Luke 8:1-18 by Pastor Dan Walker
Everyone would like to see changes in their lives, and that's not a bad desire. God desires to see your life change for the better. In order for that to happen, we need to understand the secrets of life change. In this message, we look at the most profound parable that Jesus taught. As the Holy Spirit reveals to you the secrets in this parable, you will understand the four kinds of people in the world. And more importantly, you will discover how to be the kind of person that is blessed with a changed life from God.
Duration:41 mins 38 secs

Would you like to see your life changed in one way or another? I think that we all would. It’s part of how God made us. He made us with a desire to so something new or better. Or to stop some undesirable behavior. That’s why man of us try New Year’s Resolutions each year. But that sad fact is that most people’s resolutions for life change never get accomplished.

However, I do believe this morning that God desires for each of our lives to change for the better. And that’s what we’re going to talk about this morning. I’ve entitled today’s message – Life Change Secrets. God has secrets that He desires to share with you. Secrets that can change your life. Those who seek God to discover His secrets will find treasures. Treasures that will lead to life change.

1 Corinthians 2:7 (ESV) But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

The apostle Paul is telling us that God had revealed to him secret and hidden wisdom. And Paul shared those secrets with those he taught 2000 years and with us today. How can you and I gain access to God’s secrets? You have to seek after God’s secrets, sometimes referred to in the Bible as treasures.

Matthew 7:7 (ESV) “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

This promise of Jesus refers to not just any asking, seeking or knocking. It refers to seeking to discover the secrets and wisdom of God. When you seek after God’s secrets, Jesus promises us that you will find those secrets. Where are God’s secrets to be found? God’s secrets are hidden in God’s Word, the Bible.

But things aren’t so simple. There are many people who read the Bible, but don’t discover the secrets. Just as there were many people in Jesus’ day who heard Him teach, but didn’t discover His secrets. We need the Holy Spirit to enable us to understand and put into practice what we read in God’s Word.

1 Corinthians 2:10 (ESV) these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

The secrets of God that lead to life change are only revealed through the Holy Spirit. He is the one who helps us understand and reap the benefits of God’s secrets. So, let’s get started with some profound teaching of Jesus, which will help us learn about the secrets of life change.

What kind of heart do you have?

Luke 8:5 (ESV) “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it.

This begins a parable that Jesus said was the most important of all His parables. A parable is a story, usually set in normal life, that illustrates spiritual principles. This parable is usually referred to as the parable of the sower. But it is mainly a parable about the different kinds of soils that the sower sowed his seeds upon. In our second point today, we’re going to study Jesus’ interpretation of this parable. But for the purposes of this point, we need to understand that that each kind of soil represents a different kind of heart.

In Jesus’ day, the seed was sown by hand and the fields had various types of soils right next to one another. As the sower threw the seed, it was scattered and blown onto different types of soil The first type of soil mentioned in this verse was a hard-packed pathway. The seed did not penetrate the pathway and it was eaten by the birds. Needless to say, the seed on the pathway did not grow, not produce any harvest.

Luke 8:6-7 (ESV) And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.

The next kind of soil was rocky soil, where there was a little soil with rocks underneath. Although the seeds in the rocky soil sprouted, it was impossible for them to put down roots. Without roots, the plant was unable to receive nourishment and water from the soil. It withered away and died.

The next kind of soil was soil that was infested with weeds, thorns to be exact. The soil in the thorny patch was better than in the rocky soil. So, the seeds germinated and grew for a longer time than in the rocky soil. However, the thorns grew faster than the crop and choked out the plants and they died as well.

Luke 8:8 (ESV) And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

So far, we’ve looked at three kinds of soil. In the first case, the seed did not even sprout. In the next two cases, the seed sprouted, but eventually died. In none of the first three soils did the seed produce the desired harvest. 

Finally, we come to the good soil. The good soil was soft and the seed sunk into it. The good soil did not have rocks which prevented the roots from going down deep. And finally the good soil was not infested with thorns what would choke out the plant. The end result was that the seed in the good soil grew strong and produced a harvest of more seeds. A harvest that was one hundred times greater than the seed sown on the good soil. Jesus encourages His listeners to have ears to hear the lessons He was teaching them. So, to hear, we need to ask ourselves the question, what kind of soil am I?

As we’ll see from Jesus, the soils in this parable represent different kinds of hearts that people have. And we’re going to jump ahead to where Jesus reveals that the seed if the Word of God. The kind of heart you have is determined by how you respond to God’s Word. Each of the four kinds of hearts heard God’s Word, but they responded differently.

A hard heart does not make any effort to respond to the demands of God’s Word. The rocky and thorny hearts initially receive God’s Word and become believers in Jesus. However, over time, the life of God is choked out in them. But most of them still consider themselves believers, headed to heaven, when they’re actually headed in the opposite direction. 

Finally, we have the good heart. Not only does God’s Word penetrate their hearts, they make sure that it stays there, that it’s roots go deep and nothing chokes it out. Contrary to all the other hearts, the good heart bears an abundant harvest. What is the harvest, more seed, to produce more harvest. What kind of heart to you have?

