Do you have a loved one that claims to be saved and love the Lord, but their lives don’t show reflect it? In my last post, I shared a few scriptures that confirm that saving faith goes hand in hand with a life that shows evidence of heart-felt obedience. I continue the series today, and again, I must mention that by no means is this an exhaustive study, but may at the least inspire some though upon not only what it means to be saved, but a reflective look into our own hearts.
Jesus’s teaching through Parables
I wanted to focus on the parables this time, several of which Jesus used to explain and illustrate the spiritual realities of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Parable of the Sower: (Matthew 13:1-23), is a vivid illustration of the categories of people who call themselves Christians. In this parable, Christ uses the word-picture of different types of soils to describe men’s hearts. He uses the symbolism of a seed to describe the Word of God. Even though all hear the Word of God (i.e. the seed), not all of the soils (i.e. men’s hearts) are prepared to bear fruit. The only ones that are described as believers are the ones that allow the Word of God to take root in their hearts.
Jesus explains this parable in verses 19-23 of the same passage:
“When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown”
This parable offers insight on the reasons some who claim to be believers never internalize the faith. It is also interesting to note that those described as believers are identified as those that do bear fruit. Whether 30-fold, 60-fold, or 100-fold, the common denominator is that true believers will bear fruit so some degree.
The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30), which shortly follows, acknowledges that there are indeed unbelievers and false teachers within the church, however well they may blend in with the spiritual. The parable describes a field, (the world), the wheat (believers), and the tares (those who do not know Christ). The point of this parable is that God, in his mercy, will allow the false to exist with the true until judgement day.
It is a sobering thought that there will be “many” who will be surprised of their eternal destiny on that day:
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord’ did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:22-23)
Judas Iscariot, for example, was allowed to “blend in” as a Christ follower, until He betrayed Jesus and showed himself to be a “tare” among the wheat. (Luke 22:47-48).
What shall we say then, to the friend whose life shows no evidence of conversion? The warnings in this writing do not mean that he is a “Judas” among the flock, nor does it mean that we look to have a judgmental spirit towards others. Only God knows the heart. However, scripture does caution us not to assume someone is saved when they are not. Bottom line? We must consider that continued, non-transformative behavior to be a cause for concern, guidance and prayer for the wayward. In some cases, the only “fruit” in the life of a believer is the fruit of repentance, as with the thief on the cross. (Luke 23:39-43).
One final takeaway: What better time than today than to examine our own hearts? One must ask himself: Do I abide with Him, love Him, and wholeheartedly love what He loves and hate what He hates? Am I devoted to God’s glory and separated from the world? Is there evidence of spiritual growth and obedience in my life?
“Be all the more diligent to make certain about his calling and choosing you (2 Peter 1:10)