Luke 8:6,13 A Rock of Offense 7/7/2002
#1, The Word Is Received With Joy (Luke 8:13)
#2. The Word Is a Stone of Stumbling (Luke 8:13)
#3. No Root, No Fruit (Col 2:6-8)
Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 8. (2X) The title of this sermon is: "A Rock of Offense". (2X) We have here in Luke chapter 8 what is known as "The Parable of the Sower". Actually these are 4 parables, and the focus is not on the Sower, but on the 4 soils. This passage could be properly named "The Parable of the 4 Soils". The items in this parable are the Seed, the 4 soils and the Sower, which is Christ. Our first question is:
Let us read this parable, beginning at verse 4. Last time we covered the first soil: The Way Side.
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.
Luke 8:9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
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.
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.
Luke 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
These four soils represent the hearts, or the souls, of those on whom the Seed, or the Word of God, is sown. Last time we looked at those whose souls are represented by "the wayside". We have seen that these are people who cannot hear the Gospel, because Satan owns their souls, so that Satan and his demons immediately pick away the seed of the Gospel as soon as it is sown. Today we will consider the second soil. Verse 6 says: "Some fell upon a rock". O what a trouble. Why did God have to use this word "Rock" here? It would have been so much easier if God had used "stony places", like He did so in Matthew. Or it would also be so much easier if God had used "stony ground" like He did so in Mark. Then there would have been some sand on top of the stones. But now God used the word "Rock", which is the Greek word "Petra", which is a huge rock, or a ledge of a projecting rock. It is a bare rock. There is no soil on such a rock. The Gospel of Luke does not talk about the presence of soil there. Moreover, to make matters more complicated, this is the type of rock of which the Lord Jesus said: "Upon this Rock (Petra) I will build My church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it". Clearly the Rock (Petra) is pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ. This word Petra occurs 16 times, and 9 times out of those 16 it refers to Christ, but not all the time. Fortunately, two times do we read that Joseph of Arimathaea had hewn his own sepulchre out in a rock, which is the word Petra. Therefore Petra does not always mean Christ. Let us read again verse 13. Luke 8:13,
#1, The Word Is Received With Joy (Luke 8:13)
The man who is like the Rock (Petra) receives the message of the Gospel with joy. Verse 6 really says "the Rock", not "a rock". The Greek text in verse 6 does not say "a rock", but "the Rock", "Petra". How can the soul of this person be called Petra? Answer: This man sees himself as a rock like Christ. In his pride he sees himself as having firmness and strength of soul like Christ. He heard with his physical ears the message of the Gospel, and he embraced it immediately with joy. But he does not see Christ as God. He sees Christ as a good example to follow, and so he follows. We read in V.13,
Luke 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
This is not a person who is saved because he receives the Word with joy, and then he becomes unsaved because he falls away. This person has no root at all, he has no root in himself and no root in Christ, and therefore he has no understanding inside that can support his spiritual life. This same parable in Matthew and in Mark shows the seed germinating in a little bit of soil and so, if it has a root, the root does not go deep. Therefore the little plant is scorched in the bright sunlight.
But in Luke 8:13 there is another reason why this person is called Petra, like God is called Petra. God is immutable like a rock, which means God does not change. For God that is a good attribute to have. God is reliable. Therefore what God says in His Word is absolutely dependable. But for man that is not a good characteristic to have. We must set our pride aside and we must be willing to learn from God. But the only way we will be willing to learn is if God makes us willing. God says that we must become new creatures. An emotional response to the message of the Gospel is not good enough. We must be Born Again. What is the reason that we must be Born Again?
