4: The Parable Of The
A Vital Parable
The records of this parable have a
common three part sequence: firstly, the actual parable, secondly
a discussion concerning the principles of Christ's parables, and
finally our Lord's interpretation of the sower parable. The fact
that the explanation concerning the importance of parables occurs
in the sower context suggests that Christ saw this parable as an
epitome of all those he told. The principle of interpreting each
major element of the parable within a similar context is eloquently
demonstrated by the Lord's unravelling of his story about the sower.
Because of this, it is understandable that Jesus should be so concerned
at the disciples' inability to grasp this principle: "Know ye not
this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?" (Mk.4:13).
Our Lord's enthusiasm for us to interpret the sower parable for
ourselves comes out well in Lk.8:8: "When he had said these things
(the parable with the interpretation), he cried, He that
hath ears to hear, let him hear". The disciples' response "What
might (indicating intellectual desperation?) this parable
be?" (Lk.8:9) would have been a cutting anti-climax for the Lord
after his impassioned plea. As a further motivation to understand
this parable, Jesus comments that "many prophets and righteous men
(who had spent a lifetime associated with God's word) have desired
to see (understand) those things which ye see, and have not seen
them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and
have not heard them. Hear ye therefore the parable of the
sower" (Mt.13:17,18). The things which those Old Testament worthies
so desired to understand were the principles concerning the operation
of God's word which the sower parable explains. Grasping the fact
that our understanding of these principles is something that Enoch,
Samuel, David, Jeremiah etc. longed to be honoured with,
but were denied, should give a special verve to our desire to "hear...therefore
the parable of the sower". Jesus cited correctly understanding this
parable as an example of "more abundance" being given to those who
already had a basic grasp of the Gospel (Mt.13:12).
The Sower And The Seed
"The seed is the word of God" (Lk.8:11),
i.e. the word of the Gospel of the Kingdom (Mt.13:19). The parable
gives the impression that the ground was in a certain condition
when the seed was first sown; there seems no hint at the possibility
of changing the ground, although we will see later that there is
a sense in which this is possible. The stony ground, for example,
is in that state as soon as the seed lands upon it. It seems that
Jesus is showing us how God looks down upon the preaching of the
Gospel to various people, seeing that He speaks about things which
are future as if they are already (Rom.4:17). He knows the type
of ground which each of us will ultimately be. Therefore, as far
as God is concerned, we are good ground, or whatever, at the time
of our first encounter with the Gospel, even if we are initially
stony or thistle-filled.
The types of ground clearly represent
those who hear the word, sown by Christ as the sower. However, our
relationship with Jesus through his word is not confined to our
initial receipt of the basic Gospel. The sower kept on sowing (so
the Greek tenses imply), showing that all through our spiritual
lives we continually hear the word and have the opportunity to respond
to it in the various ways which the sower parable describes. Thus
the parable finds just as much fulfilment at a fraternal gathering
where the word of Christ is spoken, as at an open air preaching
meeting or in a mass distribution of tracts. Sometimes a facet of
God's word takes a permanent hold on part of our life, bringing
forth regular spiritual fruit in this aspect; other things which
are taught by the word go only skin deep, and for various reasons
"bring no fruit to perfection".
It should be noted that "the word"
in the parable evidently refers to the word of the Gospel. This
shows that the powerful, new life-creating power of God's word is
through an understanding of the basic principles of the Gospel.
Everything which we read from the word is part of the Gospel in
this sense; our responsibility to God does not therefore just reach
a fixed point at baptism, after having known the basic principles,
but increases with our continued understanding of the word. In this
sense there is no division between the "first principles" and the
strong meat of the word. The "strong meat" is related to the first
principles. Abstract, Bible-related philosophy which is unrelated
to our first principles will therefore not result in real spiritual
growth. It is for this reason that other churches which hold false
basic principles are unable to grow spiritually from their Bible
study. A proper appreciation of this would silence the reasoning
that 'people in the other churches' seem so 'spiritual', therefore
their doctrinal basis cannot be fundamentally wrong.
On the contrary, "seeing ye have purified
your souls in obeying the truth (accepting the basic doctrines)...see
that ye (continue) being born again, not of corruptible seed, but
of incorruptible, by the word of God...and this is the word which
by the Gospel (true basic doctrines) is preached unto you" (1 Pet.1:22-25).
