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Who does the thorny soil represent in the parable of the sower?  See Mat 13:22.  Does seed that is sown among thorns sprout, and even take root?  What does this imply about those who are like seed sown among thorns?  In the terms used by many churches today, would they say, and would these be led to believe, that because the seed has sprouted and the plant is growing and is even taking root that they are “saved”?  What do the thorns represent in the parable?  See Mat 13:22; cf. Mar 4:19, Luk 8:14.  What do the thorns do to the seed?  Note: the Greek word used in Mat 13:22 means literally to “choke together”, or “work together to choke”; think: what do the cares of this age produce in people, and what are people deceived to believe is the solution to it?  In what way then do the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of riches work together to choke out the life that God would have take root in us through the seed of His word?  See Mat 6:19-34.  In what way do our desires for other things and the pleasures of this life do the same?  Think: if we a-muse ourselves with the things of the world, have we any time to muse on God’s word so it becomes such a part of our lives that we begin to bear its fruit of righteousness?  What is the result of the thorns choking the seed, and what does this teach us about how we are to recognize those who are like seed sown among the thorns?  Although from the terms used by many churches today that would indicate that these are “saved” because the seed sprouted and took root, what is the great danger that they bear no fruit?  See Mat 3:10, 7:19, Mar 11:13-14,20-21, Luk 13:6-9, Joh 15:1-2,6, Heb 6:7-8.  From Jesus’ teaching about those who bear no fruit, should we believe that they are truly “saved”?  Cf. again Mat 10:22.

What does the seed sown on thorny soil teach us about the way in which we are to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2Co 13:5)?  What fruit do you bear that clearly demonstrates you are in the faith, and not just seed sown on thorny soil?  In order to prevent a proliferation of weeds that would grow up and choke out the good plants from bearing an abundance of fruit, what must a good gardener do?  What does this teach us about what we need to do in our lives to be more fruitful, what God may do in our lives to make us more fruitful, and one reason why God’s saints may suffer a loss of material prosperity?  See again Joh 15:2.  Is there a relationship between the rocky soil and the thorny soil?  Think: In what way were many of those to whom Matthew was writing also in danger of falling into this category of seed sown among thorns?  See Heb 10:32-34, which was also written to Jewish believers, perhaps even the same ones to whom Matthew was writing, though about 20-30 years later.  How would the reminder of this parable have helped them to remain steadfast?  How should it help us to remain steadfast?

Who does the good soil represent in Jesus’ parable of the sower?  What is the distinguishing characteristic of the good soil?  See Mat 13:23.  How does Luke describe the good soil that is able to bear fruit?  See Luk 8:15.  Soil may be broken up and free of rocks and weeds but still not be fertile and suitable for farming; what do Matthew and Mark describe as necessary for the seed to sprout and bear fruit?  See Mat 13:23, Mar 4:20.  What does this teach us about why some who are good-hearted and otherwise morally upright and would seem to be good candidates for the gospel still will not receive it?  Even in good soil that is free of weeds and the seed has sprouted, taken root, and is growing up, is there an immediate harvest of fruit?  What does this teach us about our need for patience and perseverance in our own and other people’s walk with Christ?  See Luk 8:15, Gal 6:9, Jam 5:7.  In the natural realm of plants, what is the relationship between the time to maturity and the length of time bearing, and the amount and quality of fruit born?  Think: what sort of plants seem to sprout up overnight and quickly spread their seed?  How long does it take a stalk of corn to mature, and how long and how much does it produce as compared to an apple or oak tree?  Which are most likely to survive an extended drought?  What does this teach us about the most effective long-term strategy for extending God’s kingdom?  What does it teach us about the long-term effectiveness of ministries or other endeavors that focus on quick results to attract “customers”?  What is the significance that the verb tense changes in Mat 13:8 from the past tense to the imperfect, indicating that the good soil was yielding or giving its fruit in a continuous manner?  Do those who are like good soil where the seed of God’s word takes root and grows up all bear the same amount of fruit?  Do they all bear substantially more than what was sown?  Is the seed that has been sown in your heart bearing substantially more fruit than what was sown?  Is it still taking root and maturing?  Is it like seed sown on rocks that grew up quickly but will wither in time of persecution?  Is it like seed sown among thorns that is unfruitful because it is being choked out by the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of riches?

Again, should we think of salvation as a punctiliar event, or a process?  From Jesus’ teaching in the parable of the sower, how would you describe the process of salvation?  Does it have a definite beginning?  When does that occur?  What is another expression used to describe that?  See Joh 3:3.  Because one is born again as the seed of God’s word sprouts and even takes root in his heart, does that mean he is necessarily “saved” for all of eternity and cannot dry up and wither away in time of affliction or persecution, or be choked into unfruitfulness by the deceitfulness of riches and so cut down or pruned away to be thrown into the fire?  Again, who is it that is “saved”?  See Mat 10:22.  What is the purpose or end result of the process of salvation as set forth in the parable of the sower?  In this light, is eternal life better understood as a destination we hope to reach upon our physical death, or a state of being we seek to abide in even throughout this life?  See Joh 17:3, 15:4-5.

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