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THE SEED IN STONY PLACES
(SERMON NUMBER 3 ON THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, May 27, 2007
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away” (Matthew 13:5-6).


The parable of the sower gives a lot of insight concerning evangelism. It pictures four kinds of people who hear the Gospel. The first three types never get saved. The fourth kind does. Last Sunday I gave a sermon on the sower and the seed. I said that the sower is the Gospel preacher today. I said that the seed is the Bible, the Word of God. I also gave a sermon on the seed that fell by the wayside. I showed that these are people whose hearts are as hard as a road, that the seed of the Word falls there, but is trampled down by men and devoured by Satan. That kind of person doesn’t get saved.

But this morning we are looking at the second kind of person, the one who receives the seed of the Word in “stony places.” Spurgeon said that these are people who

…hear a sermon, are apparently converted directly, and they fancy that they are saved…they at once profess to be believers. They are brought forward as converts, and there is great rejoicing over them; but after a very little while, days of trial arise, and there being no depth in them, they wither away, and their names are struck from the church roll (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Seed Upon a Rock,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1977, volume XLIX, p. 385).

These are people who “sprung up,” but because they had no deepness of earth, when the sun was up “they withered away.”

I want you to understand that the fault was not in the suddenness of their supposed conversions. Many of the best converts are those who are suddenly converted. The Apostle Paul was struck down on the road to Damascus. Within three days his sight was restored. He was baptized and became one of the greatest Christians of all time. There was a great depth of earth in him, yet the seed sprang up very suddenly. Many of the best Christians are suddenly converted. Two of our deacons and my own wife were suddenly converted the very first time they heard the Gospel preached. Their conversions were genuine, and yet they took place quite unexpectedly and quickly. Do not judge the reality of your conversion by the length of time it took. False conversions are usually sudden, but not all sudden conversions are false. Spurgeon said, “Where there is no depth, there is no durability [permanence]. That familiar proverb is a true one, ‘Easy come, easy go.’ As a general rule, those persons who have, as they say, ‘found religion’ all of a sudden, without any mental struggle, and who have never found it in their heart and soul, are the very people to let it go quite as readily whenever a time of trial comes” (ibid., p. 386).

There may be someone like that here this morning. To help you avoid a false conversion, I will ask two questions from the text and answer them.

I. First, what does it mean to have no deepness of earth?

The text says,

“Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth …” (Matthew 13:5).

Jesus explained what “no deepness of earth” means in verse twenty,

“But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon [at once] with joy receiveth it” (Matthew 13:20).

Luke puts it,

“They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy…” (Luke 8:13).

Mark puts it,

“And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness” (Mark 4:16).

Thus, those who have no deepness of earth, in a real conversion, are people who “with joy receive” the Gospel (Matthew 13:20); who “when they hear, receive the word with joy” (Luke 8:13); who “when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness” (Mark 4:16). The Greek word translated “joy” in Matthew and Luke is exactly the same word translated as “gladness” in Mark. Strong’s concordance says that Greek word means “cheerfulness,” and tells us it comes from another Greek word that means “calmly happy” (Strong #5479, #5463). W. E. Vine says, “It is contrasted with weeping and sorrow” (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Fleming H. Revell, 1966, p. 279). Commenting on the verse in Mark, Dr. Gill said,

Their hearts are not truly broken by it [the word]; they are not brought to a thorough sight and sense of sin, and their need of Christ, and salvation by him; their stony hearts are not taken away… (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume 7, p. 399).

They receive the Gospel in a happy state of mind, in “contrast with weeping and sorrow,” which is usually true of real conversions. True conversions generally occur when people are very serious, under conviction of sin, not when they are “calmly happy.”

Dr. John MacArthur, though wrong on the Blood of Christ and Lordship salvation, gave a correct comment on “with joy receiveth it” (Matthew 13:20). Dr. MacArthur said,

The superficial response is epidemic in twentieth-century Christianity. Why? Because the gospel is usually presented with the promise of joy, warmth, fellowship and good feeling… “Converts” aren’t confronted with the real issues of sin and repentance. Instead, they are encouraged to jump on the Jesus bandwagon for the good things that are promised. Yet underneath the shallow layer of apparently fertile topsoil is an unyielding rock bed of rebellion and resistance…There is no true repentance, no brokenness, and no contrition (John MacArthur, D.D., The Gospel According to Jesus, Zondervan Publishing House, 1988, p. 123, emphasis by Dr. Hymers).

Although I do not agree with the general thought concerning Lordship salvation in Dr. MacArthur’s book, I do agree with the words which I have quoted about the superficial response so prevalent in modern “decisionism.”

Dr. Gill said, “Their hearts are not truly broken…not brought to a thorough sight and sense of sin.” That is why their hearts remain like a layer of rock under a thin layer of soil.

