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Which Soil Are U? Mt. 13:1 - 23 Pt. 2

September 20, 2015 Speaker: Jim Galli Series: The Gospel of Matthew

Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 13:1–13:23

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1That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.

3And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5“Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6“But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7“Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8“And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9“He who has ears, let him hear.”

18“Hear then the parable of the sower. 19“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20“The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet 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. 22“And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

Last week we began looking at this famous discourse of Jesus teaching by means of parables. Metaphors. Simple stories, word pictures, that have a deeper parallel meaning.

We said that without someone to tell you what the parallel meaning is, they would be impossible to understand. Meaningless little stories about everyday life, of interest to no one. Remember, this was pre-facebook.

We also said the reason for that impossible to understand double talk was judgement. They refused to see, refused to hear, refused all of the miracles, all of the evidence until finally God reached an impasse with Israel.

When they said He just does tricks because of Satanic powers, a door closed for Israel, and opened for the nations.

The same day, Jesus went down to the sea shore, and the next things out of his mouth are un-intelligible to the rejectors. Dopey little stories about nothing in particular. Farmers and merchants. Housewives and fishermen. Every day stuff of no importance.

His own family thought He'd lost His mind. They came to do an intervention. Is He Satan, or a scrambled egg?

But then something marvelous happened. The disciples question why He was teaching with meaningless parables and He says, the door is shut to them, but it's swung wide open to you. The fathers and the prophets would have loved to see and understand the things that will be revealed to these 12 disciples who have given up everything to follow Him.

2,000 years have passed. The parables are about the church age, and while the disciples are standing at the threshold barely trying to imagine what these things might mean, here we are with the whole history of the church behind us to look at. Some of us think we're as close to the end as they were to the beginning. X2

These parables are really for us. There's something here for every era of the church age, but we have a particularly spectacular vantage point looking back through all the eras of the church. 20-20 hindsight.

What we see clearly now that they couldn't have imagined is that 5 out of 7 of these parables picture a church that is a strange mix of good and evil. The church is God's little enclave right smack in the middle of Satan's world, and he's going to do anything he can to hinder and damage God's purposes.

In other words, the church from beginning to end is never a clear cut black and white contrast. It is 256 shades of gray between black and white. And to make it more interesting, we don't always get it right, as far as who's a christian, a real born again believer, and who is not.

God looks down on this mess and He sees, He knows. We can get it wrong. Paul struggled with this just like we do. He warned Timothy;

2Tim. 2:19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness." 20Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.…

The bottom line in these parable picture stories of the church throughout it's ages is that the church is partially populated with people who think they're christians, they profess to be christians, they hang out at the christian place, they're in the church, they have a false assurance that everything is OK, and yet they are not regenerated. They aren't indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Their lives haven't changed. And the church is a revolving door as these folks come and go.

Our good friend and confidant, Gary Flood, and myself have an ongoing conversation about this very fact. He thinks I'm a pessimist. I think he's an optimist. Pew research says there are 2,168,330,000 christians in the world. Or 31.4% of the worlds population. Almost 1/3 of the worlds peoples.

But how does PEW define a christian? Catholics. Pentecostals. Evangelicals. Charismatics. Other (Mormon, etc.)

Of that 31% you will wind up with about 2.5% who claim to be evangelicals. The group that claims to believe a minimum of truths associated with the gospel that might actually mean they are regenerated. But even within that group, the church has become so luke warm that I have to ask, of the 2.5% of the world who have understood the gospel, what is the number that's actually going to leave in the rapture.

Told you. I lean towards a rather pessimistic view. I'm not the first pessimist though. Not the first to ask this question. In Luke 13 we find this discussion;

22 And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there only a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, 24 "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.…

So with that as our introduction, let's look at the parable of the sower. Some teachers change the name to the parable of the soils. The sower isn't key to any of the different eventualities, but the soil IS.

3And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5“Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6“But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7“Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8“And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9“He who has ears, let him hear.”

Years ago, there was a community garden in Tonopah up behind the hospital area. People had plots of ground and could cultivate a garden away from their homes if they didn't have room or decent ground where they lived.

Similarly, this sower goes out to sow. In Israel at that time, the land was divided up into plots and farmers in small villages everywhere would walk a distance to their allotted fields and sow their crops. He went out to sow. Away from his residence to sow.

And so the word picture is quite simple. There's a farmer, a sower who has a cloth or leather seed bag, and there isn't any mechanization, he simply walks in his acres and broadcasts the seed onto the ground. And that's the last we see of the sower.