Note the continuous tense of "is", remembering that Peter
is writing to those already converted. The once off act of intercourse
and begettal, whereby the seed or sperm initiates new life, is here
spoken of in the continuous sense. Similarly, a sower sowing seed
is a once-off act, yet the parable has an ongoing application. Human
"seed" and begettal is "corruptible" (1 Pet.1:23)- i.e. the offspring
does not have the exact character of the person from whom the seed
originated. Yet God's seed is "incorruptible" in that it will eventually
result in our being brought forth in the exact image of God after
the judgment, when we are fully born of Spirit nature. This is because
"the word (seed) of God...liveth and abideth for ever", i.e. God's
word can have constant intercourse with us, constantly creating
us after the image of our spiritual Father. In like manner our relationship
with Christ throughout the eternal ages of the Kingdom is described
in terms of a wedding feast and subsequent consummation. Both those
actions are desperately finite and time-bounded in our experience;
but the intensity of fulfilment of those moments will go with us
throughout the Kingdom. There will not be a peak of joy experienced
at our initial acceptance at judgment which then slightly tails
off; this will be a constant joy and level of fulfilment such as
we can only momentarily experience now.
"This is the word which by the Gospel
is preached unto you" shows that the language of preaching
can be used concerning our relationship with God's word both before
and after baptism. Likewise, the sower parable has dual reference
to the preaching of God's word to both believers and unbelievers.
The relationship between the basic
doctrines of the Gospel and "the word of God" which comes to us
through them has a number of practical implications. Study of the
basic doctrines should be a regular feature amongst us; weekly Bible
lectures provide an ideal opportunity for this. It has been correctly
noted that "a good lecture does us as much good as an exhortation".
Those who bleat "But we know all this!" evidently fail to
understand the relationship between spiritual growth and the fundamental
elements of the Gospel. Those who give the public Bible addresses
need to spare the time to make their presentation flexible, so that
in the absence of those who are unfamiliar with basic doctrine,
the ecclesia can be led into a deeper analysis of those doctrines,
whilst drawing associated devotional lessons. A few simple examples
should make the point:
of God; His nature; God manifestation
relationship with God as a Father; the wonder of it.
Divine and human sides of Jesus.
of forgiveness; Jesus' sympathy for us.
teaching contrasted with false conceptions.
satan- an Angel?
the source of our trials- no other power can touch us.
of soul and spirit "spirits of just men"?
of resurrection; personal recognition in the Kingdom?
The Gospel records give more information
about the day on which Christ told the sower parable than concerning
almost any other in his ministry, with the exception of the crucifixion
(compare Mt.12:22-13:23; Lk.11:27; Mk.4:10). Various types of people
heard his words; the immediate context in Mt.13:2 is that "great
multitudes were gathered together unto him". The parable of the
differing types of ground which were for the most part unresponsive
to the seed therefore refer to the various reception given to Christ's
sowing when he first "went forth to sow" in his ministry.
Jesus spoke the parable of the sower
so that the Jews "by hearing...shall hear, and...not understand"
(Mt.13:14), which is quoting from Is. 6:9,10 concerning Israel hearing
the preaching of Jesus during his ministry. This would explain the
present tenses in Mk.4:14-20: "These are they by the way
side...these are they...which are sown...". The picture
of fowls coming down to take away the seed is firmly rooted in a
host of Old Testament passages which speak of fowls descending on
apostate Israel (Is.18:6; Jer.7:33; 15:3; 16:4; 19:7; 34:20). These
birds taking away the seed are interpreted as "the wicked one" (the
Biblical devil) 'catching away' the word. There must be a thought
connection here with Jesus' comment that from him who would not
understand the sower parable "shall be taken away even that
he hath" (Mt.13:12). Those who would not make the mental effort
to grapple with Christ's parable had what understanding they did
have snatched away by the Jewish devil. "The wicked one" responsible
for this easily connects with "the devil" of the parable of the
tares which follows; this parable has frequently been interpreted
with reference to Jewish false teachers of the first century. "The
wicked one...catcheth away" the seed/word, as the Jewish wolf "catcheth"
the sheep (Mt.13:19; Jn.10:12). This association of the first century
Jewish system with the wolf/ wild beast/ devil/ wicked one is probably
continued by some of the beasts of Revelation having a similar Jewish
application in the first century.
