Date: June 3, 2018
Pastor Ron Bridge
Title: The Four Hearts
Text: Matthew 13:1-9
Wellspring Church, Springfield, Ma.
SCRIPTURES: Psalm 67: 1-7; Psalm 119: 25-48; Jeremiah 4:1-18
BIG IDEA:“The Four Hearts”
What is the condition of your heart this morning? I don’t mean the physical condition but the spiritual part. That part of us that has a special relationship with God or not. When the Bible speaks about the heart it speaks of the center of our very being. It is made up of three parts; our emotions, our thoughts, and our will. These three function together to describe what the Bible calls the heart.
The Bible has much to say about the condition of the heart. In Matthew 12:33-37 we read these words:
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Proverbs 4 tells us to guard our hearts. Romans 10:8-10 says this:
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
So given the importance of the heart, it is vital that each one of us understands the true condition of our own hearts. Adam had a perfect heart and perfect knowledge and his emotions were under control, his actions pleased God. All that changed when he sinned. His heart died. That spiritual component ceased to exist. He no longer had a pure heart. Indeed his heart became like stone and by virtue of him everyone of us has been born with a dead spiritual heart. The one exception is the Lord Jesus Christ. If all have a wicked and deceitful heart, how can it be changed in order to be right with God? It is impossible to do this yourself. Only God can do it. The good news is that He does do it.
This morning we turn to a familiar story – it addresses the condition of the heart. It is known as the parable of the sower or the parable of the four hearts.
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears,[a] let him hear.” That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears,[a] let him hear.”
And Matthew 18 -23
“Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.[b]22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
A parable is a way of teaching by illustration. It comes from the Greek word parallel which means to come along side. This particular parable is recorded in all four gospels. The seed is the good news and the sower is the one who proclaims the gospel. The sower cast the seed everywhere. In those days the seed was valuable and the sower would be careful where he cast it. But in this picture the sower casts the seed far and wide.
What kind of seed is it? It is good seed – it is the good Word. As Paul said I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of salvation – it is good seed. These two points are important but they are secondary to the main point of this parable: the condition of the heart. If the seed failsto grow it is not a problem with the seed but with the heart. It is a call to self-examination. It is a call to compare ourselves with those in the parable and make an honest evaluation of the state of one’s heart. Examine yourself to make sure you are in good faith.
What is the state of your heart and how do you respond to the hearing of the Word? Jesus gives four examples of the state of the heart.
OUTLINE FOR TODAY:
Point 1:The unresponsive heart
Point 2:The shallow impulsive heart
Point 3: The crowded anxious heart
Point 4: The prepared heart
Point 1:The unresponsive heart
The seed lands on this heart but it can’t get into it. The heart might as well be made of iron. These folks are lost and don’t know it. They are oblivious to everything outside themselves. They are deeply engaged with self. In this present age we see people unresponsive to truth itself. Many believe that there is no such thing as truth. They say truth is not static; it changes. It is anything that you believe is true for yourself and it may be different from the person sitting next to you. Indeed, it may be in direct contradiction to what is factually true. A disturbing example is in the transgender debate. They believe their true self is trapped in the wrong body. It is untrue. But when subjective passions are high, rationale thinking ceases to exist. Because our culture is hostile to the truth and supports radical individualism, what is true is jettisoned in favor of what a person wants to be true. We have not entered a brave new world but rather we have entered into a bizarre new world. An increasing percentage of our culture, not only accept it but celebrate it. To enter the transgender debate by standing on the Biblical definition of men and women is to get the wrath of an increasingly anti-Christian society. A society that is more than ready to punish those who will not go along. There are laws that mandate that you accept that which is patently untrue.
By contrast, the word of God is no longer welcome in our world. We speak the word which is the only possible means that a broken heart can be restored but it lies on the surface of millions of hearts. Satan is ready to snatch away the word of God as soon as it lands on an unresponsive heart. It is blind to the truth. Such hearts are found in the world but also in the church. They don’t just passively accept the moral decline of our culture but they celebrate it on the grounds of tolerance. They believe it is not loving to tell someone they are wrong. Your truth is not my truth.
