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In everyday life in the world, we are used to sensible transactional living. You pay for an apple, you get an apple. You invest in stocks and with some research and luck, you can come out ahead. Sometimes you do not. Jesus explains four results of sharing the Gospel with a friend. Tucked into this parable is how to confidently experience a life of exponential growth. Satan and Jesus have roles in evangelism. This spiritual warfare is rarely acknowledged. This can be seen in the four soils of the parable of the sower and the seed that Jesus shares in Mark 4:1-20. Interestingly, Jesus describes the challenges and the big blessing in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Satan, the thief, steals the word. The first of the three negative results in Mark 4:1-20 of planting seeds of the Good News of Jesus is Satan snatching the word away. Jesus uses the word picture of birds eating the seed. I envision vicious vultures in this scene. The fact revealed here is spiritual warfare is involved when you expand the Kingdom of God among Satan’s dominion of darkness. It’s a mere lie holding to the Calvinist view that God elected some to be saved at the beginning of time, and some not be saved. But Peter explains: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for ALL to come to repentance.” (2 Pe. 3:9) God desires all to be saved. Jesus died for all and nothing less. But Satan’s mission, by his free will, is to “steal” or “snatch” the word from those we share the Gospel with.
Satan, the thief, kills the belief. Hard times revert the new believer to go back to old ways. Jesus explains why this happens: “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.” There are no deep roots. The plant dies or is killed. Killed by what? The hard circumstances of life and attacks by Satan. Deep roots come about through being discipled. It’s critical to be shown the character of God that is only found in Jesus. Without anchors of spiritual formation like prayer, fellowship, Bible study and sharing your faith, roots are not deepened. In result, Satan attacks through peer pressure or problems that lead the person back to old ways, walking away from Jesus. God is not coercive. He gave you free will to leave. This attribute of God being defined by love. We have to be passionate about walking with believers past salvation, helping them grow in their relationship with Jesus.
Satan, the thief, destroys the desire for Jesus. Jesus explains a third scenario. “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.” (Mark 4:7) The desire for wealth and other things become more than their desire for Jesus. These desires become so strong that they choke or destroy a desire for Jesus. Jesus describes in Matthew 7:16 that his disciples are recognized by their fruit. But if plants are choked they cannot bear fruit. Satan destroys so that no one can be recognized as a follower of Jesus.
Jesus gives life of abundance! Jesus saves the best for last. This is when you share His Good News and the hearer accepts the Good News of Jesus and His Kingdom. But here’s more good news about your efforts. Not only does this one seed you planted bear the awesomeness of someone experiencing salvation, there’s more! They bear fruit, meaning they share the Good News too! But this is when the mathematics is not logical. In the above three, seeds are planted and one person does not stay with Jesus. In this case, one seed is planted in one person and it multiplies! This one person keeps sharing, more are saved and then those share the Gospel! Jesus explains is like this: “And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”” (Mark 4:20 NASB) This is life of abundance!