The Review and Herald

625/1902

June 21, 1892

Gospel Hearers—No. 4

Thorny-ground Hearers

EGW

“And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them.” “He also that received seed among thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” RH June 21, 1892, par. 1

In the thorns that choke the good seed, the Great Teacher would depict the dangers that are around those who hear the word of God; for there are foes on every hand to make of no effect the precious truth of God. All that draws the affections from God, all that fills the attention so that Christ has no room in the heart, must be renounced if the seed of truth is to flourish in the soul. Jesus specifies the things that are dangerous to the soul. He says the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things, choke the word, the growing spiritual seed, so that the soul does not draw nourishment from Christ, as does the branch from the vine, and the spiritual life dies from the heart. Love of the world, love of its pleasures and display, and love of other things, keep the soul away from God; for he who loves the world does not depend upon God for his courage, his hope, his joy. He knows not what it is to have the joy of Christ, for this is the joy of leading others to the Fountain of life, of winning souls from sin to righteousness. RH June 21, 1892, par. 2

All that draws the affections from Christ is a detriment to the soul, and must be put away that the soul temple may be cleansed from all defilement. Unless the soul is emptied of its idols, you cannot comprehend the truth of God. Some of the precious seed may find a place in the heart, but in order to have spiritual discernment to distinguish the thorns from the pure grain, the soul must receive the word with meekness. When those who have but a partial knowledge of the truth, are called upon to study some point that cuts across their preconceived opinions, they are confused. Their preconceived opinions are as thorns that choke the word of God, and when truth is sown, and it becomes necessary to root up the thorns to give it place, they feel that everything is going from them, and they are in trouble. There are many who have but an imperfect understanding of the character of God. They think of him as stern and arbitrary, and when the fact is presented that God is love, it is a difficult matter for these souls to lay aside their false conceptions of God. But if they do not let the word of truth in, rooting out the thorns, the briers will start up afresh, and choke out the good word of God; their religious experience will be dwarfed, for the evil of their hearts will overtop the tender plant of truth, and shut away the spiritual atmosphere. RH June 21, 1892, par. 3

How many have a dwarfed religious experience. They do not draw nourishment from Christ. They love the world and the things that the world loves. At times their hearts are touched by the love of Christ, but they are not careful to watch and pray. They do not take the path of self-denial and cross-bearing, and follow in the way which Jesus trod while upon earth. They choose to indulge self, and spend their money for that which is not bread, and their labor for that which satisfieth not. They are like those whom the prophet describes, when he says, “There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart. Therefore thus saith the Lord: Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing. Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up.” Those who allow the cares of this world to crowd out the good seed, become surfeited with this world. The time that they should devote to the service of God, is devoted to the gratification of self. The work of the Lord should be their first anxiety, but Jesus and the souls he died for, are treated as matters of secondary importance. Their love of the world, their desire for riches, their anxiety to meet the world's standard, to follow the fashions of the world, to try every new thing, choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful. RH June 21, 1892, par. 4

It is necessary to be diligent, lest thorns find their way into the soil of the heart, and the precious plants of heavenly origin be crowded out; for they cannot grow in the heart together. Christ says, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Those who attempt it bring no fruit to perfection. There are those who attempt to serve two masters. They take the precious promises of God to themselves, but refuse to comply with the conditions on which the promises are given. They are not doers of the words of Christ, laboring together with God. In heart and in practice they are of the world, and yet they make a profession of godliness. Brain and muscle are devoted to the acquirement of property or position, as though the gaining of these temporal things would give them a passport into heaven. But it is not learning, position, or wealth, that commends a man to God. The psalmist says, “A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Many who profess to be Christians know not what it is to give up their all for Christ, who paid an infinite price for the redemption of the lost. RH June 21, 1892, par. 5

Self must die if we would be counted as the followers of Christ. The apostle says, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.... For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When a man is converted to God, a new moral taste is created; and he loves the things that God loves; for his life is bound up by the golden chain of the immutable promises, to the life of Jesus. His heart is drawn out after God. His prayer is, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” In the immutable standard he sees the character of the Redeemer, and knows that though he has sinned, he is not to be saved in his sins, but from his sins; for Jesus is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. It is through the blood of Christ that he is brought nigh unto God. As he beholds the righteousness of Christ in the divine precepts, he exclaims, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” As the sinner is pardoned for his transgression through the merits of Christ, as he is clothed with the righteousness of Christ through faith in him, he declares with the psalmist, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” This is conversion. When the Spirit of God controls the mind and heart, it turns the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. The law of Jehovah will then be regarded as a transcript of the divine character, and a new song bursts forth from the heart that has been touched by divine grace; for he realizes that the promise of God has been fulfilled in his experience, that his transgression is forgiven, his sin covered. He has exercised repentance toward God for the violation of his law, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ who has died for his justification. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” RH June 21, 1892, par. 6

“The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Love is the fulfilling of the law, and those who could not understand the precepts of heaven before they experience the new birth, now see the commandments as “holy, and just, and good,” and in keeping of them there is great reward. The law of God is the rule of God's government, and through eternal ages it will be the standard of his kingdom. Those who trample upon its requirements, are trampling upon the authority of heaven, upon the throne of God. If we do not yield to its requirements in this life, learning to love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves, we shall meet with no change in character at the appearing of Jesus. Rebellion will not give place to peace and love when he comes in the clouds of heaven. Now is the time to separate the thorns from the precious seeds of truth, that the heart may be wholly occupied with the truth from heaven. RH June 21, 1892, par. 7

He who knows all things, who reads the heart of man as an open book, says, “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” And Paul writes, “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” RH June 21, 1892, par. 8