Have you ever prayed with someone to receive Christ only to have them later on drop out? What does it mean? Why did it happen? Today’s devotional will explain all this for you. God bless you.
Because of Calvary,
Mark 4:1-20 (ESV)
1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
“‘they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
“In this parable Jesus is telling us how different kinds of people act when they hear God’s word. He cites four classes of men. First, some hardly notice the word. And last, some believe and obey it. In between are those who say they receive it but later fall away…. They are the false believers.
“Why do I call them false believers? Two preliminary points will help clear this up. First, Jesus shows us that the soils represent the hearts of men… The soils vary as hearts vary. Second, it is plain that the condition of each of the soils at the outset determines the outcome. There is no question of soil that is bad becoming good, or vice versa. When the seed reaches the soil we can tell from Jesus’ description how things will turn out. Good soil will bring forth fruit and bad soil will not.
“If Jesus had meant us to think of some of these men merely as temporary believers He would….have shown us good soil becoming bad soil. In His interpretation we could have seen good hearts becoming bad. But that is not what He shows us. No, the stony soil was stony from the beginning. And the thorny ground was always thorny in the story. So ‘false believers’ is a better phrase than ‘temporary believers’ for these men.
“It seems to me that there are but two ways for a professed faith to be false. Let us for a moment call faith ‘trust in Christ’. Here we have two main parts. First there is trust. Second there is Christ. If faith is to be false it will have to be false in one or the other. It will have to be something less than trust, or it will have to fix itself on something other than Christ. Each, I think, is illustrated in the parable.
“Let us look at the stony-ground hearer. What was his problem? He certainly did not despise the word. Jesus tells us that he received it with joy…. So far, so good!…
“But the stony-ground hearer did not last. Why not? Jesus points out two things about him. First, he did not have root in himself. Second, he fell away when tribulation and persecution came. His not having root tells us that all was not well with this fellow’s faith from the beginning. His falling away under persecution will help us see what the problem was.
“Let us give our stony-ground hearer a name and put him in a 20th-century setting…. His name is Mark Johnson… Mark…feels that something is missing in his life…. One night while switching from one TV channel to another Mark comes across a television evangelist. Something in the preacher’s manner attracts him. He sits back to hear what is said. First he is intrigued; then he is engrossed. ‘Come to Christ,’ Mark is told, ‘and you will find peace and happiness.’ Peace and happiness! Was this the whole message, or did Mark simply focus in to this one part?
“It makes no practical difference. At the end of the broadcast Mark follows the evangelist in a prayer. ‘Lord,’ he prays, ‘I turn from my sins and take you as my Savior. Come into my life and take over. I trust you, Jesus, with all my heart. Amen.’ And Mark means every word of it.
“Now I do not mean to take issue either with the evangelist’s message or his method. …The greatest evangelist of all, the Lord Jesus, had stony-ground hearers. No doubt some messages and methods are more apt than others to call forth false faith. But that is not the point here. No matter how careful the evangelist is, the Mark Johnsons of this world will be led astray. For, like the rest of us, they see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. And they are sincere in doing so.
“….His prayer was, ‘I trust you, Jesus, with all of my heart.’ Nothing wrong with that prayer! And no doubt he meant what he prayed. But who is this Jesus to whom Mark spoke? Is He the Lord Jesus Christ of Scripture? Or is he the product of Mark’s imagination. Is He Lord of all? Or is he merely the supplier of peace and happiness. …Is Mark now His servant, or is He the servant of Mark?…
“The Lord Jesus often faced this problem with His hearers. When He preached He taught men who already had an idea of what the Messiah…would be like. They brought that idea with them when they came to hear Jesus. Their notion was largely political. The Messiah, as they saw it, would get rid of the Romans….
“How did such men, men ripe to deceive themselves, react to Jesus?… They sought to make Him their king. And they meant it…. Their trust was real. It was wholehearted. They were in earnest….
