Luke 8:7,14                          The Thorns of This World                        7/14/2002     

 

 

#1.       They Have Heard the Gospel (Rom 3:10-12,6:23,5:8,11:5-6,8:1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       Riches Bring Thorns (I Tim 6:9-10, Luke 8:14)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       Demas Left Me (Col 4:14, II Tim 4:10)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 8. (2X). The title of this sermon is: "The Thorns of This World" (2X). The Lord Jesus tells us here in Luke chapter 8 "the Parable of the Sower", where the Sower sowed His seed on four different grounds. These four different grounds represent the hearts, or souls, of people who come under the hearing of the Word of God. Therefore, these four different grounds represent people who are mostly church-people. The seed of the Gospel is sown in their hearts, and the sad part of the story is that three out of four people remain unsaved. How do we know they remain unsaved?

They remained unfruitful because God the Holy Spirit did not cultivate these souls prior to their hearing of the Gospel. We read 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.

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.

Luke 8:14  And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

We have already covered two of those four grounds. Those represented by the Wayside hear the Gospel, but it does not even pass further than their ears. Those whose hearts are represented by the Rock also remain unchanged, because their hearts remain as hard as a rock, and the seed of the Word of God does not take root in their hearts. Today we will consider the seed that fell among thorns. This is a ground that is already infested with seeds from thorny weeds. Then the thorns spring up and they choke the seed of the Gospel. What does that imply for us church-people?

#1.       They Have Heard the Gospel (Rom 3:10-12,6:23,5:8,11:5-6,8:1)

What did they hear? Verse 14 is very clear about that. These people have heard the Gospel. The seeds have grown roots and are on the way to become real plants. The Gospel has sprouted and is rooted in their hearts. But the thorny plants are growing faster; they take the sunlight away, and soon there is no light and no water reaching these little plants, and the Gospel plants die. These people loose interest in the Word of God, just like those whose heart is compared with a Rock. It may take a little longer, but the result is the same: They bear no fruit that is pleasing to God. In all three cases: the Wayside, the Rock, and the Thorny Ground are all remaining as barren as before the seed of the Gospel was sown there. The Lord Jesus is demonstrating hereby that something drastic must happen first, before the seed is sown. Why is that so? Please turn to the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 3.

You see, God created Adam good, not perfect, but good and righteous before God. But because Adam chose to rebel against God, all his posterity also became rebels against God. Therefore, when people are born into this world, they are born as enemies of God. We all were born as haters of God from the moment we have been conceived in our mother's womb. That is why God says in Rom 3:10,

Romans 3:10  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:                  (Not even babies)

Romans 3:11  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Romans 3:12  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Even though God threatens the human race with eternal Hell, God says here in Rom 3 that there is not a single human being who will seek after God out of his own initiative. If we find a few people who do seek after the God of the Bible, then God must have performed a miracle in their hearts, because nothing of this sort will come out of their own heart. God must have given them a new heart. Please turn to the last verse in chapter 6. Rom 6:23. It must mean that God has mercy on some human beings, and God has given them a new heart as a free gift. We read in Rom 6:23,

Ro 6:23, For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Even though we deserve eternal death for our sins against God, and the death that God has in view is an eternity in Hell, Rom 6:23 says that eternal life is a free gift from God, which God bestows on whomsoever He will. This free gift of eternal life comes through what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for whomsoever God wants to bestow this free gift. Please turn to Rom 5:8. What has Christ done? Well, we know that the Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross. What did He do there? God says:

Ro 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

In other words, the Lord Jesus Christ died an atoning death for US, when we were still in rebellion against God. He did that because He loved US. Who are US? Does this refer to every human being in the world? That is not possible, because there are many described in the Bible who on the Last Day will be cast into Hell. For example, Jesus said of Judas Iscariot: "it had been good for that man if he had not been born". The Lord Jesus did not die an atoning death for the sins of Judas Iscariot. Therefore US, in Rom 5:8, must refer to all of US whom the Father is drawing to Jesus. The fraction of people whom the Father is drawing to Jesus is called "the remnant". Please turn to Rom 11:5. In Rom 11 the Apostle Paul bemoans the fact that it was such a small fraction of Israelites who believed on the Lord Jesus. God explains that the gift of salvation is entirely by grace & God says in Rom 11:5,

