“And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.’ When He had said these things He cried, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’ Then His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘What does this parable mean?’ And He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that
‘Seeing they may not see,
And hearing they may not understand.’”
What Are the Rewards of Our Faith?
My fellow believers, what kinds of results and rewards of faith are there if we believe in Jesus’ righteousness? That’s what I’m going to speak about today. First, the result of faith in Jesus’ righteousness is salvation from sin. People are saved by faith in God’s righteousness. What kinds of gifts do they then receive if they are thus saved from sin by faith? They receive God’s Spirit as a gift. And they obtain the Kingdom of God. They come to possess it. In regards to the results of faith in Jesus’ righteousness, they aren’t just obtaining salvation from sin; they also come to obtain the Kingdom of God.
However, people who don’t receive the remission of sins by faith in the Lord’s righteousness cannot enter the Kingdom of God. People who aren’t able to receive the remission of sins because they don’t believe in God’s righteousness come to receive destruction rather than the Kingdom of God.
The Lord spoke the parable of the sower in Luke 8 by making a comparison of four kinds of fields. The Lord said, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it” (Luke 8:5). Those seeds could therefore not bear any fruit.
God’s servants and saints sow seeds of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God’s salvation, in every heart of this world. They sow the seeds of the gospel thus; they sow them on large roads, in alleys, in palaces, in shacks, and such that they fall equally among everyone, regardless of whether they are very learned or have little learning and whether they are rich or not. But the Lord said that the seeds that fall by the wayside are trampled by men and are broken up, and then the birds come and devour them. The birds coming and devouring those seeds here means that Satan came and devoured the seeds of the gospel. The Lord is explaining that the preachers of God’s Church sow the seeds of the gospel in this world, but many seeds are sown uselessly and cannot bear fruit. The gospel of the water and the Spirit is being spread to the people of this world by the servants of God even now.
The gospel of the Truth by which one may obtain the Kingdom of God is being spread to people’s hearts through the Word of God; but many of those seeds have wasted uselessly. All living seeds contain life; so, it is an absolute principle that buds grow and flowers bloom from every living seed. Why would some seeds be useless as I just mentioned? That is because people’s hearts have not been prepared to accept the Word of the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Why then have people’s hearts not been prepared? That’s because people have no interest in the results and rewards that are obtained by faith in Jesus’ righteousness. Believing in Jesus’ righteousness is obtaining salvation from sin, and people who have thus obtained salvation from all their sins come to possess the Kingdom of God as their own. However, those who are not prepared with that kind of faith have no interest in the Kingdom of God.
These four fields signify the four states of human hearts. The heart of the wayside is so hard that it does not allow the seeds to root in its soil. People frequently trample on the soil of the wayside, and all those seeds cannot take root because the soil is so hard. This implies how little interest people have in the salvation of their souls. They also have no interest in being saved from all the sins they commit.
My fellow believers, we have gathered in the chapel today and are worshipping God. We have sufficiently received the remission of all our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit as we have been written-off five hundred denarii of debt by Jesus. The question is what the results are when we thus receive the remission of all our sins, come out to the chapel and worship, praise, and donate money to God this way by faith in Jesus’ righteousness, His baptism from John the Baptist, and His blood of the Cross. We have already been saved from all our sins by faith in God’s righteousness. The question is what the results are of worshipping in God’s Church after we have been saved from all our sins.
The results are that we come to possess the Kingdom of God. We obtain salvation by faith in Jesus who has come by the water and the blood. And the results of thus being saved from all our sins and living out our faith is that we obtain the Kingdom of God. We receive the Kingdom of God as the reward of our faith. If there were no rewards for our faith it might seem as if living out our faith in this world could really be very meaningless and useless to us.
But the Lord said that He doesn’t forget us who have received the remission of sins and that He gave us the Kingdom of God. What kind of place is the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God is a place where the tree of life bears twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month (Revelation 22:2), where there are no insufficiencies, where abundance, love, glory, and happiness overflow, and where we can enjoy eternal life with the Lord. That is what the Kingdom of God is like. This is what we come to obtain. Our Lord spoke of the four kinds of fields of human hearts in today’s Scripture passage.
What Are Seeds Sown by the Wayside?
The Lord said Satan devoured all the seeds sown by the wayside. This shows that these kinds of people are those who have no interest in believing in Jesus’ righteousness and, as a result, don’t receive salvation from sin. And they are people whose hearts are not prepared. Therefore, they cannot be saved even though they listen to the Word of God from His preachers because they can’t feel the necessity of the gospel or the need to believe in it and because they don’t know the rewards they will obtain if they believe in Jesus.
