The Fourth Soil of the Heart: The Good, Tilled, and Fruitful Soil

Now let us return to the Parable of the Sower for a discussion of the final and most important soil of the heart. This fourth soil of the heart is what every Christian should strive for in their walk with God for this is the fertile ground that bears fruit for our Lord. In this soil the Word of God abundantly grows and flourishes and produces a bumper crop that blesses, nourishes and strengthens the heart. The critical question for the health of our heart is how do we cultivate this fourth soil in our heart?

The Three Soils Did Not Prevail

Here is the first important key of getting to this fertile soil. The other three soils were not allowed to dominate the heart. The soil of the heart was not so hard that the Word of God was taken from it and devoured by the Enemy. It was not so shallow that intense pressure and persecution caused the Word of God to shrivel away and die. The heart did not allow any of the five thorns to take root, spread and dominate its soil to the point where it choked and suffocated the Word of God. To get the fourth soil, we must vigilantly guard our heart against the dangers of the other three soils. Any of these soils ultimately causes the death of the Word of God in the heart and no production of fruit for the glory and honor of God.

It is easy for the soil of our heart to be contaminated and either remain or regress into one of these spiritually hazardous soils. But the soil of the heart can change. It is never doomed to stay in any of these soils for a lifetime. Even if your heart is the fertile ground of the fourth soil, there is no guarantee that it will not lapse into one of the other three soils.

We can never be careless with the soil of our heart for the soil determines whether the Word of God will produce fruit. Our heart is God’s field and we are farmers together with God. We must cultivate the soil of our heart with Him so that it continually produces a harvest to His glory.

In this parable Jesus gave some additional keys on how to keep the soil of our heart in this forth category where it never ceases to yield fruit.

And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:15, REV)

As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matthew 13:23, ESV)

And those sown on the good (well-adapted) soil are the ones who hear the Word and receive and accept and welcome it and bear fruit—some thirty times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some [even] a hundred times as much. (Mark 4:20, AMP)

Hear, Receive, Understand and Hold Fast

We must hear the Word of God, gladly receive it into our hearts, understand its message of truth, then hold fast to it in order to bring forth fruit reaping a harvest thirty, sixty, a hundred times of what has been sown. This is the pattern in Scripture.

We must first hear the Word of God. But we cannot hear it if we rarely read and study it. I am not talking about a simple devotional where one verse is read a day or the Bible is only opened on Sunday to follow the Pastor’s sermon. We must devote a significant amount of time to the reading, studying, meditating and confessing His Word if we want our heart to reap the harvest of the fourth soil.

Open the Book! Let it speak to our hearts! Hear what it is saying! Jesus Christ commanded us to “search the Scriptures” for in them are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God (John 5:39). The words in the Bible are spirit and life, and they contain the revelation of the heart of God. It is the most exciting and amazing book ever written for God breathed life into every word. Every time we read and study His Word, we should rejoice with great anticipation of what God will teach us.

For the heart to enter the fertile territory of the fourth soil, we cannot be disproportionately filling our heart with newspapers, novels, magazines and Internet articles and only reading the Scriptures a few minutes a week. We must be like the believers in Berea who according to Acts 17:11 received the Word of God with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily. As the prophet Isaiah declared, we must “seek out the book of the Lord and read it,” knowing that not one word of His promises shall never fail us (Isaiah 34:16).

According to 2 Timothy 2:15, we must study the Word of God with all diligence showing ourselves approved of God as we rightly divide the word of truth. To hear God, we must open the Book of Life daily and allow God to sow His words into the soil of our hearts. We must prepare the soil of our heart to seek the Word of the Lord and keep the ear of our heart tender and receptive to hear Him speaking through His mighty words.

Receiving the Word with Great Love, Joy and Excitement

We must also receive this word into our hearts to enter into this blessed fourth soil. The Greek word for “receive” means to accept deliberately, willingly, favorably and readily and to embrace with favor and delight. It is far more than an indifferent or apathetic reception, but is a loving reception with great delight and love. Picture a beautiful homecoming where a child or close family member is lovingly welcomed home with great celebration and joy. Our heart must roll out the welcome mat to the words of God sown in our heart. With abundant joy and gladness, we lovingly embrace the Word of God and take it close to our hearts. Like beloved children, we receive it with great respect, adoration and meekness. We allow it to become engrafted to our very being as we digest and assimilate it into our heart.