In our natural state, the way we came into the world, and the way we still are by nature if God has not interfered, we are enemies of God. That is what the Bible says. We all come into this world as enemies of God, and we all are under the wrath of God from the day we have been conceived in our mother's womb. Adam's sin has plunged the entire human race into ruin and enmity with God, because we were all in Adam when he sinned. Therefore we were all enslaved to Sin and were willing servants of Satan. And we were incapable of freeing ourselves from this bondage to Sin. When God looked down the corridors of time, all He saw was dirty rotten sinners who willingly and knowingly violated God's commandments, because they despised the God of heaven and earth. Therefore every one is in need of a change of heart, and everyone is in need to hear this message that we are enemies of God and are in need of a change of heart. But that is really a touchy subject, which no one likes to hear. That is why today I like to talk about: "A Rock of Offense".
Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 53. (2X). In Isaiah chapters 41 through 53 God draws 10 pictures of Christ and of all those who are in Christ as servants of God. In chapters 52 and 53 Christ is described as the Suffering Servant. Why is Christ described as the Suffering Servant? It is because "He bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed". We read in Isa 53:5-6,
Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
This is the message we needed to hear. As you recognize, this is the message of the cross. This is the message that Christ has purchased US by paying the ransom for our sins. He paid the ransom for "US all", which does not mean all mankind, but which means all of US who in God's plan of salvation have been chosen from before the foundation of the world. This passage speaks of sheep, not of goats. The message of the cross is what we need to hear. And God confirms this in the N.T.
Please turn to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 2. (2X). In 1st Cor chapters 1 and 2 God speaks of the wisdom of man and the wisdom of God, and how the wisdom of man is absolutely no match for the wisdom of God. Christ has been our substitute all along, and we should give Him all the glory. Therefore God says: "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord". Then we read in I Cor 2:1-2,
1 Corinthians 2:1 ¶ And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
1 Cor 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Christ was "delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" to be crucified. And for whom was He crucified, and what did He accomplish being crucified, and how effective was His action of being crucified, and why did He not stay crucified but He rose from the grave? All these questions find their answer in the meaning of the Atonement, which is this: Christ was our stand in to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell in our place, for our sins, and for His glory. As a result, all those whom the Lord Jesus purchased on the cross will become Born Again. But what about all those whose sins have not been paid at the cross? To them the cross of Christ is "A Rock of Offense"
But now, look again at the man in the parable whose heart is hard like a rock, and who received the Word of God with joy. What did the Lord Jesus say? The seed germinates, but it has no root.
Please turn to the Gospel according to John chapter 1 (2X) Is it necessary to become Born Again?
When I was in the Roman Catholic Church they never taught me that I must be Born Again. They said: the only thing I needed was to be baptized with water. But that was a lie. To go to heaven you do not need to be baptized with water, but you do need to be Born Again. God says in John 1:12,
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Verse 12 begins with: "But as many as received Him". Who are those who received Him? Are they the ones who "accepted Christ"? That is the lie of the Arminian preachers that Christ has done all He could, and now it is up to us to reach out and accept His generous offer of salvation. God will not force something down your throat that you do not want. God is a gentleman, you know. But if God would have to wait until anyone of his own volition reaches out to Him, then not a single human being would become saved. God declared that we are spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. God used the word "dead" for a specific reason. How can a dead man reach out to Christ? He is dead as a doornail. Besides, we are not just spiritually dead in the sense that we cannot make a move toward God. We are spiritually very much on the side of Satan, so that we will do anything to obstruct the purposes of God and we will do anything to fight against God and insult God. That is our human nature. That is how we were born into this world. That is the result of Adam's sin: One sin breeds another sin, and another sin, and so on. The Lord Jesus said: "Whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin". And so, the word "receive" in verse 12 cannot possibly mean, "to reach out and accept" this offer from God. The Arminian lie is a lie spawned from Hell. But man is such a slave of sin that he rather believe the lie from Hell than the truth from heaven. "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven", is found as you know in John 3:27, and that is the same word "receive" as in John 1:12.
