"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Should Christians Support the New Pope? | Main | Everyone Believes the Atonement is Limited »

    The Parable of the Four Soils?

    Visitor: The Scripture is excessively clear that apostasy from authentic salvation is real. The texts are far too many to express here. However, I will mention one that I wrote my masters thesis on (my masters degree is in New Testament with an emphasis in Greek - I went to both a reformed and baptist seminary). In the parable of the soils, a parable that is the first of Jesus' parables in each of the synoptics and explained by Jesus, he says satan comes to take the seed from the first heart SO THAT the person will not have faith (pistos) and be saved (sozo) - obviously faith would have resulted in salvation. The second soil, Jesus uses the exact words to describe a person who believed (pistos = which equals salvation) ...who believed for a while, but the apostatizes (aphistemi). This is a person who was saved for a time, but CHOSE to apostatize when trials came. Similar language is used for the next soil. Only the fourth soil is indicative of someone who is saved, and the onus is clearly on the one being saved to persevere. Obviously, so much more could be said...but not now. Peace friends. Than

    Response: First of all there is PLENTLY of spurious faith out there among so-called Christians. I have an essay here on the visible vs. invisible church which discusses this topic.

    I wish to also say this with respect but the interpretation of the four soils offered above is appalling. What it appears you are in fact teaching is salvation by works. Some people just happened to be born good (or have made their own "soil" good) while others are not. Is this really what makes people to differ? Those with naturally good hearts (good soil) believe and are fruitful and persevere; those who are wicked are unfruitful and fall away. But who do you think makes the soil good to begin with? The Farmer! He plows up the fallow ground that it would be good a receive the seed and be fruitful. Anyone from an agrarian society would have known this. The bad soil is the soil which the Farmer left to ITSELF. This parable is not about showing that some people have natively good soil, as you contend. Or that the soil somehow magically made itself "good". No one has good "soil" apart from God granting it (John 6:65). Did someone simply will themselves to be "good soil" and so bore fruit? Such teaching is, in fact, rank heresy and honestly has no place in the Christian faith. Where is Christ in all this? The emphasis on the parable is not where you are placing it.

    Next, if one can lose his salvation, as you contend, then you implicitly believe there are some of your sins for which Christ did not die. That your faithfulness somehow makes up for where Jesus' work falls short. So do we maintain our own just standing before God then. Thank the Lord for Jesus who provides EVERYTHING we need for salvation including a new heart to believe (1 Pet 1:3) and persevere. Left to myself (even partly) I would fail to persevere. Thank the Lord that He preserves us as well, or we would have no hope to do so. Our right standing before God is based on HIS FAITHFULNESS, not ours.

    "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." 1 Thess 5:23, 24

    Posted by John on March 24, 2013 08:27 PM


    If we read the parable closely, it is not actually the soil that represents the people anyway - it is the plant that grows as a result of the seed being sown. So I think the goodness or badness of the soil is more a statement about the situation of the person, rather than the state of their heart. This only reinforces the sovereignty of God in salvation; to some the word comes and confirms their hardness - be it through outright rejection or a nominal involvement in a church where they may sincerely believe they are a Christian; to others, those whom God chooses, and has prepared for the reception of the Gospel, the word brings life and fruitfulness.

    it will not grow unless The Lord causes it to grow (1 Cor. 3:6).

    I don't understand the equating of works with faith when John says "What it appears you are in fact teaching is salvation by works." Believing/faith are clearly separated from works in the New Testament. Salvation comes by faith in Christ, not by works of the law.


    Perhaps you have misunderstood. The parable teaches that it is the quality of the soil which determines whether or not it bears fruit. Good or bad. Did you believe because you were, by nature good? Better than others? Was your soil just naturally better than others? The soil can not choose its nature, therefore it can not choose its fruit.

    As such you would be saying that you can ascribe your repenting and believing to your own wisdom, sound judgment or good sense and not to Christ alone.

    We both agree that faith is not a work since it points away from self to Christ for salvation, but you make it into a work when you declare that it is self-generated apart from grace alone. Jesus does not allow for your position John 6:63-65 he says "The Spirit gives life the flesh counts for nothing... that is why I told you that no one can come to me UNLESS God grants it." and in verse 37 of the same passage he says "All that the Father gives me will come to me."

    You position still ends up as a work since you distort the meaning of faith and render it something you must come up with apart from grace.

    The Scripture declares
    It is "because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:30

    I am not reformed though I really have been trying to learn as much as I can so I can believe to be saved. I am confused about the soil.

    If we are saved simply from putting trust in Christ's sacrifice and our works have nothing to add to our final justification, then why is it possible that the cares of this world chocked up one of the seeds?

    If it is simply trusting him for justification then it should not matter what cares of the world we have they can not take away our belief.

    It says it made it unfruitful which seems to imply works were absent and necessary but the person was too busy with fishing and boating to worry about living for God.

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