So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted in your hearts contains the power to save your souls. (James 1:21, AMP)

So do away with all impurities and remnants of evil. Humbly welcome the word which has been planted in you and can save your souls. (NJB)

Welcome ye the word fitted for inward growth, which is able to save your souls. (EBR)

The Tilled Field

In order to properly welcome the Word of God into our hearts, where it can take root and grow without obstruction or hindrance, the soil of our heart must be prepared to receive the implanted Word of God. Charles Spurgeon said, “our heart by nature is a waste field and a waste field produces no harvest.”[1] The condition of the heart in this state cannot produce one single piece of fruit to the honor and glory of God, as it is overgrown with weeds, thorns, thistles, and wild grass. The heart is a barren field that produces no harvest and is desperately in need of a master farmer to till and prepare the soil for the seed. The heart must be made ready in order to become a beautiful vineyard for the Lord.

O Lord prepare the soil of my heart! Plant your vineyard in the center and make it fruitful and strong for you! God is the master farmer our heart so urgently needs. He cries out in Ezekiel 36:9: “For behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown.” God’s great desire is to till the field of our heart and then sow the seeds of His Word. As a fellow-laborer with us, He wants to nurture the seed until it grows into a strong tree of righteousness.

We are God’s most beloved sons and daughters in Christ. He has turned to us in love and is ready to be the chief agriculturist of our heart. We are God’s tilled field according to 1 Corinthians 3:9. Only God Almighty can turn the wasteland of our heart into an amazing vineyard of luscious fruit and abundant harvest. For the heart to receive the Word of God and begin the wonderful journey of growing into the garden of God that never ceases to produce fruit, it must first be tilled. Charles Spurgeon in his sermon The Vision of the Field describes this wonderful process of God’s tillage on the human heart:

So, when God turns to any man in His mercy, there has to be an operation, a tillage, performed upon his heart! The farmer, unless he is a fool, would never think of sowing his corn upon a field that remains just as it was when it lay fallow. He plows it first … Now, what is the plow needed for? Why, it is needed, first of all, to break up the soil and make it crumble. It has gotten hard—perhaps it is a heavy clay and then it is all stuck together by the wet and all baked and caked together by the sun that shines on it … and the more thoroughly pulverized it becomes—the more hope there is that the seed will take good root. In such-like manner must human hearts be broken. “A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” The more thoroughly pulverized the heart becomes the better … Thus you must be tilled, then, that the heart may be broken, for the Seed of God will never get into an unbroken heart! And the plow is also needed to destroy the weeds, for they must be killed. We cannot have them growing. To spare the weeds would be to kill the wheat. The plow comes and cuts some weeds in two. Others it turns over and throws the heavy clods on and leaves them to lie there and be buried. It turns the roots of others up to the sun, and the sun, by the brightness of its shining, scorches them and they die. Some soils need cross-plowing—they need to be plowed this way and the other way, and then they need someone to go through the furrows, afterwards, and pull up the weeds, or else they will not be all rooted out of the soil.[2]

For the heart to be the fertile soil to receive the seed, it must be plowed first. Then God can sow the living seed of the Word of God into the tilled soil of our heart. This fertile soul is perfectly fitted for inward growth and a harvest of abundant proportions.

We are fellow-laborers with God in the husbandry of our heart. With the help of God and His mighty holy spirit that lives within us, we must clear the soil of our heart and get rid of any weeds, thistles and thorns (impurities, wickedness and remnants of evil) that have not been planted by our Heavenly Father. We must repent and turn from our sin, and allow God to purify the soil of our heart by His heavenly tillage.

Epidemic Crop Failure in the Hearts of Christians

Simply being a Christian, does not guarantee that the soil of your heart is in this fourth category. We have a responsibility before God to guard the soil of our heart and, as James says, “get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness.” We must put off from the soil of our heart all evil and corrupt ways of thought and behavior. We must not allow sin to exercise any power by standing firmly in Christ and his finished work on the cross.

This is what the LORD says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns. (Jeremiah 4:3, NLT)

I said, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12, NLT)

The Word of God is too precious to waste. Yet there is an epidemic crop failure in the hearts of Christians today. The treasure of the seed of God’s Word is failing to produce fruit because the soil is hard and overgrown with massive thorns. The time of plowing is now! The plowing begins when we seek the Lord and turn from every sin that has corrupted our walk before God. The weeds of bitterness, unforgiveness, lust, greed, envy, jealously, strife, gossip, pride, anger and idolatry must be plowed over and uprooted. When the soil of our heart is broken up and the weeds and thorns are rooted up and removed, we can receive the Word of God in perfect humbleness. The tilled soil will allow the seed to take root, grow and produce fruit. The seed becomes the engrafted Word in us, and this living, powerful Word changes every part of us.

James says this implanted, engrafted Word will “save the soul” (James 1:21). The Greek word “save” has the basic meaning of rescuing one from great peril. This word also means to protect, to make whole, to preserve life, to deliver and to heal. It means to make a person whole and complete in every respect. This is what the Word of Truth is able to do: delivering believers from the destructive consequences of sin.

