Recent Posts
Lowell Brueckner

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Seeking the Truth of the Kingdom, chapter one


Greetings from Orissa, India. Running water has just been restored after the recent cyclone. Here there was great persecution in 2008.



“Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matthew 13:3-8).



Before we consider one-by-one the different conditions of the soil, first let’s talk about some of the basic truths concerning harvest, which we must understand correctly. The most basic principle of all is that a sower sows in order to reap. The whole purpose of agriculture points to harvest. If there is no fruit, then the plan, effort and money invested are in vain. Nothing is worthwhile, if there is not a satisfactory end, and that which ends well, must begin well. The success of harvest depends much on the preparation of the soil.  

In the work of evangelism, the ministry of John the Baptist is absolutely necessary. His work was, precisely, to prepare the soil. “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!” (Mt. 3:3). The great majority of evangelistic efforts ignore this cry completely. They announce the good news with words such as, “Jesus loves you and wants to save you”, without taking into account at all the condition of the soil, which is to say, the condition of the heart of the listener. It was not that way in New Testament times or at any period in the history of the church among those that had true success in the harvest of souls.  

The only sowing that is worthwhile is that which falls on soil prepared by God. What do these words of Jesus mean? “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (Jn. 6:44), “He who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (Jn. 3:21), and “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (Jn. 18:37). All these verses point to a work of preparation before receiving Christ and those of us, who proclaim the gospel, have to collaborate with it.


The soil represents the heart. The seed is as good and better than we have described it in the introduction to this book, but it will be badly received in unprepared soil. In the end, nothing good will result. It is an error to think that in the three cases, where the soil was poor, that there could have been any kind of genuine work of God, resulting in salvation.

In the end, if the results are not good, it means there have been problems since the roots were formed and a gospel that is presented, without taking Matthew three into account, is defective. The preaching of John the Baptist included: 1) The exclusion (until they repented) of a generation of vipers that were not sons of Abraham, 2) an axe laid to the root of bad trees, and 3) a floor swept clean of chaff by a winnower (Mt. 3:7,10,12).  

We have to clear up one more matter: Salvation is of the Lord. A harvest, in which Jesus is not directly involved, can never produce a crop for eternity. When Jesus gave the interpretation to the parable of the wheat and tares, he left us no doubt that the Sower is one: “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of man” (Mt. 13:37). Jesus spoke of Himself as the vine and of us as the branches, saying, “He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).  

In the work of evangelism there must be a recognition of the limitations of man and therefore be strongly supported by prayer, because if it is not, it will only produce wood, hay and stubble. Duncan Campbell, a Scottish revival preacher, called such results “harvests of infidels”. Jesus must speak personally to the heart of each individual. The Good Shepherd “calls his own sheep by name”, and Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (Jn. 10:3,27,28).



“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 the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Mt. 13:19-23).

If seed is sown by the road, it falls on hard ground and cannot penetrate. Men’s footsteps have packed the soil and it is not useful for planting. The heart of the person, which is simulated by this kind of ground, is one which pays no attention to the word and gives it no importance. The cords of his heart are in tune with the world. He is highly influenced by the ideologies of the “experts” and convinced that they are right. When the word of God falls upon his heart, evil spirits come immediately to make sure that no trace of it is left behind. It is impossible for anyone to believe God and the world’s experts at the same time. They walk on opposite roads. 

In the second case, the seed penetrates all right, but the soil has no depth. Underneath there is solid rock (in Luke 8:6,13: The Greek word is petra, meaning simply a large rock), and for that reason, when the sun shines on it, the earth rapidly heats and the seed sprouts quickly. However, the same heat that causes it to sprout destroys the tender roots and the plant wilts and soon dies.

This soil represents people with egotistical hearts that are seeking for anything that will be of benefit to them. They are happy to hear “the good news” and receive it only with intentions to profit from it and enjoy the things that the gospel offers. But when negative elements and difficulties enter, in conjunction with the word, they are quickly disillusioned. They will not tolerate discomfort and complications. The great rock of ego does not allow strong roots of deep conviction and commitment to grow that can stand against unpleasant and unpopular situations. Courage fades along with their superficial faith and they leave the truth in search of the next novelty.  

We move on to consider the third state of soil, where the seed falls among thorns. These rob the nutrients and moisture of the earth, so that the plant does not have the necessary strength to become fruitful. This example might explain the condition of many so-called Christians, such as are described in Hebrews 5:12: “By this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you… and you have come to need milk and not solid food”, or situations such as in the time of Hezekiah: “Children have come to the birth, and there is no strength to deliver” (Is. 37:3).

One of the characteristics of God’s seed is that, even though it is very precious, it does not compete well. The weeds are native to the soil, but the seed of God is imported from heaven. It is delicate and does not adapt to the world’s atmosphere. It must be free to receive the water that falls from heaven. The thistles are the worries, riches, desires (Mark) and pleasures (Luke) of this life and all these belong in the same third category. We must confront, not only the temptation that riches offer, the pleasures and desires for many things, but also the cares of providing the basics and necessities of life, such as clothing and food. Jesus taught that the world of people, who do not know the Father, are preoccupied with these things (Lk. 12:30). The person who wants to extract benefit from the word of God must give priority to it, because if he is distracted on any side, he will not be able to have true and eternal success in the Kingdom of God.


The fourth type of ground is the one we are looking for. It is the good soil, in which the seed is free to sprout and grow, strong in bearing fruit. However, to arrive at this state, the ground has had to suffer deeply the cutting, penetrating steel plow and has endured the blazing flames of the purifying fire that destroy the weed seeds. Anyone in a comfortable, pleasing situation rarely receives the word of God sincerely. We can know that God is working, when someone is moved and desperate, almost to the point of losing heart. At this point, we perceive that the ministry of John Baptist has been successful. The law of God and the sentence of condemnation carry that one to repentance. Now, he is ready for God to show mercy and will submit to any means that He might use. How seriously and sincerely he receives the truth of the word! How he appreciates pardon and surrenders to the lordship of Christ!




