Summary: Let us understand where we find genuine Christianity deeply within people’s hearts.
Intro, Purpose & Plan
Are our hearts downtrodden, like a well-worn path? Are our hearts hard, lacking stick-to-it-iveness or thorny, laden down with worldly cares. How can we learn to become like rich soil that receives the word of the kingdom and produces a rich harvest?
Let us understand where we find genuine Christianity deeply within people’s hearts.
We will look at Matthew 13:1-23 and the Parable of the Sower.
Matthew 13:4, 19 Superficial Christianity
In Matthew 13:4 and 19 the message of the kingdom is snatched away by birds. What happens? If we are careless with the message of the kingdom, it can be taken away. When the word of the kingdom comes, we should take time to understand it, because it is easily lost. We may even call ourselves Christian, but is it only a label, superficial, just on the surface? Is it only an outward show and not a deep Christian life? There is no substitute for the word of the kingdom as a lamp to guide our path (Psalm 119:105-112). Do we take time to understand the word of the kingdom?
Matthew 13:5-6, 20 Shallow Christianity
In Matthew 13:5-6, and 20 what happens on rocky soil that causes the seed of the word of the kingdom to die so quickly? The seed that fell on the rocks did take root, but it was shallow. It had no deep root and died when hard times came. Shallow Christianity focuses on good times and materialism, but not deep spiritual things. For example, health and wealth are a focus of shallow Christianity. Suffering and persecution are rarely or never preached in such circles. The Bible teaches: blessed are those who suffer and are persecuted for righteousness. Shallow Christianity cannot handle the truth and avoids it. But deep-rooted Christianity lives on.
Matthew 13:7, 22 Anxious & Deceived Christianity
In Matthew 13:7, 22 what happens in the thorns that causes the word of the kingdom to be choked? How do anxiety and wealth suffocate us? Why do we receive the word, and circumstances soon strangle it? Like thorns, worldly cares and affluence suck the life out of us. We are enticed to waste time and effort on worthless materialism. Worldly success becomes all-consuming. Then, important things suffer, like family life and the word of God. The result is that our lives become spiritually dead. On such a treadmill, we have less time to even think about the word of the kingdom. How do we escape our prisons to freedom?
Matthew 13:8, 23 Fruit-Filled Christianity
In Matthew 13:8, 23 what happens in good soil that causes the seed of the word of the kingdom to grow so well? After describing superficial, shallow and worry-filled lives, Jesus described fruit-filled Christianity. What is the difference? One difference is understanding. The Greek implies being “put together” as in the God-given ability to synthesize the word of the kingdom into a whole picture. The Holy Spirit helps us to put spiritual ideas together producing a fruit-filled Christianity. John the Baptist understood this when he chided the Pharisees about repentance. As a genuine change of heart is seen by its fruits, so does authentic Christianity produce a fruit-filled life.