Campus Hill Church - Sabbath Services - December 1, 1973

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1 Campus Hill Church - Sabbath Services - December 1, 1973 GOD'S GREEN THUMB by J. W. Lehman For some time now we have been studying the KINGDOM OF GRACE which is a present kingdom that Jesus established on this earth and to which we can belong right now. The reason for these studies is to correct many of the misunderstandings that we have about becoming Christians or becoming better Christians. Today's study is on the parable of the SOWER. Matthew 13:3-9 (AMP) "And He told them many things in parables (stories by way of illustration and comparison), saying, A sower went out to sow 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil; and at once they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they dried up and withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them out. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil, and yielded grain some a hundred times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears [to hear], let him be listening and let him consider and perceive and comprehend by hearing." This parable is on the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Matthew 13:10-11 (AMP) "Then the disciples came to Him and said, Why do You speak to them in parables? 11 And He replied to them, To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 18 Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower: 19 While anyone is hearing the Word of the kingdom and does not grasp and comprehend it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the roadside." Great Controversy, p. 347 tells us that the term Kingdom of Heaven describes the work of divine grace upon the soul. So in this parable we are learning a little more about this kingdom of grace and how to be part of it. This is a most unusual kingdom. QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, p. 35

2 "Not by force of arms, not by violent interpositions, was the kingdom of God to prevail, but Be the IMPLANTING of a new principle in the hearts of men." "Christ had come, not as a king, but as a sower; not for the overthrow of kingdoms, but for the scattering of seed; not to point his followers to earthly triumphs and national greatness, but to a harvest, to be gathered after patient toil and through losses and disappointments." In the Kingdom of Grace, Christ is the FARMER who does the planting, the cultivating and care for the crop. While the Subjects of the Kingdom are likened to various types of soil. QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, p. 33 "By the parable of the sower, Christ illustrates the things of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the work of the great Husbandman for His people." So in the KINGDOM OF GRACE, THE PRESENT KINGDOM, it is WHAT GOD DOES FOR US AND NOT WHAT WE DO FOR HIM. He is in charge of the PLANTING, the GROWING, the IRRIGATING, the CULTIVATING, the PROTECTION AND CARE OF THE PLANTS, and the ENTIRE CULTURE OF THE PLANTS. According to this parable there is only one thing we can do about our development as Christians and that is to be GOOD GROUND. And according to Christ's Object Lessons, p. 58, good ground is not sinless ground. This is not what goodness means in this case. As we continue our study remember Christianity is not what we do for God, but what He does for us. What is the seed the Farmer plants? Luke 8:11 (KJV) "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God." SEED IS THE WORD OF GOD. This says a tremendous amount in so brief words: When you get home boys and girls, have your mother or daddy find a LARGE LIMA BEAN. Moisten it and split it in half. At one end down in the bottom, you will find a tiny little, dry plant which is a miniature bean plant. This is the part that sprouts and is the beginning of the plant. GOD PUT IT THERE. QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, p. 38 "Every seed has in itself a germinating principle. In it the life of the plant is enfolded. So there is life in God's word." Christ says, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." John 6:63 "He that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life." John 5:24 In every command and in every promise of the word of God is the power, the very life of God. By which the command may be fulfilled and the promise realized. He who by faith receives the word is receiving the very life and character of God." You can see how much is dependent upon the WORD, ITS PLANTING AND ITS GROWTH. ALL OF THIS IS DONE BY JESUS THE HUSBANDMAN OR FARMER. -2-

3 It is not our STUDY, our TRYING or WORKING, BUT HIS PLANTING. AND GROWTH BEGINS BECAUSE OF THE GERMINATING PRINCIPLE HE HAS IMPLANTED IN THE SEED. QUOTE: Steps to Christ, p. 67 "The change of heart by which we become children of God is in the Bible spoken of as birth. Again, it is compared to the germination of the good seed sown by the Husbandman." "Not all the wisdom and skill of man can produce life in the smallest object in nature. It is only through the life which God Himself has imparted that either plant or animal can live. So it is only through the life from God that spiritual life is begotten in the hearts of men. Unless a man is "born from above" he cannot become a partaker of the life which Christ came to give. John 3:3 margin." ALL OF THIS IS WHAT THE HUSBANDMAN DOES FOR US, NOT WHAT WE DO FOR HIM. If the Husbandman does all of this, why is not everyone a perfect Christian? Because the soil has something to do with the success of the planting and growth of the seed. But this is a vastly different kind of work than many of us suppose we should be doing to be good Christians. Matthew 13:18-23 (KJV) "Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, p. 43 "That with which the parable of the sower chiefly deals is the effect produced on the growth of the seed by the soil into which it is cast." WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF THE SOIL? Matthew 13:4, 19 (KJV) "And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side." -3-