In spite of what we have just considered, we should not be discouraged, thinking that people who today have a hard heart, due to a good relationship with the world, are limited by their ego or saturated by involvement in many interests, must always remain in this condition. God can move to change these disturbances in the unconverted. Besides, be prepared as a Christian, for God also must soften our hearts, where there still remains a resistance to His word. The ground by the roadside can be loosened, and the rock, no matter how big and hard it is, can be broken. The thorns and thistles can be uprooted and burned and the heart, which before had reacted with rebellion and ugliness to Christ, can surrender and conform to His truth and sovereignty.


Let us examine in detail a biblical example, in order to understand better the work that God does to prepare the soil. A trip that Paul took in a ship will illustrate it perfectly. We go to the book of Acts, chapter 27. Throughout the chapter, we will see how the Spirit of God carries out the eternal purposes of the Trinity, practically and unexpectedly, in the people involved in this account. The immense heart of God opens to embrace people in Rome, on the island of Malta, and 276 sailors and prisoners, who accompany Paul. He himself is a prisoner on his way to Rome to be judged by the emperor.


A ship leaves Caesarea and sails from port to port until, from Myra in Lycia, the travelers board an Alexandrian ship on its way to Italy. The trip becomes complicated, due to some strong, contrary winds, so that they arrive with difficulty to a place called Fair Havens. For a long time, they wait for better climactic conditions.


At this point, we become aware of the intervention of the Lord, the Sower of the seed. (Though this story takes place on the sea, we see similar conditions to those in the field that Jesus described.). Paul receives a word from Him and tells the people, “Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives” (vs. 10). But, the word falls by the wayside. Who is going to believe a prisoner, against the word of the experts in navigation? “The centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and the captain of the ship than by what was being said by Paul” (vs. 11).


It seems that this ship carried an immense rock of egotism, manifested in the majority of the passengers: “Because the harbor was not suitable for wintering, the majority reached a decision to put out to sea from there, if somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there” (vs. 12). (If this had happened in modern times, we might think the Fair Havens Tourist Department had not been very active and that in Phoenix there would be four and five star hotels with the best restaurants.) “When a moderate south wind (a very pleasant breeze) came up, supposing that they had attained their purpose, they weighed anchor and began sailing along Crete, close inshore” (vs. 13).


Now, after refusing the word, God’s plow, which on land must loosen the hard ground of human wisdom and displace the stubborn rock of egotism, takes the form of a storm on the sea: “Before very long there rushed down from the land a violent wind, called Euraquilo (vs. 14). The fire, which burns the weeds on land, becomes a raging sea: “The next day as we were being violently storm-tossed, they began to jettison the cargo; and on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands” (vs. 18,19). Even though we do not see the stern prophet in flesh and blood, dressed in camel skins, his ministry is being carried out by Paul and nature itself. The way of the Lord is being prepared and “all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned” (vs. 20).


Soon we will see all the cargo of wheat and also the ship itself lost to the storm (vs. 38,41). Man’s entire purpose for making the trip was wasted and the cargo of the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches was thrown into the sea. Who now among the passengers still believed the experts? Who was dreaming still of the comforts of Phoenix? Nothing of the sort! Now the only concern was to save their lives and hope had been lost that even this goal could be obtained. What remains in the desperate hearts in the ship? Nothing more than soft and fertile soil, ready to receive God’s word. He is about to pour our His Spirit of revival upon the ship.


Just at that moment, in that hopeless situation, having passed the limit of what man could do to save himself, the Good Shepherd spoke to His sheep through His servant: Then Paul… said, ‘Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss. Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, Do not be afraid… God has granted you all those who are sailing with you. Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told… for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish” (vs. 21-25,34) – much less, would they lose their souls.


Good news! 276 people were saved, after Paul preached the gospel. “So it happened that they all were brought safely to land (vs. 44), but it seems to me, according to what we have quoted from the angel in the last paragraph, more than a physical salvation took place. When we arrive in heaven, we will hear the sailors and prisoners’ testimonies, as well as that of the centurion, Julius (read vs. 43 and 28:16 to see the change of attitude in this proud Roman soldier).




Surely, the Parable of the Sower applies to salvation, but I believe that at the same time it has a broader application, related to the comprehension and the reception of all God’s truth in any situation. The key for growth in the Christian life is also hidden in this parable. What is this key to interpreting all the mysteries of God? Basically, it does not have to do with a correct interpretation of symbols or ingredients, but with a heart preparation. When the heart is soft, deeply humbled and surrendered, it opens and truth penetrates, sprouts, grows and brings forth fruit.


“Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?” The person, who constantly misinterprets the Bible and its doctrine (doctrine simply means teachings), has a heart hindrance. There is some hard soil, formed by prejudices or beliefs, which he has previously adopted and now form part of his life. He holds stubbornly to them and will not let go. He resists truth, because he is not willing that it should change him. Not just once, upon entering into Christ, but constantly, throughout our Christian walk, we have to be concerned with the state of our hearts. We must permit the Spirit of truth to uncover us and cleanse us from three hindrances that can be seen in the Parable of the Sower: 1) A compatibility with the system and wisdom of the world. 2) The arrogance of the ego in all its manifestations. 3) The cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, desires and pleasures. The light of truth is within reach and we can receive it, if all the obstacles are removed.  


Post a Comment