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The Responses to the Gospel B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
September 6, 2021 4:00 am

The Responses to the Gospel B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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You see, the issue is the condition of the heart. That determines the reception of the gospel. And Jesus is saying to these disciples who at this point are saying, Lord, what's going to happen?

Oh, lots of things are going to happen, but it's going to depend on the condition of the heart of the hearer. There are people whose salvation you wouldn't question, but with others you're probably not so sure. Perhaps a friend who attends church regularly but never really shows interest in anything spiritual. Or maybe it's even someone in your own family who can talk the Christian talk, but there's little evidence of transformation.

Well, the good news is the Bible gives you definitive instruction on how to evaluate a person's profession of faith. And it comes in the form of a parable Jesus taught. John MacArthur breaks down that parable on this edition of Grace to You as he continues his in-depth look at the parables of the kingdom.

And now here's John. In looking at Matthew 13, we begin an in-depth look at the first parable of this marvelous chapter. It begins in verse 3. And He spoke many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow. Now the statement at the beginning there in verse 3, Behold, a sower went forth to sow, opens up our understanding of this particular parable. As He throws that seed, Jesus indicates there are four kinds of soil on which that seed will fall. Now we know the soil refers to the heart because it tells us that in verse 19. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and understands it not, then comes the wicked one and catches away that which was sown in his what? Heart. Heart is the same as soil.

You see, the issue is the condition of the heart. That determines the reception of the gospel. And Jesus is saying to these disciples who at this point are saying, Lord, what's going to happen? You've been blasphemed.

You've been rejected. The kingdom cannot come. All is lost. What is going to happen now? He says, I'll tell you what's going to happen. You're going to go out just like I did and you're going to sow. And you're going to sow the seed which is the word of God. And you're going to preach the same message about the same king and the same kingdom. But Lord, what is going to happen? Oh, lots of things are going to happen.

But it's going to depend on the condition of the heart of the hearer. And I think the basic point of the parable, and get this, is to encourage the apostles. It is a parable to help them to approach the ministry with excitement, anticipation that God is going to produce results. Now the mark of salvation in the soils is fruit.

And only one out of four demonstrates it. And that's a very important point. Salvation is noted by fruit, not by foliage, by fruit. And if you don't understand that, you get confused in the parable. So we're going to meet four kinds of hearers, four kinds of responders to the gospel. And they are characteristic of our day.

So these are the things that we're going to be able to really identify with. Number one, we call this one the unresponsive hearer, the wayside hearer, verse 19. Anyone who hears the word of the kingdom understands it not. Then comes the wicked one and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. There's a second kind, and that's the rocky ground hearer, verse 20. He that received the seed in stony places, rocky places. The same is he that hears the word and immediately with joy receives it.

Now I like this one. This is the person who hears the word and immediately with joy receives it. And the indication is that there's not a lot of thought involved. It's just sort of a quick response, a wow, you know, sort of emotional, sort of euphoria, sort of instant excitement without counting the cost, without understanding the real significance. There's a warm affection, there's a good feeling, and there's a lot of joy, and the thing shoots up. And all of the energy is going up, and it's all external, and it's all on the outside because there's nothing underneath. Because that rock bed of resistance is still there to true repentance, to true brokenness, to true contrition.

There's just a soft surface, that's all. And there are people like that. They don't really ever deal with the real issues. They just sort of jump on the Jesus bandwagon. It looks so good, you know, and we look at them and we see that deal shoot up, and it may even shoot higher and faster than the rest of the people who are really going to bear fruit.

Because everything's going up. And those are the ones we say, oh, that's real. Oh, that is real. Look at the joy. Oh, tears and joy, and that's got to be real. You ever had that? And three months later, gone.

They're gone. They're like the guy who built the house on the what? On the sand. They built the house all right. I mean, it's up there, the religious structures there, nothing holding it up. Superficial joy. Now, if you look at the field at first, you don't really notice these people, except that they stick out because they're taller than everybody else. You say, boy, got to be real. Look at that.

