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Some Fell on Stony Places

“Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.”  Matt. 13: 5-6

“But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.” Matt. 13:20-21

In this case, the sower brings the gospel of Christ to another kind of heart, a heart that has little soil in it.  There is just a thin, soft top layer of soil, under which the ground is hard and immovable.  It is solid rock. 

This heart is able to experience something that the heart like the hard country road could not experience, hardened and trodden down as it was. On that hard country road, there was no soil left and therefore no receptivity. As surely as there is a little soil, a seed can be sown there.  The soil on the top is receptive even if it looks shallow.

The stony heart thinks that the gospel of Christ sounds both correct and exciting.  This heart is open to anything, is not critical, and is always on the go and looking for something new, so it immediately receives the word and showers of blessing can begin. Since its soil has no depth it is quickly satisfied.  The heart is soon filled and joy is readily visible.  It overflows quickly.  

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.  Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as raindrops on the tender herb, and as showers on the grass.  For I proclaim the name of the Lord: ascribe greatness to our God.  He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He. They have corrupted themselves; they are not His children, because of their blemish: a perverse and crooked generation.”  Deut. 32:1-5

This heart understands, to some extent anyway, that it is sin that has brought corruption into his life; that he himself is the guilty one, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.  So he turns as well as he can from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.  When he is converted to the Rock, Jesus Christ, and hears about His perfect work of salvation and about His ways of righteousness, then it is as “showers on the grass.” In this way he is sanctified by the blood of Jesus unto the forgiveness of sins (Eph. 2:13), and is cleansed by the washing of water in the word.  Acts 2:40 and 15:8-9 and 26:18; Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:4-7; 1 Cor. 6:11

As the streams of living water flow, where the first principles of the doctrine of Christ are preached by the sowers, he hears about faith in God, forgiveness, the new birth, baptism, and about the resurrection from the dead and eternal judgment, and he gives up all his plans in this world.  Heb. 6:1-3.  He sells his possessions and gives the money to the sower.  Acts 4:32-36.  He bids his father and mother goodbye, forgives anyone that has offended him, throws away his tobacco and separates from his girl friend.  Now he will live a new life of purity and love, in the fear of God and in faithfulness.  He will definitely be radical!  He is going to enter the righteous ways of the Rock and get to know the living God.  He is like a clean, newborn child, with new possibilities, on the way to a new kingdom.  Tones of a new song ring in his heart: tones of thanks and praise to the Lamb of God.

“And they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth…and no root.”

This person became visible very quickly.  Indeed, even before daybreak, while there was still relatively little light, a blade appeared above the ground. In the light of such immediate reception and great joy, we can assume that he participates in the meetings by giving his testimony and sharing the new truths he has learned.  There was a little soil, so he was able to learn something or receive something, even if his heart’s understanding is a bit superficial and naïve.  He has some spiritual gifts also, and in his zeal and joy he is very active.  In itself, this is a positive sign.

Unfortunately, however, as time goes by it becomes apparent that all the grace he has received produces only a “beautiful blade.”  This simply grows upwards, and upwards.  The heavenly things he has received and all he has learned about God is only used to make himself seen.  He arranges matter in such a way that they reveal the person he has become and what he stands for. He makes a mark for himself because he wants to “be somebody,” instead of establishing his calling and election in God.  Everything he has received and learned is used up and squandered in order to impress, and to seek honor and personal advantage. It is used to draw attention to his own glory, to beautify the blade, and to gain admirers and followers (seeds in the top of the stalk), rather than shooting roots downwards into an intimate fellowship with Christ in God. 

The field of wheat – the church of Christ – becomes simply a new arena where he lives his ‘new’ life with the hope of making a career out of it.  The inner spiritual life before God’s face is neither nourished nor cared for.  No time is spent on it because it is not understood nor given priority. There is no room for the Holy Spirit’s instruction concerning the gospel of the kingdom of God because the heart’s layer of earth is too shallow.  Moreover, it has already received all it can. Such instruction is imparted through fellowship in the Spirit with the Son of Man.  It takes place in a listening, poor, and hungry heart; often as such a person is in quietness and rest, engaged in prayer and searching the Holy Scriptures.  Such hearts have depth to them and a mind to look inwards.  However, the mind of the one whose heart has little soil is too occupied with outward things.  Besides, there is a completely wrong understanding about what it means to bear fruit and become something in the kingdom of God; that has been off course right from the start.  What he needs is insight into a mystery, and this insight he simply will not come to possess. 

To take root, or we can say, to come to a life where one’s roots are in God and in His word, necessitates time, and it is a hidden work that others cannot see. It all depends on how quickly a person in his heart becomes aware of and then begins to devote himself to the Spirit’s instruction concerning the mysteries of the kingdom of God.  Then the Scriptures are not dry anymore, neither are they hard and impenetrable, nor difficult to understand and disconnected.  The word is opened to us by the revelation of the Spirit.  Then we discover spiritual laws in the word, either things we have already experienced, or things that God wants us to grasp by faith and afterward experience. It is when the Holy Spirit brings the word to life in our hearts that we gradually gain insight in the mystery of the gospel.  The intention is that the roots of our heart grow downwards into this mystery.  The riddles of the word are solved by the Spirit’s instruction. The word becomes “porous and full of water,” so it can be penetrated.  We drink from the fount of the Spirit in the word.  In this way, God strengthens the faith and endurance of a sincere seeking soul, and as a result his roots begin to grow.  Isaiah 12:1-6

