- Sermon Notes
The Heart is Like Soil
Here Jesus is teaching a parable about a farmer who sows his field with wheat or barley or something similar. Not only do we learn from this parable, but we learn something about why Jesus used parables at all.
A parable is a story or analogy or illustration that teaches truth by comparing it to something familiar, something that the listeners can relate to. Everyone in that day would understand the meaning of a sower casting seed in the field because many of them worked in the fields. Today, Jesus might have used an illustration about driving in traffic or frustrations with your computer, or cell phone.
A parable teaches one main truth. That's important to understand because some people try to find every nuance of theology out of a parable and take it beyond what the Lord intended.
Jesus also taught that the purpose of a parable is to reveal the truth to those who have an ear to hear, but parables can also be used to conceal the truth from those who reject the truth and reject God’s purpose for their lives. We saw this with the Jewish leaders who rejected God's purpose for their lives and though they were supposedly experts in the scriptures; they refused to come under the authority of God's Word.
So this parable is about a farmer who went out to sow. Jesus explained that the seed which is sown is the Word of God that has been sown to everyone. He then explained that there are four different types of soils on which that seed fell.
The soils are different types of conditions of the heart. The Lord wants us to take a look at the condition of our own heart as well and make changes in our lives so we can be fruitful in godly things.
Last week we started to look at this parable by focusing on the heart that is hard and rejects the Word of God. In the parable, Jesus tells us that the hard heart rejects God Word and so the enemy comes and snatches it away. They don't receive God's Word and therefore they don't receive any of the blessings that come from it either.
We read a Scripture last week from the book of Jeremiah that captures this heart perfectly… Thus says the Lord, “… Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds.” But they will say, “It's hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.” Jeremiah 18:11-12.
But now we look at the other types of soils to understand how God wants to move in our lives through His Word.The word “imitate” in the Greek is “mimic.”
I. Remove Rocks and Thorns from the Heart
- The next types of soil that Jesus describes are the soil with rocky places and another that is filled with thorns and thistles.
- Each of these is a condition of the heart that prevents the Word of God from transforming that person’s life.
A. In the rocks, they have no firm root
- These are people who hear the Word of God and at first receive it with joy. But the truth does not run deep into the heart.
- As soon as the heat of affliction or persecution arises, they “fall away.” In the Greek, that is a phrase which means they are offended.
- In other words, when affliction or persecution comes into their lives, they are offended because in the shallowness of their faith, they can't understand why God would allow anything of trials and troubles in their lives.
2 Chronicles 32:1, After these acts of faithfulness Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah…
- This is an interesting verse that would trouble many people because in their mind, if King Hezekiah was faithful, then he should not have had to go through troubles.
- They therefore accuse God in this; they put Him on trial as it were and judge God, but someone who is a judge is higher and above the one being judged. We need to be under the authority of God’s Word in our lives and have greater faith.
- Hezekiah was mature in faith and did not see it that way. Hear what he said to Israel…
2 Chronicles 32:7, “Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the King of Assyria… for the one with us is greater than the one with him.”
B. Thorns and thistles can choke the Word
- This is a condition of the heart that many people today face every day. The Word of God is received, but the worries of the world and riches and pleasures choke the Word and there is no fruit to maturity.
- This is the condition of heart where the Word of God is not important; it's not treasured or valuable.
Illus - Some people hear the Word of God taught and respond, "That was nice." I submit that the Word of God is not nice, it's sent by God with power and purpose, sharper than any two-edged sword to disrupt the life that is off course and to speak the truth that needs to be spoken.
- But for some people, other things are more important to them; this could be either the worries or concerns that press in against them or the pursuit of riches and pleasures in this world.
- Martha was a woman we can all relate to; she is an example of worries and concerns.
Luke 10:40-42, But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
- It’s a story about worry rather than faith. Jesus talked about that in Luke 12…
Luke 12:25, 31, “Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life span? ... But seek His kingdom, and these things shall be added unto you.”
Illus – There was an old song, however, that missed it. “Don’t worry; be happy. Don’t worry; be happy.”
- Business pressures, troubles at work, relationship troubles, and financial problems are all examples of pressing things that can choke out the Word.
Philippians 4:6, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
C. Beware the riches and pleasures of the world
- Jesus used the words “the deceitfulness of riches,” in the book of Matthew which suggests that they will not deliver what they promise.
- Many people assume that riches will bring more security, more contentment, more joy and more satisfaction in life. It supposedly gives them purpose and meaning; but it also chokes out the Word of God.
- But here’s the truth, if a person with this heart gets what he wants, he won’t want it anymore, and he’ll want something else, something more. He’s never satisfied because it’s his heart that’s empty and these things can never fill the heart!
Luke 12:15, 21 "Be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions… So is the man who stores up treasure or himself, and is not rich toward God."
- These things choke the Word. These are thorns and thistles that keep the Word from maturing a person with this heart. It’s about what we value!
- That is a very good picture of what happens to prevent the Word from being fruitful in these conditions of the heart.
II. The Heart is ours to Choose
- The fourth type of soil is the heart that God desires all of us to have and He gives us the parable so we can be changed and have this heart.
A. Hear God’s Word and receive it
- In the person with this heart, their roots run deep; that is the key. When there are deep roots, they can drink from the water of life.
Psalm 1:2-3, But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
- Keep weeds and thorns from your soul.
Illus - The illustration of the Word of God being a plant which produces fruit to maturity suggests that weeds and thorns must be held in check for it to bear fruit.
1 Timothy 4:8, Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for this present life and also for the life to come.
B. God’s Word brings fruit to maturity
- Many people are confused as to what is the fruit God desires.
- Some think it means bringing others to Christ; but it is the fruit of godliness in the heart.
Galatians 5:22-24, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
- The fruit to maturity is also stronger faith that trusts God throughout the struggles and trials of this life.
C. “Take care how you listen”
- In verses 15 Jesus said that the ones with the heart that is good soil hold fast the Word.
Illus - This reminds me of our first trip to Russia and the story of our first convert there, Sergei Matushenko. He held fast the Word of God and brought forth the fruit of maturity. He is now the pastor there.
- Then, in verses 16-18 Jesus talked about living in the light. This is a great spiritual insight for those who want to see the Word of God growing to maturity in their lives.
Illus – Life hungers after light…When I was single and Jordi came over to make dinner and discovered something growing in the pantry…it craved light.
- These verses are a call to come out of the darkness. Notice that Jesus said that anything secret shall be known and come to light; in other words, everything is going to be revealed anyway so we might as well live in the light and enjoy the blessings of God's favor.
- Darkness is the same as blindness and truth is what opens people’s eyes – God’s word is a light that shines into the darkness.
- And this is an important spiritual insight for growing to maturity, truth is the light of God's Word and darkness is a picture of the lies and deception of the world that must be defeated before we can grow to maturity.
John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
- And then we’re called to make a difference in other people's lives because we have grown and are able to help others.
- Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works... and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
2 Timothy 2:2, The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Luke 8:4-18 NASB
4 When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable: 5 "The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. 8 Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great." As He said these things, He would call out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." 9 His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10 And He said, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.