Posted by Shofar/Liz
We are on Chapter 6 where the hearers of the Word of God had the Word stolen away by Satan. They are the Way Side Christians which comprise the majority of Christians today; they are also considered ‘nominal’ Christians by some, but by the conclusion of this study, they will be seen to be ‘marginal’ Christians as well. For now we will continue with-
STONY GROUND CHRISTIANS
This second group has the seed of the Word of God sown into stony ground and,
“.. when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13).
There is no soil to grow in, thus no roots. That’s why the prophet Hosea said, “break up your fallow ground” (Hosea 10:12) It is impossible for anything good to come from stony ground. In the parable of the fig tree, Jesus described men as being like trees needing the soil turned, fertilized, branches pruned, etc. Time was given for it to have healthy growth, but if after all that was done and still a tree bore no fruit, then it would be cut down (Luke 13:6-9).
Simply stated, Stony Ground Christians are shallow Christians. The Bible says that those in this group of Christians initially receive the Word of God with joy, but then because of trouble or persecution that arises over the Word, they allow doubt and confusion, fear and intimidation to cause them to distrust and reject the Word (Mt 13:21 paraphrased). How could they receive the Word with joy, then reject it? In Jesus’ day, thousands of people followed Him when they liked what they heard and saw. They liked seeing and being a part of the miracles He performed, but when they found some of His teachings too difficult to accept, they stopped following Him.
John 6:66 states,
“From that time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with Him.”
In the Bible, hard or stony hearts are also related to rebellion, stubbornness, disobedience, and spiritual blindness (Eph 4:18; Job 41:24; Isaiah 30:9). Samuel, the prophet/judge told King Saul,
“rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Sam 15:23).
Stony ground Christians include ‘religious’ people who hold on stubbornly to only what they want to believe, or what they have been taught to believe. They are self-righteous and hypocritical in that they believe they know everything they think they should know, and there’s nothing more you can tell them, i.e. they’re right and you’re wrong. They are proud and have unteachable spirits. Their hearts are hardened.
They often follow customs, church traditions, rituals, etc. and are legalistic in their doctrines. Many Stony Ground Christians have also remade God and the Bible palatable to what they feel is acceptable to them. Many churches have compromised the Word of God with unscriptural teachings that God is a God of Love and not of Judgment, and have caused schisms in their own denominations, e.g. with some stubbornly rejecting the idea that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination to God. They are spiritually blind, and are resistant to truth even to the point of provocation and violence.
It was the religious people of Jesus’ day, the scribes and Pharisees, who thought they knew everything and did everything properly, who resisted the teachings of Jesus vehemently and did not acknowledge Him as the Son of God, and finally put Him to death. Today, Stony Ground Christians are some church leaders, who can be compared with the Pharisees of Jesus’ days, who did not enter into the kingdom of God; neither did they let others to enter in also! They lead the pack in this rebellious generation today in rejecting God and His Word! They are not open to the guidance and teachings of the Holy Spirit and divide the body of Christ, bringing reproach to God and His Word, and are a major stumbling block to the unsaved (Mt 23:13).
(next- Thorny Ground Christians)
Tags: Compromisers, Disobedient, Hypocrites, Legalistic Christians, Marginal Christians, Nominal Christians, Parable of the Sower, Rebellious, Satan, Self Righteous, Spiritual Blindness, Stony Hearts, Stubbornness, Thorny Ground Christians, Way Side Christians
Posted by Shofar/Liz
This is the 6th of 11 chapters from ‘Sounding the Shofar- Exhortations for the End Times’ an eBook that I recently authored. You can get the Table of Contents for my eBook from the Aug. 23 post, Chapter 3 GOD’S WORD or use the side bar Category ‘From Journal and Shofar eBook’. If you haven’t read Chapter 3 or previous chapters, please do so because the main purpose for these posts is to point out the importance of learning the Word of God as it relates to our faith in God and living victorious Christian lives.
I also want you to know that I am not a theologian. My teacher is the Holy Spirit who will teach all who desire to know God and have His Word revealed unto them. The Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth; He is the Spirit of discernment of truth and error.
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come.” (John 16:13)
“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (1John 4:6).
CHAPTER 6- KINGDOM OF GOD MYSTERIES
In the gospels, Jesus is portrayed as a King of a kingdom– the kingdom of God or kingdom of heaven (both are the same and also mean the same). The Parable of the Sower is found in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. Parables are hidden truths that relate to the mysteries of the kingdom of God. There are numerous studies, commentaries, and resources available on the 39 parables found in the Bible. My focus will be on the importance of the Parable of the Sower as it relates to Christians today.
