I. THE WORD OF GOD IS LIKE SEED THAT IS SOWN.
A. There are four basic soils upon which the seed falls, there are four basic receptions to the Word of God.
1. The seed that falls by the wayside.
a. As soon as it is sown the birds are there eating the seed before it can ever germinate.
b. These are the people who are totally disinterested in the Bible.
c. The Word of God does not penetrate their hearts at all.
2. There is the seed that falls on the stony ground.
a. In Israel the hillsides are in places just large flat stones with little patches of dirt in the holes and crevasses.
b. In these little patches of dirt in the early spring you see the grass and wild flowers spring up. They are the first spots to green out and they are also the first places where the flowers die.
c. Because of the warmth of the rock the seeds germinate and develop faster, but because there is no depth of earth the soil is the first to lose its moisture.
d. These are the people who receive the message of the gospel with great excitement. They are at the church almost every time the doors are open. They eagerly devour the Word of God.
e. But as quickly as they sprang up, they die. There was no real depth. The first little trial, the first difficulty that arises finds them turning away.
3. There is the seed that falls among the thorns. It falls among the morning glory plants. It grows up so does also the morning glory. Soon the morning glory is entwining around the plant and it begins to choke out the life so that there is no fruit that comes forth.
a. These are they who receive the Word of God, and they begin to grow, but there are other interests that are growing along with their interest in the Word. Soon these other things begin to choke out the Word and their zeal for God, and they never become truly fruitful.
b. These thorns are the cares of this life, riches and the desires for pleasure.
4. The fourth soil is fertile and cultivated, and the seed springs forth into life and produces fruit.
a. These are people with honest and good hearts upon which the Word of God falls.
b. They keep the Word, and they bring forth fruit.
II. IN WHICH CATEGORY WOULD YOU PLACE YOURSELF?
A. It is quite possible that there are some here today whose hearts are very unreceptive to the Word of God.
1. You are only here to please someone else. While you are here you really are not here for your heart is elsewhere.
2. The Word of God to you is like a mystery, you have no understanding and if the truth were known, no desire to understand.
3. Once in a while a truth will strike your heart and you will listen for a moment, but you quickly dismiss it and return to your skepticism.
4. The message of Christ's love for you and His death and resurrection mean nothing to you, as far as you are concerned it is so much fable.
B. There are no doubt those here today whose hearts are like the patch of earth on the stony ground.
1. You find yourself very interested in the Bible.
2. You knew about the Bible, but you didn't know the Bible, and you find yourself fascinated by the teachings of the Bible.
3. You have always believed that God existed, but you have never really known God, you did not know that He could be known.
4. Soon some real trials will come your way, and you will begin to question if this is really for you.
5. Maybe some of your family members will begin to challenge your interest in the Bible and point out what are seeming contradictions, and because you do not have any real depth of word yet in your life, you will soon lose interest, and always look back on that time in your life when you tried Calvary Chapel for a time.
C. There are many, and shall I dare say, the vast majority of you who believe that the Bible is the word of God. You believe and you have received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. If asked you admit to being a born again Christian.
1.Yet your life is not fruitful.
2. You find yourself in about the same degree of spiritual development as you were 5 or 10 years ago.
3. You have not really grown or matured in your walk with Christ.
4. Or as Jesus said, "You have brought forth no fruit to perfection."
5. This was the condition of the church of Corinth, after years of walking with Christ they were still spiritual infants.
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, [even] as unto babes in Christ.
I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able [to bear it], neither yet now are ye able.
For ye are yet carnal: for whereas [there is] among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
6. The writer of the book of Hebrews declared,
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which [be] the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
For every one that useth milk [is] unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection;
7. What are the things that choke out the fruitfulness in a believers life, that cause your spiritual growth to become arrested?
a. The cares of this life, need I list them for you.
1. Most of us are burdened down with things that sap our time and energy, and have absolutely no permanent spiritual value.
2. With many it is just keeping your head above water, you live on the brink.
3. Jesus spoke of those who were overly concerned with what they were going to eat, and drink and what they were going to wear.
4. Those who are caught up with the cares of this life are usually those who are poor, they spend most of their lives just trying to get by.
1. The Bible warns that if riches increase set not your heart upon them. Ps.62:10
2. Jesus spoke of the deceitfulness of riches. Riches are deceitful for they hold out the promise of contentment and security, they can provide neither.
3. Much harder for the rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven that the poor. The rich fears what he must give up, the poor has nothing to give up.
c. Pleasures of this life.
1. How many people are stunted in their spiritual growth today because they are seeking after pleasure.
2. Their minds are distracted and drawn away to other interests.
3. Movies and T.V. contribute greatly to this.
4. Many people spend their evenings watching T.V. rather than reading the Word of God.
5. Does the pursuit of pleasure choke your relationship with Him or is communion with Him your pleasure?
8. The Bible tells us to examine ourselves, and to judge ourselves for if we judge ourselves we will not be judged of God.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
But let every man prove his own work,
9. Better yet as David ask God to search your heart and reveal to you what He sees there. His estimate of me is far more crucial than my own estimate of myself.
a. I am prone to show favoritism to myself and rate myself higher than I really am.
b. I am very lenient when grading myself.
D. We always have that fourth group for which we thank God.
1. Jesus describes them as having good and honest hearts.
a. They are not deceived, they know the truth about themselves.
b. They are not living in self deception. They seek God earnestly and sincerely.
2. Having heard the Word, they keep it.
a. James tells us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves.
b. Jesus told the story of the father who had two sons that he asked to go out and work in his fields, the first refused, and the other declared that he would go. The first then repented and went out and worked in the field, the second who said he would go never made it. Jesus then asked, "Which one did the will of the father?" It is not just assenting to the truth, but doing the truth that counts.
3. They bring forth fruit.
a. This is what God is seeking in our lives, that we bring forth fruit.
b. Now the fruit of the Spirit is love, which is manifested in joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith.
c. Jesus said, "Herein is My Father glorified in that you bear much fruit."