What Kind of Soil Are You? (The Receptive Ground Hearer)
What is the difference between the previous three soils and the final one? The difference is consistent fruit bearing – there are enduring yields. But what is the difference in the nature of this soil from the other three? It is receptive of the seed. The seed is able to germinate and grow with depth and without thorns crowding it out and taking over the ground. The difference is in the soil. This soil is receptive of the seed. But what does this mean?
Of course Jesus is describing people. He is using this parable to give us some idea of what goes on in the hearts of people who hear the Gospel. The message is comprehended, thoroughly understood, perceived clearly. This is why there is a reception of the seed. The message of the Gospel is perceived for what it truly is. Now this perception may not be perfect, but it is sufficient to result in real spiritual change within the person’s life. Because there is spiritual understanding of the value and importance of the Gospel – its message is welcomed with true desire and affection. This understanding is not merely intellectual. It is not less but it is much more. It is a perception that transforms the desires and moves the will away from self-centeredness to true God-centeredness.
This perception or understanding is the appreciation and desire for Jesus Christ and all that God offers to you in Christ. Jesus Christ is perceived as the One Pearl of Great Price and the Treasure Hidden in the Field. Do you see him that way? Do you see what he offers to you with eyes that truly understand his inestimable worth? Only receptive ground hearers do. Do you? What kind of soil are you?
How do you really know that you have truly received the Word of the Kingdom?
1. You have an intellectual grasp of the Gospel that moves your desires. You have tasted it and found the taste sweet and then you have with relish devoured it. You know that you have received the word of the Kingdom when you treasure it in your heart in the same way – you become affectionately preoccupied with it.
2. There is not only a perception of the value of the Word of the kingdom, the word is retained. It is taken in and kept active and abiding in the soil of the heart. The idea here is that they continue to hold fast the word by faith. This is brought out in Luke’s version of the Parable: “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it and by persevering produce a crop” (Luke 8:15).
3. You know that you have truly received the word as you continue to keep it and by endurance or perseverance you bear continual fruit. What Jesus is describing in the picture of the good soil is what a genuine believer in Christ looks like. Here we see not a complete picture but a clear picture of a true disciple of Christ. It is not simply the presence of fruit that gives true evidence that a professing believer is really a possessing believer but rather fruit that lasts. There is a continual yield of fruit
What is the nature of this fruit?
1. This fruit that grows out of a heart that is truly receptive to the Word will produce obedience to Christ.
2. Such obedience will lead to real change in your life or what we may call progressive sanctification or growth in holiness of mind and life thus increasing Christ-likeness.
3. This abiding and enduring fruit bearing not only entails obedience to the word that leads to increasing holiness of life, it also entails the doing of good works for the glory of God.
The Receptive ground hearer: receives the Gospel of the Kingdom by perceiving its value and sincerely wanting and treasuring Jesus Christ and his saving benefits. The Word is held fast within the heart and the heart benefits from the Word’s power. As such there is real abiding fruit growing from the soil of the heart; the fruit of obedience to Christ, growth in Christ-likeness and zeal for doing good works that glorify God by benefiting human beings.
We have looked at each of these four soils: the hardened ground hearer, the shallow ground hearer, the crowded ground hearer and now the receptive ground hearer – what kind of ground are you? Does it matter to you to be certain about the nature of your heart and its receptivity or lack of it to the Word of the Kingdom that is even now sown in your heart? What kind of soil are you really?