Two Familiar Parables
Parable of the Sower
Rich Young Ruler
Bible Quotations King James Authorized Version of 1611
By Tom Hagler
February 24, 2001
Hopefully the Bible verses I have quoted will be a blessing to the reader... and my comments not offensive. This will be an attempt to show a somewhat different interpretation for two familiar parables, as understood by a Primitive Baptist layman.
Since it is not expected that everyone will agree with the meaning assigned to the various verses quoted, I sincerely request that the reader give me an explanation as to their understanding. I need and want this constructive criticism. This is my way of studying the Bible. Please forward to Tom Hagler, 5 Somerset Court, Augusta, GA 30909.
I need to acknowledge that I have had no original thoughts on the meaning of Bible verses. While I am usually guilty of expressing myself poorly, I can boast that I have been blessed to hear some of the most capable preachers anywhere. It is a joy and great privilege to attend worship services where preaching is provided by men like Elders Sam Bryant, Harold Hunt, Sonny Pyles, and so many others.
The Lord has been good to me. I just wish more of my friends would share in the excitement of realizing that the Bible is true "from the very first verse," as the Creation Science organization "Answers in Genesis" would say. The Bible is true on every subject it covers, especially history and science.
The Parable of the Sower
The "parable of the sower" teach us some interesting things about how God's children receive the gospel message. After giving us the parable in Matthew 13:3-8, Jesus then answers the disciples as to why He spoke in parables. Jesus said in the 11 th verse: "He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. "I believe Jesus is rebuking God's children within the nation of Israel who have drifted away from God and God's laws. This had happened many times in their history.
Jesus goes on to say: "And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear (the unregenerate cannot hear as John 8:47), and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not
perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing (only dull, not devoid or dead), and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."
This must refer to God's rebellious "born again" children who are not yet converted. This compares somewhat to the case of Peter in Luke 22:31-32 "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. II Peter was born again (as proven by Matthew 16: 16 compared to 1 John 5: 1), but not yet fully converted.
The unregenerate are spiritually dead. Ephesians 2: 1 states: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:” The dead can hear nothing, so parables would not be necessary.
Finally Jesus explains the parable to the disciples, beginning at Matthew 13: 18:
Matthew 13:18 “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.”
Matthew 13:19 “When anyone 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.”
Matthew 13:20 “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;”
Matthew 13:21 “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.”
Matthew 13:22 “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.”
Matthew 13:23 “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. "
Notice that in each case, whether it be “by the way side,” in “stony places,” or among “the thorns,” the parable always starts by saying they hear the word. Based on this, we know these individuals are children of God because of what Jesus told some who were unregenerate, as follows:
· John 8:44 “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Then a few verses later Jesus said the following:
· John 8:47 “He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not. because ye are not of God.” Jesus would not need to use parables with these people who are “not of God.”
Next, notice in Matthew 13: 19, where it refers to the one that received seed “by the wayside.” It says the seed was sown in the heart. We remember 2 Corinthians 3:3 “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone but in fleshly tables of the heart.” The unregenerate have a heart of stone. It is not possible to sow seed in a heart of stone, but this would make sense in the fleshy heart of a person who is born again.
Further, in Mark 13:20, the one that received the seed “into stony places,” received it with joy. Only God's children can receive God's Word with joy. Joy is one of the nine fruits of the spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Obviously Mark 13:20 is also referring to a child of God.
Finally, those that received the “seed into the good ground,” are those of God's children who hear the Word, understand it, and bear various amounts of fruit. God expects all His children that are blessed to hear the gospel message, to bear fruit as a disciple.
Regardless, God deals with His rebellious children according to their understanding. An example of this is given in Luke 12:47-48 “And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”" God is merciful and patient, but He expects His children to obey His commands. This parable is not to the non-elect world, but only to His children.
God's children are not always obedient. When they are fortunate enough to hear the gospel preached, it might come at a time of their life when they are not very receptive to the message. This parable gives the various conditions the child of God may be found in, and the result that may occur.
A good reference on this is Hebrews 3:7-11, which states: “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)” It should be obvious this message is for God's rebellious children. The proof for me is that this message is addressed to “Brethren,” as given in Hebrews 3: 1 “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling. . .” A key is “if ye will hear,” and “they shall not enter in to my rest (no church blessing-it's not hell).” Also, this particular reference is noted in Jude 5 and 1 Corinthians 10:1-11.
While the child of God can never loose eternal salvation, he may suffer the rod of God in chastisement (Hebrews 10:26-31 and 12:5-11) if the preached word is ignored. Hebrews 10:26-31 states: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
God commands His children to take up their cross and follow Christ. It is not just an invitation, it is a command we should gladly follow. To be a disciple of Christ is to enjoy the comfort of the Holy Spirit in fellowship with Jesus Christ. A wonderful salvation from the wicked "untoward" generation (Acts 2:38-40) in this life.
Rich Young Ruler
The story of the “rich young ruler” as recorded in the gospel of Mark also teaches us some interesting lessons overlooked by many. These verses are as follows:
Mark 10:17 “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Eternal life is the subject under consideration.)
Mark 10:18 “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.”
Mark 10:19 “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.”
Mark 10:20 “And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.”
Mark 10:21 “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
Mark 10:22 “And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”
Mark 10:23 “And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”
Mark 10:24 “And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!”
Mark 10:25 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Mark 10:26 “And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?”
Mark 10:27 “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”
First, it should be noticed that the rich young ruler wanted to know how to obtain eternal life, as he made clear in Mark 10:17. However, notice the remark by Jesus in Mark 10:25: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” The disciples then ask the question “Who then can be saved?” In Mark 10:27 we have the answer “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” It should be clear from this that it is impossible for man to do anything to obtain eternal salvation. This is totally in the hands of God.
Even so, another most important point is made in Mark 10:21: “Then Jesus beholding him loved him.” It appears that this rich young man is already a child of God. One who seeks God, does so, because he is already a child of God. As 1 John 4: 19 “We love Him because He first loved us.”
We remember Romans 9: 13 which states “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” God loved Jacob and hated Esau even before they were ever born, as Paul declared in Romans 9: 11. This verse says “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.”
One should consider that Christ knows the children chosen by the Father before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-6), and this must have included the rich young ruler, because Jesus loved him. Also, one must know that Jesus has power over all flesh to save eternally any that God the Father has given Him to save. This point is clearly stated in the prayer Jesus prayed before His crucifixion in John 17:2, “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” As many as means not one more, and not one less.
In returning to the case of Esau, if someone feels God is not fair to Esau, then they should read what Paul said a few verses later in Romans 9:14-16 “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” It is not our will that matters in eternal salvation, it is only the will of God, as John 1: 13 states: “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
If one agrees the rich young ruler is already a child of God, they must then understand that Jesus is using this parable to explain the duty of a child of God as well as the impossibility of the non-elect to obtain eternal salvation. The non-elect do not love God or want to know His ways. Notice how the unregenerate are referred to in Job 21:14-15: “Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?”
Now, let's return to the rich young ruler. Because the rich young ruler has too much trust in riches to become fruitful as a disciple of Christ, Jesus says he must first sell all that he has, give to poor, and then follow Him as a disciple. This is necessary if he is to be fruitful. In this parable, after the gospel seed is sown, being fruitful is the result Jesus is looking for.
Also, one must now see that this young man fits the case in the parable of the sower which “received seed among, the thorns,” as stated in Matthew 13:22. This verse states: “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.” He becomes one (a child of God) who is unfruitful as a disciple of Christ.
The rich young ruler went away grieved in Mark 10:22. This would not have been the reaction (grieved) of one who is unregenerate. If this were the case, he would have reacted as in Acts 7:54: "When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.” The rich young ruler may have suffered later for his disobedience; however, I believe he is in heaven today. One should remember that God's laws are commandments, not just suggestions, or hints for his children in this life. There is a consequence for disobedience to be paid by His children during their lifetime. Again, refer to Hebrews 10:26-31 and 12:5-11.
As for eternal salvation, remember again the last verse concerning the rich young ruler. Jesus answered the disciple's question “Who then can be saved?” In Mark 10:27 we have “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” It should now be clear to anyone that eternal salvation is totally in the hands of God. And God never loses a case. The elect of God, whether an unborn baby, the mentally handicapped, or those in remote parts of the world, every one is safe, as regards eternal salvation. This is predestination!
This leaves the gospel to play an important role not generally understood by many Bible believers. Preaching of the cross (the gospel message) is the power of God to those who are already saved eternally, as stated in 1 Corinthians 1: 18:
To see much more on the purpose of the gospel, see my book Resolving Bible Dilemmas, Chapter IV, titled Purpose of the GOSPEL.