“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
An Email Ministry of Spiritual Messages for the Glory of God
THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER
The Parable of the Sower is well known by almost everyone. As is what it means. However, even just to look at it again can have beneficial results for the soul. It prompts us to reexamine both the position and condition of our souls. Furthermore, it helps to decide to purify our souls to bring them into line with God’s commandments. My purpose is to contribute to the understanding of certain aspects of this parable which have not been sufficiently emphasized.
The goal of this parable of Jesus Christ was to explain why the Word of God does not produce any result in the life of certain people and why it brings fruit to others. He also wanted to help people to understand that the only thing that God is interested in is men’s salvation and fruitfulness. And, furthermore, to make it clear that not being fruitful is not simply a disadvantage for the heart but that it leads to spiritual death: “…therefore every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Mat.3:10).
Having as His pulpit a small boat, He threw the net of His Word out in order to catch some fish, people who had gathered around Him. He taught them in parables… After having finished this parable, His disciples approached Him and asked Him to explain it to them; also, they wanted to know why He spoke to the people in parables.
He begins, therefore, its explanation by a word of encouragement: To you it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but not to them! Words of comfort for His disciples but provocative, if not offensive, to those who did not belong to Him! Yes, only to you who appreciated me, who loved Me and followed Me, not to those who do not accept my words, who despise Me and who do not obey my voice. I have to speak to them using parables. I will speak to them in such a way that they can understand what I am talking about, but only to you will I give the spiritual meaning of my words: “And the disciples came, and said to him, Why speak you to them in parables? He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which said, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” (Mat.13:10-16).
These are very harsh words for those who do not want Him and do not want to follow Him: Because to him who has, will be given more so that he may have a surplus. And he who does not have, from him will be taken what he has, even what he thinks he has (Luk.8:18). These words are very serious and very severe and they are contrary to the notion of justice according to the world standards about equality and the support that should be offered to those who do not have: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
It is written: “As he loved cursing, so let it come to him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.” (Ps.109:17). What is written by God holds good forever! God is neither joking nor is He mocked. Keep, therefore, your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Prov.4:23). In certain cases, even one choice is sufficient to determine the evolution of his life. This declaration is extreme and provoking! Yes, but absolutely true! These words of the Lord refer to the spiritual things but we should not think that they are not valid, under certain circumstances, in the physical and material sectors, too.
Continuing His explanations on this point, He makes them understand that the main reason for using this way of speaking to the people is to hide the truth from the people whose heart is waxed gross and at the same time to indicate the depth of it to those who are of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord (Isa.11:3). Our Lord Jesus Christ used parables, i.e., similarities, comparisons and allegories, which always used scenarios which were real to the people in order to teach spiritual or moral principles: To teach and reprove without offending just as Nathan the prophet had reproved King David for the great sin he had committed; to stimulate the interest of His listeners in order to have the occasion to explain His parables to those who loved the truth; to hide the truth from those who were not interested by it and to use it as a touchstone to identify and then move away those who were inappropriate and draw near the suitable ones, those who were sincere and painstaking, who seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasure (Prov.2:3-5); and to add truth to those who love it.
And now let us examine the four categories of the people that the Lord describes, based on their reaction on hearing the Word of God, which He compares with a sown seed. The preacher of the Gospel is compared to a sower. He does not make his seed because it is given to him by the Lord. He has, therefore, no right to replace it or to change it. He goes ahead in the name of his Master and disperses the invaluable seed of the truth of the Gospel. If He knew whose heart is the “good ground” perhaps he would limit himself only sowing seed on it. However, not knowing the hearts of men, he must scatter the seed on all the ground, to everyone, and commit the rest to the Lord’s care.
