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Evidence of Christianity

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Mark 4: 3-9

3 “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and it came about that as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 “And other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 “And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 “And other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 “And other seeds fell into the good soil and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 9 And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

How do you know a person is a Christian?  How can you be certain a decision for Christ is genuine? 

Is it right to question our salvation?  Some would encourage us to place our faith in the prayer we prayed when we invited Jesus into our hearts.  Even to record the date so that, when doubt arises, we can reflect of that decision and cast the doubt away.

Is it right to question our salvation?  What is the Biblical answer?  What would the apostle Paul say?  Paul primarily deals with defending his ministry and apostleship in this Corinthian epistle.  However, at the close he chooses to address the Corinthians with this very disturbing question:

2 Cor 13:5

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

Why would Paul ask that question?  There is no way to say what Paul’s exact motivation was – but we do believe that “All Scripture is inspired by God”, and that Paul was “moved by the Holy Spirit [to speak] from God.”  Therefore, because we know that God is the true Author of that question, we should ask what, not why.

Since we are instructed to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith, what’s the test?!  Let’s return to our focal passage, Mark 4 and read a little further down to see if we can shed a bit of light on that question.

Mark 4:13-20

13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? And how will you understand all the parables? 14 “The sower sows the word. 15 “And these are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. 16 “And in a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 and the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 “And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it, and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

The soils explained:

The farmer (sower) is not identified, but the context indicates he probably represents Jesus and all who sow (proclaim) the Word (message) of God, which is the seed (cf. 1:15, 45; 2:2; 6:12). In 4:15-20 a change occurs: the kinds of soil represent various types of hearers in whom the seed is sown.

  • Pathway Ground:
    Some . . . hear the Word with hardhearted indifference. Satan (like the birds) comes immediately (euthys; cf. 1:10) and takes it away. In effect, there was no response.
  • Rocky Ground:
    Others . . . hear the Word with a hasty (euthys), enthusiastic, but shallow profession of acceptance. However, they last only a short time because the Word takes no root in them. When trouble (lit., “hardships”) or persecution comes (like a hot sun) on account of the Word, they quickly (euthys) fall away (skandalizontai, “are repelled”; cf. comments on 14:27). Their profession proves not to be genuine.
  • Thorny Ground:
    Still others . . . hear the Word but are preoccupied with the cares and riches of this life. Three competing concerns— distracting worries of this life (lit., “the present Age”); the deceitfulness (deceptive lure) of wealth; and desires for all sorts of other things in place of the Word—enter into their lives (like thriving thorn plants). These things choke the Word, making it (the Word, not the hearer) unfruitful (cf. 10:22), indicating they are not true believers.
  • Good Soil:
    By contrast, others . . . hear the Word, accept it (paradechontai, “welcome it for themselves”), and produce a crop, or bear spiritual fruit. These are genuine disciples. In the future harvest they will have fruitful yields of varying amounts: 30, 60, or . . . 100 (cf. 4:24-25 with Matt. 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27). [1]

Within the words of this parable is the test.  To further clarify:

Matt. 7:15-23

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Twice in this passage Jesus declares we will know a real Christian by his/her fruit.  In the parable of the soils, Jesus says the result of the Word of the Kingdom being sown into good soil is that it produces fruit.

At this point, some may say: “Jerry, I produce fruit.  I serve on one committee after another.  I’m here every time there’s a workday.  I sing in the choir.  I teach Sunday School.”  And on, and on.  Or you may say, “Just tell me what I need to do to prove that I’m a Christian and I’ll do it!”  If that’s you, you missed a critical point.  You’re confusing fruit with work.  Peach cobbler is great!  But it’s the result of fruit – not fruit.  Fruit is what those peach trees on our property produce – without effort.

A key thing to recognize is the identity of the fruit Producer in Christ’s parable.  What role do we play?  We are the soil.  What kind of fruit does soil produce?  It doesn’t!  It’s the seed that produces fruit!  We are receptors for the fruit-producing Word of God.  If our hearts are genuine, prepared, when the Gospel is presented and we really receive it, it will produce fruit in us.  In other words, if Christ is really in our lives He should be producing His attributes in us – and others should be able to see Him in us.  Or, as Paul put it in 2 Cor 5:17: “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

So I’ve got ask you:  Have the “old things passed away”?  I’m not going to name them – of course, Paul did… in Galatians chapter 5.  But you know what the are, or what they were.

Have “new things come”?  Are you a different person today because of Christ in you?  Not just the outside stuff – the work.  Stuff that can be faked.  But on the inside… is He changing you?

During the 40’s, in China, God brought Revival.  Not a series of services called a revival – He brought the genuine thing.  Revival!  Because of the prayers of men and women of God, He exposed areas of sin that needed to be confessed and repented of.  And, as His people humbled themselves, prayed, sought His face, and turned from their wickedness, God moved.

As a part of the humbling, it became apparent that many of the members of those Chinese fellowships had been “converted to Christianity but not to Christ.”  I am convinced that many of Americas professing Christians are in that same place.  Converted to a set of facts they believe to true.  Yet not submitted to Christ as Lord – Master.

I believe we have inoculated many against the Gospel by inviting them to accept Christ as Savior.  I challenge you to find that kind of language in Scripture.  It doesn’t exist!

God stands as Savior.  He took upon Himself that office the instant He decided to rescue the world from their sin.  We are not called anywhere in Scripture accept Him as Savior.  We are instructed to submit to His Lordship – to receive Him as Lord.  (Acts 2:20: Call upon the name of the Lord, Acts 16: the Jailer, Romans 10:9: All who call upon the name of the Lord.)

Jesus never called any to a “soft” salvation.  In John 3, Nicodemus came to Christ with the profession: “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”  And Jesus stripped from him what he believed to be a birthright – his standing before God.


[1]Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.

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