Rom 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Romans 11:6  And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

The remnant of people whom God intends to save is called "a remnant according to the election of grace". What is grace? Grace is unmerited favor. Grace is an entirely unmerited divine assistance given to man for his regeneration and sanctification. If it cannot be merited by anything we do, or by anything we intend to do, then God must make the choice on whom He wants to bestow this grace. That is why this group of people is called "the election of grace". And if salvation is by grace then it must be totally by grace, and thus it is no more of works (Like in Adam's case), otherwise grace is no longer grace. God does not tolerate any mixture of grace and works. If salvation is in any way dependent on something we do, then salvation is no more by grace, but it is by works. Otherwise work is no more work. If salvation depended on our choosing to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, then salvation is by works. If God foreknew that we would choose to serve the Lord Jesus, and God would bestow His favor only upon those of whom He foreknew that they would choose to accept Christ, then salvation is by works, and Christ did not have to come to die on a cross. Then God would have designed another salvation program; otherwise work is no more work. What a glorious realization that God is doing all the work of salvation, and God receives 100% of the credit. Now please turn to Rom 8:1. Since God does the regeneration of our souls, and God also does also the sanctification of our souls, we can be assured that our salvation does not crash and burn. God says here in Rom 8:1,

Romans 8:1 ¶ There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

There are those of us who know we have been saved by grace, because we have the evidences of that salvation by the faith that is within us, and outwardly by our walk, which is not after the flesh but after the Spirit. We are then assured that we will never fall into condemnation, because we are in Christ Jesus now, and we were in Christ Jesus when He was nailed to the cross. He paid the penalty for our sins, and He paid the full price, which was the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. We have been crucified with Christ, we went through the Hell experience with Christ, we have died with Christ, we have been buried with Christ, we were raised with Christ, we ascended with Christ into the heavenlies, and we are seated with Christ at the right hand of the Father. Therefore God will never ask us to go through Hell again, because we already have gone through Hell for our sins.

This is what the people have heard. This was the seed sown on the thorny ground. They have heard that they now must serve a new Master: The Lord Jesus Christ.

Can this be done? Please turn again to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 16 (2X). In a previous chapter the Lord Jesus stressed the point that we must have total dedication to Him alone:

(Luke 14:27)  Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

But of course, the people represented by the Thorny Ground did not hear that. They hear only those things that they want to hear. And here in Luke 16:13 is another verse that they have heard with their ears, but they try to forget it as soon as they can. The Lord Jesus said in Luke 16:13,

Luke 16:13  No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

"Ye cannot serve God and mammon". You cannot serve God and money. You either have money, or the money has you. It is the one or the other. Jesus said: You cannot have two masters. They will still try. Perhaps you remember what Jesus said in Luke 8:14,

Luke 8:14  And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth,

Where do they go forth? They go forth in serving Christ. They go forth witnessing for Christ, one way or another. But will they bear fruit? No! They will not bear fruit, because their heart is not in it. Jesus said it very plainly here in Luke 16:13, "for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other". If we indeed love Jesus, then we will not pay attention to how much money we have lost in the stock market last week. But if we get nervous about our money, then we hate Jesus or we despise Jesus. That may sound quite harsh, but if we reject certain portions out of the Word of God, then we are in fact rejecting the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus is the Word of God, and therefore if we are mentally downsizing the Word of God, then we are mentally downsizing the Lord Jesus. But then we are worshipping "another jesus", and we hate the Jesus who is circumscribed by the whole Word of God. Such are the mental gyrations we go through if we ignore the straight teaching of the Bible. But if we indeed love Jesus, then no one can describe the satisfaction that comes from serving Jesus rather than serving our money.

