Parable of Soils (Upside Down Kingdom series #1)
Jason White



We begin our new series Upside Down Kingdom with the Parable of Soils. In this incredible parable, Jesus describes those who receive the Gospel by comparing different types of soil. Over the next few weeks, we will learn more about God’s Kingdom through more parables and learn how we can live out Kingdom Values in this world.






Read Sermon Transcript Here
*This transcript was auto-generated by a transcription service and may differ from the originally spoken content*So once upon a time, there was a king and a queen, who worked really hard to establish and build their kingdom. They clawed and they climbed their way up the corporate ladder until they were successful. They became known by others. They were known on Fox News and CNN news. They were known on all the social media channels, and they were envied by so many people because of the status that they had achieved. With that success, of course, came more money. And so they tore down their castle and they built a bigger castle and they traded in their vehicles and they bought bigger and nicer vehicles. They bought a boat and they bought a lake house, they built a house on a beach and a house in the mountains and anything and everything that caught their eye, they added to their kingdoms. They bought their kids bigger and better stuff. They got them the best schools, they hired the most excellent tutors, the best coaches for their teams, the best instructors for their instruments they played, they were building their kingdom, their kids kingdoms, and their grandkids, kingdoms. But they did not live happily ever after. Because it was never enough. They built all of their kingdom, they focused on their children's kingdom, but nothing ultimately ever satisfied. It was never enough. And it never is enough. It's so easy, though, to get caught up and fall for the world's view of success that you and I are the kings and the queens of our own domains and that we are to build up bigger and better kingdoms for ourselves. The goal is to chase after bigger and better jobs and more fame and more money and more stuff and a prosperous economy, a flourishing nation where our kingdom is nice, where our kingdom is comfortable, where it's entertaining, and it is what is best for us. The only problem is you and I weren't made for this kingdom. It's a matter of fact, if we're in Christ, we've said yes to Jesus. We aren't even of this kingdom. We shared this verse during our prayer series in Colossians 113, where the apostle Paul says, fury has rescued us already from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Sun. He loves the moment you and I said yes to Jesus, we were transported from one kingdom and into another and we became citizens of heaven. The apostle Paul says that and Philippians 320. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives and being people that are citizens of heaven, and from another kingdom that makes us ambassadors of that kingdom while we live here, Paul, so Paul, address that in Second Corinthians 520, where he says, so we are Christ ambassadors, God is making his appeal through us, as those who are spiritually united to Jesus, and already citizens of his heavenly kingdom. He places us where we live, not to build up our own kingdoms, but to represent his kingdom. And He does that by putting his own life in us to be expressed through to be manifested through us, and to share the values of his kingdom, with the world that we live in where he's placed us. And we see this of course, in the lives of the disciples, we see it in the lives of the early church after Pentecost when he sent the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit came to dwell in them and he transported them into that heavenly kingdom and left them there as ambassadors of that kingdom and the place where they lived. In Acts chapter 17, this is the way that the religious leaders described those disciples in early church members 17 Six says, These men as a reference to the disciples in early church, here's the description who have turned the world upside down, have come here. Also, the disciples in the early church were known as those who were turning the world upside down. Why? Because the values of the kingdom that they were now from, were being manifested through them by Jesus into the world they lived in, and those values of that kingdom are Area upside down from this kingdom, and the people obviously took notice. And it felt like everything was being uprooted and turned upside down. And so this morning, we're going to be beginning this brand new series that we're calling the upside down kingdom, we're going to be looking at how Jesus does the same thing in and through us as we make ourselves available to him as citizens of his kingdom. And as ambassadors to this world of that kingdom. It's going to be a study through the parables of Jesus. Jesus often taught in parables of parables, a story taken from real life or a real life situation from which a moral or spiritual truth is drawn. Many times throughout the parables, he references the kingdom or the kingdom of God, he would say, The kingdom of God is like, and then he would share this story of parable with him to describe what it's like. So we're gonna learn what the kingdom of God is, like, the place that we're already citizens of what's valued in that kingdom? And how does he want to manifest and express those values through us into this world to turn our own world upside down through us. Today, we're going to be beginning with a parable that's been called the parable of the sower. Sometimes people refer to it as the parable of the soils. I think that's a little bit of a better, better title for it. And you'll see as we