Such a work cannot take place so long as a person is only occupied with visible and temporal things, struggling in his service to be esteemed by others.  Neither can it succeed so long as a person is constantly anxious about what others think about him.  Only when he completely surrenders to God in order to live for Him and please Him will he enter into true rest and be able to hear the voice from heaven.  From what can be seen on the surface, it might appear that what is happening to a soul whose roots are growing down into the mysteries of the Son of Man is a feeble beginning.  However, if this soul is faithful to the instruction of the Spirit and the word that is committed to him, he will later bear fruit for his God and by faith and by the word he will become “wise unto salvation.” 2 Tim. 3:14-17

The development of the root life is dependent on how quickly we, through the instruction of the Spirit, allow ourselves to be broken down to where we melt together with the word; that is, with the laws that we see by faith and which are written in our heart and mind.  This takes place as we practice God’s word in the many trials of everyday life.  This is where faith is tested.  In order to preserve faith, we must inevitably begin to put it into practice in order to be victorious.  If we do not do so, the instruction of the Spirit will eventually cease.  James 1:22-25  At that point, the fountain of life will no longer flow for us, and the word will again become dry, because its continued flow is only available to those who obey Him.  However, if we are faithful in this, we will soon enter into the obedience of faith.  Heb. 4:1-3; 8:10-13: 10:15-16. Acts 5:32, and Rom. 1:5.

For it to succeed, godly fear and a reciprocal love for God must be the driving force; first we become rooted, and then grounded and built up together with all the saints.  Eph. 3:14-21 and Col. 2:1-7.  Then the blades of the future, our ministry and work for God, will bring a blessing both upon ourselves and to those we serve and have to do with.  Blades like this can bear a little shaking also.  Not because we are so strong in ourselves and have much knowledge, but because beyond mere words, we also have an unshakable root system where we receive power to serve God. “A man is not established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous cannot be moved.” Prov. 12:3

However, with the heart described as stony ground, it is different.  “…when the sun was up they were scorched…” and “…yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while…” and “…believe only for a time…” and “…when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles,” says the Son of Man. 

“When the sun was up they were scorched.”  The morning of a new birth is fresh with the dew and wonderful, though as we have mentioned, it is a time where the light is dim.  There is plenty of moisture but little light.  This is because it is just the break of day and the morning star can be seen at a distance.  It is cool, an easy time to work, and the sun has not yet appeared on the horizon.  The requirement of the law which will meet us as workers in God’s kingdom, and as children of the day and disciples of the Son of Man, is awaiting us some steps ahead.  As the day dawns it seems both warm and light because we have been brought out of the cold and dark night.  The contrast is enormous. In one way, a new springtime has dawned in our lives.  We have passed over from darkness to light, from death to life, and actually from the power of Satan to the power of God. 

However, when daytime arrives and the sun arises in the sky, when a person acquires more knowledge and a better sense of what the word actually requires of a child of God, how will it go then?  Will that person love the light and walk in it and start fighting the good fight of faith?  Will he or she endure the sufferings the word of the gospel will lead into as time goes on, leading to redemption as the body of the flesh is made manifest?  What kind of heart has been converted? Does it have good and deep earth? Or is it choked with thorns inside?  Will that person retreat and renew connections with the world and sin?  Simply put, will it succeed for him?  Such questions will always be in a sower’s heart when someone is converted and receives his word concerning the Son of Man and the way into His heavenly kingdom.

Listen!  Let me ask you: Who do you think preaches a gospel that has a so powerful and effective light in it, like the light of the sun, that though it brings some to repentance, right afterwards it burns off some of those very same people?  According to the Son of Man, this happens if they are superficial, remain in the flesh, and seek honor and personal gain as God’s children and the servants of Christ.  Indeed, who do you suppose has a gospel with so powerful a light that unless a person puts off all conscious sin and commits himself to God in spirit and in truth, receives instruction from the Spirit, and lets his roots go down deeply into the word, he will fall away, dry up and be scorched?  He will not be able to endure in the long run, and will not attain to the life that the gospel and the teachings of Christ promise us.  This is because he does not understand the seriousness of what he is called to, the nature of the life available to him by the gospel and teachings of Christ, or the conditions required to attain it.  Who do you suppose has and preaches such a gospel?  It is the heart and attitude of mind of the listener which determine if, when he has heard the gospel, he will remain standing, or will be offended by the preaching and the preacher, and will reject it entirely. 

Listen!  It is not the tares that preach such a gospel! No, only the wheat, the children of the kingdom, preach such a gospel.  Nothing is scorched by the preaching of the tares. Neither is there any tribulation for the flesh; in any case, not the tribulation spoken about here.   There are certainly some who do not endure among the tares also. However, are some of those who come among the tares burned off – take to their heels – because the light of their gospel works so powerfully against sin and carnality?  No, not at all!  This cannot happen when the scriptures are proclaimed by the evil one and not by God.  So if the tares lose some of their company there are other reasons for it. 

