“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Luke 8: 11-15 (NIV)
It is an interesting time to live isn’t it? While we see men in the church, there is a real question that must be addressed. Are these men “fake”, “fickle” or “faithful” men of God? In Luke 8 Jesus shares a parable with his followers regarding the sower. Jesus often taught using parables and the Holman Bible Dictionary defines parables as “Stories, especially those of Jesus, told to provide a vision of life, especially life in God’s kingdom. Parable means a putting alongside for purposes of comparison and new understanding. Parables utilize pictures such as metaphors or similes and frequently extend them into a brief story to make a point or disclosure.” Let’s take a look at this parable and see what Jesus tells us about these three types of Christians.
Verse 13 tells us “Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” These men are the one’s I refer to as “fake” Christians. We see them in church on Sunday morning and they may even participate in other “Christian events.” They are often members of a congregation of Believers but in all reality they do not understand at all what a real relationship with Jesus Christ is all about. It is not because they have not heard the Gospel preached or because they do not have the ability to comprehend what it is required to enter into such a relationship. It is simply because they are willfully choosing not to initiate that step of faith to begin the journey of developing a relationship with Jesus. While it may be a fact that these men have made a profession of faith, prayed a prayer, and followed through with Believers baptism, the fact remains that they did not do the most important thing before exercising these steps and that is accepting by faith in their hearts that Jesus Christ is their Savior. You see it is not the prayer that saves you but the spiritual change that occurs inside you before you pray the prayer. The strange thing is, you will hear these men talk about believing in Jesus and many of them are quite eloquent in their understanding of scripture. But that is an intellectual relationship instead of a heart relationship that God requires of us. The Bible describes very clearly for us that Satan and his demons believe in Jesus Christ so “believing” alone does not lead to salvation. These men, for the most part, are not setting out to deceive anyone and in fact the tragedy is they are deceiving themselves. When the inevitable “bumps in life’s highway” come along these are the men that seem to pull away from the fellowship of Believers and in fact can become quite bitter towards God. They want to place blame and God seems to be the most convenient target for such anger. They say things like “how could God let this happen to me” and “I thought God loved me.” They lead their lives based on the thinking capacity of man versus the spiritual thinking that relies on an Awesome God that is in control of everything.
Verse 14 tells us “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” These men are what I call the “fickle” Christians. They have not grown to understand that they must rely on their Heavenly Father in all things and not on their own understanding or abilities. Whether good things are happening or bad things are happening, they are relying on man’s ability to achieve or overcome. If we were to compare these men to their non-Christian peers, we would see very little, if any, difference in how they are leading their lives. They are caught up in living their lives by worldly standards and worldly methods. Their lives are measured by how much they acquire and accumulate and not by how much they are serving or giving. These men see God as a means to prosperity and not eternal salvation. They operate from the “what have you done for me lately God” mentality. These men are “Christians” when it is convenient but otherwise they try to “blend in” with the world around them. While it is a scary thought, I believe there are congregations that are predominantly, and possibly entirely, made up of this kind of man.
Jesus then tells us in verse 15 “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” These men are the one’s I call “faithful” Christians. Their salvation is based solely on Jesus Christ and they have accepted by faith the gift of grace. They seek a relationship with God on a daily basis. They regularly and routinely study the Word of God and with the assistance of prayer and the Holy Spirit, they lead their lives based upon the understanding gained. These men are not concerned about the world’s view of them but most important to them is pleasing their Heavenly Father. There is an understanding that life’s journey will have trials, tribulations and temptations but they are firm believers in what is stated in Matthew 19: 26 which says “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” They are not relying on worldly means but seek spiritual guidance and direction in all things. Guidance such as that in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Faithful men are the spiritual leaders of their marriage and families. No matter what their occupation or profession, their peers note a distinct difference in them compared to their non-Christian peers. Their daily lives are built around activities that are pleasing to God and they function as servant leaders in their homes, their churches and their communities. Their “witness” is not in word only, but more importantly, it is in how they live their lives that speaks volumes. These men do not claim to be perfect, far from it. In fact, they recognize that they are sinners just like those around them but there is one key and extremely important difference, they have been saved by grace and they are now, and forever will be, heirs of the Living God. Because of this difference, they are now obedient to the guidance and direction given through God’s Word and by the Holy Spirit. When things get rough, they don’t seek out the latest and greatest “remedy” man has to offer. They look to their Heavenly Father for answers and they are secure in doing so. These are the men that God wants to build His church upon.
My hope is that as you read this article you are taking an honest inventory of your personal relationship with God. If you see that you may fall into the “fake” or “fickle” category, there is no better time than the present to make the changes necessary to put you in the “faithful” category. God’s desire for you is to have a close personal relationship with Him. Just as any worthwhile relationship requires time, effort and energy to develop, it is no different with God. While accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior is the first step in the journey, it takes time to develop the relationship that makes Him Lord over your life. Too many men are taking the first step but not putting forth what is required to grow and mature in that relationship. This is exactly why we have “fake” and “fickle” Christians. “Faithful” men should desire to be recognized like Paul recognized the church in Corinth. 1 Corinthians 1: 4-9 says “I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way–in all your speaking and in all your knowledge– because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” Men, it is time that we stand up as “faithful” Christians just as we expect our Heavenly Father to be faithful. It is time for the world to see “faithful” men making a difference in the lives of those around us. So, what will it be for you, “fake”, “fickle” or “faithful”?