The Parable of the Sower Mark 4:1-20

Text: “And He spake many things unto them in parables (earthly stories, with Heavenly meanings), saying, Behold, a Sower went forth to sow…”                                                          Matthew 13:3.                                                                                                                

Good morning, attentive Christian!  Because your very heart (entire essence of being) has been quickened by God the Spirit - to receive Spiritual life and know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord – you have learned the value of attentive listening and reading of Christ’s teachings, as revealed in the Spirit-inspired Word of the Living Lord God Jehovah.

The King James Version Bible (1611) has become oh so precious to you and to me, that we just cannot get enough of what is contained within each Eternally priceless page of this great book of books.  Not a day passes, when you and I can’t be found humbled before God’s throne of grace, praying His revealed Word into our all too feeble human hearts.  Such a privilege we have in owning an open Bible! 

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path…Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.”       (Psalm 119:105-112)

J.C. Ryle Comments:

“The chapter in which these verses begin is remarkable for the number of parables which it contains. Seven striking illustrations of spiritual truth are here drawn by the great Head of the Church from the book of nature. By so doing He shows us that religious teaching may draw helps from everything in creation. Those that would “find out acceptable words,” should not forget this. (Ecclesiastes 12:10)” (J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels 1816-1900)

“The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.  The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from ONE SHEPHERD.”  (Ecclesiastes 12:10-11)

The Parable of the Sower:  Christ’s Heavenly teaching in this parable is unique, in that the reality of the lessons taught, can be clearly seen by every preacher/Bible Teacher or Christian Evangelist today, in this increasingly apostate 21st Century.  Check out Christ’s wisdom:

Seeds ‘by the wayside’: The first seeds sown in Christ’s parable are seeds that “…fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.”   (V.4)  

Using our sanctified imagination, we can deduce the reason that these seeds did not flourish, grow, and become fruitful to the greater glory of the great Sower, Christ Jesus.  Jesus teaches us that He is “…the WAY, the truth and the life…” (John 14:6); these seeds had a fatal fall, they heard the same Gospel message as the all the other seeds, yet, “…fell by the wayside…”, instead of becoming firmly planted in “…the Way…’, Jesus Christ. 

They prospered not, because the Lord God never gave them His gracious gift of FAITH to not only receive the Seed of the Word, but to fully believe (trust) in Christ Jesus’s Atonement Sacrifice at the Cross, and be forever saved.  This seed was doomed to failure, reprobate of God’s free grace and Divine election to Salvation.  Hell opens its mouth to “…devour them up…”

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that (faith) not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Seeds on ‘Stony’ Ground:  The second type of seeds Christ speaks of, are those which, “…fell on stony ground.” (V.5)

There is nothing as pathetic today as a professing Christian, like the seed falling upon stony places; without any real depth or grounding in the Bible faith which they outwardly profess to believe. 

In this 21st Century ‘church’ worldwide and international today – there is a much too high percentage of professing members, that have no real grounding in Bible knowledge, Spiritual regeneration; and militant service to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Their hearts remain hard as stone, and the seed of God’s Word and the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ never penetrates their hardened hearts.  When the heat of daily pressures come to such ‘professors’, it clearly reveals the absence of deep-rooted faith in Christ, and they are, “…scorched…” and quickly “…wither away…” (V.6)

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come…Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”  (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Seeds Among Thorns:  The ‘thorns’ that this seed encountered are a type of the cares of the world; the ‘politically-correct’ standards of this world; the pleasures, privileges, and riches of this world.  If the seed of God’s Word falls down into this selfish worldly environment and standards – it has no chance of taking root, for there is no place left in the heart for God’s Word to grow!   Such may indeed seek to “…spring up…” mingled with the world’s ‘thorns’ – but are very soon exposed to be what they are, bad seed, counterfeit wheat, that is quickly ‘choked’ by the evil desires of their own reprobate hearts. (V.7)

Good Ground Seeds:  Good ground seeds are seeds from God’s Word that are sown by God the Spirit, in the hearts of those souls that the Lord God has preordained will both receive it and believe it – to the saving of their never-dying souls, and Eternal life with Christ Jesus. (V.8) (Romans 10:17)

“All that the Father giveth Me (in Eternity) shall come to Me; and him/her that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”  (John 6:37)

Thought:  All such good seeds are Eternally cleansed by “…the washing of water by the Word…”; grow in grace and in knowledge of Christ Jesus; and are forever secured in service to the risen Lamb.  (Ephesians 5:25-26)  Hallelujah!

