5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away (Matthew 13:5-6).
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended (Matthew 13:20-21).
This is the second statement that Jesus made within the Parable of the Sower. As we did in the last article within this series, we are looking at a section of the parable and the corresponding explanation that Jesus gave.
The goal is for us to consider how we receive the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ so that we might be strengthened in the faith.
The seed was earlier identified as the “word of the kingdom.” What is the word of the kingdom? In most basic terms, this is the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Through faith in Him, we are promised everlasting life in His kingdom and freedom from sin and death. Within this faith, there is much for us to learn because Jesus had a lot to say, and He still has a lot to say to us through all scripture and through the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes we receive His word happily and we begin to see some semblance of a Christian life. However, when it becomes difficult to keep His word, that growth withers away and it’s as if there was nothing received at all.
This can happen in a variety of ways. The most extreme way is when a person embraces the gospel then later denies the faith because of religious persecution. This also happens in small ways. We might hear a teaching of Jesus and His apostles, embrace that teaching as good, then later deny or fail to perform that teaching when it becomes difficult or contrary to our nature.
The latter is common to all of us in the Christian faith, and the good news is that if we continue in the faith anyway, we will get stronger. We will grow deep roots.
First, we need to get acquainted with the word of God through faith and continued relationship with Jesus who is the word of God. As we learn about Him and love His ways and teachings, we will try to keep His word and live it. We will fail when it gets too hard for us.
When this happens, we can turn to Jesus in faith. We can acknowledge that we love His word, but we lack the strength to uphold it. We can acknowledge that His sacrifice is sufficient for our sins, yet we want to keep His word because we love Him, and we want to be faithful to His teachings.
We can also acknowledge that Jesus made a promise. He said that He would send the Holy Spirit to those who keep His commandments. Jesus also stated that He will send the Holy Spirit to those who persistently ask. So, we keep asking and seeking in faith, and when the Holy Spirit comes to us, we will find greater strength in keeping His word.
We might receive the Spirit in a demonstrative manner as the apostles did or we might simply find it easier to perform the righteousness that we seek. The evidence of receiving the Spirit is fruitful faith—and fruit is only made possible when we have roots.
We all need deeper roots. We might not deny the faith outright, but we can keep the sayings of Jesus more perfectly. The more we can endure small temptations while remaining faithful to His word, the greater confidence we can have in our ability to remain faithful to Jesus during times of great trouble.
We will experience the love of God first-hand as He works in us. We will see His perfect timing and methods as a good Father who knows how to raise each child personally. We will experience mercy and know that He is for us. We will experience strength of Spirit and know that we are being made into sons that can stand strong in righteousness no matter the cost, because He that is in us is strongest when we are weak.
We will see that all things are given to us by the grace of God, and we put our trust in Him to work all good things in us. He makes us to have deep roots. He waters those roots. He feeds us. He prunes us. He makes us strong so that we can be of use to Him and our brethren.
Jesus said that He is the vine and we are the branches. If we abide in Him, then we will be fruitful. Without Him, it is impossible to keep His word. It is all made possible by Him, so have faith. He will cause you to overcome. Bit by bit. If we fail to keep His word and we are honest and remorseful, there is mercy. He knows our frame. He died for us for a reason.
However, we should not be foolish to think that we can deny Jesus in small ways carelessly and remain faithful when serious trials come. Even so, it is the grace of God that makes all the difference. He can do a lot with us in short order if He so chooses.
In any case, for us who love Jesus and do not want to receive Him as a seed on stony ground, let us keep seeking Him to make our hearts rich in knowledge of Him so that we can have deep and strong roots that are tapped into the never-ending supply of water that the Holy Spirit provides. When the heat comes bearing down, we will remain strong—and Lord willing—as a shelter and shade for some in the faith whose roots are not as well formed.
The scripture mentioned here is found in John 14-16. Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 12 also speaks to this idea.
My Experience with Seed that Fell on Stony Ground
One of the most frustrating things as a Christian is to love the teachings of Jesus but find myself unable to keep them. Once I received good teachings that were not fit to be eaten by birds on the wayside, the next challenge was keeping these teachings.
The more that I learned about Jesus and His ways, the more I became convinced of His goodness and the wisdom of His teachings. I loved His ways, but I also saw my sin very clearly and I became discouraged because I was not able to do the things that Jesus taught. This led me to a desperate place.