“But, of course, it was not the real Jesus that they trusted…. It was a political hero of their imagination that they committed themselves to…. Later, when they no longer saw him in Jesus, they washed their hands of Jesus and looked elsewhere.
“But we must not call this fickleness…. First and last they were faithful to their ideal. But their ideal was not Jesus of Nazareth. Their trust was genuine, but it was not in the Son of God.
“The clue to the stony-ground hearer is the unexpected…. The unexpected is what makes him give up. ‘I didn’t count on this,’ he says. And off he goes…
“Now the unexpected takes many forms. To men who looked for a political savior, preaching peace was the unexpected…. A far more common case is the….case of the man who ‘comes to Christ’ to satisfy his everyday needs…. Tribulation is the last thing he wants or expects. Peace and happiness are his goals…. No surprises, please!
“But you cannot have Christ without surprises….without unpleasant surprises….the unpleasant unexpected….
“The stony-ground hearer, then, is the man with faith in something less than Christ…. When Christ tests his faith (as He tests all profession), this man realizes his mistake. He wanted something less than Christ…. He trusted something less than Christ. ‘I didn’t count on things turning out like this,’ he says as he backs away from Jesus. ‘This is not the person I believed in.’… He had the right attitude (faith), but the wrong object (a Christ of his own making). For that reason his faith was false.
“There is another kind of false faith. We see it in the thorny-ground hearer…. In this man’s case we do not ask whether he understood who Christ was…. Jesus shows that he had no wholehearted commitment to Christ. All along it was Christ and —, Christ and riches; Christ and the world. The thorny-ground hearer is the very man Jesus had in mind when He said, ‘You cannot serve God and mammon.’…
“And that raises some searching questions. Must my faith be perfect? How far may something or someone besides Christ share the heart of the believer? If I trust in Christ, may I have faith in no one else?…
“First,….my faith and your faith are not yet perfect. They are not all they should be — or will be. God has not finished with us. We are enrolled in the school of faith…. There are still more lessons to be learned… We are in for the whole course and it takes a lifetime….
“…Remember how the Lord Jesus treated imperfect faith. In a great storm He answered the cry of those whom he called men ‘of little faith’…. He warmly commended faith no larger than the tiny seed of a mustard plant. That means this: the thorny-ground hearer’s problem lay elsewhere. It was not merely that his faith was imperfect. Something else was wrong…
“Second,….the heart that belongs to Christ….has more room for others, not less…. It is a duty to love others… Jesus commands it….
“Faith in Christ does not mean that you never fix your mind on anything else. A man who literally gives no thought to this world will soon die…. The thorny-ground hearer’s problem was not that he thought about this world and money. Not at all! He had to do that, or perish.
“What, then, was the thorny-ground hearer’s problem? Simply this. In his heart the world and riches were in competition with Christ. Christ loves company, but not competition…. There is room in the Christian heart for any number of men and ideas. But there is room for only one lord…. The man who thinks he can serve Christ and another lord is deceiving himself. And the deception is fatal.
“The thorny-ground hearer, then, is the man with something less than trust in Jesus. Yes, he believes after a fashion…. But he is not committed to Christ. His attitude is less than Biblical faith. For that reason his faith is false….
“To believe in Christ, to trust in Him, to rely upon Him is just to give myself up to Him to take His orders as well as His comforts. Faith like that is commitment. I do not believe in Christ if I have not committed myself to Him….
“The stony-ground hearer committed himself to something less than the Christ of the Bible. The thorny-ground hearer apparently divided up his commitment. Later, though, it was show that he was committed to mammon. But if we are true believers, we committed ourselves to Christ…. That does not mean that our commitment was perfect. Nor could we see all that ‘commitment’ implied…. At no time could our timid commitment save us. Only the One we were committed to could do that. Our commitment was not perfect, but it was real.” [Tom Wells, Faith: The Gift of God, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1983), p. 125-135]