The Gospel of Luke - Part 30: Believers Obey - Luke 8:4-21

(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)


Review:

We are in Luke Chapter 8 where Luke tells us about how true faith affects us. As we study this, the question it poses is: Do you really believe? Remember that the Bible makes it clear that real faith will be conclusively demonstrated by our actions.

Luke shows us that as followers of Jesus, as Believers, there are several behaviors that we should be exhibiting, behaviors that Jesus exhibited. We will see that:

A.   Believers Partner(v.1-3)
B.   Believers Obey(v.4-21)
C.   Believers Tell Others(v.26-39)
D.   Believers Trust Jesus   (v.22-25,40-56)

Today — we will look at Believers Obey. To set the stage, let’s recap from last lesson, two weeks ago.

Last lesson, we finished studying the fact that believers show faith by Partnering, by teaming up. Christianity is not a solo sport. It wasn’t for Jesus, and it is not for us. Jesus executed His ministry with a team. A team that included His Disciples, but also many other people, including several women who played key roles for Him. We saw that men and women receive the spirit, that even then, men and women prayed together. Out of their gratitude toward him, the women served and supported and even financially supported the ministry from their own means.

That led us to the challenge of how our faith plays out in the support of His work today. As Rob Mahon says.

"Your giving says more about where you are spiritually than it does about where you are financially. The truth is that people don't start giving more when they have more money. People start giving more when they have more of God in their lives."
Now let’s look at the trait of behavior of true believers, who obey.
When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But 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. Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” And His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd. And it was reported to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You.” But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” —Luke 8:4-21
There seems to be a special emphasis in the Gospels on the importance of this parable. It is found in all of the Gospels except John. In each case, both the parable itself and Jesus' explanation are recorded. In Mark 4:13, Jesus said of this parable,
Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? —Mark 4:13
Because this parable is so important to Jesus, we’re going to sit here and study it at some length to consider what Jesus wants to teach us through it. This entire passage emphasizes the importance of our response to the Bible, God's Word. Remember the story Jesus told in Luke 6:46-49 of two men who built houses on different foundations?
Why do you call Me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great. —Luke 6:46-49
What did the rock foundation symbolize?

People often say the Word of God but that isn't right. Both men heard the Word; the difference was their response to it. Building your foundation on rock represents obeying God's Word.

When we hear God's Word, what are some things we can substitute for actually obeying God?

In verses 4-8 Jesus tells the parable and in verses 9-15,  He explains it.
His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. —Luke 8:9-10
The Purpose of Parables:

Before Jesus explains the parable, He explains the purpose of parables. One purpose of parables is obvious: to illustrate and explain spiritual truths by relating them to more familiar physical truths. Because of sin, spiritual truths are difficult for us to understand. Consider what God says in these passages:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
    “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
    And My thoughts than your thoughts. —Isaiah 55:8-9

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. —1 Corinthians 2:14
We are familiar with the physical world. So when Jesus uses illustrations from the physical world, like farming, it helps us understand spiritual truths.

Another Function of Parables:

But there is a second function of parables that is addressed in Luke 8:9-10. The Lord used parables to "sift" people — to sort out those who were truly seeking spiritual truth from the rest of the crowd who were not really spiritually responsive. Notice that in verse 9 it is the disciples, not the Pharisees, who want to understand the meaning of the parable.

People who are genuinely seeking God ask questions, study, dig into the Word for themselves. They don't settle for just hearing; they want to understand and apply. There are lots of people in churches who aren't really seekers; they're just going through the motions of what's expected.

Which are you? Are you really a seeker or just kind of along for the ride?

Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. —Luke 8:11
How is God’s Word like a seed?

This is a great picture of God's Word, isn't it? The Word really is like a seed. Like a seed, nothing really happens until it is "planted" in a person's heart. Like a seed, how well it grows depends on the condition and cultivation of the heart. Like a seed, God intends His Word to bear the fruit of a changed life.

For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. —1 Peter 1:23
We aren't told who the "sower" is. Certainly this parable applies to Jesus and His ministry. But it also applies to anyone who shares God's Word with others. It applies to us as we share the Gospel.

It is our responsibility to “sow the seed”. That means we need to do all that we can to help as many people as possible hear about Jesus. In I Corinthians 3:6, Paul says,

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. —1 Corinthians 3:6
This suggests to us that evangelism is often a process that takes place over a period of time. It isn't always a one-shot kind of event. People don't usually give their lives to Jesus immediately after some Christian does them a kind deed. In fact, studies have shown that the average person needs to hear the Gospel seven times before they make a commitment to Christ. After deeds of love, though, must come words of love. At some point, we have to articulate the Gospel. As one Christian writer said,
"If we don't follow our actions with words, they will only know that we're nice people — not that God loves them." (Unknown)
However, the emphasis of this parable is not on the seed or the sower but on the soil. The soil represents the hearts of people and how they respond to God's Word. Jesus says that the condition of the human heart falls into four basic categories:

(1) The Hardened Heart

The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. —Luke 8:5

Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. —Luke 8:12
The hearts of some people are like the hard-packed dirt along a path. God's Word isn't able to take root in their hearts. There are many references and warnings in Scripture related to being hard-hearted toward the Lord. I have a handout of verses [last page] that warn about that.
For the heart of this people has become dull, With their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes, Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them. —Matthew13:15

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. ... while it is said, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.” —Hebrews3:13,15
If you read through the verses on the handout, you’ll see that we are the ones who cause our hearts to become hard. What do you think it means to be hard-hearted toward God?

We harden our hearts when we resist the Lord, when we pursue though we know it's wrong. When people say, "I don't see anything wrong with ___________", they are telling the truth!   Their hearts have become hard so that they don't know right from wrong. They don’t even recognize wrong when they see it.

What choices will harden our hearts toward God?

The Pharisees and the religious leaders who refused to believe (remember, belief is always a choice) are a prime example of being hard-hearted. In Mark 3:5, Jesus was angered and grieved by the hardness of their hearts. This is where Jesus entered the synagogue and saw a man with a crippled hand. The Pharisees were just waiting for him to heal it because it was the Sabbath and they wanted to nail Him for healing on the Sabbath.

After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. —Mark 3:5
Gandhi once observed, "One man cannot do right in one department of life while he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole."

What attitudes/actions are evidence of a hard heart toward God?

Jesus points out the spiritual battle that's going on here. Satan is at work. Paul tells us how to fight this battle.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. —Ephesians 6:10-11
Satan doesn't just wait on the sidelines; if we let him, he'll snatch the Word away from our hearts.

What can we do to avoid developing a hard heart toward God?

Remember, the emphasis of this parable is not on the seed or the sower but on the soil. The soil represents the hearts of people and how they respond to God's Word. Jesus says that the condition of the human heart falls into four basic categories: We just saw (1) The hardened heart.

__________

Next week — we will look at the other conditions of our heart that prevent the growth of the seed.  Read through Luke 8 again to set this issue in your mind.

__________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Dangers Of A Hard Heart

Exodus 7:14 —   Then the Lord said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is unyielding (hard); he refuses to let the people go.

Exodus 8:15 —   But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. (See also Exo. 8:32, 9:34)

1 Samuel 6:6 —   Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When he treated them harshly, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?

Psalm 95:7-8 —   Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert,

Proverbs 28:14 —   Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.

Mark 8:17 —   Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?

Acts 19:9 —   But some of them became obstinate (lit. “hardened”); they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

Hebrews 3:12-13 —   See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

Hebrews 4:7 —   Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."

Hebrews 5:11-12 —   We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!