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Sermons and Outlines

Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23


Intro: Jesus Christ was the master teacher! He had the unique ability to take scenes from everyday life and use them to teach profound spiritual truths. Such is the case with the passage we have read this evening. As Jesus sat by the seaside teaching, He began to talk about an image with which everyone present was familiar. He talked about a man taking seed into a field. He pictured that man casting the seed upon the earth. This seed fell upon the ground and landed upon differing types of soils. Some of the seed brought forth fruit, other seed did not.

Jesus used this common image to teach those who heard Him about the condition of the human heart. Here, we see that the sower is the Holy Spirit, the seed is the Gospel of grace and the soil is the human heart. From His words, we learn that the human heart is like soil. It can either receive the seed of the Gospel and produce a harvest of spiritual fruit, or it can be unprepared and produce nothing of value for the glory of the name of God.

Tonight, I would like for us to investigate this parable. I want to preach for a while about A Sower, His Seed And The Soils. As we move through these verses, I would ask you to examine your own heart to see what kind of soil you are. It may be that the Lord will have a word for your life in this passage. Let's think for a time about A Sower, His Seed And The Soils.


A. The sower in this parable is a man who goes into his field with the intention of raising a crop and gleaning a harvest. He expects to reap a profit from the crop he is sowing.

B. Such is the case with the Lord God. He sent His Son into the world to die and He sends His Spirit into the world to convict lost people of their sins so that He might reap a spiritual harvest to the glory of His name, John 16:8. Just as a bountiful harvest brings riches and honor to the farmer, so the salvation of souls brings glory to the name of God. After all, the only reason God does anything, including saving souls is for the glory of His name!

C. Even though the plan of God to save the lost is all for His glory, I still praise God for the fact that He devised such a perfect plan to save those who believe! If you are saved, you should praise His name that He sent His Son Jesus to die for you; that He rose from the dead; that in spite of your sinful condition, He loved you and extended grace to you and saved your soul, Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:8-9. We think we are doing a God a favor when we come to Him, the very opposite it true!


A. Every seed that was sown by the sower had the potential to produce much more seed. Verse 8 and 23 bear this out. One little seed had the potential to multiply itself 3000%; 6000% and even 10000%. Those of you who farm have seen this principle in action. You can plant one bean seed and from that seed reap many beans, with each pod containing several more seeds. Sow one squash seed and it will produce a plant that yields several fully grown squashes, each containing dozens, if not hundreds or new seeds. Plant one corn seed and watch it produce a plant that will yield several ears, each containing many rows of fresh seeds. The seed had the potential to reproduce itself many times over.

B. Such is the seed of the Gospel of grace. When it is sown in a ready heart, it will germinate and reproduce itself over and over again. The seed has the potential to begin small and to reproduce much.

C. It is worth noting that the seed always the changes the ground in which it is planted. What had been bare earth is now yielding a harvest to the glory of the sower. When the seed of the Gospel finds a lodging place in a heart that has been plowed by the Word of God and tilled by the grace of God, it will germinate and leave that heart forever changed and producing a harvest of spiritual fruit to the glory of God. (Note: This is what the Lord wants from your life and mine! He wants to produce His fruit in the hearts of His redeemed. Here is a brief description of the kind of fruit He will produce within us when we are the right kind of soil sown with the right kind of seed:

1. Sanctification - That is, we become more like Him - Rom. 6:22; Phil. 1:11; Col. 1:10.

2. Spirituality - That is, we behave more like Him - Gal. 5:22-23.

3. Souls - That is, we are burdened like Him - Rom. 1:13.


A. As the sower sowed his seed, it fell upon four distinct kinds of soils. We should mention that each of the soils was good soil, but the condition the soil was in when the seed landed upon it determined its potential for producing a suitable harvest. (Note: Remember that we are comparing the soils to types of human hearts. Just as there are no bad soils, there are no bad hearts. I know that "the heart is desperately wicked above all things" and I am not trying to contradict the Word of God. What I mean is there is no heart so bad that it shouldn't receive the Gospel message. The Lord in His grace allows the seed of the Gospel to fall upon hearts of all descriptions, John 1:9; Psa. 19:1-6! What makes the heart unable to receive the seed is its condition when the Gospel comes to it.)

B. A look at the four types of soils mentioned here by Jesus is very revealing when it comes to understanding the human heart and why people respond to the Gospel as they do. One of these soils is going to paint a perfect picture of your heart. See if you can identify what kind of soil you are as we look into these verses today.

1. The Hard Soil - v. 4, 19 - The "wayside" refers to the narrow footpaths that ran beside and through the fields. These were the roads of the day and the soil on them had become as hard as concrete from the feet of the travelers that had walked upon them. When the seed fell on the footpath, it could not penetrate the soil and it remained there in the open, only to be devoured by the fowls of the air.