The Word of God is the greatest medicine on earth for the human heart. It has the power to deliver us from all physical, mental and spiritual bondage. The Word of God imparts the life of God into the soil of our hearts. We should receive it gladly! We should welcome it by plowing and tilling the field of our hearts so that nothing can hinder its growth. The Word of God should be the joy our hearts and we should rejoice in receiving it more than if we found the greatest treasure on earth or won the biggest lottery. We should receive the Word of Truth like a country that has a royal reception for its king, for the King of Kings is coming home to occupy his rightful throne. The Word of God prepares the heart for the presence of the King. The Word of God prepares the heart to praise, worship and serve the one true God. Oh, what a welcome reception we should have for the Word of Life, for it will transform the inner chambers of our heart to be a magnificent garden and vineyard of the King.

Understanding the Word of God

The Word of God must also be understood if we to abide in this fourth category of soil. All spiritual growth comes by the way of understanding the Word of God. Without understanding, the seed cannot grow and produce fruit.

So what is “understanding” and how do we obtain it? The Greek word translated “understanding” means the special faculty of intelligence or insight, which discriminates between the false and the true, and grasps the relations in which things stand to each other. Understanding is an acute spiritual discernment and comprehension of the heart of God concerning His words in Scripture. Understanding is the flowing together of concepts, ideas, images, words and truths where you comprehend their meanings, relationships and impact. It is reflective inspired thought where you grasp the meaning and purpose of God’s truth, and see how it all relates.

Picture many creeks, tributaries and streams that wind through the countryside and finally flow together into one mighty river. All of Scripture fits together perfectly, and the mighty river of understanding sees the whole amazing tapestry of the Word of life and all the building blocks of truth.

The Hebrew word adds critical insight into the meaning of “understanding.” The Hebrew word encompasses understanding, discernment, comprehension and righteous action. In the Hebrew to exhibit understanding is to act in accordance with God’s revelation. Understanding is not intellectual knowledge alone, but involves hearing, obeying and applying the truth to your life. From the Hebrew perspective you do not understand until you are obedient to what you received. Understanding is putting revealed truth into action in our lives.

Psalms 119:100 proclaims: “I understand more than the aged, because I keep Your precepts [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying them]. Psalm 111:10 says: “A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.” Spiritual understanding cannot be separated from obedience to God. This is exhibited in turning our hearts away from evil as Job 28:28 declares, “to turn away from evil is understanding.”

As we see with our spiritual eyes the precious gems of Scripture and the panoramic picture of the God-breathed Word, we cleave to it as a great treasure, and observe, follow, and act upon it. Psalm 119:34: “Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.” If we simply feed our fleshly appetite and turn to our own way and seek our own selfish gain, we have no understanding, even if we are a self-proclaimed shepherd or pastor of God’s people (Isaiah 56:11).

There is a desperate need for a reformation and awakening of true spiritual understanding in the Church. A.W. Tozer in The Root of the Righteous says that the lack of spiritual discernment and understanding is the real cause of most of our spiritual troubles and the reason Christianity is suffering such a rapid decline in our times. He says:

I have observed one significant lack among evangelical Christians which might turn out to be the real cause of most of our spiritual troubles … The great deficiency to which I refer is the lack of spiritual discernment, especially among our leaders. How can there be so much Bible knowledge and so little insight, so little moral penetration, is one of the enigmas of the religious world today … Why? The only answer can be from a lack of spiritual vision. Something like a mist has settled over the Church as “the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations” (Isaiah 25:7) … He cannot trust His work to blind men … We must have a new reformation.[3]

The Apostle Paul saw this great need in the early days of the Church and some of his dynamic prayers in the Church epistles deal with the urgent plea for spiritual understanding and enlightenment for the Christian believers.

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, Asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. (Ephesians 1:16-19a, NLT)

So you will understand that since we heard about you we have never missed you in our prayers. We are asking God that you may see things, as it were, from his point of view by being given spiritual insight and understanding. We also pray that your outward lives, which men see, may bring credit to your master’s name, and that you may bring joy to his heart by bearing genuine Christian fruit, and that your knowledge of God may grow yet deeper. (Colossians 1:9-10, PHILLIPS)

Paul prayed day and night for the Christian believers that God would give them spiritual insight and understanding and that their hearts would be flooded with light so they would see as God sees and understand the incredible truths of the gospel. Then their outward lives would bear genuine Christian fruit bringing joy to their Lord. Paul knew that without spiritual understanding there is no spiritual growth and no fruit for the Christian. He admonished the Church to grow up and be mature in their spiritual understanding so that they would know God’s will and live in a fruitful way.

Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. (1 Corinthians 14:20, NKJV)

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:17, KJV)

The words of Jesus Christ “are you still without understanding” sound out to the Church today and set forth one of the greatest crises that plague the Church and hinder spiritual growth. There is no excuse for a child of the living God to have little or no understanding of the Scriptures. Spiritual blindness is a disease of the heart that has been rampant in the Body of Christ for way too long. The veil must be lifted and we must see with our spiritual eyes and hear with our spiritual ears and seek understanding with all our hearts.

