Several hours after reading this column, many of us would join millions of soccer die-hards globally gathered around the TV set to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals.
Germany and Argentina has gone through 4 rounds of competition in Brazil to be where they are today: finalists vying for the coveted crown of soccer supremacy. They earned their berth by playing matches against other teams from their region of the globe during a qualification process that began about three years before the actual tournament starts. A long hard track and only one can emerge as winner.
In a sense, it isn’t that different from the Christian journey. A long, often times trying trail before you reach the prize: the crown of life. But with one difference – everyone can be winners. Yet, as we are cautioned in Matt 7:22, not all will be saved, if we are not truly repentant. We need to constantly remind ourselves as Paul warned in 1 Cor 9:24-27. Salvation may be free, but it costs everything.
We thank God that Jesus’ preoccupation was with seeking and saving the lost. This should come as no surprise, since the first parable He told – the parable of the sower in Matt 13:3-9 – focused on the gospel. The sower would sling a bag of seed over his shoulder and would take handfuls of seed and scatter them. The seed he threw would fall on four kinds of soil.
First were seeds that landed on the wayside, and the birds came and ate them up. Next were those on the shallow soil. As seeds fell on these shallow places and began to germinate, the descending roots soon reached rock and had nowhere to go. The sun came up and they soon die because their roots could not go deeper for moisture. Some seeds fell on weedy soil among thorns. The soil looked good. It was deep, rich and fertile. They began to germinate, but the weeds soon sprouted and choked out the new plants. And finally Matt 13:8 described good soil. It produced a crop – a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.
There is nothing wrong with the sower or his method, or the seed he sowed. The problem is the condition of the soil, which illustrates the human heart. The heart of the hearer is the spiritual equivalent of soil receiving a farmer’s seed. Soil that is not properly prepared will never bear a crop. A heart not properly prepared will never bear spiritual fruit.
And while fruit-bearing is the whole point of farming, it is also the ultimate test of salvation. The good soil describes the believer. The weedy soil and the shallow soil are pretenders. The soil by the wayside is an absolute rejecter. The seed is the message of the gospel. The sprouting of the seed in the shallow and weedy soil simply means that the Word had been received and begun to operate, not that eternal life had been conferred.
As for the good soil, the proof of salvation is evident in the fruit it bears, for as Christ said by their fruit you will recognise them (Matt 7:16).
Deacon Henry Leong