Luke 8:8,15 The Heart that Brings Forth Fruit 7/21/2002
#1. A Beautiful and Good Heart (Eph 2:1-3, Luke 6:45)
#2. Having Heard the Word, Keep it (Jam 1:16-18)
#3. Bring Forth Fruit in Patience (Jam 1:22-25)
Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 8 (2X). We will read the Parable of the Sower one more time. This time, when we read the parable, I want you to keep an eye on this:
Why is that so? God says in verse 11: "The seed is the Word of God". The four grounds represent four types of hearts of people who come under the hearing of the Word of God, which is the message of the Gospel unto salvation. The Message is preached unto the multitudes who are flocking into the churches worldwide, who have come to listen to the Word of God. But who is the Sower? Is the sower anyone of us who spreads the true Gospel? Keep in mind that God is the one who opens and closes doors to us for bringing the Gospel. God says in Eph 2:10,
Ephesians 2:10, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
The opening of doors to us "have been before ordained that we should walk in them". Therefore, Christ is the Sower, and we are just the hands and feet of Christ. Let us read this parable 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.
Luke 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
Since Christ is the Sower, does the Lord Jesus Christ not know where the good ground is? Of course
He knows it. The seed of the Word of God was sown deliberately on the Wayside, and on the Rock, and on the Thorny Ground, as a warning to us that WE can be one of those three unfruitful grounds.
Let us focus today on verse 15. Literally it says "And those in the beautiful earth are they which in"
#1. A Beautiful and Good Heart (2X) (Eph 2:1-3, Luke 6:45)
In place of "an honest and good heart" literally the Greek text says: "A beautiful and good heart". Why does the Lord Jesus ascribe to these people "A beautiful and good heart"? Are there inherently good people and inherently bad people in the world? We remember the Lord Jesus saying: “There is none good but God”. And that is true. Don’t call any man Good. That is a title, which only belongs to God. We read in Rom 3:12, "There is none that doeth good, no not one". Even our best works "are like filthy rags" in God's sight (Isa 64:6). How then can one of the four grounds be "good ground"? How can God look at us and declare that we have "a beautiful and good heart"? The only way that can become true is IF we have received a new heart from God Himself. Only God can define what "a beautiful and good heart" is, but initially every one of us comes into the world with an evil heart. Listen to what God says to the saints at Ephesus. These are people who belong to the elect of God:
2:1 And you (
hath he quickened),
who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
We all were dead in trespasses and sins. This applies to the whole human race. We were not only spiritually dead in the sight of God, but we were actively evil and enemies of God, and therefore we "were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" who never become saved. How can we get rid of our evil heart? God has to give us a new heart, which must be "a beautiful and good heart".
Please turn two pages to your left, to Luke 6:45, (2X). There we read in Luke 6:45,
Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Here Jesus speaks of good people and evil people. How did the good people come into existence? God had to change their evil hearts to good hearts, and then they became good people. How can we recognize if we have received a good heart, or if we still have an evil heart? Jesus said: "Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh". What comes out of the mouth reflects what is in the heart of that person. If a pastor is a sweet talker but he brings a false gospel, then this man still has an evil heart. If I am not faithful to the Word of God, let me know, because I only intend to bring you good treasures out of the Word of God. I need to know when I am going astray.
There is one rule God uses for changing hearts:
We cannot fix up our own heart. We cannot change our sinful heart with good New Year's resolutions.
Please turn to the Prophecy of Deuteronomy, chapter 10 (2X). You find Deuteronomy just before Joshua. In this passage of Deuteronomy God says to the nation of Israel: "And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul". Wow! That goes opposite to what we were born with. In this context God further specified what He required, in Deut 10:16.
Deuteronomy 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.
How could they do that? How could anyone of us circumcise our hearts? But this is what God required of them, and this is what God requires of us. Does God require something that we cannot do? Absolutely! God does that all the time to make us realize that salvation is all by grace, and not by something that we could do. God gave the same Gospel of grace to the nation of Israel as He gave to us. God gave the answer to this problem in Deut 30:6. Please turn to Deut 30:6 (2X). We can find the answer also in the N.T., but I want us to see that God gave the same Gospel of grace in the O.T.
Deuteronomy 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
What does it mean, "God will circumcise thine heart"? It means that we need a new heart that is not in rebellion against God, but it loves God. It means that God has to give us such a heart transplant. You see God must take the initiative of giving us a beautiful new heart, and God must bring to completion what He has begun in us, by bringing the Gospel to our ears so that we would know what to believe, and by making us draw to Christ. Now, that we can only do with a new heart.