In Luke, Jesus says: “A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.” (Luke 8:5). And it explains it as follows: “Those by the way side are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” (Luc 8:12). In Matthew, Jesus indicates: “When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.” (Mat.13:19)
In the first case, we have a trodden ground, i.e., a heart hardened by its resistance to the truth and to every thing which is right: A heart hardened by sin. Satan contributed considerably to the creation of a heart hardened and which rebels directly or indirectly: By its choices and/or by those of the members of his family, of his friends and his enemies. The door of his heart is hermetically sealed, so that nothing can pass through it. In other words, the main characteristic is their hard-heartedness to the light of God and their indifference. With regard to the hardness of heart, this does not inevitably refer to the hardness or the brutality of the character. I have known people who in terms of their character or attitude, it was so good that I could say that the only thing that was missing is just Christ but they had their hearts hermetically sealed for anything that had to do with God and His will. They loved and continue to love this world and its pleasures. They were interested but in the things they want to be interested in but not in the things which they should interest them. I had a colleague who said to me one day abruptly: “What you preach is correct and true but I do not like this way of life. I want to live my life as most people do”! They do not think and they do not want to think of the wrath to come, nor about the future state of their souls. What a pity! Our prayers and efforts and even our tears cannot help somebody who does not want to be helped, who does not want to be converted! Jesus declared: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not!” (Mat.23:37)
The hardness of the heart of some of them becomes manifest in days of crisis or in days of temptation; instead of accepting God’s chastisement they revolt more and more (Isa.1:5). Others, when they are reproved, instead of admitting the truth, they harden their neck and twist the truth: “He, that being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Prov.28:14 and 29:1). Others, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness greedily (Eph.4:19). Others have all these defects plus many others all at the same time! Hearing they shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing they see, and not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and God should heal them (Acts 28:26-7). He, who loves the glory of man now more than that which comes from the Lord, he, one day, will be ridiculed by Satan when he is gained for hell…
This same category may express its trodden down ground in another way: They listen but do not obey. They prefer to go out to their field, to their ground or to their work and perhaps others do not obey because they do not want to disappoint some members of their family… or because they are afraid of their boss. For where their treasure is, there will their heart be also (Mat.6:21). This is why even if they hear a good sermon they forget it immediately; or they do not understand it even if they are educated people. And this is because they do not find pleasure in true wisdom but in what their heart imagines (Prov.18:2). They are absorbed by the “trinity”, which they worship: Acquisition, pleasure and the pride of the life or in other words as the Word of God describes: “…the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life…” (1Joh.2:16). All their pleasure is to be found in their daily life, the things and their everyday occupations.
As we already said, since they do not believe the Word of God, they do not keep it in their heart and they do not understand it, thus comes the devil and removes it. At the end Satan removes not only the Word but he also removes them, if they remain in the same condition and do not change.
Beware! We, who are really Christian, should not be impertinent and exclude or judge people who react negatively to our exhortations. As long as one lives, you can never know how God can awaken his heart from its lethargy. I know someone who was hearing the Word of God for about forty years, who was indifferent to it and he even reacted negatively to it. The ecclesiastical environment as well as some members of his family did not only attract him to Christ but were in reality moving him away. At the end, he was won to Christ, and that because of the good conduct of his daughter; his daughter is my wife.
Mat.13:5-6: “Some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth: and immediately they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.” The explanation which he gives is as follows: “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it; Yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution rises because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (Mat.13:20-21)
One of the main characteristics of these people is their enthusiasm when they hear the Word of God. They take pleasure in it. And they are not only filled with enthusiasm but they also have tears in their eyes. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the seed seems to have sprouted. Such people grow and show the external characteristics of regeneration. In certain cases, it is expressed in an even more intensive way if compared to true and genuine Christians. They join the church and give their testimony how they were converted to Christ. Their quick response is due to their superficiality. The love they show for the Word of God and for the Church and for the brethren does not come from the depths of their heart.
Another characteristic of such people is that they do not have the capacity to understand deeper truths. They are satisfied with superficial things. They lack deep spiritual conviction and because of that they are like children, tossed to and fro, and carried this way and that with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and their cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Eph.4:14; Gal.1:6 and 2:12). Small and everyday trifling things satisfy them and they find pleasure in imitating or participating in external spiritual activities (prayer meetings, conventions, distribution of tracts and of NTs in the context of mass events). When they face ridicule and resistance or threats, they withdraw. They sprout out but do not arrive at maturity. Their instability is due to their superficiality, which is their principal characteristic. Such people can be offended even because of a word, which they cannot understand. Their prompt desire to follow Christ does not hinder them from withdrawing when they encounter their first difficulties (Mat.8:19). We must, however, admit that there are also cases of seeming instability like that of Peter or of John Mark. Therefore, let us judge anything before the time, until the Lord comes, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God (1Cor.4:5).