And the Lord, speaking of the second kind of field, said in Luke 8:6, “Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.” In this case, many people receive the Word of God, but they do so in vain in the manner of the religions of the world and believe in Jesus arbitrarily as they wish. If people believe in Jesus as their Savior, they should do so by calculating what the results of believing in Him are and what they will get for doing so and by seeking after those goals, but they can’t do so and they just believe in Jesus according to the worldly values on their own.
A seed that falls on rocks, buds, sprouts and grows temporarily. However, the Lord said it dies because they have no moisture there; if we continue reading, our Lord said afterwards, “It dies because it has no root. It cannot bear fruit.” When you believe in Jesus, you must do so thinking of the results and rewards of believing in Him and having your hearts truly rooted deeply in the Word of God. You must find the answer of these questions in God’s Word: What follows those who believe in God and have been saved? How do we live out our faith? Why do I have to come out to Church? I want to go out and have a good time on such warm spring days; why do I need to come out to Church, listen to the Word, and serve the gospel? But most Christians have stopped at just thinking, “If I believe in Jesus as the Savior, all my sins will be gone. And I will be saved.” Therefore, this means that their faith dies because they have no spiritual purpose, no hope, and no rewards. Such people will lose all the blessings and promises of God if they quit their lives of faith, quit listening to the Word of God, and quit hoping for the Kingdom of God.
I said that the Kingdom of God is the reward for believing in Jesus’ righteousness and living out our faith till the end. We must deeply believe in the Word of God if we wish to obtain the Kingdom of God. And we must be deeply rooted in that Word. Our faith must be deeply rooted in the Word of God if we intend to keep our faith until the end. We must have the Word deeply rooted in our hearts. We must deeply think whether or not we will live out our faith till the end; what the real wisdom is; what the results will be for doing something or; in other words, what will be lost or gained for doing so; and what will happen if we have no interest in those things? We must find the answer to those things in the Word of God.
But people stop at the point that they feel great by receiving the remission of all their sins. They must continue abiding in the Word of God and His promises after receiving the remission of all their sins; but these people can’t do that. Therefore, their lives of faith become meaningless, and they cannot live out their faith to the end. They become like the buds that have withered away because they had no moisture. The words “Because they lacked moisture” refer to the words “because they lacked the Word of God.”
Our souls obtain salvation as a result of believing in Jesus’ righteousness. God said that He gives His Kingdom as a gift to those who have been saved. My fellow believers, you have been saved from all your sins. To be saved from all your sins is very precious, but so also is to possess the Kingdom of God.
What is the name of this flower? Deaconess Kim told me this morning that it is called ‘allium.’ That’s a curious name. It sounds like uranium or plutonium that are used to make nuclear bombs. Anyway, these plants called allium came about from their seeds; those seeds should grow as we see now and bear fruit, so what would be the use of them not bearing fruit but just growing and then dying? Likewise, we say we have received the remission of all our sins, but it is just as useless if we aren’t deeply rooted in the Word of the Lord so that we cannot live out our faith and die in no time because we don’t have the Word of God or roots. Dying is the same as never having been born. If we can’t possess the Kingdom of God even though we believe in Jesus, we have believed in Jesus uselessly, and even though we believed in Him, the results are the same as if we had not.
Therefore, after being saved from all our sins, we must maintain that salvation. We must maintain it until the Lord comes and until we go before Him. Only then will we be rewarded. If we had no reward after receiving the remission of sins, we would try to look for it elsewhere. If we couldn’t obtain a reward even though we believed in Jesus, we would look for secular values somewhere else in this world. But when we believe and look for a reward, that reward must be worthy of being called a reward. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have hearts of those in debt but would rather come to have hearts of creditors to others. We would think, “Why is my life like this even though I lived believing in Jesus’ righteousness? I should live better than that sinner over there in all aspects and should get a reward for it, but why do I live in want?” If Christians have no interest in the Kingdom of Heaven and no faith to obtain it, they will try to obtain rewards in other places. They will try to get them in secular places. So, they come to think that they have received rewards when they receive good things of this world and that they haven’t received rewards otherwise. Therefore, they are always empty and unsatisfied and have incorrect thoughts to try to obtain money and worldly things by believing in Jesus when they come out to Church and lead a life of faith.
Therefore, we shouldn’t become like the seeds that fell on rocks. Seeds that have fallen on rocks have to fall down into the crevices of the rocks, drink up all the dew before the sun rises, endure when the sun shines on them, tear up the rock, erode it, and make it into soil in order to live and not die. There are tenacious plants like I’m talking about. We who have been saved must also set the Kingdom of God as our hope and goal, think only of that reward, continue living out our faith on this earth, firmly believe in the Word, and tenaciously endure until we obtain the Kingdom of God as the final reward.
