Parable of the Sower

Bible Study

By Jon Bowles

14 December 2002

(PLAY FROM START)

Last week, I gave a Bible Study on dealing with the world. I read fairly extensively from Mr. Herbert Armstrong's Good News article, which had been prompted by looking at the Christmas decorations at that time back in 1961. He pointed out that we must be careful that we are not carnal in the way that we actually handle ourself regarding the world. We should, in fact, have a love towards this world. We shouldn't elevate ourself when looking at the world because there's nothing to elevate. The thing that makes the difference is the Spirit of God within us, and it is God that has made the difference. Yet, at the same time, we shouldn't be part of the world's ways and its systems. He pointed that out within the article. I went through the article, yes, and I also went through various scriptures that applied.

Next week, at Falfield, it will be the 21st of December. That's the solstice. I think it's appropriate, as meat in due season, to actually talk on the solstice; talk on the observing of times. Now, it won't just be Christmas and New Year's. It'll be things like Birthday, Valentines Day, Easter, etc. They all have to do with the observing of times. It's a pagan custom, and there's a reason why the pagans do this kind of thing. It's to do with a religious system that has been taken over by the Roman Catholic Church and the harlot daughters as well. I won't be going into that sermon today.

What I'd like to do today, however, is to examine something which is similar as well. At first glance, it probably isn't a similar subject but it is, very much so; and that is the Parable of the Sower. I want to talk and examine and do a Bible Study on the PARABLE OF THE SOWER. What it says, and what I want to have a look at, is specifically what it actually is saying to us today. It's not just a case of examining that parable. It is what does that say to us today? As we find ourself in this world, we are dealing with the world on a daily basis. It has a great deal to say to us about our dealings with the world; and it has a great deal to say about the various problems that we face within the world, and also about within the Church -- the various people that we've seen, that have come and gone within the Church, that we are still seeing coming and going within the Church and the shattering that's taking place.

Now, I have seven points I want to deal with today.

These are the points that are brought out within this parable; and, as I say, it's got a great deal to say to us today in many ways. What I suggest you do, if you've got markers, please put markers in Matthew 13 and Mark 4 and Luke 8. So, if you've got markers, I would strongly recommend you put them in there. If you haven't got markers, tear a piece of paper or something and just stick a piece of paper. In fact, that's what I've got in mine. My markers fell off this Bible a long time ago, but I've got pieces of paper that I put in. Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8 is where you find this particular parable that is mentioned.

INTRODUCTION TO THE PARABLE (PLAY FROM 4:59)

So, as an introduction to the parable, let's have a look in Mark 4, first of all. I want you to notice what it says.

Mark 4:13 And he said unto them, Know you not this parable? and how then will you know all parables?

In other words, this particular parable really forms the basis for our understanding of anything that Christ is talking about, certainly anything to do with parables. It is interesting that, within this context as well, He talks about how things are revealed to the Church and hidden from the world. This parable has a great deal to say to us within the Church about revelation that comes to us, and how that revelation comes from God and from His Spirit. But it is interesting that He does say in verse 13 that if you don't know this parable, how are you going to know any of them? So, it is absolutely imperative that we do understand what this parable is talking about. If we notice the context of that verse, though, notice what it says:

Mark 4:10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.

So, here were a group of people. Remember His disciples and the apostles -- the apostles were part of the disciples; but not all disciples were apostles. There were 120 of them altogether, who were disciples. So these were people who were about Him (with the twelve, presumably), His disciples.

Mark 4:11-13 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are [outside], all these things are done in parables: (12) That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. (13) And he said unto them, Know you not this parable? and how then will you know all parables?

So, He's addressing that specifically to all people that are disciples, as a distinct group, separate from the world at large; and He's talking about this parable. When he says this, "it's given to you to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God," He is talking about this parable. It's not just a case of a casual comment that He throws off.

Again, leaving your marker in, go back to Matthew 13. He sits in a boat, and He is off the shore; and He gives this particular parable to the people that are sitting on the shoreline. He says:

Matthew 13:9-10 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (10) And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speak you unto them in parables?

So, again, this context of Him explaining about why speaking in parables, the context is within this parable, this specific one.

Matthew 13:17-18 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them. (18) Hear you therefore the parable of the sower.

So, again, this context, where it says that "it's given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven, but to them it's not given" and it's given in parables to hide the meaning and "this people's heart is waxed gross, or fat and their ears are dull of hearing" and it's also interesting that in verse 34 of Matthew 13 it says:

Matthew 13:34 All these things spoke Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spoke he not unto them:

So, He deliberately clouded the meaning; but the context is this parable of the sower. So, we need to understand a little bit about this parable, a good deal about this parable, if we are to be of this group that sees things which others cannot see and hear things that others cannot hear. The Spirit of God actually opens our mind to understanding. We need to understand what this parable is talking about.

