Thesis:Fruitfulness results from a transformed heart.
Introduction:This morning we come in our studies to Jesus' declaration to His disciples that, when they sow the seed of the Word of God, some will respond by producing a crop of a hundred fold increase. It is interesting that Luke chose to omit the words of Jesus recorded by both Matthew and Mark: that there will be some who bring forth "thirtyfold" and others who bring forth "sixtyfold". Clearly he wished to emphasize the abnormal maximum. Why he wished to do so may not be quite so clear. It might even seem a bit counter-productive to emphasize what few seed-sowers experience.
Therefore, this morning we are going to give some thought to what Luke recorded of Jesus' words to His disciples. The words focus upon the elements that are involved in fruitfulness. Thus, we have a revelation before us that tells us what maximizes a disciple's participation in the Kingdom of God.
I. The Identity of the "Soil".
A. In 8:12, we are told that Jesus identified the "soil" as the "heart".
B. Now, again, we are told that Jesus identified the "soil" as the "heart".
1. This is important because the Word of God typically plays the part of being an instigator of "faith", not "love".
a. What I mean is that, for the most part, the Word of God tells us those truths that, if we believe them, result in long term beneficial consequences.
b. Most of these truths focus upon a kind of "do things this way" form rather than a "this is what is important" kind of emphasis.
2. This is also important because there is no information in this parable that gives the disciples any "methods" for altering the condition of the soils.
a. The "problem" in life for most men is that they are looking for ways to "take over" the "objective" rather than submitting to God's objectives and looking for ways to cooperate with Him.
b. The biblical position is that God is God and we are His servants: He sets the agenda and we act as if His words are true.
II. The "Condition" of the Good Soil.
A. It is described as an "honest" heart.
1. For the majority of us "honest" means "telling the truth".
2. But in the biblical record, the word translated "honest" does not typically have "telling the truth" in mind (the word is used 102 times and translated "honest" five of them).
a. In Matthew 7:17, for instance, the word is set against the antithesis of "bad"; a concept that Trench says means a perversity that intends harm.
1) This implies that the Matthean text views the fruit as "poisonous", not merely bad tasting.
2) And that implies that the antithesis is "nourishing", not merely good tasting.
b. The issue of the parable is exactly that issue: the "soil" provides the seed with the nutritive elements that are required for its growth, as well as holding moisture so that the seed can make use of those elements.
3. Thus we conclude that Jesus was describing a "condition" of the "heart" that makes it possible for the words of God to take root and draw up both moisture and nutrition.
4. The only "condition" that allows God's words to do this is the kind of "love" that says to God; You set the agenda and tell me what part you want me to have in its pursuit.
B. It is also described as a "good" heart.
1. This translation is complicated by both the vagueness of "good" as well as the distortions which men assign to things that are considered by them to be "good".
2. In the biblical record, the word translated "good" seems to have the sense of having the capacities to accomplish the desired ends.
a. In the Matthew 7:17 text, for instance, the tree is said to be "good" in a different sense than the fruit is said to be "good" just as the tree is said to be "bad" in a different sense than the fruit is said to be "bad".
b. For a tree to be "good" means for the tree to have the inherent capacities for the production of the fruit that is desired.
3. Thus we conclude that Jesus is describing a "heart condition" that involves those capacities that allow the words of God to produce their intended results.
4. The "condition" that allows the words to produce their intended results involves the determination to accept those words as action-guiding truth; in other words, the kind of "faith" that says to God: I will do what You have said in the way You have said.
C. Summary: the condition of the heart involves a willing acceptance of the divine agenda and a willingness to pursue it in God's way.
III. The "Actions" of the Good Soil.
A. The first involves what is translated "hold fast".
1. The word involved here means "to grip so as to not lose no matter what".
2. Clearly, Jesus was saying just the opposite of our expectation.
a. Typically, we think in terms of roots holding determinedly to soil.
b. Jesus has turned that on its head.
3. And just as clearly, Jesus was saying that a "heart" that allows God to be God and accepts His words as declarations of what is true has a singularly intense grip on what He says.
B. The second action involves bearing fruit "by endurance".
1. This is an intensification of the "intense grip" thesis.
2. It means that one does not allow circumstances to determine whether one will let God be God and accept His words as declarations of what is true.
a. In the "soil type" called "rock", it was "temptation" that caused the death of the plant -- letting circumstances and inner wishes guide the process.
b. In the "soil type" called "thorny", it was an amalgam of other interests that caused the fruitlessness of the plant -- letting circumstances and inner wishes guide the process.
3. It means that one not only "holds fast", but "puts up with everything that is designed to break the grip".