[Matthew 13: 3-9] “And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow;  and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.  “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil.  “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.  “Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.  “And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.  “He who has ears, let him hear.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Some fields in the countryside are so fertile that any crop that is sown grows very well. Vegetables like radish, cabbage, and lettuce grow very well. If fruit trees are planted, they produce very good fruits. The household’s food is always sufficient since the field always produces plentiful vegetables and fruits each in its season. The farmer sends some of the harvest to his children who are living in other towns, or he shares some of it with his neighbors. However some fields are not fertile, and nothing can grow very well in them. Fruit trees die even before they can bear fruits. The vegetables grow a little bit but soon wither away. A fertile field and field that is lacking are so different from each other. The same goes with the heart-field of men. Some heart-fields bear abundant fruits of the truth when the word of God is sown, and there is benefit received by other people, too. However for some other heart-fields no matter how abundantly God’s word is sown in the heart-field it makes no difference. What kind of heart would you like to have? Of course you should want to have the field that produces abundant harvest. Through this message, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will cultivate your heart into a fertile field.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus explained about men’s hearts that receive the word of God by classifying them in four different categories. He has likened human heart to these four kinds of soils: on the roadside, the rocky field, the thorny field, and field of good soil. Spiritually, the more fertile the soil is in the field the sooner will the word of truth sprout, grow, and bear abundant fruits in both spirit and body. If we have to grow the crops, we should be able to harvest 30, 60, or 100 times more fruits. In order to do this, we have to cultivate our heart-field and change it into good soil. In order to cultivate the field into good and fertile soil we first have to understand what kind of field it is. Then we can figure out what kind of tools and what kind of methods we have to use. So, I would like you to check carefully what kind of field you have from among the categories of the roadside, rocky field, thorny field, and field of good soil. To talk about what is good and bad from among the four categories of the heart, the field like a roadside is the worst field compared with the soil of the good field. A little better than the roadside is the rocky field, and better than the rocky field is the thorny field. But these four basic kinds of fields cannot really represent all the different kinds of heart that men have. These four fields are just the most representative models of human heart-fields. Most people’s hearts will have some attributes of all of these four kinds of hearts. Therefore, rather than concluding that you don’t have a certain kind of heart, I urge you to check carefully what kinds of field you really have. First I am going to talk about the roadside. Matthew 13:3-4 says, “Behold, the sower went out to sow;  and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.” When the farmers sow the seeds, some seeds fall on the roadways that are adjacent to the fields. In old days, the roads were not paved well as today, so many times there weren’t clear distinctions between the field and the road. When people walked on the side of the field, it soon became like the road. Also, most farmers used to scatter the seeds with their hands. So, as they tossed the seeds about, some of seeds would unavoidably fall on the roadside, away from the field. The roadside is very hard unlike the field because people always walk on it. If the seeds fall on the roadside, they cannot take root. Since they don’t get buried in the soil, they cannot sprout. Birds come and eat up those seeds. The roadside symbolizes hardened hearts. It is the heart with which they cannot understand the word of God or believe it when they hear it. Revelation 3:20 says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.’ The Lord is knocking on the heart of each individual with God’s word. He lets us realize that God is living and He is our Father. Also, He lets us know how much He loves us through the providence of salvation on the cross. He tells us about Heaven and Hell. He knocks on our hearts through the things in the nature or the preaching of the preachers. Those who have the heart like roadside soil will not open their hearts even when the Lord knocks on it.