In his justification of confusing the
Jews through the sower parable, Jesus twice lamented that they did
not understand(Mt.13:13,14). He was basically saying that
the Jews were the bad ground in the parable; the fowls snatched
away the seed because they did not understand (Mt.13:19).
By contrast, those on the good ground did understand (Mt.13:23).
Those who heard the word "and anon with joy receiveth it" only to
later fall away (Mt.13:20,21) approximate to the Jews who initially
rejoiced at the word of Christ preached by John and later Jesus
himself (Jn.5:35). "The care of this world" (Mt.13:22) must primarily
refer to the Jewish world. It is quite possible that our Lord's
sad prophecy of the disciples being offended because of having to
identify with his sufferings looked back to this parable, concerning
those who impulsively respond to the word in joy, but are offended
because they have no deep root (Mk.4:17 = Mk.14:27; Mt.26:31). The
fact that the disciples became good ground after this encourages
us that we can change the type of ground which we are on initially
receiving the seed.
The practical outcome of all this is
that the attitude of natural Israel to God's word and the preaching
of Christ can be our attitude, if we approximate to the bad types
of ground. The Jews knew some true principles, reading the word
often (Acts 15:21; Jn.5:45); but they failed to let the message
penetrate more than skin deep (Lk.16:29; Jn.5:39), so that the word
of God meant nothing to them in practice.
It is our attitude to God's word which
is the fundamental indicator of our spirituality. The sower parable
teaches this by its equation of the seed/ word and the types of
ground. In the next (but related) parable of the tares, "the good
seed are the children of the Kingdom" (Mt.13:38)- i.e. the seed/
word is people. In the sower parable, we read of "He which received
seed by the way side" (Mt.13:19), connecting the believer with a
type of ground which receives the seed, whilst Lk.8:12,13 speak
of the people as the seeds rather than the types of ground: "Those
(seeds) by the way side are they...they on the rock are they...".
Mt.13:19 speaks of people receiving seed by the way side, but Mk.4:15
likens their heart to the way side, where the seed was sown.
In God's sight, a person is his heart or way of thinking
(Prov.23:7); and to God, a person's attitude to the word is
his mind. Conscious self-examination of our attitude to God's word
should surely be an outcome of studying this sower parable- or,
better, the parable of the types of ground.
Seeds By The Way Side
"Some seeds fell by the way side, and
the fowls came and devoured them up...when any one heareth the word
of the Kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked
one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart" (Mt.13:4,19).
This proves that sin, in its various
manifestations as a 'devil', can be resisted through an understanding
of the word. When there was no understanding of the word,
then the devil came. Likewise 1 Jn.5:18-20 teaches that those
who are born again by a true understanding of the word are not even
touched by the "wicked one". Mere knowledge of the word will not
necessarily stop the spiritual temptations; the word must be hid
in the heart to stop sin (Ps.119:11); not just left on the surface
of the soil. Those on the good ground both hear and understand
it (Mt.13:23), corresponding in the first instance to those who
heard the parables and understood them. There is no doubt that a
degree of intellectual effort is required to understand the word,
not least the parables. The Jews generally did not "hear with their
ears"- they did not respond or recognize the basic message of the
word, let alone go on to understand it. The fact that those by the
way side heard the word but did not go on to understand therefore
indicates that this type of ground refers to those who are in some
sense knowers of the truth. We will see by and by that there is
good reason to apply all the types of ground to those who in some
way respond to the Gospel, rather than to the world at large.
A closer look at the Greek suggests
more reason for thinking that those by the way side were once believers,
rather than just fascinated receivers of a preaching tract. The
fowls "devoured...up" the seed by the way side, the Greek meaning
literally 'to eat down', showing that the seeds had started some
paltry attempt at growth. The wicked one therefore "catcheth away"
or 'pulls up' (Gk.) that which "was sown in his heart". However,
the fact that "Satan cometh immediately" to do this shows that the
time span is not long (Mk.4:15). It is possible that the three bad
types of ground refer to the speed at which the new convert falls
away; those on the way side fall quickly, those on stony ground
last a bit longer, enduring "for a time" (Mk.4:17), whilst those
among thorns do actually mature, only to be choked by their surroundings.
The reason for the way side growth
being so short lived was that the seed was "trodden down" (Lk.8:5).
