parable of sower and soils

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by koreahog2005, Aug 25, 2004.

  1. koreahog2005

    koreahog2005
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    The parable of the sower and the soils is found in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8. There is some disagreement about what types of people the four soils represent. I’d like to get your opinions on three possible interpretations. I’ll give mine.

    1. The five-point Arminian view

    The five-point Arminians believe the rocky and thorny soils represent Christians who lose their salvation. It is true that the people represented by the rocky soil receive the word with joy (Matthew 13:20; Mark 4:16), and “they believe for a while” (Luke 8:13). This “belief” seems to have been mere assent rather than a true surrender in repentance and faith. Their assent was similar to that mentioned by James (James 2:14, 17, 19) in regard to non-Christians and demons, and it was also similar to that mentioned by Luke in regard to Simon Magus (Acts 8:13) who believed and was baptized but remained unsaved.

    There are two indications that the people represented by the rocky soil and thorny soil never made a true commitment. First, the people represented by the rocky soil are initially described as having “no root” (Matthew 13:6; Mark 4:6), and they are later described as having “no firm root” (Matthew 13:21; Mark 4:17; Luke 8:13). In contrast, Christians are described in Colossians 2:7 as “having been firmly rooted,” and they are described in Ephesians 3:17 as being “rooted and grounded in love.” Second, the person represented by the thorny soil is described as becoming unfruitful as the word is gradually choked (Matthew 13:22). We learn in Luke 8:14 that these “thorny soil” people “bring no fruit to maturity.” All true Christians produce good fruit: “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17). In the parable, only the people represented by the good soil produce good fruit: “And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance” (Luke 8:15).

    2. The five-point Calvinist view

    Many five-point Calvinists believe the rocky and thorny soils represent people who experience common grace rather then special, regenerating grace. John Calvin in a comment on Hebrews 6:6 said that common grace rather than regenerating grace was applied to the lost:

    “But the apostle is not talking here about theft, or perjury, or murder, or drunkenness or adultery. He is referring to a complete falling away from the Gospel, not one in which the sinner has offended God in some one point only, but in which he has utterly renounced His grace. [. . .] Now there arises from this a new question, as to how it can be that one who has once arrived at this point can afterwards fall away. [. . .] My answer is this, that God certainly bestows His Spirit of regeneration only on the elect, and that they are distinguished from the reprobate in the fact that they are re-made in His image, and they receive the earnest of the Spirit in the hope of an inheritance to come, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts. But I do not see that this is any reason why He should not touch the reprobate with a taste of His grace, or illumine their minds with some glimmerings of His light, or affect them with some sense of His goodness, or to some extent engrave His Word in their hearts. Otherwise where would be that passing faith which Mark mentions (4.17)? [. . .] Such men are deprived, as they deserve, of the Spirit of God, and are given over to a reprobate mind, so that they are delivered to the devil and go on rushing to their doom. Thus it comes about that they do not cease from adding one sin to another until they are so hardened that they despise God or rail at Him in furious hate like men in despair.”
    (John Calvin, “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews,” trans. William B. Johnston, Calvin’s Commentaries, ed. David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance, pages 74-77)

    It is true that the people represented by the good soil are the only ones who are mentioned as understanding the word. It is also true, however, that the people represented by the soil beside the road are the only ones who are mentioned as not understanding the word, and thus they are not able to “believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12).

    The people represented by the rocky soil receive (Greek “dechomai”) the word and believe (Luke 8:13), and thus there is a clear indication that they are able to spiritually understand the word. Many five-point Calvinists interpret John 3:3 as meaning a non-Christian cannot “see” (spiritually understand) the kingdom until he is regenerated. Jesus used the word “dechomai” in Mark 10:15 to discuss the receptivity of children: “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.” James Brooks, a former professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, discussed this verse:

    “Note that the kingdom is both to be received and entered—two ideas that stand side by side throughout the Bible. The blessings of the kingdom are to be received as a gift, yet we enter the kingdom through responsive faith and obedience.”
    (James Brooks, "Mark," The New American Commentary, page 160)

    The “rocky soil” people received the word but did not enter the kingdom. The “rocky and thorny soil” people “profess to know God” (Titus 1:15-16), and indeed they have “known the way of righteousness” but “turn away” (2 Peter 2:21) as Judas Iscariot did.