According to recent research by the Pew research group 70% of main line Protestants support same sex marriages and 35% of professing evangelicals believe the same thing. This indicates that there is a hardening of hearts; they are unresponsive to the truth. Church attendance is declining. People prefer to do something else. This reveals a state of the heart that is becoming unresponsive to the word. After a Sunday sermon they have no recollection of the sermon and no real plan to making changes that need to be made. The lives of such people are changing but not for the better. The life changing word of God is not getting into the heart. Beware of a heart that is becoming hard and unresponsive to the Word of God. Beware of standing on anything other than the rock of the Word of truth.
Point 2: The shallow impulsive heart
The seed falls on shallow soil and the word comes to a shallow heart. This person receives the word with joy but just as quickly they fall away. Such a person is often marked by superficiality. They start but don’t finish. They have no depth, they live on the surface. So many to day are raised to instant gratification. There is a profound shallowness in the lives of so many people. This is a mark of our age: people who move from one church to another; one marriage to another, one job to another, etc. They are like children tossed about. They never seem to find what satisfies their needs because their needs are every changing. They live on emotion. There is no consistency to their lives. They move on to find another. This person cannot have a deep relationship with God. When trials come into their life they prove that they are shallow.
This is the heart of many. They make a profession of faith. They may even get baptized but they have no staying power and gradually they drift away. Beware of a shallow impulsive heart. Beware of living by temporary emotions and not by faith. Beware of an easy profession of faith. Settle for nothing less than real convictions; tough biblical perseverance in the face of opposition. Don’t be satisfied with a form of Christianity; make sure you have the real thing.
Point 3: The crowded anxious heart
This is American soil: hearts crowded full of the cares and anxieties of life. This heart is in great danger. The seed begins to grow but the soil of the heart is infested with the weeds of this world, and there is a great struggle. They grow in knowledge. To a casual observer they seem changed but inside the worries of this world grow at a faster rate. They are entangled in the affairs of this life. They are so concerned with trying to fix this life, they give less and less attention to the next life. They seek gratification in stuff. Eventually the love of this world crowds out the love of Christ. No man can have two loves. Esau sold his birthright for a pot of stew. Judas sold eternal life for a bag of money.
Jesus gave many warnings but none more often than warning about the cares of this life – the greatest barrier to entering the next world.
Point 4: The prepared heart
This heart is prepared to receive the word of God. When a sower goes out to sow, he sows on prepared ground. Someone has plowed it. Where did this heart come from? Only God can make such a heart. The old heart is so broken that it needs to be replaced.
Ezekiel 36:26: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart off lesh.
God gives this new heart through the proclamation of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit begins to work in the lives of the elect. He moves people around to hear the gospel at just the right time. Truth working in us to shed the light of truth into that black cavity that was our heart. He rips up the weeds by the root and clears the soil so that when the seed falls it falls onto hearts that are ready to hear the Word. No one can have a new heart unless it has been given to him by God. It is all grace. This new life will bear fruit – it must bear fruit. We are his workmanship, created for good works.
What is the condition of your heart this morning? Is it hard and unresponsive to the Word of God, does it fall on deaf ears, are you influenced by the ever changing world? Do you live more by emotions than by faith? Did you stop growing? Are you tossed about by every circumstance? Or is your heart firmly fixed? Is yours a crowed and anxious heart? Do you really love God more than this world? Everyone bears fruit – what kind of fruit are you bearing? Jesus says he who has ears to hear, let him hear.
If your heart is one of the first three types, you have business to do with God. Do not let this day close without taking care of this business.
Even the very best of God’s children will experience times when their hearts drift away from God; when it becomes unresponsive to the Word of God. You resist. Perhaps a shallow and impulsive heart has sprung up in you – you start but you don’t finish. Perhaps your heart is anxious, consumed with the things of this world. What to do? King David experienced all these states of the heart. When he came to his senses he went before God and said create in me a clean heart oh God, renew a right spirit within me.