The words of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of the apostles have always been crystal clear, at least for the children of the day.  Their words are permeated with a heavenly light, bright as the sun, from God.  Many workers for the tares are very adept at shrouding this light, and explaining it away with the understanding given them by the evil one. Yet for those who long for truth and have ears to hear and eyes to see, the light of the prophetic word will nevertheless shine through in its clarity and point them to the narrow gate.  This is the gate that opens the way to the narrow way that leads to life. Matt. 7:13-14.  All on their own they will study and search, and listen and exercise themselves in self-denial and prayer, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in their hearts.  2 Peter 1:16-21, and Rev. 22:16.
 
Now we are going to read about some of the sins that are classified under the collective word ‘wrong’ or unrighteousness; the unrighteousness and impurity that everyone, regardless of who they are or what they profess, will be faced with and be held accountable for if they have continued to live in these things after their conversion.  Col. 3:23-25; the unrighteousness that results in a person not being saved from the wrath to come; the unrighteousness that the angels will react to, with the result that all the false sowers and their sheaves will be bundled together and thrown into the fire.  The sowers who secretly live in the sins of which we are about to read do not manage to preach the sharp word and teaching of the gospel.  Neither do they manage, with the conviction of the Holy Spirit and power, to point them to the way out of unrighteousness so clearly shown in the word. Quite on the contrary; the majority are in a spirit that does not take things so seriously, with the result that one cannot and does not need to be righteous. These people even teach that God the Father sees us through the Son as perfect. “The Son has been victorious for us, so we do not need to get victory.”  Moreover, they say that to try to get victory over these things is going back to the old covenant. “It’s like trying to justify and perfect oneself.  If we could manage such a thing, Jesus would not have needed to come, you know,” they quickly add.  Yes, I guess that’s what you have heard, I say to myself.  So what was it then that the apostles of the Son of Man proclaimed? Were they teachers of the law when they preached obedience to righteousness, saying that under grace a person not only can but must stop serving sin? Rom. 6:14-16.  Are they trying to justify themselves? Were they in bondage under the law of Moses?  Had they gone astray?  No. They were neither teachers of the law, nor were they in bondage under the law of Moses, nor had they gone astray.  But they did see what tremendous possibilities were now made available to them through the life and death of Christ, and through the resurrection. 

Now see for yourself how the morning light and the first rays of sunshine affect you when you read the following scriptures! Think carefully about John 3:16-21 and 1 John 1:1-7.  Also be sure you understand that this is not written to condemn you, rather to awaken you and expose the darkness and deception of the lie, and of the deceiving sowers of the tares.  Prov. 21:16; Eph. 5:6-14.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.  But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Cor. 6:9-11.

“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  Flee sexual immorality.  Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Cor. 6:17-20

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.  But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, not foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not be partakers with them.  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light.” Eph. 5:1-8

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.  Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce,’ but I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” Matt. 5:27-32

“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.  But now you yourselves – (Titus 3:3-7) – are to put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” Col. 3:5-10; 1 Thess. 4:1-8

“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.  What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?  Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”  Rom. 6:14-16

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”  1 Pet. 1:13-21

Paul and Peter both say that we must have fear over us when it concerns these things.  Every life will be judged according to each one’s works, without any respect of persons.  (Rev. 22:11-12; Matt. 16:27)  The blood of Jesus does not cover up a life that is consciously lived in sin and hypocrisy.  But it covers our former life, a life that was lived in ignorance and unbelief.  1 Tim. 1:13.  Obedient children are redeemed through the blood of Jesus and through new birth.  Eph. 1:7.  This is because they no longer are conformed to the former lusts in which they lived because of ignorance.  Then through the forgiveness of sins they will come to the knowledge of salvation. “….through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:76-79. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry…etc…of which I tell you beforehand – (before the Son of Man and the angels come) – that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Gal. 5:19-21

Here we see the wheat workers actively working with some of the God-given light they have received in their hearts through the gospel of Christ. Manifest sin is put off so it can be cleansed away.  The blood of Jesus is not something to take lightly, nor something of which there is an endless supply. Heb. 10:26-31.  Wherever the preaching is received, a good seed for the Son of Man is produced. These sowers came forth from the Son of Man, and they must come from Him today also if they are to be genuine. They cannot be trained by studying at a Bible School or Church Seminary.  So if you are approached by a sower, you should find out where he comes from.  Maybe he has gained his qualifications at a theological institute and has been greatly influenced by the wicked one. 

Listen!  God’s true sowers have themselves been sown by the teaching of the Spirit and the doctrine of Christ.  For this reason they work untiringly with the grains of wheat, those who have been converted and born again, exhorting them to separate themselves from the chaff; from manifest sin.  This is to bring forth “mere grain” (a bare grain – Norw. trans.).  1 Cor. 15:37.  Indeed, the Son of Man has not walked according to the lusts and desires of the flesh, but according to the leading of the Spirit.  Those who would follow Him, the grains of wheat who through a new birth have the ability to germinate, must separate themselves from the world and from worldly or religious relatives according to the flesh. Rom. 12:1-2.  James 4:4.  After that they must put off the old man with its deeds, take up their cross and reckon themselves dead with Christ.  It is only those who reckon themselves “dead to sin” who are justified from it, says Paul.  Rom. 6:1-23.  Not until then can a new life emerge, a life where forgiveness is lasting and where there is continual progress – as one begins to live and walk in the Spirit.  We must fear God so that Jesus Christ is honored by us and not dishonored!  Psalm 130:4-8.