Isn't that exciting? And you come back a little later when the summer hits, and the moisture is very limited, and the sun is very hot, and you see them dead. And it says in verse 21, he has no root in himself, so he endures for a while. Never been redeemed.

He's just sort of accepting the seed, but it's never been really genuine. Endures for a little while, and what finally does it? Tribulation and persecution. Thalipsis, pressure and suffering. Arise because of the Word, because you belong to Christ, because of living the Word of God, because of being identified with the Lord Jesus Christ.

All of a sudden, some pressure comes. There's maybe a pressure to really begin to live the Christian life. There's maybe a pressure that comes people around you saying, I want you to get into Bible study. I want to meet with you to have prayer.

I want to disciple you. And all of a sudden, you begin to feel the pressure coming. And then there's persecution. You're a Christian, and now people start to say things about you. They start to knock you. They start to criticize you. Well, this kind of person won't survive that because there's no root there.

There's no depth. This will blow them right out, and they'll give evidence of the non-reality of the initial response. And then it says at the end of verse 21, they are offended. They are scandalized. It means basically the word for baiting a trap. They're trapped.

They're caught, offended. So, watch for the conversion that's all smiles and cheers and lacks the beatitude attitude. Watch for that superficial kind of thing that happens so often today in the superficial presentations of the gospel that very often occur through television and other means. If your confession of Christ, however you define it, if your confession of Christ, and I'm talking about you personally, does not come from a deep inner conviction of your sin, does not come from a deep sense of lostness, does not include a tremendous desire for the Lord to cleanse and purify and lead you, if your confession of Christ does not involve a great hunger for self-denial and self-sacrifice and a willingness to suffer for His sake, then you have no root, and it's only a matter of time. And something will come along and you'll burn up and die because you're not willing, as Jesus said, to take up the cross and follow Him. And if you're not, you're not worthy to be His what? His disciple.

Only God can break up that stony heart, and if you've got that kind of heart, you need to pray and ask the Lord to do for you what He promised to do for Israel in Ezekiel 36-26 when He said, I'll take away your stony heart and give you a heart of flesh. Third here is in verse 22. He that received the seed among the weeds, or the thorns, is He that hears the Word.

You notice they all hear the Word, and the Word again indicating that that's what the seed is. And the care of this age, worldliness folks, and the deceitfulness of riches, which is the heart and soul of worldliness, living for the mundane, living for the things of this world, the cares of this age, your career, your house, your car, your job, your wardrobe, your prestige, your looks. And riches deceive. They are liars.

They pierce many, many hearts. Read 1 Timothy 6. They are deceitful, and the love of them the root of all evil. And so He says there are these who hear, but they never clean out the soil. The world is still there, and money is still there, and that's exactly why Jesus said, you cannot serve God and money. You either hate the one and love the other, or despise the one and cling to the other. That's why John said, if any man love the world, the love of the Father is what? Not in it. You can't be that double-minded man.

The soil that is going to produce the fruit must be cleansed of that stuff. And that is why I am so convinced in my heart that true salvation only occurs where there is true repentance, where there is a willingness to deal with sin in the life, and that is a marvelous and gracious work of God. And I think that's part of what true conversion is all about. And I know there are people who say, well, you don't have to do anything to be saved.

Just believe, and that's it. But I think that sounds too much like rocky soil, and it sounds too much like thorny soil or weedy soil. Now, the soil is good.

It's just impure. Somebody trying to hold on to everything at the same time wants the Word of God and wants everything else, but you see, everything else is indigenous to that earth. Weeds flourish.

That's their natural home. When you introduce the seed that is a foreign element and has to be cared for and nurtured and cultivated, it can't survive. The ground's only got so much to give.

There's only so much nourishment there. And if it's trying to support all of the weeds, it isn't going to survive. It isn't going to be able to cause the seed to survive.

