The Secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, Part 2 (Matthew 13:18-23)


Sermon by Daniel L. Sonnenberg | August 17, 2014


Text:

“Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.

20 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 “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. 13:18-23)

Notes:

  • Today we’re continuing to look at the mysteries or secrets of the kingdom.
  • The secrets of the kingdom are another term for “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news that the rule and reign of God has arrived on planet earth in the person of Jesus.”

 Jesus here deals with the problems of both unbelief and unfaithfulness.

  • Last time, we looked at the differences between believers and unbelievers.
  • We said not all people are the same.
  • That in his sovereignty, God has revealed to some the truth about the kingdom of God, but he has not revealed it to others.
  • Also, that though God is sovereign, man is also responsible for the condition of his heart.
  • The condition of the heart determines a person’s ability to hear, to see, to understand and respond in faith to the truth of the gospel.
  • But this passage also tells us that not all disciples are the same.
  • Because sometimes believers struggle with unbelief.
  • Sometimes, the seed of the word falls on hard, rocky or thorny soil in our hearts and does not bear fruit in our hearts.
  • What kind of soil is your heart made of today?
  • Why is it that sometimes the Word preached or read or studied seems to fall on deaf ears even in our own hearts?

Hard soil.

  • Sometimes our hearts grow hard, and the seed of Christ’s word can’t penetrate, can’t germinate, can’t grow and bear fruit.
  • Sometimes listening to average or less than average sermons in your local church doesn’t fill you up or motivate you.
  • Sometimes even listening to sermons of the best preachers out there doesn’t help.
  • Sometimes, when you read the word, it seems dry, even dead.
  • Sometimes, when you try to study the word in a small group it seems to go nowhere.
  • If so, what’s causing the hardness?
  • Is it unforgiveness toward others?
  • Is there someone in your life that you can’t or won’t forgive?
  • They’ve done something to you that caused you pain, or they’ve done something to someone you care about to cause them pain.
  • g., (Steve Mattis) hurt my friend…but he hurt me too…but I had to repent of the bitterness I held against him (what’s my part?)…then I could confront him.
  • Or is it guilt – unforgiveness toward yourself?
  • Because of something you’ve done, you wonder if God can forgive you, or if others can forgive you, so you punish yourself.
  • When your heart has become temporarily hardened by unforgiveness of one kind or another –
  • It needs the softening work of the grace of Christ through repentance and faith to become good soil once again.
  • The proper response to the gospel is always repentance and faith.

Rocky soil.

  • Or is the soil of your heart rocky right now?
  • Sometimes we discover that our spiritual enthusiasm has been based on external circumstances, not on inner convictions. There is no root “in ourselves.”
  • So God tests and sanctifies us through trials and temptations.
  • How are we responding to that test?
  • Is there anger towards God?
  • Maybe God has allowed something to happen in your life that you don’t like or understand, and you feel hurt and angry, depressed.
  • g., People left the church…I wouldn’t receive other new people because they will leave me too…had to repent of closed heart toward them…realized God gives us people only for a time, his time…
  • When your has become temporarily rocky –
  • It needs the grace of Christ through repentance and faith to deepen our inner convictions in order to become good soil once again.
  • The proper response to the gospel is always repentance and faith.

Thorny soil.

  • Or is the soil of your heart full of thorns right now?
  • Concern w/ money and what it can buy has choked the spiritual life out of you temporarily.
  • Sometimes it’s a result of what you’ve done.
  • You’ve taken on a new job in order to provide better for your family, but it allows no time or energy for spiritual life with your family.
  • Sometimes it’s a result of what God has done.
  • You’ve lost your job or your situation has changed drastically so you’re constantly worrying about how to make ends meet instead of trusting God to provide.
  • You’re nearing retirement age, or you’ve become disabled and are fearful you won’t have enough money to live on.
  • , in seminary when lightning struck, pipes burst, renters stopped paying…Stephen encouraged us to press on….we learned “it’s God’s money…”
  • When your heart has become temporarily thorny –
  • It needs the loosening grip of the grace of Christ through repentance and faith to become good soil once again.
  • The proper response to the gospel is always repentance and faith.

