In reference to hearing the word, Paul writes these words in Romans 10.13-17:
Let’s break this passage down and see what the apostle Paul is saying.
In verse 13 Paul writes, “For, ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” This passage begins with the assertion that salvation comes to those who call on the name of the Lord. Actually, Paul is quoting the prophet Joel which is found in Joel 2.32.
In verses 14,15, Paul asks four rhetorical questions.
The salvation of your soul is dependent on hearing the gospel by someone coming to you to tell you about the Lord so that you can believe in Him and thus call on His name. That makes those who preach the gospel extremely important. Therefore, he goes on to say in verse 15, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things”
In verse 16, the apostle Paul continues, “But all have not obeyed the gospel.” Salvation comes when someone tells others about the Lord. They believe what they hear about the Lord, and they call on the name of the Lord. However, there are some who have not obeyed the gospel. In the mind of Paul, calling on the name of the Lord and obeying the gospel meant the same thing.
In verse 17, we have the conclusion to this entire thought. “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” This passage emphasizes the importance of hearing the word of God. You cannot call on the name of the Lord and thus obey the gospel without hearing the word.
Hearing the word of God which tells you about the Lord and how to call on Him is essential for salvation.
We find the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 beginning at verse 3:
Jesus then explains what the parable means in Matthew 13 beginning at verse 18.
In this parable there is a phrase that is repeated several times and I have put it in bold to make it stand out. Over and over Jesus talks about hearing the word. Just by looking at the text, what do you suppose the parable is about? It is clearly about hearing the word.
Jesus found Himself in conflict with the Pharisees and Scribes, the religious leaders of that day. In the previous chapter (Matt. 12), they were constantly trying to discredit Him.
All of this is because the scribes and the Pharisees did not want to believe that Jesus was the Christ. These were people who were not willing to hear what the prophets said about Jesus. They were not willing to listen to what Jesus was saying. They would not interested in hearing the word. That’s the background of the parable of the sower.
We all hear things about Jesus differently.
As the parable begins, Jesus says in Matthew 13.18,19: “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom…” In this context Jesus is referring to the word of the kingdom. In the Bible, any reference to the kingdom is a reference to one of two things.
Jesus was preaching about the coming of the kingdom. He was preaching about the coming establishment of the church. The word of the kingdom refers to anything that pertains to getting into the church, maintaining your relationship with God in the church, or you might say that it refers to anything pertaining to becoming a Christian and being a Christian. This makes hearing the word of the kingdom take on a much broader application.
Jesus presents four ways in which people hear the word.
The wayside was a hard packed walkway. In Palestine, a garden was very different than what we have now. Typically, a garden is a plot of land, usually a rectangle, and you till the ground and you kneel down and plant your seeds in rows.
In Palestine during the days of Jesus, sowers would have their plot of land, and they would have these walkways made of compacted dirt from which they would sow seeds.
As they would toss seeds out into the cultivated ground from the wayside (walkway), some of the scattered seeds would fall on the the wayside itself. Because the wayside was compacted dirt, the seeds could not penetrate the ground. Instead, the birds would come snatch the seeds up.
This is what happens to some who are hearing the word. They listen to the Bible with hard and stubborn hearts.
There are some people who, upon hearing the word, are receptive to the gospel. They hear it with joy, and they act on the commandments of God and become Christians. They take their new found faith and they begin living it.
Suddenly they realize that it is not so easy. They are excited about this message of hope and they take it to the world and the world is not interested. In fact, they may even mock him for it. They become a Christian and immediately they are at war with the world and with Satan as the prince of this world. They begin to feel the pressure and persecution because of the world.
There are people who were once faithful members of the Lord’s church who will now no longer walk into an assembly of the Lord’s people, who have abandoned the whole concept of God and Christ and are living according to the way of the world, all because they could not handle the difficulties and challenges of being a Christian. They just could not hold up under the pressure that comes from remaining faithful to Bible based principles.
Are you a Christian? How strong of a Christian are you? Have you ever compromised what you believe because it was too difficult to stay true to what was right?
The “cares of this world” refers to problems. However, these problems are different than the tribulation and persecution mentioned in verse 21. Those problems came as a direct result of the word. Those problems involved persecution that came from the world who was opposed to what the Bible says. The cares of this word in verse 22 refer to problems in general.
Life is hard. Problems are going to come. Too often Christians who were once faithful will allow the problems of life to pull them away from God. When problems arise, it is our Bible based faith and trust in God that will be the only thing that gets us through.
The “deceitfulness of riches” refer to having a love of money. Whether it is the pursuit of money or the possession of money, there are some who put their trust in money instead of God. They will say that they don’t need God anymore. They have all that they need in their bank account or my portfolio. So they either become lazy in their responsibilities toward God or they give them up entirely.
There are some who hear the word, but will allow the world to literally choke the Bible’s teachings out of their heart.
Some hear the word with an honest heart. Is this not the way we all ought to be when hearing the word? We must read our Bibles with an honest heart. Be honest with ourselves. Let it craft our character.
When we read our bibles we need to make sure that we are listening well. How well do you listen?
If you are not a Christian, I hope that you have listened with a good and honest heart and being honest with yourself see your need for the blood of Jesus.