Bearing Fruit With Perseverance
November 11, 2018 | Randy Smith
Bearing Fruit With Perseverance
Sunday, November 11, 2018
Pastor Randy Smith
As human beings we are very prone to miss the main point. Case in point consider the two upcoming holidays. How many people in our country will celebrate Thanksgiving? Yet how many of them will actually demonstrate any thankfulness, especially thankfulness to God? Or how many in our great nation will celebrate Christmas? Yet how many of them will acknowledge the true meaning of the season, the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ?
Sermons can kind of work the same way too. Assuming I don’t put you to sleep, why are you listening and what is the reason for the sermon? Well, it is to hear the Word of God and apply the message specifically to our lives. Our take-away every Sunday should not be the illustrations, stories, oratorical skill, jokes, background information or dangling participles. Our goal is to specifically listen for the main point, often something I identify for you at the beginning of the sermon and then see how God desires us to apply that (supported by the entire body of the sermon) to our lives.
The main point as we listen is what we need to focus on as it pertains to personal application and then in the perfect world that should be our primary topic of conversation in the fellowship room.
So along these lines, the main point of today’s sermon is reflected (as it often is) in the title, “Bearing Fruit with Perseverance.” In other words, if we are truly saved, God will produce observable spiritual fruit in our lives (I’ll talk about what that means) and the production of that fruit will continue through our lifetime. The application of that main point will be seen as we go through the sermon.
So keep that in mind as we now go to the Scriptures and find our content and explanation. And think of it this way. We have three sub-points this morning listed in your “Sermon Notes.” The content under each sub-point will support the sub-point heading. And the three sub-points will all support the main point.
The Parable Stated (verses 6–8)
In the first sub-point, Jesus begins with a parable. A parable is a teaching device that uses a familiar earthly story to teach a spiritual meaning. The story might sound a bit unfamiliar to our culture, but the people back then would have had no difficulty understanding the early part of any parable.
This is one of our Lord’s first and most popular parables. It deals with farming. The parts in this parable will be a sower (the farmer who throws the seed), the seeds themselves, the soils on which the seed falls and the fruit (or crops) that the plant is expected to produce.
This is all fairly self-explanatory, but permit me to provide some clarification because in order to understand the spiritual meaning of the parable (what really matters), it’s essential that we understand the earthly meaning and this story is from a culture thousands of years ago and thousands of miles away.
Many were farmers by trade back in Israel. Most of the other people grew crops in their private gardens. Anyone knows if you want to have crops you need to grow the appropriate plant. And if you want to grow the appropriate plant, the appropriate seed must be sown. So forgive the insult on your intelligence, but the goal is to plant a seed, see it grow to a strong plant and then have that plant produce an abundance of crops.
Geared to our culture – you plant a tomato seed in some soil. The plant sprouts. After the threat of frost is gone you transfer the plant to garden outside. The plant grows and come September you have such an abundant crop you share your tomatoes with the staff at Grace Bible Church!
Back in Israel a farmer would plow his field. He would dig trenches in the soil. Seeds would be placed in a satchel that rested on his shoulder. He would walk through his field throwing seeds to their desired location. It wasn’t plant one seed and then back-fill the dirt. It was the “broadcast method,” a more liberal sowing similar to what we might do with grass seed.
The first soil is mentioned in verse 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.”
So back then each farmer’s field was separated not by fences, but rather dirt paths where the people would walk. Inadvertently, some of the seed thrown would blow on these hardened paths. The seed couldn’t grow down and there was no dirt to cover it from the top. They were sitting ducks for the birds. Those seeds never had a chance. The birds followed the sower like the seagulls follow a fishing party boat entering the Inlet. Easy pickings!
The second soil is mentioned in verse 6. “Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.”
Having grown up in the Midwest, living in a community surrounded by cornfields, it was common to see in each farmer’s field a pile of rocks. You can clear a field of rocks, but new ones appear from below the surface each year. Any farmer (now and then) would remove rocks from his field. That is not what this is talking about. What this is talking about is the layer of bedrock below the reach of the plow several inches deep.
A seed would fall in the dirt and immediately spring up, but within a short period of time its roots would hit the impenetrable rock and be unable to go any deeper. Water was unavailable and the fast growth would be offset by a short life. The plant soon withers and dies due to the hot sun and lack of moisture.
Verse 7, the third soil, “Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.”
We’ve all experienced this. You clear a plot in your backyard for a garden. You till the dirt, maybe add some top soil for the perfect growing environment, the plants go in pristine dirt, but within days weeds start appearing. What happened?
The seeds for the weeds were within the dirt. And then they germinate growing side-by-side with your desired plants. Problem, the weeds are natural to that soil. In the completion for sun and nutrients, they will win. They will, verse 7, choke out the desired plant and that desired plant will die.
And finally there is the fourth soil, verse 8. “Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.”
This is the only good soil of the four soils identified. I do not believe this means that the farmer will count for loss 75% of his seed he sows. It simply means he understands that not all of his seed will produce plants that bear fruit. Yes, he knows some of his seed will be lost to birds, rocky ground and weeds; however, the loss is minimized because he also knows much of his seed will result in good plants that produce good crops.
Back then, if a farmer 7.5 had times the seed sown it was a good harvest. 10 times would be a great harvest. 100 times (as the parable states) is a staggering number of unimaginable fruitfulness.
So what can we conclude thus far? Seeds are sown with the desire to produce fruit. In this story, the sower is the same. The seeds are the same. The only difference is the type of soil the seed falls upon. And when the seed falls upon good soil it produces a plant that produces much fruit (Matthew 13 says different amounts of fruit). Keep all that in mind.
