Luke 8:5,12             Ears that Do Not Hear               6/23/2002    

 

 

 

#1.       The Seed Is the Word of God (Luke 8:4-5,11-12)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       They Heard, But Did Not Understand (Luke 8:11-12, Ezek 18:20)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       A Battle for Our Soul (II Cor 4:3-6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 8. (2X) The title of today's sermon is "Ears that Do Not Hear" (2X) In Luke chapter 8 the Lord Jesus preached to the multitudes who had come to hear Him, but He spoke to them in parables. Here in Luke chapter 8, Jesus told the famous "Parable of the Sower". This is the parable where seed is sown on four different soils. Because of my long-windedness, today we will only cover the first soil. My first question is:

If I may put it in my own words, the disciples asked Him: "Lord, these people have come from far. They made a special effort to hear you. Why do you speak to them in parables, which they are not able to understand?" We read here in Luke 8:9, (2X)

Luke 8:9  And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?

From the other Gospels we learn that when He was alone with the twelve they asked Him privately: "Lord, Why speakest Thou unto them in parables?" The answer Jesus gave was surprising to them, and it is also surprising to us. Jesus said in verse 10,

Luke 8:10  And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

In other words, the Lord Jesus said: "It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given". The Lord Jesus speaks here plainly about election. And it is true: one of the twelve still did not get it. To know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God is nothing less than salvation, because to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God is identical with knowing the Gospel of salvation. At another occasion Jesus said to Peter" "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven". In other words, we get to know the Gospel, and we get to know Jesus when God Himself teaches us the Gospel, and God Himself makes us believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Is it not surprising that the Lord Jesus is speaking here about election? These people were only beginners in hearing the Word of God, and yet Jesus did not hesitate to teach them about election. Many pastors today would hesitate to do that. And yet Jesus taught them about the sovereignty of God right from the beginning. That should be an example to us. We must realize that people do not become saved because we explained the Gospel so eloquently. God does the saving regardless of how eloquently or how clumsily we witness of the Lord Jesus. God speaks about that in I Cor 2. Just listen as I read,

1 Corinthians 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

In other words, the natural man is not able to hear Gospel truths, because they are foolishness to him. And then God says: Neither CAN he know them. Judas Iscariot stayed to be his natural self. God did not choose to save him. Then when Jesus started to explain this parable He said:

#1.       The Seed Is the Word of God (Luke 8:4-5,11-12)

Let us begin to read this "Parable of the Sower", beginning in Luke 8:4,

Luke 8:4 ¶ And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:

Luke 8:5  A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

Luke 8:6  And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

Luke 8:7  And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

Luke 8:8  And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

These last words: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear", was all that the multitude heard as far as the explanation goes. It is a warning, but not much of an explanation. These last words: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear", are an indication that only if we have received spiritual ears from God are we able to hear what Jesus said and what He meant. Again, the Lord Jesus speaks of election here, and He is not afraid to offend some of these people. Let us now focus on the first of the four soils: "The Wayside". Right away we see that this was not an accidental spill of seed on the wayside. This was not a clumsy farmer, but a deliberate identification of a certain group of people who are represented by "The Wayside". Let us hear Jesus' explanation of this in verse 11,

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

Luke 8:12  Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

What is the seed? The seed is the Word of God. This must be good seed and it must be valuable seed. It is so valuable to our salvation that the Devil does not want us to hear it. The fowls of the air represent the Devil and his angels. Therefore, this seed is not just any arbitrary part of the Bible. This seed is the whole counsel of God. The message that is represented by this seed makes us come face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ, and with the work that He has done for us on the cross.

Please turn with me to the Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 4. (2X) You find Ephesians right after II Corinthians and Galatians. When the Lord Jesus Christ walked on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, almost 2000 years ago, Great multitudes came to hear Him.    And so it is today: Great multitudes come to hear Him in Churches all over the world. But Who do they come to hear? A great miracle worker? Or do they come to obey the Word of God? We read here in Eph 4:17 (2X),

Ephesians 4:17 ¶ This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

Ephesians 4:18  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the

ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

Ephesians 4:19  Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Paraphrased, God says here: You Gentiles, who have been saved, do not conduct yourselves as other Gentiles do, who still remain unsaved. Why is God saying that? God reminds us that prior to our salvation we were like them: "Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, ………… and so on". That is right. We were like them. Our hearts were as unfruitful as the hard trodden pathway, from which the message of the Gospel could easily be pecked away by Satan and his fallen angels. Yes, we were enemies of God. We were alienated from the life of God, because we were unknowingly slaves of Sin and of Satan. Only if we begin to see our condition as slaves of Sin and of Satan, can we be saved. How can anyone make us see that? Only God can make us see our true condition. Only God can give us a new heart. Without such a gift from God, all the preaching in the world is not going to turn us around.