I was convinced that many things had gone wrong within the Christian world, and I felt like I should do something about that in some small way. So, I started my first Christian blog. However, my own sin weighed heavily on me, and I had not received the Holy Spirit in a demonstrative manner.
One of the teachings that I had come to believe was that receiving the Spirit in demonstration and power was to be expected and sought after persistently, so I did. I asked to receive the Holy Spirit often, and I did so for about two years before anything noticeable happened.
In late January 2016, that changed. I was alone in my room, praying to Jesus. I was very upset about my inability to live righteously, and I wanted to understand His word better. I was sure that things were wrong in mainstream Christianity, but I needed to have that knowledge confirmed in the Spirit. One of the things that I believed was that the gospel was not just forgiveness, but power to live righteously as the Spirit of God wrote the words of God in our hearts and changed our natures (I still believe this).
I needed the Holy Spirit so that I could do as I should do, and I needed the Spirit to strengthen my understanding in the things that I believed to be true about the Christian world as I saw it.
I prayed to receive the Holy Spirit because I wanted to overcome sin, and I told Jesus that I would make His truth and will for His people known if He would teach me. I didn’t really understand what I was asking for or what that would mean, but I really wanted to know Him, to live uprightly, and to help His people who I considered to be in danger of trouble because of corruption within the faith.
He answered in a demonstrative manner. I wrote about this on a few other occasions. I felt a sensation come over me that at first just felt like emotional peace, but then it was more than emotion. I felt a physical sensation come over my hands and lips then I began to speak softly in a language that I did not understand. I sat up (I was lying on my bed at the time crying to Jesus). Then, the words turned into a song that was gentle at first, then strong and almost angry, then one of rejoicing. I did not know what the words were. I still don’t, but I did know that it was a song for the churches.
This is why I take the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation so seriously. Though, I would that I could do better. Time and life responsibilities make it difficult—like a seed among thorns. I get what that is like too.
I would that I could say that I am never like one who received the seed of God on stony ground now that I have the Holy Spirit. Some sins were taken away as well as some social anxiety problems that I had. However, I still have weak areas.
Overtime, I have learned that it is good for us to wrestle against sin and to learn to trust in the strength of God and not ourselves. This struggle draws us near to Jesus, especially when we have the Holy Spirit because we cannot sin without being affected by it. We need to know better, and we need to do better. I also know that receiving the Spirit is not just a one and done thing. We need continual refreshing, which is why the Spirit is compared to a stream of water.
I am not really like stony ground in the sense that nothing can make me deny the truth and goodness of the ways of Jesus. I have experienced mild troubles socially because of the hard things I say and write about mainstream Christianity in the West, and so far, by the grace of God, I have not denied what He gave me.
As far as living a Christian life–which is most important of all– I still need to see Him work in me so that I have the strength of Spirit to do all that He would have me to do. I still struggle with some sin, but I do know that what I wrote about above is true.
When we fail, admit our fault, and sincerely want to do what is pleasing to God, there is mercy through Jesus. I also know that the more we fail and keep seeking, the stronger we will get. I also know that the more we grow, the more challenges we might face depending on the will of God for us and what He is creating us to endure.
Below are some things that I wrote that might help if you feel weak in the things of God. I have also and I still do, but I am thankful to know that Jesus works mightily in us when we continue to put our trust in Him.
God Gives Strength, but We Don’t Always Notice.
Praying for the Right Kind of Strength
It’s not that you aren’t improving. Things keep getting harder.
That’s the basics of how it went for me. If you would like to know more, or if you would like to share your own troubles with unbelief, feel free to email me at email@example.com. It’s difficult sometimes to remain faithful to Jesus, especially when the world hates us for it or because of our own weakness. If you find yourself on the verge of unbelief, pray. If you would like someone to pray with you or for you, reach out anytime.
This article is part of a series that considers the parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the lessons that we might learn from The Parable of the Sower. <–Visit this for quick access to all articles written about this parable. If you would like to continue with this conversation, you can subscribe by email. Scroll down to the very bottom of your screen, and you will find a subscribe button. You can also follow in WordPress. This is not copyrighted material. Use and share freely.