You Asked for It 2005 - Part 3
Secrets Revealed
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
August 21, 2005

 

Main Passage: Luke 8:4-18 (NLT)

 

Today we’re continuing with our You Asked For It message series. Through the month of August, and even into September this year, I’m speaking on topics or passages specifically requested by you. And today I’ve been asked to speak on what at first glance can be a confusing verse in the Bible… Luke 8:17. In the New International Version, this is what it says…

Luke 8:17 (NIV)
“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

It sounds like a puzzle, doesn’t it? Sounds like Jesus should have started that sentence with “Riddle me this…” What is He talking about here? What does He mean? Well, it may interest you to know that this is not the only time when Jesus said this. A few chapters later, in Luke 12:2, Jesus said…

Luke 12:2 (NIV)
“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.”

He’s saying pretty much the same words in both cases. Does He mean the same thing? Well, let me explain something about reading the Bible. When you’re reading the Bible and you’re trying to understand a particular verse, you can never take it out of the context in which it’s found. (Well, you can, but you shouldn’t.) That means when you come to a verse you don’t really understand, read the verses leading up to it… read the verses following it… and then see if you can understand the verse in the light of the surrounding verses. You can never interpret a verse to mean something that goes against the context in which it’s found, or that goes against the whole of Scripture. Get it?

Okay, let’s take a closer look at that verse in Luke 12:2. And really all we have to do to understand this verse in context is to read the verse immediately before it and the verse immediately after it. Let’s look at it again, this time in the New Living Translation…

Luke 12:1-2 (NLT)
Jesus turned first to his disciples and warned them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—beware of their hypocrisy. The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!”

So what’s the context? Jesus is talking about the hypocrisy found in the lives of the religious leaders of the day. They had fooled many people into following them and believing in them, and Jesus warns His disciples not to be taken in by them. And then he explains that someday all their hypocrisy will be brought out into the open. The things they thought they’d be able to get away with, they’re not going to get away with anymore. That’s the context of what He’s saying… He’s warning His disciples not to be fooled by the Pharisees and not to become hypocrites themselves. That’s a pretty clear understanding once you look at the context.

So how about the verse in Luke 8:17? That’s the verse we’re really looking at this morning, so is Jesus saying the same thing here? When He says…

Luke 8:17 (NIV)
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

…is He talking about hypocrisy? Well, I would say “No”, because I’ve already looked at the context. So before we talk about this verse anymore, we need to look at the first part of this chapter. And then we’ll come back to this verse later on. Okay?

Bev already read the first part of this chapter for us. As she read, we saw how Jesus was telling one of His stories… what we call His parables. He starts by telling us there’s a farmer who goes out to plant his seeds. Now, farming in His day was a little different than it is today. Today, we get nice long rows and the seeds are planted systematically at regular intervals in these rows. In Jesus’ day, when a farmer would plant seeds, he wouldn’t be concerned about planting everything in neat little rows. In fact, he would scatter the seeds everywhere. He would go out and throw the seeds onto different sections of his field. He’d have kind of a footpath going through the field where he would walk, and he’s throw the seeds on both sides of him, trying to cover as much area as possible.

Now, what would happen? Most of the seeds would land in the nicely tilled soil. But there would be seeds that would also fall onto the footpath itself, or onto shallow, rocky soil, or even into some thorns and weeds.

So while Jesus was telling this story about a farmer planting his seeds, He explained that the seeds that fell onto the footpath would be either trampled under foot or eaten up by birds. The seeds that fell onto the shallow, rocky soil, would begin to grow, but because their roots couldn’t go very deep they would be exposed to the hot mid-day sun, shrivel up, and die from lack of moisture. The seeds that fell among the thorns would start to grow, too, but thorns and weeds grow much faster than vegetable plants and before long the thorns and weeds would choke the life out of the other plant.

What’s He getting at here? What do these different types of soil represent? Let’s go through them one by one…

 

Four Types of Soil:
(from Jesus’ Parable of the Sower in Luke 8)

A. The footpath represents those whose hearts are hardened to the message of Jesus.

Jesus explained it this way…

Luke 8:12 (NLT)
“The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the message, but then the Devil comes and steals it away and prevents them from believing and being saved.”

We were over at Chris and Rosita’s for a bonfire the other night, and while we were there we were able to look at their gardens. And let me tell you, they’ve done a great job with their garden. In fact, if you were at the Pool Party last weekend, you know that Rosita brought grocery bags full of excess vegetables that they just didn’t have a use for. So she brought them to give them away.

[Turn to Chris and Rosita] Now, I know that you’ve put a lot of work into your garden… preparing the soil, planting the seeds, watering it, weeding it, tending to it… But can you imagine what kind of garden you would have if you planted your seeds in your driveway? I don’t thing you would have seen quite the same results. In fact, you might be coming to us for veggies!

Same person planting the seeds… same seeds… what’s the difference? It’s the soil! The only variable would be the soil. Good seeds planted in good soil will grow… the same seeds planted on a driveway, or a trodden down footpath, won’t grow. They won’t be able to take root.

