ROBERT >> I’m so glad that you’ve chosen to join us today for The Truth In Love. If you were with us last week, you remember we began to talk about Jesus’ parable of the sower, a parable that contained very important lessons for our heart, and challenges our discipleship to Jesus Christ. We want to continue that lesson today. Stay tuned. We’ll be back in just a moment.
SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth,
speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.
ROBERT >> The parable of the sower as told by Jesus Christ is recorded for us in Matthew chapter 13, in Mark chapter 4, and in Luke chapter 8. And we can look at all of these descriptions of that parable, and we remember the story of how Jesus describes a man who goes out, and he’s sowing his seed, and some of it falls on the wayside, some of it falls on the stony ground, and some of it falls among the thorns, and some on good soil. And you remember the seed that fell on the wayside was devoured by the birds; and the seed that fell on the stony or the rocky ground, it came up quickly, but soon withered away because it had no root and no moisture; and the seed that was sown in the thorny soil, after a while, it grew, but it was choked out by the thorns; but the seed that was sown in the good soil brought increase. It produced thirtyfold, sixtyfold, even a hundredfold.
Now, Jesus uses this parable to teach us some spiritual heavenly lessons about his kingdom, the church, about us, about our hearts. And you remember the interpretation of the parable as found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus tells us what this parable means. And he told us in Luke 8:11, for example, that the seed is the word of God. And so he wants us to think about that seed, the word of God, being spread, spread on different soils, soils which represent our hearts. In the interpretation that Jesus gives of the parable, he tells us that the wayside soil represents a hearer who really does not love the truth, a hearer who will not allow that word to produce faith in his heart. He is one who has pride or prejudice or bias, something in his heart that keeps him from truly accepting that word and becoming a Christian. But Jesus also interprets for us that seed that falls among the stony ground, among the rocks.
It describes for us that hearer who fails to count the cost of being a disciple of Christ. He hears that word and he believes it, but he does not continue in it. As soon as persecution or tribulation comes, he stumbles and he falls because he was not truly, deeply convicted and committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. But let us take a look today at the other two soils mentioned in the parable.
First of all, how does Jesus describe the hearer that was represented by the thorny soil?
If you remember last week from our reading, this is one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things and pleasures of life choke that word, and it becomes unfruitful, and it brings no fruit to maturity.
Let’s read this, if you will with me here, in Matthew chapter 13 to refresh our memories this morning. In verse 18 Jesus said, “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received the seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”
Yes, this is one who gets caught up in the world again and no longer has God as the priority in his life. I want you to look with me in Matthew, but go back to chapter 6, and look at some of the teachings of Jesus there about our hearts.
In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Mammon represents all the things of this world. And folks, we’ve got to make a decision if we’re going to set our hearts upon God or upon the things of this world.
Jesus goes on in Matthew chapter 6 to deal with the problem that so often attacks our heart, that problem of worry. We’re worried about the things of this world. He says in verse 25, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry with its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. You see, don’t get caught up in this world. Set your heart on God. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.”
In John 15:1-8, Jesus tells another parable about the vine and the branches, and he reminds them that he is the vine and we are the branches, and that we must remain in him and that we must abide in him, because it’s in Jesus Christ that we can bear fruit for God.
If you’ll look with me in Colossians 3:1-4, we see where the apostle Paul speaks of those who given themselves to Christ in the waters of baptism, and they’ve been raised up with him to live a new life. But look what he warns them about here in this chapter. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ is our life appears, then you will appear with Him in glory.”
Yes, he says don’t allow this world to take hold of you, don’t put your mind and your heart on this world; but keep it on Christ, who’s coming to reward us. One day we’ll be able to share with him in all his glory. Too many times we get our hearts so wrapped up in the things of this world that we lose our souls to it.
Look at these very strong words in 1 Timothy chapter 6 that we all need to consider very seriously, that we might keep our souls with God.
In 1 Timothy 6, let’s begin in verse 6. “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.´
Here we’re learning some more of those thorns in life that strive to choke out our spirituality. So many times it’s all wrapped up in the things of this world, what money can buy for us. Don’t be deceived by these things. It is true that if we set our hearts on this world, that we can drift away and lose our faith in God.
In 2 Peter the 2nd chapter, Peter warns us about this again. In chapter 2 verse 20, this is what Peter writes: “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb, A dog returns to his own vomit, and, a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
Yes, it is true that once having come to a knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, we get wrapped up, we get entangled again in the affairs of this world so that the latter state’s worse than the first. It’s like a dog returning to its vomit. It’s like a pig going back to the mud. Those are repulsive pictures. But there’s nothing more repulsive than one who has known Christ, to turn away from him and go back into the world. But now let’s look at this other soil that Jesus describes in the parable of the sower.
How does Jesus describe the hearer that’s represented by the good soil?