Today we see great multitudes flock to churches to hear what they would like to hear. But do they become saved? Do they get a heart transplant from God the Holy Spirit? Only then will they be able to hear what God says in His Word. Only when we have become Born Again can we believe that God has saved us entirely by His grace. Only then will we agree with God who says: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy".

So the first soil, "The Way Side", is representing the hard heart of an unbelieving soul, a reprobate who has no intention to turn to God, even though the true Gospel is pounding in his ears. Can God turn around such a hard heart? Well, look at Saul of Tarsus. He had a hard heart like that. God can turn the hardest heart around so that this person becomes a faithful servant of God. The question is:

Christ delegated the task of sowing the Gospel to the church. The church sends out her witnesses two by two. Can we then say that we are the ones who are sowing the seed? It is true that Christ has commanded us to bring the Gospel to the entire world and teaching all nations the Kingdom of God. But who is behind this great endeavor? Please turn one page to your left, to Eph 2:10, where we read

Ephesians 2:10 (2X) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Is sowing the Gospel a good work? Absolutely! But God says that our work of sowing the Gospel ultimately is His work, which He foreordained, in order that we should walk in them. If we are sowing the seed of the Gospel, it is actually God who is doing it in us and through us. Please turn another page to your left, to Eph 1:9. God the Holy Spirit causes us to hear the Gospel:

Ephesians 1:9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Ephesians 1:10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

Ephesians 1:11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

God the Holy Spirit has made known unto us the mystery of God's will, which is the revelation of the redemption we have in Christ. God sowed the Gospel in our hearts and gave us a new heart simultaneously. That is why we believed and responded positively. We read in verse 9, God did that "according to His good pleasure, which He has purposed in Himself". It was entirely by His good pleasure that we were chosen to salvation. And then God repeated that in verse 11, "being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will". Whose will was it that I became saved? It was not my will, but it was entirely God's will. God says: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy".

Therefore, if the church sends me out to preach the Gospel, and someone became saved through that preaching, we have to say that it was God who sowed that Gospel into the heart of that person. Let me quote again Phil 2:13, which says:

Philippians 2:13  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

But if we preached the Gospel and no one became saved, who was the sower of that seed. Ultimately it was again God who was behind it all, and it was God's choice not to save anyone. God passed them by. Like when the seed fell on the wayside:

#2.       They Heard, But Did Not Understand (Luke 8:11-12, Ezek 18:20)

Let us hear again the words of Luke 8:11-12,

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

Luke 8:12  Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

Whose fault is it when we come under the hearing of the Gospel, but we do not understand? Can we blame the Devil and his angels for snatching the Word of God away before we can chew on it? No! The Devil is not going to Hell for our sins; he is going to Hell for his own sins. Can we blame the preacher? No! Can we blame our forefather Adam? No! God says in Ezek 18:20, " The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. ". Whose sin is it when we come under the hearing of the Gospel, but we do not understand? It is our sin. We do not understand because we do not want to understand. That is our nature. That is how we came into this world, as enemies of God, not willing to hear God. What is exactly the valuable seed that the Devil does not want us to hear? It is the message of Salvation:

   1.      God says: “Everyone of you, mankind, are sinners from birth, in rebellion against God”

   2.      God’s Justice requires payment for sin, and the payment that God has in view is an eternity in

Hell. Everyone in the human race is headed for Hell, unless God interferes.

   3.      God did interfere. God set up the Principle of Substitution and God provided the Substitute: The Lord Jesus Christ. He alone was able to make the payment that God requires for Sin.  What was that payment? It was the full price that had to be paid for our sins, which is nothing less that the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. The Lord Jesus Christ paid that payment on the cross at Golgotha. When we see Christ crucified, we are looking at the mercy of God on display.

   4.      Did the Lord Jesus pay for the Sins of everyone in the whole human race? Absolutely NOT! If Jesus paid for everybody’s Sins then nobody would go to Hell. But the Bible says that there will be more people going to Hell than going to Heaven. This alone should scare the wits out of anyone who believes in God, or who believes that the Bible is the Word of God.

   5.      The Bible says: Before the foundation of the world God elected those whom He intended to save from mankind: God wanted to save this awful bunch of rebels. Throughout the Bible those are the people He called His Elect. What is wrong with that? It is as if the Father chose the Bride for His Son. Was the Father doing anything wrong with that? Of course not!