An important thought. Nothing wrong with this sower, by the way. Nothing wrong with the seed. Nothing wrong with the soil either.

It's just the condition that it was in. People don't get saved when their hearts are still occupied with the things of the world. They'll choke it out.

They'll choke it out. Now, all of these parables so far leave us with a negative feeling that there are going to be people who just totally resist, and, boy, we've all known that. There are going to be people who spring up real fast, and then there are going to be people who try to waltz along with the whole thing hand in hand. We've seen these too, haven't we? Have you ever wondered about people who say, well, you know, come to church but never seem to get committed?

Right? Always seem to be preoccupied with the world's things, money, career, fame, fortune. Always wanting to fulfill the lust of the flesh.

This is the person who always says they're a Christian but can't be faithful in a marriage. Doesn't seem to care about a pure life. Or the person who just lives their whole life for personal gain, personal prestige, personal money, enterprises. And this is the goal of life. It may be that this person is just weedy soil.

And, yes, there's a germinating of the seed, and it looks so good, but eventually it just gets choked out, and they just sort of fade away. We've all seen people like that. So the Lord says you're going to have to expect that. This is so profound, people. I can't tell you, when Jesus said this, this is all prophetic, and this is exactly what we see in the church today. This is what we see in the kingdom. And we all scratch our head and we say, you know, maybe they lost their salvation, but Jesus is saying here they never had it, isn't He? That's the whole point. And what is the mark of salvation in this parable?

What is it? Fruit. Fruit, and that's always the way it is. In John 15, if you don't bear fruit, He cuts you off and burns you. That's hell for people who are fruitless because not being on the vine, that's not salvation.

That's attachment to Jesus. It's the fruit bearing that marks the salvation. In other words, a true believer manifests fruit, and that takes us to the last soil. Verse 23, He that received seed in the good ground, is He that hears the word, understands it.

Mark says, accepts it. Luke says, holds on to it, and bears fruit, and it brings forth 160 and 30 full. Now that's very productive soil.

3,000%, 6,000%, 10,000% product. Now would you notice something here? This is dirt like the rest of the dirt, but it was good because of its preparation. No weeds, no rocks, no hard surface. And this is, I think, the climax of the whole parable.

This is where the Lord is trying to take His disciples. There is good soil out there. There really is. And isn't that a wonderful promise? I mean, we've all run into the hard stuff, haven't we? And you go away and you're discouraged. And then you've all run into the stuff that springs up real fast, and you're so excited, and then when it sort of falls away and dies, you say, aw. And it's very discouraging. And we've all come across those people and we've invested, but they're double-minded and they never let the world go. And finally they fade away and we get discouraged, and we wonder if it's worth it, but then comes this last one and the Lord says, the good soil is out there.

It's out there. You be faithful. Beloved, the ultimate mark of salvation is fruit-bearing. Fruitfulness. What is fruit?

What is this? It's product. It's evidence of the divine life. If you want it simply, Paul put it this way, fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.

In other words, you look at a life, you see gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control, love, joy, and peace. And do you see it on a long-term protracted continuous basis because the fruit is a continual thing? That's attitude fruit. And then it tells us in Paul's writing to the Colossians and the Thessalonians and Philippians that there was to be the fruit of righteous behavior so that fruit is a right kind of attitude and fruit is a right kind of deed. Paul tells us in Romans that fruit is winning people to Jesus Christ.

He said, I want to come and have some fruit among you as I've had in other places. Fruit is God at work manifesting in the attitude, manifesting in the action. Fruit is God producing spiritual reality in our life.

You show me somebody who has no manifestation of those attributes, somebody who has no manifestation of righteous deeds as God counts righteousness, and I'll show you somebody no matter what they may look like on the surface is going to die out. Fruit is the issue. Even in the first Psalm, it says that the true person, believer, is like a tree planted by the rivers of waters who bringeth forth what?

