jueves, 23 de enero de 2014

The importance of the Heart

The key focus of the 'Parable Of The Sower' is the soil, and the soil represents the heart. For that reason I also like to call it "The Parable of the Hearts".  By reading this parable, we are going to learn the importance of the heart and how the condition of our heart determines our response to the Word of God.

There is also something very important about this parable, because Jesus said concerning this to His disciples: 
'Know (Strong's # G1492 = To perceive, discern, understand) ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? (Mark 4:13)

Lets use the 3 gospels where the Parable of the Sower is found, Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke8:4-18. I divided the verses in 4 sections in order to study them better:

1/ - Listen (pay attention) a sower went to sow

Matthew 13:1-3 - The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

Mark 4:1-3 - And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. 2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, 3 Hearken (Strong's #1801: give ear to, listen); Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

Luke 8:4 -5a- And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 5 A sower went out to sow his seed:
2/ - The seed in each type of soil. 

Matt. 13:4-9: and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Mark 4:4-9 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. 5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: 6 but when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. 9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Luke 8:5b-8 - and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
3/ - Jesus explains the parable to His disciples

Matt.13:10-17 - And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Mark 4:10-13 - And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. 11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: 12 that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. 13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

Luke 8:9-10 - And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

4/- The 4 soils are hearts
 Matt.13:18-23: Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.  22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (See: Matt.3:10; John15:5-6; 12:24). 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
  Mark 4:14-20 – The sower soweth the word. 15 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. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.  
Luke 8:12-18 - The Parable of the Sower Explained 11“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. 16 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. 18 Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

Jesus explains the parable and says the Seed is the Word of God, also Jesus is the Word of God, John 1:1,14 , but he doesn't focus on the sower but on the way each ground respond to the seed. Any believer who shares the Word of God is the sower.

All the 4 hearts (grounds) heard the Word of God, but the heart that was all hard like a sideway heard the word, but it doesn't even received it.

The other 3 hearts received the word, but in different ways:

1/ The shallow heart believed for a while, but it didn't last.

2/ The heart with thorns is a believer, but he/she is too busy with cares of this world, doesn't spend enough time with the Lord & because of that he/she doesn't bring fruit to maturity Many Christians read this parable & understand its meaning but miss this very important fact. They are eager to serve the Lord and want to go running to bring a harvest, so they try to work on their own. Some may even try to witness to at least "x" amount of people, thinking that this will get them somehow on the safe side, but sadly they are deceiving themselves, (Jehovah's Witnesses work really hard to witness to others but that wont take them to heaven, Catholics & others do a lot of charity works, but that doesn't save them), the fruit from our heart is much more than that, many miss the main reason of why or how we give fruit:

 "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in meI am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:4-10).

 - Abides Strong's # G3306, to remain, to continue to be present, to survive, to live, to remain as one.

God abides in our hearts: 'And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father'. Galatians 4: 6

The branches cannot give fruit on their own, the vine is the source of the fruit not the branches. The branches without the vine cannot give fruit but will dry up. The branch is just an instrument & when is full of the sap that comes from the vine it will produce fruit without effort. In other words the fruit is a consequence of the vine's sap filling the branch  Remember it isn't us, it's all His work in us, we got nothing to boast about.

3/ And Finally Only 1 of them is a good heart and bears fruit with patience, because they spend time in their relationship with the Lord & are learning to be led by the Holy Spirit to do His will, and because of that, they produce a fruit. A fruitful Christian is one who is able to bear fruit to bless others. Many focus on just works (unbelievers also have works),
Jesus said "Therefore by their fruits you will know them" (Matt. 7:20) not by they works, their fruits are their actions & their words, are you teaching false doctrine? are you lying? are you offending others? are you using people for your benefit or serving them? are you doing works to gain favor, or a position? are you proud? Is people seeing the fruit of the Spirit in you? and the main one, are you loving others?

'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law'. Gal. 5:22

See examples in the bible of each kind of ground/heart:
Sideway- Acts 26:28 

Rocky soil- John 6:51-67 

Thorns- Luke18:18-23  

Good soil- Acts 10

By this parable we can learn that: 

1. The condition of our heart determines if we receive salvation. (God doesn't want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance - 2 Peter 3:9).

2. Our heart's condition affects our ability to understand and receive the Word of God. (Mark 6:52; 8:17).

3. The condition of our heart affects our spiritual growth & fruit. (Luke 8:15, Mark 4:20)

4. Our heart's condition affects also our ability to see with our spiritual eyes & to hear with our spiritual ears. (Matt.13:15; Mark 8:17-19; Acts 28:26-27)

5. Because all of the things mention above, the condition of our heart affects our relationship with God.
(See also Prov.28:14; Prov.21:2; 1 Samuel 16:7; Lucas 10:27)

Ephesians 4:18: 'having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness (Strong #4457= callousness, blindness, hardness) of their heart').

The Word of God tells us the importance of guarding our hearts Proverbs 4: 23 'Keep (guard) thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.'

We also see in the Parable that to the believer it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, we were blessed with  eyes that see: and with ears that hear. ( God opened our spiritual eyes & ears, when we repented & were born again). We noticed the Lord emphasized about the way we HEAR His Word (spiritual truth)
"For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him". Whoever has what? ear to hear & eyes to see.
We can pray for our brethren & ourselves that the Lord would reveal anything in their/our hearts, that hinders our relationship with Him, so we can repent & ask for a cleansing of heart. We need a clean heart to understand His ways and keep them. 
"Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart." Psalm 119:34

And also we can pray before witnessing to the unbelievers, that the Lord could prepare and soften their hearts, so they can receive the Word of God, understand it  & be saved.

In Christ's Love, to whom be the glory forever. Amen

Margarita Franco

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