Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Parable of the Sower

Luke 8:4-8, 11-15

And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold." When He had said these things He cried, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
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One of the fundamental elements of this parable:

The seed, which is the word of God, fails to remain in only one of the four soils. It is removed from the first soil and it is not removed from the last three soils. Furthermore, there is some effect produced by the seed in each of the last three soils. So on the face of it, the natural contrast is between the first soil and the last three, for the last three are categorically different than the first.

The natural contrast is between the first soil, where Satan steals the seed out of the heart “lest they should believe and be saved”, and the last three soils, where the seed which is the word of God “sprang up” (vs 6), “sprang up” (vs. 7), and “sprang up” (vs.8).

This cannot be overemphasized: The last three "sprang up"! The word of God created life in the heart and the last three "sprang up". The word of God is the gospel here, and the gospel, planted in the heart, created regenerate life in the last three soils. The last three are contrasted with the first one, where the word of God was stolen out of the heart, whereas in the last three, the seed remains.

Wayside soil
This is the only soil that the seed does not remain. Satan is in the world, blinding it to the gospel (2 Cor 4:3-4). He does not wish that any believe when they hear the gospel, for that would bring with it eternal life. Here Satan uses His sway (1 John 5:19) in the world to cloud out the gospel that has been heard. The word here is cast out, being left unconsidered in a closed mind, which the hearer that this soil represents, has hardened.

Rocky soil
In the pro-life movement for plants, life begins at germination. Life has occurred in the rocky soil.

The devil failed to prevent the salvation of the hearer who is represented by the rocky soil. This is evident. The seed remains, sprang up, and produced life. Satan has to get it out of their heart “lest they believe and be saved,” and in this endeavor he is unsuccessful. This parable explicitely shows that those represented by the rocky soil believe!

The Traditionalist (Reformed advocate) asserts that you aren’t saved by believing! but by believing and believing and believing and believing (and believing…): a perseverance in faith. You are saved at the end by perseverance in a linear faith, and not at a distinct moment of time upon a simple act of faith.

John 4:13-14
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Notice the phrase “drink of”. All one must do is merely “drink of” the water Jesus gives and he will never thirst again. Why? Because that one drink becomes a perpetual fountain. The single exercise of faith in Christ for eternal life brings with it absolute eternal security/eternal well-being.

According to the Traditionalist, salvation is contingent on linear faith. Jesus' offer to the Samaratan women at the well thus turns from "whoever drinks of the water that I shall give them shall never thirst again" into "whoever continues to drink of the water I give them shall never thirst again".

To this I say: of course if you continue to drink something you will never thirst! How is that contrasted with the physical water in John 4 that must continually be drawn (and drinken)? “Keep drinking and you will never thirst!” This becomes quite the prolific statement Christ makes here (sarcasm, for those of you in Rio Linda). Yet, such an understanding fatally extinguishes Jesus’ emphatic declaration here: take a drink and never thirst again – an initial act of faith that results in a permanent and unchangeable result in the person who has believed.

Eternal life is a definitive result!: you hear the voice of the Son of God and you have life; you believe and you pass from death unto life, you believe and you have eternal life.

It is a false premise that since they only believe for a while that they are not saved. That was good enough! It was good enough to get them saved! Satan didn’t have his way, the person represented by the rocky soil “believed” and therefore was saved.

And don’t fall into this trap of “spurious faith”. There is not even the slightest scintilla of evidence that this is a spurious faith in the parable. This is the same word in the Greek here in verse 14 (believe) as in verse 13 (believe), where in verse 13 the result of believing is salvation; we do not have here in verse 14 a different word that relates to us the idea of some “substandard” faith. Jesus does not know of faith in Him for eternal life that does not save. These represented by the rocky soil believe and are thus saved according to Jesus’ explicit statement a verse earlier that believing brings salvation.

It is the sad fact that some who hear the word, believe and are saved, and yet in a time of temptation will later fall away. This of course does not result in their damnation. God is faithful to His promises (2 Tim 2:13) whereby the one who drank of the living water shall never thirst again (John 4:14), shall never perish (John 10:28), and shall never die even unto eternity (John 11:26, see Greek).

Biblical examples of those representing the rocky soil are Demas (2 Tim 4:10) and Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim 1:20). Those whose faith has been shipwrecked had faith. And all it takes is a moment of faith in Christ to appropriate eternal life. The people within this category are subject to God’s temporal displeasure shown in chastening, correcting, and righteous wrath, even resulting in premature death (either from their sin being full-grown (James 1:15) or the righteous wrath of God (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor 11:30)).

Such people will be excluded from the intimate fellowship of Christ’s reigning overcomers. Such will experience shame and remorse at the Judgment seat of Christ. Such will miss out on the superlative experiences of the abundant entrance into Christ’s kingdom. Such loss is eternal.

Thorny soil
Those represented by the thorny soil, unlike those of the rocky soil, continue in their faith. Yet they allow the cares of this world such as career, home, family, and earthly treasures stunt their growth, thereby bringing no fruit to maturity. These are the ones who may go to church, pray, read their Bibles, and go to Sunday School class, but are stunted by their wordly desires. By far, this is the greatest majority of regenerate Christians.

These are the nominal Christians that so many Traditionalists fret about, often putting into doubt their very salvation. I will not deny that many may not be saved, having not believed the saving message of Christ, the true gospel of our salvation. Yet it is the fact of the matter that many are saved and are yet found in this half-hearted Christian experience.