Fruit in his season. Fruit is always the mark of true faith. In John 15, the true branches brought forth fruit. In Ephesians 2 10, Paul says you were created under good works and God ordained that you walked in them.

It isn't that you're never going to do something wrong. It's really this, that one whose truly good ground has as a consuming desire to be productive, to let God produce through his life. And even when there's failure, there's great brokenness over the failure because the desire is to see God at work. Now, notice another thought as well, too, that it says that there are some who bring a hundredfold, some 60, and some 30. Not everybody is equally productive. God uses people in different ways. And there are some Christians who never really fully get their act together. They go through life being a 30- folder when they could be a 60 or a 100. And there is, when we say that Christians will always be fruitful, we're not saying that all Christians will always be as fruitful as they ought to be or could be.

Because when we do become disobedient, then we restrict that. But may I hasten to add, all Christians at this point in the parable start at 30-fold and 30-fold is three times what was even normal. So that a true believer isn't somebody you've got to scrounge around looking behind the leaves to try to find a piece of fruit hanging somewhere. A true believer is one whose fruit is multiplied manifest. And it only goes from a tremendous and obvious fruit to one that is just inconceivable in terms of fruit.

That's the plan. True believers produce fruit. Now what is the Lord saying in the parable? Listen very carefully as we draw the lessons from it.

He's saying this. Go and preach and realize that as you preach, you're going to get resistance. And you're going to get short-term converts. And you're going to get double-minded people who can't let go of the system, but you're also going to get the real ones.

And keep this in mind. You're going to have an enemy all the way along. And the enemy is defined for us very clearly. First in verse 19, the wicked one, ha-poneras, Satan, the devil.

He's going to do everything he can to stop it. Secondly, the flesh, verse 21. People get under tribulation and persecution and they can't take the grief. They want to be comfortable.

They want to be fat and sassy and without complications in their lives. They're not willing to pay the price, make the sacrifice. The flesh is an enemy. And finally in verse 22, the care of this age and the deceitfulness of riches speaks of the world. And there you have the three constant enemies of the gospel, the world, the flesh, and the devil. And they'll be at it in the process of sowing to try to stop you. Now there are several lessons in conclusion. One is this, self-examination. What kind of soil are you?

That's the prior lesson here. What kind of soil are you? Where do you fit? God help you to be the good ground. And if you're that hard stuff that the birds just take the seed off, you better ask God to plow your heart. And if you're that rocky soil underneath a soft, superficial exterior, you better ask God to do the plowing deeper.

And if you're that weedy soil, you better ask the Lord to clean you so you can receive with purity the gospel. The first lesson in the parable is to look at your own life, see what kind of ground you are. Here's the second lesson.

I love this. The second lesson is this. The issue in the parable is not the talent of the sower.

Did you get that? It is not the talent of the sower. You take a little kid, barefoot, five years old, want to go out and sow a field with his daddy.

His father knows how to do it beautifully. Boy, he throws that seed just McCann. And the little kid's going along throwing seed all over the place.

You know something? May not be as much seed hit the good soil when the little guy throws it as when his dad does. But when the seed hits the good soil, it doesn't matter who threw it, right? It's going to grow.

It does not depend on the talent of the sower. And that's so important to know. Some people say, well, I'd like to preach the gospel. I'd like to witness for the Lord. But I'm not very talented.

That isn't the issue. You got the seed, the word of God, throw it. The issue is the condition of the soil, not the talent of the sower. I'm always amazed when people say, oh, you know, if we could ever get so-and-so saved, oh, how many they could win to the Lord. No, no, no, no.

Or if so-and-so ever got turned on, wow, could they be a great soul winner. No, no, no. No, it is not the talent of the sower. It's the nature of the soil.

