starts out by telling a parable about farming. It is the same parable.  Although it may be called the Parable of the Sower, it is not so much about the sower as it is about the soils.   It is vital that we not miss the real point of what Jesus was saying.  At first, Jesus told this parable without explanation.  We can see this clearly in both the Luke and Matthew accounts.  Mark's account makes it clear that Jesus spoke this parable to the crowd without explaining the meaning to them, (Mark 4:10).  That is why Jesus' disciples came and asked Him the meaning of the parable, (Luke 8:9).  So, why did Jesus tell His parables without any explanation?  Why would Jesus do something like this?  Would it not be right to tell a parable and then explain its meaning immediately?  Privately, Jesus gave the reasons for why He did what He did about His parables.
"To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'" (Luke 8:10).

Jesus' answer sets up His explanation for this parable of the soils.  Jesus declares the purpose of His parables about God's kingdom, "so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand."  Is His answer a little bit confusing? Jesus told parables so that they would not see and would not understand.  Jesus' purpose was not to make His point easier to understand. Parables were told to separate the honest, sincere seeker from the casual hearer. Jesus was never interested in gathering crowds. Instead, He was more interested in finding true and sincere listeners, those who love righteousness and were seeking God's kingdom.  Jesus is looking for sincere listeners who love the Truth sincerely and have open ears to receive and accept the Truth.   He does not want to gather larger crowds of people.  The purpose of His parables was not for people to come to Him and ask the meaning.  His parables were not some sort of miraculous, Spirit-infused knowledge.  The secrets of God's kingdom were given to the disciples because they genuinely were seeking and wanting the answers and explanation of such parables.  

So, what can one do with those Scriptures that are hard to understand?  Is it right to walk away without making an effort to learn the meaning, as apparently, the crowd did?  Isn't it something how we often find it easier to be spiritually lazy with the Word of God?!  It seems that we are not interested or that we do not want to learn and understand those difficult Scriptures.  We simply overlook and ignore them.  We must press on to learning the meaning of the Scriptures and make an effort to find the answers.  Jesus' disciples made an effort to learn the meaning of His teachings instead of passing it off with an “I can't get it.” The parables were intended to remove those who refuse to know the mind of God How different it is today with the common practices of so many churches!  Modern churches stress the need to use carnal tactics to attract a crowd.  They ignore the power of the Gospel to reach the hearts.  You see, Jesus never tried to gather crowds because He wanted to find out who was genuinely seeking Him.   Jesus wants people to know God, obey Him and be part of the family of God from a sincere heart.  Jesus wants seekers to see, hear and love God's Word so that they can understand and learn.  Is that you?


II.    THE PARABLE'S EXPLANATION:   The Sower and The Seed

"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience."  (8:11-15)

The parable of the soils is a parable about how the implanted Word of God is received. The parable is about how one listens to God’s Message.  According to this parable, there are four ways by which God's Word or Message can be heard and received.  As we read this parable, we notice that there is nothing wrong with the sower or the seed, but there is plenty wrong with our hearing.  The parable stresses the need for a receptive heart to hear and accept the Word of God.  

  • The Soil:
In Jesus' day, isolated farmhouses were not very common.  A farmer had to live in town and walk several miles out to his field. The seed sown by the farmer fell on four different types of soil.  The primary focus in this parable is not the seed or the sower but rather the soil.  It is a parable about how hearers respond to the Word of God.  Jesus identified them as four kinds of hearers.

    • The first soil in this parable is described as the soil of the path (wayside soil). 
These hearers hear the Word of God without results.   Think of how many hear the Message time after time but without changes because they are distracted, bored and sleepy thus they are not listening and do not care.  They hear the Word of God, but the Gospel does not penetrate the heart since it refuses to receive and accept God's Message.  Those with such ears are not the ones that Jesus is looking for as His followers.  

This type of soil did not allow the seed to germinate and was quickly eaten by the birds as food (or crushed underfoot, Luke 8:5).  Some hearts are so hard that they will not listen to the Gospel or accept it.  They are happy being slaves to sin.  They arrogantly believe they already know all the answers and are afraid, perhaps, to find out that they are wrong. They don’t want to hear that they are in sin and that they must change or “repent” to be saved.  They hear the Message, the Gospel, but it cannot sink in.  Thus, they belittle the Word making it hard to understand and appreciate it.  Therefore, the devil comes and takes away the Word since they did not receive it with joy.  