Well, let’s go back to Matthew chapter 13, and let’s read Jesus’ interpretation of the parable on this point. Here in Matthew 13, let us read verse 23. “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
This is one who receives the word, or as Mark and Luke point out, they hear the word, and they do so with a noble and a good heart. They understand it, as it says here. As Mark and Luke tells us, they accept it, they keep it.
So that what? He bears fruit with patience. He produces some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. This is the one who is sincere about his faith. This is the one who continues in his faith to obey the word of God.
Look with me in the book of James chapter 1, because James is concerned that our faith is not hypocritical, but that it’s genuine faith. And in James the 1st chapter beginning in verse 21 he talks about those of us who are constantly listening to the word of God, but he challenges what we’re doing with that word.
In James 1:21, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
You see, the blessing comes when faith obeys, when we’re not just hearers of the word, but we also do what God has asked us to do. In 2 Peter the 1st chapter beginning in verse 5, Peter encourages us as Christians to make every effort to grow in the knowledge and in the grace of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
Here in 2 Peter, let’s take a look in the very first chapter, and let’s read together beginning in verse 5. “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these thing is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
You see, if we will keep striving to grow up and mature in the Lord, if we will continue to listen to the Lord and to do his word, then we’re not going to stumble so as to fall and to lose our souls, but rather we’re going to bear fruit for God. And remembering what Christ has done for us and how he’s cleansed us from all of our sins through that awful price he paid at Calvary, it ought to move us to make every effort to add to our faith.
John teaches us in 1 John chapter 1 beginning in verse 5 how we can know whether or not we’re really in fellowship with God and how we can have the assurance of eternal life.
He says here in this first chapter, beginning in verse 5, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these thing I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
Yes, if we will strive to walk with God each day and be honest about our sins, then we can trust him to bring us home to heaven.
What is the main lesson of the parable of the sower?
It is simply this: That the results of the word of God upon our hearts depend upon how we hear. It depends upon the condition and the attitude of our hearts.
How is your heart today?
I want to read these convicting words from Matthew 13, if you’ll go back there one more time with me, in verse 9, where Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
And he goes on to say in this very same chapter in verse 14, And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says, “Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.”
How is your heart today?
Are you listening to God’s word?
Are you open to his word?
Are you ready to receive it?
Are you one who truly loves the truth, who seeks the truth, who wants the truth, who wants to please God, and that your heart’s not set upon the things of this world?
The condition, the attitude of our heart is what makes all the difference. That’s the great lesson of the parable of the sower. And I hope it will cause us all to examine our heart and our life today. But there are many other lessons that are taught in this parable.
Certainly we learn from this parable, my Christian brother and sister, that we must spread the word of God, that there are many souls who need his word, and it’s our responsibility, our mission as God’s church to go to all nations, to make disciples for Jesus Christ, baptizing them and teaching them, as he said in Matthew 28:19.
We’ve got to be spreading the word to boys and girls, to men and women all over this world who need to hear about Jesus. And we also learn from this parable that it is the word of God that gives spiritual life, that brings salvation to our soul.
My words, Jesus said in John 6:63, “My words, they are spirit and they are life.”
And it was Peter who asked him in that same chapter in verse 66, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Indeed, “the gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s power to salvation,” Romans 1:16.
“It’s the implanted word which is able to save our souls,” James 1:21.
Another lesson that we learn from this parable is that some, like those with the stony and thorny heart, will fall from grace if they do not continue faithful in the Lord.
The apostle Paul warned us in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall.”
We’ve already learned from 2 Peter 2, and you see it throughout the New Testament, especially in the book of Hebrews, particularly chapter 10, that we can so sin as to lose our faith and turn our backs on Christ and find ourselves in jeopardy. We must not be discouraged as we go preaching the word and we get different results; but let’s keep on spreading the word. And let me encourage you who are listening today to open our hearts, to receive that word, to be obedient to God, and let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven today.
SINGING>> On Zion’s glorious summit stood
a numerous host redeemed by blood.
They hymned their king in strains divine.
I heard the song and strove to join.
I heard the song and strove to join.
While everlasting ages roll,
eternal love shall feast their soul,
and scenes of bliss forever new
rise in succession to their view,
rise in succession to view.
Holy, holy, holy Lord.
God of hosts on high adored.
Who like me thy praise should sing,
oh Almighty king?
God of hosts on high adored.
Holy, holy, holy.
ROBERT >> I want to thank you for watching our program today, and we would really like to hear from you. If you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you would like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.
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Remember that all of our materials and our services are absolutely free of charge. We want to thank the many churches of Christ who help support this program and encourage you to visit one of them in your area very soon. You’ll see their names scrolled on the screen at the end of our program. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.
SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven,
sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me
it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven,
sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary,
when the day is long, sing to me of heaven,
sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.