- What is not burned
Luc 8:14: “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.”
Mark 4:18-19: “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
The basic difficulty with this parable is: What is going to happen to the third group? Will they be saved? Are they saved but lose their fruit? Will they be lost because they bring no fruit?
Their characteristics are:
1. Their ground is good and fertile. The seed sprouts normally. There are, however, some other small weeds, which sprout at the same time. It is assumed that the wheat plants will not let them grow and will choke them. Unfortunately, the weeds prove to be stronger and choke the good crop, either by stealing the nutrients of the ground and its moisture or even because they twist around them and choke the wheat plants.
2. Their effort to worship God and Mammon. They try to combine light with darkness. They fear God but they worship their idols which are but their goods, their work and the members of their family: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mat.6:21). That means that they have never really given their heart to God!
3. The cares of this world devour them like gangrene. They sin against God, because the cares of this world is sin in the form of idolatry, of lack of trust in God as well as a useless mental activity and foolishness (Mark 7:22). The deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things (Mark 4:19) make men fall into temptation and snare them into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men through destruction and perdition (1Tim.6:9). For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1Tim.6:10). When they become rich or they are not anymore financed they put God aside (De.8:13). In conclusion, they become sterile and “naked” and are hindered from entering the kingdom of God. The result of all these things is that the Word of God that gives life is choked. If what gives the life is blocked, then where is life? In other words: They start but never finish…
As I was preparing this message, I was reminded of a sermon given by an American Theologian, Professor of University and responsible of one the Greatest Bible Colleges in Europe, who, speaking on the same parable, said that those plants, that is, the people who do not bring fruit are not condemned perishing but simply to suffer damage! I was perplexed by his interpretation. Encouraging interpretation, but was it correct? Was it compatible with some other statements of the Lord Himself that came to my mind at that moment as well with the spirit of the whole Bible? That sermon was the spark that ignited my spirit and pushed me to begin searching everything that had to do with that interpretation… Later, another preacher said that the truly born again believer must become a “disciple” of Christ. I used all my good will to examine this question but the conclusion was quite the opposite. Let me explain: For the first two categories there is no question about their non-salvation. For the fourth category of people there is no doubt about their salvation, but what about the people of the third group who can be compared with those who have received the seed among the thorns (in Mt.13:22): They hear the Word but the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and they become unfruitful.
Our Lord Jesus Christ declared:
- · “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Mt.7:19; Mt.3:10 and Lu.3:9). Also that “every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (Joh.15:2).
- · “He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me.” (Mat.10:37-38)
- · “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Lu.14:26-27)
- · “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom.8:14)
- · “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal.5:24). And many other similar verses…
What is finally going to happen to them? Can we call them born again Christians who have not yet become disciples, worthy of Christ, if they have not responded to the requirements that Jesus Christ Himself has established?
And something else: What is the true meaning of the Bible verse: “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”? (1Cor.3:14-15). Let us make clear, right from the beginning, one thing: This passage speaks about the work of ministers and their activities and not about the worker’s spiritual fruit, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, manifested by his Christian virtues, by the holiness of the Christians’ character! IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT IF A MAN SINS, HIS SINS WILL BE BURNED (that is forgiven) BUT HE WILL BE SAVED, YET SO AS THROUGH FIRE. If a Christian and much more a Christian minister leads a life, which is not worthy to his high Christian calling, worthy of the Gospel but he sins, his sins cannot be burned – that is forgiven – unless confessed and rejected.