The seed is a constant. It's all the same. But the results at harvest time are very different. Why? Because of the different soil conditions. Three of the possibilities don't make it to the harvest. One does. Hard pan soil, no harvest. Rocky soil, no harvest. Weed choked soil, no harvest. Good soil = great harvest.

Now I'm going to steal shamelessly from a couple of illustrations that John MacArthur has given. Poorly I might add. You would do well to listen to his MP-3's. Grace To You dot org.

Maybe, maybe it's the sower who's at fault here. Maybe he's too plain. What happens if the sower goes to Beverly Hills and gets a designer seed bag? He gets a little more hip. Flashy faux alligator patent leather shiny seed bag. Does that help? OF course, the answer is NO. Style has nothing to do with yeild.

Another illustration I just love. The sower has a little red headed 4 year old and there's no way this kid is staying home. So he gets him a little mini seed bag and puts some of the seeds in there and the boy is following his dad, doing just what he does. The best a 4 year old can.

Does that make a difference? Nope. Same exact 4 results. So, it isn't the dexterity or style of the sower that matters. It's all about the soils. 3 are never harvested. One is.

So far this isn't about anything. A little story about a farmer in near eastern culture 2000 years ago. What does it mean? What's it about?

Jesus is going to tell us. Via his disciples, who wrote it down, 2,000 years ago, so that we would have His exact words. Intact. Just as He said them.

That's amazing, in itself. It must be important. Almost nothing anybody else said 2,000 years ago is recorded anywhere. 6 copies of Homer's Iliad. Thousands of copies of these words of Jesus. Think that might be important?

This is only for the disciples now. The other accounts tell us, when they were alone, He said these things. This is for them, and us, but not for the unbelievers in Israel.

18“Hear then the parable of the sower. 19“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.

Hear then . . stop right there. What is the judgement on Israel. Deafness. They can't hear. Or understand. Thus, this capacity of the disciples to obey Jesus command to hear, is a great blessing. Hearing leads to life.

Two times as Jesus explains this parable we'll see the word suniemi (soon-ee'-ay-mee). It's the word that we get our word synthesis. We synthesize facts by putting ideas together. The greek word is translated understand.

The judgement on Israel is that the sound waves are there, they physically hear, but they do not understand. Paul says to the jews the word of Christ is a stumbling block and to greeks, it's idiotic. In both cases, the judgement of deafness is there.

Was Paul thinking of this very parable when he wrote to the Romans in chapter 10:…16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?" 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Hear then. Get those ears open. Listen to the gospel. 18“Hear then the parable of the sower.

19“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.

Now, we want to dis-assemble that sentence just this first time. We don't need to do it again, but we need to define some components here.

When anyone . . . OK, who is that in the parable. People. Any one. I'm no english teacher, but that is an adjective that assumes peoples. The soils are people who are going to have an opportunity to . . what? Hear. Hear. People of any place in any time who get to hear the Word of Christ, these are the soil.

What then is the word of Christ that they get to hear? The seed.

Now for our purposes today, we're going to assume that the seed is good seed. It's the real, saving gospel. The word of Christ and His kingdom.

The next parable is going to consider defective seed and the results, but for our purposes today, the soils are all the people in the world, and the seed is the gospel about Jesus. Stay with me now as we compare the lines in the original parable directly with Jesus explanation.

The original parable; 4and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.

...explained by Jesus; 19“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.

There's our word understand again. Synthesize. The words went out in sound waves but the hearer doesn't put them together into anything meaningful.

OK, I've got a bunch of miracle glasses in a box at the back by the organ, and I'm going to pass those out, and when you put them on, you're going to be able to see spirit beings. NOT. Wish I had some of those for you. Wish it was that easy.

But according to this verse, when the gospel is preached to the world, there is spiritual activity happening. Spiritual warfare. This isn't crazy talk. Jesus just said, when the message isn't understood, the evil one comes and snatches it away. Gone. He doesn't think of it again.

The seed landed on hard pan. A pathway about 4 people abreast in width that is used daily by all the folks walking from one place to another. A road for feet. After a while, it's like a steam roller has compacted that soil.

They guy's throwing the seed, and some of it simply lands on this compacted highway for feet, and it sort of bounces, and it lays on top. And the birds are waiting, waiting, and as soon as the sower has moved on a couple of hundred feet, those birds will have a meal.

I always think of this parable when Karl is standing outside the Post Office sharing and singing. Throwing seed all over the place and it's bouncing on the sidewalk. Maybe. Maybe, but what happens when that one time, a person who is good soil stumbles upon that sidewalk at that time?

