Summary: Some will respond to the gospel with 1) Callused Indifference. 2)Empty Emotionalism. 3)Worldly preoccupation 4. Life changing Faith
WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT RESPONDING TO THE GOSPEL
MARK 4: 1-20
1. Illus. of dynamiting for fish (1001 Humorous Illustrations, # 151)
• Punch-line: “are you going to talk, or are you going to fish?”
2. Life is filled with important decisions. “Whom will I marry?” “What do I want to do for a living?” “Which school will I attend?” But according to Jesus, none of these is as important as the decision we will make about the gospel. That decision will not only affect the rest of our lives, but it will also affect where we spend eternity when life is over!
3. Has someone talked to you recently about making a decision for Christ, and you’re turning it over in your mind? “Should I or shouldn’t I? Do you have a loved one, who as far as you know, is not a believer? Listen carefully today.
4. Jesus is teaching the crowds. As a matter of fact, the crowd is so large that he uses Peter’s boat as a pulpit, so that the people on the hillside could clearly hear His teaching. Perhaps earlier that day they had passed an old weather-beaten farmer, an apron full of seed, sowing out in his fields. Jesus took that and used it to illustrate an important spiritual truth.
5. Text: Jesus warned His listeners that there were different ways to respond to the gospel, most of which were inappropriate.
6. Today: Not everyone who hears the gospel will respond appropriately with a life-changing faith encounter.
7. What are the different responses that people can make to the gospel?
I. WE CAN RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL WITH CALLUSED INDIFFERENCE
1. See vss 4, 15. When a person farmed a field, there would be paths all around it where the workers walked. This constant stream of feet would pack these paths down. If a seed were accidentally dropped on it, it couldn’t get down into the soil. It just lay on top until a bird came by and ate it.
2. Jesus said some people had hearts like that. Sin and selfishness have hardened their hearts. When a gospel witness is dropped into their life, they respond with a yawn and a, “so what?” Satan is soon able to distract them and steal that gospel witness from their hearts.
3. Illus. of Eddie H.
• His wife got saved during revival, asked me if I would go by and witness to her husband.
• He listened carefully and politely, but then told me, “I know my wife asked you to do this, and I appreciate her concern and yours, but I could really care less about all this religion stuff!”
• His heart was hardened to the gospel, and he responded with callused indifference.
4. Now, just like hardened ground had to be plowed before it can receive the seed and respond with a harvest, so a hardened heart has to be plowed up before it can receive the gospel and respond with salvation. If you know someone who has a hardened heart, the number one thing you can do for them is to fervently pray for God to break up their heart with the conviction of the Holy Spirit!
II. WE CAN RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL WITH EMPTY EMOTIONALISM
1. See vss 5-6, 16-17
2. In Palestine it is not unusual to see a layer of limestone with a half-inch of soil over it. This limestone traps the heat and water, so the soil is extremely warm and moist. A seed dropped into it springs up almost immediately. But because of the limestone barrier, the plant can’t put down any roots. As soon as the hot sun hits it, it dies.
3. Jesus says that some people are like that in their response to the gospel. Compare Mark 1:15 (Repentance and faith are acts of will) with 4:16 “receive it with gladness…have no roots… (Emotional response to gospel, but are not really saved).
4. Guess what happens? In a few weeks the emotion wears off, and the first time it becomes difficult or inconvenient to act like a believer, they fall by the wayside.
5. Illus. of evangelist
• Had very little to say about the Bible, mostly told one heart-rending story after another about people being trapped in burning buildings, and mothers who nearly died from dehydration caused by crying for lost children.
• After he whipped everybody into an emotional state, told them if they loved America and Mom they needed to come forward.
• They did, by the dozens. Within a month, not one person who “received Christ” at that meeting could be found.
6. Our church rolls are filled with people like this, people who make a decision based on emotion instead of will. They stayed with it just long enough to get their name on the church roll, but their name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life!