Without understanding, the Christian walk crumbles, opening the door for the religious doctrines of men and the philosophies of this age to take root and darken our spiritual understanding. This lack of spiritual understanding must come to an end if the Church is ever to advance the kingdom of God on the earth.

So how does the heart obtain spiritual understanding? Is it a product of our own human reasoning? Do we all have to go seminary and get degrees in theology? Can we go to a college campus and find the secret of spiritual understanding? Does it come from harnessing the powers of my mind? Absolutely not! The source of all true spiritual understanding is God and only from His heart comes the fountain of understanding. There is no limit to God’s understanding as the Scripture declares that no one can measure the depth of His understanding (Isaiah 40:28; Psalm 147:5). Who better comprehends His Word than God? The words of God come from the very breath of God, and only He can breathe understanding into our hearts.

But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. (Job 32:8, NIV)

For the Lord gives wisdom. From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6, NIV)

And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore. (1 Kings 4:28, ESV)

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything, (2 Timothy 2:7, ESV)

Spiritual understanding is a revelation from God Almighty of the breathtaking thoughts, nature, will and purposes of God in the heart of a person. It awakens the heart to see with the eyes of God. Spiritual understanding requires the birth of the gift of the holy spirit in a man, woman or child. Unless we are born again we cannot perceive the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Without the Spirit of God dwelling in a person, there is no comprehension of the things of God, for the Holy Spirit must reveal and teach them to us. Romans 3:11 says that mankind is under the weight and curse of sin, and there is no one who understands for they do not seek after God. Their understanding is covered with complete darkness and deprived of any spiritual light. They will remain in a perpetual state of spiritual blindness until they open their hearts to the light of the glorious gospel of Christ. Every heart in the world needs the mighty gift of the Spirit of God living and breathing in them and enlightening them. Jesus Christ said the Father would give us the Spirit of truth and it will dwell within us, teaching and guiding us into all truth (John 16:13).

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2, ESV)

These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, For, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:10-16, NIV)

Only the Spirit of God knows the thoughts and deep things of God. The Spirit of God searches out all the wonders of God and teaches us the beauty and depth of the words that are in the Bible. All revelation of the heart of God comes from the Spirit of God, which we have received as a free gift from God at the time of our new birth in Christ so that we can understand the magnificent things that God has given us. The Spirit of God enables us to understand what God is thinking, what He is feeling and what He desires. Once we are born of the Spirit, we have infused into our heart the very mind of Christ, where we have the ability to think, see and understand like He does. We can spiritually discern what is really going on and make spiritual judgments based upon Christ’s understanding.

One of the most exciting adventures of the Christian life is growing in spiritual understanding and exercising the mind of Christ in all we think, say and do. How breathtaking and awe-inspiring is it to awaken our heart to the spiritual reality that we have the mind of Christ and the Spirit of understanding, wisdom and knowledge dwells in us as a vital part of our new life in Christ. The Spirit of God prepares the soil of our heart to bring forth an abundant harvest of spiritual fruit to the glory of our God.

Holding Fast to the Word in an Honest and Good Heart

The next requirement of this fourth soil of the heart is that we keep and hold fast the Word of God in an honest and good heart. The Greek word for “keep” means to hold firmly to avoid relinquishing something, to take possession and to not let go, and to seize something and embrace it tightly. It is the tenacious clutch of the heart on the words of God. The same word was used in Luke 4:42, when Jesus went to a secluded place and the crowd was searching for him. When they found Him, they held unto Him and tried to keep Him from leaving. The word is also a nautical term in the book of Acts describing a ship that steers toward the right destination and is holding fast to its course.

Our thoughts, imaginations, and hearts are always holding to something throughout the day. The tragedy of many a Christian’s life is that they hold onto fears, worries, anxieties and other evil things more than they hold unto the precious words of life from their Lord. The ship of their hearts is off-course because our heart has embraced the wrong image or things instead of the words which God magnified above all His name. We should hold tightly to the Word of God in the same manner as we will hold fast to Jesus the first time we meet face to face in the heavens. As Simon Peter said in the Gospel of John, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!” Proverbs 4:13 exhorts us to take hold of God’s Word of instruction and to not let go, but firmly embrace them as the prized possession of the heart. The Apostle Paul urged Timothy to hold fast and retain the standard of sound words, which Paul had taught in faith and love (2 Timothy 1:13).