Your heart must be broken up. You must come under conviction of sin, or the Gospel will not take permanent root, and you will not be converted. You must be made to see your sins. You must be made to realize that your sin is recorded in God’s books, that God will read your sins at the Last Judgment, that you can do nothing of your own to erase those sins from God’s books, that the record of your sins will damn you to Hell for all eternity, and justly so, for you have willfully rejected Christ. You must also be made aware of your totally depraved nature. You must be made to realize that your very heart is wrong and you can't change it.  Only a sharp, stabbing conviction of your sin can break up your hardened heart and make it receptive to Christ. There can be no deepness of earth in your heart until the stones are broken by the law of God. A person who experiences true conviction of sin will not receive the Gospel with superficial joy! Not at all! He will receive Christ with a broken heart, with sadness and sorrow for sin! Without conviction, there is no real conversion! A happy-go-lucky attitude will result in a false conversion.

II. Second, what does the scorching of the sun mean?

Please stand and read the text again, all of it, Matthew 13:5-6.

“Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away”
      (Matthew 13:5-6).

You may be seated.

“And when the sun was up, they were scorched.” What does that mean? It means that the heat of the sun scorched the plants that grew up on a shallow layer of soil, on top of a hard sheet of rock. And “when the sun was up” means that trials and hardships will scorch those who are not truly converted. Matthew says that the burning sun refers to “tribulation or persecution” for “the word” (Matthew 13:21). Luke says “and in time of temptation [they] fall away” (Luke 8:13). Mark adds “affliction” (Mark 4:17).

Tribulation, persecution, temptation, affliction – those are like burning rays of the sun that scorch false converts to the point that they wither away! And no person who makes a profession of faith can escape those things. Jesus said,

“In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33).

The Apostle Paul said,

“We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

Again the Apostle said,

“All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” 
      (II Timothy 3:12).

Paul also spoke of serving the Lord in spite of “temptations” (Acts 20:19). No one can get through the Christian life without experiencing these problems and difficulties.

But the false converts pictured by the shallow earth on a sheet of rock – those false converts will be scorched and wither away when common troubles come to them. All Christians have these troubles, but the true Christians go right on, while these false “converts” wither away. “By and by he is offended” (verse 21). Dr. Lange said that persecution or tribulation “becomes to him an offence, as if there were something wrong with the word; and he stumbles and falls at this rock of offence” (John Peter Lange, Ph.D., Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Zondervan Publishing House, n.d., comment on Matthew 13:21).

People like this think, “Why, I felt that it would be so easy and fun to be a Christian. These troubles I am going through show that there is something wrong with Christianity. I’ve had enough.” They are “offended” (Mark 4:17). They “fall away” (Luke 8:13). Isn’t that what happened to Judas? He had a false conversion. When trouble and temptation came he was offended, listened to Satan, and fell away.

Why did that happen to Judas? Why does it happen to everyone who has a false conversion? The answer is in verse six, right in the middle of the verse,

“Because they had no root, they withered away”
      (Matthew 13:6).

Say those words out loud.

“Because they had no root, they withered away”
      (Matthew 13:6).

Verse twenty-one says,

“Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth [endureth] for a while…” (Matthew 13:21).

No root! Dr. Gill said, “The word had only a place in his head [in his mind], and not in his heart; wherefore the profession of it was soon dropped, and came to nothing” (ibid., p. 398). That is the sad end of the person with a stony heart. At last he feels that the Christian life is too hard and falls away.

That’s what is wrong with modern “decisionism.” It only gives you a little “head” knowledge and a human “decision for Christ.” So, when trouble comes, that kind of a person is offended and falls away. You must have a thorough work of conviction in your heart. You must see that you are a hopeless sinner. You must come to Jesus and be rooted and grounded in Him. These are not things that you can learn to do. Only the grace of God can melt your heart and bring you to Jesus. As Mr. Griffith sang a moment ago,

Lord, now indeed I find
   Thy power, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots,
   And melt the heart of stone.

Jesus paid it all,
   All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
   He washed it white as snow.
(“Jesus Paid It All” by Elvina M. Hall, 1820-1889).

Jesus died to pay for your sin. He has risen from the dead and is alive next to God in Heaven. Repent and turn to Jesus.

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Don’t “wither away” and die without salvation in Jesus! I pray that you will be convicted of your sin by the Spirit of God, that you will come to Jesus and not “wither away” forever under the scorching blast of judgment, in the fire of Hell! Please stand and sing the second stanza of “Jesus Paid It All.” Think seriously about the words. It’s number seven on your song sheet.

Lord, now indeed I find
    Thy power, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots,
   And melt the heart of stone.

Jesus paid it all,
   All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
   He washed it white as snow.
(“Jesus Paid It All” by Elvina M. Hall, 1820-1889).

(Click here for a complete exposition of the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13)

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 8:4-6, 13.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus Paid It All” (by Elvina M. Hall, 1820-1889).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE SEED IN STONY PLACES
(SERMON NUMBER 3 ON THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away” (Matthew 13:5-6).

I.   First, what does it mean to have no deepness of earth? Matthew 13:5, 20;
Luke 8:13; Mark 4:16.

II.  Second, what does the scorching of the sun mean? Matthew 13:5-6, 21;
Luke 8:13; Mark 4:17; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; II Timothy 3:12;
Acts 20:19; Matthew 13:21; John 3:3.