What did God have to do to give us this new heart? Let me sum this up briefly: The Father gave His only begotten Son for US, The Father sacrificed His only begotten Son for thieves and murderers like US, The Lord Jesus Christ took the guilt of our Sins upon Himself, The Father poured His Wrath upon His only begotten Son, because His Son was laden with the guilt of our sins. The Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily paid the price that had to be paid for the full satisfaction of our Sins: The full price is the equivalent of an eternity in Hell; nothing less would satisfy the righteousness of God. God the Holy Spirit waited patiently throughout our sinful life, But at the right time God the Holy Spirit prepared our heart to be like the “beautiful good heart”, The Lord Jesus Christ clothed US with the Robe of His Righteousness, And God the Holy Spirit made this Seed of the Gospel grow, and grow, and grow, and bear fruit. And if God did all this, 100%, how can anyone say that they made a decision for Jesus? How can anyone take even 0.1% of credit for his or her salvation? The Bible says that God took the initiative and God will finish what He has begun in us. Let me read to you what God says in:
Phil 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
You see, only then will we qualify as the “beautiful and good heart”. We have seen what price God had to pay to give us a new heart. What did we have to do to deserve this? Nothing. It is:
Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Ezekiel, chapter 36 (2X). A beautiful and good heart is a gift from God that is also spoken of in the Bible by another term: "You must be Born Again". We know that this is in John chapter 3, but it was already written in the O.T. more than 600 years before the Lord Jesus spoke these words to Nicodemus. We read in Ezek 36:26,
Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Do you see Who is doing all the action? God will give us a new heart, which means a new soul, and God will put a new Spirit within us, which is His Holy Spirit. The reason we need a new heart is because the heart with which we were born is a "stony heart", which is hard and unchangeable like the Rock. Then God will put His Holy Spirit within us, and He will cause us to walk in His statutes and judgments. Only then is the ground good, because God made it beautiful and good. Only then will we see the characteristics of the person who is called the "Good Ground". This is a person with a heart that is prepared by the Holy Spirit. And what a great harvest there is, because Luke 8:8 and 15 declare: He hears the Word and delights in the Word! "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path". He understands the Word. And how does the understanding come? Through diligent study! This is not a superficial understanding, or a feel good gospel. He grows deep roots: He is rooted and grounded in love for the Lord Jesus Christ: the pleasures or the treasures of this world do not easily distract him. He sets his affections on things above, not on things of this earth, which means: He seeks first the Kingdom of God; quite a switch from his former life. But most importantly: He is bearing fruit, or better: He is bearing Seed for others: He is bearing the same kind of Seed that went into the ground, and is now used for others. What was that Seed that went into the Good Ground? It was the Word of God; the Gospel unto Salvation. This went into the ground; and it is the same Seed that comes out of the ground. What does that mean? This Good Ground that was prepared by the Holy Spirit to receive the Message of Salvation, this person goes in turn to bring the Gospel of Salvation to many others. How many others? 100? We must leave that up to God. Remember the Parable of the Talents? Regardless of how many Talents the servant has gained, the Lord of those servants said: “Well done thou good and faithful servant”. Then we read in Luke 8:15,
#2. Having Heard the Word, Keep it (Jam 1:16-18). Literally the Greek text says:
Luke 8:15 And those in the beautiful earth are they, which in a beautiful and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.
What does it mean that they "keep it"? It certainly cannot mean that they keep it to themselves. It must mean that they keep the commandments that we find in the Word of God. But this is only possible if God creates a new heart within us. Please turn to the Epistle of James, chapter 1 (2X). You find James near the end of your Bibles, right after Hebrews. James was the half-brother of Jesus. They had the same mother, but a different father. God was the Father of Jesus, and Joseph was the father of James. Many people think of James as the one who pushes a salvation by works, and they have no respect for this Epistle of James. That is because they are taking verses out of context. Through the pen of James God speaks here about this topic of receiving a new heart from God. We read in Jam 1:16,
James 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
He begins with the words: "Do not err, my beloved brethren". In what should we not err? We should not err in this area of the sovereignty of God. This how we bring glory to God. And then he says: "Every good and perfect gift is from above". What is a good and perfect gift? Some may have a talent to play musical instruments; another may have a good voice. Whatever talents we have received from God, they are not perfect. Even the faith we have received from God is not perfect. Another gift is the love we have for one another, but that is also not perfect. But the beautiful and good heart we have received from God is a perfect gift from God, because it is without spot or wrinkle and clean. God gave us a perfectly clean heart, which is so clean that God Himself takes up residence in our new heart. That is indeed the gift he speaks about, because he says in verse 18,
James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the Word (the Logos) of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits ( a certain firstfruits) of his creatures.