PARABLE OF THE SOWER
The Parable of the Sower has many lessons that can be drawn from it. The seeds of the sower fall by the way side, in stony places, among thorns, and onto good ground. Jesus explains to His disciples that the seed is the Word of God and the parable illustrates how it is received by its hearers. He said,
“He who has ears (to hear), let him be listening and let him consider and perceive and comprehend by hearing” (Mt 13:9, AMP).
Also, of all the parables, the Parable of the Sower is the most important one because it provides the understanding of all the other parables:
“And he said unto them, know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?” (Mark 4:13)
The Parable of the Sower is about the importance of God’s Word in our lives, whether it will take root or not, and whether or not we have works to show for what we say we believe. It has been emphasized that God’s Word is True; God reveals Himself in His Word; His Word is the AUTHORITY by which we must live our lives to obey and please God. Our faith comes from learning His Word and committing it to our hearts. Our commitment to love and serve God depends upon our knowledge of His Word.
WILL JESUS FIND FAITH ON EARTH?
Jesus promised He would return to earth. But he also said,
“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
The number of faithful believers at the return of Christ suggested in the parable of the sower and the verse above reveals that there will be MANY uncommitted believers. In the parable, there are 4 kinds of ground that the seeds fall on- by the way side, upon stony places, among the thorns and good ground; only the good ground brought forth fruit. Out of all of the hearers, 3 out of 4 persons or 75% will not become committed believers, where the seed did not fall on good ground. Only the remaining 25%, 1 out of 4, or 25 out of every 100 persons will let God’s Word transform their lives. These are the 30, 60, and 100 fold Christians that were fruitful. This is clearly not a bright picture of the number of faithful believers at the time of Jesus’ return! Will Jesus find faith on earth upon His return?
WAY SIDE CHRISTIANS
Way Side Christians are those who heard the Word, but not understanding it, had the Word stolen away immediately by Satan. Satan will seize any and every opportunity to steal away any Word of God that we may hear. It is Satan’s modus operandi, his M.O. to steal the Word. Stealing is his first order of business:
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy”… (John 10:10).
His desire is that we stay in the dark and on his side, as weak and powerless Christians. You see, if someone would become a believer and got excited about his faith, he could do much damage to Satan’s kingdom by bringing others to the Lord (Luke 8:12, paraphrased).
It is said that Satan is busiest on Sundays, in church, to cause church-goers to be distracted, bored and sleepy! Sunday Christians who only hear the Word casually and aren’t really ‘listening’ with their hearts, will soon forget what they have heard. These could include folks who make it a point to get to church every week no matter what, give an offering, then go home and forget what the homily or sermon was about, so therefore they don’t remember if there was anything said that they could apply to their lives. James 1:25 warns us not to be “a forgetful hearer!”
Also, Way Side Christians are those who stand in the back or along the sides of the sanctuary socializing, or are always busy in the kitchen or church office, and don’t get to hear the Word of God. For some, church is the only place to see friends and have fellowship with them afterwards. Church has become a social club with good programs and activities. So many folks attend church, then put their Bibles away until the next Sunday. But most church-goers don’t even bring a personal Bible because with Power Point today, who needs a Bible? You can see a few scriptures flashed on a large screen and read aloud by a lay reader, and just as quickly forget what was shown.
Many Way Side Christians attend churches that do not provide important Bible teachings in faith and holy living. The seed that is sown or the Word of God, is like a few crumbs tossed to folks who are starved for the whole loaf. Many may not have even met Jesus, the bread of life, who came down from heaven that we would never hunger or thirst (if) we believe in him (John 4:35, 48). Many may not be ‘saved’ or ‘born again’, and if so, will not go to heaven, but perish!
The Word becomes of none effect because there is no discipling in faith and basic Bible principles, no teachings on salvation and eternal life, no emphasis given to personal prayer and Bible study, no regular spiritual fellowship, so these folks become unsaved Way Side Christians.
There are many life-long church-goers who even have difficulty in locating the different books of the Old and New Testaments, having limited Bible knowledge and understanding of the scriptures. We need teachings in God’s Word to build faith. Let us do everything we can, to encourage more interest and study of the Bible that will build faith in God and help keep folks from falling by the Way Side! We need God’s Word taught in our churches so that we will not fall by the way side because,
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105) will encourage holy and righteous living;
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17) will help us to be committed Christians;
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7) will gain God’s favor and answers to our prayers.
To be continued…
Tags: Bible, Building Faith, Casual Christianity, Church A Social Club, Church-goers, God's Word, Kingdom of God Mysteries, Parable of the Sower, Parables, Satan's M.O., Social Gospel, Sunday Christians, Thief, Way Side Christians, Weak and Powerless Christians