Digging Deeper – Soil Series Week 1
Even though Jesus gives an explanation of this parable it is still widely misunderstood. Many teachers will encourage you to “check your soil” to see if you are truly saved or not. The gift of eternal life is not something to be questioned or determined based on a person’s actions.
What This Parable Does Teach
The rocky soil, the thorny soil, and the good soil are all referring to people who have believed in Jesus for eternal life. We know this because the illustration teaches that each of these has life. Each of these three believers displays a different level of obedience after they have believed. This parable shows us that believers will have different levels of faithfulness as demonstrated by the illustration of the fruit.
Check Your Soil
This parable is a good reminder to check your soil. Has temptation weakened your roots? Are worries, riches, or pleasures of this life choking your growth? Any gardener will tell you good soil requires maintenance. When plants stop thriving many times the culprit can be found upon closer inspection of the soil. I pray that we can all check our soil today to see if there are any rocks or thorns that need removing so that we can take hold of His Word and “bear fruit with perseverance.”
Please feel free to download a free copy of this infographic to keep as a tool for yourself or to pass on to others.
Update: This is an important parable and deserves a more in-depth look. Join us for an upcoming Digging Deeper – Soils Series and discussion as we take a closer look at each of the four soils.
In Texas we have very bad soil. My husband who is from the Midwest is always trying to do stuff to make the soil better so his grass will look greener and thrive. I imagine bad soil or rocky soil is a good analogy for pastors who have to minister to people in the challenging environment of today’s world. Some people have come to the church from someplace with incorrect doctrine or almost no doctrine taught at all! Let us pray to have more opportunity to build each other up! It is getting much harder since these days since many people don’t even feel good about leaving their house to go to a public gathering! I am finding that people don’t want to study with others on zoom either. I think this is something Satan has long desired to do to Christians. He also wants to get us to doubt our salvation by looking at what we’ve done or not done. Thank you for making this parable clear, Kristah!
This is awesome, Kristah—thanks for this clear and concise teaching on an oftentimes confusing topic. The visual is great! Will be sharing, for sure!
Kristah, maybe you and I can talk about this parable at the conference. I love your graphics, and yes, we need to keep our heart soil conditioned to nourish the seed of God’s Word, but three times in Mark even the disciples had HARD hearts (6:52; 8:17; 16:14). So the point of the parable is not whether someone is saved or not. The point is for everyone to USE God’s word, not just HEAR it. Those who do put God’s word into practice will receive more, and those who do not respond to God’s Word (whether unbeliever or believer) will lose even what he has. That is, spiritual things will become unimportant to that person. Thus, eveytime anyone hears God’s Word, four responses are possible. I can let it be stolen, scorched, strangled, or sustained.
Thanks for your comment Marcia! That is an interesting perspective. In Luke 8:12 as Jesus explains the parable He says, “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” I do agree with you though that even believers and disciples can have hard hearts at times stunting our growth as disciples. Here is a great episode from Grace in Focus radio on this parable https://faithalone.org/radio/the-parable-of-the-four-soils/
Yes, thank you. I listened to the radio broadcast although I am already familiar with the GES view of the parable, which is probably motivated by the desire to counteract the Lordship view. Luke 8:12 does give the results for stolen seed in an unbeliever’s heart, but that does not mean only unbelievers have the seed stolen. For example, did you ever listen to a sermon or read your Bible while thinking about your plans for the afternoon? That is stolen seed.
The four soils represent 4 heart responses everyone can have to the Word each time they hear it, not 4 kinds of people.
I wrote about it in 2015 in Tyndale’s Journal: https://tyndale.edu/wp-content/uploads/JODT-Vol.-19-No.-57-Text.pdf
Keep up the good work you and Lucas are doing.
I need to add that I do respect the GES view of the Parable of the Sower, but I see a broader application.
Thanks for considering.
Thanks for the comments/perspective. Funny story! I actually have a note in my bible from when Wes Spradley spoke on the parable at the 2018 GES national conference, and he mentioned your article. I have it on a post-it note with your name and everything! I just chatted with my Dad (Ken Yates?) about this issue. Dads actually working on a commentary on Mark. This idea of the “hardness” of the disciples is something we have had many convos about recently (don’t you love when the Lord does that?!). One thing that Dad and I discussed is that there is certainly this idea in Mark that as believers we can act, and even look like unbelievers. I think I would still argue, that the first soil represents unbeliever….but the connection with the disciples hardness later in the book is that we too can behave like the unsaved.
You have given me much to think about though and I love when people do that to me!
Absolutely. And can you imagine (possibly) the smugness of some disciples when they heard the parable (on more than one occasion, as Wes surmises) in thinking , “Oh yeah, that fourth soil–that’s us disciples.” Then to have Jesus essentially call them the First Soil! Must have been humbling, to say the least.
Appreciated the post and the chart Kristah. Printing it off to take with me to my SPECIAL SPOT to reread and take it all in~!!! I love being a berean. 🙂