Please turn to the First Epistle of John, chapter 2 (2X). You find First John near the end of your Bible, a little before Revelation. God speaks there about:

In I John, chapter 2, God addresses the believer's life in Christ while we walk in this world, and how not to walk in this world. In this passage God is contrasting the riches of this world with the riches that we have in Christ. We read in I John 2:15,

1 John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 2:16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

1 John 2:17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

"The world" in this passage does not refer to everything and everybody in the world, but it refers to the world of the Reprobate, and to the material world that tries to entice us and to bond us to money and to material things. God loves the universe that He has created. God loves His creation of birds and bees and flowers and other lovely things. God loves the world of the elect. That is not the meaning of the word world that is in focus in this passage. The focus of this passage is: Do not get your eyes fixed on the things of the world that are for your own comfort. What things of the world is God warning us for? The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. That is what God is warning us for. The lusts of the flesh refer to our sexual desires, and to our appetites for food and for our creature comforts. The lusts of the eyes today would pertain to desires for fancy cars, and for jewelry, and for nice clothes and for other things with which we can outdo our less well to do neighbors. The pride of life refers to anything that promotes our pride. It can mean a fancy job high on the ladder of society, or great respect and honor because of something that we have done, and so on

God says that if we love this world, which I have just described, then the love of the Father is not in us, which means that we are not saved. That may sound terrible, but it is even more terrible if we discover this on Judgment Day. The riches of this world will pass away on the Last Day, but the riches we experience in the Kingdom of God are solid and enduring forever.

#2.       Worldly Riches Bring Thorns (I Tim 6:9-10)

Please turn to the First Epistle of Timothy, chapter 6  (2X).  I want to remind everyone that we are not dabbling here and there through the Bible. We are working out this parable in Luke 8:14,

Luke 8:14  And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

They have heard, they go forth witnessing for Jesus, but they are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. Why are they choked? God says here in I Tim 6:9,

1 Timothy 6:9  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

1 Timothy 6:10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Now, read this carefully. God says, "they that will be rich". They are not rich yet, but they desire to be rich. They desire to make a lot of money. They have a plan, but in working out their plan they fall into temptation, and a snare, and many hurtful lusts. What is going on? God says here that the people who are represented by the Thorny Ground are drowning in many foolish and hurtful lusts. What are these foolish and hurtful lusts? There is that covetousness again. Their focus is on the riches of this world, but not on Jesus. And now the thorns spring up. The thorns are the cares of all the business that they have generated for themselves. All these cares for the business, and for the people who are giving them business, take up their time. Very soon they are so involved in doing things that there is no more time left for Bible study, or for prayer, or for witnessing. Their spiritual life is slowly going down the drain. Jesus has warned us: "You cannot serve God and mammon".

And now God says: "The love of money is the root of all evil". Not money itself, but the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Not all evil, because there are sins which are not traceable to money, such as hatred for God and various forms of idolatry. But all kinds of evil are sprouting from the love of money. And they who fall for the love of money have pierced themselves through with many sorrows. The word picture here is that of a man who has been pierced through all around. It is not a single piercing that he has endured, but he is gashed all around with penetrating wounds.

If we have friends that are influences opposite to God's Kingdom, or if we have unsaved friends who cause us to be unequally yoked in business partnerships, then we find out too late that we have pierced ourselves through with many sorrows. And God says that:

Luke 8:14 says, "They are choked with the cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life".

This Greek word for "pleasures" can also be translated "desires for pleasures". Today we live in a world where almost everyone is engaged in the pursuit of pleasure. If we pursue worldly riches, then we are required to cultivate human relationships with those who are our customers. We have to spend time with them, and we have to entertain them, sometimes till deep in the night. Where does all that time come from? It comes out of our personal Bible study, and out of our prayer time, and out of our fellowship with the saints. 