Christ Speaks of His True ‘Relations’ Mark 3:31-35

Text: “And He looked round about on them which sat about Him, and said, Behold My mother and My brethren!  For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother.”

Mark 3:34-35.

Good morning, true relation of Christ Jesus!  Our Bible passage this morning from Mark’s Gospel account reveals a profound insight into exactly who Jesus deemed would be His true close relations.

If we are Bible-believing, Spiritually regenerate Christians; if we are faithfully seeking to obey God’s command to “Study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” – then you and I are deemed to be close relations of the Living Lord Jesus Christ Himself!  Wow!  What a great honour!

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  (Romans 8:16-18)

As we learn from our Bible studies in Mark’s Gospel, Christ Jesus was contending vehemently with the ever-present scribes and Pharisees, and easily refuting their malicious allegations that He was, in fact, casting out demons, because He was in some way in league with, “…Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth He out devils…” (Mark 3:22)

While the Lord Jesus was thus engaged, surrounded by a multitude, so much that His disciples and Himself, “…could not so much as eat bread.” (V.20) – along came His “…friends…”, seeking to “…lay hold on Him: for they said, He is beside Himself.” (V.21) 

His sworn enemies levelled malicious allegations at Him while He did good by healing and casting out demons from the gathered multitude – and His human family, and “…friends…” accused Him of being off His head, “…beside Himself…”!  What a formidable, two-pronged, attack on our Holy Lord and Saviour!

He quickly vanquished His, now usual, enemies with the Divine wisdom and logic of His argument, “How can Satan cast out Satan? …No man can enter into a strong man’s house (Satan’s prison-house of souls), and spoil his goods (deliver the imprisoned souls), except He will first bind the strong man; and then He will spoil his house.”  (Mark 4:23-27)

But no sooner had the Lord Jesus subdued His traditional enemies – scribes and Pharisees – when those of His human family and family friends began to pressure Him into ceasing His earthly ministry!

“There came then His brethren and His mother, and, standing without, sent unto Him, calling Him.” (V.31)

The gathered crowd, of course, said unto Him, “Behold, Thy mother and Thy brethren without seek for Thee.” (V.32)

At this point in the proceedings the Lord Jesus made a most profound Divine revelation.  He first asked the question, so as no one would be in any doubt as to what He was actually declaring, “Who is my mother, or My brethren?”  Then, looking around about on them which sat about listening intently to Him, answered His own rhetorical question: “Behold My mother and My brethren!  For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother.”  (Vs.34-35)

True family relations of the Lord Jesus Christ, are those, redeemed by Him, that seek, diligently, to obediently do the will of Almighty God, as revealed in His written and fully inspired Word.  Christ came down to do the will of our Father in Heaven at all times.

“For I came down from Heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.  And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.  And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”  (John 6:38-40)

J.C. Ryle Comments:

“It is interesting to remark the quiet, firm perseverance of our Lord, in the face of all discouragements. None of these things moved Him. The slanderous suggestions of enemies, and the well-meant remonstrances of ignorant friends, were alike powerless to turn Him from His course. He had set His face as a flint towards the cross and the crown. He knew the work He had come into the world to do. He had a baptism to be baptized, and was straitened till it was accomplished. (Luke 12:50)

“So, let it be with all true servants of Christ. Let nothing turn them for a moment out of the narrow way, or make them stop and look back. Let them not heed the ill-natured remarks of enemies. Let them not give way to the well-intentioned but mistaken entreaties of unconverted relations and friends. Let them reply in the words of Nehemiah, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” (Nehemiah 6:3) Let them say, “I have taken up the cross, and I will not cast it away.”

We learn from these verses one mighty lesson. We learn, who they are that are reckoned the relations of Jesus Christ. They are they who are His disciples, and “do the will of God.” Of such the great Head of the Church says, “the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels 1816-1900)

Thought: Jesus said: “My mother and My brethren are these which hear the Word of God and do it.”  (Luke 8:21) God’s true family relations all seek to do God’s will!