Interestingly, Jody Dillow intimates that Traditionalism (Calvinism) proliferates the thorny soil predicament within Christendom:

“In the Experimental Predestinarian [Traditionalist] view, all who are Christians will be rewarded, and some more than others. Thus, they have created a version of Christianity where complete commitment is optional and not necessary. All that can be lost is a higher degree of blessedness, but all will be blessed. Could it be that this happy ending has lulled many into thinking they can continue their lukewarmness with no eternal consequences to pay?” (The Reign of the Servant Kings, pg 23).

Good ground
Some of the hearers of the gospel will respond with much fruitfulness. This is the result of the seed being panted in an undivided heart (a “noble and good” heart). Immediately Cornelius comes to mind:

Acts 10:1-2
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.

Cornelius was a God-fearer, who did good works and prayed to God always. This man can be characterized as one who had a “noble and good heart”.

Acts 10:31
"Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.”

The angel here indicates that God had been hearing the prayers and appreciating the almsgiving of Cornelius, an unbeliever. When Cornelius heard, the soil fell on good ground.

The condition of the hearer corresponds to the different soils in the parable. A man’s condition is not static. He may strive, using the Holy Spirit and potentialities that lie latent in the seed implanted in Him in order to till the ground of his heart. This is of course the subject of Christ’s exhortation following the parable of the sower:

Luke 8:16-18
"No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him."

We must take heed to how we hear the word of God. We need to be open and out front in our Christian faith. This parable lays down the principles by which the believer can reach the quality of the fourth soil. It also shows the tragedy of those Christians who are not fruitful in their experience: “even what he seems to have will be taken away from him.” These words convey the message of accountability for the Christian at the Bema of Christ.

Conclusions:
To take this parable the way the Traditionalist must, according to their doctrines of men, would be a travesty, for we would fail to profit from this parable, for it is given to relate to us intelligence about the types of people we will minister to:

1) Not everyone who we preach to will be saved
2) Not everyone who believes will continue in their faith
3) Not everyone who continues in their faith will be fully fruitful
4) There is a group who will continue in their faith and will be fruitful

Not everyone who believes produces the same results. The seed of the word does not necessarily produce the same results in every single believer.

The Traditionalist conceives that only the fourth soil are regenerate, therefore will result in fatally flawed ministries among those of the second and third soils. They necessarily will not know how to counsel people and relate to people.

“You don’t have this result. Go back and get saved. Go back to square one!” are the logical counselling methods for their view of this parable and the Christian life in general, when application is made to those of the second and third soils.

They thus can completely confuse the born again Christian with an unsaved person, when, instead of getting saved, the confused one needs to learn how to live the Christian life. Such misunderstanding results in severe uncertainties in the counselee. What a tragedy this engenders! Wheras the nominal Christian needs to learn the principles of Christian living, he is told that he has a spurious faith, andthat he needs to get born again (of which he already thought he was when he believed in Christ).

The following is story told by Zane Hodges to illustrate this calamity and dillema (of which I paraphrase):
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Lets say that I was babysitting for a large family, and I haven’t seen all the children; I’m supposed to look out for them. I get a knock on the door and it is a boy very dirty and unkempt, dressed in ragged clothes. “Can I come in? This is my house.” Says the boy. To which I reply, “No, this can’t possibly be your house, you are too dirty, your clothes are too ragged. Go back and find your real home.” I would thus be excluding from the possibility of restoration to cleanliness and good appearance someone who might in fact be a member of the family.
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Of course in any situtation before proceding with counselling, we would ask what the counselees expectation of heaven was. If he relates that he is trusting in Christ alone for eternal life, for entrance into heaven, then we work from the premise that he is saved, and he therefore needs to learn and follow the principles of Christian living.

57 Comments:

Blogger Jim said...

Rock Solid!! Two thumbs up!!

Antonio, I could not have done a better job myself explaining this parable. I am sick to my stomach of misapplication of these verses.

Having been recently raked over the coals again by a traditionalist, this post was a breath of life and a cool drink of water to my spirit.

Praise the Lord for His truth and life, keep up the encouraging exhortations.

Blessings in Christ,

Jim

January 23, 2006 6:40 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Your interpretation really does make a lot of sense.

We are really blessed to have your sound expositions, Antonio.

Have a great day

Matthew

January 24, 2006 1:41 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I love the way you insist on staying true to the REAL Gospel.

Thanks for the insights.

January 24, 2006 4:21 AM  
Blogger Nate said...

Antonio,

Thanks man!! I couldn't agree more with your interpretation and what Joe said about being truet he the REAL Gospel!

PEACE,

NATE

January 24, 2006 7:08 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jim,

They are missapplied ad naseum. Tell us about your being raked over the coals (passive: consider revising). I appreciate your encouragement.

Matthew,

you have become quite endeared to me. Thank you for your continued support.

Joe,

I am honored each and every time you drop by.

Nate,

Your future is very promising!

Antonio

January 24, 2006 10:10 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

All:

I am wondering when our Traditionalist friends will comment on this post. They seem to have chosen to avoid this post and my post on the Bema.

Should I be happy? Their apparant silence could mean they have been persuaded.

Or it could mean that they remain in their position, yet without any exposition of their own on this parable to salvage it.

I really would like someone's well-reasoned objection to my posts!

Antonio

January 24, 2006 10:12 AM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Excellent post!

Thanks for carifying this parable that is so abused.

You say:

1) Not everyone who we preach to will be saved
2) Not everyone who believes will continue in their faith
3) Not everyone who continues in their faith will be fully fruitful
4) There is a group who will continue in their faith and will be fruitful

Praise the Lord for clear teaching that well prepares those who labor in the fields!