This is a Biblical idiom for disdain and contempt (Jud.5:21; Is.14:19;
18:7; 28:3; Dan.8:13; Mic.7:10). A half hearted response to the
word, not really taking the truth seriously, is effectively to tread
it down in contempt. Yet such is the word's power that even a partial
response to it results in some growth- although in the final analysis,
even this is unacceptable. Mark's record goes on to include the
parable of the birds living in the big mustard tree, soon after
this of the sower. The tiny grain of mustard seed "is sown in the
earth", connecting with the sowing of the word/ seed. If it is in
the right ground, it develops into a huge tree "so that the fowls
of the air may lodge under the shadow of it" (Mk.4:31,32). The connection
with the wicked "fowls of the air" in the sower parable is evidently
intentional. Surely the message is that if we will only let the
word/ seed develop in our lives, those things which threaten to
take away our faith (i.e. the devil/ fowls) will then be completely
subordinate to us. Yet that tiny seed of the word is so easy to
despise, its potential power so heard to imagine and believe.
The fowls taking away the unfruitful
plant is the first of a number of connections with the true vine
parable of Jn.15, where the ideas of Divine husbandry, fruitfulness
due to the word and purging recur. In Jn.15:2 the fruitless branch
is taken away by God; in the sower parable, the birds remove the
fruitless plant. The conclusion is that God sends 'birds' of various
kinds to remove the spiritual deadwood from His ecclesia. It is
in this sense that false teaching (e.g. the Judaist "fowls" of the
first century) is allowed by God. Thus Lk.8:5 literally translated
speaks of "birds of Heaven".
Seeds On Stones
"Some seed 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...he
that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath
he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation
or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended"
Unlike the wayside ground, this person
had partial understanding of the word, as well as just hearing it.
He "received" the word, which a comparison of Mt.13:23 with Mk.4:20
indicates refers to understanding. The abnormal speed of growth
was "because they had no deepness of earth".This quick springing
up is interpreted by Jesus as "joy". The emotion of joy is probably
one of the most deceptive. The implication is that the plant on
the good ground grew up slower, therefore having a less ecstatic
joy to begin with. True spiritual joy therefore takes a long time
to achieve. The kind of joy Jesus speaks of here must be in some
ways different from the instant joy of the man who finds the treasure
of the Gospel for the first time (Mt.13:44). There is a place
for this ecstatic joy- "unless a man is emotionally moved by the
truth, he is not of the truth" (R.R.). But the stony places man
failed to realize that this alone would not tide him into the Kingdom.
Those who seek to keep the ecclesia on a permanent level of this
ecstatic joy would do well to realize that true spiritual joy is
only developed by a prolonged growth based upon the word; and this
joy cannot be forced upon others. In practice, a sensitive choice
of songs and hymns in ecclesial meetings could help to achieve a
The ecstatic joy was due to having
"no deepness of earth". The Greek for "deepness" is normally used
concerning spiritual deepness. Ecstatic joy is more often associated
with a lack of this, according to the parable, than with a depth
of faith. We can have a certain joy whilst still being stony ground.
By the same token, true spiritual depth will be expressed by a slow
growth of true joy. We each need to ask ourselves whether our joy
is really growing. "Earth" usually refers to the flesh; the seed
of the word must penetrate deep within the flesh for there to be
true growth and joy. The word only going skin deep will mean that
there will be a lack of moisture in drought (Lk.8:6). Rain is a
symbol of doctrine, i.e. the word (Dt.32:2; Is.55:10). By letting
the word/ seed sink deep within our flesh, we will have more spiritual
reserve of the word to draw upon in times of difficulty. There may
be the implication that soon after conversion, there will be spiritual
temptation- as happened to Israel after their Red Sea baptism, and
as has been proved true in so many probations.
Luke's record says that the seeds "fell
upon a rock" (Lk.8:6) but failed to put down deep roots. This idea
of failing to build deeply upon a rock sends the mind racing to
the parable of the wise and foolish builders (Mt.7:24-28). The quick-build
shack on the sand connects with the unusually fast growth of the
plant on stony ground. The reason for the quick construction was
a failure to hear Christ's sayings and do them, through hacking
away at our stony heart to let the word penetrate. The same parable
puts the stress on hearing and understanding, whilst the
parallel parable speaks of hearing and doing. We can conclude
that true intellectual understanding of the word must inevitably
result in action. Having "no root in themselves" (Mk.4:17) is equated
with not making the effort to hack away at our stony heart to let
the word of God build a foundation. The root is therefore another
symbol of word; it is quite possible to show superficial spiritual
development without this root being put down at all. "The root"
is a Biblical symbol for the inner self (Rom.11:16,17; Mt.3:10;
Job 19:28; Is.14:29). Our very inner being, the root of our consciousness,
must be the word. This is unachievable without hours of back-breaking
The house built on sand was destroyed
by a flood, an oft used type of the second coming and day of judgment.
