Biblegateway Verse of the Day

A Different Set of Beliefs

By Benjamin H. Liles

          I know I've written about this piece of passage once before, but I wanted to visit it for a reason. We all believe in things, especially our views of God based on how we've grown up. One of the first ideas we have of faith and God comes from the relationship or lack thereof with our parents. Beliefs we have from this shapes our overall world view.

          But next in line are those relationships we have carved out with others, actual friendships. This helps deal with one on one interaction between like minds, which brings us to the same with that of our spouses; how we learn to live with and either depend upon or remain independent.


         With that being said, here we go:

           "He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching: 'Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.' And He said to them, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear!'" (Mark 4:1-9, New King James). 

          The whole point of a parable, in the way Jesus used them, was to deal with those who are in two separate groups--those who believe and those who do not. Those who believe Jesus Christ is God's Son, who believe that God is real and alive, find ways to understand their relationship to Him who allowed Jesus Christ to suffer on the cross so we have access to Him, the Father. In other words, a parable has a meaning, rich and in-depth for those who "hear." 

          The sower in this parable is God, and some of those seeds fall on hard ground; some of the "birds of the air came and devoured" those seeds. Seeds that are eaten away from paths and soils are like God's word going out and Satan perceiving God's work, comes and takes it away, to keep those he has already blinded. For the seed that falls on stony ground, there's not much depth of soil, if at all, so when those seeds sprout, they wilt quickly due to the heat. This would be like someone who has a hard heart and receives God's joy and peace quickly, but since there's no depth at all, when the slightest bit of trouble happens, falls away.


          There's a point to that right here: most people who say, "There is no God," are saying that because there was no real depth of being with God. they saw what God was doing, they heard His words being spoken. But considering they didn't want their stony hearts removed, the "stony path," those seeds of faith never had a chance to fully take root. So their argument is based on, "Well, I asked God for this, and when this outcome didn't happen..." they feel justified for not dealing with the real issue of their heart, or rather, they just didn't want to "know" God.


          Then there's the seed that fell among the thorns. They land in good soil, yes, but these thorns are like the cares of the world. When things get tough, when we're pulled by the brambles of life, the cares of the world get in the way. So this seed is choked out and it dies because there's no rain to fall on the seed, or even sun to help it outgrow from the thorns and weeds. Agnostics at best can tell you certain things such as, "Well, I went deep see diving, and let me tell you about God's greatness...but I'm not sure if He can be known." The agnostic at best is a skeptic; a doubting Thomas, if you will.


          The remaining seed lands in the best soil. There's no stones in the ground to impede the seed from reaching deep down and taking full root. There are no weeds or thorns because they have been dealt with as well. This part of Jesus' parable deals with two things here:  God tells us through a prophet, "And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 11:29, Berean Study). It means God has taken all the hard heartedness, the pride and stubbornness out of this person. 

          This person who receives the Good News is able to fully receive what God is giving. That second part is that God has removed any kind of love for the world: "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish--ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:28, Holman Christian Standard). The point here is that there is nothing that can latch on to this person, who is so willing to keep a firm hold of God, no bird of the air, no thorns or weeds can choke God's word from their life.

Pre-conclusive thoughts

          I am a firm believer in that God's word can save a man. I've been through all the phases of belief in my own life. Imagine with me, because I recall this fully in my life, a six year old looking at the night sky with his father, through a telescope his dad put together. They both look up at the heavens and this kid, senses in himself, "There has to be a God!" He doesn't know a thing about God. But his dad teaches him to obey laws. Do not kill, do not hate--as it is the same as murder; Do not steal; do not lie; Honor your mother and I. These are even basic commands God gives to the Israelites! And this kid's father gives him those words, a non-Jewish, non-Church going father teaches his child this.

          So, this kid grows up. As he grows up he enjoys his "world." He enjoys the things his parents give him, a roof over his head, a computer, a nintendo, playstation, a guitar which he still plays to this day, the ability to do a great deal of math and in turn this kid gets into programming. So, the world is basically at this kid's feet. And this kid does something he starts to regret. He forgets, for a time, that he once believed God existed.

          The turning point in this young boy's life was spent out in the pool of his parent's home. One night, he feels restless. So, he goes outside and in the quietness of the night, he starts crying, softly. He feels utterly alone. What does he do? He says, "God, if you are real, there's no wind blowing. Allow the wind to blow without me being hot and I will know you are there." A light breeze moves the canopy of leaves and was a hot night. This kid felt cooled off; it was in the middle of July.

          This kid, mind you, does it again. "If you are real, God, I'm going to get into this pool and swim a bit. When I get out allow me to be dry but the ground wet. Then I will know you are there." He gets out and within minutes is dry, only the pavement is wet and still getting soaked. He's astonished. So, on the last time he calls out to God, he says, "Allow me to be wet but the pavement to be dry." So, he swims a bit, allowing the pavement to get dry. He gets out and shivers from the breeze blowing, he's cold. So he wraps himself up in a towel, he's sodden wet, but the pavement? Dry.

          Folks, let me tell you that scared the life out of this kid. He started believing in God that night. He wasn't any longer an atheist in the least bit, but he wasn't done being an agnostic either. It took many years for him to grow up and to grow out of "allowing the world to crowd in." I'm now in my mid-forties and really enjoying my time with God. I realize now how much time I wasted not taking God at His word. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior because I saw what God did for me. He wiped my slate clean. I still sin and I hate it when I do, but I'm not defined by those sins. They no longer keep me bound to death.

          I didn't earn the right to be a child of God. I didn't somehow get a call from somewhere telling me, "All your debts have been paid, God is willing to deal with you." No, He forgave me regardless whether or not I could pay a debt that can't be paid off. He took all my sin, my punishment, the wrath He stored up and held against me? It's done with, it's over. Why? Because Jesus Christ came, at the right time, to fulfill the letter of the Law; to fulfill, not to abolish them. Look carefully at what Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17, New American Standard). Paul said it in his own words, "Do we, then, nullify the Law by this faith? By no means! Instead, we uphold the Law" (Romans 3:31, Berean Study).

Concluding thoughts

          Guys, I know a conclusion is usually short, but there's a huge reason for me doing this. It's to make the point that you don't have to allow yourself to remain proud or even stubborn against a God who wants to heal you, who wants to deliver you from sin and death. Peter penned these words for future believers, those who felt God's wrath may still be on them: "The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9, Holman Christian Standard).

          God is there for you, today, now, at this minute, this moment allowing you to make that forever choice on where you choose to be. You can choose life with Him, to know Him, to grow in faith with and toward Him. Or you can be like the few who took the broad path to destruction, their so-called "enlightenment" where the dead scream and none can save them. Which do you choose? God or Hell? God is alive. He is in the Son, Jesus Christ, as well as the Holy Spirit who will implant and give recall of scripture to your minds. So, there's no place without God, except Hell. Make sure you choose right and well. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ this helps you in knowing which way is right. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.