January 24, 2006 10:53 AM  
Blogger ambiance-five said...

Antonio,
I understand some of your thoughts but I don't understand how one is regenerate and "stunted".

The way I view it is either you are victorious in Christ or not...How can one victorious in Christ be stunted?

Not sure I understand your thoughts here. I do understand having weak faith but I thought that was prior to regeneration.

January 24, 2006 11:57 AM  
Blogger ambiance-five said...

I guess I should say "weak faith" is prior and just after regeneration.

Kind of like how the persons in Acts burned their books. They were converted but still afraid of the books they use to dabble in.

We strong in the faith are to pray for the weaker.

January 24, 2006 12:36 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Ambiance, 1 Cor 8:11
'And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?'

This refers to the danger of one being lead astray from following thier conscience and falling into sin or apostasy. A weak brother can become a stumbled brother.

The perishing here is not eternal death, but physical death, as with Ananias and Saphirah. The destuction of the flesh.

If a believer does not continue in holiness, this is the ultimate consequence of their sin in this life, followed by loss of status after the judgment seat of Christ.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

January 24, 2006 1:21 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Antonio, I may attempt to clarify the exact nature of this in the future. All I will say at this point is that trying to save the flock has gotten quite old.

Week after week, our dear brothers and sisters get flogged with the gospel of doubts and fears. Where did the shepherding go to?

This is the reason we need clear and biblical teaching on these and similar passages.

January 24, 2006 2:07 PM  
Blogger ambiance-five said...

Dyspraxic,

Ananias had satan in his heart.
Christians have Christ within and Christ is victorious.


Act 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

January 24, 2006 4:04 PM  
Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

Antonio, even though we may not agree on everything, I think you have done an excellent exposition on this parable. I enjoyed your thoughts.

January 24, 2006 9:04 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

To all, I appreciate all your thoughts and observations. I plan on responding to everyone personally tomorrow. It has been a tough day. My wife and I work different shifts so that someone will always be with our children. I went to work and when I got home my wife was in the driveway waiting to depart. Her manager called her in a little early because she would be waiting on LaDanian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers. I asked her to get me an autograph! Yet as soon as she left, I was in custody of my 3 kids, getting them dinner, baths, reading, prayers and songs, etc..

Bless you all, and thank you all for visiting my blog.

I often invest large quantities of time into these posts (which i must pull out of a magic hat) and it is certainly gratifying that they are being both read and commented on.

Grace to you all and peace!

Antonio

January 24, 2006 10:55 PM  
Blogger bluecollar said...

Antonio,
I have some questions:
1)Why is it that some will not continue in their faith?

2)Why is it that not everyone who continues in their faith will be fully fruitful?

3)Why is it there is a group who will continue in their faith and will be fruitfull?

Aren't these matters of how a person is spiritually constituted? In your system would not an individual have some room to glory in that those ones who bear a hundred fold can look out over those whose faith does not endure and think- though deep inside, never audiblizing it- that their commitment is vastly superior. If that person's commitment is indeed superior, why is it so? Is it that they were more sensitive to Christ's call to discipleship? More spiritually wise? Their hearts more maliable? Why is their disposition to be wholly commited to Christ so different than the people represented in the other 2 soils? Why did Cornelius ( a Gentile) seek the Lord so fervently while even many Jews of his day could not have cared less or were outrightly hostile to the gospel? In my limmited communication skills I am trying to ask you to tell me from your perspective, why it is that there is so much difference between all the people dipicted in these soils. I do not see that any of these people did anything beforehand to get ready to receive the seed.There is no indication in this parable that any of these people readied themselves to receive the word.

From the reformed position, the only soil representing saved people is the fourth-it is the only one bearing fruit. That is because God had readied it- The Father elected, gives to the Son,draws to the Son, teaches the person about the Son, that person hears and learns from the Father,John 6:36-45. No one can come to the Son unless it has been granted by the Father. The Spirit sanctifies by separating us from the world-2Thess. 2:13; 1Peter1:2.

All the above verses indicate to me that our triune God is the One who readies the forth soil for the seed.

If we really want to be raked over the coles than let us read the works of Charles Finney,and he was no Calvinist.

If I am a representative of the fourth soil it is only because of God's regenerating work in my heart-Titus3:5. It was God Who initiated the work of salvation in me while I was still dead in my sins-Eph.2:4-5. Until God took the innitiative I was as dead and helpless as Lazarous in the tomb. I can not claim any credit for being a fruitbearer. It is ALL the result of God's work in me.It is He who works in me to will and to do of His good pleasure-Phil.2:14.

Regarding counseling a struggling Christian,It is not my job to relagate them into one soil or the other. I will talk patiently with them, try to help them take the gravecloths off as it were. You see, I was once caught up in pornography for quite a lengthy period in my life. So who am I to look down on or rake somebody over the coals. If during the discussion the person seems to not understand the gospel or Christ's claims in his life, then yes,I would share the gospel with them in order to make sure they understand it. I for one, would not have a problem hearing the gospel again, it is such sweet music to the ears.

Thank you for your time.

Respectfully,
Mark Pierson

January 25, 2006 6:05 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

(sarcasm, for those of you in Rio Linda).

I recognize that, Antonio!

Hey, Antonio, a couple of comments.

This is the exact interpretation of the parable that John and I have always understood. There is nothing weird or unsound about your exposition. It is great! In fact, your teaching here is more of a challenge to the Christian than the reformed perspective, IMHO. I have been challenged by your's and HK's teaching on these things to get going in my Christian service.