   6.      God committed Himself to send through His Holy Spirit this Good Seed to His Elect at some point in their life so that they become saved. That is the story of this Sower and His Good Seed. This Good Seed is the Word of God, the whole counsel of God. If anyone does not become saved, there is nothing wrong with the Seed.  It is a Perfect Seed, because it is based on the Atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He could pay such an enormous payment because He is God. He is the embodiment of this Seed.  That is why He is called Abraham’s Seed.  Therefore, anyone who does not recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as God, does not have a Savior. The Sower sowed Good Seed. But why does not everyone become saved where this Good Seed is sown? The reason is, there are:

When we speak about the heart, it is a synonym for the soul. None of the descendants of Adam can go to heaven with the soul that they have been born with. We all are in need of a heart transplant. And the heart transplant operation is a process that leads through fire. No human being can go to heaven except he first clean up his soul in the fires of Hell. Now, that is not a popular doctrine to deal with. But the Bible teaches that either we go through the fire of Hell with and in the Lord Jesus Christ, or we go to Hell on our own account, but then we will be there for an eternity.

Do most people believe that? No! Most people will find one or more reasons for not believing what the whole Bible says. O, they will believe some things out of the Bible. They will believe that there is a God, and they will believe that there is a heaven. But they will not believe what God said in Jer 17:9,

Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

The human heart is desperately wicked, and it will deceive even itself in believing all kinds of lies that were generated through the wisdom of men. The human heart is desperately opposed to what

God says. When God says in Psalm 58:3,

Psalm 58:3-4  The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.       Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear.

It means that God described those cute little babies and the toddlers in this congregation as poisonous snakes. And all those who remain unsaved are just as well described this way: poisonous snakes who have stopped their ear so that they will not hear the Word of God from Psalm 58:3, or from another place in the Bible. If we bear any resentment against some passage in the Bible, or against one verse in the Bible, then we bear resentment against God, and that is a definite sign that we are still unsaved. God declares here and in other parts of the Bible that the entire human race come into the world like poisonous snakes, and that we are in need of a transformation from snakes into sheep. We come into the world with a hard heart, unwilling to accept anything from God.

Why then is it that there are people who are willing to believe the entire Word of God. It is because God has given them a new heart. They have been made Born Again. This is a totally free gift, made possible through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ purchased that gift for us on the cross when He endured the fires of Hell in our place. Would you not like to know if you have been one of those to whom God has freely given that gift of a new heart? In other words, what are:

One of the signs of a soft heart is that we love the Word of God, and we love everything that God has written there. As an example, please turn with me to Psalm 119. (2X) Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, and it has been divided into 22 stanzas of eight verses each, and each verse begins with one of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Verses 1-8 all begin with the letter Aleph, or A, which is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Verses 9-16 all begin with the letter Beth, or B, the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Let us begin reading Psalm 119:9,

Psalm 119:9 ¶ BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Psalm 119:10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

Psalm 119:11  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:12  Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.

Psalm 119:13  With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.

Psalm 119:14  I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

Psalm 119:15  I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

Psalm 119:16  I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

This is a message from God to us. God shows us the character of the person who has received a

new heart from God. This what theologians call "sanctification". But sanctification is not something that you do out of the goodness of your own heart. Sanctification is something that is also given by the grace of God. Sanctification is also a sign of salvation. A person cannot have received the gift of a new heart without also having received the desire to obey God's Word. Perhaps the most touching is verse 11, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee". And God shows us here that the person who has a soft heart toward God spends time every day in prayer, and in reading his Bible, and in meditating on the Bible, in order to have God plow his heart and mold him into God's mold?  Does our life show this kind of commitment, every day? Are we aware that we have to be prepared to do battle with our selfish self every day? Are we aware that there is:

#3.       A Battle for Our Soul (II Cor 4:3-6)

That is absolutely true, and Jesus showed it to us in the Parable of the Sower. Remember those birds were ready to pick the seed from of the pathway any moment. Please turn with me to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 4. (2X) Is our heart getting hard on the surface? Hardness of heart is a hardness on the surface. It may well be soft inside. It may even be a compassionate heart inside. But if the Word of God does not penetrate our heart, then we have an unsaved heart, a hard heart, like a pathway. A footpath may deep inside be soft, but it is hard on the surface. That is where the traffic is. There is a lot of busyness; much activity of all sort of things. May be even a lot of activity for the Church. When there is much busyness and God's Word fails to take root in our life, then Satan seeks to destroy that Word in our heart by giving us a lot of work to do, and by letting us get worried about all those things we need to do. But the essential question is, "Does God's Word affect us and does it change us?" Have we received the free gift? Let us read II Cor 4:3-6,

2 Corinthians 4:3  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

2 Corinthians 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

2 Corinthians 4:5  For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

2 Corinthians 4:6  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The god of this world refers to Satan and his fallen angels. He has blinded the minds of all the unsaved, so that they believe not the glorious Gospel of Christ. They cannot see their condition of slavery to Sin and Satan. They cannot see that they are in total darkness, and that this world is the Bottomless Pit. Verse 6 tells us also that prior to our salvation our heart was in darkness. But God commanded the light of the glorious Gospel to shine from out of darkness, meaning from out of this dark and troubled world God sent someone with the Gospel to us, and God made the light of this Gospel shine in our hearts to give us "the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ".