Now, if you go back to Mark 4 (again, as I said, keep your markers in there):

Mark 4:14 The sower sows the word.

So what actually is being sown, the seed. Turn over to Luke 8:

Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

So what is being sown is the word of God. We read these words, yes, but there's more to the word of God than that, because it's not just having the Bible. It's a bit more to it than that. If you go back to Matthew 13:

Matthew 13:18-19 Hear you therefore the parable of the sower. (19) When any one hears the word of the kingdom, ...

So, it's not just the word of God. It's the word of the kingdom of God -- that's really what is being addressed, and that is what Christ is actually talking about.

It's interesting that when we were under Mr. Tkach's leadership, he talked about the Kingdom of God being a present reality and a future hope. Do you remember those words? "A present reality and a future hope." In fact, that is the exact opposite of what the Kingdom of God actually is. It's not a present reality at all. In the future it will not be a hope. It's a future reality, because in the future it will actually be there; and at the present it is our hope. [Laughs] It's what we're looking for. He turned the thing completely and totally on its head. But, now, we are under that government. We are actually under the laws of that government. We have to be obedient to those laws regarding the way of God.

You know that Mr. Billingsley returned to what God through Mr. Armstrong directed in the Church regarding makeup. He pointed it out, that this is one of the things that, literally, we need to get back to. It's not the biggest thing. Certainly, it's not the biggest thing; but it is one of the things that we, as a people of God, need to return to as far as the way of God is concerned.

Now, there has been some flack come back from others that have been previously under his authority, and if I just read a little bit from one letter that I saw, it says:

"We realize that reinstating the make-up ruling was a matter of your conscience. Thankfully, God gives us the right to react towards our conscience; and I, at this time, reserve that right. As I pointed out to you, Mr. Armstrong, on pages 49 and 50 of Mystery of the Ages, said that we are to be ruled by the laws of God sent down to us from above; and that those that are ruled by those laws (the governed) cannot make up those laws."

Now, it is interesting, and we'll read that section in a minute:

"On page 11 he says, 'Truth cannot come from something that has no basis for truth' and by his own words he condemns his ruling on makeup because there's no supporting scriptures that can conclusively prove that ruling to be true."

In other words, he wants to be backed into a corner by scripture before he will accept any kind of ruling like that. Now, I want to read you a little bit from page 49 and 50 from Mr. Armstrong's book Mystery of the Ages.

"God's law is spiritual and can be summed up in one simple but all-inclusive word -- love. His law for the guidance of human conduct is subdivided into the two great commandments, love toward God and love toward neighbor. These, in turn, are subdivided into the 10 Commandments. Jesus magnified this law by showing how its principle expands to cover virtually every possible human infraction. [So, our entire life is covered by the principle.] The third chapter of II Corinthians shows [and that's talking about the administration of the spirit, He made us able ministers of the spirit of the law, not of the letter. The third chapter of II Corinthians shows] that God's law is to be applied in principle. It is summed up in one single word, love. Nevertheless, it is so perfect that, by applying its principle, it is a complete law."

That's on the very page that this individual who rejects this particular application of the principle (which is what Mr. Armstrong did), he tries to say, because it does also say in that same section, it says:

"It cannot be "government by the consent of the governed." Its laws originate and are handed down from God -- never legislated by the people -- never dictated by the governed how the government over them shall rule them. Since they created other conscious, thinking life-beings, this very fact of necessity put the GOVERNMENT of God over all creation, with God supreme Ruler."

But he explains within the same section that the law is applying the principle. Now, it's interesting also, I went back and had a look at the Pastor General's report in July 1, 1983, which deals with the subject of make-up.

"God's law defines the way of human conduct, first of all, in relationship to God and secondly to human neighbor. Law simply means the rules of conduct. The rules of a basketball, baseball or football game might be called the laws of those games -- the rules that regulate performance. God's law is stated in the one word -- love. The word love is a principle; and, in principle, it is opposite to the word lust. It is the love toward others. First of all, love towards God in love, worship, and obedience. Secondly, it's love toward other humans. It cannot be vanity because vanity is towards self and puts self before God. Love toward and worship of God in itself is the principle of humility. Not self-glory or vanity or coveting. It is love toward neighbor in the spirit of outgoing concern for the neighbor's welfare and good, of cooperation, serving, helping, and sharing. It also may be love toward self in the sense, or principle, of concern for the physical and mental and spiritual welfare of the body and mind which is the temple of God's Holy Spirit."

You see how it's always outgoing, whereas on the other side is always incoming.

"You can apply that principle to any question of human conduct. It is the real answer to the sin question. As I write and think on this subject, I'm convinced that few understand, even in God's true Church, the truth of this sin question."

WE DID NOT GET IT! That's what he's saying.

"A great deal of Protestantism has rubbed off on our people in God's Church. Neither the Catholics nor the Protestants teach God's Commandments; rather they teach that the Law was abolished.