What is your response to God’s Word?

Luke 8:10 (ESV) he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’

In this parable, Jesus is revealing the secrets of the kingdom of God. However, not everyone understood them in Jesus’ day or today. Only those who have good soil hearts are able to understand this parable. So, let’s look at Jesus’ interpretation.

Luke 8:11-12 (ESV) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.

The sower in the parable is Jesus or another believer who shares the truth of God’s Word to other people. Even in the case of the hard hearted person, they have heard the word of God. Yet, since their hearts are hard, it does not penetrate their hearts. The devil comes and takes the seed away so they don’t even remember it. Jesus explains here what the proper response to God’s Word is. It is to believe in Jesus and be saved. Sadly, that does not happen here.

Luke 8:13-14 (ESV) And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Next, we look at the rocky soil. The first response to hearing God’s Word is great, they receive it with joy. However, because of the rocks in their hearts, the roots of God’s Word does not penetrate. Are these people believers? Absolutely. The problem is that they only believe for awhile. When the tests and trials of life come, they fall away, they no longer believe. This parable clearly discredits the false doctrine of once saved always saved.

Yet millions of people with rocky and thorny hearts still believe they are going to heaven. The next kind of response to God’s Word is those with thorny hearts. They also hear God’s Word and believe for a while. Rather than following Jesus, it says “they go on their way.” They think that praying a simple prayer gives them a ticket to heaven and they can live anyone they please. What happens it that the life of God in them is choked out by cares, riches and pleasures.

The thorns are external temptations that lead them astray. Those who thorny hearts may actually have shown some signs of fruit at the beginning. But because they also fall away, that fruit does not mature and is good for nothing.

Luke 8:15 (ESV) As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

Now, let’s see how good hearted people respond differently than the other three kinds. They also hear the word of God, like all the rest, but here is the difference. First of all, they hold the word fast. Other translations say they cling to God’s Word or retain it. Next they have honest and good hearts, hearts that believe and receive and speak the truth. Finally, every good hearted person bears mature fruit with patience.

Now those with hearts like the first three types of soil do the exact opposite. They do not hold God’s Word fast, they are do not have honest or good hearts and they do not bear fruit. God wants us to look at our hearts and ask what is my response to God’s Word?

Some people think that God determines what type of heart you have and randomly assigns them to people. In fact, many churches across St. Louis teach that false doctrine. The good news is that each person determines what type of heart they have by their own choices. And even better is that even someone with a hard heart can change into someone with a good heart.

Just having a good heart does not save you, but prepares you to receive God’s Word, believe in it and be saved. Not only does this truth apply to us who are listening to this message, it applies to people that you know. You may well be able to assign which kind of hearts that people you know have. Again, the good news is that hearts can change. In fact, knowing what kind of heart someone has can give you insight into how to pray for them so that they can change to having a good, receptive heart. What is your response to God’s Word?

Learn to understand and share God’s secrets

Luke 8:16 (ESV) “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.

After this parable, Jesus shares some short parables that help us to apply it. As a believer, letting your light shine and sowing seed to those around you are one and the same thing. We must let our light shine in the darkness and we must continue to sow the seed of God’s Word. We sow that seed, knowing that 75% of it will not bear a harvest. We sow it because some will bring forth a harvest.

Luke 8:18 (ESV) Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”

We all must take care how we hear God’s Word. Do we hear carefully? Do we seek to understand God’s Word? Do we diligently seek to obey and put God’s Word into practice in our lives? Do we sow the seed of God’s Word that we understand to others around us?

As we grow in answering those questions with a Yes, God will give us more understanding and share more of His secrets with us. As we are careful how we hear, the soil of our hearts becomes more and more receptive. Unfortunately, those who are not careful to hear and put into practice God’s Word, the end result is disastrous. They will fall away from the Lord and their hearts will become hardened once again. We must learn to understand and share the secrets of the Kingdom.

In our final application, I want us to see ourselves as sowers of God’s Word. If you’re a believer here today, God has called you to sow the Gospel to those around you. This is not optional. This is required of every believer, it is what believers. But sometimes when we sow God’s Word, it seems to have no impact on someone. That is a hard-hearted person, Jesus told us about them. Remember, that with prayer, a hard heart can be changed.

What about those who become believers, but slowly drift away from their beliefs. Those are the rocky and thorny hearted people. Jesus told us about them. Don’t be discouraged, it’s how things work. Pray for them and look for good hearted people who are receptive. And will in turn bear a harvest by bearing much fruit. Learn to understand and share the secrets of the kingdom.

 In this most important of all parables, Jesus wants us to consider what kinds of hearts do we have. How do we seek after and respond to God’s Word? Let’s ask God to help have good hearts, soft hearts that receive and obey God’s Word. And then let’s let our lights shine and spread the seed of God’s Word to others. Some will reject, others will accept but fall away, but some will receive with good hearts. They will believe, be saved and persevere in their faith.