Who are those who believe on His Name? His Name is the Word of God, which is the whole counsel of God. Who are those who believe the whole counsel of God? Well, the next verse, John 1:13 specifies who they are. They are those who were "Born of God". What does verse 13 say? First of all, they are not those who were born of the right bloodline. For example they are not those who were born from the line of Jacob, or those who were born in a faithful family. Secondly, they are not those who by their own will made a decision for Jesus and thereby saved themselves. For example, scores of people believe that they are going to heaven because they made a profession of faith in church, or they have come forward and gave their life to Jesus, or they have been baptized in the name of Jesus, and so on. Thirdly, they are not those who have become saved by the will of someone else, such as their father, or their uncle, or their preacher. No one goes to heaven on the coattails of someone else, no matter how long and how fervently you have prayed for that person. Fourthly, only those who were "Born of God" will end up "receiving" the Lord Jesus, and become "sons of God", and end up "believing on His Name". Why is that so? Only those who were "Born of God" have received a new soul from God the Holy Spirit, which is absolutely necessary to convert this person from a snake into a lamb. That is what God declared in John, chapter 3, and that is what God declared in John 1:13. What can we do to make ourselves "Born Again"? Nothing! We cannot do anything that improves our chances to salvation, because salvation is a FREE gift from God. We cannot do anything to earn or deserve this gift. The moment you try to earn it, you have lost it. Now that is "A Rock of Offense". That is a hard pill to swallow for anyone who has a little bit of pride left in him. Do you remember the man in the parable of Luke 8:13, with a heart like the rock (Petra)?
Luke 8:13 They on the rock ("Petra") are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
Here is a third reason for this man's heart to be represented by the word "Petra". His heart has become a stone of stumbling. Do you remember that Christ is called "A stone of Stumbling"?
#2. Christ, the Word, Is a Stone of Stumbling, and a Rock of Offense (Luke 8:13)
Why is Christ a stone of stumbling? When He walked on earth He went about doing good, He never harmed anyone and He never committed any sin. How can anyone not love Him? O Yes! He became a stone of stumbling for the leaders of the Jews who insisted on a salvation by works. The Jews believed, and they still do, that they could become right with God through obeying the Law. Therefore Christ became a stumbling stone for the Jews, and Christ became a stumbling stone for many who are not Jews, who also believe that we must do something to get right with God.
The man whose heart is like the rock (Petra) first receives the Seed with joy. The Seed is the Word of God. First he receives it with joy, but then his heart becomes a stone of stumbling. He cannot let go of his pride. The Lord Jesus says of this man in Matthew 13, "When tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended". The troubles and persecution arise because of the Word. Unsaved people fight the plain doctrines of the Word of God. People like him find all kinds of things wrong with the Bible. They like to debate like the textual critics do: "Is this really what God has said?" They want to prove God wrong on many teachings of the Bible. For example they say, is it really true that God said: "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated"? Does a good God really hate people? Should we not say: God hates the sin but God loves the sinner? How else could God love us? If God created us all, then God is the Father of us all. If God is our Father then how can He hate us? Hell is made for the Devil and his angels. A good God does not cast people into Hell, does He? And so this man's troubles with the plain teachings of the Bible continue, especially when he is confronted with the sovereignty of God he is offended. It really bugs him that salvation is all by grace, and that we cannot do anything to make ourselves more worthy in the sight of God. It really bugs him that before Christ came on the scene most of the world was in the darkness of idolatry, and they will on the Last Day be cast into Hell. Those poor people did not even get a chance. You see:
The Grace of God is really offensive to most people. O, they talk about grace, but it is not the grace of the Bible. Grace, according to the Bible, is unmerited favor with God. Webster's dictionary says it right: "Grace is unmerited divine assistance given man for his regeneration or sanctification". (2X). If God's grace cannot be merited, which means it cannot be earned or deserved, then we cannot do anything to receive God's grace. God must make the decision. That is what the Bible says.