If a Christian tells lies (Rev.21:8) and makes doubtful compromises; if he makes promises privately or publicly and does not keep them; if he acts like a diplomat rather than as a Christian; if he always finds or invents ways to excuse or justify himself; if he thinks one think, says another thing and does another thing; if he is not a man of principle and values but is a man of opportunities; if he does not resist against sin to blood (Heb.12:4); if he is after dishonest gains, escapes paying his taxes and if he lords over those entrusted to him (1Pe.5:2-3); if he preaches Christ even from envy and strife and not in purity (Php.1:15-16); if his faith and his love are with dissimulation (Rom.12:9 and 2Tim.1:5); if he is an evil worker … enemy of the cross of Christ whose end is destruction, whose God is his belly, and whose glory is in his shame, who minds earthly things (Php.3:2 and 18-19); if he does not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but his own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceives the hearts of the simple (Rom.16:18); if, as many people, he corrupts (waters down) the word of God (2Cor.2:17); if he is a false apostle, a deceitful worker, transforming himself into an apostle of Christ and as a minister of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (2Cor.11:13-15); and he has a tendency to accuse and to judge; are perhaps his sins going to be burned unless he repents in due course? No, No, No!
Christ will “…cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mat.24:51). On the contrary, if that person confesses his sins and rejects them, then he is IN ORDER. But, what is going to happen if he is possessed by an unrepentant spirit? Let us stop and think! Do you remember what Paul said to the Corinthians? “For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found to you such as you would not: lest there be debates, contentions, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, arrogance, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall mourn many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.” (2Cor.12:21-22). Who do you mourn for? For the living or for the dead?
On the contrary, “What man is he that fears the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.” (Ps.25:12-14). The Word of God says in an irrevocable way: “…therefore every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Mat.3:10). The believer who does not bring forth fruit can be compared to the fig tree to which Christ comes to find fruit and does not find any and for that reason He makes it wither (Lu.13:6). He can also be compared to that lukewarm man that Christ will spew out of His mouth… (Rev.3:16). The end for such people who bear thorns and briers is to be rejected; they are near to cursing, whose end is to be burned (Heb.6:8), unless they repent in due course.
- What is burned
Our sins are not burned! They are forgiven if we sincerely admit them, repent and reject them. What is burned down are the useless activities of the believer! Activities, which will perish as worthless! That man will forfeit his reward. He will suffer loss, but he himself, notwithstanding the imperfections of his ministry, will be saved for an everlasting salvation, thanks to Christ’s blood in which he had put his trust for the remission of his sins! If his doctrines of minor importance have not been true (Example: That Christ hears our prayers by means of the prayers of our holy fathers or that the resurrection has already taken place); if he has had mistaken views of piety (example: I have met married Christians who believed that they should not bear their wedding ring, because this constitutes a sin); if he has nourished feelings, which he thought were those of religion, and inculcated practices which, however well meant, are not according to the Bible (If, for example, one believes that are filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized by the Holy Spirit only those who have spoken in tongues; if he has fallen into error of opinion, feeling, practice, however conscientious, yet he shall suffer loss. Yes, he will be saved, yet so as through fire with much difficulty, with great danger, loss, and shame, as a man that is burnt out of house and home, who escapes with his own life, but loses all about him. The idea is, therefore, also of a man who had been spending his time and strength to little purpose, for his personal publicity, etc. There are people who are responsible for Church who they “kill themselves” in order to build big beautiful churches or to write wonderful books but who, in reality, have a character full of pride, full of ‘thorns and briers’! How are these going to be judged? On the basis of the churches they have erected or the books they have written or on the basis of their Christian virtues they lack?
His whole character and faith of man will be investigated; and that which is good will be approved; and that which is false and erroneous will be removed or destroyed. The idea is simple, that that which is genuine and valuable in his doctrines and works and activities will be rewarded. This is the reason why the apostle John says: “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward” (2Jo.1:8). And elsewhere it is written: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” (Heb.2:1)
Let me also refer to an example, which has nothing to do with work in the ministry but it has to do with loss of our efforts and which constitutes a good example, which can help us understand the passage in question: But “after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss.” (Ac.27:21). You see the Centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul (Ac.27:11). Everything was lost, the ship and its cargo, but their lives were saved! How often, do we pay attention to other peoples’ opinions, to our soul’s spurring, to activism mentalities, to pressures or opportunities, etc., and do not stand on the principles and promises of God?
