Reflections: Precious Dirt: How Many Soils are ‘Saved?’

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?


2 thoughts on “Reflections: Precious Dirt: How Many Soils are ‘Saved?’”

  1. I have heard several takes in sermons on this parable. I guess I’m a three-soiler. Thanks for helping me see it in a new light and ask a different question.

  2. After listening to Kevin’s message Saturday night, I wanted to consider my soil. I also felt that the message was just getting to the heart of the matter when it was time to go home. This led to a great discussion with my husband and for me to google “how to change my heart”. How delightful! (Seriously) I love the mercy and gentleness of God that I travel with.
    The trouble being I do know my heart and so does God, more thoroughly than I do, fortunately, and with all that I carry in my suitcase of life’s experiences I am prone to consider and easily accept the idea that I am still flawed, shucks, and attempt to fix the flaw. So, what’s my soil made up of? Good question.
    Now on to my google findings. I came across a Reverend Charles G. Finney. I had never heard of him but found out he was a part of the Great Awakening. His paper was on How to Change Your Heart. I read all 13 pages and found some amazing information. You can read it yourself at:
    Some of it I questioned and some of it landed on what I needed to learn. Let’s see what you think. Most of these thoughts are Reverend Finney’s and I think I found understanding in them.
    A change of heart is moral and consists in changing my mind to regard the supreme object of pursuit. This change consists in preferring the glory of God and the interests of his kingdom to one’s own happiness, and to everything else.
    1: I cannot change my heart by working my imagination and feelings into a state of excitement.
    2: I cannot change my heart by an attempt to force myself into a certain state of feeling.
    My conduct is modified and governed by what I abide in and what abides in me. My preference for God will so modify and govern my behavior, and I am directly influenced in all my ways by a regard to God’s glory. Man’s abiding preference for God naturally directs his thoughts to Him and to the things of His Kingdom.
    When the conviction of Gospel truth is accompanied with the consent of the will, or the mind’s preference of it, it is in proportion to its strength will uniformly influence the conduct. When the objects of faith are the subjects of intense thought, faith rises into emotion: it is then a felt confidence and trust, so sensible as to calm all the anxieties, and fears and trepidations of the soul.
    3: To change my heart is to change the governing preference of my mind. What is needed is that I reject sin and prefer God. Until my will is right it is vain to expect felt emotions of true love to God, of repentance and faith. These feelings need not be expected until the will is bowed and until the ruling preference of the mind is changed.
    There are three classes of motives that decide the will: 1) those that are purely selfish, 2) those that arise from self-love and 3) those connected with conscience. (Conscience being the judgment which the mind forms of the moral qualities of actions.)
    The decision of the will is to land on doing what is right, to love God, to serve him, to honor him and promote his glory.
    4: I cannot change my heart by attending to the present state of my feelings.
    Next Reverend Finney has me consider persuading the state of mind which constitutes a change of heart. “As a man thinks…”
    1: Consider the unreasonableness and hatefulness of selfishness. Selfishness being the pursuit of my own happiness as a supreme good, this is in itself inconsistent with the glory of God and the highest happiness of His Kingdom. My individual happiness is of trifling importance compared with the happiness and glory of God and the interests of His immense kingdom.
    Selfishness is the law of Satan’s empire.
    2: Look at the reasonableness and utility of benevolence. Benevolence is good will, or willing good to the object of it. Benevolence to God is preferring His happiness and glory.
    Selfishness is the discord of the soul and benevolence is the melody of the soul. Selfishness is neither reasonable nor profitable.
    To choose God and His services, to prefer these to my own interest and to everything else, is to change my heart. But one thing is required and that is a willing mind. My consent is all that is needed.
    From this there are two classes of evidence of a change of heart: 1: those vivid emotions of love to God, repentance for sin and faith in Christ, that often follow the change of choice and 2: an habitual disposition to obey the requirements of God; that abiding preference of God’s glory, over everything else, that gives a right direction to all my conduct.
    So, when I consider this parable I land on the seed affecting the soil and the soil being changed. The cycle of growth from the Sower (investing in growing) throwing seed and knowing where the seed are landing before they hit the ground to the seed changing the condition of the soil by the consent of the soil recognizing the value in and of the seed and responding to either proliferating the seed or snuffing it out. Maybe what I need to consider next is how am I intentionally using my soil to influence nearby soil so when the seed is once again sown the nearby soil is ready to receive?

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