dive into it, and I will say that this parable isn't going to be like the rest of the perils that we draw from or we learn from because we'll be learning specific values of the kingdom throughout the rest of the series, this one is going to help us see better how these values get expressed through us and the things that can even limit these values being expressed through us and limit the turning of our world upside down. I'm going to read through the whole parable, Jesus even explains what the parable is about. I'm going to read through that, and then I'll come back and we'll dive into each one or each aspect of it just a little bit more deeply. Jesus says this beginning in Matthew 13 Chapter or Chapter 13, verse three, a farmer went out to sow his seed, and as he was scattering seeds, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seeds fell among the thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it was where it produced a crop 160 in 30 times what was sown. Verse 18, Jesus continues, it says, Listen, then to what the parable of the sower means, When anyone hears the message about the kingdom, and does not understand it, that even when comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root they last only a short time when trouble or persecution comes. Because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful, but the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop yielding 160 or 30 times what was sown.So Jesus uses four different types of soil describes four different kinds of soil that seeds fall on and the seeds he said in verse 19, represent the Word of God or specifically he said, they represent messages about the kingdom this what we're going to be talking about throughout this series, the messages of the kingdom that Jesus came to bring in. The Four Soils represent four different kinds of receptivity for different kinds of people in our hearts in the way that we receive these messages about the kingdom that are falling on the ground. Of course, the last soil was the most favorable soil as you heard me read and the reason for that was because it produced fruit. Remember fruit though is it especially in the New Testament is recognized as a work of the Holy Spirit. This is something that is produced from God's kingdom and manifested into this world that we live in. It doesn't originate in our kingdom in our World it originates in his kingdom in His manifest through us into this world. So really, this is just another way of talking about what we've been saying about being an ambassador, right reflecting the values of the king. And this parable shows us that Jesus will express his values into this world through fruit. This is the way he does it through you and I as the soil that he works with to produce this fruit through us. Notice again, that the soil which represents you doesn't produce the fruit, you don't grow the fruit, the soil is just the vessel, the soil is just the environment which Jesus uses to manifest the fruit. But what we see here is the type of soil that produces the most fruit, what we see is the type of heart that provides a great environment for fruit to be produced, and the environments that keep it from being produced or maturing. So let's dive into each one of the soils and talk about them a little bit more deeply. The first one was the hard soil or what was described as the path when he was telling the parable. When you think about a path, you think about people who are walking constantly along the same route, and over and over, they're just trampling on it, and it becomes hard and packed down. And the seed can't really penetrate through that kind of soil. So this represents the hard heart, because of sin, maybe wanting to be in control of your own life, or whatever it is, for whatever reason, the good news about the kingdom is falling on you. But you are rejecting God's truth because it doesn't penetrate your heart, you're rejecting Him, you're rejecting His goodness, you're rejecting His mercy and His grace. And you will just go on continuing to build up your own kingdom and trying to find your own fulfillment and your own meaning and purpose, which as we even said earlier, never really happens. It's never ever enough, you'll never ultimately be satisfied. The only hope is that God will reveal that to you and open up your heart, break up the soil so that you'll become more receptive to it. Unfortunately, sometimes that means that we often have to hit rock bottom, in order for that to happen. Some of you who are here and you've said yes to Jesus, have had that experience and being on this side of it, you're now thankful for that it wasn't fun going through it, you didn't like hitting rock bottom. But you certainly know, there was probably no other way that Jesus was ever going to get your attention if you didn't hit rock bottom, to make you open to who he really was, and what it is that he was offering you over and above whatever it is that you were trying to accomplish on your own. And maybe that's where some of you are beginning to fall at this point. And my hope is that God will open up your heart to so that you'll begin to see the truth about who he is and what he's offering you as well. The second type of soil was the shallow soil. This is the type of soil that was described as the rocky ground it's softer than the path the seed can penetrate through this soil. It just has shallow roots, it has roots just as shallow roots. And because they were shallow, when it says the heat comes they can get burned up. Now a lot of people say most will try to tell you that this is not a believer that this doesn't represent a believer that the third soil doesn't represent a believer and that the only soil that represents a believer in Christ is soil. Number four, which we saw was the good soil. But I'm just telling you, I don't see that here in the text. I don't see it. I mean, first of all, Jesus says that this person that this soil, this hardened heart, soil that represents this type of heart receives the word with joy, who receives the word with joy? Believers do, right? It's something that we receive into our own heart. It's Grace. It's a gift that we receive Luke's version when he's even writing out this exact same parable says that these people believe and the last time that I checked, John 316 says that when we believe in Jesus, we will not perish but we have eternal life. So this is the first reason that I think that this represents a believer, they receive the word they receive it with joy. But the second thing is really what distinguishes this person and the third person from the fourth person is not whether they receive Jesus or whether whether they believe the message, what differentiates them is whether or not they produce fruit. There's a difference. I think Jesus is describing a believer here in the second soil and the third soil, but he's showing us how Satan will deceive us and deflect our attention away from producing fruit. He knows that he's lost us to Jesus, he knows that we have His life in us. He knows that we're ambassadors here, and that Jesus wants to use us to manifest his values through us into this world. But if he can distract us from that, if he can deceive us from ever knowing that's even true, then he can keep us off track, and from experiencing the very life that Jesus already put in us, and is wanting to express through us. Jesus mentions that these are people when trouble or persecution comes that they they drift away. I mean, isn't that just like Satan to convince us that when when trouble starts to happen in our lives, that maybe this whole Christianity thing isn't working out for you? I mean, any any young believers ever been there at that point, and all of a sudden trouble and persecution began to come and you're like, I thought this was going to be different. I thought that it was supposed to make my life better. I thought it was supposed to make my life more comfortable. I thought the Lord was supposed to bless my dreams and make this better and easier for me. I've been there, I was there at one time. Right. And so if Satan can use us and deceive us, once we've received all of this into our lives, but then convinced us that this whole thing was supposed to be about making our lives comfortable, easy, and that he would bless our dreams and kingdoms, then we're going to drift away. And if we're drifting away, and we're not here, we're not looking for what it is that he's doing, how can we participate in that with Him, if we don't even know it's true? We live out what it is that we believe. But Satan's deceived us into thinking something else was true. And that what we go back to doing is building up our own kingdom, because the trouble came, and the Christianity thing didn't really work. Where we know Satan can keep us from knowing that it can keep us from bearing the fruit. And keep our eyes on the comfort and the world's values instead of him wanting to use it for our good and his glory. Because that's the truth when trouble or persecution comes. Jesus is there. He's involved, even in our suffering, to manifest the values of the kingdom were from through us in those experiences. Because when people see that that's the kind of thing that really does turn the world upside down. How in the world are you experiencing peace and joy in the middle of trouble and persecution? That's the truth. But Satan wants to deceive us. And so there must be something wrong with this whole Christian thing. And we fall for it because it sounds like he's probably right.The third type of soil is what I would call the consumed soil. This is the type of soil that allows other stuff in it, to consume it and to take it over. He described thorns in in weeds that grow up around the plant and choke out the plants so that it doesn't produce the fruit or the fruit doesn't mature. And in a similar fashion, it consumed type of heart is one that gets consumed with the things of this world, and they take over our lives, rather than the fruit production, that Jesus is wanting to manifest through us. Jesus mentioned two specific things that we get consumed with that Satan puts before us to consume us one was the worries of life. Satan will keep us preoccupied and and worried about financial problems and our kids and our grandkids and their problems and disease and sickness and cancer and worried about the economy and and politics and all the relational issues that we get involved with between boyfriends and girlfriends and spouses and every other kind of relationship that we're in. And as we focus on these things, then of course, they're going to begin to consume us. And as they consume us, they're going to choke out the fruit that Jesus is wanting to produce and manifest through us because we're too focused on all of those things. Think about worries. And when you and I are worrying about those things, what is it that we're trying to hold on to? What we're trying to hold on to is control. We're going I've got to do something about this. I'm worried about it. I'm the one who's going to have to focus on it and dwell on it and think through ways to be able to fix all of my problems, which is us, acting in our flesh and not walking in the Spirit. Flesh is never going to produce fruit. It's going to choke out the fruit that Jesus by His Spirit is wanting to produce in us and so This is the type of soil that gets consumed by the worries of life. The second thing Jesus mentioned was riches. You know that Jesus talked about money