Please turn with me to the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 9. (2X). We will look at the last three verses in this chapter. In Rom 9 God addresses His sovereignty over all things and over everyone in the world. When God says in Rom 9, "Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated", that should not be understood that God loves all the descendants of Jacob and God hates all the descendants of Esau. No one goes to heaven on the coattails of a father or grandfather, not even the Jews. They have a misplaced concept of God's grace. God's grace is given to individuals, and not to tribes or nations. But the nation of Israel likes to believe that they are God's chosen people, and that every one of them is entitled a ticket to heaven because of their ancestry. All they have to do is follow the ceremonial law. But that is plainly a works gospel, which cannot bring salvation. God says in Rom 9:31,
Romans 9:31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
Romans 9:32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone;
Romans 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offence (2X): and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Here is the plain truth about the conflict between the Jews and Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is a Stone of Stumbling and a Rock of Offense to the Jews. Why are they offended? Since faith is a gift from God, the conflict is between salvation by grace, and salvation by works. Jews hold on to a salvation based on doing the works of the law, whereas God says: "Whosoever believeth on Christ shall not be ashamed". Who are all those who believe on Christ. We have already seen from John 1:12-13 that only those who have been "Born of God" are the ones who will believe on Christ. But watch out: God says here that those who hold on to a "works gospel" are still under the curse of God.
We have looked at the sovereignty of God in salvation, now we want to consider the sovereignty of God in reprobation. Please turn to the First Epistle of Peter, chapter 2. (2X) You find First Peter close to the end of your Bible after Hebrews and James. Here we find the words:
This is a very great Rock of Offense to all those who pick and choose from the Bible. But here in First Peter chapter 2, God lays down the consequences of salvation by grace. We read in I Pet 2:6,
1 Peter 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
1 Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
1 Peter 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
Christ is the chief corner stone of the foundation on which the church is built. He is elect, which means chosen by the Father. In what way was He chosen? We have to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ was fully God and He also was fully man. But He did not become fully man until God the Holy Spirit conceived him in the womb of His mother Mary. That was the body that the Father had chosen to be united to the Second Person of the Trinity. That is why Christ is called "elect".
But Christ is a Stone of Stumbling and a Rock of Offense, not only to the Jews, but to all those who likewise stumble at the Word, the Logos. All those who stumble at the doctrine of Christ crucified, all those who cannot believe that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died only for His elect sheep find Christ a Stone of Stumbling and a Rock of Offense, because they are offended at God's plan of salvation by grace alone. What are the consequences of salvation by grace alone? It means salvation is a free gift, and therefore God decides to whom God will give this gift of salvation to. God does not decide that based on something we do, or based on something He foreknew that we should do, but God decides that totally according to the good pleasure of His will. Not only does this mean that God passes by others, and God willingly and knowingly does that, but it also means that God willingly and knowingly created human beings who are "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction" (Rom 9:22). Here in I Pet 2:8, God says that they "stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed". For example, Judas Iscariot betrayed his Master. That was a dastardly deed. But when Judas was born in the home of his father and mother Iscariot, on the shelf in that home was a Bible that contained the words of Psalm 41:9, "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me". In John 13:18 the Lord Jesus identified Judas Iscariot with these same words: "but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me". It does not mean that God is the Author of sin, because God does not tempt anyone to sin. It was Judas's sin. Christ became a Rock of Offense to Judas Iscariot.
Likewise, the man in the parable of Luke 8:13, whose soul is as hard as a rock (Petra), this man is a rock of offense to God. The seed of the Word of God absolutely did not penetrate this rock-hard soul. Therefore, this person has:
#3. No Root, and therefore No Fruit (Col 2:6-8)
Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Colossians, chapter 2. (2X). In the parable of Luke 8:13 the Lord Jesus said: "These on the rock have no root". What is the objective of the Sower sowing the seed? The objective is to bear fruit and to multiply the seed. If there is no fruit then the soil on which the seed is sown is not a good soil. It means that the soul into which the seed of the Gospel has been sown has not been converted. It means that God the Holy Spirit has not given this person a new soul, or a new heart, in which God can make His home. It means that Christ has not paid for the sins of this individual on the cross, because that is the only way sins can be forgiven. It means that this person will die in his sins, and will be sent to Hell.