The Law is SPIRITUAL. God looks on the heart; but the heart, as used in the biblical sense, refers to the attitude, the intent or purpose. Sin results from a wrong attitude, intent, desire, which is an attitude of mind. Yet, sin is also an act. It is the act of yielding to an attitude, desire, or purpose contrary to love toward God or toward humans. Vanity violates love toward and worship of God. It is desire, or intent or attitude of self-glorification. Self wants to glorify itself, not God. Vanity is the root of sin.

But this man said, "We realize that reinstating the make-up ruling was a matter of your conscience; thankfully, God gives us the right to react towards our conscience and I, at this time, reserve that right." But you see where it's coming from.

Mr. Armstrong goes on in this same section in July '83:

"After all, sin is not the thing; but the attitude in the use of the thing in response of a wrong attitude. Sin is violation of God's spiritual law; and that violation always is an attitude, an intention, contrary to love towards God and neighbor and/or the acting upon such attitude or intention. We live in a world swayed and influenced completely by Satan, the god of this world."

Now, notice what he said: "COMPLETELY swayed by Satan," in every single aspect. We do not get it! We do not really understand that! And, when we look at this parable of the sower, he's talking about a distinction between peoples. Some people just don't get it.

"The world has its lifestyles. They are basically contrary to God's way of life, which is love towards God, and towards neighbor, and towards self only in the sense of preserving health of mind and body as the temple of the Holy Spirit."

I thought that was very interesting; and particularly when we look at this, and we look at this section where it says:

Matthew 13:18-19 Hear you therefore the parable of the sower. (19) When any one hears the word of the kingdom,...

It's the word of God relating to the Kingdom of God, and that Kingdom is a future reality. It's a present hope. We hope for it. We look forward to it; but we place ourself under the sovereignty of it, because we place ourself under the Law of God, and the Law of God is spiritual. It is applying the principle to every single aspect of our lives. That is something that the churches -- the churches that once were part of the Church of God -- under Mr. Herbert Armstrong, they have lost track of. They seem to have gone away from.

Matthew 13:19 When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, [now notice this group] then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

So this first group that is being talked about are people who literally do not understand it at all. They do not get it. They have no real concept of what God is talking about. So they hear the word. It's the word of the Kingdom. It's about the way of God. It's what's going to happen in this world and the historical aspect of future, prophetic aspect, yes; but also that sovereignty over us today is to a large extent as it can be applied. But they just don't get it. They do not get it. They do not understand it. It says they hear the word of the Kingdom and do not understand it. Then the wicked one comes.

Now, what I want to point out to you is that not only does it apply in that particular case.

Mark 4:14-16 The sower sows the word. (15) And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan comes immediately, and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. (16) And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; [ ... ]

They're the same, same kind of group of people, that are sown on stony ground. So, when it says here ...

Matthew 13:19 When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away

We can also apply it in an equal way to the ones on stony ground that suddenly shoot up. They reckon they're getting it, but they are not really getting it at all. I think we've seen an incredible number of these types of people within the Church of God because if you notice, this type of people ... now I know that when we're looking at people, where it says they hear the word of the kingdom and they understand it not and the wicked one catches away.

I remember one time I was dealing with somebody, a neighbor who was an evangelical. Of course, they believe the law is done way. I remember saying to him, just pointing out something in Romans, I said, "Look, it says in Romans, by the law is the knowledge of sin. So, the law actually tells you what sin is," and you could see in his eyes. It suddenly stopped him absolutely dead in his tracks. His eyes opened out and he thought, "That's right!" You know, he didn't actually say anything, but you could see the expression on his face that the veil is suddenly opened that little tiny bit; and then immediately, it suddenly changed. It's as if the shutters suddenly came down, and he went on his evangelical way about something completely and totally different. It was as if this glimmer of light came through to him and just suddenly disappeared. That's what we're talking about when the wicked one immediately catches away what is in somebody's heart.

Matthew 13:20-21 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and anon with joy receives it; (21)Yet hath he not root in himself [All that is being done is according to himself.],but [endures] for a while: [So, these people may have stayed in the Church for quite a while. They may have been around for some time.] for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by he is offended.

I think that we have seen cases of this recently. We are in the process of seeing cases of this. People have done all that they've done on their own strength. They, as it says here, they received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and yet hasn't got root in himself. It's not God's Spirit there. He's doing whatever he's doing, or she's doing whatever she's doing, on their own strength. They endure for a while.

Notice back in Luke 8, if we go back there, when it's dealing with this same group. We need to do this because it's here a little and there a little. You can't get the full understanding of this passage just by reading one of them.

Luke 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, [In other words, no root in themselves, which is what it brought out in Matthew.] which for a while believe, [Notice that, they do for a while believe. They go for a certain period of time.] and in time of temptation fall away.