So the footpath represents someone who has heard the message about Jesus Christ, but the message isn’t able to take root. The problem is not with Jesus or with the message, the problem is with the hardened heart… hardened by cynicism and skepticism and egotism… hardened by disbelief and nagging doubts that they can’t or won’t get past. And this isn’t just a passive unbelief… Jesus said that the Devil himself is involved. There’s spiritual warfare taking place. It’s as if Satan has locked their minds and hearts and thrown away the key. And though they are not beyond God’s reach, it will be difficult for them to move beyond their hardness to believe.

Do you know anybody like that? I know I do.

 

B. The rocky soil represents those who believe, but abandon their faith under pressure.

When the going gets tough, they abandon the journey. When the heat is on, they shrivel up and die. When their faith is tested, they fail the test. Why? Because their roots do not go deep enough. They do not allow the message of Christ to infiltrate their lives. Instead of trusting Jesus to help them through their trials, they rely on their own resources. Instead of looking to Him as their ever-present source of help, they choose to look within and away from Him. They’re not really rooted in Christ, or they would know that they can look to Him and trust Him.

Now, here’s the thing about a plant: It’s either growing or it’s dying. For a plant to grow and continue to grow, it needs to take root and have its roots firmly established. If the roots can only go so deep, they will not be protected from the hot midday sun. And they will not have access to the moist soil further down below the surface. And so they will die from lack of moisture. Jesus said…

Luke 8:13 (NLT)
“The rocky soil represents those who hear the message with joy. But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep. They believe for a while, but they wilt when the hot winds of testing blow.”

Do you know anybody like that? I know I do.

 

C. The thorny ground represents those who believe in Jesus, but become distracted by the things of this world.

So many things distract us and lure us away from what’s really important. Check this out…

[VIDEO CLIP – Sermon Spice – THE PARADOX OF OUR TIME]

Do you see how easy it is to become preoccupied with temporal things and neglect the eternal? To become wrapped up in the things of this world and forget about the things of God? It even happens to believers. Many people hear the message and respond to it, and they begin to grow in their newfound faith… only to lose it when other things crowd God out. That’s the danger of the thorny ground. Jesus described it this way…

Luke 8:14 (NLT)
“The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.”

What do thorns do to a plant? They rob the plant of the needed nutrition, water, light, and space. And so the plant is essentially choked to death. Likewise, the worries of life or the pursuit of pleasure or riches can choke the spiritual life out of a person.

A person like this doesn’t want God to mess up their plans or get in their way. Their own plans and ambitions come first… and it doesn’t matter to them what purpose God created them for. The sad thing is, a person like this may start out fine. They may be taking root and growing in their faith heading toward maturity, but they get distracted by other things. If you ask me, which none of you have done but I’m going to tell you anyway, this is what has happened to many of the Christian leaders who have fallen. How many times have high profile Christian leaders become distracted by riches and pleasure and fame? How many times did people who were on the right path decide to take a side road?

They never planned it like that, it was never their intention, but they became distracted by the things of this world.

Do you know anybody like that? I know I do.

There’s an old story that tells of Satan calling in one of his most effective demons for a chat. This demon had personally overseen the ruin of thousands upon thousands of souls. So Satan asked him, “What’s your secret?” And to Satan’s shock, the demon replied… “I tell them to get serious about God. I tell them they need to open their hearts to Christ. I tell them to repent of their sins and follow Jesus.”
“You tell them what?!?” exploded Satan.
“I tell them they need to do all these things… tomorrow,” he added with a sly grin.

So many things seem so important. There are all kinds of things we work day and night for, there are goals we strive to attain. How meaningful are they in the context of eternity? Are they truly important, or are they merely “weeds” that choke out the priorities that really matter? We need to be careful to never trade away what is truly significant for a bunch of weeds—no matter how pretty they look or how sweet they smell.
(illustration from NLT Life Application Commentary)

 

Let me pause here to make an observation. This farmer that Jesus told about went out to plant in his field, but he allowed some of his seeds to fall on the footpath and on the rocky soil and among the thorns. Why? I mean, if the farmer were any good, wouldn’t he be a bit more careful? Why would he allow seed to be wasted like that?

I think that’s a picture of God’s grace. His grace is spread liberally, so it’s inevitable that some would fall among the thorns and rocks and footpaths. His blessings are given even to those who reject Him, and His message is entrusted even to those least likely to respond. And the truth is, sometimes seeds do take root and grow in the strangest of places. So from God’s perspective, it’s worth it for His message to be spread far and wide, even among those who are likely to reject it.

Well, we’ve talked about three kinds of soil. But there’s still one more…

 

D. The fertile soil represents those who believe and grow to maturity in Jesus.

Luke 8:15 (NLT)
“But the good soil represents honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s message, cling to it, and steadily produce a huge harvest.”

