Previously we examined the seed that fell on the path, and we found that this represented Christians that had no fight in them, who did not apply themselves to the Word of God and so satan just stole the Word from them and it did not benefit them at all.
Today, I want to look at the stony ground. The seed that falls on the stony ground sprung up quickly, but because it had no root in it it withered just as quickly.
This represents people who receive the Word of God into their emotions and not their spirits. Because it is received emotionally, there will be great emotions when it is received. People who are hearing the Word and are getting very emotional are not always receiving the Word into their spirit.
There is nothing wrong with being emotional as a Christian. Paul wrote an entire letter (Philippians) on the subject of joy. But you must receive the Word into your spirit and let your emotions be changed from the inside out.
Ok you might say, but how do I know if I have received the word into my spirit or my emotions? How do I know if my response to the Word of God is surface level or deep commitment?
The key is found in Mark 4.17:
And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
If your relationship with the Word is only on a surface level, on an emotional level, then when affliction or persecution arises for the sake of the Word, you will be immediately offended.
There is a lot of information in Mark 4.17, and it is vital for all Christians to understand it, so let’s unpack it and try and make some applications to our life.
When you receive the Word, I guarantee affliction and persecution will come.
Affliction is the Greek word thlipsis. It means, according to Strong’s, pressure. This world will always put pressure on you. Christianity is not a walk in the park. It is not a pleasure cruise. It is pressure. Sometimes I think we mis-sell Christianity, by focusing on the benefits of knowing Christ without mentioning the pressure.
If you become a disciple of Christ, you will go against the world and the world will put pressure on you. You need to know you are not about to wake up tomorrow and the world will be a lovely place and everything will be beautiful. That will not happen until Christ returns. So, toughen up.
Let’s use healing as our example again. You hear a great sermon on healing, you find out the Lord is your Healer, that Jesus carried your sicknesses on the cross and you don’t have to be sick.
You get excited, you are shouting at the preacher, you feel good. The Word has planted on your emotions and sprung up. You feel like you are in victory.
Monday morning you wake up and there is pressure on you. Pressure on your throat, on your back, on your nose. You feel like you just want to crawl into a hole and die of pain. Flu assaults your entire body.
At this stage the question is: what is your IMMEDIATE response? If the Word is in your spirit, your immediate response will be something like this:
I am not moved by what I see, I am not moved by what I feel, I am moved by the Word of the living God and the Word says that by the stripes of Jesus I am healed.
You stand on the true Word of God, you fight the lying symptoms and you change your experience with the Word of the living God.
If the Word is merely in your emotions, then IMMEDIATELY you will be offended. This is what Mark 4.17 says. Offended is the Greek word skandalizo. It means: to trip up, to turn away from someone you should be trusting and to get annoyed.
Your response if the Word has only touched your emotions will be something like this:
I thought that preacher said I was supposed to be healed. He must be a liar. The Word clearly doesn’t mean this. I can’t believe it. This stupid Bible, this stupid God. This stupid doctrine. These name-it and claim-it people are deceived. I am never going to that church again.
A complete change from how you felt just 24 hours ago – just because of a few symptoms! This is what people are like when the Word only hits their emotions. One minute they are raving for the Word, the next they are raving against the Word.
The other thing that can change these people 180 degrees is persecution. Persecution is people treating you badly because you believe the Word of God. It might be a severe case, like the people in concentration camps right now in North Korea because they are disciples of Jesus Christ. It might just be a family member laughing at you because they think you are a fanatic.
Whatever form it takes, people who only know the Word on a surface level will let persecution stop them. Any excitement at hearing the Word on Sunday disappeared because their wife or their husband says “You are becoming a bit of a religious freak!”. Immediately they become offended.
Now at this stage you might think: I am a bit like that at times. Yes, you are. We all are. But, don’t panic – there is a solution. You see, according to Mark 4.17 this all happened for one reason: they had no root.
If we can get the Word of God to root inside us, then we can stand in the worst affliction and we can actually challenge the affliction and make the world change rather than allow the world to change us. We can turn the other cheek when we are persecuted and allow the Word to change other people, rather than allow other people to change us.
So, how do we get the Word to root inside us? That will be our theme for tomorrow. Don’t miss out!