But people who have no interest in the Kingdom of God and have no root try to receive rewards on this earth. They become even more empty and unsatisfied because they try to receive secular rewards on this earth. But you have to remember that the Lord told us that the seeds that have fallen on rocks couldn’t bear fruit. They were unable to grow into complete trees and plants. They grew a little, and then died in the middle without being able to bear fruit. What is this talking about? It’s talking of people who have been saved but can’t bear the fruit of salvation. It is a parable that they have been saved but have lost their faith that enables them to maintain their salvation.
People wither like seeds that have fallen on rocks if they look for rewards in other things of the world because they received the remission of all their sins but don’t come out to God’s Church or who have been saved but don’t have the Kingdom of God as their goal. They cannot bear fruit. They lose their faith sooner or later. They come to lose their salvation even though they clearly received it.
Some people say, “This is meaningless. Why do you just talk about the gospel everyday? Isn’t there anything else?” and they go to some other churches even though they have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. If we meet them after a while, we see that their salvation is not complete. They lose their senses, think salvation is in everything, and we see that they have lost their salvation in the end. They cannot bear fruits that are born in the Kingdom of Heaven. Not being able to bear fruit is the same as losing its reason for existing. It is the same as the Word that says, “It would have been good for that man if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24). That is what Jesus said to Judas. Had he never known Jesus or had never believed, he would have just lived that way and gone to hell. Since it is natural for people to go to hell for having sins for not believing in Jesus, it suffices to just pass the time that way; Judas believed in Jesus once, tasted of the gift of Heaven, and thought he had been saved by believing in Jesus but then lost his faith after quitting in the middle of the way of faith. So, he had no rewards of the results of faith in Jesus because he lost his salvation. That is because he couldn’t bear fruit. He couldn’t bear fruit and just withered away.
Such people have conviction in their faith at first when they go out from God’s Church. ‘They think, “I’m definitely not going to lose my faith. I know and believe in all the Word.” But, my fellow believers, that is not the case.
Why does the Bible talk of the four kinds of fields? Nothing can be done about seeds sown by the wayside because they are immediately devoured by birds, but there is moisture above rocks and so seeds bud when they fall there. Plants grow after they bud. They can become large plants or trees, but these seeds died in the middle. This is even unhappier than the seeds that fell by the wayside. It’s like what happened to Judas.
The Second Field Is One in Which Seeds Fell on Rocks, Sprang Up, Began to Grow, but Died in the Middle
The first field couldn’t bud at all; in the case of people, it implies those who didn’t believe in Jesus at all. But in the case of the second field, they believed in Jesus, but they died because their faith wasn’t complete. They died because they couldn’t hear the pure Word of the Truth. Ultimately, they lose their rewards for believing in Jesus. They lose the results of their faith as well. These kinds of people are the same as those who didn’t believe in Jesus. No, they might even be worse off because they have tasted of salvation once. Our faith can’t be one like that of the seed that fell on the second field of rocks and died.
Third Field: “And Some Fell among Thorns, and the Thorns Sprang Up with It and Choked It”
A seed fell among thorns, sprang up and began to grow, but the thorns blocked the seed with shade so it couldn’t grow and it ultimately died. The thorns here mean the cares of the world such as ‘How should I live? What should I eat and drink? I can’t live a life of faith if I want to succeed in the world.’ The thorns imply to quitting lives of faith because it seems one won’t be able to live well in this world if he keeps believing in Jesus. Those who have such a thorny field of a heart think that they can’t live happily if they believe in Jesus, and thus, they killed the faith in themselves by chasing the values of the world because they love the world so much. They end up killing their faith themselves. It means they kill the seeds of faith that were planted in their hearts in order to live well in this world. People who have received the remission of sins and don’t come out to God’s Church because of worries about how they’ll live, what they’ll eat, what they’ll drink, and what they’ll wear are no different than the people of this world.
Actually, people who don’t come out to the Church but work themselves to death and those who open their stores on Sunday and tenaciously make money are no better off in life than you who live coming out to the Church on Sunday, worshipping, and working and earning money in the areas that God has permitted. Rather, people who come out and listen to the Word when it is delivered are better off than those who don’t and work during that time instead. They don’t listen to the Word of God, just work always, and are only interested in earning money. Do you think God will bless those kinds of people? How can those kinds of people earn money? How can they become rich? There are more ways for them to spend money; how can they become rich?