Now that trial might be different for different types of people. It may be for some makeup may be the issue. They go along on their own strength, but along comes something that they will not accept. It's all on their own strength, and it may be something as small as makeup -- for a while they believe, and in times of trial fall away.

Mark 4:17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.

It's almost as if when whatever it is comes along that will give them an offense or cause trouble for them, that immediately (it's very quick then thereafter) they're offended. They may go through thick and thin until that time comes. Then something comes along that they specifically find a trial, and they're suddenly offended; and then they're gone. We've seen it. We have seen it, but we need to be aware of it.

CARES OF THIS WORLD (PLAY FROM 28:31)

I know that took quite a little bit of time; but that's an introduction [laughs] in some ways to the parable itself, because the parable, itself, if you're in Mark 4, notice what it says:

Mark 4:18-19 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, (19) And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Now, this is talking to us. It's talking to those that do actually understand. The other two groups don't really understand. They never really got it. I've talked to people that have, seemingly, holding onto the truth. But they are doing it on a human standpoint. They don't really understand. They do not really get it. I think we still have people like that within our fellowships. The ones that really could miss out, the ones that we really should take notice of, are these last two groups. The last but one, being the one among thorns, being a one which is a warning to every single one of us in this room and across the internet as well. Every single one of us should listen very, very carefully, to what this has got to say to us.

Mark 4:19-20 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (20) And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

So, we can see that it applies to us. If we look at this group that has the cares of this world, in Luke:

Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life...

Or of life ... it is the fact that we're living human lives that causes us to stumble; and I think every single one of us can understand what it's talking about. We have a struggle. We have human physical lives to lead; and we also have this spiritual law, in our hearts, looking forward to a Kingdom which we can't see. It's a present hope and a future reality; and, basically, what happens is the focus gets off track.

If you remember what Mr. Armstrong was talking about in the 70's, where he brought the Church back on track, our focus had gone off track. And today our focus within the Church, within the corporate Churches of God, is off track. It is still off track. We are still trying to get back on track again. This parable has a great deal to tell us because we do really need to understand, particularly these last two aspects -- the ones amongst the thorns, and the ones on good ground -- and recognize the difference between the two. The cares of this life can impinge on every single one of us. So we'll go into this point about the cares of this world.

Philippians 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

In other words, Christ's coming is close. It takes a certain yieldedness, a moderation (that comes from a word that can also mean yieldedness).

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing [Don't be filled with care. Don't come to pieces. Don't become unglued, literally. Or overanxious. Don't become unglued for anything]; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

We do need to, in this life, if we're having problems with the cares of this life, and the cares of this world, we must make sure that we are praying. We have got to make time for prayer. I know it's very difficult. It's easy enough when you're retired. It's easy enough when you don't have a full-time job. It's easy enough when you don't have young children; but some of the ones listening to us over the internet have got young children and it's very, very hard -- very, very hard. God makes allowances, to some degree, for those that find themselves in those positions. God will not judge somebody with young children that keep them up half the night the same as those that are retired or those that basically are grandparents and foster off all their children to their children. We are judged differently. There's nothing to stop us from getting up in the morning, from going down and praying for at least half an hour every single morning, and studying a half an hour, every single morning. The likes of us, we do not have an excuse. We simply don't.

Now, in the case of those with young children, we may have to snatch prayer here, there and everywhere; but we still have got to pray.

Philippians 4:6-8 Be careful [become unglued] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Now where are you going to find stuff like that? The only place you're going to find stuff like that, in reality, is in the Kingdom of God in the future; and it says, think on these things. Our focus has got to be correct. That's where our focus has got to be.

Matthew 24:48-50 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, [notice, in his heart. If his focus is]My lord delays his coming; (49) And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, [perhaps with the tongue] and to eat and drink with the drunken [the spiritually drunk]; (50) The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,

Now, this is right slap between the eyes of every one of us. We've got to make sure that we've got our focus correct. I always remember of an experiment that I heard; and this was actually told me by a psychologist, by a psychiatrist? Maureen? Was she a psychiatrist? She was a therapist, a psychology therapist. Anyway, but she told me about an experiment of some pigs.

They had a group of pigs. They lived together, and they had a social structure within this group of pigs. In order to disrupt the social structure, they started to feed them alcohol. They put a trough of alcohol in the corner, and I don't know what they used. I'm sure it wasn't gin and orange, but let's say its gin and orange they stuck in the corner. They started to feed these pigs alcohol, and they went absolutely bananas for this stuff. They gobbled it down as much as they could get; and they were paralytic, [laughs] absolutely paralytic drunk -- the lot of them. The whole social structure totally broke down in this experiment.

You had the kind of chief pig that had the first go at the trough, and you had the runt that had to wait until everybody else had had their fill and was picked on by everybody else. But what happened was the king pig (or whatever you call the lead pig) had no jurisdiction whatsoever, because all the other pigs were completely merry as anything; and they just took no regard to him at all. They were all discomfited. The whole social structure broke down. So what then happened, though, as they watched them, they kept putting this stuff in the trough and the pigs kept drinking this stuff.