For example, when we preach to our family members or relatives, we can find some people who do not even want to begin to hear it. However, this heart-field that is like the roadside soil is not the heart of an unbeliever who does not believe in God at all. It refers to the situation of someone’s heart who says he is a believer and believes in God. Then, what kind of believers have the heart-field like that of the roadside? They sit in the church on Sundays, but they do not accept the Word preached by letting it into their hearts. It is a historical fact that Jesus came to this earth and even when the Bible is proven to be true, they don’t really acknowledge God. No matter how much they listen to the messages, they don’t or won’t spiritually comprehend them. They have reasons not to believe each part of the sermon preached. With such thoughts of their own, they can’t accept the message in their hearts. Instead they have doubts or pass judgment. Even though there are evidences to prove the word of God, they still refuse to believe. Even though they see the signs and wonders and so many powerful works that can be done only by God, they still doubt. Moreover, even though their own family members were healed of incurable diseases or brought back to life from the threshold of death, they still do not believe. We can find such a person in the Bible who had this kind of hardened heart. It was the Pharaoh. He would not believe in God even after experiencing the Ten Plagues. Each time Egypt was struck with a plague, the Pharaoh made a promise to Moses. But each time when the plague went away, he broke his promise. He just wanted to solve the problem at the moment. He did not acknowledge God. How pitiful this is! What is more pitiful is that those who have the heart-fields that are like roadside have to try harder than others, but in most cases, they won’t. They have to try to come before God, they have to try to listen to His word, and they must put the word into practice. But they doze off in the worship services or have doubts and pass judgment, or entertain idle thoughts. So, although they attend church for many years or even decades, they don’t experience the grace of God nor do they make any changes in their lives. As we hear the gospel, open our hearts, and accept the Lord as our Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit. The roadside-like people just come to church and leave without experiencing the Holy Spirit. Even though the seed, which is the word of God, is sown in their heart, it doesn’t sprout. Finally, the birds come and eat it up. What does it mean by ‘birds come and eat the seed?’ It means Satan snatches the word away. Matthew 13:19 says, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.” If they hear the word of the kingdom of Heaven, which is the spiritual word of God, and do not understand it, the evil one, namely the enemy devil and Satan come and snatch away the word. Let me give you an illustration of how Satan takes away the word. Even though they don’t have spiritual faith, there are some who come to church on Sundays because of their family members. When they listen to the message, they remember some of the word they heard. One day this church member heard that we receive blessings when we keep the Lord’s Day holy. But when he returns home from the church, he finds his unbelieving family members, relatives, friends, or neighbors approaching him. They say to him, “Why do you go to church anyway? Do you get anything out of it? I would rather sleep more.” Or, “Why don’t you join me for some walking on the mountain trails next week? We could even go watch some sports games. You should take a rest on Sundays.” In most of the cases, he will be tempted by such a temptation. When they listen to the message, they may think, “Well, maybe I will try to keep Sunday holy,” but confronted with such a temptation they immediately close their heart. So, they don’t give faith a chance to come into being. Satan instigates those people whom he thinks trustworthy or those who are close to him to stop him from believing the word. But it’s not only the unbelievers who are acting out the role of the birds. Sometimes, even believers are enticed by Satan and act as the birds. They say, “You don’t have to attend church every single Sunday. You may miss a service if you have other commitments. The practices of that church are rather extreme.” Such people say they are believers, but they corrupt the truth this way and disrupt the development of other’s faith. If they still attend church despite this kind of temptation, we can have hope that they will someday gain faith. But the problem is they usually just stop attending church. Furthermore, sometimes they begin to give hard times to their family members who are believers. Of course, not all the roadside soils are as extreme as in this case. Some of those who seem to be leading a good life in faith sometimes have the roadside heart-field. They are the ones who come to church for their personal benefit. What is the purpose of leading a life in faith? It is to have spiritual faith and receive salvation. But some people come to church to network for business, or just to socialize with others. Some people attend church to gain self-satisfaction in having done some voluntary work; some others come to live a moral life; there are still others who are well known people who come to build up a good image for themselves. In these cases, even though they hear the word of God for so many years, it’s difficult for them to have any faith! They don’t obey the word of God but they just do what they think is right and what they desire. Even though they hear that people are healed or received solutions to problems by God’s power, they think it is not really their concern. They are closing their spiritual eyes and ears. They don’t have true hope for the kingdom of Heaven. The priests, the Pharisees, the scribes, and religious leaders at the time of Jesus had such hearts. On the outside, they were better and more enthusiastic believers than others. Had they had true faith, they would have recognized the Son of God, Jesus. But because they had roadside-like heart-fields that were hardened with flesh, they couldn’t realize anything even when they heard the spiritual word and saw spiritual things. Then, how can we cultivate this roadside-like heart-field?