For the words of life to have a transforming impact, we must hold unto them and not let them drift away. Often we are blessed with a tremendous study of Scripture, but within a few hours we have forgotten everything we have studied. We have not held unto the words of God as our minds are bombarded with daily distractions of living, causing them to fade away. There is no spiritual growth if we do not hold fast to the words of God. We must exercise discipline of mind to think, mediate and hold firmly to God’s promises for our enemy is trying to rip those words from our hearts. We must set our eyes to the heavens for eternity is not as far away as it seems. The day of Christ is approaching. As we hold fast to His marvelous life-sustaining words, God will write them on the tables of our hearts. His words become etched in the very fiber of our beings. Spurgeon said in his sermon Holding Fast our Profession: “That exhortation ‘Let us hold fast’ might well be written on the cover of every Christian’s Bible.”[4]

Jesus said in order for the seed of God to bear abundant fruit, it must be held fast in a good and honest heart. This kind of heart soil is fundamentally different from the other three soils described in the Parable. The soil of the good and honest heart is fertile and rich, presenting the perfect condition for the Word of God to grow and produce fruit. This is a heart made good and honest by the labor of the heavenly husbandman who tills and cultivates it to receive the seed. God has prepared the heart that trust in Him, softening and enriching its soil with His grace and love. The soil of this heart has been purified by God through faith, cleansed from all idols, and infused with the Spirit of God. It is ready to be the habitation of God.

The Greek words for “good” and “honest” are agathos and kalos which give us a deeper understanding of the type of heart Jesus required in order to produce fruit, Agathos means intrinsically good, inherently good in character, moral and spiritual excellence, and goodness that is beneficial, useful, and benefits others. Bullinger, in A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, defines agathos as “an inner harmonious perfection, which is its own standard and measure and belongs to God.”[5] Agathos is uprightness in heart and life according to God’s right standard. John MacArthur in Galatians says: “Agathos is the internal goodness produced by the Spirit in the hearts of obedient believers, which then finds expression in external goodness spoken by the mouth and performed by his hands.”[6]

Kalos means a perfect inward nature manifesting itself in an outward shape that is exquisite, beautiful, and genuine. Kalos is the visible and outward manifestation of goodness that produces something beautiful and magnificent. A.T. Robinson, in Word Pictures in the New Testament, says that kalos “calls attention to the beauty in character and service.”[7]

Wuest, in Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, further explains the difference between these two words:

Agathos which speaks of intrinsic goodness and kalos speaks of goodness as it is seen from without. The word kalos has also the idea of “beautiful.” It was used by the Greeks of anything so distinguished in form, excellence, goodness, usefulness, as to be pleasing. Hence, it can refer to anything which is handsome, useful, excellent, suitable, commendable, excellent in its nature and characteristics, and therefore, well adapted to its ends … Kalos is a goodness seen on the outside as it strikes the eye, a beautiful pleasing goodness. It was work that … possessed true moral beauty … Agathos always includes a corresponding beneficent relationship of the subject of it to another subject … Kalos speaks of goodness as seen from the outside by a spectator.[8]

The Agathos Heart

The Word of God must be kept in a heart that has moral character and spiritual excellence according to God’s righteous standard. It is a heart where God lives and His character abounds in words and actions. It is an upright, undivided and focused heart that obeys God without reservation. It is a heart that has been purified by the fire of God and circumcised from sin by the Master’s hand. The inner sanctuary of this heart has been made ready to reflect the glory of God.

It is not a perfect heart, but one in which God is moving, sculpting and molding into His image. This heart closely resembles the heart of God in love, kindness, tenderness and compassion. It is constantly reaching out with the heart of God to touch the lives of others. The soil of our hearts is most fertile when it is living love by helping, caring for, rescuing and comforting others. This heart gladly lays everything on the line as a living sacrifice for others. This heart is a wonderful image of the goodness of God, having no selfishness, pride or self-exaltation, but is broken for others. It longs to be a spiritual rescuer in the darkness of this world, becoming the hands, feet and mouthpiece of God to our generation.

The following verses paint a wonderful picture of the agathos heart of the Christian.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:5, 36, 40, RSV)

For I assisted the poor in their need and the orphans who required help. I helped those without hope, and they blessed me. And I caused the widows’ hearts to sing for joy. Everything I did was honest. Righteousness covered me like a robe, and I wore justice like a turban. I served as eyes for the blind and feet for the lame. I was a father to the poor and assisted strangers who needed help. I broke the jaws of godless oppressors and plucked their victims from their teeth. (Job 29:12-17, NLT)

If our hearts are hard toward others and not compassionate to their needs, then the soil of our heart is not conducive for the Word of God to take root and grow. Without a heart dedicated to service to God and others, we cannot produce fruit for God. The essence of the gospel is being redeemed and reconciled to God so we can go to a dying world and allow God to bring restoration, salvation, deliverance and liberty through our lives. We become the instruments of God to bring his glory and love to a world in desperate need. This is the agathos heart.