The lead pig suddenly twigged that it was that trough that was causing all his problems, so he would not touch it with a barge pole. He literally, he became abstinent and would not have anything to do with this alcohol in this trough; and he then reasserted his right over all the other pigs. One by one, almost in the pecking order, from that lead pig down, every single one of them, stopped taking this alcohol; and they all started to get back into the pecking order again, except for one pig, and that was the runt; and he remained paralyticly drunk for the entire experiment [everyone laughs] and never actually became anything other than paralyticly drunk.

How true it is, I'm not really sure; but it is interesting, you see, that we have something to live for. If we allow the cares of this life and the cares of this world to push away the thing that we are living for, it talks about being:

Matthew 24:49 And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;

That's the way the world is. That's the way those outside behave. They have nothing to really live for. We cannot do that. Our focus has got to be clear. We've got to be alert. Where it says about watch, in these verses, in the main, it actually comes from a word that means to be alert. Turn over to Luke 10.

Luke 10:38-42 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. (39) And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. (40) But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost you not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. (41)And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, you art careful [You're full of care. You're coming apart, coming unglued.] and troubled about many things: (42) But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, [she's got the focus correct] which shall not be taken away from her.

Now this is where the cares of this world can actually lead us. We can find that we lose track. We are off track; and the way to undo it, it says in Philippians 4, don't be careful for anything. You get back on track through prayer and supplication. You get back into contact with God. If we are in a situation where we have young children, or we're in a high-pressure job, then we'd better make sure that we make time as we can; but we have got to make time. If we don't have those things, we have no excuse. We've got to get back in contact with God. We must make sure that prayer is a priority because that's where our strength is coming from. That is where our focus has got to be. Now, it is very hard in certain cases; but it is something that we need to strive to do.

DECEITFULNESS OF RICHES (PLAY FROM 41:29)

Now, it also talks about the deceitfulness of riches. You're in Luke 10. If you'll turn over the page to Luke 12:

Luke 12:16-21 And he spoke a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: (17) And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? (18) And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. (19) And I will say to my soul, Soul, you hast much goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry. (20) But God said unto him, You fool, this night your [being] shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be, which you hast provided? (21) So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Now, it doesn't mean to say that we cannot have a certain amount of wealth; but it is interesting the context, notice, that these verses are found in because it then goes on:

Luke 12:22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no [anxious] thought for your life, what you shall eat; neither for the body, what you shall put on.

Luke 12:29 And seek not you what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, neither be you of doubtful mind..

It takes a certain amount of faith. The deceitfulness of riches: we can work very, very hard, and it is deceitful. And it says, don't be of a doubtful mind.

Luke 12:30-32 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after [These are the people that are paralytic all the time, and we should not be that way.]: and your Father knows that you have need of these things. [Notice that: your Father knows you have need of them. So, if we go to Him in prayer, where there is a need, we can bring these things before Him, with prayer and supplication let your needs be known.](31) But rather seek you the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. (32) Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

God is going to work in our lives to make sure that we do make it.

Luke 12:33 Sell that you have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fails not, where no thief approaches, neither moth corrupts.

In other words, we use the money that we have in a godly way. It is towards that overall aim. Even the physical things that we have, we're using in the aim that we have, in the direction we have. We're on track. Our focus is on track, even in the physical areas as well. We go out to work. We need to go out to work. Even the concept of retirement is anathema. Mr. Armstrong didn't retire. Mr. Billingsly isn't retiring. The concept of retirement you do not find in scripture. Now, obviously, you've got to take things a little easier as you get older. Physically, we start to wear out. But the concept is not within scripture. But we use our physical wealth; we use what we've been given, in a godly way.

Luke 12:35-37 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; (36) And you yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he comes and knocks, they may open unto him immediately. (37)Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he comes shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

So, there's the marriage supper. So, notice the context of this parable that talks about people who lay up treasure for themselves, and yet are not rich toward God. The context is the end time. It is an end-time context. So, the deceitfulness of riches can be applied in an end-time context.

Luke 12:41-43 Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speak you this parable unto us, or even to all? (42) And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? (43)Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing.

So He's speaking to them. He's speaking to those that actually understand. He's not speaking to all. He's not speaking to the world at large. He is speaking to those that have the understanding. He's speaking to this group that are within the weeds (that are within the brambles, within the thorns), as it's being brought out. He's speaking to this group that says "I'm rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing;" but they're deceived. He says, you know not that you are poor; you are blind; you are naked. They are deceived.

The deceitfulness of riches: that is something specifically for the end time. And this parable, if you don't understand this parable, how are you going to understand any parable? This parable has a great deal to say to us at this end time, right now, in the way we conduct ourself in our daily lives and how we actually go through this daily life. The specific two groups are the good ground, yes, but also those among thorns. In other words, the cares and the problems and the deceitfulness of riches.

