A preacher, just like everybody else, likes to see results. We like to see progress in people; we like to see them growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord; we like to see them make right decisions and learn how to successfully deal with temptations. As fathers and pastors, we have a biblical mandate to watch over the souls of our people according to Hebrews 13:17. We love to see our people prospering as their souls prosper. A prosperous soul is a healthy soul; a soul with stable emotions, a soul that even in their struggles strives to do God’s will and a soul with a sound mind and the ability to make good decisions. But just like everybody else; we get hurt when we don’t see fruit manifesting in the people we are called to preach and teach. Is in moments like this that I like to take a deeper look at the heart condition of folks.
The condition of your heart today will determine if what I am about to teach will or will not be effective in your life. In my life in general I am called to stay pray up and with God’s grace, pursue His will and watch my testimony. My job today and every time I preach and teach is to preach and teach his Word. When I do that is no longer my message, but His; when I do that, is no longer me, but I become a vessel of clay use by God to communicate HIS message. But the rest is on you! You decide what you want to do with this information according to the condition of your heart. In Luke 8:4-15 Jesus tells us,
4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang 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 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?” 10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that
‘Seeing they may not see,
And hearing they may not understand.’
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. (NKJV)
First, Jesus is speaking to a multitude and he chose to speak in parables (That means that he uses stories, allegories, etc. to communicate his message.) He does not speak the message openly; the message can only be understood by divine revelation. This message is not designed for everybody to understand; is designed for those who God call to be able to understand. If you, right now, understand what I am saying, you are blessed; but for a lost person, they will have a hard time listening to this message. Second, he is no longer with the crown, but now he is with the disciples and this is the time when he exclusively teaches them. There is a place where all of us must go to Jesus in our secret places to allow Him to teach us His Word.
Today, I want you to take your eyes off of me and focus in what the Lord is trying to tell you; however, the condition of your heart will determine your level of understanding or lack of understanding. Going back to Luke 8:11-15 Jesus clearly explain this parable. He explained that the seed on this parable is the Word of God. This is what I am giving you guys today, God’s Word; there is no other seed that is able to change your life. Here Jesus gives us 4 Different Heart Conditions:
1. The wayside (V 12)
This is a hard heart! Nothing gets through this heart. You can talk to these folks until you are blue to your face and NOTHING, absolutely nothing will happen. They don’t change a thing. This is a heart that has been trample on over and over and nothing grows. Notice those places where people or animals constantly walk through; nothings grow there. That is the exact description of this heart! They allow everything and everybody into their lives. If it feels good; they do it. No conviction of sin, no morals and no pursue of holiness.
When you speak to this group of folks, you will get frustrated if you are not careful. They are in our churches; they are in our local congregations. It may be a husband that goes to church, just because his wife makes him do it. It may be a wife that goes to church just because her husband pushes the issue. It may be teenagers and young adults still living with their parents, who feel force to go. Some have gotten use to, some even serve in ministries; some know how to sing well, some memorize a few Scripture; some even preach; but they have absolutely no fruit. They don’t Study Scripture, they don’t pray, they don’t worship God, they don’t even think about Him and, believe me when I tell you, you never hear God in their conversations. There is absolutely no sign of life; no fruit; they are dead; they are lost! These folks need to get saved.
2. A heart with temporary excitement (Verse 13)
The heart of these folks is a little softer than the first group; the seed actually grows some here, but is never able to develop strong roots. These are folks that either received a water down message and got exited about that or, received the actual Gospel, but were never disciple. We have a mandate to make disciples, but in a study it shows that here in the United States the great majority of pastors and leaders believe that people can be disciple on their own. Never mind that Jesus tells us to “make disciples.” We have a mandate to teach these folks the ways of the Lord; to equip them, to prepare them for life; but they are weak and have no roots. As soon as the first temptation comes they fall headfirst.
These are folks that want to immediately testify in the church; they want to preach, do this and do that; but move away from God very easily. That is why we have to be careful; because this group look and sound like Christians, but if we do not give them time to go through the discipleship process and for them to bear fruit, they become a stumbling block for new believers. People want to give testimony without going through any test; this group is unable to overcome any test because they are still not rooted in Christ; many are still playing games.