I read on another blog where someone thought that your blog was like a cult! I think that is funny. I agree with you on your approach to this passage. I think if most Christians were honest with themselves, they would recognize that they have not always been bringing forth much fruit. I know I have found myself in the thorny soil several times in my life as a Christian.

I appreciate all the time that you put into your posts. I read them even thought I do not always comment. I hope my brother will read the post. I don't know if he would see that it is right, but it is good to read different perspectives and be challenged.

Thanks for your work here on this post!

January 25, 2006 6:17 AM  
Blogger bluecollar said...

Brother Antonio,
Robert Shank in a book he wrote, though I can not remember the name of it, expounded the parable of the sower in much the same way you have. He came to all the same conclusions you did about the soils and what they each represented. And like you, he believed the three represented saved people. The difference was that, instead of taking us to John 7 to back up ones eternal security in this, he instead took us to John 15:2,6 to back up his assertion that one can indeed lose his salvation. I say this to illustrate that unless we hold to the fourth soil being the only true representative of saved people then we can open quite a can of worms. You go to John 7 to assure soils 2&3 of their eternal security, while Shank goes to John 15 to show them the possibility that they can and perhaps already have lost their salvation.

January 25, 2006 7:25 AM  
Blogger bluecollar said...

Brother Antonio,
I love your passion for the truth!

Until we all can see through the same lens and grid there can be no hope that we will ever make inroads or impressions in one another's positions. I am not a Dispensationalist. And you must admit, that not all dispensationists agree with "Free Grace" theology. Your system belongs only to one strand of Dispensationalism. You have made no more challenge to my conscience and way of believing than I have on yours. Again, that is because we look through a different grid.

I mean no disrespect. I hope we can go on being friends.

January 25, 2006 7:46 AM  
Blogger ambiance-five said...

I love you all in your search for the truth.

The example of the little dirty boy however is all of us. That is the way we all come to Christ. If we are truly at Christ's door and He takes us in will He not provide rich clothing?

The example of of righteousness in an unbeliever is dirty rags. I do however believe God always sees His elect as righteous, just as He always loves us no matter the state we are in.

It is His promise however that we will become conformed to the image of Christ..an image any less than that does not sound like the Gospel to me.

We have to remember that we are in the process of conforming. He always loves us if we are truly His. He is faithful to complete His promises and I don't think an image any less than a Son of God fits the bill.

Love to you all in your search for the truth.

January 25, 2006 8:27 AM  
Blogger Nate said...

Mark,

I agree with Shank that the three soils are saved but not with his interpretation tof John 15. John 15 is not about lost salvation, but about not abiding in Christ.

You're right about not all dispensationalist holding to "Free-Grace", but you might be surprised there are many Calvinist "Free-Grace" guys out there!!!

It seems to me that the answer to your three questions is in the passage itself!

GODBLESS,

NATE

January 25, 2006 9:03 AM  
Blogger bluecollar said...

Brother Nate,
Glad to meet you! My questions however were to try and get to the bottom of people's dispositions-Why are some disposed to all out commitment while others are less so. My position is that regeneration is the disposition changer and that the only soil that deals with saved people is the fourth. It is like, why are some people disposed to like sports and others are not. It's all in the make-up. Regeneration is the difference.

I must get ready for work now. Since I am only a lowely factory worker that means no access to a computer for the rest of the day. Goodbye all!

January 25, 2006 9:33 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Blue Collar,

If you believe that only the fourth group are actually saved, how do you explain the differing levels of fruit? Why is it that there were various degrees of fruitfulness? Does God's Spirit work better in some people than others?

This kind of reformed thinking is actually just a variant of fatalism. The mentality that whatever will happen will happen, because we have no choice in the matter.

Please remember that this parable is not referring to the means of salvation, but rather the ground (heart) of the saved person and their resultant work for the Lord.
To the degree that we surrender our lives to Christ and walk by His Spirit, to that degree we will be fruitful.

January 25, 2006 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim seems to imply that the varying levels of fruit among those of the fourth soil is somehow a problem for Bluecollar's position. I'm guessing that even Antonio would admit that Jim's reasoning here has fallen a bit short.

January 25, 2006 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God predetermines the tree fruit. The fruit comes from the root and the branches only hold it up.

We certainly can't produce fruit separate from the root. Why would it matter the amount of fruit?

All fruit is good and sometimes less is sweeter.

January 25, 2006 11:38 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Ambience-Five, thank you for visiting and taking your time to read my post.

you write:
----------
I understand some of your thoughts but I don't understand how one is regenerate and "stunted".

The way I view it is either you are victorious in Christ or not...How can one victorious in Christ be stunted?
----------
Every seed that is ever planted needs various things, without wich, the plant can be stunted. It needs enough depth of earth, sufficient water and sunlight, and sufficient fertilization, nutrients in the soil.

The seed accepted into our heart brings with it germination, regeneration.

That seed needs the proper things mentioned above. It needs the proper environment to flourish. If one who gets saved isn't discipled and taught how to live the Christian life, he will be at a major disadvantage, for he won't know how to bloom the freshly germinated seed within him.

Also the seed needs correct environment, fellowship with the saints, biblical study, etc.

It needs the water of the Holy Spirit within him. Paul commands us to "Walk by the Spirit" so that we will not "fulfill the lusts of the flesh". We are commanded to be, in a sense, watered by the Spirit so that we can walk correctly and grow.