    • The second soil is described as a rocky.   
These hear the Word of God, receive it with joy, but because they have no root, fall away in times of testing. And though they hear the Word of God, their heart is shallow and superficial. They become Christians, which is exciting, but they have no root. Thus, they fall away at the time of testing and temptation. Shallow Christians can never grow deep in the Word of God, for they are always shallow in their faith and their understanding of the Word of God. This person seems to be a good follower of Christ until that great moment of testing occurs.  This great moment of testing can be months or even days.  I have seen many who obeyed the Gospel and were never seen again.  They only last a few months and then give up, thus going back to the world and their sinful habits (the old man of sin). They never develop a deep root in Christ and His Word.  They refuse to grow deeper in Christ through reading the Word of God, praying, worshiping, and having fellowship with others.  Their faith was never strong enough to bear life's difficulties.  These are not the hearers who will follow Jesus.  

In Matthew 13:5, Jesus spoke of rocky soil in which the seed did well at first producing a thriving plant, but when the blazing sun came out, it was scorched, (Matt. 13:6).  Because of its lack of suitable roots, it was not able to draw enough moisture from the soil and soon withered and died.  

    • The third soil is full of thorns.  
The seeds fell among thorns.   Although this seed sprouted and grew, it could not receive enough nourishment, because the thorns growing up around it chocked it.  These thorns took away everything vital to its growth (i.e., nutrients and sunlight). It died before it was able to yield a crop.   These are ones who hear the Word, but their faith is choked by the cares, riches, distractions, and pleasures of this life.  Their fruit does not mature. They hear the Word of God but never do or obey what they hear. Their faith is choked by the cares of the world, such as their devotion to their family, or to their work, or to many other things of this sort that rob our time from the Lord.  These hearers always have other things to do that do not pertain to God and His kingdom of righteousness (worship God, serve God, read and study God’s Word, give to the Lord, and the like).  These are the ones who often miss worship because there is always something else they “have” to do. These are not the faithful followers that Jesus is seeking.  

    • Jesus concludes with the fourth soil, the good soil.  
These hearers hear the Word or Message and hold fast to it with an honest and sincere heart, thus bearing abundant fruit with patience. They hear God's Message and hold on to it firmly because it sinks into their hearts, transforming and changing them. These changes do not happen overnight because they patiently endure, bearing good fruit.  You see, fruit-bearing takes work and time before significant results can be seen.  These seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  (Matt. 13:8).   The good soil was soft enough to allow the seed to penetrate it.  This is a productive hearer and fruit bearer.  He hears the Word and understands it because he meditates on what he is hearing.  He accepts the Word of God without prejudiceHe lives by God's Truths with perseverance.  He does not quit when the going gets tough.  The roots extended deep into the soil, and the plant grew robust and fruitful.  Other vegetation did not rule over and rob it of nutrients.  All soil that is 1. arable, 2. free of rocks, and 3. free of weeds will yield an abundant harvest.  Of course, the productivity may vary due to the different conditions of the soil and environment. Jesus indicated this when He said, "and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."  The purpose of Jesus' parables was to find this kind of good ears and good hearts. Jesus is seeking good, sincere, and honest hearts to be His disciples.  


CONCLUSION:

Jesus uses this parable to stress His teaching. If we keep this parable in its context, we will see its relevance to how we hear. Notice Jesus' conclusion to this parable is, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."  A lamp is a useful tool.  The Word of God is a lamp to our feet that guides us to do what is right before Him.  It can change our hearts.  Calvinists believe that man is born sinful with the guilt of Adam's sin (total hereditary depravity) and a depraved nature.  They claim that man is incapable of understanding the good teachings of a Holy God.  In their eyes, men with their inborn evil nature cannot do good or obey the teachings of the Gospel.  Yet, Jesus in this Parable of the Sower spoke of an honest and good heart.  The reason that such a heart is different from the others in this parable is not the result of some direct operation of the Holy Spirit (as Calvinists teach), but because of the attitude of the good heart, that receives and accepts the Truth.   Jesus challenged His audience to listen carefully that they might understand.  Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."  

All listeners have the responsibility to hear God's Word that they might develop true faith. The doctrine of "once saved, always saved," (the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints) claims that once one becomes a believer, once he is saved, he can never be lost or become an unbeliever.  You see the account of this Parable of the Sower teaches the opposite.  Those who believe for a while fell away in time of temptation (the rocky soil, Luke 8:13) Calvinists assert these never really believed, but Jesus said they did believe.  They stress that the word "believe" is sometimes used of those whose faith is not a saving faithThe fact is that Jesus defines saving faith as obedient faith. Those who fall away stand in contrast to those who hold fast, (verse 15).