Therefore, examine your heart, because the fault lies in the soil, not in the message.

  • Is there unforgiveness toward others or yourself?
  • Is there anger toward God?
  • Is there distraction by worldly pursuits?
  • The good news is that the good soil is available thru repentance and faith.
  • R and F will convert the soil of your heart from hard or rocky or thorny to good soil that hears and understands the word of God once again.

Good soil.

  • Perhaps your heart is good soil right now.
  • The seed of the word is planted and you are bearing fruit. You are growing.
  • According to Scripture, “bearing fruit” for the believer is both growth in sanctification and growth in disciple-making.
  • Bearing fruit is growth in being and Being like Christ and doing like Christ.
  • Bearing fruit is growing in the character of Christ – sanctification; and growing in the works of Christ – disciple-making.
  • But there’s a problem. Not all disciples are the same.
  • The SOK bear different levels of fruitfulness in different disciples.

2.1. According to God’s sovereign plan, some disciples are given greater gifts and greater opportunities than others.[God’s sovereignty].

  • 23 – Some bear fruit a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
  • Do you have what you consider to be lesser gifts?
  • Do you ever feel frustrated that your ministry is relatively small, or jealous of those whose ministries are nationally or internationally recognized? I have.
  • g., However, I learned a lesson some years ago that comes back to my mind when I feel that way.
  • Some friends attended a Christian music writers’ conference – “Many of you are as gifted as we are.”
  • “But by the sovereign providence of God, some are given a national or international influence, some are given a local influence.”
  • “So be content wherever God places you, with whatever gifts God gives you.
  • That doesn’t mean that you don’t work hard, that you can be lazy.
  • It means that after you’ve worked hard, be content with the results God grants.
  • Remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians,
  • I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. (1Co 3:6)
  • Paul and Apollos each did their part, but GOD gave the increase as HE willed.

 On the other hand, do you have what you consider to be greater gifts?

  • If so, use them as Paul and Apollos did in Corinth, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
  • And be careful not to do as the Corinthians, becoming arrogant in favor of one against another… passing judgment on others, regarding themselves as superior. (1 Cor 4:5-6)
  • In other words, be careful not to look down on those with seemingly lesser gifts.
  • “For what do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”
  • And finally, we are to use God’s gifts faithfully.
  • We see this in the parable of the talents in Mat. 25.
  • To one he gave 5 talents, to another 2 and to another 1 talent.
  • Each was expected to utilize what he had been given BY the master in order to gain more FOR the master.
  • We are to responsibly utilize what we’ve been given for the master’s gain, to please the master.

2.3. Therefore, be content with and be faithful with the gifts and circumstances you’ve been given.

  • Are you contentedly using the gifts and opportunities you’ve been given by the Master, trusting in God’s sovereign choice of your level of giftedness, and the circumstances in which he has placed you?
  • Or are you constantly looking up or down at others’ gifts?
  • And are you accepting your responsibility to faithfully use the gifts and opportunities you’ve been given by the master, that he might commend you as a “good and faithful servant?”
  • Neither despise your own gifts and opportunities because they are not great enough in your own eyes.
  • Nor flaunt them as if they were not given to you by God in the first place.
  • Instead, get busy faithfully using those gifts for the master’s business.
  • Those with greater gifts should be that much busier doing the greater works God has given you to do.
  • Don’t be like the smart kid who merely coasts through high school or college.
  • Take the harder courses you’re capable of taking, accept the more difficult challenges of life and ministry that you’re capable of doing, and do it for God’s glory, not your own.
  • Whatever our level of ability or privilege, we all must be faithfully utilizing what they’ve been given so that we too might one day hear the words of Christ…
  • “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your master.”

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