God begat us. You do not hear that very often. God begat us. Of His own will God brought us forth with the Logos of truth. When did God begat us? When we heard the Word of God, and we were Born Again by God's gift of a new heart, that was the moment when God brought us forth as sons of God. God did that not as a result of the will of the flesh, not by the will of man, but by the will of God. God's warning in this brief passage is plain and simple: Do not err, my brethren, in this that you were brought forth as sons of God by the sovereign will of God. This is what brings glory to God. This is how we have heard the Word of God, and keep it: by giving all the credit and praise to God.
What other ways are there in which we would keep the Word of God? Please turn in your Bibles to Psalm 119:10 (2X). You find the Psalms exactly in the middle of your Bible. Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm and it is by far the longest chapter in the Bible.
These famous words are found in Psalm 119, which is a song of praise to God for His Word, His Law, His commandments, His statutes, His precepts, His testimonies, His judgments and His ways. A child of God desires to keep God's commandments, because in his new nature he desires to do those things that are pleasing to God. We read in Psalm 119:10,
Ps 119:10 ¶ With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
Psalms 119:11 ¶ Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Psalms 119:12 ¶ Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
Although we do not keep God's commandments perfectly as we should, we desire to keep them. That is why we pray: "O let me not wander from Thy commandments". O Lord, do not allow my sinful mind to wander away from Thy commandments. Help me to put to death the sinful desires that are still within my body, so that in my body I will be more and more glorifying to God. In our love for God we want to do those things that are pleasing in His sight. That is why this child of God prays: "Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee". O Lord, help me to memorize Thy Word and teach me the meaning, and teach me to apply that in my daily life, in order that I might not sin against Thee. Is this altogether attainable? No! We cannot come even close to the standard of perfection that God requires. But our desires to obey God are altogether pleasing to Him. That is why the nature of a child of God is to have a desire, or to have an urgent need, to do those things that are pleasing to God. No longer are we focusing on the negatives of the commandments, but we focus on the positives. No longer do we focus on "Thou shalt not", but we focus much more on "Thou shalt". And what is it that we shall? The Lord Jesus said:
Please turn to the Gospel according to John, chapter 14 (2X). In this passage of John 14 the Lord Jesus addresses the love that His followers will have for Him, and how this love shows itself in action. This is an important subject matter. Many people today claim that they love Jesus. We will not judge if they are speaking the truth. They can judge themselves by some simple rules that God has given us. Here is one. We read in John 14:15,
John 14:15 ¶ If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Here Jesus says that those who truly love Him will keep His commandments. If we pick and choose from His commandments, we actually are disobeying His commandments. Only if we pay attention to the whole Word of God are we in a position to show that we love Him. Of course we have to combine this with I John 1:8, which says:
1 John 1:8 ¶ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
It means that we are unable to keep God's commandments perfectly. It means that we can only have a desire to keep God's commandments, for even our best works are tainted with sin, and even our most righteous works are altogether like filthy rags in the sight of God. Is God pleased with those works? Certainly God is pleased with those works. He calls them "good works" in Eph 2:10. But they are only "good works" if they are done by a child of God, and not by one of the reprobate, who are children of the Devil. If a child of God does them, the Lord Jesus Christ has paid for all the sins cleaving to those works. Therefore those works are declared clean. Can you see what a wonderful salvation we have received? Our works are clean, and our soul is clean. Jesus said in verse 23,
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Again Jesus said that the outward sign of our salvation is that we love Him and we will keep His words. It means we desire to obey His words. If we are saved, we are declared so clean that God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit make their dwelling place in our souls.
#3. They Bring Forth Fruit in Patience (Jam 1:22-25)
Let us hear Luke 8:15 one more time
Luke 8:15 And those in the beautiful earth are they, which in a beautiful and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.
