The Parable of the Sower:
Salvation and Service
Part 1

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Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
November 7, 1997

Last Updated :
July 30, 2012

Samuel And David: Folly Of Judging By Outward Appearances, Don't Compare Ourselves Among Ourselves, The Foolishness Of Thinking That We Understand The Lord And His Profound Ways, Not Our Place To Determine Who Is Saved And Who Isn't Saved, Work Out Your Own Salvation With Fear And Trembling, Our Common Trials And Afflictions, Pray For Others Who Are Going Through Difficult Times, Self-Righteously Judging Backslidden Brethren, Endtime Apostasy Or Falling Away, Foolishness Of Setting Dates, Confusing Salvation With Service To The Lord, Does Lack Of Works Equate To Loss Of Salvation, Apostle Paul And God's Grace Versus Works, Martin Luther Discovers Grace, Modern Grace Versus Good Works Debate, Parable Of The Sower, A Difference Between Salvation And Heavenly Rewards, Shine Like Stars Or Shame And Everlasting Contempt, Blind Of Heart And Darkened In Understanding, Blind Leaders Of The Blind, No Root And Weakened By Persecution, Christian Challenges In A Modern Science-Based World, Seriousness Of Offending God's Little Ones, Beware Of The Praises Of Men, Televangelists And Their Politically Correct Non-Offensive Socially-Acceptable Gospel, False Apostles Who Preach Another Jesus And Gospel

Following the Lord's rejection of King Saul, He sent the Prophet Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint young David as the new king of Israel. Upon arriving at Bethlehem, Samuel assumed that Jesse's eldest son, Eliab, would be next in line as king. However, as we read in the following verse, the Lord used the situation to teach Samuel a very important lesson regarding judging by outward appearances:

"But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7, KJV

How true this is indeed! In our self-righteous pride, how quick we are sometimes to judge people by how they look physically, or by how they dress, or by how they talk, or by their mannerisms, or by how educated they are, or by their social status, etc. The Apostle Paul reiterated this same sentiment when he had to deal with the fleshly Corinthians who were trying to judge between themselves as to who was saved and who wasn't. Consider this verse:

"Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's."
2 Corinthians 10:7, KJV

A few verses later in the very same chapter, Paul stresses the point even further when he adds the following:

"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
2 Corinthians 10:12, KJV

The following verses expose the error and the folly we commit when we foolishly assume that we always see or understand things the same way as the Lord does. His ways are simply too profound for our limited understanding:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9, KJV

"Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number."
Job 9:10, KJV

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
Romans 11:33, KJV

Likewise, on more than one occasion, Jesus exposed this human tendency to lift ourselves up above our fellow human beings in erroneous judgment, when He said the following in the Gospels:

"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:"
Luke 6:37, KJV

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."
John 7:24, KJV

Taken collectively in the context of this article, these verses carry a very clear message for us all. In short, the Lord knows His business much better than we. He knows who belongs to Him and who doesn't. It is not for us to try to determine who is saved and who isn't. We each should worry about our own Salvation and not pass judgment on another person's walk with the Lord. As Paul said in his letter to the Philippians:

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Philippians 2:12, KJV

If we were all more conscious of our own sinful condition, perhaps we would not be so quick to pass judgment on our neighbor across the way who might be going through a rough time in his spiritual walk with the Lord. We would all be wise to remember that while it may be them today, it may very well be us tomorrow, because we are all subject to the same afflictions, trials and tests from the Lord, as we see by the following verses:

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
1 Corinthians 10:13, KJV

"Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."
1 Peter 5:9, KJV

The best thing that we can do for people we love who we see are faltering in the Faith, is to pray for them. Instead of setting ourselves up as self-righteous judges, what we ought to be doing is taking upon ourselves the humble task of being prayer warriors for friends, family and other people with whom we have shared the message of Salvation. This is made evident by verses such as the following:

"Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;"
Romans 15:30, KJV

"Pray without ceasing . . . Brethren, pray for us."
1 Thessalonians 5:17, 25, KJV

"Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:"
2 Thessalonians 3:1, KJV

"Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly."
Hebrews 13:18, KJV

"For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;"
Romans 1:9, KJV

"Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;"
Ephesians 1:16, KJV

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;"
Ephesians 6:18, KJV

"We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints . . . For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;"
Colossians 1:3-4, 9, KJV

"Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:"
Colossians 4:3, KJV

"Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."
Colossians 4:12, KJV

"We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;"
1 Thessalonians 1:2, KJV

"I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;"
2 Timothy 1:3, KJV

"I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,"
Philemon 1:4, KJV

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
James 5:14-16, KJV

"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil."
1 Peter 3:12, KJV

"The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."
Psalm 34:15-18, KJV

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
1 Timothy 2:1-6, KJV

Sadly, despite the wise counsel that is found in the previous Scriptures, as some of you will know, one practice which has become common amongst some self-righteous Christians is that of harshly judging a person who falls back from the Faith, or who abandons their service for the Lord. In some cases, motivated by their pride, these pharisaical Christians dare to question whether or not the fallen brother or sister was ever really saved to begin with.

Within the Christian body, this falling away from the Faith or from service for the Lord, is commonly referred to as "backsliding". This term is used quite extensively by the Old Testament Prophets to describe ancient Israel's falling away from the Lord, and worshipping the pagan gods of the heathen nations around them. I discuss this topic at length in the series entitled "The Fruits of Disobedience". In his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul spoke of a falling away from the Truth which would occur in the Last Days -- that is, the Endtime -- which is a period of time that precedes Christ's Return. Consider these verses:

"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, KJV

Many Christians -- such as myself -- believe that we may now be living in the climatic years of this Endtime period. But exactly where we stand is a very hotly-debated point which depends upon one's personal understanding of the Scriptures. As I point out in such articles as "The Misguided End of the World Predictions of Harold Camping" and "Sorry . . . Jesus is Not Coming at Any Moment!", it is very foolish for any of us to endeavor to set precise dates for Christ's Return. At any rate, in the previous verses, the term "falling away" is derived from the Greek "apostasia", and thus it is commonly referred to as the Apostasy:

To continue, aside from their own self-righteous pride, part of the problem with those people who adopt this critical attitude towards other Christians, is that some of them seem to be equating Christian service with Salvation. It may be because of their confusion regarding these two issues that they are claiming that if a person stops serving the Lord, then he must never have really been saved to begin with. At times, this may be true. Such might possibly be the case with Judas Iscariot -- the Lord's betrayer -- who I discuss in more detail in articles such "Are You Clean Every Whit?".

The question then is this: If a person ceases to serve the Lord, does this really mean that they are no longer saved, or that they were never saved to begin with? The issue of Salvation and works has received a great deal of attention, and has been a source of controversy since the very First Century of the Christian Era. The Apostle Paul spent a great deal of time addressing this topic in his Epistles and made such historic remarks as the following:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Ephesians 2:8-9, KJV

"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."
Romans 11:6, KJV

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"
Titus 3:5, KJV

When Catholic monk Martin Luther discovered these Truths within the pages of the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, and began to voice his opinions, he quickly became the object of wrath for daring to defy the "infallible" teachings of the so-called Holy Mother Church -- that is, the Roman Catholic Church -- which erroneously taught, and which continues to emphasize, the link between Salvation and good works.

Even today, despite our rich Christian heritage, the subject of Grace versus works still seems to be a hazy area where it has been very difficult for some Christians to find common ground. As you may know, some people maintain that Salvation is obtained strictly -- and freely -- through faith in the Sacrifice of Christ alone. In contrast, there are others who claim that Salvation can only be earned through good works. Still others believe that our Salvation is a result of Faith coupled with good works. Oh what a confusing doctrinal mess!

In my view, the latter position seems to imply that Faith in the Blood of Jesus Christ isn't good enough. It suggests that we need to provide the Lord with some help to really save us, and then to keep us saved. Quite frankly, I am of the belief that those people who erroneously rely solely upon their own supposed "good works" have in effect nullified the Grace that is bestowed upon us through Jesus' Sacrifice on the Cross. For these reasons, I personally and firmly embrace Paul's position that Salvation is by Grace alone.

I already discuss these topics at length in some of my other articles such as "All Are Given a Chance, But . . ." and "Is the Message of Salvation Meant for All Men?". Therefore, I will not belabor the point here. One thing which is certain, is that there are a number of Scriptures which have been used to support all three of these positions. The bottom line is that it is a matter of one's personal understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures.