just about more than anything else that he ever talked about during His earthly ministry. I think the reason was it because he knew how easy it would be for us to be captivated by it. He knew how easy it would be to fall for the fact that money will solve all of our problems, he knew that Satan would take a good thing given to us by God and twist it into making it something different, the ultimate thing, right. And so when we focus on it, and we chase after it, and we clean the money, and we depend on money, then with our focus on that it's going to consume us just like the soil does. And it chokes out the fruit that could be produced in us and through us to impact the world. And so I think this kind of soil is represent representative of the messages of kingdom coming about how, how in his kingdom, we have peace in his kingdom, He is our provider in his kingdom, money isn't everything, it's just a tool for him to use to manifest his values into this world. But because we're so consumed with those things, we're not keeping our eyes on anything that he has to say about that. We're just going to claim to them instead, and therefore, the fruit isn't produced. It's one of the reasons I think the Apostle Paul had to keep writing to all of these churches saying, fix your eyes on Jesus, don't fix your eyes on earthly things. But focus, say your hearts and your minds on heavenly things. Why did you have to write those because they were focused on earthly things. Right? He didn't write to them and say, You know what, because you guys are so focused on earthly things and being consumed by them. You aren't true believers, you're not even Christians. He says, Now, since you're our Colossians, chapter three, he says, since you're already seated with Jesus in heaven, since you're already there, since you're already part of His kingdom, then focus on those things instead of getting consumed with all the stuff around here. He says the exact opposite. Not that you're not a believer, because you're that kind of a soil. But because you're not focusing on the right things for Jesus to produce the fruit in and through you. That he's rewired you to be able to do pasta, Paul had to write about all of these kinds of things. Philippians four, why do you think he had to tell the Philippians not to worry in chapter four, verse eight, right, because they were worrying, they were focusing on the earthly things, they were letting those things consumed them. Once again, he addressed every single one of these churches as saints, not as on believers, because these things were part of their lives, they were limiting the fruit product production, Jesus wanted to share the truth with them, reveal the true things about who they really are, so that they would be able to focus on those and get to the good soil, the receptive soil. In other words, Jesus said that this kind of soil represents someone who hears and understands the word begins to understand the messages about the kingdom that Jesus was giving. So this is a person who's open to hearing what Jesus says about whatever issue it is, even if it's upside down from what the world says about that issue. Right? It doesn't sound right to me. I've heard this my whole life The world seems to keep saying this. But you know what? I'm at least gonna give it a shot. I'm be open to what Jesus has got to say about those kinds of things. Right. So think about the other soils, persecution trouble, he mentioned that right? So it comes our way and everything in us, we're tempted to go this thing isn't working. I feel like running and giving up and just going back to what it is that I know. But you know what, I'm at least going to be open. Does Jesus have to say anything about persecution? Does Jesus have any same thing to say about trouble? And if so, I'm at least gonna hear him out on this kind of thing. And see, I'm receptive, I'm being good soil, I'm open to hearing what it is that Jesus is saying over and above what I think about the issue, or whatever the world has to be saying. Same thing about worry. Same thing about finances or any of those kinds of things. And just by being open, then that's allowing him to share and reveal those truths to us. And then as he waters you, and he nurtures you and he grows you, then he will begin to produce much fruit through you. People in the world will begin to see all the fruit that's being manifested through you. It's going to be so different than the fruit of this world. It'll be upside down from everything else the world is seeing and Jesus is going to use that fruit is being produced through you to draw others to himself and invite them into his upside down kingdom as well. Oh. So I just don't see that through this parable that Jesus is using it to try to show us that no true believers ever drift away because of trouble or persecution in their lives that no true believers ever lets worries into their lives in and never lets the deceitfulness of wealth, choke out fruit from them. I don't think the whole point of the parable is to show us that the only kind of true believer there really ever is, is the one who's always good soil and bearing an unimaginable volume of fruit in their lives constantly. That's not where we find ourselves. Right? It's the same thing that we talked about the Colossians. And we think about even one particular letter where Paul had to write to the Corinthians, oh my gosh, I mean, we've done this before you've read Corinthians, as a messed up church, he jumped on and focused on earthly things and all the things Paul's hay into correct and have to, they're even described as fleshly, Christians, carnal Christians, right? They had the life of Christ, and then they had the spirit, but they're walking by their flesh, and they're