Moreover, our children are usually not busy, so they are pressing us for more entertainment outside the home. We have the money, so why not? But where does all that time come from? The next thing that happens is, we get used to so much entertainment time, and we think we are entitled to this much slack time. Pretty soon our personal Bible studies are no more a first priority, but they move from second to third, and to fourth priority, and so on. What was the reason for this shift in priorities? The pleasures are choking! Are the pressures of the pleasures in your life just too great?

Are we thankful for what God has given us? If we are not thankful, then Satan sows his seeds of discontent. But if we live a thankful life, then we realize that the pleasures of working for the Kingdom of God far outweigh the pleasures of this life. Then we see that perseverance is not a problem, because it is a pleasure to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why do I stress personal Bible study so often? You need to eat every day, don't you? Our souls need to be fed every day, just like our bodies need to be fed every day. Remember, when the Word of God sown in our hearts is unfruitful, it is evidence that there has been no salvation. We learn about that evidence in the Gospel according to John. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to John, chapter 15 (2X). The Lord Jesus spoke here the Parable of the Vine and its Branches.

In John 15 the Lord Jesus tells us a parable about bearing fruit. Is it required that we bear fruit? Absolutely! It is a sign of the presence of God the Holy Spirit within us. In verse 5 Jesus said: "He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit". In verse 2 Jesus said: "Every branch that beareth not fruit in Me, He taketh away". Where does the Father leave the branches that have been cut off? Look at verse 6,

John 15:6  If anyone abide not in me, he is cast forth as The Branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

The KJV says "a branch", but the Greek text says "The Branch". You can check this with almost every Greek interlinear Bible. There are at least 7 passages in the O.T., which speak of the Lord Jesus Christ as "The Branch". For example in Zech 6:12 God says,

Zechariah 6:12 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.

This passage is clearly speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is called: "The Branch". Even though the O.T. uses a Hebrew word and the N.T. uses a different Greek word, the meaning is still the same: it is a wooden branch, representing the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, if we substitute this meaning for The Branch in John 15:6, then God says in John 15:6,

"John 15:6  If anyone abide not in me, he is cast forth as The Branch ……… into the fire". What is the fire representing in this parable? It is Hellfire. When was the Lord Jesus cast into Hell? When He atoned for my sins, and for the sins of everyone else whom He came to save, He had to pay the full price, in our place, for our sins. The penalty for our sins was an eternity in Hell. That was the real penalty Christ had to pay in His Spirit-being. His hanging on the cross was a mere pittance compared with the suffering He endured in His soul at the same time. Besides, His suffering in His soul did not begin when He was crucified, but it began the evening before, in the Garden of Gethsemane. And the suffering in His soul ended when He was still very much alive and was hanging on the cross. When Jesus cried out with a loud voice: "It is finished", that is when the suffering in His soul was completed and a complete payment for our sins was made.

But here is the warning of John 15:6, If any branch does not bear fruit, he is not bearing fruit because he does not abide in the Vine, Christ. Then this branch will be cast forth into the fires of Hell like Christ had to endure the fires of Hell. And where is the focus in this parable as well as in the Parable of the Sower? Fruit bearing! When the Word of God sown in someone's heart is unfruitful, it is evidence that there was no salvation.

There are many examples throughout the Bible of people who seemed to be saved, but they turn out to be still under condemnation. They heard the Gospel; they came very close to Salvation but were never saved. For example: Lot’s Wife, Israel when they wandered in the Wilderness, Judas Iscariot, and many others.

Today I would like us to look at a N.T. example, which characterizes the Thorny Ground:

#3.       Demas Left Me (Col 4:14, II Tim 4:10)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Second Epistle to Timothy, chapter 4 (2X). You will find Second Timothy after First Timothy. Demas is mentioned three times in the Bible. Demas appeared to be saved. Demas became a fellow laborer with the Apostle Paul for several years. Paul’s letter to the Colossians was written when he was a prisoner, probably when he was a prisoner at Rome.