The Parable Objective (verses 9–10)
Briefly on the second point.
Beginning halfway through verse 8. “As He said these things, He would call out, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’ His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 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 (a quote from Isaiah 6:9).’”
All that I said thus far is absolutely meaningless from a spiritual perspective. My desire for the explanation so far is so that you will rightly understand the spiritual intent that will be unfolded soon in our third point.
And here is the purpose of a parable. Apart from the explanation at this time, there is no way you have any idea what Jesus is trying to convey from a spiritual level. Our Lord must reveal the meaning to us. The story I shard in the first point could have a hundred different interpretations.
Therefore, every parable in order for it to be rightly understood must be explained to us by Christ. And that is why some people understand and others were left in the dark (judgment on Israel).
The Parable Explained (verses 11–15)
Let’s now move to the third point. Jesus now explains the parable. He begins in verse 11 by identifying the seeds in the parable as the Word of God or we could say, the Gospel, the message of salvation. The seed is what the Bible teaches about the work of Jesus on the cross and our need to believe the message for eternal life.
By implication, the sower is anyone who shares the Gospel. The sower is you with your co-workers. It’s the missionary with the people in Africa. It’s me on Sunday morning. In other words, the message of salvation in Jesus Christ is broadcasted from our lips to the unsaved.
And as we will see in a moment, the soils are the hearts of people and their response to hearing the Gospel message. All Christians are to be evangelists, sowing the Gospel to the hearts of unbelievers.
Success in this parable (just like the farmer) is not dependent on the seed or the sower. Success is determined by the condition of the soil. Some soils will reject the seed and thus produce no fruit. Other, “good soils” will receive the seed and produce fruit.
Let’s look at the four soils which represent the four different types of hearts.
So you remember the first soil, verse 12. “Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.” This is the hard heart.
Just like some seed falls on dirt like cement and the birds take away the seed, sometimes the seed of the Gospel falls on hearts like cement and Satan takes away the seed. Nothing happens! The seed of the Gospel cannot make the smallest penetration into this type of heart. There is no consideration of the message, no self-examination, no conviction. Why? A hard heart. In the Bible this person is called a fool.
The second soil is explained in verse 13. “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” This is the shallow heart.
You get the picture. The person hears the Gospel and receives the truth about Jesus with great joy. They sprout up quickly. But it’s all emotional. It’s a fad. The seed of the Gospel never takes root deep into their soul. Then when difficulties come as a result of being a Christian – temptations, persecutions, trials, sacrifices – they fall away. Because of the layer of stone (like before, but just deeper), the truth never reached deep into their hearts. The Gospel never takes root in their lives. They wither and die. They bear no fruit and show themselves to have been never saved.
The third soil, verse 14. “The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” This would be the divided heart.
Such a person appears to have accepted Christ and they give evidence of that appearance by years of connection with the Christian community. They attend church, read their Bibles, pray, etc., but they never made a full heart-devotion to Jesus. He was never really Lord of their lives. In time their true allegiance is revealed, their commitment is tested when the weeds begin to grow and dominate the Gospel seed.
Verse 14 identifies these weeds as the “worries and riches and pleasures of this life.” They become consumed with the temporal, sinful pleasures, the nightlife, their hobby, their career, money, their personal identity – the indigenous seeds that are at home and hidden in every heart just waiting to germinate. Those weeds eventually begin to dominate. The plant dies. No true fruit was ever produced.
Yet the final soil is the good soil. This is the soil of a heart that is truly regenerated, a soul that is truly saved. God performed a miracle there. What is the result? It will bear spiritual fruit and that fruit will continue through one’s lifetime. Look at verse 15. “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” This would be the good heart.
Listen my friends, Jesus is basing the evidence of our salvation not on a moment we supposedly trusted Him. He is basing the reality of our salvation on whether or not there is evidence of spiritual fruit in our lives.
Is there “attitude fruit” – things like kindness and love and gentleness and self-control and joy and peace and gratitude and contentment and a desire for holiness? And is there “action fruit” – things like repenting from sin, doing good to others, commitment to attending church, serving in the church, being discipled and discipling others, growing in your knowledge of God, reading your Bible, praying, encouraging others, sharing your faith.
Application #1 – It’s our obligation to examine ourselves and determine if we have rejected the Gospel (the first soil) or we have claimed to believe it, but the seed never took root in our hearts (the second and third soils). Only the fourth soil is the good heart that is truly saved. And that saved person will show it (verse 15) by holding fast to the Gospel, bearing spiritual fruit and bearing that spiritual fruit on a consistent basis throughout one’s life – “perseverance.”
Application #2 – And also notice when we share our faith that it is not about finding the right seed. Don’t create a synthetic seed so everyone will accept your message. There is only one seed, the Gospel seed. And it is not about finding the right sowing method. It depends not on your cleverness, persuasiveness, spiritual maturity or speaking skills. It’s simply getting the Gospel out and leaving matters in God’s hands to make hearts into good soil that will rightly receive the truth.
We can’t save people. Only God can perform that miracle in their hearts. All we can do is broadcast the seed, hoping it will fall on good soil. Just like any farmer, any evangelist needs to deal with failure. And the more seeds we sow the greater the chance of seeing more converts and more spiritual truth.
So are you saved? Do you have a heart that has received the Gospel seed and one that is constantly bearing fruit?
And if you are saved, are you sowing Gospel seeds in others, leaving all the results to God for plant growth and fruit production?