What a fabulous gift of God; so totally undeserved, and so free. Now that is where one of the battles for our soul comes in. Mankind does not like to receive salvation totally free. It leaves them without control, and it leaves them totally at the mercy of God. They always want to do something for their salvation, like "accepting the Lord Jesus", or like saying a formula such as "the sinner's prayer", or like being "baptized in water" as a requirement for your salvation, and so on. But the salvation that God gives is totally undeserved. Just think of the salvation of Saul of Tarsus. He did not want God's salvation by grace, through Christ. And yet, God forced it on him in such a dramatic way. Is that how God saves everybody? Almost! God put this story in the Bible to let us know that in our natural state we do not want His salvation package. We were spiritually dead in sins. Only after God has struck us down and given us a new soul, are we willing to come to Him. In reality we are not taking the initiative to come to Him, but the Father is drawing us to Jesus. Does that make us:

Please turn to the First Epistle of Peter, chapter 1. (2X) You find First Peter toward the end of your Bibles, just before Second Peter. To be religious means to strive to seek God through good works. For example, a Pharisee is religious. Did you know that in the OT there is no word for religion, or for religious? Instead, the fear of the Lord, and the worship of the Lord are spoken of primarily to indicate the proper attitudes of the mind and the acts of adoration. So, if someone calls you religious, that is not a compliment. Instead of being religious, instead of seeking God through doing good works, we should fear God. And teach your children the fear of the Lord, because God says, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". God says in I Pet 1:16,

1 Peter 1:16  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

1 Peter 1:17  And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

God is not a respecter of persons, and God judges according to every man's work without respect of persons. If you live like the Devil then you must be a devil. If you call on the Father, claiming that He is your Father, remember that He has said: "Be ye holy, for I am holy". Therefore conduct yourself in the fear of the Lord during the time of your sojourning here on this earth. Drop down to verse 22,

1 Peter 1:22  Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

1 Peter 1:23  Being born again (Lit: Having been born again), not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

1 Peter 1:24 ¶ For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

1 Peter 1:25  But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word, which by the gospel is preached unto you.

If we indeed fear God, then God's commandment is that we love one another with a pure heart fervently. There is where the fear of the Lord shows itself outwardly. This is how we worship Him. Do we realize that this is one of the areas where the battle for our soul is occurring? We must constantly be on our guard, because Satan and his demons are also constantly on their guard. The fowls of the air are eager to pick up the seed that is thrown in our heart

Now let me summarize all that I have said so far. The Sower is Christ who sowed the seed of the Word of God within earshot of those who never become saved. God knows that they never become saved, but this is done so that prophecy might be fulfilled. God says: "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please". These are people represented by "the wayside". They heard the message of the Gospel, but they did not understand, because the natural man has by nature an aversion against all that comes from God. In other words, he has a hard heart and does not want to understand the message. Nevertheless, God says: "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God". How can we be converted? We must physically hear the Gospel message and then perhaps God will do a miracle in our heart.

Let us return to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 8 (2X) for a conclusion of this matter:

In Luke chapter 8, after telling another parable about how we must let our light shine, Jesus said:

Luke 8:18 Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

The Lord Jesus said: "Take heed therefore HOW ye hear". Make sure that we hear the spiritual message. Make sure that our doctrine is such that we give Christ all the honor and the glory. If we have a salvation program whereby Christ has done His part and now we must do our part, then that is a works gospel, which does not bring salvation because we are robbing Christ of His glory.

Then let me paraphrase what the Lord Jesus continued to say in Luke 8:18, "for whosoever hath spiritual ears, to him shall be given salvation. And whosoever hath not spiritual ears, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have". All that the material wealth he presently has, even the green grass under his feet, and the cool clean air that he breathes, shall all be taken away. He will be naked and cast into Hell. How do we get spiritual ears? It is a gift from God. Jesus said in Mark 4:23,

Mark 4:23  If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.        And Jesus said in Matt 13:9,

Matthew 13:9  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

When all is said and done in this battle for our soul, remember who is ultimately doing it all, and who is fighting for our soul. He is the One who is in control all along. Jesus said in Matt 13:16,

Matthew 13:16  But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Rejoice that God has given us the desire to hear this message.

Amen.                               Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.