And now we come to examine the second and the third groups together, because they have many common characteristics:
- · They grow under the influence of the Holy Spirit;
- · They show the characteristics of men that have been born again. They remain in Christ for a certain period of time. In the first case the duration is shorter as compared with the latter; and who can exclude that their lukewarm and unfruitful situation – irrespective of their multiple ecclesiastical activities – may last until the end of their earthly life? Then wonderful words are pronounced during their funeral, especially about their faithfulness to the end!
- · They both were illuminated by and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come, but bear thorns and briers. They are rejected, and are near to cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Heb.6:8).
- · It is not possible to discern them right from the beginning. God reveals them in due course through their works. Did you notice what the Word of God says? “Then…” That is, after how much time? As a rule and according to our experience, we know that the weeds choke the wheat plants when they are fully grown. Can we exclude the case of believers who have left worries, etc. to have choked God’s good seed in them? However, they pretend to be zealous Christians, either because they are ashamed that other people might see their nakedness or because they have certain financial, social or professional relations with the brethren and the Church? Or even, because they have become so spiritually dead and are unable to discern their true spiritual condition? In both cases, the spiritual life in that person was choked and bore no fruit…
- · It is worth trying to find the relationship of these two groups with the carnal Christians (Rom.8:13), those who are saved, yet so as by fire, with those who went out of Egypt and/or the five foolish virgins (Mat.25:1-12) who remained outside the wedding hall …
Receptive or true Christians
The only group in which Word of God brought forth fruit (we will see later what the fruit is), this is the fourth group!
Worthy of our attention is the description which is given to us for this group by Matthew, Mark and Luc: Matthew indicates us “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundred times, some sixty, some thirty” (13:23) Mark tells us “and with those they are what are sown on the good ground; as hear the word, and receive it, and produce the fruit of it, approximately thirty times, approximately sixty, and hundred.” (4:20). And Luke says “but with that on the good ground they are, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and produce the fruit with patience.” (8:15)
Their characteristics are, in general, the following:
1. God – as those people love what is true and right and respect God – He opens their heart or their spiritual eyes so that can understand his Word – just as happened in the case of Lydia (Ac.16:14) and the “honest” criminal on the cross (Lu.23:40-43) in order to be saved and be built up. When we see a man not having light and being unable to discern and prove things are different, we should do well to put a question mark about his inner spiritual state… When I say “light”, I do not mean if he has the knowledge of spiritual things but if he has a deep insight into them and if he applies them, in his daily life. Otherwise, we could say that all those who know the Bible by heart and preach it implies that they have the true personal spiritual knowledge of them. Nowadays, there are many theological books and many other books of Christian literature, which can make those who preach impressive preachers, without, however, rendering them true and strong spiritual men/workers able to lead people to salvation and build up, really, those who hear them.
2. God reveals His secrets to those who fear Him: “What man is he that fears the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose… The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.” (Ps.25:12-14), by words taught by the Spirit (1Cor.2:13) and which His servants communicate to their fellowmen by words taught by the Spirit: “…comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” This is the basic reason for which the words of God taught by God can penetrate into the heart of those who hear them or read them, can be understood by their heart for salvation and edification, so that they can obey them… In other words, it has to do with men with spiritual receptivity and productivity.
3. The third characteristic of such people is that they admit that they judge “faithful who had promised”. That means that the Word of God that they have received puts them in action as a moving force, in order to do the will of God so that they can but speak the things which they have seen and heard (Ac.4:19-20). Because they believe, they speak and do the will of God (Ps.116:10), in order to please Him. Then, God does in them that which is agreeable in His sight by Jesus Christ (Heb.13:21) and gives them His Holy Spirit (Ac.5:32).
4. The fourth characteristic of such people is that they “keep the word”. That means that since they have accepted that the Word is faithful and worthy of all acceptation (1Tim.4:9), they keep it as the pupil of their eye, independently of what happens around them. This is why they resist it, striving against sin (Heb.12:4). They do not let the desires of the flesh and of the mind as well as the attractions or the threats of Satan remove the Word and push them into sins. On the contrary, when they feel that such a thing might occur, they keep the Word ever more carefully resisting through their faith. They put themselves in the front line of the battle, they are not afraid of being persecuted and they do not tolerate any kind of sinful compromises. I want to emphasize the expression “by faith”. They abide faithfully in what they have believed and they do not give up the position of confidence in the promises of God. They are blind to the world and they have their eyes wide open, opened towards God (Isa.42:19).
