The parable of the soils is repeated by Matthew, Mark, and Luke – one of seven recorded parables picked up by all three writers. It is also unique in that, while most parables are simple stories with one central point and few details, Jesus makes this parable an allegory, giving significance to each detail. In essence, the Sower (God) sows the seed (the Gospel) in the hearts (soil) of people, and gets four kinds of responses – seed swiped by Satan, seedlings withered by weather, plants chocked out by cares, or a bumper-crop harvest.
Get a bunch of people who follow Jesus in a room to unpack this parable, the central topic of discussion will quickly become, ‘How many of these people are ‘saved?’ In other words, what kind of a response can a person have to the Gospel God sows and still get through the Pearl Gates of Heaven?
There are a few four soil Christ-followers out there. To these folks it is not the response of the ‘soils’ but the compassion and power of the Sower that determines one’s eternal destiny. Kum by ya. We’re all in.
There are a few one soil Christ-followers out there. To these folks it is clear that good seed falling in good soil with good care will inevitably produce a crop of good fruit.
Most church-folks I have met in my evangelical world are two soil or three soil Christ-followers, depending on where they land on grace and eternal security. To these folks, bearing fruit is the proper outcome when good seed is sown in good soil, but in this fallen world, well…compost happens. Two-soilers accept that Christ-followers who slide back into the quicksand of worldliness instead of godliness are still going to get in, though with a few less crowns to throw at Jesus’ feet. Three-soilers agree and add that those who wither when the heat gets turned up still may slip in under the robe of Jesus’ righteousness they hid under when they believed.
I grew up a three soil Christ-follower. At least I hoped that was what Jesus meant. To be honest, reading the Scripture has always put dents in my three-soil conclusions. Fading in the heat of suffering and persecution and having my priority and passion for Jesus swallowed up by the cares of this world are generally not well-viewed by God or His Spirit-guided spokesmen. But being buried in the weeds myself, the goodness of the seed and the grace of the Sower was something to cling to. My coping mechanism has been to remind myself ‘Fruit is an inside quality, and only God sees our hearts, so don’t be too quick as a fruit inspector to judge others or even yourself.” It’s the spiritual equivalent of two Advil.
How many soils are saved? That’s an important question, don’t you think? I hope you don’t think that. That’s a silly question. That’s as silly as a man saying to his fiance’, ‘Will you stay married to me if I break all our vows when the going gets tough or life gets really busy?’ or ‘Will you stay married to me if I spend less and less time with you and more and more time with my old girlfriends?’ Good and wise men don’t think of such questions, much less ask them.
The Gospel is fertile seed. The Sower expects good soil. He deserves a good crop. His followers should see responding with anything less, especially in ourselves, as unthinkable.
What do you think?