Romans 10:17 KJV “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
How many times have we heard about the Parable of the Sower? How many times have our eyes read over the printed words without truly grasping the real importance of what is being taught to us by Jesus? I’ve used the Amplified Bible this time because it provides a broader overview of this passage in the Gospel of Mark that I am quoting.
Mark 4:14-20 AMP
14 The sower sows the word [of God, the good news regarding the way of salvation]. 15 These [in the first group] are the ones along the road where the word is sown; but when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.16 In a similar way these [in the second group] are the ones on whom seed was sown on rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy [but accept it only superficially]; 17 and they have no real root in themselves, so they endure only for a little while; then, when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately they [are offended and displeased at being associated with Me and] stumble and fall away. 18 And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries and cares of the world [the distractions of this age with its worldly pleasures], and the deceitfulness [and the false security or glamour] of wealth [or fame], and the passionate desires for all the other things creep in and choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 And those [in the last group] are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word [of God, the good news regarding the way of salvation] and accept it and bear fruit—thirty, sixty, and a hundred times as much [as was sown].”
And what exactly is discernment? It means “to distinguish, to separate out by diligent search, to examine.”
Search…examine… “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11, emphasis added) The Berean Christians didn’t take Paul’s word for anything. They listened to his teaching and then they went to the scriptures to see if what he taught was true. Because the Bereans checked Paul’s teaching against Scripture, he commended them saying that they were “more noble than those in Thessalonica.”
Christians who are spiritually discerning are able to properly distinguish between true and false teaching. Those with discernment have wisdom. Moreover, in the Bible we’re told that a true believer possesses the mind of Christ. “The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:15-16)
So – how do Christians grow in spiritual discernment? Two ways.
- By allowing the Holy Spirit to be their guiding light;
- through carefully studying the Bible.
So lets take a look and really try to understand what Jesus is telling us about His Word in the Parable of the Sower.
The first group: are the ones along the road where the word is sown; but when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.
That’s pretty easy to understand, they hear it but it is immediately disregarded. But before we move on to the next group, have we considered why this happens? The person hears the Word of God and Satan comes and takes it away. How does that happen? What thoughts could Satan interject into our minds that would make us do this?
How about – this really doesn’t matter;
How about, this really doesn’t apply to me;
How about, this really isn’t God’s Son talking to me?
Remember in Genesis 3:1 where Satan says to Eve “”Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
And I’m not talking about non-Christians here, I’m talking about Christians who have been baptized, people who say they are Christians, people who believe they are Christians. This is God’s Word! It is applicable to us. It is supremely important and it is God’s Son who is telling us something that we need to take to heart. So right at the onset God’s Word can be rejected if we do not take it to heart. It has to do with our mindset, whether we seriously take God’s Word as something more important that just words on a printed page. Be mindful of that. This means we have heard it but we haven’t really received it. I’ve been here (past tense), have you?
The second group: are the ones on whom seed was sown on rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy [but accept it only superficially]; 17 and they have no real root in themselves, so they endure only for a little while; then, when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately they [are offended and displeased at being associated with Me and] stumble and fall away.
These are believers who do initially take God’s Word to heart, but …… because they have no root in themselves….. what does that mean? It means that they haven’t really applied it to themselves, they may agree with it in principle but when it comes to a personal choice where the Word of God puts them in a position where they feel they need to make a choice between one action or another, their personal motivation on what they intellectually agree to, does not compel them to make a choice that agrees with God’s Word. No root per sec, so they go with the “other”. Example, Christian believer, some would like to organize a social games night with fellow believers and some feel it is alright to go to a bar downtown and drink with friends. Who would you say has started to put down roots? Who is more likely to fall away from the faith? Why is practical application important? Superficial faith produces superficial actions. If you don’t apply God’s Word to what you do, it shows the depth level of your faith. I’ve been here (past tense), have you?
