Parable of the sower:
Matthew 13:3-23; Mark 4:3-20; Luke 8:5-15.
I used to think this parable described different kinds of people, but now I am convinced that Jesus is describing different levels of Christian maturity:
- The seed that fell on the road never sprouted. There was no faith and the person did not become a believer.
- The seed that had no root sprouted but had no nourishment or water so it wilted as soon as there was any stress.
- The seed that fell among thorns sprouted but got choked out by the world.
- The seed that fell on good soil sprouted and thrived and brought forth much fruit.1
Notice that seeds 2, 3 and 4 all sprouted (they came to life—they became believers) but only seed 4 produced eternal fruit. Seeds 2 and 3 are like the men in 1 Cor 3:12 that failed to “build on the foundation [Jesus] 2 with gold, silver, precious stones” but instead “wood, hay, straw.” Paul said such people would be saved 3 but they would have no rewards for their works [fruit].
I am convinced that most Christians fall into category 2. They have heard about Jesus’s death for forgiveness of their sins but they have not grown at all—they have no depth—they don’t know God’s Word–they really don’t know Jesus.
Dwight Moody said that of every twenty Christians in most churches, nineteen are in level 2, and only one out of twenty matures to level 3. Level 3 is where a person not only knows that Jesus died for their sins, but that He was resurrected for their life. He said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” I think that in our church (SCC) there are many more than one-out-of-twenty in level 3—especially among the women of our church. However, no matter how much we are enjoying the life Jesus came to bring, and loving others, and serving others, we aren’t bring forth much eternal fruit. I want to see the Holy Spirit working through us.
Until recently, I was at level 2 because I mistakenly thought the abundant life was reserved for Heaven and that all the wonderful promises were for the future. Now I am greatly enjoying level 3. However, it has been years since I have had the privilege of leading anyone to faith in Jesus. I desperately want to be in level 4 and to be useful to our Lord.
Moody further said that in his experience only one-out-of-a-thousand are in level 4. These are the ones who are incredibly fruitful.
What makes them so fruitful? How does a person “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” 4 so as to mature to level 4?
According to all I’ve read, there are three requirements:
- Get to know Jesus with the heart—not just the head.
- Surrender 100% to Him so He can live His life through us. 5
- Be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. 6
I warmly recommend to you the book “They found the Secret” by V. Raymond Edmond. It describes twenty Christians who have been used by our Lord at level 4 and how they matured to that level.
- If anyone could claim to be mature, it would be Paul. But hear what he says: “I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are mature, have this attitude.” 7
- “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.”8
- “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.“9
- “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” 10
- “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” 11
- “Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory.” 12
- Parable of the seed (Growing to maturity): ‘And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows — how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” 13
In the physical world, if a child fails to grow and thrive, he/she is pitiful and may be handicapped for life.
Likewise, in the spiritual world, if a child of Christ fails to grow and thrive, he/she is pitiful and may be handicapped for eternity.
Our challenge: Let us press on to maturity in Christ! 14
Photo Attribution: Ben White – unsplash.com
- John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
- 1 Cor 3:11
- 1 Cor 3:5, If any mans work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
- 2 Peter 3:18
- Gal 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
- Luke 11:13, Jesus said ” If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
- Phil 3:12-15
- Heb 6:1-2
- 1 Cor 14:20
- Eph 4:11-13
- Heb 5:10
- 1 Cor 2:6-7
- Mark 4:26-29
- 1 Cor 13:11, When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.