So many factors are involved with Christian growth, maturity, and fruition. I hope this brief comment has given you an idea of what I mean.

Antonio

January 25, 2006 11:47 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jim,

I get your drift. I think that you are making good application of this parable and that those who have been entrusted with the flock at your church need to do the same. They need to provide the correct environment and factors necessary for free Christian growth, and to avoid the hindrances that cause people to question and doubt, to be stunted in their growth.

Thanks again for your participation, I am so pleased that the Lord has been pleased to use me to minister to others.

Antonio

January 25, 2006 11:51 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Ambianve,

Satan filled his heart with the temptations to do what he did. Satan swayed Ananias and Saphira to "lie to the Holy Spirit". I fill a pitcher. Does that mean that I am in the pitcher? Satan works in both the unbeliever and the believer. Do you deny Satan's work in the believer? That he works in us does not mean that such work is irresistible. Same as God. That God works in us does not mean that such work is irresistible.

Jesus called Peter Satan moments after Peter made confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God (which of course when one believes, he is born again (see John 20:31; 1 John 5:1)). Satan was working in Peter and swaying him to do his bidding.

Antonio

January 25, 2006 11:56 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Gordon Cloud,

I do appreciate your encouragement. I am glad that you found something that you can agree with. My posts can be used for different things. This is what I think could be some benefits:

1) Understand another point of view taken by people who truly love Jesus and want to accurately represent His message of both eternal life and discipleship to the world.
2) Become persuaded as to things that you have never heard before.
3) Come to understand your own theology better as it compares to another point of view.

Thanks again for your visit!

Antonio

January 25, 2006 11:58 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Mark,

Thank you for visiting,

I think you and Ambience-Five have basically asked the same questions. Please refer to the answer I gave her.

Have you ever had a time that your commitment to serving God both willfully and action wise exceeded the devotion that you have for Him now? If you are at the peak of your game in your life, I will respect that. But I have had my ups and downs. What were the causes of those? I believe that it was the lack of the factors needed for growth like I suggested in the answer to Ambience.

The conditions surrounding the germinated seed need to promote growth and not stunt it nor kill the growth.

The conditions of the soil and its surrounding factors determine the growth or lack thereof in the plant.

Listen!

The plant wants to grow! That is the intended purpose of sowing a seed. Too, the seed has the divine nature in its DNA, so it has the ability to grow big and strong, and works in that way to do such.

But the surrounding environment needs to promote that growth, not stunt it.

It needs the depth of earth, sufficient water and light, sufficient fertilization and nutrients. These are the conditions in which man co-operates in his Christian growth.

Fellowship, time, learning, study of the Word, yielding to the Spirit, etc.. are the things that the Christian must do in order to allow that seed to do what it was intended to to by God and its DNA.

Your slavery to pornography was an environment which stunted Christian growth, no? You got out of it. After a wake-up call, you determined to never look at them again. Awesome! But many people, even after wake up calls, and struggling, don't determine to do so. They are caught in the third soil along with the thorns.

Sanctification (experiential Christian growth) is the co-operation of the Christian and God. The Christian must make the determination and follow them out in order to provide the potential within him to flourish, grow, and bear fruit. This takes time, dedication, perseverance, and action.

Antonio

January 25, 2006 12:24 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Rose,

Thank you for your gracious comments.

Yes, I do believe that the Free Grace position is much more of a challenge. The exposition of this parable both challenges those who are not growing and those who minister to people.

When the light is lit, we must not hide it under a bushel (or in a garage, or on the computer, or in your book, or anywhere that will not cause that light to shine freely as it was intended).

Rather than consider someone who is not growing un-Christian, even after they express their expectation of heaven by pointing to Jesus alone, we must shepherd them, teach them, guide them, show them the errors of their way, show them what is theirs by virtue of their relationship with God, show them the blessings that come as they obey and the troubles and chastening that come when they don't.

Such need the teaching concerning the Christian life, not some added-to works-qualified gospel that calls for the commitment on the front-side; That calls for reform before you can be saved.

This presentation does not give the unsaved the saving message of Christ, and to the saved, it confuses them and robs their assurance, and makes them think that it is their performance that gets them into the kingdom.

Thank you again Rose for your friendship!

Antonio

January 25, 2006 12:33 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Mark,

Your reference to Shank with regards to my position, could be regarded as the logical fallacy of guilt by association. Because Shank is wrong on eternal security, and because he agrees somewhat with my interpretation of the parable of the sower, I must be wrong. This is just does not follow.

Shank is wrong that the 3rd and 4th soils lose salvation, and he is wrong with his weak interpretation of John 15 which is talking about fellowship/discipleship and not the simple relationship of God to the regenerate man.

John 15 is a can of worms that needs to be opened. That Christian's are in the 2cd and 3rd soils is a can of worms that definitely needs to be opened so that we can effectively minister to them.

Also,

I do not give anyone assurance of their salvation. That is not my job nor ministry. I point them to where they can get certain and absolute assurance: Christ and His promise.

Antonio

January 25, 2006 12:52 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Ambience-five,

you missed the point of the dirty little boy story.

The boy was ALREADY a member of the family.

Can the member of Christ's family be justified and still sin every day for the rest of his life?

Luther thought so:
simul iustus et peccator
We are simultaneously justified (imputed righteousness) and at the same time sinners.

I think so too, for I have to confess sins every day.

I don't believe that any image but the perfect Son of God fits the bill for our eventual conformation either. Are you saying that we attain this in this life?

