Jesus sat down to teach the multitude by the Sea of Galilee, and He taught them in parables –
“Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” – Mark 4:3-9
Jesus later told His disciples that the seed was the word of God but there are several lessons for us to learn from this teaching. First, we must be actively spreading the word of God everywhere. Second, God desires fruit from His word, some more, some less, but all must bear fruit. Third, we don’t know what kind of ground we are sowing on, only the Holy Spirit knows. Our job is to spread the seed. Some are so enticed by the devil that they can’t hear the word, some don’t count the word precious enough to last through trouble or persecution, some are so taken up with the cares of this world that the word is choked out, but some will hear the word and treasure it and endure to keep it.
This parable was directly tied into the Great Commission Jesus gave to the church –
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – Matt. 28:18-20
They were to spread the word unto all the nations. Those that responded were to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then they were to teach them all things that Jesus had taught. This became known as the “apostle’s doctrine” (Acts 2:42). What does it mean to baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?
Baptism in the father’s name is His choosing you for a new life. As when he took the Israelites out of the slavery of Egypt into the freedom of a new life. It is the ‘born again’ experience.
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;” – 1 Cor. 10:1-2
Baptism in the name of the Son is embracing His death on the cross and being resurrected with Him into newness of life. And if we died with Him then we should no longer sin because the flesh is dead!
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” – Rom. 6:3
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is when the Holy Spirit comes upon one with power to do the things Jesus did and the evidence is speaking in other tongues.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” – Acts 2:4
There are to be no ‘dead wood’ in the church. All are to be actively involved in the ministry. All are brought into new life, all are to embrace death to their flesh by taking up the cross and following Jesus, and all are to receive the Holy Spirit in power. All are to be active in spreading the word.
Jesus’ complaint against the first church in Revelation 2 (Rev. 2:4) was that they had left their first love. They had many good works, but they had stopped spreading the word. They stopped evangelizing! Good works can never replace evangelistic zeal!
To the church of Smyrna Jesus addressed the seed that fell on stony ground that had no root in itself. He encouraged them, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). He warned them that they would suffer and have tribulations but encouraged them to have faith to endure. The Christian life is not all peaches and cream. Jesus suffered and we are called to follow Him. The Apostle Peter wrote –
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” – 1Pet. 1:6-9
‘After you have been grieved by various trials and tested by fire’ are not popular teaching in the church today, but they are part of the ‘apostles’ doctrine’ that the first church grew on. In fact, there is little said in the modern church about grieving or being tested by fiery trials.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” – Acts 2:42
But in the early church the apostles taught about the possibility of suffering for their faith, and they had a fellowship that prayed and ministered to one another to help. They prayed for healing, for deliverance, and for testing. And they ‘broke bread’ together. That means they shared some meals, and they took communion together, I think every time they met. They came together like a big family. They were not like spectators sitting in the audience being entertained. And they taught one another the ‘elementary principles of Christ’ that are recorded in Hebrews chapter six.
“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation:
- repentance from dead works,
- faith toward God,
- the doctrine of water baptism,
- the doctrine of baptism with the Holy Spirit,
- the laying on of hands,
- the resurrection of the dead,
- and of eternal judgement
These were just the elementary teachings; there were many more going on to perfection. Needless to say, they were not just part time Christians, attending church one day a week. They were the church, and they were full-time Christians!
The popular teacher Jonathan Cahn says that as we near the end of the age, everything is going back to how it was in the beginning of the church age, and I believe it. That means society is going back to its godless condition, but it also means the church will be going back to its vibrant condition that we see in the Book of Acts. When Jesus returns, He will not find big crowds to welcome Him. He said, “many are called, but few are chosen” and “When He comes will He find faith on the earth.” He also said, “wide is the gate that leads to destruction and narrow is the gate that leads to salvation.”
The modern church needs to return to its foundations, and they need to be filled with the fear of the Lord. Though we are saved by grace it is up to us to continue in that grace. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians –
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” – Phil. 2:12
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, and Peter said the same thing –
“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” – 1 Pet. 1:17-19
This is the Apostle’s Doctrine.