Mature, or wish you had!
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably run across the four responses in the Parable of the Sower. There have been many explanations and debates in the Christian community as to whom these four situations apply.
And even though Jesus is speaking pre-Cross to people in Israel under the Law, not to people in the Church Age, there’s a lot for Spirit-indwelled Believers to consider and apply—especially in the area of Biblical maturity.
The Parable of the Sower is addressed in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. In those passages Jesus describes in easy-to-understand word graphics four things that can happen when someone shares the Gospel.
The parable begins with the seed (the Word of God) being sown (spread).
“Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God.” Luke 8:11
We know this can apply to Believers today because Peter also refers to the same “seed” in reference to the Church Age.
“… for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring Word of God.” 1Pet. 1:23
Paul also calls all Believers part of “God’s field,” which means God’s “cultivated land.”
“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field …” 1Cor. 3:9
As the parable continues, we see once the seed is sown, two things can happen:
When the Gospel is proclaimed to someone, one of two things happens: They either get saved or they don’t. Pretty simple.
“Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.” Luke 8:12
But if the person to whom the gospel is being shared does believe/get saved, the person begins to grow in God’s cultivated land. The seed blooms because God is in their heart growing. But they have an adversary, and he has two goals for every person:
1 - Keeping people lost.
2 - Robbing those saved of spiritual blessings.
So for born-again Believers, there are three things that can happen, all having to do with how much the blooming seed grows, which is code for how much Believers mature in their spiritual walk.
“Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” Luke 8:13
Never forget that when a person believes the Gospel, even for one second, the person is saved forever.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24
A person’s salvation from the point of belief onward has zero to do with “works,” zero to do with what the new Believer does or doesn’t do. (Gal. 3:3)
Paul warned the non-maturing Corinthian Believers about the critical importance of Biblical maturity.
“I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly.” 1Cor. 3:2-3a
Paul continued to explain that even if they had zero maturity, they still were saved. Even if everything they did after they were saved was bad, they still went to heaven.
“If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1Cor. 3:15
So if the seed has any root whatsoever, it bloomed, therefore we're dealing with a Believer. Most of us know people who truly trusted Jesus but over time it didn’t seem to dial in. Don’t give up on them—they didn’t lose their salvation and they did get saved! Keep praying for them and look for ways to help those who seem rudderless.
“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” Gal. 6:1
Don’t miss the last part of the verse—except by the grace of God you could be in the same situation!
In 1st Corinthians 5 Paul discusses a Believer who is so bad he decided it was best to allow Satan to destroy his flesh so his Spirit, that which is eternal, could go to heaven. Wow!
“I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 1Cor. 5:5
That person was a Believer who exhibited zero signs of maturity and was acting as a non-Believer. But he was still saved. Know anyone like that? I do!
“The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” Luke 8:14
The second thing that can happen after someone becomes a Believer is starting in the right direction, exhibiting growth and maturity, but eventually being tripped up by the Evil One and losing a Christ-centered focus. Rather than focusing on the next life, they begin focusing everything on this life.
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Col. 3:2
There are so many people in this category that a worship song by Keith Green, “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful,” includes these lyrics:
Oh Lord, please light the fire
That once burned bright and clear
Replace the lamp of my first love
That burns with holy fear
How many people do you know who seemed to be doing well in their Christian walk but were badly tripped up over time due to excessive worrying, over-emphasis on acquiring wealth or too much attention on the pleasures of this life?
Satan has had some 6000 years of practice messing with Believers and he’s good at what he does. Ignore him to your own peril. We are warned:
“and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Eph. 4:27
Believers who have petered out over time need extra care to be brought back into a balanced life-focus where God can use their Spiritual gifts to His glory. The key here is continuing to pray for them to get their eyes back on the Word, believing God will change their heart’s focus.
“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matt. 21:22
“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” Matt. 13:23
The third thing that can happen when a Believer believes the Gospel is that he/she does, in fact, mature in his/her faith.
“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity,” Heb. 6:1
Biblical maturity begins when a person understands the importance of studying and applying God’s written Word to every aspect of life. The new Believer desires to serve the Lord in all decisions and uses the Bible as a life-guide.
This is not automatic as everyone is different and therefore some grow faster than others. Some may take years, trusting the Lord little bits at a time. Or God may use a life event to immediately get attention focused squarely on Him.
But at whatever pace, maturing Believers begin to acquire and apply their knowledge and understanding of God’s principles to their decisions. They may fail at times, but they get up and continue. Over time they understand that there’s good and evil in the world and that the safest and most glorifying decisions are rooted in Scripture.
“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Heb. 5:14
Maturing Believers sink deep roots for spiritual nourishment so they don’t wilt under persecution. They welcome a steady stream of input from their pastor, solid believers and personal Bible studies to keep a properly balanced life-focus.
“Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors.” Psa. 119:24
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Prov. 11:14
A maturing Believer learns to totally trust that God is in control of all things, all the time, and that worry is sin. We ARE to be concerned for people and events, as Paul praised the people in Philippi for their concern for him (Phil 4:10).
But the spiritual balance comes in the next verse (Phil. 4:11) when he says he has learned to be “content” in whatever circumstances he’s in, knowing God allowed them for His ultimate good.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Rom. 8:28
The ultimate goal of a maturing Believer is to bring every thought into perfect obedience inside Scriptural parameters. This is what Bible teacher Darryl Kraft calls learning to “think in verses.”
“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” 2Cor. 10:5
Therefore, to keep from becoming unfruitful in this life or to change an improper spiritual direction or emphasis, sink your spiritual roots deep. Make your Bible your guide in everything to receive the pure and proper nourishment from God.
This Godly nourishment will guide you in establishing proper priorities. And WHEN you mature, you will begin to see more clearly in ALL areas of life! PTL!
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psa. 1:1-3
But don’t get cocky if you have experienced some measure of maturity because you’re only one nano-second away from moving from maturity to embarrassment.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1Pet. 5:8
© 2018 Compass Int’l, Inc.
Bill and Susie Perkins founded Compass International, Inc. in 1993 as a non-profit, non- denominational ministry. For information on Compass’ Steeling the Mind Bible Conferences, Good Morning Lord! Bible studies, books, DVDs and Biblelands Trips and Cruises, go to compass.org
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