Some of the greatest truths ever revealed about the heart are contained in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed. This parable is an illustration of how to build the kingdom of God in our hearts and produce an abundant harvest of fruit to the glory of God. In this parable lie some of the awesome secrets of the kingdom of God and some of the most sacred wisdom concerning the heart. Jesus declared that this parable was the foundation of all his parables and if we cannot understand this parable then we cannot understand any other.
The parable of the sower and the seed is set forth in Matthew, Mark and Luke and we must look at all three records as a whole as each gospel brings new light and nuggets of truth. Each one of the gospels has its own special character and godly design and they are four distinct God-breathed presentations of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Each gospel reveals and emphasizes a different aspect of the ministry of the Lord Jesus. Matthew presents Jesus as Yahweh’s king; Mark presents Jesus as Yahweh’s servant; Luke presents Jesus as Yahweh’s man and John presents Jesus as Yahweh’s son. Together the gospels form a perfect whole.
As we study this parable and its great truths about the heart, we will allow each gospel to speak and then gather these truths in a complete picture, which will give us a fuller understanding of the important meaning of this parable.
It is also clear from reading the gospel accounts that Jesus taught this parable to his disciples more than one time. Jesus knew the importance of this parable and reiterated its great truths to his disciples so they would not forget its vital secrets concerning the heart.
Four Conditions of the Heart
The Parable of the Sower and the Seed sets forth the four conditions of the heart in relationship to the Word of God. A person’s heart is always in one of these four categories when it comes to the growth of the Word of God in their heart. The parable sets forth the four soils of the heart that have a direct impact upon how God’s Word will be received and whether it grows or dies.
The most important time of a man or woman’s life is when the Word of God is sown into their heart. This is the time that all of eternity hangs in the balance. This is the time that life-giving change and deliverance are knocking at the door of the heart. What happens to the seed of the Word of God in our hearts is the most critical event that we will ever face in life because everything concerning our salvation, the kingdom of God, the direction of our life and our relationship with God depends on it. Will His seed live or die in our hearts? Will His seed grow or wither away in our hearts? Will His seed produce a spiritual harvest or be suffocated by our flesh? Whose seed will produce its fruit in our hearts: God or the Devil’s? God is sowing the seeds of His Word and the Devil is sowing the seeds of his words. What words will take root and grow in our hearts? Seeds are being sown daily in our hearts and our spiritual health is directly related to the seeds that we have nourished and allowed to grow. Every heart has a harvest. What does your harvest look like?
Our Daily Spiritual Checkup
As part of our daily checkup of our heart, the Parable of the Sower and the Seed gives us wonderful insight into where our heart stands in relationship to the Word of God producing fruit. It also illustrates the battle for of the heart and the intense spiritual warfare that surrounds the living Word of God.
Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables. And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? (Mark 4:1-11, 13, ESV)
Listen and Behold
Jesus begins this parable with two words “listen” and “behold” that illustrates he is commanding the undivided attention of the eyes and ears. How important it is to Jesus that we understand the divine truths of the Parable of the Sower and the Seed! Jesus was saying tune your ears to what I am about to tell you and focus your eyes on this picture of truth I am about to paint for you.
The Seed is the Word of God
The first two questions to ask to understand this parable is what is the sower sowing and where is he sowing it? Luke 8:11 states that “the seed is the word of God” and Mark 4:14 says “the sower sows the word.” Matthew 13:18 and Luke 8:18 indicate that the word is sown “in the heart.” The sower does not sow religious tradition, philosophies, man-made doctrines or theologies in the heart. The sower does not sow Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, secular humanism, modernism or spiritualism. The sower sows the pure, unadulterated and living Word of God. The sower sows the God-breathed Word that proceeds directly from the mouth of God Almighty. John 17:17 says, “Thy Word is truth” and the seed is the truth of God’s Word. Psalms 119:60a declares “The entirety of your word is truth” Every jot and title of the Bible is truth and only the truth can set the heart free. Only the truth can overcome every chain of the enemy. Only the truth can bring God’s glorious light into the heart and scatter the kingdom of darkness.
The seed comes from the Divine Master and it is His heart expressed in His words. His seed contains everything a person needs to know about life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The Word of the Lord lives and abides forever and the counsel of the Lord stands for all eternity. The Word of God cannot be broken by the winds of time or the fleeting ideas of the ages. God is faithful to His Word to a thousand generations.