The equivalent in the sower parable is "when the sun was up...they
were scattered" (Mt.13:6). The sun is a symbol of both Christ's
return and also of "tribulation or persecution! (Mt.13:21). It seems
that Jesus is teaching that our response to the word now is in effect
our judgment seat; if we do not properly grow by it, in time of
trial (the sun rising) we will spiritually die. Therefore when "the
sun of righteousness" arises (Mal.4:2) at the day of judgment, we
will be "scorched" or 'burnt up' (Gk.). There are other examples
of where a man's attitude to God's word in this life indicates his
position at judgment day (e.g. Acts 13:46). In the same way as we
call upon a reserve of word-developed spirituality in time of trial
(the "moisture" of the parable), so we will at judgment day.
"Because they had no root, they withered
away" (Mt.13:6) is alluded to in Jn.15:6 concerning the branches
of the vine withering as a result of God's word not abiding in them.
The connection between the plants of the sower parable and the branches
of the vine is further evidence that the sower parable mainly concerns
the response to the word of those within the ecclesia.
Choked By Thorns
"Some fell among thorns; and the thorns
sprang up, and choked them...the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness
of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful" (Mt.13:7,22).
Thorns were symbolic of false teachers
in the Old Testament ecclesia (Ez.2:6; Is.33:12-14). It is a repeated
theme that thorns are devoured by fire (Ex.22:6; Ps.118:12; Ecc.7:6;
Is.10:17), looking ahead to the destruction of all false elements
of the ecclesia. The thorns easily equate with the tares of the
next parable, which represent false teachers (primarily the Judaist
infiltrators of the first century ecclesia). It would seem from
this that some members of the ecclesia are never right with God,
but exist purely for the spiritual trial of others; although it
cannot be over-emphasized that it is quite wrong to attempt to label
individuals as this 'thorn' element. Thus Jesus pointed out that
grapes (the true Israel) and thorns can be apparently similar (Mt.7:16),
but "Ye shall know them by their fruits". The thorns of the
sower parable and those they influenced were "unfruitful". However,
seeing that "the thorns sprang up with it" (Lk.8:7), there
was some genuine spiritual growth, matched by the appearance of
this among the thorns too. Heb.6:8 likewise speaks of the thorns
as believers who grew up within the ecclesia. This indicates the
dual-mindedness of those who only partially commit themselves to
the word; knowledge like this should play an active part in our
self-examination. Because the thorns outwardly look like true believers,
having an outward appearance of spiritual growth even more zealous
and strong than that of the plants which they choke, it is impossible
to personally identify the "thorns"; but there can be no doubt that,
according to the parable, they must be present among the
The seed "fell among thorns"
(Mt.13:7), showing that this thorn category were already within
the ecclesia when the person who was to be choked was converted.
We have shown that Biblically the thorns are false teachers; yet
Jesus interprets them as "the care (Gk. 'divisions'- the double
mindedness of serving two masters) of this world, and the deceitfulness
of riches" (Mt.13:22). The conclusion to be drawn is that the false
teachers are responsible for the new convert being choked by these
things. Mk.4:19 says that these lusts enter into the convert's heart.
Therefore the thorns must influence the person's thinking, so that
he follows after these things until "he becometh unfruitful". The
Greek for "choked" is from a root meaning 'association, companionship'.
Marshall's Interlinear renders the Greek text of Lk.8:7 in keeping
with this idea: "Growing up with the thorns choked it". Thus it
is through close association with the thorn element already in the
ecclesia, that the new convert who enters it is corrupted. We each
have to ask 'What type of ground are we as an ecclesia? Do I
have thorn elements to me...?'