Through this teaching, the apostles lifted out of a life according to the flesh all those who had been converted and had a heavenly calling in their hearts and a desire to be saved from sin and worldliness, and lifted them into their stalks, so they could bear fruit for God.  In this way the apostles had stalks of pure, bare grains. They were able to sustain these grains through the preaching of faith, and could give them pure spiritual nourishment from their own root life with God until the grains matured and fell away from the stalks.  They had become so strong that by the obedience of faith and the power of God they were able to stand on their own and resist all kinds of unrighteousness and impurity.  1 Pet. 1:3-9.  In this way the first sowers obtained fruit from their preaching and from their work, all by the teaching of the Spirit and the doctrine of Christ.  1 Cor. 4:15-16. 

The Son of Man was then able to reveal Himself to these fruits, and establish them. Then, when the time was ripe, He could lay hold of them and sow them in His fields, so long as they remained obedient to the word that was planted in them, the word that is mighty to save souls.  They became the second generation of good seed. James 1:21.

In turn, these seeds were able to work and bring forth new grain.  In this way, the wheat fields would not disappear.  Nothing less than this process was able to preserve them.  John 15:16.  If the old man with all its lusts, desires and interests is not put off and denied, so that it shrivels up and dies, you will not enter into the new covenant. Then the Son of Man will not reveal Himself to you.  You will not become a grain of wheat and will never reach the point where you can be sown. Neither will you bear fruit for God.  A new, divine spiritual life will not be born, and there will not be a new walk in the Holy Spirit.  There will just be an outwardly “splendid” life, but inwardly there will be no power over sin. Maybe that will not be hidden either, because manifest worldliness and powerlessness are usually visible, too.  2 Tim. 1:9.

Listen!  When the scriptures we have just read are proclaimed, the stony heart only believes and endures for a limited time.  After this the heart is offended by the word because it realizes that to obey and practice this word will result in trials and dishonor.  The person with the stony heart will not in truth and spirit deny himself and lose his life in this world in order to follow Jesus.  If people would receive the word, they would find that the word would bring their souls into battles and sufferings that would result in freedom from the sinful desires that have held them and that have had power over their souls. This is the word against which people take offence.  The very first step on the way towards becoming a grain of wheat, and making Christ Jesus Lord of one’s life, is to not allow manifest sin to rule in one’s earthly body, thus obeying its lusts.  Rom. 6:12.  It is not possible to serve two masters – the flesh and the Spirit.  Gal. 5:17. “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” 

The stony heart does not melt together with “the word of the cross,” and does not walk before God’s face in truth and sincerity.  Neither does it understand or have a sense for the chastening of the Spirit, which is the inner chastening given by the Father of spirits.  If a person gives in to temptation and is drawn away in order to live in the pleasure of his old lusts, he should definitely sense this discipline. Deliverance is not the result when such a person is chastened, not even after many years.  1 Pet. 2:20; Heb. 12:9.  The preaching does not increase a longing in the heart for deliverance from the power of sin. The desire to resist temptation does not become greater. Tit. 2:11-15.  Heb. 13:9.  The reason for this is that evil, guile, and hypocrisy have not really been put off. The stony heart does not drink in the pure spiritual milk, even in the presence of powerful apostolic preaching. There is no growth unto salvation from manifest sins.  1 Pet. 2:1-5, 11. The stony heart is simply too hard. 

It can be that in the beginning, other more sensitive hearts can also give in to temptation and be lured by their lusts to enjoy their old desires – things that they know belong to the old man and which they therefore believe to be against the will of God.  But the inner chastening from the Father of spirits (the grace of God that disciplines us – Titus 2:11-12), and the pain and sorrow that follows, will not be tolerable in the long run, so long as they are true sons or daughters.  However great sin is, grace will be even greater. The grace that brings discipline will take more and more control of an honest and upright soul, longing for righteousness, and in time, differing for each person, it will begin to rule, just as sin ruled through death.  Rom. 5:20-21.

It is at this point that shoots of weeds, or tares, spring up – those who are “illegitimate children.” These are the ones who despise chastisement, disregarding it entirely, supposing that they are even aware of it.  They are not chastened or strengthened in faith to the point of suffering in the flesh in order to be finished with sin.  They are disappointed about both the gate and the way when that is preached to them, and they do not want to hear about the battle ahead.  They are the ones who do not in truth and spirit put up serious resistance, so that they begin to strive against sin unto bloodshed.  Heb. 12:1-9. 

This is where stony hearts cease to be receptive to the things the wheat preaches. Their Christianity goes no further because there is no more soil.  The heart is actually too hard and insensitive to be able to receive more and bow to such preaching.  It is not meek and does not love the truth enough, even though the word is implanted through the preaching.  The word does not profit them because they do not melt together with it.  For this reason they do not come to true rest and deliverance from their previous lives’ lusts and desires. 

To confess ones former sinful life in order to receive forgiveness is acceptable, as well as confessing that one is still a sinner.  But to acknowledge the truth about oneself and the word of truth that would bring liberation from sin, that is too much.  John 8:31-36.  The stony heart seeks no more than forgiveness for sin.  It does not seek justification through deliverance from sin.  Such preaching works in him the sorrow of the world that produces death, and not godly sorrow that produces repentance leading to salvation from sin.  Godly sorrow produces new zeal for sanctification, and is not to be regretted, either during a battle or when one has come through it.  2 Cor. 7:8-11.  But the stony heart would rather sin than suffer.  Job 36:21.  Therefore both the grace he has been given as well as the work done for such a soul by God’s servants is in vain.  1 Cor. 6:1 and 15:1-2. 