When you go back and study church history you will find out that back in the days of the church fathers; the folks that came after the original disciples, they established as a rule to wait six months before baptizing anybody. The reason they did that was because there was so much foolishness going on that they wanted to wait and see if those conversions were real. They figured people can fake, but for so long!
It is amazing that when you take a look at the First Great Awakening in America, the fruit was everywhere. This is a time when America was indeed great; that is because the First Great Awakening gave America conviction of sin. America started looking at their own mess such as slavery. That conviction started in the church buildings; they were in the “church” but were lost. Everything started with Jonathan Edwards famous sermon: Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God. The Second Awakening was all about emotionalism; thousands of people gather to listen to revivalist; but the soon they came, the soon they left; no fruit. They were hearts with temporary excitement; eager to look for the next new thing.
3. A heart who refuses to let go of the world (V14)
This group is very similar to the second group; neither is able to bear fruit. We need to understand that Jesus stated that we shall know them by their fruit. As the second group falls with the first temptation; this group is a little more complex; they fall over three things specifically: 1) the cares, 2) the riches, and 3) pleasures of life. These are folks in the church who worry all the time (They have no faith). How can you please God if you have no faith? These are folks who put riches and the pleasures of this world above God. They call themselves Christians, but they look more like secular folks. They talk and walk just like the world. These folks have been apparently walking with Jesus, but are never able to mature; that is because they insist in mixing their faith with the things of this world.
The Bible is clear that we can’t serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24) Notice that you can only go so far before you start either hating God or the world; but you can’t ever love both. God does not want half of you; God wants your entire heart. I believe that our churches are full of these folks; perhaps this is the largest group and the one that is doing more damage. Perhaps this is the group that Jesus refers to in Revelation 18:4 when he states, “…Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins…” These are the folks that water down the Gospel. In church history, this mixing has been taking place since the very beginning. Mixing the gospel with reason and knowledge, with philosophy and then Constantine really took it to another level as he mixed the church with government. As a matter of fact, he placed the church under the government; that is why you have preachers that in the name of fame, power and money compromise God’s Word all the time. There is nothing new under the sun!
4. A Good and Noble heart (V 15)
This is a heart with morals. This is a heart with Godly conviction. This is not a perfect heart, but it is a heart that is allowing God to change him or her. The fruit here visible. This is a heart that endures the tribulations of life with patience; they don’t allow temptations, the cares or the pleasures of this world to move them away from their faith in God. Oh I wish everybody I minister to already have this heart; but that is not reality!
So as preachers we must take a good look at our people and at our own families. Don’t assume that because they grew up in the church they have good and humble hearts towards the Lord. We need to minister to them where they are at. The first three groups are not save; they will split hell wide open. Sometimes we confuse talent with salvation. We think that because somebody can sing or preach or play an instrument somehow someway they have a free ticket to heaven. I have news for you; every human being has gifts and talents; but only through Christ are we are saved. If we don’t repent of our sins, if we don’t call Christ in our hearts and receive Him not only as Savior, but as Lord, we are lost.
Every day of your life God gives you mercy; giving you time to repent, but that time will run out; death will come and after death is judgment. There are no second changes after you are dead; you have a chance now that you are alive. There will be a time that God will not be found. Oh I know many of us will weep in heaven when we find out that many of our friends and love ones did not make it to the New Jerusalem. I can’t only imagine the pain we will feel in our hearts. But God will wipeout our tears and in his immense power will make our hearts right to fully enjoy heaven in spite of eternally lost love ones. What is the condition of your heart?
As preachers, is important that we know where people are at so that we can pray accordantly and also deliver the correct message. Can’t speak to people about deep theological truths when they are not even saved. Can’t be surprise when your folks keep falling over and over if their hearts are not right. Some folks need the Gospel and that is all you need to give them; they need to get saved, they are not ready for anything else. And, there are folks that are ready for meat; they will be bored to death if you keep giving them the same message over and over; they are ready to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord; they are hungry for righteousness.
Out of these four groups only the last one is saved, because it is the only one that is able to bear fruit. Where is your fruit? It is God’s will for all of us to have a good heart; but are you willing to surrender? Would you allow God to do the work in you or, are you in love with the world and the things of this world?