The Word of God is the true path of righteousness, wisdom and knowledge that God has made available to every human being on earth. The Word enables us to become what God desires us to be. We can never fulfill our God-given purpose in life without the Word of God living in our hearts.
The heart needs truth to thrive. The heart needs a healthy dosage of truth daily to become strong and useful for our God. Without truth the heart becomes sick, weak and vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. Truth is the mighty wall we must build around our heart so that we might live victoriously and bring great glory to our Lord.
God is the truth. God is the Word. We cannot separate God from His Word. We cannot separate God from the truth. When the truth of the Word of God lives and breathes in our hearts, then God lives and breathes in our hearts. The heart becomes immoveable, unstoppable, fearless, and unconquerable for it lives and moves in Him. God delights when truth lives in our heart as it enables Him to create in us a pure heart that stands as a rock against all evil.
The Seed of the Serpent
But we must be keenly aware that we also have another sower and seed in the world. This seed is not truth. This seed is not the Word of God. This seed is dangerously destructive to the heart and brings bondage, spiritual disease, and darkness. This seed is a killer of the heart. This seed is the cancer of the heart that rapidly multiplies and spreads. This seed promotes rebellion against God and His truth turning the heart against God. This seed exalts self above God and promotes lies above the truth. This seed causes the heart to disobey God and walk away from Him.
The father of lies sends his sowers throughout the entire earth and they are constantly sowing seeds of lies and deception into the heart. The Devil is the supreme enemy of the heart and he is sowing his tares in every community, city, and nation. He is broadcasting his seed as the prince of the power of the air into the fertile hearts of the ignorant, proud, weak, self-sufficient and intellectual. This seed carries his evil agenda. This seed accomplishes his purposes for a generation and acts as the great thief and destroyer of human life.
This seed causes the heart to swell in vanity and wander in the darkness of this world. This seed produces weeds that choke and suffocate the heart and prevent it from reflecting the glory of God. This seed causes the heart to harden and ultimately wither away. This seed robs a person of a vibrant, intimate and joyful relationship with God. This seed breeds evil in the heart and can turn the heart into an enemy against God and His Word. This seed can make the heart either callously indifferent or openly hostile against God and the things of God.
This seed is the words, images, philosophies, religions, idols, values and beliefs of the god of this world that dominate an age as they are scattered throughout the globe. This seed germinates quickly and rapidly produces fruit if the soil of our heart is receptive to it and allows it to grow into maturity. This seed has ruined generations and thrust them to the gates of hell. This seed has become absolutely rampant in our age and it is producing a record harvest of sin, rebellion and mockery against our God. This seed is producing hearts that hate truth and love darkness.
We must never allow this seed to take root in our hearts. This seed has no legal right or authority to grow in our hearts. Don’t let it! Don’t entertain it! Cast it out! Jesus Christ has fully triumphed and defeated its power and the authority. Jesus Christ smashed this seed into pieces at Calvary and he is always present at the door of our hearts ready to make it his home. Only he can obliterate every remnant of this seed from our hearts.
God’s Word laid out this epic battle of history in Genesis 3:15 where He declared there would be enmity (hatred, hostility) between the seed of the woman (Jesus Christ) and the seed of the serpent. The two seeds illustrate the violent conflict between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. They are in deep, permanent enmity against each other. The seed of the Word of God and the seed of the serpent cannot coexist in the heart. They cannot live in peaceful harmony for one seed defies the living God and promotes an intense hatred, distrust, and contempt for the Word of God. These seeds are weapons in the invisible war that is raging in the spiritual realm for the control of the heart. The seeds that the Devil sows are weapons of mass destruction against the human heart. There are thousands and thousands of casualties every day from this bad seed gaining access and growing into the fiber of the heart.
There are also a countless number of deliverances every day from the good seed of God’s Word being planted and growing strong in the heart. What is the garden of our heart producing? What seeds are being nurtured in the soil of our hearts? Jesus Christ is the living Word of God and the truth. Jesus Christ is the seed that desperately needs to be sown in our hearts. He is the measuring rod and the holy pattern that we use to judge the worth and merit of every seed that tries to lodge in the soil of our heart.