If we sin in the beginning, the wicked one is more than glad to whisper in our ears: “You are not going to be able to overcome this sin, even if you fight hard against it. But so long as no one else knows about it, it is not going to matter. Remember that Jesus died for you and loves you with an everlasting love.  He has atoned for all your sin, so it will go well anyway.  He will never leave you or forsake you so long as you believe in Him.  People may forsake you if they find out about it, but you are safe with Jesus.  He will never fail you no matter what.” This is the voice of the wicked one.  If you accept these words, your thoughts will become corrupted and you will turn away from simple faithfulness to Christ – the faithful life of a chaste virgin. 2 Cor. 11:1-6.  Your eyes become dim, you become hard of hearing, and your heart is hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  You deceive yourself and receive another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel, a gospel that was not preached by the Son of Man and the apostles. 

We can deceive ourselves, but God can never be deceived.  Heb. 4:12-13.  We will be judged according to the condition of our hidden life, and we are called to live a hidden life with Christ in God.  The hidden life is first and foremost the life that we live in our hearts and thoughts.  It is also the works that we do when no man can see us.  That is why we must love the truth in the gospel.  Then in truth we will be sanctified by the blood of Jesus and justified in the Spirit of our God.  John 17:17.

A day will come when God will judge our hearts, according to Paul’s gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.  On that day we will not regret the battles and sufferings we had here during our lifetime, in order to be cleansed and liberated from all uncleanness and unrighteousness.  Rom. 2:14-16.  Far from it!  On that day we will be rewarded according to our faithfulness.  Rev. 22:12. This is the truth of the gospel.  “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”  Rom. 5:10. By His death we have been forgiven the enmity and all the sins we have committed, and get a new chance.  But by walking in His footsteps we enter into salvation by His life.  Then we are saved – cleansed and delivered – from the sin we lived in when we were enemies.  Col. 3:1-17.  The intention is that after we have been forgiven our sin, we also die to sin.  1 Peter 2:24.

Let’s take another look at the person with the stony heart and see how he is doing.  Let’s see how the wicked one requires him to be shaken in his sieve to see if he truly wants to be a grain of wheat. Remember that this stony heart is in the wheat field – not in one of the fields of tares, of which there are so many today.  There is no sieve there.  Luke 22:31-33. He sits, in other words, under a sharp apostolic preaching; preaching that awakens a heavenly calling in the hearts of as many as the Lord our God calls.  Heb. 3:1-19.  Acts 2:38-47.  We can imagine that even if he does not have complete victory over certain sinful desires, of which he is fully conscious and that he secretly cherishes, he still speaks and behaves as though he had victory.  All the same he acts as though he has given up everything to follow Jesus.  He hides the fact that he does not want to give up everything.  He certainly has a “beautiful blade,” a lovely outward appearance to protect.  So he speaks and behaves as if everything is in perfect order, and is not in any particular need over the sins that still have power in his life.  What such people do not realize at all is that they are actually in grave danger of being deceived, so long as they continue to give the appearance of being wholehearted and zealous in the meetings. Because of the chaff, the power of their old sins, they end up getting stuck in the sieve of the wicked one.   

Those who do not love the truth and who will not suffer in the flesh in order to be finished with sin soon collide with first one and then another in the ministry. The soul that will not put off the old man with its deeds – the entire stalk – in order to live in the Spirit, will experience in truth (in any case, in a field of wheat) that “…the mind of the flesh is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”  Rom. 8:7-10.  As a result, sparks fly and there are collisions with the other members both in the meetings and elsewhere.  James 4:1-3.

If he continues to participate in gatherings, his service is not done in all simplicity of heart before God’s face.  Neither is it according to the workings of the Spirit.  It is done in order to be seen by men, according to the dictates of the flesh and by its power.  This is irritating for others, especially those who would also like to “be something.” He also takes up time that others could have used at the meetings, and his activity does not bring others joy or edification anymore.  Since there is much lacking in both his life and ministry, not everything he says is quite right either.  His ministry – the blade – is not quite so beautiful to look at now.  Those who could rejoice over him before are now sorrowful.  The sun is on its way up.

This person shot up quickly, and was very active in his new-found joy. Because of this he also created a lot of joy for others by the way in which he received the word at the start. In spite of this, some people did not rejoice to the same extent.  Some were also irritated and envious of him.  Of course, there is more than one small weed that shoots up in a field.   He is not the only one who does not have complete victory over sinful desires.  For this reason, his activity stirs up envy in others.  These are the ones who are irked by the ministry of others and who compete for honor and various positions in the field.  They have not become a bare grain and death is not at work in them.  Gal. 5:26.

The group that becomes envious was there long before this newcomer, so they know the “rules of the game” better than he does.  When they see him getting up so often to give his testimony, they go and complain to the leadership.  “He creates too much unrest and steals too much time from others in the meetings,” they report.  When they get a chance, they “shoot an arrow” at him, “goad him a bit” and ask him to lay low, saying: “Now you need to calm down a bit.  You are not the only one here who God speaks to. You don’t need to make a long speech every time we have a meeting.” Gal. 5:13-26.  The result is persecution for the sake of the word.