4 Seed sown on wayside soil never is planted; the ground is too hard to penetrate. They hear but do not understand the Word. WHY NOT? How has the soil become so hard and beaten? QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, p. 44 "The seed sown by the wayside represents the word of God as it falls upon the heart of an INATTENTIVE HEARER. Like the hard - beaten path, trodden down by the feet of men and beasts, is the heart that becomes a highway for the world's traffic, its pleasures and sins. Absorbed in selfish aims and sinful indulgences, the soul is hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13 The spiritual faculties are paralyzed. Men hear the word, but understand it not. They do not realize their need or their danger. They do not perceive the love of Christ, and they pass by the message of His grace as something that does not concern them." Matthew 13:19 (KJV) "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side." The wicked one then takes away the seed. HOW? QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 44, 45 "While Christ is drawing the soul by His love, Satan tries to turn away the attention of the one who is moved to seek the Saviour. He engages the mind with worldly schemes. He excites criticism, or insinuates doubt and unbelief. The speaker's choice of language or his manner may not please the hearers, and they dwell upon these defects. Thus the truth they need, and which God has graciously sent them, makes no lasting impression. The second type of soil is the stony ground. Matthew 13:5-6, (KJV) "Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, p. 46 "Many who make a profession of religion are stony-ground hearers. Like the rock underlying the layer of earth, the selfishness of the natural heart underlies the soil of their good desires and aspirations. The love of self is not subdued. They have not seen the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the heart has not been humbled under a sense of its guilt" "They do not consider what the word of God requires of them. They do not bring it face to -4-

5 face with all their habits of life, and yield themselves fully to its control." "... they trust in their own good works and good impulses, and are strong in their own righteousness. They are not strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." The third type of soil is : Matthew 13:7, 22 (KJV)"And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." WHAT ARE THESE THORNS? QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, p. 50 "The gospel seed often falls among thorns and noxious weeds; and if there is not a moral transformation in the human heart, if old habits and practices and the former life of sin are not left behind, if the attributes of Satan are not expelled from the soul, the wheat crop will be choked." Mark 4:18-19 (KJV) "And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful." Luke 8:14 (KJV) "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." These things crowd out and choke the wheat until it cannot grow and so it dies. Lastly we come to the GOOD GROUND. Luke 8:15 (KJV) "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". HONEST AND GOOD HEART. QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, pp., 58, 59 "The honest and good heart" of which the parable speaks is not a heart without sin; for the gospel is to be preached to the lost. Christ said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Mark 2:17 He has an honest heart who yields to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He confesses his guilt, and feels his need of mercy and love of God. He has a sincere desire to know the truth, that he may obey it. The good heart is a believing heart, one that has faith in the word of God." Good ground is = not sinless, -5-

6 yields to conviction of Spirit, confesses guilt, feels his need of mercy and love, has sincere desire to know truth and to obey it, has a believing heart. Matthew describes the good heart as: Matthew 13:23 (KJV) "But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." HEARETH AND UNDERSTANDETH QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, p. 59 "The Pharisees of Christ's day closed their eyes lest they should see, and their ears lest they should hear; therefore the truth could not reach their hearts. They were to suffer retribution for their WILLFUL ignorance and self-imposed BLINDNESS. But Christ taught His disciples that they were to open their minds to instruction, and be ready to believe." Is great intellect required to understand? QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, p. 59 "The knowledge of the truth depends not so much upon strength of intellect as upon PURENESS OF PURPOSE, THE SIMPLICITY OF AN EARNEST, DEPENDENT FAITH. To those who in HUMILITY OF HEART seek for divine guidance, angels of God draw near. The Holy Spirit is given to open to them the rich treasures of the truth." Luke 8:15 (KJV) KEEP IT (THE TRUTH) "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." We must meditate, learn the meaning, study the word, think the pure, holy thoughts of heaven. Luke 8:15 bringeth forth fruit with patience. James 5:7 (KJV) "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain." Hath long patience for fruit. We are to accept the circumstances and trials and adversities of life that make our growth in grace successful. This TAKES TIME AND WE MUST BE PATIENT. DID JESUS GIVE THIS PARABLE TO TELL AL WHO WERE WAYSIDE, STONY OR THORNY GROUND THAT THEIR CASE WAS HOPELESS AND THEY MIGHT AS WELL QUIT? -6-

