The Stony Ground Christian
by Pastor Tim Binion
In Matthew 13:3-9, Jesus taught a parable of the four kinds of soil. Three of the types of soil on which the seed was broadcast were not productive. Only one out of the four was productive. In verses 19-23, we have our Lord’s commentary on the four kinds of soil, and in it we find out just why three of the soils were unproductive. “When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and with joy received it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit…”
I would like to call your attention here to the stony ground hearer. It is said that when he heard the Word, he immediately with joy received it. This stony ground hearer distinctly represents the class of people with no real attachment to Christ.
“Jesus explains this as denoting those who hear the gospel; who are caught with it as something new or pleasing; who profess to be greatly delighted with it, and who are full of zeal for it. Yet they have no root in themselves. They are not true Christians. Their hearts are not changed. They have not seen their guilt and danger, and the true excellency of Christ. They are not ‘really’ attached to the gospel; and when they are tried and persecution comes, they fall – as the rootless grain withers before the scorching rays of the noonday sun” theologian Rev. Albert Barnes wrote in his book Notes on the Gospels.
Both the wayside and the thorny ground hearer may also represent a similar class of people in that they heard the Word and in their own unique way receive the Word. In all cases, not only was the Word heard, but in different and distinct ways received. The stony ground hearer, however, went farther in religion than did the other kinds of hearers. The stony ground hearer more clearly, distinctly, and definitely represents those who continue to be identified as Christians for a longer period of time. It could be concluded that the stony ground hearer looks more like a true Christian than any of the other kinds of hearers represented in this parable. He received the Word promptly and with accompanying joy.
Albert Barnes wrote again about this group, “They are under deep distress for sin; they are apprehensive of danger; they hear the offer of mercy, and they seem to themselves to embrace the gospel. It offers them peace, pardon, salvation, and religion assumes for a time a lovely aspect. They imagine that they are pardoned, and they have a temporary peace and joy. Their anxieties subside. Their fears are gone. They are for a time happy. The mere subsiding of anxious feeling from any cause will make the mind for a time happy. They have only to imagine, therefore, that their sins are forgiven, to produce a certain kind of peace and joy. But there is no ground of permanent joy, as there is in true pardon, and soon their joy subsides, and all evidence of piety disappears. There is no strength of principle to resist temptation; there is no real love of the Saviour; and in times of trial and persecution they show that they have no true religion, and fall away.”
Jesus taught us here that some would profess Christianity with no true work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. This class of hearer leads us to believe that there are multitudes of people today who receive the Word with joy and respond to the invitation of the preacher, yet who fall short of being born again.
A great many of the Lord’s teachings inform us of this self-deceived group. In Matthew 22:1-14, we find another parable which teaches that many religious people are lost. Here, our Lord instructs us of a king who made a marriage for his son, who commissioned his servants to invite everyone they found to the marriage so that the wedding would be furnished with guests. On the day of the wedding when the guests had gathered, the king came in and noticed a man who did not have on a wedding garment. The king said, “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:12-14) This man attended the supper and was identified with the guests but had no true work of salvation though he was among true Christians. In order that the wedding be furnished with guests, the servants of the king went everywhere collecting as many guests for the wedding as they could, and in doing so, they brought in both bad and good (verse 10). Surely this parable not only teaches us that there are many religious people who are lost, but it also instructs us that one of the major reasons why is the fact that the servants brought in the bad (lost) as well as the good (saved). Isn’t this exactly what’s happening today in churches? The carnal, worldly, unscriptural methods which many of the preachers, evangelists, and personal workers of our day utilize are one of the major causes our churches are being filled with droves of unconverted people.
It appears that many preachers are more interested in having quantity than quality, professors rather than possessors, hearers rather than doers, a huge church rather than a holy church.
These clear teachings of Christ are some of most ignored and unused scriptures and yet these passages are more relevant to our day than any other.
My friends, one day it will be too late to find out that you are lost. If you are lost, you should want to find out now. I care not how religious you are. You may be religious and still be lost. Be diligent to make your calling and election sure before it is forever too late.
If we go back to the parables of Matthew 13, we find more of this teaching of our Lord. In Matthew 13: 47-50, we find that the net which was cast into the sea brought up both good and bad fish. The point our Lord wished to make was that both bad fish and good fish were in the net and were together until they were separated. Again, the bad represent those who are religious but lost, and the good represent those who are truly born again Christians. In this same chapter, Christ tells us about the tares and the wheat. The tares and the wheat are seen growing together until the time of the harvest, which is the end of the age. At that time there is to be a separation made. The tares represent those who are religious but lost, while the wheat represents true Christians.
In the Scriptures there are many warnings directed to religious people concerning the possibility of being deceived and lost. Christ said to His disciples, “Except your righteousness will exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye will in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt.5:20). What a warning of the possibility of being religious but lost, righteous (self) but unsaved.
In Deuteronomy 11:16, we read the stern warning of Jehovah to His people, “take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived.” To the Corinthian church Paul pointedly advised, “Be not deceived” (I Corinthians 6:9). He candidly said to the Galatian church, “I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:20). He boldly admonished the Corinthian church in His second epistle to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). The writer of Hebrews says, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12).
I need to conclude with simple but sublime truths made repeatedly in scripture.
There is no other person who can help a poor, deceived, lost, religious individual. Christ is the sinner’s only hope. Christ is the sinner’s only possible deliverer. Christ is the sinner’s only salvation. It’s Christ plus nothing; without human help, merit, worth, or works.
When Christ does the saving, He does it entirely by Himself and it is a perfect work to which nothing can be added. To state the matter bluntly, yet simply, it is Christ or Satan. It is Christ or darkness. It is Christ or death. It is Christ or hell. It is Christ or religion. It is Christ or everlasting misery.
My dear friend, without hesitation, qualification, or reservation, can you say “I know that I am saved because I know Christ?”
Do you know experientially the delivering power of the Son of God to deliver you from the penalty, power, and pollution of sin?
Remember, a religion without an experimental knowledge and acquaintance with the person and work of Christ is one that will destroy your soul forever in a devil’s hell. Do you really know the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible?
Has God given Him to you by revealing Him in you?
Salvation is in Christ and comes by a spiritual revelation given in grace by God the Father to those whom the Holy Spirit brings utterly lost, condemned, helpless, guilty, to the utter end of ones self. Has the Holy Spirit ever brought you to this place?