 

The sun rises further

All the moisture that he received in the beginning – the washing of the water bringing a new birth and renewal and spiritual blessings – has now evaporated. The fresh dewy morning of the first love has passed and he feels powerless, as though he was withering up inside.  He lacks both root and water and discovers that he is in a dry land.  The bright morning star that shone so beautifully in the beginning is about to fade.  Rev. 22:16.  The light of the sun – the requirement of the law which we will eventually face as workers in God’s kingdom – has already climbed well up over the horizon, and love has unfortunately not been more established than “…like a morning cloud, and like the early dews it goes away.”  Hosea 6:4-6.The stony heart or bedrock – the hard heart underneath – is about to be uncovered and become visible. 

When someone causes unrest in his service, it is always the person serving that must bring a sacrifice. 2. Cor. 12:15.  For this reason he is exhorted by one of the leaders to back off a bit when he comes to the meetings.  Besides this, the doctrine is also crystal clear, teaching us that when we are persecuted for the sake of the word, we should: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you.” Matt. 5:39-48.  “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” Heb. 12:14. However, when the life and the motive behind the service is way off course, it becomes impossible to follow these words.  He absolutely does not agree that he should take more of a back seat at the meetings.  In his opinion, everyone should accept his conversion, calling, ministry and gifts, and should simply make room for him. This is something God has done!  He is not at fault and has certainly not made a mistake.  “Besides,” he says, “I have some grain here in the hall that I need to nourish and care for.”

Now he is falling behind because he has not allowed grace to discipline him, to bring him rest from his former sins.  He does not possess the “peaceable fruits of righteousness,” and he lacks power in his life.  When a grain of wheat that has been sown meets difficulties in his ministry, more of the indwelling sin that he has not yet received light over will enter his consciousness, and the Spirit will instruct him about the way forward.  He can come to a deeper acknowledgement and cleanse himself more deeply, and in this way he can increase his peaceable fruits of righteousness. This is sanctification.  Rom. 6:22.  Because the stony heart turns away from the first sufferings and the grace that chastens us to victory over conscious sin (Eph. 5:11), and is far from being in a condition to be sown, there is a lack of power and self-acknowledgement.  He becomes angry and disappointed as soon as he meets resistance and is corrected.  He becomes really difficult to deal with.  A bitter root has sprung up in the heart and leaves lasting damage there.  Because of their bitter root, such persons can also very easily contaminate their followers, the grains that are at the top of the blade, who sympathize with them and favor them.  The words and the behavior of such people show that they are in another spirit.  When they seek comfort and fellowship with their followers, the things they say are often contaminated with self-justification, backbiting, and a desire to gain the sympathy and support of others in connection with the conflicts that have arisen.  When they speak from the pulpit, they readily take others to task or correct them. Heb. 12:17. There are now two causes for offence.  He does not tolerate the first trials brought about through the word, and then he cannot manage the persecution for the sake of the word.  In fact, he has deviated from both.  He has become one who does unrighteousness, and who causes division and offences in the field.  This does not mean that a spiritual person cannot correct things that are wrong from the pulpit, but that is an entirely different matter.

Now the wicked one goes on the attack in earnest.  He is all ready to take revenge now, because he would actually have liked to whisk away the seed at the very beginning, as he is used to doing with those whose hearts are like a hard, country road.  So now he starts to seriously shake this person in his sieve, and also sow his own seed in the person’s heart.  The stony heart is so confused by the whole situation that even a powerful exhortation from the apostle Peter is in vain, as he gives the exhortation:  “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” 1 Pet. 5:8-9.

The stony heart is not sharing in the same sufferings as the Son of Man’s other brothers and sisters, spread around the world in the various fields of grain.  This means that he does not have a chance to get the devil under his feet either, so that the God of peace can come there and crush him.  Rom. 16:20.  He is under the devil’s assault and in his sieve, and because he did not become a bare grain by crucifying the flesh with its lusts and desires, he does not fall through the sieve into the body of Christ.  Because of the chaff, which is the old man under the power of sin, he remains in the sieve and is kept outside the body.  He is too great in himself.  The body of Christ consists of people who reckon themselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, those whom sin and Satan have no power over because the flesh is truly crucified. 

Now the stony heart has no chance of gaining control over the evil.  He is tossed here and there by powerful forces.  He feels anger and envy, accusation and bitterness towards others, at the same time as Satan roars and is busy sowing his seed in his heart.  Everyone who enters a wheat field will hear Satan’s roar and will be tested.  The wicked one demands that every person who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord be tested in this way.  Simon Peter and the other apostles were also sifted in this sieve to test if they would really give up everything in this world, even their own lives, and become a grain of wheat in His field.  Jesus prayed for Peter, and surely for the others also, that their faith would not fail. It can sound dismal, and it is indeed extremely serious.  At the same time, there is no danger so long as one does not get involved in others business, does not judge and criticize; so long as one does not seek to be somebody according to the flesh but is true and upright in one’s heart when it concerns sin.  However, if a person has ambitions, and wants to be something, and will not truly take up his cross and begin to deny himself, he does not stand a chance.  The roar of the evil one will overpower him and he will be doomed to fail.

