Seed for Thought

Jesus’ parable of the sower distinguishes inadequate and persevering faith. He tells how a sower scattered seed: some fell on a path where people trampled it and birds ate it; some landed on rocks, sprang up, but withered because of lack of moisture; some landed among thorns that choked it; and some fell on good soil, grew, and produced a harvest (vv. 5–8). Jesus identifies the seed as God’s word, and the soil on the path represents hearers from whom the Devil snatches the word so that they cannot believe (v. 12). The rocky soil stands for those who joyfully welcome the word but do not persevere in it: “But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away” (v. 13). Some interpret these as believers who fall away from salvation, but this conclusion misses the point that only the fourth soil yields fruit. The first three represent various responses falling short of saving faith. Receiving the word with joy is insufficient. In fact, the phrase “they believe for a while” does not describe saving faith because it follows the phrase “but these have no root.” True disciples are rooted and bear fruit. They not only profess but also persevere in faith to the end. The thorny soil stands for those who hear the word but are unfruitful because the “thorns” of worldly cares, desire for wealth, and passing pleasures choke the word (v. 14). Again, fruitlessness indicates a lack of true salvation. It is only the last and good soil that stands for those who hear the word, really believe it, and “bear fruit with patience” (v. 15). Matthew’s version distinguishes different degrees of fruitfulness among believers: a hundredfold, sixtyfold, and thirtyfold (Matt. 13:23). Indeed, there are various degrees of productivity among Christians, underscoring the principle that eternal life yields fruit, while no fruit indicates no eternal life.

Theology for Life—Genuine believers may waver and doubt, but the Holy Spirit holds on to them and they continue in faith.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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