What Kind Of Garden Are You?

by Edward Langenback

© 8/19/03

Jesus used the parable of the two gates to illustrate the difference between the Godly and the ungodly ways of life. However, He did not stop with simply showing two vastly different ways of life. He also showed that when all is said and done comparatively few people will enter the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 13:24, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."

Jesus tells us that there are a lot of people who will try to enter the narrow gate and not be able to do so. The question then is "Why will all those people not be able to enter?". For some of the answers to this question Jesus told the parable of the sower.

Matthew 13:3-8, "And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 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. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold."

You may now be asking "What is a parable?".

The word 'parables' in Matthew 13:3 is translated from the Greek parabole {pronounced par-ab-ol-ay'} [strongs number 3850] and means a placing of one thing by the side of another, juxtaposition, a comparing, comparison of one thing with another, likeness, similitude an example by which a doctrine or precept is illustrated. A narrative, fictitious but agreeable to the laws and usages of human life, by which either the duties of men or the things of God, particularly the nature and history of God's kingdom are figuratively portrayed.

A parable is then much more than just a cute little story with a moral. God is using simple illustrations of things that we do understand to explain things that we don't understand. The same way that a parent will use simple illustrations and examples to teach a child.

In this parable, the sower sowing seeds represents the good news of the kingdom of God being preached. The places where the seed fell is the hearts of those who heard the word. Jesus uses the example of seed falling in four types of ground to illustrate four types of people and how they react to the word of God that is sown into their hearts.

Those who receive seed by the wayside are people who hear the word and do not understand. Because of this lack of understanding, these people are unable to follow the direction of the word and enter the narrow gate. The adversary uses distraction, confusion and misunderstanding to steal the word that was planted in their hearts. Because they never attempted to understand or see past the deception, most do not even realize their loss.

The ones receiving seeds upon stony places are those who hear the word and receive it joyfully. These are people who become Christians without depth. They were happy enough to receive the word. Yet, they do not make any effort to gain a deeper understanding of what they have heard in God's word and what the Lord might be saying about their own lives. People without depth do not study the Bible or even read it much at all. They do little more than pay a polite, only on the surface, attention to anyone who is preaching or teaching something out of God's word. These are the one's who, like many children, pay token attention without actually listening to the lesson being taught. Building a foundation of the word of God in their spirits was never a priority. Lacking this foundation, they cannot withstand the tide of troubles and persecution, eventually giving up on God and His word completely.

The word 'offended' in Matthew 13:21 is translated from the Greek skandalizo {pronounced skan-dal-id'-zo} [strongs number 4624] and means to entrap, i.e. trip up, stumble, or entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure, offend or make to offend.

The people among thorns are the ones who are glad enough to hear the word but are so worried about this life and their desire for riches and the worries, concerns and cares of this world that God is smothered out of their lives. Just like weeds will overcome any useful, desirable plants that could bear fruit, these things fill the life of the thorny person so thoroughly that God's word is choked out.

The people who receive the word on good ground not only hear it but understand it and develop a good root or foundation within themselves. Bearing fruit or results not only in their own lives, they also touch the lives of those around them. These are the ones who not only help sow the word but also work to help harvest the crop that grows when the word is planted in people's hearts.

Note that out of the four types of people, three of them see only a little, if any, growth and yield no fruit at all. Only one of the three types achieves growth and reaches a point of yielding results from the seed planted in their hearts. In short, three seeds out of four end up not producing. This sounds like a very heavy loss, yet God continues to plant His word for the sake of the few who are good ground.

Bearing fruit or producing results is something that God expects of us all. We are part of the Lord's planting and He fully expects His crop to grow, mature and yield fruit.

John 15:1, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman."

The word husbandman is translated from the Greek georgos {gheh-ore-gos'} [strongs number 1092] and means a husbandman, tiller of the soil, a vine dresser, farmer.

Jesus calls Himself the true vine. He is that which God has planted. He has grown and yielded fruit. Those who accept and follow Him become that fruit. In order to bear fruit, we are grafted into (made part of) and become branches of the true vine that is Jesus. It is at this point that we are expected to yield our own fruit.

John 15:2, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."

God is the one who planted the vine. He is taking care of it, removing branches that do not produce, trimming the ones that do so that they will produce more grafting in new branches that were not part of the original planting, yet will yield fruit of their own.

John 15:4-5, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."

The words 'abide' and 'abideth' in these verses are translated from the Greek meno {pronounced men'-o} [strongs number 3306] and means to remain, abide, to sojourn, tarry, not to depart, not to perish, to last, endure, to survive, live, to wait for, await one

Just as a branch cannot produce anything by itself apart from the vine, we can do nothing apart from Jesus.

Luke 13:6-9, "He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."

This parable is a warning. The lesson illustrated here is that we are the fig trees that God has planted in His garden. He is going to come to each of us seeking fruit. If, even after Jesus has worked with and cared for us and fed us with the word of God, we remain fruitless then we are no better than the fig tree that would not bear fruit even after all the special care that was given to it.

John 15:6, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."

If we do not abide in Jesus then we are no more good that dried out, lifeless branches that are not drawing life from the vine . . . that are gathered up and burned.

If you are not abiding in Jesus, now is the best time to make a change. God does not want to condemn you for not being up to His standard. If He did that He would have to condemn all of us. In fact, condemnation is one of the farthest things from His mind.

2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

God's desire is for everyone to be saved. This is why He has made it a point to make sure that everyone has time and opportunity to hear the truth, making their own decision about following that truth. However, while God wants all of us to have the chance to follow Him, there will come a time that He will stop waiting.

Isaiah 55:6, "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:"

The two phrases in this verse are often quoted with emphasis on the first part of each phrase where the reader is urged to seek the Lord and call upon Him. Little mention is made of the second parts that make it clear that seeking the Lord and calling upon Him are limited time offers.

We are told to seek ye the Lord, while He may be found, which implies that there will be a time when people will seek God and He will not be found. We are also told to call upon Him, While He is near, which makes clear that there will come a time when He will NOT be near or easily called upon.

2 Corinthians 6:2, "(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation)"

There literally is no time like the present. We have no knowledge of or guarantee of any time in the future. God has shown us that this offer is only going to be extended for just so long and no more. The very best thing to do is act now.

A simple prayer like this one is all it takes to reach out for the gift that God is holding out to you.

"Lord I confess that I have sinned. I am sorry for my sins and ask Jesus to come into my heart and live through me. Lead me by your Holy Spirit on the narrow path that leads to life. Thank you in Jesus' name."

Speaking to God need not be complicated and full of things like "Thee" and "Thou". Speak to Him like you would a trusted friend or relative. Tell Him the truth from your heart and He will certainly hear you.