Family Bible Study lesson for April 1 - Responding to the Gospel
March 15 2001 by William (Mac) McElrath , Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Family Bible Study lesson for April 1 - Responding to the Gospel | Friday, March 16, 2001
  • "The worries of this life" - What do you worry about? The state of the world? of the nation? The state of your health? your family? your work?

    Don't forget this familiar verse: "God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to Him" (1 Peter 5:7, CEV).

  • "The deceitfulness of wealth" - In spite of all we see to the contrary on screen or in print, wealth is indeed deceitful: It always seems to be there for the taking, yet it's always just beyond our grasp. It doesn't guarantee happiness. It doesn't satisfy. And it doesn't last.

    In a parallel version of this parable (Mark 4:18-19), Jesus added yet a third thorn that chokes "the word":

  • "The desires for other things" - Not bad things, necessarily, just "other things" . . . any things that we desire more earnestly than we desire the growth of "the word" of the gospel in our lives.

    What is your response to the good news? Is it undivided loyalty to Jesus Christ?

    Genuine response (Matthew 13:8-9, 23) Do you agree that "Genuine response" makes a good subheading for the final verses in this familiar parable, along with Jesus' explanation of them?

    Perhaps a better subheading would be "Productive response." Jesus doesn't merely hope that our response to the gospel will be genuine rather than fake: He also hopes that our response will produce a crop.

    Born to atheistic parents, brought up in an Islamic culture, Harjo Martoyo had to wait till his middle years to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ. Once he did so, his response was both genuine and productive. He faithfully pedaled his bicycle across the countryside, planting new congregations all along the way. Village churches in Central Java today still testify to the productiveness of Harjo Martoyo's genuine response to the gospel.

  • Friday, March 16, 2001

    Family Bible Study lesson for April 1 - Responding to the Gospel

    By William (Mac) McElrath Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 During his lifetime Pastor Harjo Martoyo planted many village churches in his native Central Java, heartland of today's Indonesia. Once he told me, "I always try to start more than one group at the same time; who knows which one the Lord will prosper?" Jesus of Nazareth, like Harjo Martoyo, came from a rural village setting. He knew the practice of farmers in his day: They sowed seed before plowing. Since the soil had not yet been broken up, it was hard for them to see which soil was suitable and which was not.

    As He told a parable about seeds and soils, Jesus was speaking about things well known to His hearers. In effect He was challenging them: "What kind of response will you make to the good news of salvation I've come to bring you?"

    Hardened response (Matthew 13:1-4, 18-19) The first type of soil Jesus mentioned in this familiar parable was soil "along the path" - hardened soil, soil beaten down by the tread of many feet.

    Some Bible scholars say that when Jesus mentioned hardened soil, He was thinking about religious leaders of that time who were unyielding in their opposition to Him. They had become hardened by going through the motions of religious practices year after year.

    Does the very familiarity of the gospel ever harden us against it? When was the last time you got a lump in your throat, just by remembering that Jesus died for you - and for the whole wide world?

    Superficial response (Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21) Palestine is a rocky country. Sometimes the limestone doesn't jut up above the surface but rather lies just below it. Actually this can seem to give an initial advantage in planting: A layer of rock near the surface may hold in the heat of the sun and encourage quick weedy growth in a thin layer of soil. But what happens when the sun gets hotter?

    Once I viewed a place where my great-grandfather lived in the 1860s. Only the main house was still standing; the outbuildings had long since been torn away. In normal weather that backyard would have showed an unbroken stretch of green lawn. But during a late summer drought I could see exactly where the foundations of those long-gone buildings had once stood. The soil was shallower there, and so the grass, deprived of deep roots, had all turned brown.

    Notice (in v. 21) how well Jesus stated the same thing in the spiritual realm!

    Divided response (Matthew 13:7, 22) What are the "thorns" that choke "the word" in a person's life? Jesus named two of them in verse 22:

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    3/15/2001 11:00:00 PM by William (Mac) McElrath , Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | with 0 comments
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