Four Responses to The Word

The Parable of the Sower
Mark 4:2-9 ESV

“And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: ‘Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.’ And he said, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’”

The Meaning of the Parable
Mark 4:14-20 ESV

“The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

A Practical Application

So, the Farmer (the Sower) is God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and the seed is the Word of God (the Scriptures, the Bible – Genesis to Revelation, and the counsel of the Holy Spirit by which we are to be led – Romans 8:14). And the people are representing four types of soil which receive (or not) the seed (the Word) that is planted in them. And the birds represent Satan who snatches the word from people’s ears, minds and hearts.

Soil #1: These are people who hear the Word of God spoken to them, or they read it in writing, but still they hear it. But immediately Satan comes and he snatches it away from their ears, minds, and hearts. Have you ever witnessed this happening to anyone? I have! I have seen someone moved by the voice of the Holy Spirit, and by the teachings of the Scriptures, even to tears, and then watched as his face turned cold and hard as stone.

So, is it Satan’s fault if they continue in sin and they don’t follow Jesus in obedience? No! We each are responsible for the truth that we hear and know and read. Even Romans 1 tells us that we are without excuse because God has revealed himself to us through his created works, and yet people, by their unrighteous deeds, suppress the truth. For although they know of God and of his divine nature, they do not honor him as God (Rom 1:18-32).

Soil #2: What is another term for rocky? What came to mind immediately was unstable (erratic, unpredictable). So this would be like a person who is in the practice of going by his feelings. So this could be someone who made an emotional decision, perhaps at an altar, to believe in Jesus. So, if it feels good, he goes with it, but then he can easily be swayed a different direction. This reminds me of the double-minded person talked about in James 1:5-8.

But when the reality of what it means to be a Christian “hit the fan,” he (or she) deserted. For he did not count the cost of following Jesus with his life before he made that emotional decision to believe in Jesus. So his faith was surface level only, and it never really took root in his heart. And so he followed the Christian path for a little while until he faced some persecution and/or suffering, because of the Word, and then he went with his emotions.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 10:37-38; Lu 9:23-26,57-62; Lu 14:25-33; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 8:51; Jn 10:27-30; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; See also: Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 4:17-24; Eph 5:3-6; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

Soil #3: I have always seen this soil type as someone who believed in Jesus, and who lived the Christian life for a while, but then over time the things of the world began to creep back into his (or her) life. For there is no indication that this is what took place immediately. And this can happen to any of us, please know this! And this is why the Scriptures are filled with warnings to the church to guard against such as this.

And the Scriptures do address parts of the church in various places with specific incidents of spiritual adultery, and of the need for Christians to repent of their sins and to go back to living in faithful obedience to the Lord. But with these warnings are the reality of what will happen to us if we do not repent, and if we do not return to the ways of the Lord. We will not inherit eternal life with God regardless of what we professed as our faith.

[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Soil #4: Now I want us to get this, for this is critical that we understand this. We are not saved and going to heaven on a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Lip service only will not get us into God’s heaven. Jesus said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. Obedience to God and death to sin, in practice, are required for salvation.

Now you may balk at that idea, but please read the noted Scriptures above. It is what the Scriptures teach. And it is why we have so many warnings in the Scriptures, given to the church, which caution us against getting lazy about our walks of faith, and which caution us against being led astray by false doctrines of men, and which caution us against falling back into sin, and which warn us of the fires of hell. Please take these seriously!

The Scriptures make it clear that it is those of us who walk according to the Spirit, and who do not walk according to the flesh, and who walk in obedience to the Lord in righteousness, and who do not walk (in conduct, in practice) in sin who have the hope of eternal salvation and eternal life with God. This is what it means to be believing in Jesus, for faith is obedience, and disobedience is unbelief (1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13).

“But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

Jesus spoke to his disciples when he described himself as the “true vine,” with God the Father as the vinedresser (John 15). And the first thing he said was that every branch in him that does not bear fruit he takes away. And further on down in the passage he said that if anyone does not abide in him, he is thrown away, and he is thrown in the fire and burned. And he is talking about branches that are in him. He is speaking of Christians.

But then he said that every branch that does bear fruit he prunes (disciplines in love) so that we bear more fruit (in keeping with repentance). And he taught that we are to abide in him for we cannot bear fruit (for the kingdom of God) unless we abide (continue, remain) in him, and in his word, and in walks of obedience, in submission, and in daily putting sin to death. So, if you want salvation from sin and eternal life with God, this is a must!

Happiness is the Lord

By Ira F. Stanphill

Happiness is to know the Savior
Living a life within His favor
Having a change in my behavior
Happiness is the Lord!

Happiness is a new creation
Jesus and me in close relation
Having a part in His salvation
Happiness is the Lord!

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