LUST FOR PLEASURES (PLAY FROM 47:17)

So, if we go into point four: the lust of pleasures or lust of other things.

Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in.

In other words, they become off focus. And the reason why you get off focus is because you want something different. The focus, our passion, should be the Kingdom of God. It's a future reality. It's a present hope, but that's our passion. If we get our mind off it, our mind suddenly becomes on something else which is a physical pursuit. It doesn't mean to say that we don't go out and work. We've got to go out and work, but we work for the right reasons. We work because that is the way we should be actually conducting ourself. It is the way God directs us to operate, that we might have something wherewith to give, as it says within the epistles. So, we work for the right reason. But if we have the lust of other things, if our desires go to other things:

Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

You see, the fruit to perfection. Notice over in Matthew 5,

Mat 5:48 Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

But that word for perfection being used here in Luke 8:14 is the same word being used in Matthew 5:48. It's telleios. It's the same word; and it doesn't mean perfection in the English sense. It literally means ripeness. It means to become ripe, as a fruit becomes ripe. It is ready for picking. That's what it literally means.

So, if our desires (our lusts, our desires) go to other things (riches and pleasures and whatever) of this life, then we lose our focus. We get off track; and the fruit that we should have, the fruit that we need to have when Christ returns, is not going to be there. We're not going to be ready when Christ returns. We will not be ready to assume the positions of rulership; and, therefore, we will not have those positions of rulership. That's how serious this entire subject is. As it says, if you don't understand this parable, how are you going to understand any parable? This parable forms a basis. It's an absolute, rock bottom, foundational bedrock. What happens if we get off track, if we start getting our mind on other things?

James 3:15-16 This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. (16)For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

In other words, we're going off track. We've got our mind on other things.

James 4:1-3 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts [or your desires] that war in your members? (2) You [desire or you]lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, [you perhaps even kill verbally] and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask no [in other words, you're not in contact with God].(3)You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, [because you've still got your focus wrong] that you may consume it upon [what you want instead of what God wants].

It's not a case of our lives being within the direction that God sets us and our focus being on that coming Kingdom, but it's a form of adultery.

James 4:4 You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

If our focus is on worldly things, then we will end up being an enemy of God.

James 4:5 Do you think that the scripture says in vain, The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy?

It is wanting something that really is not right, because it won't allow the one that goes that way to go ahead and bring forth fruits to perfection. Notice what it says in Luke 21. Again, the context is the time of the end. It's the Olivet prophecy.

Luke 21:29-32 And he spoke to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; (30)When they now shoot forth, you see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. (31) So likewise you, when you see these things come to pass, know you that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. [It's a future reality. It's a present hope.] (32) Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

The generation in which we are today is not going to pass. That is the way we understood this verse. We are living in that generation. The news events that are occurring today, we've got to open our eyes to and be able to see what they're actually saying. It is not going to go on with the peace and tranquility that is going on right now, forever.

Luke 21:32-35 This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. (33) Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. [What He says is actually going to be fulfilled.](34) And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, [or in indulgence or indulging excessively] and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. (35) For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

Now, we cannot see it now. We can see signs of it within the news, which we've brought out; but we cannot see it. It's not there yet, but the signs are there, "You be alert."

Luke 21:36 Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

It's talking about standing physically. When Christ returns there will be a group that will stand physically, and that group will only be the group that has escaped these things. Now, that warning is in the context of this warning about the cares of this life. As is says, the lust for pleasure, or the lust for other things. The reason is that you have this lust for other things so that no fruit is produced to ripeness, so that God cannot use that fruit.

Now, our lives do not reflect that. Why? It's got to come from somewhere. It's not just coming from our own resources. We aren't like the ones on stony ground that have no root in themselves. It's got to come from something.

AN HONEST AND A GOOD HEART (PLAY FROM 55:49)

If you go back to Luke 8, notice in verse 15:

Luke 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

So notice this first point, in point number 5, it is an honest and a good heart.

Matthew 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it.

So here are a group of people who understand the word. There is an understanding there, and the understanding comes from this good heart. Now, if we turn over to II Corinthians 3, this is the scripture that Mr. Armstrong quoted when he was explaining about sin and how you've got to understand the principle. You've got to go back to the principle. If I can, just find that very quickly where he actually says that. This is in Mystery of the Ages, page 50.

The third chapter of II Corinthians shows that God's law is to be applied in principle. It is summed up in one single word, love. Nevertheless, it is so perfect that, by applying its principle, it is a complete law.

2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers [or qualified ministers or administrators] of the new [covenant]; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.

Now, that is referring to this incident of the man who was caught in adultery or committed fornication with his father's wife. He should have been killed according to the letter of the law. That letter kills. But in the administration of the New Testament, or the new covenant, that is not applied because it says, "their sins and iniquities will I not remember anymore."