We have to plow the hardened soil and make it as soft as possible. In order to do that, we have to break it. It means we have to break our self-righteousness and frameworks. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” There are many theories and knowledge in this world that make people stand against God. One good example is the Darwinism. People can open the door of their thoughts and further open their hearts only after demolishing these theories and knowledge. Only then can they accept the word of God. The knowledge and value system of those who have roadside-like heart-fields are so hardened that it is difficult for them to accept the word. They so strongly believe that they are right. But they have to demolish these thoughts. But in order to break self-righteousness and frameworks, we first have to break the evil in our heart. If we have arrogance, pride, stubbornness, and falsehood, it is difficult to break the self-righteousness and the frameworks. The evil in people’s hearts will motivate the fleshly thoughts and hinder them from believing the word. For example, those who have accumulated a lot of falsehood in their heart will constantly have doubts even though others are telling them the truth. Romans 8:7 says, “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.” Of course, it is not a very easy work to destroy this kind of evil and thinking that we ourselves are right. The roadside becomes harder and harder as they are walked on over a period of time. It’s the same with the hardened hearts that are like the roadside. They harden their heart over a period of time with untruth and evil. Some people seem to be very stubborn, but once they receive God’s grace, they are completely changed and lead a more fervent Christian life. It is case where on the outside they have hardened minds, but actually the inner heart is soft. But the roadside is different from this kind of heart. The roadside-like heart is a heart that is hardened to the bottom. Let’s say that if the kind of heart of which the surface seems hard but the inside is soft is like a thin sheet of surface ice, then we can comparatively say the roadside is ice that is frozen completely. So, it is not easy to completely break down the roadside heart-field. We have to keep on breaking it continuously to cultivate the field. Even though a rock is very hard, if we make a hole and hit it continually, it will finally crack and break. It’s the same with the roadside. Because it is very hard, we first have to make a hole and make it crack when we first begin to work on it. For example, whenever the message preached does not agree with our own thoughts, we have to deeply think whether our ideas are really right. Also, we have to store up some good deeds so God can give us His grace. There are some people who ask me to pray for them to have faith. Even though they say they cannot have any faith even after seeing such powerful works and hearing so many messages, their situation is still rather hopeful. It is much better than not trying at all. In the case of the roadside-like heart, just as much as their own effort is important, it is important for their family members and the leaders in the church to pray for them and lead them. Then, at some point in time, the seed of the Word will sprout in them.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of whether we bear abundant fruit or not with the seeds sown, it is something so very thankful that we have the faith to receive salvation. As you have seen many times, many people who seemed to have no possibility of changing entered the door of salvation after coming to this church. We see such cases often as we see some of the families being evangelized. The amazing works of God’s power in this church break the human theories and knowledge like a hammer. Above all, the love of God the Father who shows us His compassion on us through the Holy Spirit changed many souls. Just like searing heat melts down steel, the burning love of God the Father melted down hearts that were as hard as steel. It is not something difficult to acknowledge God and live by His word. It’s hard because they don’t try to do it. They attend church without a proper cause, and always pass judgment and have doubts. That is why it is hard for them. However, if we love God and are loved by God, how happy we become! As we believe in and rely on God in every matter, we are prosperous and blessed, so we are even happier. More than anything else, the greatest blessing is that we are saved and going to Heaven. The nearer the days draw for the Lord’s coming, the more people there will be who have roadside-like hearts. It’s because as the spiritual current flows faster, the fleshly current will also flow faster. God the Father has sent us the Holy Spirit to break such hardened hearts of people of these days and to save them. Through this church, God has prepared the gospel of holiness and the powerful works. I urge all of you to be on this flow of Spirit. I pray in the name of the Lord that you will become powerful workers who can melt down the hearts of even those who have heart-fields like that of the roadside.