What makes it even better is Karl's difficulty in sight. He understands this parable. The sower doesn't matter. Broadcast seed. Let God take care of the soil.

Now then, a couple of ground rules for interpreting these parables. The symbols are consistent.

Soil is always the world. The peoples of the world. Seed is always the message. Whether good or bad. It's the message given. Birds get a bad rap. Because they move about in the air, like unseen spirits also do, they get this evil connotation. Birds are evil influence. Here and elsewhere.

So then, soil no. 1 is hard pan. The seed doesn't even get into the soil. No germination is possible. The birds of the air come and eat it. It's vanished. Obviously, no harvest is possible here.

Let's move on to the second soil type.

The original parable, vss. 5,6; 5 “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

And Jesus explanation of it beginning in vs. 20 “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet 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.

Now, I'm going to introduce a problem for you. An interpretation that is foreign to 20th century evangelicals. Brace yourselves. Some of you will go home and be offended and think I'm a heretic.

The seed can undergo germination both here and in the next scenario and that does not mean the person is going to be in the kingdom. In order to be in the kingdom of God, germination doesn't mean anything. You have to make it to the harvest.

99 times out of a hundred modern evangelicals will call this germination event, what? Salvation. And then we good Calvinistas will lock it down with the doctrine of once saved always saved.

And so you'll be at a funeral of some guy who lived a total life of selfish sin, never changed, in church for 5 minutes and then back in the world and never a thought of spiritual things again, and on his grave, some evangelical preacher will tell you he's in heaven. He prayed a prayer when he was 11. That's good enough.

No! I'm here telling you that seed germination is not enough. The ones who make it to the harvest, those are the christians. These folks who come in the revolving door and go out again and we never see them again. They aren't christians.

John addresses this very idea. 1Jn. 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.…

I included the first part of vs. 20 there. But you have an annointing with the Holy One. The ones who remain to the harvest are the ones who have an annointing. They are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. True salvation.

“The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet 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

Here the word is synthesized. Understood. Received. Very often with joy! But look at the next thing Jesus says. he has no firm root in himself

no firm root in himself. The problem here is, all he has is his own root. Living christians have another root. Listen again to Jesus on the night of His arrest. The last things He says to His disciples. In John 15:1 - 6 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

The situation here with the shallow soil is the root. He only has himself. And that isn't a firm root. Temporary christians. That is an oxy-moron.

Germination takes place. Joy is present. It looks real to us. The Spirit doesn't dwell in their hearts. They are temporary, but that in itself proves, they were never really christians. Anything and everything causes them to leave.

and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away

Or not. Some of these folks hang around for years.

Satan isn't stupid. He started out with the blow torch method on the church and all it did was make it stronger. Then he read this parable. Hmmm. affliction and persecution makes these temporary christians go away. What would happen if you removed any of those obstacles. No persecution. No affliction. Anything goes. No doctrine. No standards. Nothing that makes the church any different than the world around it. No pressure at all! No cost. No expectations.

I present to you, the first church of the tares. Evangelicalism and all the other whatsits out there are brim full of temporary christians, and they don't go out, they don't wither, because there simply isn't any heat.

What would be left in the mega church 101 churches if suddenly there was persecution. Real affliction. Real cost to follow Jesus. All the temporary christians who are comfortable but have no connecting root . . . gone like the wind.

Satan finally got smart. He removed the affliction and the persection and the churches are filled to the brim with tares. The luke warm church. Welcome to Laodicea.

He also did something else smart. And that's in the next soil type.

7“Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.

22“And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Here is a 3rd soil type. Weed choked soil. Again there is confusion for us. Germination happens. Harvest does not. We think germination is salvation. Lots of confusion over this.

I remember my salvation experience. August 26th 1970. At a camp of kids from Grace Community Church that was at Westmont College. John MacArthur spoke about "how to know the will of God".

It was an evening session for christians only. Don't come unless you're a christian. Well, I thought I was a christian, so I went. I was interested in a couple of sisters who would be there. It's all good.

John's second point. You have to be indwelt with the Holy Spirit. If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. Ro. 8:9

I forgot about the girls. I didn't hear any other sermon points. Who is the Holy Spirit? Maybe I'm not a christian after all??! I didn't even know there was a Holy Spirit. How could I "have" Him inside me then. And if that's what defines a christian, I guess I'm not one.

And these kids around me! Whatever it is they have, I want it, at any cost. It's better than anything the world around me has. So, I wait. And wait. And wait. John isn't known for brevity.