7 NO, NEVER! WHAT CAN WE DO IF WE FIND OURSELVES IN THIS CONDITION? QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, p. 56 "But the result is not beyond our control. True, we cannot change ourselves; but the power of choice is ours, and it rests with us to determine what we will become. The wayside, the stony-ground, the thorny-ground hearers need not remain such. The Spirit of God is ever seeking to break the spell of infatuation that holds men absorbed in worldly things, and to awaken a desire for the imperishable treasure. It is by resisting the Spirit that men become inattentive to or neglectful of God's word." SO THE LESSON IS RECEPTION OF THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT. QUOTE: Christ's Objection Lessons, p. 44 "The question of GREATEST IMPORTANCE TO YOU IS, HOW DO YOU TREAT MY MESSAGE? Upon your reception or rejection of it, your eternal destiny depends." OUR TREATMENT AND RECEPTION OF THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT AND OF THE WORD OF GOD, THESE ARE THE HEART OF OUR PROBLEMS. GOOD GROUND IS RECEPTIVE GROUND. But there is more that we can do: Jeremiah 4:3 (KJV) "For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns." BREAK UP YOUR FALLOW GROUND. HOW? QUOTE: Christ's Object Lessons, p. 56 "The garden of the heart must be cultivated. The soil must be broken up by deep repentance for sin. Poisonous, Satanic plants must be uprooted. The soil once overgrown by thorns can be reclaimed only by diligent labor. So the evil tendencies of the natural heart can be overcome only by earnest effort in the name and strength of Jesus. The Lord bids us by His prophet, "Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns." "Sow to yourselves in righteousness; reap in mercy." Jer. 4:3; Hosea 10:12. This work He desires to accomplish for us, and He asks us to co-operate with Him." WHO BREAKS THE FALLOW GROUND? THE FARMER WITH HIS PLOW? WHO PULLS OUT THE WEEDS AND THORNS? THE FARMER? WHAT THEN MUST WE DO? BE WILLING SUBMISSIVE FOR HIM TO DO THIS. WE MUST DESIRE IT AND COME TO HIM TO HAVE HIM DO THE JOB. Our task is to BE GOOD SOIL, not to plant, or try to grow, nor irrigate, nor cultivate. THE GREAT HUSBANDMAN WITH THE GREEN THUMB - THE GIVER OF ALL LIFE, WHO CAN EVEN MAKE THE DEAD COME TO LIFE AND GROW; HE IS THE ONE WHO DOES ALL OF THIS. WE ARE TO BE RECEPTIVE SOIL, SUBMISSIVE AND YIELDING, WILLING TO BE MAKE WILLING, OPEN, TEACHABLE, NEEDY AND RECOGNIZING OUR NEED SO THAT WE HUNGER, BELIEVING, -7-

8 KEEPING OR CHERISHING AND HOLDING THE PRECIOUS SEED, HONEST WITH SELF AND WITH GOD, CHOOSING TO BE GOOD GROUND. THESE ARE THE THINGS WE CAN DO SO THAT THE HUSBANDMAN WILL BE SUCCESSFUL IN OUR HEARTS. QUOTE: Christ's object Lessons, p. 61 "If a man love Me," Christ said, "he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." John 14:23 The spell of a stronger, a perfect mind will be over us; for we have a living connection with the source of all-enduring strength. In our divine life we shall be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. We shall no longer live the common life of selfishness, but Christ will live in us. His character will be reproduced in our nature. Thus shall we bring forth the fruits of the Holy Spirit -- "some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred." -8-

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