"Choked" implies something ongoing,
a process. This is further proof that the sower parable is not concerning
any one-off incident of preaching, but speaks of the on-going response
to the word in the heart of the believer. In practice, we can each
have 'thorny' elements within us personally, not least through failing
to appreciate the great influence which our example has over new
converts. Subconscious pressure to take a high flying job, the careless
use of alcohol, the display of wealth in the name of spirituality,
all these are expression of thorn activity. There are no shortage
of examples of believers in high pressure jobs, saddled with hefty
mortgage payments and demanding wives, whose attendance at Bible
class slips, whose personal study of the word slips into once a
week, then just to knock out a Bible class, then just a dive into
a commentary when an address comes up. The word is choked, "and
he becometh unfruitful", partly due to the subtle pressure of others
in the ecclesia upon him. The same slippery slope could be outlined
for sisters, indeed for all of us in the various stages of life.
We can never underestimate the influence of each other upon our
response to the word.
The word becoming unfruitful in Mt.13:22
is matched by it yielding "no fruit" (Mk.4:7) and no fruit being
perfected in Lk.8:14. The conclusion from this is that spiritual
fruit which is developed but does not remain is not really fruit
at all. There is the constant temptation for us to recognize just
a bit of apparent 'growth' within us, and feel satisfied with it-
rather than taking on board the concept of the word having a fulness
of effect upon every part of our lives. Given the lesson of the
thorns, there is no doubt that one must watch their friends even
within the ecclesia. "Thorns and snares are in the way of the forward:
he that doth keep (the Hebrew for "keep" is often used in Proverbs
about keeping the word) his soul shall be far from them" (Prov.22:5).
The language of thorns must connect with the curse upon Eden; the
ecclesia, the paradise of God, must always have its thorns in order
to spiritually exercise Adam, the spiritual gardener. As our brother's
keeper, we need to be aware that after conversion, a whole gamut
of new temptations face the convert. After he has heard the
word, he is choked with the cares, riches and pleasures (Lk.8:14).
Yet these things existed before he heard the word; the point is
that they became new temptations after his response to the word.
A concerted effort to understand, with Biblical guidance, the pressures
upon new converts might help save a few more of the many which are
The Good Ground
The word/ seed which fell into good
ground produced fruit. Thus connects with Jn.15:5,7, which says
that the branches of the vine bring forth fruit through the word
abiding in them. Likewise the good ground keeps the word and continually
brings forth fruit (Lk.8:15). It is common for us to learn something
from the word, apply it for a few days, and then forget it. Yet
surely the implication is that if our hearts are truly open to the
word, it will have permanent effects upon us, if the word abides
in us. For this reason it is necessary to pray at least daily for
our minds to be good ground for the word, and to retain what we
already comprehend. Those on the good ground who hear and understand
in Mt.13:23 are described as those who hear and keep the word (Lk.8:16).
True understanding of the word's teaching is therefore related to
an ongoing practical application of it. We may read a human book
and understand it at the moment of reading; understanding God's
word is quite a different concept. Truly understanding it means
keeping it in our heart and therefore in our lives.
The seed fell on good ground, "sprang
up, and bare fruit"; indeed, it kept on bearing fruit (Lk.8:8,15).
The plant being sown was therefore a repeating crop. True response
to the word will lead to wave after wave of spiritual progression.
Again, we see that the sower parable is describing an ongoing response
to the word- it keeps on being sown by the believer keeping the
word, and fruit is continuously brought forth. Mk.4:8 adds the significant
detail that it was the fruit that the plant yielded which
"sprung up and increased". The picture is of a plant bringing forth
seeds which themselves germinate into separate plants and bear fruit.
This can be interpreted in two ways:
1) True spiritual development in our
lives is a cumulative upward spiral; successfully developing spiritual
fruit leads to developing yet more.
2) The new plants which come out of
our fruit refer to our converts, both from the world and those within
the ecclesia whom we help to yield spiritual fruit. There is another
link here with the parable of the vine bearing fruit: "I have chosen
you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth
fruit, and that your fruit should remain" (Jn.15:8,16). This connects
with Christ's command to them to go into the world preaching
the Gospel and thereby making converts. In this sense our spiritual
fruiting is partly through our bringing others to glorify God through
the development of a God-like character. It is in this context of
using the word for preaching and personal spiritual development
that we receive the glorious encouragement "that whatsoever ye shall
ask of the Father in my name, he (will) give it you" (Jn.15:7,16).
Every believer who truly strives to
bring forth fruit to God's glory, both in preaching to others and
in personal character development, will find this promise constantly