In Col 4:14 the Apostle wrote about his co-laborers:

Colossians 4:14  Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

However, a few years later, near the end of the life of the Apostle Paul he wrote in II Tim 4:10,

2 Timothy 4:10  For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

Crescens and Titus were of no concern. They were busy evangelizing in Galatia and in Dalmatia. But Demas turned out to be a Thorny Ground. When the going got rough, Demas bailed out. The words: "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" speak volumes about why Demas had forsaken Paul, just at the time when he needed him most. This was exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ was referring to in the third section of the Parable of the Sower:

Demas heard the True Gospel many times, being a coworker with the Apostle Paul, seeing Paul’s dedication, engaging in Bible Study with him, worshipping together with him, sharing with him both hardships and joys, sharing his enthusiasm, receiving a first class training in Evangelism and Discipleship. But when the going got rough, Demas did not want any part of it any more.

Demas was never saved!  He loved the world more than Christ! Is it possible that this is too harsh a judgment of Demas? Could it be that the going got so rough that it is understandable that Demas went back home? No! God says throughout the Bible that the sign of a true Believer is that he gives all that he has, even in times of severe persecution. The sign of a true Saint is that he perseveres to the end. The Lord Jesus Christ gave US all that He had. How dare we give anything less than our whole life? Perhaps we should ask ourselves how much we value this great salvation.

Then the Apostle Paul wrote:

2 Timothy 4:11  Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

This is good news. This is John Mark about whom Paul and Barnabas had such great contention that they separated and went their own ways. But now, after many years, their disagreement has been resolved, and John Mark turned out to be fruit bearing. Paul says, "He is profitable to me for the ministry". That says it all. Many years before, John Mark had deserted the missionary team, like Demas has done. Paul feared that John Mark was a Thorny Ground hearer, and so he did not want to take him again on his missionary journeys. But Mark has shaped up considerably.

This was the last letter of the Apostle Paul before he died. He wrote in verses 7 and 8,

2 Timothy 4:7  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

2 Timothy 4:8  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

I pray that everyone here may all be able to say this at the end of our life: "I have fought a good fight, ………I have kept the faith". And then the Apostle says: "there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness", which will be given him on the Last Day when Christ returns on the clouds of glory. And this crown was not only reserved for him, but for all those who love Christ's appearing on the Last Day. Every believer, every saint, will receive this crown of righteousness. We understand that this is not a physical crown on our head, but something far more glorious than that. When Christ returns we will be changed into His likeness. Physical crowns are for this universe. But when Christ returns we will be with Him in a different universe, a universe where only righteousness dwells.

Now let me summarize what I have said so far: The Thorny Ground reflects a soul who has heard the Gospel, and gave some indication of having been saved, but because the riches of this world have ensnared him, he remains unfruitful.

How do we look for fruit in our life? First of all, are we Born Again? If we are not Born Again the seed of the Gospel does not grow. Are we growing in the Word? Can we see it in ourselves? Are we bearing fruit 100 fold? Is there a multiplication of the Word in our life? In other words: Are we proclaiming the Word of God as we have learned it, and do we remain faithful to the whole counsel of God? Can we see in ourselves that we remain faithful?

Where is our treasure? Is it in earthly riches, or is it in the Lord Jesus Christ? Can we say

The Hymn we are going to sing reflects precisely where a Christian feels and thinks his treasure is. Our treasure is not in earthly stuff, but our treasure is the Lord Jesus Christ. This Hymn was composed in the year 1653, so the English is a little archaic, but beautiful. If a foreigner like I can understand it, then certainly can you. The words of the first and the third stanza are as follows:

Ah, how long I've panted, And my heart has fainted, Thirsting, Lord, for Thee.

Thine I am, O spotless Lamb! I will suffer naught to hide Thee, Naught I ask beside Thee.

·        Hence with earthly treasure! Thou art all my pleasure, Jesus, all my choice.

Hence, thou empty glory! Naught to me thy story, Told with tempting voice.

Pain or loss or shame or cross, Shall not from my Savior move me, Since He deigns to love me.