One of these seeds will grow in our heart and the other seed will die. One seed will flourish and the other seed will wither away. Which seed is growing in our heart? Which seed is dying in our hearts? Which seed is producing fruit in our heart? Is it the Word of Truth or the lies of the Enemy? These questions have eternal implications. These questions are critical to the spiritual health of the heart.
Each seed carries a kingdom and its glory into the heart. The seed is the great kingdom builder and contains the pattern of its kingdom. One seed carries the kingdom of God and one seed carries the kingdom of darkness.
Our great prayer for our heart should be “Thy Kingdom come!” God’s seed is an essential ingredient to transforming the heart into a representation of His kingdom and making the heart a true reflection of His glory. The devil’s seed carries his darkness and evil ways into the heart making it a representation of his kingdom. What kingdom is being built in your heart?
We must not fall for the bait of the serpent. The lies of the Enemy are masterfully woven into a luring tapestry and put together in such a deceitful way that they powerfully tug at the heart. Sadly, they often deceive the very children of God.
We must sow the Word of God in our heart daily for the rest of our Christian lives. Nothing less is acceptable. We must then diligently guard the seed of truth and nurture it with prayer, mediation, confession and faith until it blossoms into a bumper crop of spiritual fruit. The most important thing that is ever sown in the heart is truth and it is only the truth that can set the heart free. The Word of God brings victory over every device and scheme of the Devil. The Word of God is what we hide in our heart so we do not sin against our God (Psalm 119:11). Only the Word of God has the power to overcome sin and triumph through the finished work of Jesus Christ. The only way we grow in our faith is by the truth becoming the guiding light of our thoughts, words, actions and character.
There is an intense battle for truth in the churches today. There is an all-out war in the churches today between the seed of the Word of God and the seed of the enemy. Unfortunately the seed of the enemy has established a foothold in the hearts of many pastors and churches. The truth has fallen in the streets in modern Christianity and we have begun to doubt the integrity, accuracy and veracity of God’s Word. We even have an emergent church movement, which has spread like a cancer into Christianity where the truth of the Bible is changed, abandoned and distorted in order to make it more palpable to the masses.
Who gave us the right to change truth? Who gave us the right to alter the Word of God? Truth is what God says it is and our responsibility is not to change the Word of God, but to believe it. This movement that assails our Christian bookstores and pulpits is a dangerous casting of the seed of the Word of God from our hearts and replacing it with the seed of our enemy. The abandonment of truth causes the heart to become weak, diseased and infiltrated by the enemy. We must never let truth be cast from our hearts. We must never doubt the truth of the Bible because the heart will become fertile breeding ground for the enemy’s seed. We must never let truth fall to the street instead of becoming rooted in our hearts.
God needs His church to stand firm on the truth with a heart that says “Thus says the Lord” and “I will not be moved from the firm rock of God’s Word.” We should confess: “I will not allow the seed of the Word of God to be snatched, crowded or ridiculed from my heart! I stand on the Word of God until I breathe my last breath and nothing shall turn me from it!” The biggest mistake we could ever make is to forsake the Word of God and quit planting its seeds in our heart.
Prepare the soil of your heart to receive the Word by fervent prayer. Plant an abundant amount of seed for a great spiritual harvest for the glory of God. It takes more than a two-minute devotional daily. Read the Bible! Study the Bible! Meditate on the Bible! Memorize the Bible! Confess the Bible! Live the Bible! How many exceeding and great precious promises of the Bible do we know? The promises of God should be the determining factor of the boundaries of our heart. The promises of God should live and grow in the soil of our heart. The promises of God should be the spiritual fuel that works a mighty transformation of our heart into a fortress of the strength of God Almighty.
We must never stagger in unbelief at the great promises of God’s Word. God magnified His Word above all His name (Psalm 138:2) and it is worthy above all else to be planted into our hearts and to grow up into a beautiful tree of righteousness, grace and love.
In the next four teachings posted on this blog, we will study in-depth each of the four soils of the heart in the Parable of the Sower of the Seed. We will see why the seed of the Word of God did not produce fruit in the first three soils and how to avoid this tragic outcome. We will also thrill to observe the wonderful harvest of the good soil of the heart and what conditions Jesus revealed will assure a continual reaping of fruit of his kingdom. I hope your heart leaps for joy as the great truths of this parable are unfolded and that God enlightens the eyes of your understanding to the gems of life contained in this revolutionary teaching.