Years ago I had preached a sermon on the need for salvation and was invited to followup in a home with an interested person. I spoke and represented the gospel while the family listened. The individual seemed to understand but was not prepared to make a clear commitment to Jesus Christ. I did not press the matter further, but prayed and left the home.
As I entered my home, less than 15 minutes later the phone rang. “Praise the Lord!” the caller said, “I just heard ___ committed her life to Christ and that you led her.” “No,” I explained, “she wasn’t ready but I trust she will soon repent and commit her life to Him.” Throughout the afternoon and as the week progressed, other callers spread the word. I honestly wasn’t convinced, and today that individual makes no profession of faith at all.
The Parable of the Sower or the Soils clearly helps us understand the divergent responses to the presentation of the gospel. Four different types of soil portray at least four different reactions to the sowing of the seed. Jesus guided the disciples through a complete interpretation after they had pressed him for an explanation.
“Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?” Is he not testing their spiritual readiness? Are the 12 ready for truth? Has God prepared their hearts to respond to the truth from the One who is the Truth?
#1 Packed Soil – These people hear the word of God but Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown. Is this what the writer of Hebrews describes when he writes “…we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” (Hebrews 4:2) If individuals do not believe and respond to what they have heard, they lose the opportunity to respond.
#2 Rocky Soil – These people heard the word, receive it with joy, but soon turn away because of the lack of depth. The shallow soil of their lives allows no rooting. Within a short time, due to trouble or persecution because of the word of God, they pack in their commitment. The real test of genuine faith is perseverance, pressing on, growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ despite any obstacles.
#3 Weedy Soil – Thesepeople hear the word but soon anxiety, money and other desires crowd out the first priority demanded by a life of obedience. Jesus would command these followers (in Matthew 6:33) to seek FIRST the kingdom of God. Anything less than this is not an adequate response to the One we call Lord. As Christ asked on another occasion, ‘Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?’
#4 Good Soil – A crop is what the farmer is seeking. No one buys seed with the hope that birds will steal it, the sun will scorch it or weeds will choke it out. This good soil are those who HEAR, ACCEPT and PRODUCE… These are not ‘options’ on a checklist. Rather they are the evidence that the Spirit of God has readied the ears, the will and the life of the hearer to respond to gospel truth.