These people have received the seed, which is the Message of the Gospel. The seed germinates and grows solid roots in this good ground, and this plant grows and bears fruit so that this seed is multiplied many, many times over? Please turn to the Epistle of James again, James chapter 1 (2X). We must keep in mind that it is God who gives the increase. The growth of a church does not depend on how clever we are, or how well we are prepared, or how great our programs are. It is God the Holy Spirit who gives the increase. The focus is not on how much we grow? The focus is on the principle of multiplication! God expects every N.T. Believer to witness with his mouth. That was the seed sown in his heart, and that is the multiplied seed that comes out of his mouth. That is what is in view here in this Parable of the Sower. How important is this principle of Multiplication? Remember that both in the O.T. and in the N.T. it was a disgrace for a woman to be barren. What does that mean? Examples are: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elisabeth. Why did God put that in the Bible? God is not interested in cultural differences. But sometimes there is a spiritual meaning to a historical situation, like that of Sarah and Hagar in Gal 4. There Sarah is called the mother of us all. Then we understand that she represents the body of believers. It means that it is a disgrace for a Church to be barren, or to be without any evangelism. This aspect of the parable is also addressed in James 1:22-25,
James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
James 1:23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
James 1:24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Do we keep the Word of God to ourselves? NO! The Bible says that we must give it away as new seed. Christ left us in this sin cursed world to be His ambassadors. It means that we have an active role in this world, witnessing for Christ and proclaiming the true Gospel as we find it in the Bible. God says in Jam 1:22 that we must be doers of the Word. If we are not doers of the Word, but are hearers only, then we are deceiving ourselves that we have been saved. We would be like the servant who received one talent and buried it in the ground, because he did not want to use it. If I may paraphrase, the Lord Jesus said to him: To Hell you go!
Someone who is not a doer of the Word but a hearer only looks in a mirror, which represents the Word of God. He sees the description of his natural face. It is the description of a sinner to the core. But he turns away and immediately forgets what manner of man he is, and forgets that he is in need of salvation. But when WE look into the perfect law of liberty, which again represents the Word of God, we see there that we have been saved by grace. We have been redeemed out of the slave market and have been set free. That is the liberty, which we have in Christ. In our gratitude for Christ we do not forget what we have been saved from, and we want to serve Him forever. God says: We shall be blessed in our deeds. Is God pleased with our works? Jam 1:25 says that He is. Therefore we bring forth fruit in patience.
Now, in a practical sense, how do we carry out our task of ambassadors for Christ? Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Colossians, chapter 1 (2X). You will find Colossians after Ephesians and Philippians. Remember Go Eat Pop Corn? Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. O yes, we bring the Gospel to those who are willing to hear us. But in addition, God says:
The Apostle Paul addresses the church at Colosse. The pastor of the church at Colosse was Epaphras, who visited Paul in prison, and declared unto him their faith and their love for Christ, in the Spirit. Then we read in Col 1:9,
Colossians 1:9 ¶ For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
Colossians 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
This loving letter from the Apostle Paul to the church at Colosse was also written to us, here in this church. That is why this Epistle is in the Bible. It is a reminder that we do not only pray for those who are unsaved, but we also pray for those who need to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Here is a sample prayer for us. First of all, do not cease to pray for each other. Pray that we might be filled with the knowledge of the will of God. What does that mean? What is God's will? God's will is that He will be glorified. It means that we pray that we be filled with knowing the God of the Bible, and that we give Him all the credit for our salvation and for our sanctification. That is what gives Him all the glory. Furthermore, we pray that we may know the will of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. It means we pray for understanding the Bible, and also understanding it in those passages that are still mysterious and parabolic.
Also pray that we all conduct ourselves in this world in a God glorifying way, and that we will be fruitful in every good work. There are those good works again. This includes the work of bringing the Gospel to the entire world, to whosoever wants to hear it. Make it available freely, for freely you have received, freely give. God will make sure that His elect will hear the true Gospel at the right time.
We read in verses 11 and 12,
Colossians 1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Colossians 1:12 ¶ Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Pray that we may be strengthened physically and spiritually. Pray that our church may survive the spiritual battle that is taking place in churches worldwide. Presently many churches cave in to the Charismatic Movement, which is the Abomination of Desolation. I have preached on that when I was in II Thess 2:9. In addition, many churches cease to exist because of the "Depart Out Theology". I have preached on that when I was in II Thess 2:7. If our church will survive it is because of God's glorious power and if it is according to His will. Pray that we may remain patient in our battles, with joy, because our names are written in heaven.
Pray that we always will be thankful to the Father, who has chosen us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints. The Father has given us to Christ and has drawn us to Christ. Pray that we always will be thankful to the Father, for taking us out of the Bottomless Pit and translating us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, for which we will be grateful for all eternity. Pray that we always will be thankful to the Lord Jesus Christ for taking our place in paying for our sins the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. Pray that we always will be thankful to the Lord Jesus Christ for giving us His righteousness, so that we qualify to become sons of God. Pray that we always will be thankful to God the Holy Spirit for giving us a new heart so that we were able to hear the Good News that Christ paid for all our sins. Pray that we always will be thankful to God the Holy Spirit for arranging all events in the world in such a manner that our spiritual life is preserved unto the end.
Amen. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.