We are told that this speaks of the person who hears the Gospel, but who doesn't "understand it". That is, they cannot make the connection between the claims of the Gospel and their own life. Maybe they are steeped in sin and refuse to believe. Maybe they are calloused and cold toward the things of God and refuse to hear. Maybe they have hardened their hearts for years against the call of the Gospel and like a path trampled underfoot for centuries, they have become hard hearted! Whatever their need, they are hard hearted and the seed of the Gospel cannot penetrate the soil of their heart. When this happens, the devil and his minions will snatch away to Gospel seed by diverting the mind and helping the person become even more hardened against God. This person has a heart that is not prepared for a work of grace leading to salvation. (Note: We often wonder how some people can continually spurn the Gospel message! It is because they are hardened to it by their own choice. Ill. God only hardened Pharaoh's heart after he had hardened his own heart first!)

2. The Stony Soil - v. 5-6; 20-21 - These stony places are common in Palestine. Often there will be an outcropping of limestone rock covered by a thin layer of topsoil. This soil looks like it is ready to be sown. This ground looks good and productive and seed cast here will germinate and quickly spring up into a promising plant. But, because there is no depth of soil, as soon as the sun beats down on the tender plant, it withers and dies without producing any fruit.

This kind of soil speaks of that heart that makes an emotional response to the presentation of the Gospel. Perhaps this person heard the Gospel and said, "That's what I need!" Or, perhaps they come because a friend came. Whatever their motive, they make a profession, but it is a shallow one at best. They may even show signs of life in the Lord, but when Christianity doesn't turn out like they thought it would, they quickly fade away and disappear! They shrink away from the radical claims of Christ and the cross, Matt. 16:24. These are the people who make a profession, go like gang busters for a short time, and then wind up right back in the world. Were they saved? No! How do we know for sure? No fruit!

3. The Thorny Soil - v. 7; 22 - This soil looks like it is ready to be sown also, but underneath the surface are the living roots and seeds of thorns and weeds. When the seed falls here, it also quickly springs to life and gives every indication that a good harvest will follow. However, the same ground begins to produce the thorns and weeds that were already there and they soon choke out the tender plant. This plant withers and dies without producing any fruit at all.

This is a picture of a heart that tries to have the benefit of the Gospel while still clinging to the thorns of sin. Without a conscious break from the old life of sin this person does not have a chance of being saved. The seed of the Gospel cannot survive to produce fruit in a heart filled with other things. The seed must have the ground or sin must have the ground, but it cannot be shared! Jesus said it was the cares of the world and the quest for earthly riches that spelled disaster for this kind of soil. This kind of person begins well, but soon fades away, having their profession choked out by sin and the world. Were they saved? No! How do we know for sure? No fruit!

4. The Good Soil - v. 8; 23 - Finally, some seed fell onto good ground. This ground had been worked and prepared. It had been plowed and tilled and it was ready to receive the seed when it came. The seed germinated within the heart of the soil and the plant began to grow. When the plant reached maturity, it began to produce fruit that brought honor and gain to the farmer.

This a picture of the heart that has been plowed deeply by the Word of God. It is a picture of a heart that has been tilled and prepared by the grace of God. When the seed of the Gospel hits this kind of heart, it germinates, grows up and bears fruit to the glory of God. This heart alone pictures that kind of life that can truly call itself saved!

C. Please notice that the only difference between these soils was fruit. On the hard soil, the seed did not penetrate, but it disappeared, being removed by the fowls. In the other three, the seed disappeared within the ground. In the last three soils, a plant resulted, but only the good soil brought forth a harvest! What kind of soil are you this evening? Has the Gospel message found a lodging place within your heart and life? Are you bearing fruit to the glory of God as you should? (Note: Don't get hung up on fruit bearing! Some of these plants brought forth more fruit than others, but the point is, they all bore some fruit! If you are saved, your duty is to abide in Jesus and He will produce His fruit in your life, as it pleases Him, John 15:1-11. If you will abide in Him, you will find that "fruit happens!"

D. While these kinds of soils are used to speak about the matter of salvation, there is another application that we can draw from them as well. If we are not careful, we that are saved can allow ourselves to develop the wrong kind of heart. We can become hard hearted toward the things of God, toward His House and toward His Word. When this happens, we will find ourselves fruitless and defeated as a believer! Or, we can grow shallow in our commitment to the Lord and His work, this too can hinder our fruit production. Or, we might allow our lives to become filled with the wrong kinds of things, thorns of sin and worldliness that will hinder us and keep us from being fruitful for the glory of the Lord. If you are saved tonight, what kind of soil is your heart made of?

Conc: Can you be honest with yourself for just a few minutes? If you can, ask yourself the following questions:

  • •What kind of soil is my heart?
  • •Have I become hardened to the things of God?
  • •Am I shallow in my commitment to Him and His work?
  • •Am I constantly distracted, burdened and defeated by sin and the cares of the world?
  • •Am I bearing the kind of fruit I should be bearing?

Everyone here tonight knows where they stand with the Lord Jesus Christ. I am asking you to be honest with yourself and with Him about what you need to do this evening. If you need Him in salvation, in repentance, in rededication, in anything, this altar is open for you. You come, if He is calling you!

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