Carla’s Pumpkins and Gospel Seed
My wife picked our pumpkins this past week–early. Last Fall our pumpkin got pushed over into the flower bed to rot, where it was forgotten. In the Spring we spaded the soil in the planter and set out flowers, not realizing that we were also planting pumpkin seeds. Of course, we were intrigued when the vines sprang up, and even more so when we saw the pumpkins developing on the vine. However, four months of growth is a lot for pumpkin vines, and they were getting unwieldly. That’s the story behind our two pumpkins and their early harvest.
Jesus said that the seed of the kingdom is “the word of God” (Luke 8). Like those pumpkin seeds, the word planted in the right heart will grow a Christian. A person’s conversion might be a surprise to the one who planted the gospel, perhaps springing up in some unlikely place.
You may have heard of such conversions resulting from the simple gospel message presented in a tract left by a concerned Christian; the conversion that resulted from a short radio sermon; or a family conversion sprouting from a preacher’s invitation to the lady at the convenience store. The sowing of the seed of God’s word is not in vain.
The following is from my old biology text book: “A dry seed is almost in a state of suspended animation. Although it may appear to be dead, its metabolic processes continue at extremely slow rates. Lotus seeds hundreds of years old, when exposed to the right environmental conditions, have germinated and produced healthy seedlings.” (The Nature of Life, p. 270, Koob & Boggs, Ad. – Wes., Reading, Mass.), God’s word is the same. It may not appear to unbelievers to be alive, however, it is as alive and vigorous today as it was in the first Century, producing the same spiritual seedlings.
Furthermore, like kudzu which came from Asia and ravages the southern United States, God’s word will produce Christians in countries other than its native land. Jesus’ commission to His disciples is to preach the gospel to all the nations (Mark 16:15; Matt 28:1-20). However, as kudzu does not grow in colder climates, even so God’s word does not germinate in the wrong kinds of hearts–not that sinners have no choice in the matter, but rather that every person decides what he or she will allow to grow in the heart.
First, God’s word requires INFORMED HEARTS to bring forth fruit. To be informed, one must hear the gospel. Jesus said, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God’. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” (John 6:45). As locust seeds require moisture, heat, and oxygen to germinate, God’s word requires a listening heart free from prejudice, distraction, or apathy. Searching the Scriptures produces “noble-minded” hearts because the listeners are simply informed (Acts 17:11).
Second, a BELIEVING HEART is required. James explains the kind of faith which pleases God in James chapter 2. He says that “the demons believe and tremble,” pointing out that proper faith moves one toward faithfulness to God, of which the demons were not. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (Jas 2:26). When one asks the question, “What must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30; 9:6; 2:37), one is showing his or her desire to have a believing heart in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:16).
Third, only HUMBLE HEARTS produce Christians. Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3). Repentance–giving up sin and turning to spiritual service — requires humility. The rich young ruler refused to give up his covetousness to follow Christ (Matt 19). King Agrippa refused to accept the lowly cross of Christ (Matt 26). The apostle Paul spoke of those “whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things” (Phil 3:19). God’s word has little place in proud, unyielding hearts.
Fourth, a BRAVE HEART is needed to make the good confession (Matt 16:15, 16; 1 Tim 6:12-13). The teenager who walks away from his pot-smoking friends; or the former alcoholic who shuns his old drinking buddies, the converted fornicator who explains to his past associates that Christians cannot practice sin; all show the gravity of the Good Confession. Brave hearts take a stand for right.
Fifth, obeying the gospel produces an UNCONDEMNED HEART. “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” (1 John 3:21). When one’s sins are forgiven he knows that he is justified before God, uncondemn-ed. That forgiveness comes at baptism. “Repent, and be baptized every one of you…for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38). “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16. See also Rom 6:3, 4).
Further, when one continues in obedience, he has assurance of God’s favor. “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9) not that he literally cannot sin (1 John 1:7-10), but rather that when a good heart knows God’s will it cannot conscientiously or habitually transgress. Thus, the obedient, cleansed heart will be an uncondemned heart, producing a child of God.Now, different seeds produce different plants. Jesus said, “Every plant which My Father hath not planted shall be rooted up” (Matt 15:13). He said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees”, their love of money (Luke 12:1). Jesus said, “If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6). Please, let every soul demand the simple word of God as the spiritual rule in life. Unlike the creeds and traditions of men, only the gospel is unchanging, only the gospel is God’s power unto salvation (Rom 1:16, 17). – George Hutto, in Centerview Tidings, Vol. 17, No 32