Parable of the Sower: Superficial Hearers, Part 1

“‘The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away’” (Matthew 13:20–21).

Shallow acceptance of the gospel can be encouraged by shallow evangelism that promises blessings of salvation but ignores the costs of discipleship. If people just “make a decision” for Jesus Christ without accepting all His claims on their lives, they can become insulated from genuine salvation.

When superficial hearers first hear the gospel, they have a euphoric religious experience, believing that at last God has met their felt needs. They are often zealous and energetic in church activities and eager to tell others about their new happiness.

But sadly for such people, all the change is superficial rather than deep-down in the heart. Their feelings are changed, but not their souls. There is no repentance, mourning over sin, or humility, which is the first trait of real conversion (cf. Matt. 5:3). Such a person has placed his or her religious house on the sand, and when the storms of trials and persecution come, the house crumbles and washes away (Matt. 7:26–27).

For the superficial hearer, God’s truth has penetrated only the edge of the mind, but not the heart. That is why, when the high cost of salvation does confront the person, the gospel can be as quickly renounced as it was once seemingly accepted. Spiri-tual reality has no root and thus can’t produce true spiritual fruit, which as Jesus soon makes clear, is the only sure evidence of a transformed life.

Ask Yourself
How can you come closer to ensuring that those with whom you share your Christian faith are not given the impression that salvation is a quick, emotional, unthinking decision?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610


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