focusing on all of these earthly things. And yet, at the very beginning of the letter, Paul still addresses them as what saints are still who they are, right. And so he's writing to correct the false beliefs and saying, Don't be the shallow soil, don't be the consumed soil with all these other things, here's the truth about who you are, here's the right way to think about these things, then from the kingdom that you are now from. So be open to those as the good soil and allow him to produce this fruit in and through you and express those values to others around you. And the same thing is true of us. The goal, of course, is for us to be the good soil and receptive, allowing him to show us who he is and who we are in Him. And what it is that he values, the values of the kingdom we're now from and how he wants to express those through each one of us since so, I guess my question is, which soil are you this morning?Have you been the hard heart where you've been closed off to him? And for whatever reason you're here today, because somebody invited you or you're watching online, but you've never taken a step of receiving Jesus in nearly been closed off to him. You've rejected Him and His truths and don't really understand it, would you just at least be open? Would you make yourself receptive to even just praying and honest prayer? God, I don't know if I believe in you. I don't know if you're real. I don't know if this whole thing about Jesus rising from the dead and whatever else is all true. But hey, if it is, then show me, just pray it. I'm open to seeing if it really is true. And you'll reveal that to me, right? Maybe that's the step he's asking you to take this morning. Maybe you feel like you're the shallow soil, and you've been running every single time that trouble comes your way, every single time persecution, you disappear from church, we don't see it for six months, until life gets good again. And then you roll back around when life is going good. And Jesus is saying, Listen, I'm involved even in all of that. And I want to reveal to you how I'm involved in that and how I want to use it even for your good and for for our glory and how I don't want you to disappear, and just come back whenever it's good. I want you to make yourself available to me, I want to do stuff in you even during those times. Or maybe you feel like you've been consumed soil where you've just spin, owning your worries and allowing them to consume your lives and all the things that you've got to do to fix those things are the deceitfulness of riches. And the worry of that and how you've got to, it's gonna make your life so much different if you grab a hold of more and all this stuff you can buy with it. And maybe he's saying to you turn your worries over to him, turn your money over to him, allow him to be your life and express his life through you and use it in his kingdom work to manifest the values of that kingdom, in and through you hear the messages to then be the good soil, right to be open to be receptive to hearing His truths for how he wants to work in and through you. Wouldn't it be great? If the people of Tyler were to go, wow, would you look at that? The people over there colonial hills, and they're turning this whole community upside down. This whole community is being turned upside down. Because of what the people that come with colonial hills are doing. Why? Because of what we're doing, but because we're just good soil. We're just open for him to work in us and through us. And as he manifests those values, it's what he's going to do. He's going to use it to get people's attention, to share with them the same love and grace and mercy. And so, my hope and my prayer is that that would become a reality. That that's what people really are saying because you and I are good soil. We're open, receptive for what it is that he wants to reveal, and for how he wants to express himself through us. Let's pray. Father, thank you so much for today. Thank you for your word. Thank you for your truth. Your Grace, mercy. Lord, I pray for anyone who's here who may have been the hard soil and they've yet to receive you, would you? Give them the courage, the boldness to just pray and open themselves up to whether you're real or not? If they do, would you convince them of that? Would you reveal your truth to them and how it applies to their lives. Father, for those who are they're here and just been allowing the trouble and persecution in their lives to lead them to disappear, to run from you and to run from the church and the family that they're connected to with you. First of all, just revealed to them remind them how much you love them, how much you care about them, how you haven't gone anywhere. They could have run and run and run and run, but it's never too far. They can't ever outrun you, Lord, would You empower them to just stay? So just stay in it. Allow you to reveal your truths to them and what you're doing in and through that. And Father, for those who have been consumed by worry and anxiety, riches money, would you allow them to be able to release those worries to you in this moment? Would you begin to allow them to experience your peace not because their situations change or their circumstances change but because you are peace, and they have it in their union with you. Father, allow us to be good soil where we're just simply open. We're available. You live in us, you dwell in us. You've made us a part of the New Kingdom. You've left us here less just left us here as ambassadors. They will be available, useful, open to how you're leading, guiding and empowering us to express your values. God we pray that you would turn this community and our entire world upside down as you use us in the process. Jesus name amen.