5. Now let us pay attention to another characteristic: That they keep it “in an honest and good heart”. What else does that mean but that their heart walks in a transparent way before God and does not let sin stain/cloud it? It keeps its boldness before God because it promptly admits in, defects and errors; it lets the light of the Word reprove it. What else does it mean, it lets itself be judged before God and before men? What else does it mean, it is a heart that is humbled before God and depends always on Him in all things? What else does it mean but that the heart knows how to forgive just as it receives mercy from God?
6. Another characteristic of this group of people is that they are fruitful. Jesus Christ ordered us to bare fruit, much fruit, and that our fruit may remain. These people produce fruit even in their old age (Ps.92:14).
Conditions for the production of fruit
For a tree to be able to fruit certain conditions must be satisfied: a) the seed must fall onto the ground and sprout; b) the ground must be fertile and the tree must be healthy and disease free; c) it needs to be irrigated; d) and to be pruned.
If we transfer these conditions across to case of man, we will discover that man in order to be productive must:
- · Let the seed of God, the Word of God, enter into and sprout in the field that is man’s heart.
- · Do not allow sin, anxiety and the desires of other things to enter into and suffocate his spiritual life. That means that he has died for himself in order to be fruitful in Christ (Joh.12: 24). This is the meaning of “abide in Christ”. That also means resisting to blood, striving against sin (Heb.12:4)
- · Be fed with the means of the grace that God has placed at his disposal. The Word of God (Ps.1:3; Eze.47:12), through prayer and true brotherly fellowship.
- · To accept being pruned by God’s chastening for his sanctification and fruitfulness.
What is the true spiritual fruit?
Fruit is not what you do for God but what you are for Him… Does God count your “good works” when you live in sin or you are not saved? The fruit of the Spirit is without sin, without defects! He who really believes is inhabited by the Holy Spirit. This is what governs his walk; he governs his walk and does not satisfy the lust of the flesh (Gal.5:16). Being lead by the Spirit he is not under the Law (Gal.5:17-18).
Moreover, the power of the Spirit abiding in the man produces his character (Gal.5:22-23). The character in the dispensation of grace and of Spirit is produced and expressed by “…the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal.5:22-24). His character is not the product of an effort but it is the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is the spiritual personality that God shapes in us… Fruit is also to win souls to Christ and edify them!
The fruit of the spirit is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (Jas.3:17-18). The good works, the preaching, running to and fro and doing hard work on your own initiative is not the work of God. The work of God is the good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them… (Eph.2:10). Work is that which a holy heart produces. Amazing! “He that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, truly I say to you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” (Mat.10: 41-42). The fruit is but the cleansing that the Word of God describes in Isa.27:9 and 2Tim.2:21, respectively:
- · “By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he makes all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten asunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.”
- · “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared to every good work.”
Fruit is everything which is worthy of repentance. The fruit is the manifestation of the Christian virtues when sins and idols do not exist anymore… God has prepared good works in which we are called to walk in. And if it is HE who has prepared them all, then you and me must be prepared to carry them. Our preparation is not something which can be done suddenly but it is the result of a process firmly applied… God has prepared our way… Whatever is required of you, have the courage to believe it and to carry it out. This is why you were created by God… The only thing you have to do is to make a step each and every time WITH HIM.
In conclusion, did you pay the attention to what Word of God says? WITH PATIENCE… How many things does this word mean? Paul used to say: “in much patience” (2Cor.6:4). It is the most “productive” virtue producing good works in God’s work. “Because you have kept the word of my patience…” (Rev.3:10). The lack of patience is what destroys the work that God has worked in your life… A man without patience is not appropriate for the work of God. Impatience and haste as well as anger destroy much that has been built. “…they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Ps.106:13-15)
Which group do you belong to? If you do not belong to the fourth group, know that you are not ‘a priori’ predestined to be lost but that you can become good ground through repentance and conversion from the sins you know that are in your life. The Lord can change your stony heart and make it a heart of flesh! He who sincerely repents and commits his life in Christ, he will not only be saved but he will also be fruitful.