After the service I get in the line to talk to John. But people keep getting behind me in the line, and I want him to myself for a minute, so I keep getting out of line and going to the end. Finally it's just me and John. I said, I didn't even know there was a Holy Spirit. I guess I'm not a christian. John says, do you want to be? I said yes, and we prayed some little prayer of repentence and acceptance. Come into my heart Lord Jesus.

But then John nicely said something I haven't heard anyone say since. He said, that prayer doesn't mean you're a christian. We'll know if you're a christian if you take root and you're here 6 months from now. 6 years from now.

John understood this parable. He can't tell by looking at me which soil I am. Germination happened. We both knew that. Will you still be hanging around at the harvest? Happy to report, that was 45 years ago, and I'm still here. The joy that flooded my soul has seen many seasons, but it's still tangible.

Back to soil number 3. 22“And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

This one covers a host of possibilities. What if you live in Syria and hear and understand the gospel. What if the worry of keeping your head on your shoulders outweighs the little plant that was germinated?

Or what if you're an American christian. What if peer pressure from all the good old boys you work with becomes more important to you than the little germinated plant of the gospel you heard and understood?

What if you hang around the other christians for a while but you can't get ahead in your job, you can't get to the next level, and be a christian?

What if you simply love the money, or the acceptance of your fellows, more than you love the idea of Jesus and what He did for you on the cross?

What if anything this world has for you is more important to you than the whole christian thing? Sex outside of marriage to one person, for life. That's a biggie these days. You understand the gospel, and it does sort of make logical sense but, no thanks. I'll take the world and it's goodies, instead. Too big a price to give up sexual pleasures, on my terms, in order to have Jesus.

I was in Goldfield last Tuesday with Tina and there was a guy selling stuff from a booth and he has the Jesus Wanted poster and hands out all kinds of tracts with his business card. We're standing there talking with him and all of a sudden the conversation turns to a new girlfriend he has that he's trying to get to go camping with him at his mining claims.

I said, wait a minute here? You're this big christian handing out these tracts and got this Jesus poster up but it's OK to go camping with your girlfriend?? He said, Oh we're not having sex, we're just fooling around. Wink wink.

Fooling around with Jesus, and the world. No pressure. No consequences. No expectations. No membership. No requirements. No accountability. In the church. Fooling around. Will he make it to the harvest?

Well, there's one remaining soil of the 4. The only soil that produces grain that's going to be harvested.

8“And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9“He who has ears, let him hear.

I've been referring over and over to a harvest. And you may have been questioning that. Where does it say you have to be in the harvest? Haven't heard that before.

See it there in vs. 8. This soil yeilded a crop. Harvest is inferred. That's what you do with a crop. The other seeds did not produce a yield. A crop. They germinated, but died somewhere along the way. No crop. No harvest. John 4:35 "Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest '? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Jesus is all about the harvest.

23“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

We don't want to be parable pushers. We don't want to force the parable to say something it wasn't designed to say.

There's a lot of discussion about what constitutes the fruit here.

God keeps taking me back to the first page in the bible. Genesis 1. Verse 11. Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so.

Would we be pushing the parable to say that if we are christians, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we are in a vast enterprise to glorify God by reproducing ourselves? After our kind.

Does that mean every one of us should be out on the side walk in front of the post office? Probably not. But we should be working together, as a body, as a team, to reproduce ourselves.

I discovered that christians had something I wanted by being surrounded by christians. It was obvious!

Margie works hard to keep our little love feast going on every 3rd Sunday. Will someone eating with us discover what I discovered? There's something to all this? That's fruit. Margie's pulling for the kingdom.

Every one of us who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit has a gift that we need to be using, pulling for the common goal, the glory of God in His church.

Arlene works hard to sort out our books, our finances. She's pulling for the common goal of this church, to be seen in the world, set apart, for the glory of God. That's fruit.

Ted leads the singing. Mike does the announcements. Kat prints the bulletins. Jeff fixes a thousand little things and is sort of ever-present. He takes care of business things for us. And he works the canned music. I study and teach / preach. I want the word of God to build you up. Muscle you up. For the work of service. For the Glory of our God.

Hopefully, all of us, no matter what we do, have prepared an answer for anyone that sees that we're different, and have something they want, and asks us how they can have what we have.

This parable, and it's explanation by the Lord Jesus, challenges us to ask ourselves the obvious question. Which soil am I? Have I given my life to Jesus. Am I His. Does His Holy Spirit live inside me. Have I invited Him into my life. Is the Spirit of God producing fruit in my life that glorifies God and furthers the Kingdom of God, on this earth?