A House Divided Mark 3:22-30

Text: “Two are better that one, because they have a good reward for their labour.  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe unto him/her that is alone when he/she falleth; for he/she hath not another to help him up.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

Good morning, critical Christian!  Asking questions and being a Berean is to be recommended within any fellowship group - but beware of questioning for questioning’s sake!  Flee fast from being critical just for the attention received, or to be heard of the group.  For, if we deliberately cause divisions for wrong motives - we are dividing the Church of God, and a house divided cannot stand!        (2 Corinthians 13:8-14)

All mankind must listen and learn in silence when in the very Presence of Wisdom Incarnate - the Word of God, Christ Jesus.  (Proverbs 8:12-23) (Proverbs 4:1-13)

When accused of casting out devils by using the power of the Devil, Christ immediately rebuked the Scribes with profound, yet seemingly simple, logic.  He said, “How can Satan cast out Satan?” (V.23)  The task, of course, is impossible; the lesson taught was clear.

Christ then illustrated His lesson, in figurative terms, by the example of the “...strong man...” and his household possessions.  (V.27)

Before the Lord Jesus saves a sinner, he/she is the possession; the child; of the Devil - born in sin, to naturally sin; and to do the deeds of a deceiving and deadly father - Satan.   We have God’s Word on this subject.

“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, for 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.”  (John 8:36-47)

Satan’s ‘goods’ cannot be taken from him unless he is first overcome and this is what Christ Jesus did upon a Cross at Calvary - just as God the Father promised Adam He would in Eden’s Garden.  (Genesis 3:15) (Romans 16:20) (Hebrews 2:9-15) (1 John 3:8) Hallelujah!

The strong tyrant is overpowered and we, his goods, are made free!  Salvation is indeed of the Lord God ALONE.  (Jonah 2:9) (Acts 4:12)

Now learn a serious lesson concerning God the Holy Spirit - the Third Person of the righteous Godhead.  Christ took the blasphemies of men, yet promised potential forgiveness - even though some dared to call Him illegitimate!  Yet, He warned vehemently against blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.  (John 8:41)

Christ has no ‘unclean spirit’. (V.30) The Holy Spirit came upon the virgin, Mary, and Christ was conceived sinless, in sinlessness; and remains forever sinless.  Amen!  (Luke 1:26-37)

The only manner in which we latter day sinners can commit the ‘unpardonable sin’ here referred to is to continually reject the Holy Spirit’s urgent call, via the Gospel, to come and be saved.  (Acts 7:51)

Let us therefore rejoice as one, of one accord, united in the Body of Christ, the Church - for although we ask many relevant questions in order to understand more clearly the things of Almighty God, we are not divided in our fellowship and in our mutual, Scripturally informed, beliefs.  Praise the Living, Loving, Lord God!  Amen.

J.C. Ryle Comments:

“We ought to notice, in the first place, how great is the evil of dissensions and divisions.

“This is a lesson which is strongly brought out in the beginning of our Lord’s reply to the scribes. He shows the absurdity of supposing that Satan would “cast out Satan,” and so help to destroy his own power. He appeals to the notorious fact, which even his enemies must allow, that there can be no strength where there is division. “If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”

“This truth is one which does not receive sufficient con­sideration. On no point has the abuse of the right of private judgment produced so much evil. The divisions of Christians are one great cause of the weakness of the visible church. They often absorb energy, time, and power, which might have been well bestowed on better things. They furnish the infidel with a prime argument against the truth of Christianity. They help the devil. Satan indeed is the chief promoter of religious divisions. If he cannot extinguish Christianity, he labours to make Christians quarrel with one another, and to set every man’s hand against his neighbour. None knows better than the devil, that “to divide is to conquer.” (J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels 1816-1900)

In this increasingly apostate, unbelieving, period of 21st Century time, we who are genuine Bible-believing, born again, Christians, must uphold each other in fervent prayer, and seek not to cause divisions which the world will immediately see as a weakness of our faith.

“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (V.25)

Let us, therefore, stand fast in “…the faith once delivered unto the saints…”, and face the forces of Satan and evil in close fellowship with our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and with each other in His love/truth.

Thought:  We who are Redeemed by Christ should remain as one in Christ’s House.

