Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop– thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”(NIV)
Are there stages in life a student goes through when they first come to college? What are some of those stages?
Fear, Fascination, Rebellion, Freedom, Involvement, etc.
Do you think there are stages in the life of a Jesus Follower? What are some of them?
As you read through this parable of Jesus’ in Mark 4:3-8 and then the explanation of it by Jesus in verses 13-20, What variables do you notice?
What is the constant?
[Variables – The ground (your life), and one constant – the seed (God’s Word).]
In this parable we can see the stages a person goes through in their pursuit of God. It is beneficial for us to understand these stages so that we will recognize them and determine to make it to the next stage.
What is the first ground spoken about?
What is the first stage of life talked about in this parable?
I. The Pathway vs. 15
A. The hardened person. This person is hard against the word of God and the gospel. They want nothing to do with God or those who love God. No sooner have they heard the drawing of the Spirit upon their lives, than they are rejecting that call.
B. What must we do for this person?
Hosea 10:12b “break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” (KJV) This is a prayer that can be prayed for hardened people. “Lord ‘break up the fallow ground’ in their lives.
Most of us were this way at one time in our lives. Sometimes folks are hardened because they just don’t believe that stuff about Jesus. Sometimes people have an intellectual pride against the God of the Bible. “I used to believe that religious stuff when I was a child, but I have studied too much to believe in such fables.” Others are in a state of rebellion. Many of those who were raised in a Bible believing church have simply rebelled against God, their parents, and authority. They are now hardened in their hearts.
What is the second stage Jesus talks about that someone may go through as a Jesus Follower?
What are the positive aspects of this stage? Excitement.
What causes them to fall away?
What does the “root” symbolize? The word of God. This is why it is so important to do the one on one curriculum with each of your small group members.
II. The Rocky Places vs 16 -17
A. The fickle person.
This is the person who receives Christ gladly at first but does not get rooted and grounded in the Word of God. They then quickly fall away from God.
B. What must we do for this person?
There is a narrow window of excitement for a new convert and even someone who is renewing their walk with God. It is during this time that the Disciplemaker must pour as many of the Classic Christian disciplines into the person as possible (one on one curriculum). The day will come when the hard times arrive, and the individual who cannot feed themselves Spiritually, will die.
Showing this to a new convert will teach them not to be a stony ground, Wishy Washy, flash-in-the-pan Christian. To me this is one of the most critical concepts you can share with a new convert. “Beware of the stony ground mentality. Get rooted and Grounded in the Word.”
C. Set the date of their one year spiritual birthday party. After explaining this to them, use this as the time to establish the fact that you are willing to be their accountability partner. Tell them that if they can make it for one year as a fired up Christian, then they can make it a lifetime.
What is the third stage?
What are some of those thorns that choke out the fruit?
III. The Thorny Ground vs 18 – 19
A. The distracted person.
These are people who have accepted Christ and have things in their life that would distract them or choke out the fruit of the Spirit filled Christian. I wouldn’t consider these things “Soul Damning Sins,” but they choke out your fruits.
B. What are some of the Fruits of a Spirit filled Christian?
Fruits of righteousness. Fruits of the Spirit. (Gal. 6:22-23) Fruits of Souls – of those you’ve won to the Lord.
C. The thorns may not be Soul Damning Sins, but if we continue with these thorns Jesus says in the Parable of the Vine (John 15) in verse 2 that, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away…” Then in verse 6 He says, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (KJV)
We don’t want to be thorny ground.
D. Just what are these thorns?
1.) The worries of this life. Mark 4:19a
We all have worries in life. The point is to not let them distract us from both having devotion with God and serving God. If class and studies keep you from doing anything of service for God, namely in Chi Alpha, then the normal worries of life is a thorn to you. Exam. Studies, exams.
2.) The deceitfulness of wealth and, I might add, the pursuit of it.
This needs no explanation. This is a good time to bring up tithing. 10% of your income belongs to God, not you. We get to give offerings, alms, & monthly missions above our 10% tithe.
3.) The desires for other things.
If that wasn’t enough for you, Jesus had to tact on one that none of us could get around.
What are some of those other things that could choke out your fruits?
Involvement in good wholesome things on campus. Band, Fraternities, Athletics, ROTC, Intraml’s, clubs, student government, your part time job, boy/girlfriends, being an RA.
Don’t let these other things get in the way of you living for God or serving God, for it is not until you are involved in some of these things that you can adequately spread the gospel on this campus.
James 1:8 “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (KJV)
IV. Good Ground
This is what we want to be.
One that is a sponge to the things of God. A person who is FAT – Faithful, Available, and Teachable and a true God seeker. One who knows that he needs a mentor – one to coach him and show him more of God. One who is in love with the Bible and the God of the Bible. One who sets appointments in their day-timer to be with God in prayer & devotion. Someone who loves to be in the presence of the Holy Spirit and responds to Him openly in worship. One who cannot keep his/her mouth shut about their lover – Jesus, but is as vocal about him as a newly engaged man/woman is about his/her fiance.
Good Ground Christians drink in the Word and produce multiple fruits.