Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | August 16, 2018

We may fear that we are a bad tree or among those who believe only for a time, but there is hope! – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” – “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling”

Today’s devotion comes from Mark 4:13-20.

“And He *said to them, “Do you not understand this parable?  How will you understand all the parables?  The sower sows the word.  These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown;  and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.  In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;  and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary;  then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.  And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns;  these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil;  and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”  Mark 4:13-20.

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This Parable of the Sower and the Soils focuses on groups of people shown by language such as “these are the ones” and “others are the ones” and “those are the ones” as I highlight in today’s Scripture.  But, it is similar to the two groupings of good trees and bad trees.

“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  So then, you will know them by their fruits.”  Matthew 7:17-20.

And, like the two major groups of good trees and bad trees, the groups in the Sower and the Soils can also be grouped into just two major groups of “those who believe only for a time” and “true believers” as shown in the following quote from the Canons of Dordt section titled FIFTH HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Perseverance of the Saints.

“The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:  …

VII.  Who teach:  That the faith of those, who believe for a time, does not differ from justifying and saving faith except only in duration.  For Christ himself, in Matthew 13:20, Luke 8:13, and in other places, evidently notes, besides this duration, a threefold difference between those who believe only for a time and true believers, when he declares that the former receive the seed in stony ground, but the latter in the good ground or heart;  that the former are without root, but that the latter have a firm root;  that the former are without fruit, but that the latter bring forth their fruit in various measure, with constancy and steadfastness.”

We may fear that we are a bad tree or among those who believe only for a time, but there is hope!

There is the hope of “Irresistible Grace”, the “I” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.

Consider the following quote from the Canons of Dordt section titled THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof:

Article 11.  But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;  but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man;  he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens;  from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable;  actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.

There is also the hope of “Preservation of the Saints” also known as “Perseverance of the Saints”, the “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.

Consider the following quote from the Canons of Dordt section titled FIFTH HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Perseverance of the Saints:

Article 3.  By reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and the temptations of sin and of the world, those who are converted could not persevere in a state of grace, if left to their own strength.  But God is faithful, who having conferred grace, mercifully confirms, and powerfully preserves them herein, even to the end.

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;  and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”  Ezekiel 36:26-27.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.”  Jude 1:24-25.


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