The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
October 23, 2011


1) The Parable of the Seed and the Sower (conclusion) (Tom Edwards)


The Parable of the Seed and the Sower

by Tom Edwards

Last week, we began considering "The Parable of the Seed and the Sower," in which the "seed" is representing God's word; and where it is planted or scattered is representing the different hearts of men.  Let us now consider more of that parable and bring it to a conclusion.  

In Matthew 13:5,6, Jesus says the following: "And others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil.  But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away."  Jesus then shows the spiritual meaning of this in Matthew 13:20,21, by saying, "...this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away."   

Is it nothing more than a fad for why some people become "Christians"?  If so, what kind of commitment would that be?  Had they really counted the cost of discipleship, and will they do well in persevering for the cause of Christ?  I remember in the late 60's and early 70's of many young people who were exploring different religions -- Far Eastern ones as well as what was being taught for Christianity.  For the latter, some were referred to as "Jesus People" and even disparagingly as "Jesus Freaks," but the members then took that name to refer to themselves in a positive way in what was referred to as "The Jesus Movement," which phased out by the early 80's.  So it does appear to have been to many people merely a new trend to be temporarily tried.  

What is really sad, however, is that much of what many people had given themselves over to, though they were led to believe it was the gospel, really wasn't the complete gospel at all.  So, unfortunately, they were not a part of the "real" thing.  Even today, some people. who would call themselves Christians, have denied the miracles of the Bible, have denied the deity of Christ, have denied the eternal nature of Christ, have denied the divine inspiration of the word of God, have denied the need for obedience to God's word, and have denied God's plan of salvation that is revealed in the Scriptures and have replaced it with different man-made plans that can't save anyone -- such as those who would deny the need to be baptized in water (see Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3,4; 1 Pet. 3:21) and teach that one can become a Christian by praying "a sinner's prayer" (which is nowhere taught in the NT).  Many religious groups believe that the miraculous gifts in the early church are still for our time (which are not), and then give a fake and powerless appearance to the world by claiming to have these gifts, but are then not able to perform them to back up their claims.  No wonder so many have become disillusioned by this brand of so-called "Christianity"; and, not knowing any better, have become turned off to even God's truth (by their misunderstandings or instilled misconceptions of it).  

In His parable, Jesus speaks of these falling away "when affliction or persecution arises because of the word" (Matt. 13:21).  But He also shows that their real problem was not just these adversities they encountered for His cause; but, rather, that they were not well-grounded in God's word.  

Many early Christians, however, were grounded enough in the Scriptures to realize that whatever difficulty they would have to endure for the cause of Christ would be worth it.  For Jesus teaches in Matthew 16:24-26, "...If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.  For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"   

The idea of taking up one's cross indicates not just any suffering, but suffering that would be incurred for serving the Lord.  The one who would wish to "save his life" is the one who would deny the Lord to avoid martyrdom; but whoever "loses his life...shall find it" refers to those would would rather be put to death for the cause of Christ than to deny Him.  These will have an eternal life to enjoy.  

Jesus then says in Matthew 13:7, "And others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out."  Again, we look to the spiritual meaning of this in verse 22.  Jesus says, "...this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful."

In this verse, "worry" is from the Greek word "merimna," which Thayer defines as "care, anxiety."  Bullinger shows this word to mean, "dividing or distracting the mind; then, that which does so, as care, thought, esp. anxious care, trouble" (A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament).  

When worry distracts it is also obstructing, as the Lord indicates in Luke 21:34-36: "Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth.  But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."  We, therefore, need to take heed to Peter's exhortation to "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:6,7).  

Jesus also shows in Matthew 13:22 that some have hindered their spiritual development, due to "the deceitfulness of riches."  Paul also speaks of the dangers of greed in 1 Timothy 6:9,10: "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang."

In 1 Timothy 6:17, Paul refers to "the uncertainty of riches" and points out that it is not what we should base our hope on; but, rather, in God "who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy."  

This "uncertainty of riches" is also spoken of in Proverbs 23:4,5: "Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it.  When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens."

Mark and Luke include a third thing to "worry" and "the deceitfulness of riches" that can choke the word.  They also mention "the desires for other things" and "pleasures of this life," respectively.  

Thayer defines the Greek word for "desires" as "desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust."  James Strong points out that it is "a longing (especially for what is forbidden)."  It is mainly translated as "lusts" in the NT, and seen as "leading to impurity" (Rom. 1:24) and not what one should yield to (Rom. 6:12).  For this kind of lust can "wage war against the soul" (1 Pet. 2:11).  It is also rendered as "coveting" (Rom. 7:7,8).  Though this term is used a few times for a good kind of desire (Phil. 1:23, 1 Thes. 2:17, Luke 22:15), it is seen more often in the NT as desires that are "harmful" (1 Tim. 6:9), "worldly" (Titus 2:12), "corrupt" (2 Pet. 2:10), "fleshly" (2 Pet.  2:18), and of the devil (Jn. 8:44).  Thus, this type of "lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes" is not from the Father (1 Jn. 2:16).  "Lust" is referred to as being a reason for the corruption in the world (2 Pet. 1:4); and when it is yielded to, it will lead to sin, which will lead to spiritual death (Jam. 1:15).

The Greek word for "pleasures" (Luke 8:14) is "hedone."  In the NASB it is rendered once as "pleasure" and four times as "pleasures."  In Titus 3:3, Paul refers to the time, prior to salvation, when they had been "enslaved to various lusts and PLEASURES."  For it was when they had been foolish, disobedient, and deceived.  In James 4:1, James points out to the brethren that the source of their quarrels and conflicts among themselves is their "pleasures that wage war in your members."  He also informs them that, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures."  Sinful pleasures of the world, which will keep one separated from God, would never be worth it -- even if you had a billion years to enjoy them.  Rather, we need to be more like Moses, who had "...refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward."

Lastly, Jesus speaks of the kind of person we should be in Matthew 13:8: "And others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."  The soil depicted here is figuratively signifying, "...the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."  In the parallel account of Luke 8:15, this is rendered as, "And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance."

Contrary to the thinking of many people today, we are not born into this world "totally depraved," as prevalently taught in our time and with the idea that man not only does not have the ability to obey God, but man also does not have even the desire to do so.   For as Jesus shows, the "good soil" is representing those who have heard the word with "an honest and good heart, and hold it fast..." (ibid.).  

For those who garden -- even if it is just a plant or two -- we enjoy seeing our plant or plants reach maturity.  We will, therefore, also see to it that they are properly tended to so that will come about.  

But even more so, we should be concerned with the seed of God's word in our hearts and the hearts of others, that it, too, will reach the fruition the Lord has designed it to.  For His word is to be intertwined with our heart, with our mind, and with our soul, truly becoming a part of us and making us the spiritual people God has intended.  His word is the needed ingredient for every human being.  Without it, we are incomplete.  Therefore, may we cultivate our hearts to always be the proper soil for the seed of God's word, guarding it against anything that could corrupt or hinder that, and yielding an abundant harvest.   For it is up to us to choose (to will) what type of soil our hearts will be and to tend to that.  Rather than  being like those who were "a stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart, And whose spirit was not faithful to God" (Psa. 78:8).  By choosing the way of the Lord, we can make the difference for the better.  We can be the good soil that will yield a good crop and please our Father in heaven by submitting to the way of the Lord.  If you haven't already done so, won't you make this your choice, too?       

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
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Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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