A Voice in the
"But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: this indeed a hundredfold, that sixty, that thirty" (Mt13:8, Lk8:8)
"he...hears the Word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces...having heard the Word with an honest and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with steadfastness" (Mt13:23 & Lk8:15)
How does a person 'understand' the Word? The Ethiopian invited Philip up into his chariot to have it explained to him, after Philip had asked, "do you 'understand' what you are reading?". (Ac8:30-35) Through "preaching" (Rom10:14) By definition, what is preaching? Is it not a process of proclaiming and informing? What is another word for 'inform'? To "teach" Again, by definition, "doctrine".
Oh, but... Doesn't -doctrine- "chase them away"? That's what today's apostasy proclaims. In each of the three preceding seeds, do we see any sort of "understanding"? If it was there I missed it. In fact, Jesus' description of the 'birds' is that they DO NOT UNDERSTAND it. And we concluded that those are the ones minus God's Word; it has been snatched away; they are NOT saved. How does a person know how to "count the cost" if he does not understand 'what' it is of that which he is counting? This sort can -only- come through the doctrine of the Word. (1Ti5:17, Tit1:9)
How much understanding is there from a 5-minute chat, and a tract shoved under one's nose, where the person is exhorted to "repeat after me" this (ritual) prayer, and now, Voila!, you're 'saved'! Many do not even understand the true nature of the Most High, -the- Creator of the heavens and earth, and all things on the earth. It would take 'time' to explain even those basic truths...how in the world can the entire scope of original sin, rebellion, death, Jesus' substitutionary atonement, repentance and faith all be crammed into a -quick- 5-minute "soul-winning" session, and then proudly count coup to the fellow soul-winners back at the barn? Such a 'convert' did NOT 'understand'. They are not a TRUE believer! Due to the 'quick' nature of the strategy, if you recall the lesson, they were some of the 'birds'.
When a seed is planted, it is not like Jack's 'beanstalk' where the very next day the seeds had sprouted into a tall plant. Radishes may sprout within a few days. But corn takes over a week before you begin to see the 'spears' poking through the ground. The world does not know the Most High. They are so busy with their spirituality and self-deification, that they are in ignorance of the True God. He must be described and explained to them. When the US dollar bill says "In God we Trust", to most people that is -not- the Most High, creator of the universe. It is something else of their own imaginations. To change their understanding around it takes 'time'.
Do you get the picture? You (so-called) soul-winners... are you understanding?
Next: the Word must be 'received'. It is only those who "receive" Jesus who become children of God. (Jn1:12) It is received with an "honest" heart. It does not see the soul-winner coming, utter a curse under their breath, and play-along in "repeat after me" in order to "get rid" of the harassment. But when they hear with understanding, they "keep" the Word.
And then: their growth is with "steadfastness". The writer to the Hebrews spoke of the need of "endurance": "For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:" (Heb10:36) Jesus said that the one "who endures to the end shall be kept safe" (Mt24:13) (Different context, perhaps, but the same principle)
The True Believer; the Fruitful Believer is one who: 1) understands due to proclamation of doctrine, 2) receives it with an honest heart, and 3) endures to the end.
It is faith. In the same context Jesus speaks of the mustard seed; in this case not a 'weed' as in the previous lesson such as proliferates in N.American farm fields, but as a garden herb plant. A tiny seed, which compared to other seeds is not noteworthy. But when it grows it is of such dimensions that birds will come and perch on its branches.
Jesus told this parable to illustrate these four scenarios we have just observed. I also see another little truth. In the first lesson we observed how God's Word is presented to the whole world. Whether every human being knows the name "Jesus", God has left a witness of Himself. But not everybody is saved. In fact, only a "few" are. (Mt7:14)
Many people who call themselves "christian" think the best way to evangelize is with the stadium crusades, where thousands of people come flocking to hear; where, in turn, people are invited to come "forward" by the "hundreds...from where you are sitting". One evangelist in particular used to always proclaim how Jesus always invited people "publicly"; therefore he did, too.
But you see...when the seed is scattered widely and wildly, what is the result? The birds snatch it up, it ends up on dry rock, it ends up in the weeds. All of those scenarios, when a person is "saved", and then fall away because they did not have the "full true knowledge" (Ro1:28); that -great- evangelistic campaign was actually a DIS-service to those souls. The ones who got saved did so -quickly-, based on the emotions of the moment, as the evangelist was inviting, "I want -hundreds- of you to come!"...but then, when they fell away and drew back, they can never -again- be saved. (Heb6:4-6) That evangelist actually consigned them to hell! He was satan's messenger of doom ...because He did not follow Godly Scriptural principles!
But when the seed is carefully 'planted' where the rich soil is ready to receive it and nurture it, where the gardener is pre-weeding, the plants grow lush and produce to overflowing. And the most the birds can hope for is to sit on the branches and 'cheep' a lot. Maybe they can munch on the corn tassles...but their munching only 'helps' the pollination process of the corn. Where the enemy had hoped to snatch away God's Word, his emissaries instead 'help' the growth of God's garden.
"Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor has stood in the way of sinners, nor has sat in the seat of the scornful"....he's not being choked out by the weeds..."But his delight is in the Law of Jehovah; and in His Law he meditates day and night"...with steadfastness. "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water...in the fruitful soil...that brings forth its fruit in its season, and its leaf shall not wither, and all that he does shall prosper." (Ps1:1-3)
And to the one who prospers, "more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him" (Lk8:18) He -seems- to be a Christian, bound for Heaven...but is not...and will find himself in the "outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" That's the "sons of the kingdom" Jesus is talking about. (Mt8:12) The ones crying out, "Lord, Lord" didn't we do all sorts of impressive ministry and miracles? And Jesus retorts, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who work out lawlessness!" (Mt7:21-23) as they are "cast into the furnace of fire. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Mt13:42)
Thus... "...from their fruits you will know them" (vs20)
Jesus often closed His discourses with: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Mt13:9) But it's not enough to merely 'hear'...
Not only the ears, but also with the heart... "take heed -HOW- you hear" (Lk8:18)