Now let’s listen to some of Satan’s tactics, the ways in which he has deceived so many.  “What’s this all about?” the wicked one roars.  “Are you supposed to say less in the meetings? You, who so many sitting there are so glad to listen to?” Then he suddenly whispers: “The others don’t know that you don’t have complete victory in the hidden place, so that is not what it is all about.” Then he roars again: “Why don’t they go after the lazy ones just sitting there doing nothing, or those who are envious and backbite you – the quarrelsome ones?  Don’t they have any light….?  Don’t they see what’s going on….?  No!  They had better just get used to a little zeal and the things that God is doing through your gifts! The wicked one continues:  “You are not the one who should give in this time.  A bit of spirit and life, and that you are bearing fruit for Christ – they had better just get used to it…!  Don’t they understand that they are resisting God?” the wicked one says in conclusion, as he backs off for a little while. 

This is the way the wicked one goes about sowing his seed.  If you don’t understand this, then everything you received in the beginning will be altered and you will end up in great darkness and drought. The grace you received with joy in the beginning will have been received in vain.  A separation becomes apparent among those in the wheat field. It is a separation between the children of the day, those who in truth have taken up their cross and followed the Son of Man, and “others,” – those for whom it is only pretense. 1 Thess. 5:1-10.  It is a separation between those who follow the Spirit and work on their salvation, and those who drink themselves drunk on untruths, and who sleep and dream when it concerns salvation.  The Head of the body, the very Source of it, watches closely.  He places such people on the outside, according to their spirit, even though they fight as though they were on the inside. 

 

The sun rises until it is high noonday

“‘The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.  What is the chaff to the wheat?’ says the Lord.  ‘Is not My word like a fire?’ says the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?’”  Jer. 23:28-29.

After this, when the word is spoken in truth and in Spirit and with power by those who work among the grains of wheat, and when their grain, which is the children they are nourishing and are keeping by the preaching of faith, testify to their faith in full victory over the works of the flesh; when they speak about suffering in the flesh in order to be finished with sin (1 Pet. 4:1-2); about keeping their covenant of baptism with God in a pure conscience (1 Pet. 3:21); about denying themselves, taking up their cross and following Jesus (Matt. 16:24-25); about loving one another and bearing with one another (Rom. 12:9-21); about being small in themselves and humbling themselves under the older ones, etc. (1 Pet. 5:5) – then the word is as a fire for such blades, and as a hammer against such hearts.  Who besides those who do not love the truth can withstand such a fire and not be purified, or can resist such a hammer and not be crushed?  Isaiah 57:15-17; 66:2.

If he had just repented and humbled himself, acknowledged his sin and received the love of the truth, trembled at God’s word and allowed all that was hard and proud to be crushed, everything would have changed and become good again.  Our God and Savior’s goodness and love towards us as people would once again have been revealed through His mercy, and the washing of the water again resulted in a new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.  Remember, we read that He prays for us when we are being sifted in the sieve!  He gladly forgives, indeed more than seventy times seven times every day if that is necessary, so long as there is no conscious hardness and enmity against the light that shines into our hearts.  1 Tit. 3:3-11.  He is after all our dear Father and we are His children.    He Himself says: “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud your sins.  Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22.  This will be the experience of everyone who takes up his cross again and who turns away from his darkness, and who once again receives the “sun that rises on high.” In this way the soul is again delivered from the power of darkness and the conscience is purified. 

If we are humble we can get by with only one turn in the sieve, but if we are rebellious and slow to let go of certain sinful desires, or slow to stop interfering in other people’s business, we may need several turns and perhaps long ones at that.  If we harden ourselves in the sieve we will be separated out from the wheat and will remain carnal and under the power of darkness.  In the light of the life and teaching of Christ we will become children of the day by the obedience of faith.  We will experience true victory and true liberation.  Praised be God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

If only the stony heart had not been so hard and superficial, he surely would long since have understood that he should have judged himself.  He would also have understood that when he felt judged by the word in his conscience, either at home or in a meeting, it was the judgment of the Lord, because he was in danger of falling out of the edification and into condemnation, together with the world.  However, this heart unfortunately does not fall on his face and will not acknowledge anything at all.  1. Cor. 11:31-32; 1 Cor. 14:23-26.  Instead, scorn and defiance come to the surface.  1 Cor. 11:31-32.  John 3:16-21.

The wicked one, the prince of darkness, can therefore continue to sow his seed.  Now he takes this approach: “This is enough!  What has happened to love and the fellowship of the Spirit? Why have they turned against you?  Why are they exalting themselves over you?  Look,” he roars, “how condemning they have become and how self-righteous they are now!  What do they really mean when they talk about giving up their lives and taking up their cross?  You have taken up your cross and gone above and beyond in self-sacrificing,” he continues.  “You have given up your possessions, money, tobacco, and your family, and even your girl-friend!”  Acts 4:32-35.  “You have really given up everything, received a new life and followed Jesus as your Savior.  Don’t get hung up in all of this!”