2 Corinthians 3:14-15 But their minds were blinded: [it's talking about the children of Israel couldn't steadfastly look on, they couldn't really understand the law -- But their minds were blinded] for until this day remains the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. (15) But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.

Now, remember it says in an honest and a good heart. That's where this word comes and this word grows properly.

2 Corinthians 3:16 Nevertheless when it [that is when the heart] shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

So, when that heart is honest and good, when it's turned to God, when it starts to be converted ... Remember that Christ said, "Lest they hear the word and understand with the heart, and be converted." That's what it means, and that conversion takes the Spirit of God.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. (17) Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (18) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

So, in other words, that Spirit of Christ changes us into the same image. We become a God-being, as Christ is a God-being. He becomes the first born of many brethren. It is a change of heart, an honest and a good heart that comes from the Spirit of God; and that must come from the Spirit of God. If you turn back to Jeremiah 17 you find that you cannot get this within a human being. There is a distinction between the two groups, and there is a very clear distinction being brought out within the parable of the sower. So it is from this honest and good heart.

Jeremiah 17:5-6 Thus says the [ETERNAL]; Cursed be the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the [ETERNAL]. (6) For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good comes; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

So here is somebody who doesn't have water. That is the water of the Holy Spirit; in fact, the water just simply isn't there.

Jeremiah 17:7 Blessed is the man that trusts in the [ETERNAL], and whose hope the [ETERNAL] is.

It's a future reality. It's a present hope. Our focus is on that hope today, and we look forward to that hope. We've got our minds properly focused with a good heart, a heart that is converted through the Spirit of God.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 ...and whose hope the [ETERNAL] is. (8) For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat comes, ...

We've got to go through trials. Remember what he said about those whose root was in himself? Who, basically, when the trial came along, immediately is offended?

Jeremiah 17:8-13 ... and shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. [But the warning is] (9) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (10) I the [ETERNAL] search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (11) As the partridge sits on eggs, and hatches them not; so he that gets riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool. [Why, because he's trusted in man.] (12) A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. [There is our focus.] (13) O [ETERNAL], the hope of Israel, all that forsake you shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the [ETERNAL], the fountain of living waters.

That's where our hope is. That's where our heart has got to be. It's coming from a good heart. If you turn over to Jeremiah 31, this new covenant, which eventually will be made with Israel and Judah, of which we are forerunners.

Jeremiah 31:33-34 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the [ETERNAL], I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; [this honest and good heart] and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (34) And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the [ETERNAL]: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, ...

Why, because the law was to be on the inward part, written on the heart. It is the principle as Mr. Armstrong brings out, that is applied in every case of life. We're going to have to apply that in the Kingdom of God. We're going to have to teach it in the Kingdom of God. It is these people, sown on good ground, of an honest and good heart, that will qualify to be the ones who will teach. If we do not do that, we will not be qualified to teach.

KEEPING THE WORD (PLAY FROM 1:04:37)

As it says, if you don't understand this parable, how are you going to understand any parable? This is the bedrock. This is the foundation. It is a case of keeping the word.

Luke 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, [they] keep it, ...

So, not only do you hear it, you keep it as well. Now, it's interesting, that in this section of Luke 8:

Luke 8:19-21 Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. (20) And it was told him by certain which said, Your motherand your brethren stand without, desiring to see you. (21) And he answered and said unto them, My mother [that's the church] and my brethren [He's the Firstborn of many brethren] are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

So He's applying, even then, the same principle. It's a case of hearing and doing that word. You can go back and check in Deuteronomy 4:2, where it talks about the law of God, how you don't add to it, you don't diminish from it. Well, let's read it. It's the same God, the same Being that gave these words back in Deuteronomy that also gave these words, that gave this parable, that said, "If you don't understand this parable, how you going to understand anything, any parable?"

Deuteronomy 4:1 Now therefore [listen], O Israel, ...

Remember what He said? He said, "Hear! Those that have ears to hear, let them hear." You can see how there are spiritual things being brought out in ancient Israel but they didn't have the HEART to understand them. The Spirit of God wasn't given.

Deuteronomy 4:1-2 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the [ETERNAL] God of your fathers giveth you. (2) You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of the [ETERNAL] your God which I command you.

So, it's a case of you listen, that you may keep it, that you may do it. You don't add to it. You don't take away from it. Now, does that mean, you say, "Oh well, Mr. Armstrong added to it by saying that we shouldn't go ahead and keep makeup?" No. It is a spiritual law. You apply the law in principle. Very clearly, you apply it in principle. Look at the way in which Paul applied the law to the person who committed fornication with his father's wife. He applied it in principle. He applied the law in the way the new covenant has to be applied, and we learned that from somebody to whom these things were revealed to, and we've got to go back. That's part of the word that was given to us, that was delivered to us. It's not just this word as interpreted by anybody. It's the word, as revealed to us, by God; and that word came through an individual through whom God revealed His truth. Let's go back to Matthew 7.

