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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Condition of the Dirt

Jesus told a parable about a sower. The same sower sowed the same seed on different types of soil. The seed fell on the path, the rock, among thorns and on good soil. The seed that fell on the path was trampled. The seed that fell on the rock sprouted but never had any roots and died. The seed that fell among the thorns was choked out. Only the seed that fell on the good soil produced.

I understand the parable. There are those who hear the gospel but have it stolen by the devil. There are those who hear the gospel and receive it but have no depth and go back to what they were before. There are those who hear the gospel but can't fully grasp it because the world's cares get in the way. There are those who hear the gospel and let it grow within them so that they produce fruit.

I understand but I wonder. Can the condition of the soil be changed? If so, who changes the condition? Does the person hearing the gospel carry the responsibility for the change? Does the gospel change the one hearing the gospel so that the hearing might change the condition of the soil?

We are all responsible for what we do. We are all responsible for what we do with the gospel too. We may be hard hearted but we cannot use that as an excuse for refusing the gospel. If not, that excuse could be used to get away with anything.

For example, I could say to the policeman who stops me for speeding, "Sorry, officer, I was just made with a lead foot. I can't help but go fast. You'll just have to let me go." Of course, that is ridiculous but that seems to be the answer people are giving for many of the things they do. That isn't wrong for me because I was made that way.

Now, do I expect that God is going to take the blame for my disobedience? Absolutely not! He may have made me but He has not made me do anything. I was watching tv the other night. A character in the show was shot. One of the other characters said something like, "I can't believe in God when there is so much evil in the world." I question why people don't laugh out loud when they hear this. They should know that they are trying to blame God for the actions of someone. God is not the sinner here. He made the person but did not make him shoot someone.

These same people do not think God should stop all sin. They think that God should stop all sin that they see as sin. They set themselves up as the one who determines what is right and wrong. Then, they blame God when He doesn't perform to their standards.

No, the soil is not preconditioned to reject the gospel. Each person is responsible for his or her own decision. Let's stop blaming God for our condition.

Luke 8:4-15 (ESV)
4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

1 comment:

Anthony Chia said...

This is a parable. There are certain guidelines to interpreting parables. In this parable, what The Lord was trying to explain is the state or condition of the people who hear the gospel being preached.

We of course, cannot read into the parable things that the parable is not trying to highlight, for example, the soil, being soil, cannot be moving from one place to another, and so, soil on the path will always be soil on the path, or the soil on the rock would continue to be soil on the rock. This parable does NOT try to highlight the immutability or mutability of the state or condition of an individual over time.

Whether or NOT the state or condition of receptiveness (to the gospel) of an individual can change or NOT, must be considered outside of the parable. Similarly, the one who soon "threw away" the gospel he was quick to take in (but was also quick to throw), whether or NOT in the future, he would handle the gospel differently, is outside of the scope of this parable.

But one thing, you said right, each individual has his part to play, to make the appropriate positive decisions and responses to the salvation plan of God. Jesus was merely slotting the outcome scenarios from people's decisions and responses into the different soil types metaphor.

Just a simple example to illustrate that it is within the individual to make the appropriate positive decisions and responses, we can see that many people can let all kinds of excuses to keep them from attending church services. We are NOT talking about the occasional misses, but it is the situation is more of the other way round, only occasionally they are in church services, maybe for Christmas or Easter services only! Work, overseas travel, children, family, late night outings, movies, TV, computer games, studies or courses and what-nots that people can come up with! Obviously, there is a posture problem: they think God can wait, other things cannot; and God does NOT mind, all others would mind! Then, there are now heretic teachers and preachers who instill into believers the notion that amount to, trying or making effort, is a dirty word.

We have to try; we have to put in effort, and when we posture right, we can ask God to help, and God would help. For Singapore, for example, for such a tiny island, there are a few hundred churches and church service days and timings are also throughout the week, and at all kinds of timing; Sundays, Saturdays, Fridays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, morning, afternoon, evenings or nights; then, there are the English services, Mandarin, Chinese dialects, Tamil, Malay, Filipino and other languages services. What more can we say?

Anthony Chia, high.expressions