Last night, in our Wednesday night Bible study, the subject was the parable of the sower. (Luke 8:4-18)
We live in an area where every other yard (not ours!!) has a garden. Our nearest neighbor has a huge crop of beautiful greens even now, after frost, freeze and many dry days. And I remember watching her out there sowing the seeds. With such care she made mounds of soil, with care she pressed the seed to the proper depth, with even greater care she watered the soil and then kept it watered until the seedlings were big enough to get by on the meager amounts of rain and the morning dew.
And when Jesus spoke to His disciples about the soil, the seed and the sower, He was trying to illustrate the importance of His Word.
He described four different places where the seed had fallen, the roadside, on the rocks, in the thorns and then thankfully onto good soil.
Seeds that might fall along the road would either be walked on or eaten by birds. Seeds that fall onto rocky soil might sprout but without any care, would die. Seeds falling into an area of weedy thorns would not survive because those thorny weeds, stronger and more numerous, would choke them out. But seeds falling onto good soil would not only grow and prosper, but would produce a hundred times what was sown.
Now after Jesus had said all of that, His disciples asked Him the meaning of what He had just said, and He said, “You have been given the chance to understand the secrets of the kingdom of God, but the others are given parables so that they may go through life with their eyes open and ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand” (Luke 8:9-10; JB Phillips)
That the disciples asked Him what it all meant is very important. Our study leader last evening made a very good observation about parables. He said, “Jesus uses parables to interest and awaken those whose spiritual senses were growing dull. But the same message that would awaken one could also harden another.”
To be hearers of His Word but not know the full and true intent or extent of what we hear will for certain open us to be either mistaken or defective in our knowledge and understanding. James 1:8 says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
And Peter, speaking of the Apostle Paul’s letters said, “He speaks about these things in all his letters in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.” (2 Peter 3:16)
To some of us, the Scriptures are truth, plain and simple. Whether we were taught from our diaper days that fact or it was like a light that went on in our hearts suddenly without warning sometime along life’s way is not important, the important fact is, we not only have an opportunity to learn of Him and His Word, but we consider it a privilege to do just that. So the soil of our hearts may not be perfect, may not be totally free of rocks and thorns, but we are fully aware of our debt to Him for His free grace in our lives.
And to those who still scoff or are only amused by the Word of God, for those who believe that the Gospel is just some cunningly devised fable, there is likely nothing we can do to change their hearts. Their doubts do not come from a lack of evidence. And even if the evidence could be enlarged in some way, made more dynamic or dramatic, that would not remove their doubts.
The truths that caught the attention of our hearts and brought a conviction leading to our salvation, will bring only more doubt and unbelief in another’s heart.
There is nothing that can be done on the outside that can bring faith.
That is why Jesus compared the condition of the soil to the human heart.
In Matthew 13, Jesus said of the good ground that it was as one “who hears and understands“ and in Mark 4 the good soil was likened to one who welcomes the Word and holds onto it.
But dry hard packed, rocky and thorn filled soil is like one who has no real sense of the evil of sin. For this reason, he can’t put any faith in the Word of God or the justice of God. But when anyone in that condition has their conscience pricked with this truth, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36), the Word of His truth will settle into the soil of that heart and it will bring forth repentance that leads to salvation. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
The Word of God demands faith, immediate and complete. Faith can’t be separated from God’s Word. And no matter where the Word is sown, that demand for faith goes with it as does the evidence that the Word is true.
Let us pray without fail, that the Holy Spirit, in ways that only He knows, will continue to remove the rocks and the thorns, and soften the soil of the hearts of those around us who fail to see the evidence of the divine nature of God’s Word, so that the simple truth of His Word will produce a good crop of which the first fruits will be repentance and salvation.