Notice verse 18: "Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away."  In other words, if you are not seeking and striving to understand God's Word, it will be difficult to understand it and obey it.  Jesus’ Message provides light to those who listen with an open and sincere heart.  That light reveals our heart attitudes. We show what type of soil we are by the way we listen to the Word of God when it is proclaimed. A good and honest heart immediately reveals the condition of his heart, when he seeks to understand God's Word. The crowds that came to listen to Jesus did not want to understand the meaning of the parable. Thus they were not able to understand the riches of God's Truth and His kingdom.  But the disciples did because they were thirsty and hungry and thus came asking for understanding.  Therefore, let us not shy away from teaching and preaching those difficult doctrines and Scriptures.  Remember, God is looking for those who are thirsty and hungry for His Word and want to learn more about Him and His righteousness.  

When Jesus came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, the crowds came from all over Galilee. Those that came to hear Him had a variety of attitudes and discernment The Pharisees were not impressed with Jesus and became His enemies when He challenged their standard of righteousness.  Jesus was not the King they had anticipated.  The Parable of the Sower was "the word of the kingdom."  (Matt. 13:19).   When Jesus said, "He who has ears, let him hear,"  Jesus was challenging His disciples to see the parable as more than a story about farming.  He wanted them to look beneath the surface.  The seed in this parable is the incorruptible Word of God, (Mark 4:14; Luke 8:11; 1 Peter 1:23).  All Christians in His Kingdom are commanded to be sowers of seed, (Matt. 28:19-20).  Without sharing the Word of God, it is impossible to make true and faithful disciples, that is, new and faithful Christians. It is not smooth speech or carnal tactics that save the souls of men.  It is the Gospel!  The Gospel is God's power to save man, (Rom. 1:16,17). The power is in the seed, not the sower!  

In this parable, there are four types of hearts:  the wayside heart, the stony or rocky heart, the thorny heart and the good heart, (Matt. 13:19-23).  The wayside heart, (Matt. 13:19) does not allow the Word of God to penetrate and change their life because it is the hardened heart (possibly because of pride, worldliness, and apathy).  The rocky or stony heart, (Matt. 13:20) responds positively to the Gospel and receives the Word eagerly, but his enthusiasm is shallow and temporary.   Such a one did not "count the cost" and acknowledge that there is a daily "cross" to bear when one follows Christ faithfully.  He does not allow the Word to take root in his heart, and thus, he is not regenerated, transformed by the Word and committed to it.   He accepts the Word superficially, so it does not last long enough to bear abundant fruit for the Lord.  Then, there is the heart that is ruled by the thorns, (Matt. 13:22).  This type of Christian starts well but later allows this earthly life to become his master (cf. Matt. 6:24).  And though he should bear fruit, he can't because he has placed his priorities somewhere else. His problem was being too preoccupied with matters of this life ("cares" or "riches," e.g., Luke 12:16-21; 18:18ff; II Tim. 4:10; Rev. 3:15-17).  Now the good heart, (Matt. 13:23; e.g., Acts 2:37ff; 10:33ff; 17:11,12) had a sincere reception toward the Truth that bore abundant fruit (Luke 8:15).  A good heart sincerely seeks the Truth at all times.  He has a strong desire (thirst and hunger) and motivation always to do what is right, regardless of the circumstances. All hearers of the Gospel fall into one of these four general categories. Which soil are you? 

Therefore, let us also sow in faith, trusting our Lord to give us "rains from heaven and fruitful seasons" to produce a good crop.  Faith sees a beautiful garden blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn.  Our faith is vital to our harvest.  Faith motivates us to plant a seed in the soil so that the Lord may multiply it, (II Cor. 9:10-11).  Sowing the seed demands hard work and diligence. Sowing also requires vigilance.  Not only does the farmer plow the ground to sow the seed but he also guards the crop, the harvest.  Many things can destroy the crop.  We must also sow in patience.  Finally, we will reap in joy.  The farmer plants, plows, labors, watches, and waits so that he may reap.  When the farmer finally reaps or harvests his crop, there is great joy indeed.  As spiritual farmers, we must plow in hope, sow in faith, work with diligence, guard in vigilance, and wait in patience. If we do this, we will reap in joy.  


May we examine our hearts to see which soil we are.  May we listen to the Word of God and allow it to penetrate and change our hearts into righteousness.  May we be grounded in God's Word so that during our times of trial we are not taken away from God and His kingdom.  May we earnestly hear and heed the Word of God, refusing to be entangled by life’s distractions, but instead, put Jesus our Lord above everything else.  May we hold fast firmly to God's Word and bear abundant fruit of faith.  And may we always take care how we hear God's Word.


Luci