MONDAY MINUTES With Pastor Chris McCool – The Key to the Kingdom, Part 5

As we have examined the parable of the Sower and the Seeds found in chapter four of Mark’s gospel, we have discovered that ALL the categories of ground discussed by Jesus are referring to children of God – that is, there is not any category of ground discussed here that could be classified as someone who is NOT a child of God. Rather, the point of this parable is to illustrate how different children of God in different circumstances respond to the preaching of the gospel. This parable must be pretty important: Jesus Himself told the disciples that this parable is key to understanding the Kingdom of God: “Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?” (Mk 4:13).

Initially, we discussed the “Way Side Christian”, and determined that this was someone who is actively engaged in sin in their lives, going down the “broad path” that leads to destruction. We learned that the proper way to deal with this kind of Christian is not to engage in some deep theological discussion, but rather to clearly and directly warn them to turn around from this path – STOP! In regard to the “Stony Ground Christian,” the right approach is to help that person build up the earth on the bare rock so that the seed of the gospel can flourish. How do they do this? STUDY! Only in the fertile soil of the word of God can discipleship grow. As for the “Thorny Ground Christian,” we saw that this child of God is well-grounded in scripture, but is simply distracted by the stresses and trials of this world. The message to this hearer is STAY – stay (lean, prop) on God and His Kingdom, and keep from the entanglements of the world.

Today, we look at the last and best category of child of God discussed here in Mark 4: the “Good Ground Christian.” Let’s see what Jesus says in regard to this category of disciple: “And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” (Mark 4:20). According to Jesus, there are three characteristics of this type of hearer.

First of all, the “Good Ground Christian” is someone who hears the word. This means that he is in a place where the word is preached! The Good Ground Christian isn’t constantly being pulled away from church: he is present and accounted for! He heeds the admonition of Hebrews 10:23-25: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Secondly, the “Good Ground Christian” receives the word. The Greek word here means “to receive, take up, take upon oneself,” or “to acknowledge as one’s own.” (Strong’s). In other words, the Good Ground Christian doesn’t just skim through the Bible, or sleep through church, he listens and understands that this word of God is speaking to ME. He sees that it must be not only heard but applied! He is what James calls a “doer” of the word, and not merely a “hearer.” James 1:22-25.

Finally, the Good Ground Christian is identifiable because he brings forth fruit. Notice that Jesus said that when you hear and apply the word, fruit is the natural result. What kind of fruit is He talking about here?

In Galatians, Paul describes nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Gal. 5:22-23. If a man lives spiritually, these characteristics will be present in his life. His will be a life of love, joy, and peace. He will exhibit a spirit of longsuffering and gentleness toward others. He will be a good man, living by faith with a meek attitude. And he will exercise self-control (temperance) in his life.

I know that we all struggle with the fruit of the Spirit; even preachers like me! Sometimes I feel to be very much in the flesh, and often find myself reacting in sinful ways to the people and events around me. But if I want to dwell in the good ground, I must STAND there, because it is easy to move away! This is the message to one who is currently in the good ground: STAND IN IT! Don’t move away from it! For only here can we serve God like we ought to serve Him.

Brothers and Sisters, do you find yourself moving from one category to another like I do? There are days when it seems I’m in each category at different times during the day! The world teaches that you are either in the good ground and a child of God, or in the other categories and going to hell. But here is the good news: Jesus is telling us that each category is a child of God, and we can migrate from one type of ground to another, until we find ourselves in that “good ground” which is the best of all for us.

May we stand in the good ground today is my prayer!

In Christ,

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor