The Sower and the Grounds
aymon de albatrus
"3 Listen; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. 5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: 6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. 9 And he said to them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear." (Mar 4:3-9)
Who is the Sower? Jesus Christ is the Master Sower, and all the men He commissions to spread the Seed all over the World are His sub-sowers (Mar 16:15). Who is the Seed? The Seed is the Gospel, the Good news, the Knowledge to Salvation in Christ, the ONLY revelation of God to men Deu 29:29. ALL we know about God is what He has chosen to reveal of Himself in His Word, the Bible. The seed is "the Word of the Kingdom."
Briefly this parable presents 4 grounds that represent the various state of the human heart (the inner essence of man, the human ego).
This packed soil beside the road represents those who "hear and do not understand" Mat 13:19. These are those who have hardened their hearts prior to hearing the Word Mat 13:15. The "birds" represent "the wicked one" (called "the devil" in Luk 8:12) who snatches away the Word from those whose hearts are hardened "blinded" by Satan to the Gospel 2Co 4:3,4.
THE STONY PLACES
This rocky soil without ground represents the one who "hears the word and immediately receives it with joy" Mat 13:20 "yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while" Mat 13:21, "when tribulation or persecution arises because of the Word, immediately he stumbles" Mat 13:21. Some hear the Word and receive it with great joy. But with no root, they are not grounded in the Word. So that when troubles arise, there is no endurance and stumbling occurs. Here we learn that an emotional reception without a strong foundation based upon the Word will not enable one to stand against tribulation and persecution. These are the people of Heb 6:4-8.
This corrupted field soil represents the one who "hears the word" Mat 13:22 but whose ability to bear fruit is choked by:
a. "Cares of this world" Mat 13:22
i. Unprepared Luk 21:34-36
ii. Anxieties Luk 12:29-32
b. "Deceitfulness of riches" Mat 13:22
i. Danger is described in 1Ti 6:9-10
ii. Feeling self-sufficient - 1Ti 6:17
c. "Pleasures of life" Luk 8:14
i. Divert our minds from the things of the Spirit Gal 5:17
ii. Sowing to the flesh make it impossible to reap in the Spirit. Gal 6:7
THE GOOD SOIL
This God prepared soil represents the one who "hears the word and understands it, indeed bears fruit and produces" Mat 13:23. He hears "the word with a noble and good heart", and then "Hears and keeps it and bears fruit with patience" Luk 8:15
a. Those with "a noble and good heart" are the ones who will understand the Word and will keep it with patience, producing fruit in their lives, like the Bereans Act 17:11.
b. Jesus in explaining the parable to Disciples made reference in Mat 13:23 to ‘understanding’ as a necessity to ‘bring forth good fruits’ and so does Paul in Col 1:5,6, and this understanding is given from above, by revelation.
c. Here some of the good fruit that a regenerated believer brings forth by his new nature as proof and result of conversion:
i. Winning souls to Christ Rom 1:13
ii. Practical holiness Rom 6:22
iii. Sharing material things - Rom 15:27
iv. Display the fruit of the Spirit Gal 5:22-23
v. Good works Col 1:10
vi. Praise & thanksgiving Heb 13:15
vii. Love (Agape) for the Brethrens 1Jo 3:14
d. Finally the regenerated believer produces an increase, i.e. multiplies himself according to the ability God has given him, as per the parable of the Talents Mat 25:14-15. On this point, the growth that one has planted is not always visible in his lifetime, remembering that it is the Lord that grants the increase in His good time 1Co 3:6 and this is His garden. Our mission is to sow the Seed; the outcome is God’s.
e. We are to exercise these God given abilities 1Pe 4:10-11
The Disciples, as usual, did not understand this Parable and asked Jesus (Luk 8:9) to explain it and why He spoke to the people in parables; He gave a very interesting reply: "He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." (Mat 13:11)
WELL, that is not very Democratic, our liberal churchgoers of today would cry in disgust. My friend in the Kingdom of God there is NO such thing as Democracy, in His Kingdom He is the Supreme Almighty God Ruler, He commands and ALL obey, immediately, most willing. If you find this offensive, then the Kingdom of God is not for you.
Not only Jesus said that but He added: "14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which said, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." (Mat 13:14-15)
Parables serve the double purpose of revealing and concealing; presenting "the mysteries of the kingdom" to those who are not in the number of God’s elect; nor within the covenant of grace, nor among the disciples of Christ. To the disciples it was given to know these truths. It was important for them, as they were to carry the gospel wherever they went, as it is given to us today. To those who were ‘blinded’, is was of course unnecessary for them to know, besides with their hardened natural hearts they would not have been able to understand 1Co 2:14.
