Obedience to the word of God brings fruitfulness to the believer in all aspects of life.
TEXT: Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23
Parables are simple stories familiar to the audience designed to illustrate issues or situations in order to teach some wisdom, moral or spiritual truth, pass instruction or rebuke and effect correction appropriately. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, was fond of parables in expressing spiritual truths while on earth.
The plan and purpose of God in sending His only begotten Son into the world was and is to provide eternal salvation for all. Hence, the Gospel message is given to all mankind. It is therefore that the word of God should have a positive effect on every individual, this should manifest itself in fruit-bearing. However, the effect of the word of God in the lives of the hearers depends greatly on how prepared their hearts have been to receive the word of God and how committed they are to what they have heard.
In the parable of the sower, the Lord used the effect of the different types of soil on the seed sown to illustrate the response given by the different categories of hearers to the word of God. Just like the seed is sown freely and the ground (soil) on which it falls determines the extent of the growth and development of the germinated seed, so the word of God is sown freely into people’s lives but the individual determines his/her own response to the word of God and thus the profitability of the word in their life.
It is important to emphasize that it is the personal application and appropriation of God’s word by an individual that brings the results or blessings intended by the word. A noncompliance with the word of God results in an unfruitful life. Every hearer of God’s word is, therefore, encouraged to allow the received word have a place in their life for fruitfulness.
The objectives of this study are:
- To know the meaning of parables.
- To know the different categories of hearers of God’s word.
- To identify what could prevent people from being doers of the word of God.
- To know the dangers of not paying adequate attention to the word of God.
- WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF PARABLES IN CHRIST’S MINISTRY?
In His earthly ministry, our Lord Jesus Christ, was fond of parables to express spiritual truth to His audience. Through these parables, He used what His audience was familiar with to drive home spiritual truth concerning issues or situations. On one of these occasions, His disciples requested to know why He was fond of parables in teaching His audience. He responded saying, “because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given”, Matthew 13:11. It was in order to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah that says, “By hearing, ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive”, Matthew 13:14.
The Lord Jesus Christ, also used parables to teach wisdom, pass instruction or rebuke and effect correction appropriately.
- DESCRIBE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOIL ENUMERATED IN THE TEXT AND INDICATE THEIR SIGNIFICANCE.
In the text, the Lord Jesus was speaking to a multitude on the seashore. This multitude included His disciples, the Pharisees, Sadducees, etc. In the same manner today, people gather at times in large numbers to hear the word of God on crusade grounds, churches, etc. However, while the yearning and eagerness to hear seems good, what matters is the willingness to receive, accept, and appropriate the word of God to one’s life.
The parable of the sower portrays the reception of the word of God in different hearts, and the results that follow. Four different types of soil were enumerated.
A. THE WAYSIDE GROUND:
This refers to the unplowed or unprepared and hazardously exposed ground where the seeds cannot grow and therefore were easily eaten up by the birds. This type of soil illustrates those who hear the word of God and carelessly expose themselves to the devil who deliberately takes the word from their hearts, so that they will not profit by it, Mark 4:15.
B. THE STONY GROUND:
The stony ground refers to the ground with stones on which the seeds fell and grew but the roots could not grow deep and firm and were scorched by the heat of the sun and withered away. This illustrates those who hear the word of God and gladly receive it, but do not take it to heart or the word did not take root in their hearts. When trials and persecutions arise by reason of their faith in Christ, they are not able to stand, Mark 4:16-17.
C. AMONG THORNS:
This refers to the ground occupied by thorns. Though some of the seeds that fell on it were germinated, they could not grow normally. This illustrates those who hear the word of God and fail to produce fruit because the word is choked by the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lust of other things, Mark 4:18-19,
1 Timothy 6:8-10.
D. THE GOOD GROUND:
The good ground refers to all the well-prepared ground in which all the seeds that fell on it germinated and grew very well. This illustrates those who hear the word of God wholeheartedly and eternally surrender to obey it and please God in all things.
- WHAT LESSONS CAN BE DRAWN FROM THE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF HEARERS?
The sower as used in this parable represents the Lord (Matthew 13:37) or His ministers (Mark 16: 15-20). The seed is the word of God (Mark 4:14), and the grounds on which the seeds fell are the different kinds of hearts of the hearers. When the word of God is being preached or taught, the individual hearer has the responsibility of preparing his or her heart to receive it. Several lessons can be drawn from the categories of hearers as revealed in this parable.