    3. The modified (three-point Calvinist, two-point Arminian; TUP) view

    Like the five-point Calvinist view, this view recognizes that only the good soil represents true Christians. Unlike the five-point Calvinist view, this view interprets the rocky and thorny soils as people who experience the special, illuminating conviction of the Holy Spirit but do not make an ultimate, final decision to surrender to Christ in repentance and faith. Notice the difference between the rocky soil and good soil in the following verses:

    Matthew 13:20 – rocky soil receives (lambano)
    Matthew 13:23 – good soil understands (suneimi)

    Mark 4:16 – rocky soil receives (lambano)
    Mark 4:20 – good soil accepts (paradexomai)

    Luke 8:13 – rocky soil receives (dexomai)
    Luke 8:15 – good soil holds it fast (katexo)

    Mark said that the people represented by the good soil “hear the word and accept it, and bear fruit” (Mark 4:20). The word accept (paradechomai in Greek) is used in Mark 4:20. The same word is also used in Acts 22:18: “And I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’” The Complete Word Study New Testament has the following entry for paradechomai in relation to Mark 4:20:

    “To receive, embrace with assent and obedience (Mark 4:20, Acts 22:18.”
    (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study New Testament, Chattanooga, Tennessee: AMG Publishers, 1991, page 944)

    In contrast, the word “receive” (lambano in Greek) is used to describe the non-Christians who hear the word and receive it with joy (Matthew 13:20; Mark 4:16) for a temporary period of time. Thus, Mark used two different Greek words to contrast the good soil’s acceptance of the word and the rocky soil’s reception of the word. The same lexicon mentioned above has this comment for “lambano”:

    “To take in whatever manner. Almost syn. with dechomai (1209), to take or receive, and yet distinct from it in that lambano sometimes means to receive as merely a self-prompted action without necessarily signifying a favorable reception (Gal. 2:6).”
    (Ibid., page 931)

    In fact, the word “dechomai” is used to describe the rocky soil’s reception in Luke 8:13. The elect will eventually accept the word with obedience, but the non-elect will never accept it in that sense. We can say that the “rocky and thorny soil” people in the parable were hesitating between two opinions (1 Kings 18:21), and they did not want to make an ultimate, final decision to surrender to Jesus in repentance and faith. Thus, it appears that the people represented by the rocky and thorny soils experienced special grace, not common grace. In the modified view, regeneration comes after conversion (faith/repentance) rather than before it. The special, illuminating conviction of the Holy Spirit temporarily counteracts the effects of total depravity so that the non-Christian can make an ultimate, final choice with true free will.

    I think the modified view best explains the passage. Any comments?
     
  2. Me2

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    the parable of the soils defined the three enemies of righteousness. the world, flesh, and devil. (or as given to eve. "lust of the eyes", "lust of the flesh" and "pride of life")

    how these enemies are inline as a form of progressive resistance on the way in every christians journey to Gods presence in the holy of holies.

    30=outercourt, 60=inner room, 100=holy of holies

    and the three enemies are signified at each stage of sanctification with respect to their activities against the christian in their journey.
     
  3. pinoybaptist

    pinoybaptist
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    KH:

    The parable of the sower has nothing at all to do with the eternal salvation of the elect, or, to the Arminian, the 'whosoever'.

    Notice that the key words in this parable are heareth and receiveth.

    These are children of God in various degrees of obedience to gospel instruction.

    Even today, if one looks around there are those who are more spiritual and quick to understand and receive instruction, and there are those who 'come and go' in the church scene, and there are those who love to hear preaching, and for a while adheres to what is taught, but then, find that cares of this world are more pressing.
     
