The Review and Herald

623/1902

June 7, 1892

Gospel Hearers—No. 2

Stony-ground Hearers

EGW

“Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.” RH June 7, 1892, par. 1

Jesus explained this part of the parable as referring to a certain class of hearers. He said: “He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for awhile: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by he is offended.” This class of hearers is again represented by the parable of the foolish builder. Jesus says, “Every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” RH June 7, 1892, par. 2

The seed sown upon stony ground finds little depth of soil in which to take root. The plants spring up quickly, but the tender roots cannot penetrate into the rock and find nutriment to sustain the growing plant, and it soon perishes. A large number who make a profession of religion may be represented by the stony-ground hearers. They are a class that are easily convinced; but they have only a superficial religion. As far as outward appearances are concerned, they are bright converts; but they are like the man who started to build without counting the cost of his enterprise, and they are not able to finish. There are those who receive the precious truth with joy; they are exceedingly zealous, and express amazement that all cannot see the things that are so plain to them. They urge others to embrace the doctrine that they find so satisfying. They hastily condemn the hesitating, and those who carefully weigh the evidences of the truth, and consider it in all its bearings. They call such ones cold and unbelieving. But in the time of trial, these enthusiastic persons too often falter and fail. They did not accept the cross as a part of their religious life, and they turn from it with dampened ardor, and refuse to take it up. They do not make the Lord Jesus their strength from the beginning to the end, and do not know what it means to fall upon the Rock and be broken. If they did but realize their great need, the Lord could be their strength, and would put his seal upon them. But they did not die to self that they might be born again, and their life was not hid with Christ in God. They did not become laborers together with God, bearing the cross, lifting the burden, that they might understand how great were the blessings of the service of Christ, in contrast to the poor pleasures of the world. If they had done this, like Paul, they would have been a partaker with Christ in his sufferings, and would have been able to exclaim, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” RH June 7, 1892, par. 3

As the roots of a plant strike down into the soil, gathering moisture and nutriment from the ground, so the Christian must abide in Christ, drawing sap and nourishment from him, as does the branch from the vine, until he cannot be turned away from the Source of his strength by trials. RH June 7, 1892, par. 4

He who knows Christ, is willing to deny self, to suffer the loss of all things, if he may but have the privilege of laboring with Christ, for he lays hold of eternal realities by living faith, and develops a symmetrical character. But those who have but a superficial religion make it manifest that they have no vital connection with Christ; they are stony-ground hearers. RH June 7, 1892, par. 5

The Lord designs that every soul shall be tried, in order that it may be apparent who have a living connection with him. To every believer the testing time will come; and when it comes to the soul, how the angels of heaven watch to see what shall be the result of the trial. They know that failure to hold onto God means ruin, and tenacious faith means victory and life. For a time many who have only a superficial faith, appear to be charmed with the truth; but when the word of God points out some cherished sin, and rebukes some chosen course of action, or requires self-denial and self-sacrifice, they are offended. As the truth is brought home to the conscience, they see that some idol of their hearts must be sacrificed, renounced, if they become the followers of the Lord in deed and in truth, and they cling to the idol, and put aside the warnings of the Spirit of God. They look at the present inconvenience and trial, and forgot the eternal realities, and begin to measure themselves among themselves, and conclude that they are as good as those who make a profession of religion, and so reject the requirements of the gospel. RH June 7, 1892, par. 6

The stony-ground hearer says, “It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinances, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts?” This is the way in which many reason, but they are under a deception when they entertain the idea that the religion of Jesus requires them to walk in mourning and sadness and weeping. I have not thus learned Christ. Jesus says, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you [what is the result?], and that your joy might be full.” Those who see in the religion of Jesus only sadness and gloom and discipline, and go mourning their way to mount Zion, have not the genuine article; they do not know what pure and undefiled religion is. RH June 7, 1892, par. 7

Stony-ground hearers may rejoice for a season, for they think that religion is something that will free them from test and from all difficulty. They have not counted the cost. They do not understand the controversy that is going on between Christ and Satan over the souls of men. They do not realize that if they would stand under the blood-stained banner of Prince Emmanuel, they must be willing to be partakers of his conflicts, and wage a determined war against the powers of darkness. RH June 7, 1892, par. 8

When thinking on the conflict, Paul writes to his Ephesian brethren, exhorting them to “be strong,” not feeble, not wavering, tossed to and fro like the waves of the sea. But in what are they to be strong? In their own might?—No. “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” He says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” What is the “all” that they are to do? Is it the many good works, upon which they may rely, and flatter themselves that they are good Christians?—No, the class that Jesus represents as stony-ground hearers trusted in their good works, in their good impulses, and were strong in themselves, in their own righteousness. They were not “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” They did not feel that eternal vigilance was the price of safety. They might have put on the whole armor of God, and have been able to stand against the wiles of the enemy. The rich and abundant promises of God were spoken for their benefit, and believing the word of God, they might have been clothed with a “Thus saith the Lord,” and been able to meet every wily device of the adversary; for when the enemy should come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord would have lifted up a standard against him. RH June 7, 1892, par. 9