The wayside ground which was unprepared and hazardously exposed to receive seeds depicts the first category of hearers. The seeds that fell on it never really entered into the soil. This is synonymous with those that hear the word but do not give a place for it in their lives. The reality is that for such people, their hearts are not prepared to receive God’s word. This makes it easy for the devil to snatch the word immediately from their hearts. Such people exist everywhere the word is being preached. They never pay attention when the word is being preached. Some spend the time of preaching or teaching slumbering, talking or doing irrelevant things because their hearts are not prepared to receive God’s word. Some do not even own a Bible. Also, there are situations when Satan tries to distract the individual from hearing the word of God. Every believer, therefore, must be vigilant not to give room to the devil to manipulate them, James 4:7. It is therefore dangerous to be a “wayside” Christian.
The second category of hearers are depicted by the seeds that fell on the stony ground. The presence of the stones in the ground prevented the roots of the germinated seeds from growing deep and firm. This group of hearers, hear the word of God and receive it with gladness, but do not take it to heart and are unable to withstand trials and persecutions.
We must therefore take pains to remove every “stone” in our hearts that can prevent the word of God from being fruitful in our lives. All shallowness of understanding God’s word must be done away with and we must ensure that we are firmly and deeply rooted in Christ so that we are able to stand in days of trial, persecutions and stress that may follow our confession of faith in Christ.
The third category of hearers is depicted by the seeds that fell among the thorns. Although the seeds germinated normally, the thorns help to choke them so that the desired fruit is never realized. The thorns referred to in the text, include the cares of life, the lust of eyes, the pride of life, the deceitfulness of riches or pleasures, etc., Mark 4:19. There are a lot of people who initially embraced the Gospel but did not grow in the things of God because they allowed the crave for wealth, fame, sexual lust, etc., rob them of the blessings of God. Most times they are in pursuit of one material benefit or the other. As a result, they render the word unfruitful in their lives.
Every believer must remember that they are not of this world. We are only pilgrims here on Earth. We must not allow ourselves become encumbered with the things of the world, rather let us pay attention to the word of God and abide by it.
The fourth category of hearers is depicted by the seeds that fell on good ground. As already stated, this illustrates those who hear the word of God, understand it, obey it and bring forth fruit of righteousness. The degree of fruitfulness will depend on how much of the word of God that has been taken root in the individual’s heart. They are honest, true and conform to the letter and spirit of all known scriptural light as it is revealed to them, Luke 8:15, 1 John 1:7. These ones, through absolute dependence on the Lord, John 15:5, are able to bring forth fruit with patience.
Our hearts must always be prepared to receive the word of God and meditate on it day and night. We must purge our hearts from every source of distraction and lack of concentration towards the word of God. This is the only way we can make the word of God fruitful in our lives.
- DISCUSS THE IMPORTANCE OF HEARING AND OBEYING THE WORD OF GOD.
The scriptures admonish that we should not only be hearers of the word of God but also doers. The importance of hearing and obeying the word of God cannot be over-emphasized. The Bible makes us understand that he who only hears the word of God and does not obey it can be likened to a man who observes himself in a mirror and as soon as he drops the mirror, he forgets what he was like. Obviously, such a man will not be able to pay attention to those parts of his body which the mirror reveals as requiring attention. On the other hand, the man who reads and studies the word of God and obeys (continues in them) will be blessed in all his ways/deeds.
When we obey the word of God, we are fruitful (John 15:5) and are able to enjoy the peace of God and answers to our prayers. We, also, are guaranteed His protection when we learn to obey His word. His promises become ours to appropriate and inherit if we live our lives hearing and obeying His word.
- WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT OBEYING THE WORD OF GOD?
The individual who only reads or hears the word of God and does not obey suffers great consequences. First and foremost, by such an action, he makes himself a hypocrite and while he may succeed in deceiving himself and others, he can never deceive God. Such and individual never knows the peace, joy, confidence, assurance, blessings, etc., offered by the word of God; and remains a stranger of God’s promises and will be unable to appropriate them. His prayers may not be answered. Every believer, therefore, must bear this fact of the Gospel in mind that “Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”, Matthew 7:21
DAILY LIVING APPLICATION
The parable of the sower illustrates the responses of different categories of hearers to the word of God. These same categories of hearers exist today in churches and on crusades grounds where the word of God is being preached and taught. They are not willing to receive and appropriate the word of God to their lives though they yearn and are eager to her it. If we claim to have received the word of God and are living for Him we should have fruits to show for it.
It is the individual that determines their response to the word of God and thus the profitability of the word in their life. Some continually allow the devil to rob them of the blessings of God’s word. They do not pay attention to God’s word at all; even when they go to church, they sleep or talk or even walk out of the church during sermons, Bible study or Sunday School Lessons. Some allow the love of the world to rob them of God’s word.
Every believer must, therefore, carefully heed to the word of God and not allow any distractions of life rob him or her of the blessings of His word. We must diligently adhere to the teachings of the Bible. When we do this, we will be fruitful and experience peace, joy, blessing, protection, etc., in our lives.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”