We will conform completely to the image of the Son of God in the next life. We are to be about co-operating with God here and now so that conformation later will not be so painful (at the Judgment Seat of Christ).

Antonio

January 25, 2006 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the last sentence of your original post: "IS trusting"? You teacher-of-works-salvation, you!!! :-)

January 25, 2006 1:09 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jim and Nate, excellent points.

Anonymous, I agree with Jim.

Even those who produce mature fruit have varying degrees based upon the conditions that i have already discussed.

The more fruit, the better. No?

In the Parable of the Mina in Luke 19, all three servants were given a mina. One produced 10 and was given the opportunity to be ruler of 10 cities. Another only produced 5 more from the mina, and he only recieved 5 cities. The one hid his mina in the dirt, he received nothing, and the mina was taken away from him. This all happened on the day of accounting. And these three servants correspond to the three regenerate soils of the parable of the sower.

Antonio

January 25, 2006 1:13 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Trusting is not working, they are contrasted in scripture.

January 25, 2006 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, but if one must keep on trusting, he must do something to maintain his salvation. Antonio proposed asking the counselee if he "is trusting" in Christ, not if he had trusted in Christ at a moment in time in the past (regardless of whether or not he is currently trusting). I think the position advocated here by Antonio is that continuing to trust beyond that initial moment of trust is entirely unnecessary to be saved.

January 25, 2006 1:17 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Ambiance-Five, we have no clear indication that Ananias was lost. The burden of proof is on those who would question that he was a true believer.

Nevertheless, the verse I quoted about the weak brother perishing in 1 Cor 8:11 certainly does refer to a believer who dies in soem sort of state of ruin. This certainly does not suggest perservaerance. Likewise, the sin unto death in John 5:16 appears to be one that a beliver might commit. Not eternal death, but physical death. Going back to 1 Corinthians, chapter 11:30 shows that some believers had fallen asleep because of their sin in participating unworthily in the Lord's Supper.

Recognising that a believer may loose his physical life as a punishment for sin upholds not only the free offer of grace that is not conditional upon continued obediance, but also the severity of sin and God's abhorrence of its manifestation in His children.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

January 25, 2006 1:48 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Anonymous,

do you have anything constructive to share or add?

The context of my quote "is trusting" is in the context as to whether the counselee has present assurance of eternal life.

Certainly the reception of eternal life is a definitive result based upon simple, punctilliar faith.

Yet present assurance comes from looking to Christ in faith now.

Please, any more distracting statements as that will be deleted.

His statement could be "I have trusted in Christ for eternal life" and the effect is the same.

Initial faith brings the definitive, immediate result.

I may quit allowing anonymous people to post.

Why post anonymously? Only to conceal their identity for they would be ashamed to continue with their disruptive and irrelevent distractions in the discussion of serious issues (as this is).

Antonio

January 25, 2006 2:05 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

anonymous, you live in Kansas, possibly in Butler County between the interstates 135 and 35? Possibly near Brainerd, Degraft, or Potwin?

Antonio

January 25, 2006 2:21 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Antonio, I agree that anonymous posting is not helpful.

It seems rather creepy. Let us stand up and be counted. Then again, I suppose I do avoid giving out my surname and I would not like to post a photograpth of myelf. Am I posting anonymously?

Is it that hard to use a definite psedonym and have a blog that everyone can visit to see what they really stand for?

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

January 25, 2006 3:37 PM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

You say in your conclusion...

"2) Not everyone who believes will continue in their faith"

The parable does not say this, it says....

"But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away."

It says they "believe for a while." They actually stop believing. So what then? If it is obvious that some who believe can then not believe, it sounds like they might be thirsty. Why has God given them a drink, yet they remain thirsty? Could it be that they must remain believers to have their thirst quenched? It also proves that once you believe you are not guaranteed salvation. It says the "fell away" from God. If you are *away* from God, then you are not *with* God. If you are not *with* God, you are not in Heaven. If you do not believe this, then what is it they have fallen away from?

January 25, 2006 4:05 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Anonymous said...

"God predetermines the tree fruit. The fruit comes from the root and the branches only hold it up. We certainly can't produce fruit separate from the root. Why would it matter the amount of fruit? All fruit is good and sometimes less is sweeter."

Dear Anonymous,

It is very true that the branch cannot bear fruit apart from the root. Please do not think that I am saying a believer can produce his own fruit. Rather the fruit bearing is in direct proportion to the connection between the branch and the root.

I'm not sure a farmer would be well consoled for his tiny crop by saying the fruit was exceptional. I don't think the quality of the fruit is in question here.

Fruit is the easiest way to determine the tree, and the more fruit the healthier the tree. God's desire is that we would be abundantly fruitful, and only those trees that have the proper soil can expect to produce bumper crops.

January 25, 2006 6:47 PM  
Blogger bluecollar said...

Antonio,
Thank you for your gracious response. I did not want you to look at my reference to Shank as guilt by association. I was merely trying to illustrate what can happen when we view soils 2&3 as saved. You and Shank went almost word for word in your assessment of the two soils. But he turned off into John 15 while you went to John 7.

Jim, I believe that the differences in fruit bearing is the result, at least in part, of the degree of giftedness.

January 25, 2006 9:10 PM  
Blogger ambiance-five said...

Antonio,

I can't say that I believe a true believer will ever live a
full beliving life with the Lord never faithful to
deliver that life from the works of the devil and sin.

1Jo 3:8
(ASV) he that doeth sin is of the devil;
for the devil sinneth from the beginning. To this end was the Son
of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Are there Christian brothers and sisters still sinful? Yes,
and we are to pray for them.

