The Word of God and the Heart

March 21, 2023

There are amazing things going on in the spiritual realm when the word of God is read or proclaimed.  There is an ongoing interaction between the word, the devil, and human hearts that cannot be seen, but is very real. 

Jesus revealed this profound three-way interaction in a parable.  He tells us that the word of God is like seed that is sown, and human hearts are like the soil.  Some will hear the word of God with little interest and little attempt to understand.  For these, Jesus says, “…the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in the heart.” (Matthew 13:19 NAS95) Satan is very real, very active, and very dangerous.  He will gladly snatch away the word before it can ever germinate in the heart. 

Some will hear the word and accept it joyfully, but only for a while.  For these, Jesus said, “… he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” (Matthew 13:21 NAS95) Isn’t it tragic that in times of trouble, some will turn away from the very thing they need most?  We see it happen today—people turn away from God when life gets difficult instead of running to Him all the more.

Some will hear and accept the word, but then it is choked out by thorns.  Jesus said of these people, “…this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22 NAS95) Worry and the love of money and pleasure have a powerful blinding effect on people.  Worry will stop us from trusting the promises of God.  The pursuit of riches and pleasures will cause us to feel self-sufficient and uninterested in blessings from God.  In the end, no fruit is ever produced.

And yet, there are those who will hear the word “…in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” (Luke 8:15 NAS95) These are the ones who bear fruit for God, “some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” (Matthew 13:23 NAS95) These are eager to hear, eager to accept, eager to live the word of God.  They hold on to the life-giving word of God with all of their might.  They are richly blessed, and they bear much fruit for the Lord.

What is the lesson for us?  Jesus said, “So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” (Luke 8:18 NAS95) We have a choice before us today, and every day concerning how we will listen to God.  May we always listen with good hearts and hold fast the word in our hearts.

—Scott Colvin

Not Bound

February 15, 2019

Timothy was a traveling companion and fellow worker with the Apostle Paul. He receives two personal letters from Paul that are a part of the New Testament. The two letters address him as he does the work of evangelist in the city of Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3, 2 Timothy 4:5). Paul breaks out into good news and writes:

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! (2 Timothy 2:8–9, ESV)

In one sense it may seem odd to say to a preacher of the gospel: remember Jesus Christ. Isn’t he going to anyway? Yet, the two thoughts that follow it make the statement much more understandable. Remember Jesus even when there is suffering attached. Remember Jesus because the word of God is not bound.
I need that last reminder. The sharing of the good news can at times be discouraging. Paul is reminding all of us that the power is in the message not the messenger. Paul may be bound and in prison, but the word of God isn’t.
Other passages remind us of the same great truth.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8, ESV)

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ” (Isaiah 55:10–11, ESV)

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Corinthians 4:6–7, ESV)

I need reminding that the power is not in the messenger but in the message. It is the gospel that is the power of God for salvation. The word of God when presented will have its effect. It will not return to God void. The word of God is not bound.