“And who actually is it that has light?  Isn’t it you?” continues the wicked one.  “Isn’t it you, in fact, who has gotten light and words from God these days?  The day you and Philip were out sowing.  The day you met that person from Thessalonica down by the road, the one that everyone hoped and believed would come back and be converted after he had gone home for a bit; the one that you prophesied over and said, ‘This one, yes, this one, understands nothing.  He has a heart of bone and a forehead of steel.  He won’t stay long.  He has other goals.  For sure, that was you!  You are the one with light and insight around here, not these others!  However, if they don’t want prophets amongst them, you can just go somewhere else,” continues the wicked one.  Then he starts whispering again: “You are not dependent on these people for your salvation.  Jesus, the Rock, has died for you and loves you regardless of what they think.  He will never leave you.  He Himself has said that He will be with you all your days until the end of the world.  So… maybe it is time to…well, leave?  Maybe try to preach the word in another place?  Or...maybe try to gather some people in your own...field?  Through collections and gifts from those who are converted, no doubt the finances will work out.  Besides...you really can’t accomplish any more here anyway.  They just don’t understand who you are…!”  So the stony heart, with this seed sown in his heart, and nursing a burn from the light of the sun, takes his hat and goes.  He says goodbye, and leaves the wheat field, the church of Christ. 

All those who were loyal to him and believed in him, all the seeds that he had gathered at the top of his blade, are left sitting on the benches,  thunderstruck and confused, holding on to their sympathies and defilement.  They understand nothing.  Sometimes some of them take sides with the one who left and follow him out.  This is especially the case with family and friends.  After all, there are limits to how people should be treated in a Christian assembly.  By contrast, the workers among the grains of wheat, and their children, they who loved the light and who exercised themselves in living and walking in it, are able to get their senses exercised to discern between good and evil.  Heb. 5:7-14.  They are not so surprised and are not easily affected by such people and events.  No, they have peace.  Psalm 119:165.  In fact, they are actually strengthened in their faith in the word and in their godly fear by such a situation.  Prov. 28:13-14. 

The chaff almost considers it a tradition to take their hat and leave once the sun begins to shine.  Heb. 10:19-25.  The prophetic word of the Son of Man is thus established, and this is the stumbling stone on which those who do not believe the word fall.  1 Pet. 2:6-8.

The result of all this is tares: an evil worker.  With this kind of background, evil winds gather this sower and put him out into the world, so that he can sow his seed there.  This is how deceiving workers arise, those who are false apostles, prophets, evangelists, or teachers for Christ.  All such sowers work in vain; the return of the Son of Man with all His angels will clearly reveal this one day.  “For their rock is not like our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges!” Deut. 32:31-34.  “For you shall conceive chaff, you shall bring forth stubble,”and “your breath as fire shall devour you.” The people they bring forth “shall be like the burnings of lime, like thorns cut up they shall be burned in the fire.”   Isaiah 33:11-12.  “For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.”  Heb. 6:7-8. 

In the first churches of the apostles, the wicked one sowed tares in just the same way.  The tares in the world come from the stony hearts that have gone astray, the scorched blades. They were scorched because they wanted to be apostles, prophets, shepherds, evangelists and teachers without the obedience to the faith according to the word preached by the Son of Man and His apostles. Instead they took offence and chose to be enemies of “the word of the cross.”  It is only the workers in the wheat fields that are true preachers of this word.  1 Cor. 1:18. Phil. 3:17-19. This is the gospel of redemption which the Son of Man has revealed to them and which they live by in all the situations of life. This is the word that is mighty to save us from sin.  May we who read and know this take it seriously so that we do not become one of them, nor be led astray by any of them.  Think carefully over the words of the apostle John in 1 John 3:4-10. 

In a wheat field, the stony hearts are not always burned off so quickly.  Not everyone is as active, brazen and ungodly as the one we have read about here.  If the wheat field is big enough, some weeds can also thrive there so long as they keep really quiet.  There were many little shoots of weeds in the churches of the apostles, people who would not put a stop to their sinful tendencies.  Paul wrote about the very worst of them, and wanted to remove him from the field the moment he became evident.  He did not want his hopeful children to even eat together with these other shoots. That was the kind of care, and fear for contamination and corruption, that Paul had for his grains of wheat. Because, he says: “…a little leaven leavens the whole lump,” and “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Cor. 5:1-13 and 15:33-34

In a wheat field, the majority of the shoots of weeds (tares) are found in the periphery, along the edges of the fields.  They gather there in small patches – carnal groups and parties.  Some of these shoots are in danger of being revealed and openly rebuked at any time, so everyone can hear it.  Among such ones are also those who do things the saints do not even talk about.  1 Tim. 5:20. Eph. 5:11-14.  If such ones keep quiet around the borders of the field, there is not so much that can be done with them.  But if they become active and approach the pulpit because they want to make a statement, they will one by one meet their sunrise.  This will come quickly or slowly, all depending on how God does it and depending on how active they become. But praised be God for His laws and commandments.  It does not take so very much light and warmth from the sun before such ones either repent in truth, or take to their heels and find another company of people with whom to spend their time.

People are as diverse as the sand of the sea.  Certain personalities can be so engaging – pleasing and disciplined – that although they are tares they can win confidence in a wheat field.  Think about this, you who minister yet do not enter into the word and fire of the Holy Spirit; you who play this game in one of the churches of God, and who hide behind a fine façade of a good wife, well raised children, a nice home, a good position at work, many hours of voluntary service in the church, etc. “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matt. 3:11-12.  In a moment, God can cause those who have given the appearance of being servants of God, but who in secret actually serve sin, to suddenly be stripped and the truth revealed.  Nothing is hidden from His eyes, and God has numerous ways of unveiling the truth.  Then the blades – their ministry – are scorched in a moment.  If these still will not repent when they have been revealed, they will be “…like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” Psalm 1:1-6
 

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