The Kalos Heart

Secondly, the Word of God must be kept in a heart that is a beautiful representation of Jesus Christ so people can see our good deeds and glorify our Heavenly Father. This is a heart that is the light of the world, a city upon a hill that shines brightly in the midst of this crooked and perverse world. This heart is a visible manifestation of the majesty, beauty, glory and goodness of God.

Skip Moen in Spiritual Restoration, Volume 3, says: “Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to live as pure men and women so that the entire world will marvel at the acts of God through us.”[9] This is a heart that is a picture frame and the character of God is the beautiful photograph. This is a heart that reflects the masterpiece of God’s love and grace in word and action. The light and glory of God are brilliantly seen drawing people to Jesus Christ. This is a heart that is free from hypocrisy and deceit and wears no mask to hide its true condition. This is a heart where you see the face of Jesus Christ.

Eric Ludy said in When God Writes Your Love Story: “We are here on earth to know God intimately, fully, correctly and contagiously; to house His holy person in our bodies, allowing him to showcase to the world around us His loving nature, His attitude, His thoughts, His emotions, and His actions through the way we live every moment of our lives.”[10] Oh how the Word of God thrives and grows in this kalos heart.

Psalm 1 illustrates the agathos and kalos heart where the Word of God is kept as a treasure day and night. This heart never ceases to bear fruit and never withers or fades for our Lord.

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (Psalm 1:1-3, NLT)

Bringing Forth Fruit with Patience

The last requirement of the fourth soil of the heart is that it brings forth fruit with patience. The Greek word for “patience” means steadfastness, perseverance, and to remain or abide under. It portrays a picture of steadfastly and unflinchingly bearing up under a heavy load, and describes that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb to trial. It is the characteristic of a person not swerved from the holy purpose and calling of God on his life, and he remains loyal to his faith even in the face of the greatest trials and sufferings. The spiritual endurance of the new life of Christ is unshakable, immovable, and unbreakable. It stands firmly with unswerving strength, never growing weak in resolve, enduring to the very end.

Patience is spiritual staying power that endures with vibrant hope, for its eyes are focused on the glories of eternity. It is rock-like perseverance that contends triumphantly with the tribulations, persecutions and pressures of this world and the inward desires and passions of the flesh. It does not flinch. It does not cave in. It does not give up. It is not discouraged. It does not lose heart. It does not throw in the towel. It does not burn out. It never breaks under pressure. It never surrenders to the enemy. It stands firmly on the rock of Christ and is not moved. The cry of patience is “I shall not be moved!” We cannot bear fruit for God and do His will without this patient endurance.

We live in a society that lives and breathes impatience. This worldly attitude has seeped into the church and contaminated many a Christian’s hearts. We have forgotten the beauty of waiting on the Lord. We have become the microwave generation where we want everything instantly and demand our needs and wants be met now. This age has bred human hearts that cannot stand trials, pressures or conflict of any kind. They go into meltdown mode at the slightest resistance to their agenda. The hearts molded by this age break into pieces and are crushed by the weight of any burden. When tested by fire they crumble into ashes. Oh how the heart needs a spiritual infusion of godly patience to fortify the heart with the steel of God Almighty so it can endure the storms of life with the rock-like steadfastness of Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5 states, our God is the God who is the source of all patient endurance. Only through Him will patience ever blossom in our hearts. Our generation has become weak and intoxicated with impatience, and this has caused an epidemic of people wearied with life, discouraged in the midst of adversity, and losing heart.

God’s great exhortation to His children is “Don’t lose heart; don’t faint; don’t be moved; don’t be discouraged; don’t be troubled; don’t be weary; hang in there; I will strengthen you; wait on me, I am here, I am with you; I am in you; be patient; I am the faithful one who will never forsake or desert you!”

As Andrew Murray said in Waiting on God:

Give God His glory by resting in Him, by trusting Him fully, and by waiting patiently for Him. This patient honors Him greatly; it leaves Him as God, on the throne, to do His work; it yields self wholly into His hands … Patience then becomes our highest blessedness and our highest grace. It honors God, and gives Him time to have His way with us. It is the highest expression of our faith in His goodness and faithfulness. It brings the soul perfect rest in the assurance that God is carrying on His work.[11]

Patience is proof that we believe God is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do. He is faithful to His promise of a coming harvest of spiritual fruit if we obey and trust Him without wavering. We cannot allow tribulation, persecution and pressure to cause us to faint and lose our hearts in the day of adversity for the appointed season of reaping is coming. At the heart of patience is this rock-like confidence of waiting on God.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. (Galatians 6:9, AMP)

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31, ESV)

In your patience possess ye your souls. (Luke 21:19, KJV)

There is a great harvest of blessed fruit awaiting those who do not lose heart and faint, but in patience possess their souls and wait upon their Lord with great joy. We shall reap the fruitful harvest if we steadfastly abide in Him and cleave to Him, never letting go of our patience. We cannot lose courage and become cowardly in the midst of tribulations, pressures and trials for we have the Lion of Judah on the throne of our hearts.