Blasphemy Against the Holy Ghost? Mark 3:20-30

Text: “But he/she that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of Eternal damnation.”

Mark 3:29. 

“And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him/her: but unto him/her that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.”

Luke 12:10.

 Good morning, dread-free Christian!  You are not like some other fearful souls, who having committed the most heinous sins against God with impunity – now, in their own consciences at least, remain in horrible dread that they have indeed committed blasphemy against God the Holy Ghost!  This especially marked and vile sin is an unpardonable sin; an offence that will most certainly damn one’s soul to a Christ-rejecter’s Eternity in the torments of a Hell that is hot indeed.

 “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.  (Revelation 20:14-15)

Learn the stark lesson of the rich man in Hell, Jesus spoke of in Luke’s Gospel: “And in Hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”  (Luke 16:23-24)

This is the certain lot of all those that dare to commit the unpardonable sin – all those that continue to “…blaspheme against the Holy Ghost (God the Spirit) hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of Eternal damnation.”  (Mark 3:29) 

More on this dreadful sin later, but note first the Eternally positive comment on sins that the Lord Jesus reveals in verse 28 of our selection from Mark’s Gospel: “Verily (truly) I say unto you, ALL sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he/she that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of Eternal damnation.”  (Vs 28-29)

J.C. Ryle Comments:

We ought to notice…, what a glorious declaration our Lord makes in these verses about the forgiveness of sins. He says, “…all sins shall be for­given to the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme.”

“These words fall lightly on the ears of many persons. They see no particular beauty in them. But to the man who is alive to his own sinfulness and deeply sensible of his need of mercy, these words are sweet and precious. “All sins shall be forgiven.” The sins of youth and age, —the sins of head, and hand, and tongue, and imagination, —the sins against all God’s commandments, —the sins of persecutors, like Saul, —the sins of idolaters, like Manasseh, —the sins of open enemies of Christ, like the Jews who crucified Him, —the sins of backsliders from Christ, like Peter, —all, all may be forgiven. The blood of Christ can cleanse all away. The righteousness of Christ can cover all, and hide all from God’s eyes.”  (J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels 1816-1900)

My personal soul, at reading this statement from Christ, cries out in profound gratitude, ‘Hallelujah!  Oh, the wonder of God’s grace in Christ Jesus!  What a gracious Saviour!

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9)

Satan, “…the strong man’s…” house is spoiled, overthrown, overwhelmed, by Christ Jesus, Who has bound “…the strong man…”, Satan, and taken you and I from his vile kingdom! (V.27) Wow!  We are delivered from Satan, sin, and the Law, by the precious Blood of Christ Jesus, and the matchless grace of a truly Sovereign and merciful Lord God.  Praise His Name!

“We should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who hath delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in Whom we trust that He will yet deliver us.” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10) 

As for dread that we may have committed ‘the unpardonable sin’ in “…blaspheming against God the Holy Ghost…” – I believe you and I, in this dispensation of time, can only commit this sin one way: by a continual rejection of the universal call of God to come and be saved by Christ; by rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as presented by God the Holy Ghost.  

In fact, being in fear and dread that we have actually committed this unpardonable sin, is proof positive that, as yet, we have not!  The reprobate, like the unbelieving atheist, has no such fear, of God, because, “…the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him/her: neither can he/she know them, because they are Spiritually discerned.”(1 Corinthians 2:12-14) Such ‘fools’ have no conviction of sin.

The following quotation from Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) deserves attention:The sin against the Holy Ghost is ever attended with these two symptoms, —absence of all contrition, and of all desire of for­giveness. Now, if thou canst truly say that thy sins are a burden to thee, —that thou dost desire forgiveness, and wouldst give any­thing to attain it, be of good comfort; thou hast not yet, and, by God’s grace, never shall commit that unpardonable offence. I will not define how near thou hast been unto it. As David said to Jonathan, ‘there is but a step between me and death,’—so, may be, thou hast missed it very narrowly; but assure thyself thou art not as yet guilty thereof.” (Fuller’s Cause and Cure of a Wounded Conscience (1867)

Thought:  If believers fear they might have committed the unpardonable sin – it is proof positive that they haven’t – for God the Holy Spirit is still convicting them of possible sin.  Rejoice then, dread-free Christian!