In the last blog/post looking at Luke 8, verses 1-15, we saw that Luke recounts the parable Jesus taught about the four different types of soil – that speak of the condition of men’s hearts when they hear the word of God.
─The Way Side – This is those who reject the Word of God (the Devil snatches the seed before it can germinate)
─The Rocky Soil – This is those who hear the Word with joy, but then doubt takes a hold and we give into the age-old temptation ‘has God really said?’
─The Thorny Soil – This is those who are indifferent (the cares of this life take precedence) and the Word of God is choked out.
─The Good Soil – This is those who hear and believe the Word of God (it is received with faith & produces fruit)
This applies to response of unbelievers who hear the gospel, but it is also the way we (as Christians) respond the to promises of God. We will either simply 1) reject them (the devil will snatch them away) and they will have no effect on us; or 2) we might receive them with joy, such as the promise that God does not put sickness on people or desire them to be sick! But sadly, temptation comes and we hear the voice saying ‘has God really said?’. We doubt God’s Word, and so unbelief takes hold and the Seed doesn’t grow, and consequently don’t see any fruit. Maybe 3) we are so caught up with the cares of this life that we don’t really have the time to consider these things… or 4) we might be those who receive His Word by faith and produce a fruit a hundredfold!
“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light”. (Luke 8:16)
We are to be light-bearers for Christ in this world. That light should shine to all around, but it will only have a impact if it is a flame kindled by the Holy Spirit. So many of us are trying to replicate that light by our own efforts and then wonder why we are not having an impact on this unbelieving world. That which we bring to God, that which is pleasing to Him, and that which is lasting is the light kindled by the flame of the Holy Spirit. In Numbers chapter 10 we read of Nadab and Abihu who wanted to bring an offering to God, but used their own fire, rather than the fire God had set ablaze. It was not acceptable to God.
This is like so many of us; we try and serve God by our own (best) efforts, but we don’t see results. In fact, like Nadab and Abihu, our best efforts before God are like ‘filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:6 / Rom 7:18). But when we ‘discover’ the Fire of God’s Holy Spirit, and when that is lit, all around will see it!
In the book ‘They Found the Secret’ by V Raymon Edman, which looks at the lives of many who impacted their generations for Christ, he summarises a problem, common to all of us who have tried to shine brightly for Jesus by our own well-intentioned efforts, and points us to the solutiuon: “Every now and then we come across a life that is radiant, revealing a richness, a warmth, a triumph that intrigues and challenges us. The details of their experiences are usually quite different yet as we listen to their stories and watch their lives, we begin to see a pattern that reveals their secret. Out of discouragement and defeat they have come into victory. Out of weakness and weariness they have been made strong. Out of ineffectiveness and apparent uselessness they have become efficient and enthusiastic. The pattern seems to be self-centeredness, self-effort, increasing inner dissatisfaction and outer discouragement, a temptation to give it all up because there is no better way, and then finding the Spirit of God to be their strength, their guide, their confidence and companion – in a word, their life!”
That life is possible! That is why in Luke 8:18 Jesus says ‘Take heed therefore how you hear!‘ Don’t let God’s Word be taken away from your heart by unbelief or the cares of this world. Take it by faith, believing, and let it grow.
After the, when Jesus was speaking to the crowd and his family arrive, He cryptically says “My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it”. His family, those who have the most intimate relationship with Him are those who ‘hear the Word of God and do it‘. It is the kind of hearing that produces action that God is looking for. The Word of God sown into a believing heart!
Jesus’ rebuke to the disciples after he calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Luke 8:22-25) was “Where is your faith?”. The disciples had defaulted to the ‘second soil type’ – Jesus had said they were going to go to the other side of the lake (Sea of Galilee), but when the storm arose, temptation took hold and they doubted! ‘Has God really said…?’ (Gen 3:1).
God is looking for hearts of faith that take Him at His Word.
To be continued…