1Jo 5:16
(ASV) If any man see his brother sinning a sin not unto death,
he shall ask, and God will give him life for them that sin not unto
death. There is a sin unto death: not concerning this do I say that
he should make request.

But there is a sin unto death.

A true belief in our Lord will bring to pass a repentance
and remission of sin then a conforming into His image.


Jud 1:4 For there are certain men crept in privily,
even they who were of old written of beforehand unto this condemnation,
ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness,
and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jud 1:5 Now I desire to put you in remembrance,
though ye know all things once for all, that the Lord,
having saved a people out of the land of Egypt,
afterward destroyed them that believed not.

What did the destroyed ones delivered from Egypt not believe?
They didn't
truly believe in the power and faithfulness of God.

Heb 10:29
(ASV) of how much sorer punishment, think ye,
shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God,
and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified
an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

I love the Lord with all my heart.
I know from where He delivered me from. He is faithful.

I can warn us all at this point.

Heb 10:31
(ASV) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Let us hope we all understand that.

January 26, 2006 3:09 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

'If you are *away* from God, then you are not *with* God. If you are not *with* God, you are not in Heaven.'

Where does the Bible say this? I cannot say I have noticed this teachign in Scripture.

The Bible talks about how the believer is in a positin of justification before God. He has a righteousness that is in Christ (2 Cor 5:21). He is seated in heavenly places with Christ (Eph 2:5-6). If the believer denies Christ, Christ cannot deny Himself (2 Tim 2:13). In Christ we are complete (Col 2:10), not in ourselves.

Where in Scripture do we find the notion that justification can be reversed or cancelled. Where do we find the notion that the man who is seated with Christ in heavenly places can fall out again? Will Christ deny His own body, His own heavenly bride?

No, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39).

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

January 26, 2006 3:21 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Ambiance, as I have just posted, the believer can never fall into eternal condemnation.

However, as you say, the Scriptures warn believers of the possibility of falling into condemnation or the sin unto death.

If faith in Christ necessarily leads us to repentance, then these warnigns are superfluos.

These warnings are not warnigns of the possibility of going to hell, but of the possibility of dying a premature physical death as a result of sin.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

January 26, 2006 3:27 AM  
Blogger ambiance-five said...

Dyspraxic, [quote]If faith in Christ necessarily leads us to repentance, then these warnigns are superfluos.
[/quote]

The warnings are in God's Word. Is God's Word superfluos?

Dys..maybe you better rethink your above statement.

I will leave with the warning in tact.

Like I said...love to you all as you search for the truth. I do understand the position.

January 26, 2006 7:06 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Ambience 5,

I don't get were you are going with any of your latest comments.

You are in the habit of proof-texting and I am not quite even sure what you are trying to get at with your proof-texts.

Regarding the parable of the sower, it is clear; where did you find an error in my exposition?

If my drawing out of the text of the parable was correct, then your theology must change.

Why not let the clearness of Jesus' message concerning the soils correct your theology rather than continue to import your theology into the Bible?

The parable is clear. The contrast is between a soil that the seed is stolen lest they should be saved and 3 soils that the seed remains and "sprang up".

Traditionalists are hard pressed, in light of the simple and easy reading of this parable, to continue in their unscriptural doctrines which state that all Christians will persevere until the end and that all Christians will bring fruit to maturity.

Where in my exposition did I not take the words of it and faithfully expound them? Where in the parable did I go wrong?

Show me in the parable itself how I failed to correctly bring out its meaning.

It is insufficient to offer proof-texts in opposition to my exposition of the parable if you cannot:

1) Show me the error of my exposition from the text of the parable itself

2) bring with a proof-text a well-reasoned observational and contextual discourse which supports your interpretation of it.

I have well-reasoned observational and contextual analysis of those verses you use within their context that disprove both your interpretation of them and support my positions.

So the mere referencing of proof-texts does nothing to support your contentions against my exposition of this parable; as if the mere referencing of a proof-text proves your position.

Because of the clear exposition of this parable any such "proof-texts" that seem to bear negatively on it should be re-examined in light of this parable's interpretive simplicity. You should re-examine your proof-texts and see if you can or if others have interpreted them within their CONTEXT that keeps the biblical analogy of faith harmonious.

But as relating to the exposition of this parable, no one has shown me where, within the context and grammar and syntax and word choice and flow and clear implications that I have erred.

The parable remains simple:

1. Not all who hear will believe.
2. Not all who believe will continue in the faith.
3. Not all who continue in their faith will be fully fruitful.
4. Some who continue in their faith will bring forth mature fruit.

Antonio

January 26, 2006 9:04 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Ambiance, my point is that the warnings are not superflous.

They are warnings to believers that if they do not perservere in the faith and walk in the Spirit, they will face judgment and destruction, not eternal punishment.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

January 26, 2006 9:23 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

The fact that the Scripture gives warnings to believers of judgment demonstrates that faith does not necessarilly lead to repentance.

God Bless

Matthew

January 26, 2006 9:29 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

grate i like it

January 26, 2006 3:00 PM  
Blogger Modern Day Magi said...

thanks again antonio. i always find your posts to be well considerred and helpful.

January 27, 2006 4:34 AM  
Blogger Shawn L said...

Antonio,



Hey I finally read it at 1AM on Sunday before church. Probably not a good idea for worship.

You make some good points about the text of the Word/seed giving life to the plant. I need to study this much more indepthly thanks so much. I'm trying to wonder how much we can believe this means directly they are regenerate even if they fall away consider Matthew 13.