As I pondered the view which claims that if a person stops serving the Lord, he must have never been saved to begin with, I was reminded of the Parable of the Sower. Jesus gave some very specific examples in that story which may shed some light on this issue. In reading the Parable closely, it seems to me that Jesus was not just talking about Salvation, but rather about service as well. As I point out in "Are We Once Saved, Always Saved?", I believe that there is a difference between Salvation and Rewards. It is my view that many people will be saved, but that not everyone will acquire Heavenly Rewards, because not all will go on to produce fruit for the Lord after acknowledging Him in their lives. This is why some Saints will shine like the stars, while others will live in shame and everlasting contempt as we are told in the Book of Daniel:

"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."
Daniel 12:2-3, KJV

You will notice that those people who are awakened -- that is, resurrected -- are clearly divided into two categories. Some will receive Everlasting Life, while others will suffer everlasting shame and contempt. The question I have always pondered is this: How could those poor souls suffer such a consequence unless they too are existing in some everlasting state?

At this current time, the only way in which I can reconcile these thoughts is to assume that once judgment is passed on those people who have rejected the Lord, while they may face certain destruction in the Lake of Fire, the memory of their failure will live on in the minds of those people who receive Everlasting Life. In this sense, their shame will be eternal. Of course, if punishment in the Lake of Fire is not eternal, then it opens some new possibilities. Please consider reading the series entitled "Hell, the Lake of Fire and Universalism.

Let's take a look now at Jesus' explanation concerning the Parable of the Sower. Hopefully, it will become clear to you the reader that while Jesus is talking about Salvation here, He is primarily discussing the rewards of service. Let us begin with the following verses:

"Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side."
Matthew 13:18-19, KJV

In the above verses, it appears that these people hear the words of Salvation, but their understanding is so darkened, and their hearts so hardened, that they don't know what it means. Thus, they quickly reject the Word of Truth and never even receive Salvation. I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Ephesians:

"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."
Ephesians 4:17-19, KJV

This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said the following regarding the unbelieving Scribes and Pharisees of His day:

"Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."
Matthew 15:14, KJV

"Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."
John 9:41, KJV

"Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. "
Matthew 23:24, KJV

Jesus then continues the Parable of the Sower by relating the following:

"But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended."
Matthew 13:20-21, KJV

In these verses, it appears that these people not only hear the Word of God, but they receive it joyfully as well, and thus truly experience Salvation. However, please notice what happens. Because of their lack of spiritual depth, because they don't stay close to the Lord and His Word, they fall away from the Truth during times of persecution when their Faith is seriously tested.

As I explain in the article entitled "Science and Technology: The Forbidden Fruit", in this increasingly ungodly world, as science and technology exert their power as the "gods" of our modern society, remaining a true, Bible-believing Christian becomes more unpopular and more difficult with each passing year. In articles such as "Dear Teacher: Standing Up for Our Children's Rights", "The Public School System and School Prayer" and "What is Wrong with Modern America?", I highlight the plight of Christian school-aged children who are scoffed at by their peers, and ostracized by the American educational establishment when they refuse to embrace the devilish poison which they are taught in the public school system.

As you may know, the Lord spoke very clearly regarding how seriously He views those people who offend -- or place a stumbling block in front of -- His little ones, when He said the following:

"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Matthew 18:6, KJV

I am also reminded of the many televangelists who are more concerned with pleasing their audiences than they are with pleasing God. They just love the praises of men, as we see by the following verses where Jesus accuses the Scribes and the Pharisees of being guilty of the very same thing:

"But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
Matthew 23:5-12, KJV

"And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation."
Mark 12:38-40, KJV

"Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."
John 12:42-43, KJV

As the Apostle Paul writes, some of these modern preachers love to tickle people's ears -- and the people love to have it so -- but they do little to stand up for the full Truth that we find in God's Word. Rather, such persons prefer to promote a non-offensive, politically-correct, watered-down, socially-acceptable Gospel which does not convict people's hearts of sin. Some of them in fact preach another Jesus and another gospel. I'm reminded of verses such as the following which warn us to beware of these misguided brethren:

"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."
Acts 20:28-30, KJV

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
Romans 16:17, KJV

"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him . . . For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15, KJV

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Galatians 1:6-9, KJV

"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."
1 Timothy 6:3-5, KJV

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"
2 Timothy 4:3, KJV

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."
2 Peter 2:1-2, KJV

"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
2 John 1:9-11, KJV

Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.

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