It takes the Spirit of God to open up the heart of any man or woman to the good news of life in Christ. In our world many believe that they have some relationship with Christ. Over 80% of Americans, for instance, say that they are Christians, very broadly defined [Barna]. The statistics are alarming since we know that almost all who profess faith in Christ really do not actually understand the gospel or give evidence that they know Him. Interestingly, many who deny the authority of Scripture are among that number.
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Jesus believed that “understanding” was a watershed issue. At the heart of belief in Christ is faith in His words. The gospel accounts, especially the book of John, emphasize this repeatedly. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). On the other hand, Jesus told the Pharisees, “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word” (John 8:43). “The Parable of the Soils” is a story that draws attention to this repeated concern of Christ. It is all about accepting and understanding the words of Christ.
In the first soil, Jesus showed that many hear but do not understand the message. In the second and third soils, the listener hears and responds in surface way, but does not have sufficient understanding so that affliction, distractions and riches choke out what is first accepted. Only the last soil is the true Christian, the one who “hears the word [message] and understands it,” and bears various levels of fruit. God’s interest in this parable is seen by the fact that He includes it three times in Scripture. Christ’s disciples received special instruction on this parable because of its importance (Matthew 13:10-23).
“The Soils” booklet opens the door to discussion about how a person responds to the truth. The authentic believer hears, understands and obeys Christ’s words. At the end of the booklet, we refer the interested reader to search out his faith in Christ and in Christ’s words by reading and analyzing his life in light of the Jesus’ most famous sermon, “The Sermon on the Mount.” How can a person be a follower of Christ who does not follow?
We hope that using this booklet will allow the reader to experience one of the main stories of Jesus. We also trust that it will 1) guide him to read another probing passage of Scripture (“The Sermon on the Mount”) that will challenge whether he actually follows Christ, 2), will open up discussion with the one giving the booklet, and 3), will lead the reader to a website devoted to helping him come to Christ (WaytoGod.org).
Here are some ways to use this tract:
1. Make copies available to each member of your church, and ask them to prayerfully seek a way to give it to someone who needs this message.
2. Share copies with individuals or a small group of people who might be willing to read it and discuss it together during lunch at work or some other appropriate time.
3. Give it with a short explanation of its importance and clarity about the last soil being the true believer in Christ. Then, ask for a response later after the reader has had time to think over its meaning and which soil represents his life.
4. Use in various settings, such as with older people in nursing homes who can read and meditate on its contents repeatedly.
5. Consider meeting back with the reader to read over “The Sermon on the Mount” together after contemplating “The Soils” parable. Reading the Bible with non-believers or those who are nominal in their belief can be very profitable for them.
6. Perhaps a copy of the gospel of Matthew or “The Sermon on the Mount” can be given with the booklet for a greater effect.
7. Use the booklet for a group explanation of “The Parable of the Soils” for believers, and then encourage each one to pass the booklet on to others for the purpose of sowing the seed.
8. Add this booklet to a table supplied with all kinds of gospel-only helps. Each Sunday encourage guests to take what they wish from this table, and ask church or class members to use any of the items on the table to give to others. Be sure that only gospel material be put on this table. Perhaps you can add a name for the table, such as “Way to God Resources.”
9. Use the booklet in community distribution. We hope to produce more Bible-only quality tracts in the future. You may wish to distribute the new items periodically along with contact information from your church in order to establish a continuing contact with your neighborhood.
We would love to hear of other ways you will use this booklet so that we may share them with other believers. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any information to help us do this better.