What is the fruit that God expects from us? The list of "fruits of the Spirit" is too long to tack on to this sermon. But let me sum it up in one word: "Thanksgiving". One sign that always accompanies salvation is "Thanksgiving". That is also what we read here in Col 2:6-8,
Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Colossians 2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
It is impossible for someone to be saved and still live like the Devil. The nature of a Born Again soul is that we want to walk in Christ. It is our new nature that we want to be rooted in the Word of God and we want to be established in the faith, and we want to abound in "Thanksgiving". But this desire is a gift of God by grace. All this takes place within us because "it is God which worketh in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure".
And then comes the warning: Watch out for man-centered gospels that have been generated through philosophy and puffed up deceit. Men like to sell you their own ideas and they will have a few Bible verses to support them, but these are usually verses taken out of context.
And then there are people who have no root. They believe for a while and they read the Bible, but they read it on their own terms. If they come across a passage they do not like, they simply skip it. They only like to read what appeals to them. The sovereignty of God is the first one to go.
Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 2. (2X). God says: Beware, for:
Temporary faith is the same as having no faith. Temporary faith is identical with being unsaved. If I may paraphrase what the Lord is saying, He says: “Do you mean business ? Where is your perseverance? Why do you need constant watering? Look under the surface of your religious life: Is there a hardness of heart under that veneer? Is it possible you have not really changed upon hearing My Word? Do you care that I have designed this beautiful plan of salvation, and do you care that I have sacrificed My only begotten Son for dirty rotten sinners?”
But careless people do not care what God says. God gives this warning in Heb 2:3,
Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
How can we know if we are neglecting this great salvation? We can know it by simply looking at
our own life. It is no secret to us if we neglect to read the Bible every day. It is no secret to us if we neglect to pray every day. It is no secret to us if we desire to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Etc
Are we going to Church because we like the preacher, or because we like the choir, or because we like the friends that are there, or because we like the youth program, or perhaps any other program that they have there? Is that the reason we are there? Or is it because we want to be with the Lord Jesus Christ? Has the Word of God really broken the hardness of our heart? Do we detest the idea that we might be identified with a hard heart? Is Christ number one in our life?
Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 3. (2X). If Christ is really number one in our life, we can agree wholeheartedly with the Apostle Paul in his prayer for the Church at Ephesus. If Christ is number one in our life, we know that it is a gift from God by grace, and we submit all our allegiance to Him, because we acknowledge Him as our new Master.
Ephesians 3:14 ¶ For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Ephesians 3:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
Ephesians 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
Eph 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
Ephesians 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
Ephesians 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
In other words, We pray to the Father, that He might grant us of the riches of His glory. Allow me to say it in my own words. The Father says: "Son, whatever you desire, if it is according to My will, I will give it to you". What riches do we then ask of Him?
We pray that we be strengthened with the power of your Holy Spirit in the inner man, so that we will not become tired in the reading and studying of the Scriptures, and that we will not become tired in giving out the Gospel to all those who want to hear it, and that we will not become tired defending the true Gospel, and that we will not become tired teaching one another the truths of the Gospel. We must admit that sometimes we get tired of doing that.
We pray that Christ may dwell within everyone who is here, old and young. Is that too much to ask? We know there is a rotten apple in every basket, but It is certainly one of our greatest desires that we all will be joined in the same family bond that Christ has died for, and that we all will have a love for one another, believing on the same Lord Jesus, and believing the whole Word of God.
We pray that we may be able to comprehend, with everyone who is here, the deep things of the Word of God, that we may search out those things that have been revealed, that we may leave to
God those things that have not been revealed, & that we may have the wisdom to know the difference
We pray that we all may know the love of Christ, which is beyond human understanding, and that we may be filled with the fulness of God.
These are petitions, which are all according to the will of God. This is what we should be praying for, that we not be cast out like the man who is a rock of offense to God, as described in Luke 8:13.
Amen. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.