Summary: This sermon deals with how hearts are harden by pride and lack of conviction toward the gospel and as a result the gospel seed is stolen before it ever had a chance to germinate in our souls. Good in a series of the 4 soils in mark 4.
THE STOLEN SEED
Mark 4:4 4:15
The Sower - Jesus and his ministers or preachers who deliver the word
The Seed - the Word of God, the gospel, the Truth.
The Soil - The heart of the unbeliever
We are given a parable of the different types of hearts of men who the gospel seed is sown upon. You are one of the four people here described. 1) The rocky soil – those that receive the word quickly and with joy but because they never considered the cost they quickly fade away when trials come. 2) The thorny soil – those that are choked out because of the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of wealth, and the lusts of other things; 3) The fruitful soil – the true Christian follower. And as we will see today 4) The way side soil – which was stolen.
"And it came to pass as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up." - Mark 4:4
"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." - Mark 4:15
These are the people who hear the word but do not understand it. And it is their own fault that they don't. Not because they desire to understand it, but because they couldn't care less. They let the word of God go in one ear and out the other. These same people only come to church for fashion sake, they come to see and to be seen by others.
These are those whose hearts are as hard as the beaten down path or way (way-means road) a road that has been so well traveled the dirt becomes like rock. Once the seed has been sown upon it, it could literally bounce off of it. How many people might you know that have such a hard heart that nothing can be planted in it and every effort made to sow the seed in them is met with such resistance that the seed just sits externally on them “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth”. 2 Tim. 3:7. Because the seed sits on top of hard compacted dirt, it would sooner germinate on this pulpit (*knocking on the pulpit) and as a result it is easily seen by the birds who can come in easily a take it away before any hope of plowing or rain.
Matthew Henry notes “that such careless people are easy prey for the devil, who is a great murderer of souls and he is a great thief of sermons.” Because of their apathy or their hard hearts Satan can steal a sermon from the pastor's mouth before it reaches the hard-hearted man's ears. Jesus compares Satan to birds who are opportunists 'seeking whom they may devour' (1 Peter 5:8). It is much easier to steal a seed that just sits on the ground than to attempt to uproot an established tree. The devil is a sworn enemy to our profiting by the word of God; and no one does more to help his cause than apathetic, hard-hearted hearers, who are constantly thinking of something else.
The seed makes contact with the hard heart. But because it has never been plowed with conviction there is no fertile ground and the word can not penetrate it. Its amazing how familiar one can be with the church and yet never be saved. How they can sing the hymns and not know THE WAY, "Some were hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the way." - Acts 19:9; They know to tithe but they don't know THE TRUTH, “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth”. 2 Tim. 3:7 They may love the fellowship but they don't know THE LIFE. "but exhort one another daily, so long as it is called today, lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." - Hebrews 3:13
I would like to share with you a couple of reasons we develop a hard heart and make it far too easy for Satan to steal the word/seed away from us. First is pride
Two ways pride can block the seed of God
A) Self-righteousness. One way pride hinders unbelievers from accepting the word is that we tell ourselves that we are “Good People” (even though the Word teaches us that all of righteousness' are but filthy rags before the Lord) - We think that our “goodness” is good enough to EARN a place at the master's table. If this was the case then Jesus died for nothing. This contradicts the whole message of grace. Salvation by good works is a very naïve and immature understanding, or lack therof, of the meaning of the gospel.