They fall into the cares of the world and worry, thinking, “What will I eat? What will I drink? I can’t succeed by going to the Church like this. I can’t become rich or better than others by doing this.” My fellow believers, that’s the way it would seem by man’s thoughts of the flesh, wouldn’t it? Worldly thoughts are all they are. What those people think are not the things in God’s sight. God gives sound sleep to those He loves and gives rewards to those who fear Him. Blessings can be ours only when God gives them to us as it is written,
“Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:1-2).
The seeds that fell in among thorns ultimately all died. They couldn’t get sunlight so could not grow and therefore died. They would have withered and died. There are a lot of thorn bushes if you go to the mountains. Have you ever seen pretty plants growing among them? The reason you haven’t is because those plants among thorn bushes withered and died. They die because the leaves of the thorn bushes cover those plants so they can’t get sunlight.
My fellow believers, you kill the Word of salvation planted in your hearts if you think only of what you’ll eat, what you’ll drink, or what you have to do to live happily. You kill the salvation that is planted in you. I hope that we really don’t kill the Word of salvation that is planted in us. Your hearts must make you come out to God’s Church and listen to the Word of God by guiding your bodies, and your bodies must help your spirits to be alive by listening to the Word of God. Only then will your spirits prosper, and your spirits have to prosper for all things to prosper and for our bodies to become healthy. Our spirits absolutely must prosper. This third field also ended up bringing about very unhappy results.
The Fourth Field Here Is Very Good Ground
The Lord said, “But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” Then, He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” He said, “Others fell on good ground, and yielded a crop a hundredfold” (Luke 8:8), but what kind of ground is good ground? A good field is one that is rich and is soft so that a seed can be buried well if it falls there; one that can hold rainwater when it rains; and one that can receive nourishment or rather accept the Word of God when it hears it. The Lord said that good ground yields crops a hundredfold.
My fellow believers, good ground are your hearts and mine that accept the Word of God. They are hearts that accept and believe in whatever the Word of God is and want to receive all the rewards in the Word of God. I hope that you have these kinds of hearts. Good ground does the work of bearing fruit.
If you read John 21, Jesus went to meet Peter who was fishing and asked him three times, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15-17) Jesus said to Him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish” (John 21:18). He said here, “You will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish” (John 21:18). We who have received the remission of sins shall live by faith, and the result of our faith is to obtain the Kingdom of God. We receive the Kingdom of God as a reward.
My fellow believers, we are saved and live by faith on this earth; we have actually been saved and received the reward of serving the Lord, and the rewards of this are sufficient. Even though we have already received our reward, we must surely decide how we will live out our faith till the end, what direction we will go, what we will do it for, and where we are going to place our hope on. Jesus said to Peter, “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish” (John 21:18). My fellow believers, how do we have to lead a life of faith? What do we have to live for? We who have been saved must live for those who haven’t been saved yet. There are quite a lot of people in this world who haven’t yet received the remission of sins.
You must live for those kinds of people, and even if you don’t want to, you must become the people who comfort those who need comforting and live for those who are worse off than you if they want to accept you. There are times when I get irritated because my throat is dry and sore, but I feel even in those moments how grateful I am for the work of preaching the gospel to all the people of the whole world. We will spread this gospel of the water and the blood that we believe in to all the people of the whole world so that there is no single person who doesn’t know it. And they will all learn of the gospel, and there will be no need for us to preach the gospel any more. That means that I won’t feel the need to live a life of faith as a pastor or a preacher. I want to end my mission by spreading the gospel to the end of this world.
So, I’ve also had these kinds of thoughts: “There will be nothing else for me to do if I spread the gospel to the end of this world so that all people learn of it. So, my life of faith will also be at an end, but what do I have to do after that? The Lord hasn’t come yet, and I am still needed by a lot of people, so how do I have to live? What is the right thing to do?” I have come to think again of what I need to live for and the meaning of life. The gospel has yet to be preached to the whole world, but looking at things with the eyes of faith, the preaching of the gospel is getting done, so I thought about what I have to live for and what kind of living I have to lead afterwards. Then, these Words of the Lord came to me: “You will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish” (John 21:18).
This means that I must live for others needs, and my life becomes an altruistic one. This is what that means, so are there people who need me? So, I have been to hospitals nearby, met the brothers and sisters, and met the souls of people in the world. My fellow believers, there are quite a lot of people who are better off than me in this world. And there are quite a lot of people who don’t need me. But I recognized that there are more insufficient people in this world who need you and me.