Matthew 7:24 Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, [ ... ]

And remember, He has been talking about applying the word of God, the Spirit of God, the principle of the Law of God in so many places. You go through Matthew 5, 6, and 7. That's what Christ is talking about.

Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: (25) And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock [or the Rock]. (26) And every one that hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: (27) And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

BEARING FRUIT THROUGH PATIENCE (PLAY FROM 1:09:33)

So it was a case of doing what we know to be right, what we were actually told; and this takes patience. If you will, go back to Luke 8 again:

Luke 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

It takes patience and continuing doing good. If we go over to James 5, there's an interesting scripture. Whether more should be made of it, or rather it's just referring to an analogy, and we can make no more of it than that, I'm not sure. I, personally, think that there is more to it than initially meets the eye.

James 5:7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord [the return of Christ].Behold, the husbandman. [In other words, the farmer, the market gardener or whatever.]waits for the precious fruit of the earth.[Now, we're talking about fruit. We're talking about seed that is sown, and bringing forth fruit.] and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

Now, the truth of God, it grew enormously in the first century, when the apostles were alive; and then it went into complete and total isolation. It hung on by the skin of its teeth, right through to the end time. At the end time, it grew phenomenally through Mr. Herbert Armstrong's work. It talks about the early and the latter rain. Now, whether that is actually what it is referring to, I'm not sure; but it certainly fits. It certainly fits.

James 5:8-11 [You therefore] Be you also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws nigh. (9) Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest you be condemned: behold, the judge stands before the door. (10) Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. (11) Behold, we count them happy which endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

So we see how, through patience, fruit is born; and for certain we should make sure that we do that. Turn back to Romans 8. The fruit from this word that is sown is brought forth with patience. It's a day in and day out thing. It is being on our knees, or even praying by the sink sometimes if necessary, or praying as we go about our daily life as well.

Mr. Armstrong was asked, "How often do you pray?" It's not just getting a prayer in once in a day. He said, "Hundreds of times a day." We should walk with God. We should have this constant contact. We should involve Him in our work, within whatever we happen to be doing. I know it's so easy not to. It's so easy just to go on through our own daily life, but that's the way Mr. Armstrong did it. It's the way we ought to be doing it.

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

That heart, that honest and good heart that comes from the Spirit of God, these are the Sons of God. This is the difference that is made.

Romans 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the [creation] waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.

This parable describes the process by which the manifestations of the Sons of God, will take place. That word has got to grow.

Romans 8:20-26 For the creature was made subject to vanity [or decay, or incoming selfishness], not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, (21)Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. (23) And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the [sonship, the] adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (24) For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (25) But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (26) Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: ...

Then it goes on and explains how the Spirit is actually working with us in this process, but we are patiently waiting for that future reality. Our focus is correct. The fruit is born through patience; and it's coming from a focus of keeping that word in a good heart, and we're doing it with patience.

Now, the interesting thing is that the indication at the end time, if you'll turn over to II Peter -- a couple of scriptures as we close here -- the indication is that the general trend within the Church, at the end time, is that they're going to lose that patience. They are going to lose their focus.

2 Peter 3:1-2 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance [because he was about to die]: (2)That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, [in other words, the Old Testament]and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

Now remember there was no New Testament when this was originally written. So, the commands were coming from the apostles that were sent to them individually.

2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

And remember what it talked about? It says the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, and the deceitfulness of riches. That's over in I John 2:1; {1} but it talks about the lust of pleasures, or the lust of other things.

2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

They've lost the focus. They're off track.

2 Peter 3:4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

That is going to be a tendency; and yet it says, "This generation will not pass until all these things be fulfilled."" {2} The focus has to remain. If we are with patience producing the fruit, and fruit that is going to be used within the World Tomorrow, so that we can be teachers at that time.

2 Peter 3:5-7 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: (6) Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: (7)But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

That word is being kept by the ones who have the good ground. The seed is growing. It has enabled the word of the Kingdom, that word of that future reality, to grow and to develop so that we will be there -- so that we will be teachers at that future reality.

Let's go back to Mark 4, just to finish. Let's just read to remind ourselves what it actually says, and we will then close.

Mark 4:10-13 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. (11) And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: (12) That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. (13) And he said unto them, Know you not this parable? and how then will you know all parables?

That's how important this parable is. If we notice what it says in verse 8.

Mark 4:8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

And a clear interpretation of that parable is that the fruit is going to be used in that Kingdom if the focus is right; and they maintain that focus right the way through, with patience.

Mark 4:9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

And so, we should all listen to this very important parable. I hope the Bible Study has at least helped us all to do that.


Transcribed by JF, August, 2006

{1} 1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world..

{2} Can be found in Luke 21:32 & Matthew 24:34