The third group: are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries and cares of the world [the distractions of this age with its worldly pleasures], and the deceitfulness [and the false security or glamour] of wealth [or fame], and the passionate desires for all the other things creep in and choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
I could write a small book on this one. Been there, got the T-Shirt.
- but the worries and cares of the world [the distractions of this age with its worldly pleasures)
- the deceitfulness [and the false security or glamour] of wealth [or fame]
- the passionate desires for all the other things creep in and choke out the word
This is where real Christian maturity begins to grow, where we begin to comprehend the importance of God’s Word on our lives and the need to be in the world but not of the world. This is the battlefield where Jesus is put into the driver’s seat and we become the passenger, where we earnestly develop our relationship with God and practically learn about the leading of the Holy Spirit, not to mention, the desire to be “good and faithful servants”. A lot of us, myself included, have spend the better part of our life here. The importance of this group that Jesus talks about cannot be over emphasized. All true Christians go through it and it is absolutely necessary. This is where faith grows because it is only when you begin to truly trust God’s wisdom, love, guidance in your world that we begin to enter into His, with roots. Experience in God’s faithfulness produces trust and trust is in essence, faith. It is not always easy, in fact, it seldom is easy and can be difficult because it is where we transition, where our minds are renewed and our hearts are changed.
What is especially noteworthy is the “all other things creep in” part. This is where Biblical Discernment really starts to take a more active role. What we are dealing with here is sound doctrine, rightly dividing the Word of God. There are fundamental truths that the Holy Scriptures dictate, that Jesus personified, that the Apostles expounded upon, some of which are:
- the Holy Spirit will always glorify Jesus
- the Word of God is God’s truth, it is the yardstick by which we measure and test everything, no exceptions, no alternate “truth” or “new revelation”
- Holy Scriptures will always agree with the rest of Holy Scriptures
- all things are to be tested against the Holy Scriptures
- love is always to be the motivating factor, not power, not our collective might
What should we do to determine if a person’s teaching is unbiblical? We are commanded to test what’s being taught. In fact, Paul urges believers to “test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) Likewise, John encourages us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” How does one test a spirit? By reading the scriptures, in context, for that’s where Truth is found. Why is “testing” so important? “For many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) False prophets/teachers distort the truth….which is why the Bible refers to them as false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Examining someone’s teaching is no easy task. But nowhere in Scripture are we told that it should be left to “professionals”; it is clearly our responsibility.
Ephesians 4:14 (NIV) “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”
We mustn’t ignore the fact that any teaching that fails to line up with what the scriptures say is not from God! And if the Bible’s not the source of his/her teaching, most likely its source is the “spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.”
The forth group: are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word [of God, the good news regarding the way of salvation] and accept it and bear fruit—thirty, sixty, and a hundred times as much [as was sown]
Here you will note, the focus that Jesus wants to draw our attention to is the fruit that is produced.
In (Matthew 7:15-20) Jesus said “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits,”
In (Luke 6:43-45) Jesus also said: “For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart,”.
We, therefore, will know the prophet by what he speaks. What comes out of his mouth will give him away. He may appear clean and upright to us on the outside in every way, but if deceit and falsehood are in his heart, this false teaching, false prophecy, and others perversions of the truth will come out of his mouth. The fruit of a fig tree is figs. The fruit of a grape vine is grapes. The fruit of a prophet is his prophecy.
I know I am starting to sound like a broken record but, specifically, when dealing with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) Apostles and Prophets, their Decrees and Prophecies are their fruit. And the fruit they have produced is not good, not in line with the Scriptures, far from it. Just select “New Apostolic Reformation” under “Post Categories” to view a number of Decrees and Prophecies that they have published and I have quoted on a number of my NAR related posts.
There is a dire need to be knowledgeable about God’s Word. God does not change and neither does His truth. Don’t be fooled, don’t be mislead. Make sure you are putting down roots, make sure you are grounded in His Word.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!