There are a lot of people who need you and me. We must live for those people. The Lord said that good fields yield crops a hundredfold. What is the meaning of our lives? Isn’t it a worthwhile life for us to live for others who need us? We have already been saved and obtained the Kingdom of God. The result of faith is salvation and the reward of salvation is the Kingdom of God.
But the question is what the saints and servants of God must live for after they have been saved. The answer is that you must live for those who need you. My fellow believers, you need to have some material possessions and do some amount of work if you just live for yourself. But if we live for the many people who are worse off than us and need us, we are on the other hand really busy and have quite a lot of works to do.
My fellow believers, it’s good to do that. My fellow believers, we must become seeds that have fallen in good ground. We must become people who bear fruit a hundredfold. If one person spreads the gospel to one hundred people, helps them receive the remission of sins, helps them completely receive the Kingdom of God as a reward, spiritually nourishes them, and helps them grow well, the person ultimately comes to bear fruit a hundred and a thousand fold even though he seems like he is spreading the gospel faithfully by himself. If you live for others with clear consciences before God by becoming good fields of the heart and having good faith, you will have fruit a hundredfold, the will of God will be fulfilled, and such a life will bring about the results that many souls will receive the Kingdom of God as a reward.
We must truly become good fields. We must realize what purpose we must live for in our lives of faith. Not everyone becomes good fields by just hearing the gospel. As I said earlier, three of the four fields were all bad, and they ultimately killed all the seeds that fell there. My fellow believers, did those seeds die or not? They died. Dying here means that they didn’t believe in Jesus or that they believed in Him in vain. The first field implies a person who heard the gospel and died because he didn’t believe it; the second one is a person who believed in Jesus and was even saved but whose salvation was not complete. He could not bear fruit. In other words, he abandoned his faith in the middle. A person of the third field did the same as the man of the second field. But why did he do that? That happened because of the cares of the world, because he didn’t live an upright life of faith, because he didn’t live for other people, and because he didn’t obey the Word of God.
But the fourth field that was a good one bore a lot of fruit. My fellow believers, I hope that you have faith that bears fruit. I hope that you become the saints who are awarded the Kingdom of God. And I hope that you become God’s laborers. I hope that you become God’s true servants.
My fellow believers, is it over after just being saved? No, it isn’t. The Lord said that good fields bear fruit a hundredfold. There are quite a lot of people in this world who need to hear the gospel from you. There are quite a lot of people in this world who are more insufficient than you are. We must live for those kinds of people. We must live out our faith for those kinds of people. We must also sacrifice ourselves.
Which of these four fields are you? You are probably not the first one. So, are you the second or third one? Are you the second field that listens to the Word of the Lord but doesn’t hold to it? Do you think you don’t need to live out your faith? Do you want to abandon everything concerning your salvation and its reward? Or are you the third field that wonders what it has to do to live well, wear nice clothing, eat well, and receive rewards in this world? Or are you the fourth field with good soil? It is hard, difficult, and annoying to live for those who need you, but are you the kind of people who take care of them to the end, go to them, serve them, spread the Word to them, and pray for them? Are you people who live for those who are worse off than you, not better off? We must become good fields. We must become fields that live lives of faith and bear fruit to the end.
We do not all receive the remission of our sins for just believing in Jesus as our Savior; we can’t keep our faith until the end just because we received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. If we intend to keep our faith in the gospel till the end and completely receive the Kingdom of God as a reward, we must follow God’s will. That is what a good field is. Only that kind of field can bear fruit a hundredfold by living a life of faith and keeping that faith till the end. Those kinds of people can receive the Kingdom of God as a reward.
But what happens to the fields that aren’t good? They are all thrown into the fire. What happens to dead trees? What happens to dried grass? Aren’t they used for making fire? We have been saved; we shouldn’t stop at that but must become good fields. We must live altruistic lives. We must live for people who are worse off than we are. This is the life of a Christian. This kind of life is truly that of people who believe in Jesus. Your faith and mine is living for people worse off than we are, living in order to help the sinners to be saved. It is the orientation of our faith. We must live this way. We must become good fields.
But there are also people among us who, as sad as it is, are not good fields but are instead fields that quit the faith of good fields in the middle and end in vain because they are the second or third field. There are people like that among God’s laborers as well as among the saints. But the result of their choice is not the Kingdom of God; it is being burned in fire.
My fellow believers, we who are the saints of God must also comfort one another, give strength to one another, and pray for one another. And we must pray for people who have not yet been saved and become a grain of wheat for them. The Lord said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24). We must live the rest of our lives for those who need us.