But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28, NKJV)
Those who hear God’s word and keep it are more blessed than the womb which bore Jesus and the breasts which nursed Him. That’s impressive, since Mary was truly blessed among women (Luke 1:30, 42, 48). Jesus put a premium on keeping the word of God, not on merely hearing it. Indeed, it is keeping the word of God that shows one has “ears to hear” (Luke 8:8). In Luke 8:5-15 the parable of the sower and the soils depicts three hearts that hear the word of God, yet bear no fruit and are lost. It is only the good ground (“those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience”) that has “ears to hear” and are saved. When a sinner hears and keeps the word of God he is “saved by grace, through faith” – he has earned nothing (Ephesians 2:8-9). Why is that so difficult for some to accept? Well, to apply the words Jesus used when He taught this parable, because “seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand” (Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10). Either their heart has been hardened by unbelief, or it is spiritually shallow, or it is filled up with other things (Mark 4:13-20). Jesus promises His blessings when you hear word of God and keep it. Receiving His blessing depends on you.
Therefore hear the parable of the sower: (Matthew 13:18, NKJV)
If you are not familiar with the parable of the sower, please read it, and Jesus’ interpretation of it in Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23. Take time to “hear” the parable and learn its lessons, some of which are these: 1) The condition of one’s heart determines whether he or she will understand and accept God’s word. 2) The same word of God will be believed by some, and rejected by others. Therefore, we dare not try to change the message of truth in an attempt to entice people to accept it. 3) Satan is at work hardening hearts against the word of God. 4) Truth cannot thrive in the shallow soil of the emotion-based heart. We must have an abiding commitment to God’s word, come what may – not to how we feel about it. 5) Hearts that are distracted and filled with concerns for the things of this world do not have room for the word of God. A person cannot serve two masters with one heart (Matt. 6:24). 6) Good and honest hearts hear, understand, and follow the word of God. So, did you listen to the parable? Which heart do you have when you hear the word of God? Is your heart the hard, wayside soil? Is it the shallow, emotional heart that easily falls away when tested? Is it the overgrown heart that has no room for God’s word? Or, is it the good heart that receives truth, holds it fast, and patiently bears fruit? Make no mistake: You decide which soil describes your heart.
14 “The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.” (Mark 4:14–15, NKJV)
Satan wastes no time snatching away the word of God from hardened hearts. Like birds eating seeds off a well-traveled path, Satan plucks away God’s word from hearts that are closed against the truth. Closed minds refuses to give the word of God a fair hearing, therefore, they are not penetrated by the word of God. The gospel remains powerful to save, but it will not save the person who refuses to listen to and heed God’s message of salvation (Heb. 4:12). God does not force His word down people’s throats. The deceitfulness of sin darkens many hearts, calcifying their sensitivity toward the gospel of Christ. So, be very careful never to let sin deceive you into hardening your heart against the word of God (Heb. 3:13). Heart condition matters when it comes to hearing and receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” (Mark 4:13, NKJV)
Do you want to understand the Bible? If you do, you can. It is not beyond your capability. It is not shrouded in dark sayings that prevent comprehension. Understanding all the Scriptures, like understanding the parables, requires an honest heart that listens and receives God’s word in order to follow it and bear its fruit in your life (Mk. 4:20; Lk. 8:15). Hard hearts, like hard ground, are closed and reject a knowledge of God’s word (Mk. 4:14-15). Like stony ground, shallow, emotional minds do not invest the time and effort needed to know and grow in the truth (Mk. 4:16-17). Like thorn-infested soil, hearts consumed with “the desire of other things” do not give due attention to knowing and obeying God’s word (Mk. 4:18-19). Which soil are you? You see, most people do not understand the Bible because they choose not to understand it; not because it cannot be understood. Now, that’s not too hard to understand, is it?