It seems Jesus' clarifying in Matthew 13 and statements about the fruit of faith is all over the place and that these fruits are true evidences of being In Christ. What about Matthew 13 and the explaination Jesus gave about those who hear the word and receive it (some rejoice for a bit), but it seems only the last one "understands it". To me their seems to be something there. I'll get into this more.

So should the eternal realities of plants living for alittle while and then being dead mean that they weren't burned in the fire like abiding in the vine texts. The question is we must believe and accept the true meaning of the text clearly and you are trying very hard to do that here and I like that and get to the heart of it and linger there, but does it contradict the teachings of the other parables and saying of Christ. What does the point of the passage mean? Believe and have eternal life and it's fruit. This seems to be the same point of Abiding in the Vine passage as well.

I know sometimes we can switch too quickly to other passages so forgive me if I have done that already, but there does seem to be some disconnects with his other parables about those who have no fruit will be cut down and burned. So many emphasis upon weeping and gnashing of teeth in other places.

Okay some bad things I was confused about in your article....

I had some very confusing thoughts about your statements related to POTS. (I thought you were going to break into an energizer bunny commercial for awhile there parrotting POTS). You kept showing that you believed this to because of our own power. Isn't it God who promises this of his people, and gives us the power and passion to continue to the end and commands them to do so.

I don't believe that perseverance is by anyway an accident, mustered up in some powerful Christians, but we are "are kept by the power of God"!!! A work of man will not last, but have an appearance of godliness but really denies it's power.


Also your statements of stating that reformed people can't council people well and are leaving out a whole people to meet with. I don't know what that had to do with the text. We don't go around assuming that people aren't saved by doing a fruit examination of them, but we should all be applying counciling methods with friends by encouraging them to come to christ and look to Christ. It's our mandate in Scripture to call people from sin to Christ, even Christians. I don't see how the Reformed do this in a bad way... I'm always telling friends of mine stuck in legalism and finney to look to Christ as their righteousness and believe in Christ and stay there because they can't see Christ's forgiveness and grace.

We also at other time tell people the biblical commands of work out your salvation with fear and trembling and also test yourself if you are in the faith and it probably fits along with what you are saying especially with someone who doesn't appear to know Christ or hates Him.

If you are counciling someone who says they hate Christ and his ways it would be similar to what we say wouldn't it.

This to me is wrong it assumes that you believe reformed think they have the power to change people is within ourselves. It's in the power of God through the gospel patiently and powerfully shared with prayer. I do believe some reformed guys like Christian Counciling and Education Foundation are a great example of that. They follow biblical examples of great biblical counciling for believers that start at biblically true issues.


In Christ (our only hope),

Shawn Lynes

January 28, 2006 11:50 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Shawn,

Thanks for dropping by and taking a look at the exposition. It is really appreciated.

I'm having a date with my wife: we are driving up the coast and having lunch at a retaurant right on the beach. Then I have to go to bed early to be at work tomorrow morning at 2am.

I appreciate your input. I want to give a good answer to all your musings and comments. I will. It may take a day or so.

Thaks for the benefit of your comments.

your brother,

Antonio

January 29, 2006 11:38 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Another great post Antonio. This part always touches a nerve with me.

"They thus can completely confuse the born again Christian with an unsaved person, when, instead of getting saved, the confused one needs to learn how to live the Christian life. Such misunderstanding results in severe uncertainties in the counselee. What a tragedy this engenders"

This is so critical! We cause our brethren to doubt and become weak when we should be teaching and helping them become strong. Traditional or not, we have no right to judge the heart of another. No convert produces fruit at birth. They can hardly stand at all. Do we starve them of the nourishment needed to bare fruit and then cast out the poor "devil" in His name because no fruit is found?

January 29, 2006 9:01 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Kc said...
Another great post Antonio. This part always touches a nerve with me.

"They thus can completely confuse the born again Christian with an unsaved person, when, instead of getting saved, the confused one needs to learn how to live the Christian life. Such misunderstanding results in severe uncertainties in the counselee. What a tragedy this engenders"

This is so critical! We cause our brethren to doubt and become weak when we should be teaching and helping them become strong. Traditional or not, we have no right to judge the heart of another. No convert produces fruit at birth. They can hardly stand at all. Do we starve them of the nourishment needed to bare fruit and then cast out the poor "devil" in His name because no fruit is found?

Kc, my friend you know I believe this myself, very good comment.

Antonio,

Could the those verses in Hebrews 6, that so many people try to use for proof of losing salvation, actually be confirming the statement that kc quoted from you in his comments?

I think in verse six the author is telling us that once you have believed, its impossible to repent of unbelief again. So in the context of chapter six, he is saying its time to go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of trusting in Christ because you can only believe unto salvation once. Like you said instead of telling believers this alot of preachers confuse them and cause them doubts and misery.

I wonder if this is what Jesus is really talking about when He says its better for a person to have a millstone tied to them and be cast into the sea than to cause a little one(new believer) to stumble?

What do you think?

grace & peace
Kris

January 30, 2006 9:57 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey KC and Kris, thank you for your comments!

Kris, Grace Evangelical Society

This website has both a journal and a newsletter that have great articles. They have a search feature, and I believe that both passages that you refer to are commented on in both or either of the literary works of GES.

If you can't find them, I would be happy to look them up myself and give you the links, but I am sure that this will be a website that you will want to investigate with great interest!

Thanks for visiting my site!

Antonio

January 30, 2006 3:17 PM  

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