In these verses we see the Sovereignty of God over His creation, as clearly spelled out here: "20 No but, O man, who are you that reply against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me thus? 21 Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long–suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had before prepared to glory," (Rom 9:20-23)
Jesus Christ in this text excellently sets out God’s method in his dealing with the called souls:
He brings them to hear and see,
Then He makes them to understand and believe,
Next He converts them, renews and changes their hearts, giving them a new attitude,
Thus He heals them, pardons their sins, declares them judicially Sanctified, and makes them aware of being part of His Family, working faith in them, and giving them a new heart to repent, walk in His statutes, keep His judgments, and do them Eze 36:26,27. In essence He regenerates their hearts (inner essence of man) anew, bringing them to a new spiritual Birth. It is ALL of God.
How can we tell Christians from non-Christians? Genuine Christians are fruitful in the Kingdom and Obedient to God’s Commands. Hypocritical Christians are not
Blessed Words from our Master:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples." (Joh 15:1-8)
According to this passage, genuine believers not only bear much fruit, they abide in Christ. Abiding in Christ is remaining and living completely attached in Him and this is only possible by the agency of the Holy Ghost. That means the genuine believer is not in Christ just for a season, then off for another season and then back in Christ for another season, etc. No, the genuine believer remains in Christ for ever (Rom 8:38,39). Those who remain in Christ are fruitful and manifest the Fruit of the Spirit: "22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long–suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Gal 5:22-25)
What happens to those who appeared to be attached to Christ for a while, but were unfruitful? The Father removes them and casts them into the fire. (Mat 7:19)
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desire. That means they are not living for self, but are living for Christ as they abide in Him. This is behavioural fruit. It is closely associated with the fruit of character. Genuine believers will not be similar to the world (1Jo 2:15). They will not be "chocolate soldiers." That means they will remain faithful to their Lord, in season and out, to the end. As the believer matures the fluctuations between obedience and disobedience they experience will become less and less. The more mature in the Faith we become the more we abide in Christ and less we seek what the world offers in His place. We do that by renewing the mind (Rom 12:1-2).
What is the last soil? It is the good soil prepared by God. It represents believers who hear the gospel and understand it for the Lord has opened their hearts (Act 16:14). These are genuine believers. They produce much fruit. As we have seen only those who abide (remain) in Christ are genuine believers. If they abide in Christ then they will be fruitful in the Kingdom.
Let us be clear on this issue, the ‘good ground’ of these believers was NOT self-generated, or they were good in themselves, BUT it was God alone that prepared the soil of their lives by regenerating their evil hearts. These believers cannot take any credit for it whatsoever, they did NOT even collaborated for it, for they were dead in sins and trespassed (Eph 2:1) and dead people cannot do anything for they are dead. It was God, out of His inscrutable decrees that sovereignly made them alive into a good ground able to receive the Seed of the Gospel of Christ the Saviour, blessed be He, forever and ever. It is the GIFT of God (Eph 2:8), AMEN.
The presentation of the gospel message by obedient seed sowers is what we are called to do, indiscriminately, the increase is given by the Holy Spirit to plough the ground of the good soil as He has regenerated it. Salvation comes as He regenerates the hearts of the elect as chosen by Him.
It is the condition of the soil that makes the difference, not how well the sower plants the seeds. Indeed, the sower can sow more than diligently on the other three soils, but nothing born in those will last. Unfortunately the tendency of our post-modern Churches to regress to the world’s methods of marketing to "sell" the gospel to people is simply another indication that those "Christian Leaders" are ashamed of the gospel. They are far more concerned with numbers than with presenting the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. They water it down so there is no call for repentance from sin. They produce large numbers of "converts," but very few genuine believers. Truly we are in deep decadence, not only spiritually but also morally and naturally.
We are to present the Gospel (the Seed) the way it is, to all, the increase is the Lord’s (1Co 3:6) and if it is not receive (bad grounds) we are to move on elsewhere (Luk 9:5) and not "Bible bash" anybody, God knows. Remembering, that just because someone is now on the pathway, or rocky or thorny soils, does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not ploughing their hearts to break up their soil unto good soil that can eventually hear and understand the truth of the Word of the Kingdom another time by someone else. After all we, ourselves, were one time there before the Grace of the Lord (1Co 6:9-11).
To summarize the point of the Parable of the Sower: A man’s reception of God’s Word is determined by the condition of his heart, and true Salvation is more than a superficial, albeit joyful, hearing of the Gospel. The salt proof is that someone who is truly saved by God will go on to prove it by his action over time.
INDEED: "He that has ears to hear, let him hear."