  4. koreahog2005

    koreahog2005
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    Pinoybaptist, some famous five-point Calvinists disagree with your interpretation. Notice what John Gill said about Matthew 13:6:

    “They were scorched, and because they had not root, they withered away: they were offended with what they met with, for the sake of Christ, and the profession of his word; and therefore, not being rooted in him, nor in the love of God, nor having the root of the matter, true grace, in themselves, or, as Luke says, ‘lacked moisture’, of divine grace, of the dews and waterings of it, fell away finally and totally. This is no instance of the apostasy of real saints, or any proof of true believers falling away finally and totally; since these were not rooted, and grounded in the everlasting and unchangeable love of God, were not interested in it, or were partakers of the effects of it; had they been so, they could never have been separated from it; tribulation, distress, and persecution could never have done it; none of these would ever have moved them; had they had the love of God shed abroad in their hearts, they would have gloried in tribulation: nor were they united to Christ, rooted and built up in him; had they, they would have continued to have derived life and nourishment from him; in him the life of believers is hid, and because he lives they live also; as long as there is life in the root, the branches will not die; he is the root that bears the branches, the root of the righteous that yields fruit, and is never moved: nor had these the truth of grace, which is an incorruptible seed, a well of living water springing up to everlasting life; had they, they could never have withered away; to such God gives more grace, he himself is as the dew unto them, and he waters them every moment.”
    http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/GillsExpositionoftheBible/gil.cgi?book=mt&chapter=13&verse=6

    Gill was saying that the non-elect people represented by this rocky soil “fell away finally and totally.” Notice also that John Calvin said most of these soils perish:

    “The general truth conveyed is, that the doctrine of the Gospel, when it is scattered like seed, is not everywhere fruitful; because it does not always meet with a fertile and well cultivated soil. He enumerates four kinds of hearers: the first of which do not receive the seed; the second appear, indeed, to receive it, but in such a manner that it does not take deep root; in the third, the corn is choked; and so there remains a fourth part, which produces fruit. Not that one hearer only out of four, or ten out of forty, embrace the doctrine, and yield fruit; for Christ did not intend here to fix down an exact number, or to arrange the persons, of whom he speaks, in equal divisions; and, indeed, where the word is sown, the produce of faith is not always alike, but is sometimes more abundant, and at other times more scanty. He only intended to warn us, that, in many persons, the seed of life is lost on account of various defects, in consequence of which it is either destroyed immediately, or it withers, or it gradually degenerates. That we may derive the greater advantage from this warning, we ought to bear in mind, that he makes no mention of despisers who openly reject the word of God, but describes those only in whom there is some appearance of docility. But if the greater part of such men perish, what shall become of the rest of the world, by whom the doctrine of salvation is openly rejected?”
    http://www.ccel.org/c/calvin/comment3/comm_vol32/htm/xx.htm
     
  5. pinoybaptist

    pinoybaptist
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    KH:

    It doesn't surprise me that John Gill or some 'famous' Calvinists disagree. There are many soteriological points in which we Primitive Baptists disagree with Calvinists.

    For example, while we agree with the TULIP, our P is always preservation instead of Perseverance.

    While Calvinists say that regeneration precedes faith (which you will find is what Gill also teaches) the majority of them still believe that the elect need to hear the gospel in some form or way in order for regeneration to take place.

    Further, we also believe in what is sometimes called Conditional Time Salvation, which is that when a saint places himself under the control of the Holy Spirit, and obeys gospel instruction, God preserves Him from the usual pitfalls of sin in this plane of time.

    And so you find conditional if-then-else statements in the Bible, which unfortunately is the basis being used by Arminians to say that man is capable of obeying by his own will.
    PB's do not hold to that.

    We hold that God regenerates His own in His own time, His own choosing, and that independent of gospel preaching and gospel preachers.

    Which is why we believe that more people will be saved than damned because God is altogether merciful.

    And so, back to the parables.

    It is my understanding, given the background I gave you that Jesus is here teaching about the preached gospel being sowed, heard, and received by those who are God's own, but, for various reasons, given in the parable, the preached word do not always elicit gospel obedience and gospel fruits.

    Any missionary baptist, as I once was, knows what this means, regardless of whether he is of a Calvinist or Arminian persuasion.

    You know about this, or will know about this parable in practice if you have not yet experienced it.

    You will find that the unregenerate will not even listen to your preaching. Have you ever had a tract crumpled and thrown at your face ? Have you ever had someone spit at your face, or at the tract you are handing to him/her ? Have you ever been threatened with bodily harm ? Have you ever had feces smeared on the house you are living in, or on the walls of the church or small mission you preach in ? Rocks fall on your roofs ?

    I have.