The Patience of the Farmer

Look at the patience of the farmer! He does not plant his seed and then rushes to his window the next day expecting to see a full harvest. The growth of the seed takes time. He knows the harvest is coming. The farmer is not impatient with the growth process. We must trust the God of the Harvest that His wonderful fruit is coming in His season not ours. All spiritual fruit originates from God, and is part of a day-by-day growing process that is completely in His hands. God’s desire is that we bear much fruit, and this is His faithful promise. But we cannot fast-forward the process or speed-up the timetable.

But be patient, my brothers, as you wait for the Lord to come. Look at the farmer quietly awaiting his precious harvest. See how he has to possess his soul in patience till the land has had the early and late rains. So must you be patient, resting your hearts on the ultimate certainty. The Lord’s coming is very near. (James 5:7-8, PHILLIPS)

Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward. For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised. For a little while (a very little while), and the Coming One will come and He will not delay. (Hebrews 10:35-37, AMP)

At the root of patience is the wonderful assurance that the Lord is coming. This hope gives us strength to endure as we await the precious harvest. We look to the heavens and see the wonders of eternity. Our heart soars in hope of the coming glorious day of the Lord when He sets up His eternal kingdom and we live and reign with Him forever in a perfect heavens and earth. Our heart needs steadfast patience and endurance to finish the race God has called us to and fully accomplish the will of God in our lives. Then we will receive and enjoy the rich harvest of spiritual fruit that the soil of our heart is producing. Without this patient endurance our heart’s soil will fall into the second or third category of soil in the parable of the sower and the seed. It will either be scorched and wither away by the heat or be choked and suffocated by the thorns.

The Patience of Jesus Christ

No one exercised more patience when he lived upon the earth than Jesus Christ. He is the rock of patience and was immovable and unshakable when it came to doing the will of God. Timothy 1:16 says Jesus has unlimited patience. If we are to follow in his footsteps and have a heart like his, we must walk in patient endurance in all of life’s trying circumstances.

Jesus Christ even approached the agony of the cross with patient joy, for He saw the great prize of our redemption. He is the source of this supernatural patience that needs to flow through our heart.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, who have borne testimony to the Truth, let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us. Looking away from all that will distract to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy of obtaining the prize that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds. (Hebrews 12:1-3, AMP)

Only when we look to Jesus can we run the appointed race with patient, steadfast endurance and not grow weary, faint, or lose heart. We must strip off everything that hinders, enslaves and entangles the heart and let patience do its perfect work. Patience allows God to perform His transforming work in our hearts and finish his purpose for our lives. Without patience we become incomplete in fulfilling our calling to manifest the glory of God in all that we say or do. Without patience we never become the outward masterpiece that represents and reflects the amazing grace of God given us in the new birth and the treasure of the living Christ within us. We are like the unfinished house that the Master’s hand was preventing from completing because we had no steadfast patient endurance, and we failed to wait upon the Lord. When we are impatient we are telling the Heavenly Sculptor to stop His precious work. Our lives become the piece of marble that never captured the vision in the heart of the sculptor. We need patience so God can mold our hearts into His image. How many lives have been wasted by a lack of patience!

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4, NKJV)

The Extraordinary Harvest

When all of the requirements of the fourth soil are met, Jesus makes an astounding promise that we shall reap a harvest thirty, sixty to hundred times what was sown. This is a yield of three thousand, six thousand and ten thousand percent. This phenomenal harvest of fruit is reaped where the seed was sown and that is in the human heart.

Have we been seeing this type of harvest in modern day Christianity? Is this the return that we are having in the church? Do you see this overflowing crop of spiritual fruit in your own heart? What would be the impact of Christianity in the world if we saw a harvest that was thirty, sixty, to a hundred times greater than what was sown? The church would shake the very gates of hell and wreak havoc on Satan’s kingdom to a degree that has not been seen in our generation.

No wonder the Devil marshals his entire kingdom to attempt to hinder and prevent the growth of the Word of God in the human heart. This is his strategy. He always tries to steal, kill, and destroy the Word of God in the heart. This is the bottom line of every scheme of the enemy. This has been the Enemy’s modus operandi since the Garden of Eden with his deceptive remark to Eve “Did God really say?” The Word of God must be stopped at all costs from living in the heart for this type of harvest is too dangerous for his kingdom.

Can you imagine a human heart that blossoms with the spiritual fruit of love one hundred times more than the seed that is sown? The world would be turned upside down! A spiritual revolution changing lives of countless souls and igniting a move of God like the world has never seen would flow from this abundant harvest of love. This is the type of growth the Word of God promises. Do we dare to believe it?

