Monday Minutes With Pastor Chris McCool (April 25, 2022)

(*Disclaimer: Much of this article is taken from material written recently by Elder Buddy Abernathy. It made me think about this passage, and I have incorporated much of his writing into this article).

Whenever we read verses which use expressions like, “believe and be saved”, they seem to contradict Primitive Baptist doctrine. But if Primitive Baptist doctrine is truly Bible doctrine, this cannot be! So how do we resolve the question of alleged contradiction? One thing that Primitive Baptists believe is that, when we see the word “saved” in the Scripture, it is of UTMOST importance to ask the question, “Saved from what?”.

We should answer this question ONLY after we study the portion of scripture under consideration – i.e., the CONTEXT. If we answer the question before studying the surrounding verses, we impose an interpretation that was not gleaned from the context. Let’s look for a moment at how easy it would be to misinterpret scripture if we answer the question, “Saved from what?”, before studying the context.

First of all, in Matthew 14:30, Peter “cried, saying, Lord, save me.” Some people believe that calling on the Lord saves us from hell. Is that what Peter wanted to be saved from? Not here! When you read the entire verse it becomes obvious that Peter is calling on the Lord to save him from drowning. In fact, if Peter had been asking Jesus to save him to heaven, he could simply have sunk into the waves and drowned!

Let’s look at another example. If you called me on the phone in a panic and said, “I just saved your child!”, I would immediately ask you, “What did you save her from?” There would be no logical reason for me to assume which particular danger you had saved her from. On the other hand, what if you ran in my house wearing wet clothes and said, “I just saved your child”? It would then be reasonable for me to assume that you saved her from drowning. The “context” of the circumstances leads to reasonably believe that you saved her from drowning. 

This brings us to the main passage of Scripture that I want to look at today: Luke 8:12. In this passage, Jesus makes the following statement: “Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” In keeping with our approach to “rightly dividing” Scripture, let us ask the question here, “Saved from what?”

The context of Luke 8:12 is found beginning primarily in Luke 8:4, which is what we know as “Parable of the Sower”, as recounted in Luke’s gospel. After setting forth the parable in Luke 8:4-8, the disciples asked Him what the parable meant. In verse 11, He tells them that the seed in this parable is the “word of God.” We might also use the term, “the gospel.” Thus, the seed that was sown in some fashion is the gospel message from the word of God.

In Luke 8:12, Jesus explains that sometimes the devil takes the word out of people’s hearts to prevent them from believing the word and being “saved” by believing it. Again, we ask, “saved from what?” Notice a very important fact here: the word must have been sown “in their hearts” in order for the devil to be able to take it away “out of their hearts.” Is it possible for a person who does not have a spiritual nature to receive something as spiritual as the gospel, or the “word of God”? Pauls gives an emphatic “no” as an answer in 1 Cor. 2:14: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” So from the outset, we must agree that the person or persons under consideration here are already born again!

So what is the salvation under consideration here? Certainly not eternal salvation from the condemnation of sin, since these are born-again children of God. Rather, there is a salvation in believing the word of the Kingdom of God! What will believing the word of the kingdom save you from? As we’ve already seen, nothing in the parable suggests that believing the word will save you from hell. If we study the whole explanation of the parable, here’s the conclusion we must reach:

Luke 8:12: Some people have the potential to bring forth spiritual fruit, but the devil “taketh away the word out of their hearts”. In other words, the word of God is not influential in their lives.

Luke 8:13: Some people get all excited at first but “in time of temptation fall away”. 

Luke 8:14: Some people allow all the cares, and riches and pleasures of this life to crowd out the word.

Luke 8:15: Some people “keep the word of God and bring forth fruit with patience”.

There is no mention of hell or heaven in this explanation of the parable. It doesn’t teach that the people who “keep the word” go to heaven. Heaven or hell is not Jesus’ concern in this parable. Jesus is teaching the importance of bearing spiritual fruit. When we live in obedience to God’s word, we are behaving in ways which are indicative that we are under the influence of the Spirit.

All the behaviors we “produce” come from either the influence of “the flesh” or the influence of “the Spirit”. Paul identifies the “works of the flesh” and “the fruit of the Spirit” in his letter to the churches of Galatia. As you read the following verses, consider the ways we ruin our lives when we engage in “the works of the flesh”. Then consider how we can save our lives by bearing the fruit of the Spirit:

“[This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal 5:16-23 KJV)

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor (w/major contributions from Elder Buddy Abernathy)