“And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. 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 becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” Mark 4:13-20 (KJV)
It is to be understood that the “field” where the seed is sown is the world. The seed that is being sown is the Word of God. When the Word of God falls on hard soil – the walkway, pathway, etc. – then the devil comes along and carries it away. This hard soil is a hard and unaccepting [unbelieving] heart toward God.
The “stony ground” is the heart of an individual who hears the Word of God and seemingly receives it, but because there is no depth for growth, troubles, trials, and heat come along and he wilts away, because there is no root. This individual has “gladly received” the Word of God, but with no true heart for it.
The “thorny soil” is the person who has heard the Word of God, and like the previous one receives it gladly, but due to worldly influence, greed for riches, and other distractions is choked off from receiving the life giving rays of Son light.
The “good ground” hears the Word of God, gladly receives it and goes on and bears fruit. Each area of the soil will bear a different amount of fruit, but it bears fruit none the less. That is evidence of a genuine believer/follower of Jesus Christ. He/She will bear fruit. A changed life is the first evidence, a burden for the lost, condemned and dying, and being a witness are evidences of fruit. All of these will lead to souls coming to faith in Christ. Christians will bear fruit.
Here is a summation of the conditions of “hearts” of men:
- The first kind are those who hear the Word, but it has no affect on them and so the devil snatches away the Word;
- The second kind are those who seem to receive the Word of God gladly; they may even seem excited about it, but the troubles of persecution and rejection of friends, and such come along, and they take off to sights unknown;
- The third heart is much like the second, but it is not persecution or trouble that causes them to turn away from the truth, it is rather, the desire for wealth, riches, pleasure, etc.. None of these first three are even redeemed. They are all still condemned, dying, and without hope. Is there any hope for them.
- The fourth heart is the blessed heart that has genuinely been saved, changed into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and it brings forth fruit. It is the fruit which brings honor and glory to the sower.
Yes! We can pray for people who are in such a condition, as those of the first three, that God may continue to prepare their hearts and get rid of the thorns, and give depth to the soil that they might bear fruit. After the sowing of the seed it is God’s work alone.
-Tim A. Blankenship