Think about this type of harvest with the spiritual fruit of kindness. How different would our churches be if we had a harvest of kindness with a ten thousand per cent yield? The ramifications of even one heart with this abundant crop of kindness would rock Satan’s kingdom to the core. Lives would be touched, causing a radical turning to Jesus Christ. Loving deeds of service would alter lives. The true heart of God would be manifested upon the earth. Are we ready for this type of harvest in our hearts?

How about a radical harvest of immense proportions with the spiritual fruit of self-control? This spiritual fruit of self-control is the ability to take a grip of oneself and have power over one’s passions, appetites, and desires. It is restrain and control over the sin nature. It is a supernatural inner power to control the cravings of the old nature inherited from Adam. Self-control is to get a grip of our thoughts, words, and actions so they reflect Christ in us. It holds off the sudden impulses of the flesh, resisting the urge of the flesh to do the works of the sin nature. We hold off anger and pride; we hold off sarcasm and strife; we hold off envy and bitterness. With God’s help, we take power over all actions that do not bring glory to God.

Would Christians be addicted to pornography if they had this overflowing harvest of self-control? Would sin be wreaking havoc on so many Christian lives and destroying their testimony if their hearts were producing a hundredfold return of the spiritual fruit of self-control? Would so much corrupt communication come forth from our mouths hurting others if our hearts demonstrated a radical transformation of self-control? Would our emotions be running wild, setting in motion the kingdom of hell, if we reaped self-control in such abundance that God was in perfect control of our hearts. We would live what Jesus accomplished in his death and resurrection by crushing the power of sin, and not allowing it to exercise one ounce of power in our hearts. The devil’s plans would be harmed beyond repair.

We have not even examined the other spiritual fruit of joy, peace, faith, longsuffering, meekness, and goodness. Can you imagine a yield of ten thousand percent with any of these amazing fruits! Oh how that heart would brilliantly reflect Jesus and shine like the brightness of the sun in the cold night of this world. A Christian’s life should not have just one of these fruits, but all nine in such abundant proportions that the distinctive character of Jesus Christ comes bursting forth from the heart. This is the growth that Jesus promises when the soil of our heart is in this forth category.

So Few Have Reached the Fourth Soil

Sadly, very few Christians have ever reached this forth soil. The condition of their hearts languishes in one or a combination of the first three categories and they have never experienced the breathtaking glory, majesty and power of a heart that is producing a thirty, sixty and hundredfold bumper harvest of spiritual fruit. I think it is time for a spiritual awakening of our hearts so the soil is fertile, waiting for the Master husbandman to produce His astounding harvest in our hearts. The world with all its philosophies, mantras, formulas, and education can never manufacture, replicate or create the fruit of the spirit in the human heart. Only God can, and only when we meet the conditions set forth in His Word, and obey Him without reservation.

Our heart is like the farmer’s field and will either produce the fruit of the flesh or the fruit of the spirit. The soil of our heart is the key to which fruit is being harvested as the condition of our heart is always directly tied to what type of soil dominates it. Tell me the soil of your heart and I can tell you the condition of your heart.

This is why the Parable of the Sower is one of the greatest of all parables for in it lays the key to the condition of our hearts. It perfectly illustrates the four basic conditions of the heart of every person that ever lived. You must now choose where your heart will abide. What is the soil of your heart? What is the soil producing? Everything in our Christian life is directly tied to the condition of the soil.

It’s time you get alone with God and allow Him to reveal to you the true condition of your heart and the content of its soil. God will show us the results of His soil testing and the way to this forth soil so that our hearts can be a beautiful representation of our Heavenly Father. We earnestly desire for our hearts to be like His, so that out of it flows the very life of God in all its amazing colors. I pray that in our homes, families, churches and communities, the forth soil of the heart becomes the prevalent soil in Christianity again. What a glorious day that will be for the kingdom of God!

 

[1] Charles Spurgeon, The Vision of the Field, A Sermon published August 16th, 1906, delivered at the Metropolitian Tabernacle, Newington, 1864.

[2] Ibid.

[3] A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous (Camp Hill: WingSpread Publishers, 2006), Kindle, 1132.

[4] Charles Spurgeon, Holding Fast our Profession, Sermon delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, 1886.

[5] E.W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), 336.

[6] Ibid.

[7] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2000), 137.

[8] Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company 1961).

[9] Skip Moen, Spiritual Restoration: Reclaiming the Foundations of God’s Word, Volume 3 (Maitland: Xulon Press, 2008).

[10] Eric and Leslie Ludy, When God Writes Your Love Story (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2009).

[11] Andrew Murray, Waiting on God (Radford: Wilder Publications, LLC, 2008), 73.

Excerpt from Tim Rowe’s book “The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life”

 

About goodnessofgod2010

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