These people are hungry for more of God. They want to know Him above all. They want their faith to become strong, and they allow Jesus to impact every aspect of their lives. They choose to follow Him, come what may. They are devoted to Him. And as a result, they grow from a young believer to a fully-devoted follower of Jesus.

They get the sunlight they need… by not just attending church but by getting involved in the community of the church. Their roots go deep into the Word of God and to prayer. And they produce seeds that result in others hearing the message and responding to it, as well.

Do you know anybody like that? I know I do. In fact, the majority of you here this morning either are people like this or are becoming people like this.

 

So now we come back to the verse we started with…

Luke 8:17 (NLT)
“For everything that is hidden or secret will eventually be brought to light and made plain to all.”

Jesus told this story about a farmer, and then makes this cryptic statement. What’s He getting at? Well, we have to make one more trip backwards, to verses 9 and 10…

Luke 8:9-10 (NLT)
His disciples asked him what the story meant. He replied, “You have been permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I am using these stories to conceal everything about it from outsiders…”

At the time Jesus was speaking, His message was only being heard and received by a few. In fact, many people dismissed His stories as meaningless chatter. In essence, He was the farmer in the story spreading His seed on a localized scale.

But in verse 17, He tells His disciples that the time was coming when His message would be proclaimed everywhere. No longer would it be told only in cryptic stories… it would be broadcast for all to hear. And that time came after His resurrection and ascension back to Heaven. Beginning in Acts chapter 2, we read about how His disciples began to spread the news about Jesus throughout the world, right down to this very day. And even now, for those of us who call ourselves His, we are His disciples charged with the mission of spreading the message today. At the time He told the story, He was the farmer spreading the seed. But now He has entrusted that seed to us to spread.

How can I do that? How can I spread the seed of the message of Jesus? Well, just as we finish up, let me give you four tips for spreading the seed.

 

How Can You “Spread the Seed” Today?

1. Grow to maturity yourself.

According to Ephesians 4, you do this by accepting Christ and becoming a part of His Church. You listen to teaching from His Word, you read it yourself and apply it to your life, you learn to pray, and you participate in the ministry of the church. Church is not meant to be a spectator sport; it’s participatory.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT)
He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.

 

2. Tell your story.

Paul asked in Romans 10…

Romans 10:14 (NLT)
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

Let others know what a difference God has made in your life. Don’t be obnoxious about it, but don’t hide it either. If people don’t hear about Jesus, how will they ever come to accept Him? Look for opportunities to tell your story especially to those whose hearts are fertile and ready to hear. But don’t neglect openings with those whose hearts may be hardened or thorny or rocky, either.

Earlier in the service we sang some songs about Heaven. For those of us who have accepted the message of Jesus and have chosen to live for Him, that is our final destination. That’s what we’re eagerly looking forward to. Now, don’t you want to take others with you? So don’t neglect this very important mission you have been given to tell your story so others can hear and believe. There’s no greater thing you could do with your life. Seriously.

Romans 1:16 (NLT)
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes…

 

3. Live a life of integrity.

Gandhi once declared…

“I like their Christ; I don’t like their Christians.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“I will believe in the Redeemer when the Christian looks a little more redeemed.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Two people who had considered becoming Christians and possibly would have, if it weren’t for Christians showing a blatant lack of integrity.

Psalm 69:5-6 (NLT)
O God, you know how foolish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you. Don’t let those who trust in you stumble because of me, O Sovereign LORD Almighty.

If you believe it, you’d better live it. As David Otis Fuller asked…

“If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
~ David Otis Fuller

 

4. Invite others to hear the message.

Best example… invite them to church. Offer to pick them up or meet them at the door. Let them know what to expect, introduce them to two or three other people, sit with them, take them out for lunch afterwards. To go with the theme of a farmer, you’re tilling the soil. You’re making them receptive to the seed of the message and placing them in an atmosphere where they can take root and grow. Get it?

 

We need to be spreading the seed. We need to be spreading the life-changing, life-giving message about Jesus. And catch what Jesus said about the seed that falls on fertile soil…

Luke 8:8 (NLT)
“Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop one hundred times as much as had been planted.”

Normally, a farmer can expect good seed to produce a crop 7 to 10 times what was planted. He’s pleased with that kind of return. Can you imagine the thrill a farmer would experience with a return of 100 times? But that’s the power of the message. It’s a potent seed, which produces incredible results.

In fact, on that day in Acts chapter 2 when what was hidden was brought into plain sight, three thousand people responded to the message. And there’s absolutely no reason why that same response couldn’t happen today.

Spread the seed.

 

Application Questions:

  1. Am I (or am I becoming) a mature believer, firmly rooted in my faith?

  2. What, if anything, prevents me from telling my story to those who need to hear it? Be specific.

  3. Is there anything in my life that would repel others from Jesus? A lack of integrity? A sinful habit? A self-serving attitude?

  4. Identify three people who need Jesus and begin praying for them. Look for opportunities to tell your story and to invite them to church with you.
     

 

 

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