But let me tell you something, folks. The more you throw, the better the opportunity you're going to hit some good soil. I mean, some people are letting out a seed or two every year, and it is really tough. You just keep slinging it, and you'll be amazed how much good soil is lying around, no matter how incapable you may be as a sower. And then remember this, that sometimes the Lord plows up the stuff that doesn't receive the seed the first time.

So don't give up. In fact, you know, they had a way of sowing sometimes in Palestine that was quite interesting. They would throw the seed first and then plow it under afterwards. Sometimes you've just thrown the seed. You throw it there, and before the birds can hit it, comes the Holy Spirit with the plow, plows it under. So be faithful.

Hard soil, shallow soil, weedy soil may not always stay that way. By God's grace, He may do some tilling in that soil. So keep throwing the seed in that same field over and over, over and over, over and over, and see if the Lord won't break up the soil. Well, the lessons are very clear.

Check your own life, and make sure you're following the Lord Jesus sowing the seed. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. In addition to teaching each day on the radio, John also serves as chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. Our current study is looking at the parables of the kingdom. John, today's lesson brought up a vital issue that you and I have talked about for a long time. You said genuine salvation produces good works, and I know that a lot of people hear that. This is the lordship issue, and they think you're saying that our good works are the ground of our justification or a prerequisite to coming to Christ, but that's not the point, is it? Well, no, and it's pretty clearly laid out in Ephesians chapter 2, For by grace are you saved through faith, that not of yourselves it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. But it says right after that that you were saved unto good works, which God has before ordained that you should walk in them. And the language there says that God not only sovereignly chose to save you, he sovereignly determined to produce through you good works. That statement gets overlooked, which God has before ordained that you should walk in them. As much as God foreordained your salvation, God foreordained your sanctification.

And I think we leave that out. There are people who would argue strongly that God ordained your salvation and then deny that he also ordained your sanctification when Scripture couldn't be more clear than that. These were the issues that we dealt with in The Gospel According to Jesus. That book is still around and still having an amazing, amazing impact because there are always, and seems to me, in every era, every time in the evangelical world, people who don't want to rightly set sanctification in the place that it belongs in the church. It's not necessarily the case that people will argue against it. They just minimize the transformative reality of the new birth. And so it seems like we're always fighting that battle to say, look, if you're saved, you are being sanctified because God ordained that as much as he ordained your salvation. It's one of the strangest things to think about that for, what, 25, 30 years now, we have fought for sanctification being a fruit of justification, which is so obvious in Scripture.

So you need to be able to defend that reality because you want to be able to say to someone, unless your life is transformed, you're not a Christian because that's what salvation does. And you want to be able to understand what our Lord taught. So I would just encourage you to get a copy of The Gospel According to Jesus, maybe the most significant book that's ever come out of our ministry.

You can order it today. No question, the most significant book that's ever come out of our ministry. And, friend, to make sure you know exactly what it means to follow Christ, that you're giving unbelievers the full, accurate gospel, order a copy of The Gospel According to Jesus when you contact us today. The Gospel According to Jesus costs $15 and shipping is free. To order, call toll-free 800-55-GRACE or go online to gty.org.

Our number again, 800-55-GRACE and our web address, gty.org. Along with this classic book, let me also suggest the MacArthur Study Bible, available in the New American Standard, New King James, and English Standard versions. Its 25,000 footnotes show you what each verse means, giving you historical and cultural background and explaining key biblical concepts. The notes make the Study Bible an ideal companion to books like The Gospel According to Jesus, also companion to these radio broadcasts, and to countless other free resources that you'll find on our website, like our sermon archive.

The cost is reasonable in hardcover or leather. To order a MacArthur Study Bible or The Gospel According to Jesus, call us at 800-55-GRACE or go online to gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for joining us today, and make sure you're here tomorrow when John looks at perhaps Christ's most misunderstood parable. See what the parable of the wheat and tares really means when another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, comes your way on Grace To You. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-03 13:08:02 / 2023-09-03 13:19:42 / 12

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