    On the other hand, you will meet those who even invite you in to their homes, listen eagerly when you open the Bible, sometimes come to the services, but they never obeyed the gospel call to baptism, or to join the church.

    No, this parable has nothing to do with the unregenerate. It applies to those who are of the kingdom, and who will be in eternity future with their Lord and Savior.
     
  6. koreahog2005

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    Pinoybaptist, thanks for explaining to me more about the Primitive Baptists. I admit that I thought you guys were pretty much standard five-point Calvinists but with less missionary emphasis. When I was a pastor in Kentucky I visited a Primitive Baptist church member one time. His family was concerned about him and asked me to visit him because he never attended church and showed no good spiritual fruit in his life. I asked him if he had ever surrendered his life to Christ in repentance and faith. He said, "No, but the Lord saved me." He remembered an experience he had during a Primitive Baptist worship service where he felt the hand of the Lord, and he felt that the Lord saved him at that point. I suspect that what he was feeling was conviction, but he never surrendered his life to Christ in repentance and faith. Does this sound like standard Primitive Baptist theology?
     
  7. koreahog2005

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    I'm leaving town in a couple of hours, so this will be my last post for a couple of days.
     
  8. pinoybaptist

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    Tell me something about your work there when you come back, KH.
     
  9. Ray Berrian

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    The passage in Matthew 13: 1-9, I believe portrays God the Sower, through His agents/ministers scattering the see of the Word to all souls. Those scattering the seed were good persons, through grace, and there was no inferior seed. The problem was the different kinds of soil/human hearts/human lives who received the seed. Various things tempted and tested the sinners. Perhaps some thought they were wiser than God or some focused on riches more than on the Redeemer. Because of the depravity of humans some liked their fleshly appetites more than any interest in the Lord God.

    But thank God for the seed that fell on the 'good ground.' It was from these souls during all of time who will respond to the call of Jesus through the Gospel. The Spirit of God was calling/wooing all sinners but most had become hard of heart and turned aside Christ.

    Even among the saved there were some who were spiritually more productive than the rest of the saints. Thus we have those who brought forth 60, 30, and 100 fold.

    The Sower, the seed, and God was effectual toward all those human beings; the problem was their proclivity toward sin and their inner desire to remain rebellious toward the Lord.

    God was God of justice, love and mercy, but they willed to neglect the very seed that would have brought forth new, spiritual life in their souls.

    This opposite poles from God who selects some for Heaven and willfully turns into Hell the rest of His created beings.
     
  10. koreahog2005

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    Pinoybaptist, you asked me to tell about our ministry here in South Korea. I am the team leader for a group of nine adult Southern Baptist missionaries. We work among under-evangelized segments of people along the east coast of South Korea, especially factory workers, fishermen, resort workers, and their families. We work with Korean partners to do evangelism and start churches. I have been working as a missionary in South Korea since March of 1996. Our team members worked with 37 outreach groups last year that met each week. I have helped start five churches during my 8 years here. It's been fun seeing God work.
     
  11. koreahog2005

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    Ray, I agree with much of what you said. I don’t think, however, that God calls/woos all sinners. There are some non-elect people who live past the age of accountability but never hear the gospel and/or never experience the special, illuminating conviction of the Holy Spirit.

    This situation may seem unfair, but actually it is not. Remember that God has always known all imaginary scenarios (counterfactual knowledge) as well as the actual future. He has always known that even if these non-elect people experienced many special conviction events, they would never receive Jesus as their Lord. Their existence without the opportunity to hear the gospel somehow fits into God’s sovereign plan for the universe.

    A relevant Scripture passage for this group is Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” When humans look at the complex world around them, they logically will conclude that an all-powerful Creator (Who is separate from His creation) must exist. Thus those who have no opportunity to hear the gospel have no excuse for exchanging “the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Romans 1:23).

    These people are born with the desire to sin. They have the light of nature and conscience, however, and their consciences can function correctly for a period of time and convict them of sin. As free agents (without true free will) they do what they naturally want to do. They want to sin, and they continue sinning in spite of any feelings of guilt that come from their conscience.

    Gradually the consciences of these people stop functioning correctly, and they become gradually hardened as God gives them over to impurity, degrading passions, and a depraved mind (Romans 1:24, 26, 28).
     

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