Greg Laurie — The Parable of Spiritual Growth
Have you ever lost something and searched endlessly for it? I lost my iPhone the other day. How many of you have an iPhone? How many of you have an android type phone? Get out. I am kidding. I don't care. They are all good. How many of you don't even have a smartphone? It is just a regular phone. How many of you don't have a cell phone at all? You may be the smartest people here. I lost my iPhone and I looked everywhere for it. I could not find it. There is this feature called find my phone. I went to it and I set it up. Then this little screen appears. It shows you right where it is. I hit the little thing so it would ping. It was eight feet from where I was sitting. I dropped it in the cushion of the chair. I mentioned that to my son Jonathan. He said, "I have been even worse than that. I did it and it was in my shirt pocket".
I also find, guys, a little tip for you find my phone is also good as a feature find my wife. I don't know if this is true of all women but my wife tends to leave her phone on mute. She always has a good reason. "Cathe why is your phone never on"? "Well it was on mute from church last night". That is a good reason to mute your phone. If you hit that iPhone feature find my phone it will go off chiming. She can't stop it. It is going to beep no matter where it is. We can change that to find my wife. Wow you are a little sensitive. The way you reacted was a little hostile frankly I felt that.
We have all lost something. We certainly have lost our car at the mall. All of those alarm buttons are good for is finding your car in the mall. We have lost things. Guess what? When you lose something you search for it until you find it. God searches too. God doesn't lose things like we do. Of course he knows where everything is, where everyone is. Yet he is searching for people who want to grow spiritually. He is looking for fertile receptive soil where he can plant the seed of the Word of God. Soil in which his word can take root. God is not going to force his truth into your life. God doesn't force feed us. He wants us to desire it.
Over in Peter it says, "As newborn babes earnestly desire the Word of God". Healthy children are hungry children. If you are in good health you will be hungry. A spiritual appetite is a good sign of a mature Christian. You are hungry for the Word of God. Look at you guys. Where are you? You are here in church. You are here for a Bible study. I think that says a lot about you. God is looking for soil like you. He is looking for people that want to hear the Word of God. This is part of the series The Greatest Stories ever Told. This may be the most well-known parable Jesus ever told. Secondly it is also a parable that helps us to understand other parables that he told as well. This is the parable of spiritual growth. It addresses the issue of why some succeed and others fail in the spiritual life.
Have you ever wondered about that? Why is it some people will make an alleged commitment to Christ and just be transformed seemingly overnight? They go out and buy the biggest Bible you can purchase. It is not even for personal use. It is to put on a mantle. They carry it around. They show up at every church service. Every midweek service. They sing louder than everyone. They lift their hands higher than everyone. They are talking to everyone they know about Jesus. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere it would appear they just throw in the towel and say, "I am not into this anymore". Why does that happen? That is addressed here in the parable of spiritual growth.
Listen to this. We are the ones who decide what kind of soil our hearts will be. We decide if we are going to move forward spiritually or if we are going to go backwards spiritually. It is really up to us. God wants us to grow but we must want to grow as well. There is God's part and our part. Philippians 2:12 says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". That verse is often misunderstood. It doesn't say, "Work for your own salvation". You can't work for it. It is a gift of God. It says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". That phrase work out could better be translated, "Carry it to the goal and complete". The idea that it is conveying is sort of like going into a mine for gold. Go into that mine and get all of the gold out of it that you can. Carry it out. Complete it. God has saved us but now carry it out and complete it.
Then it goes on to say, "For it is God that works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure". It is all there. Human responsibility and divine sovereignty. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". Carry it to the goal and complete it. But is God that is working in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. There again is God's part and there is our part. The only we can make it as Christians is by the daily help of the Holy Spirit. Do you know what you need every day? You need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
You say, "Greg I have already been filled". Good. That would be like saying, "Greg I already put gas in my car six months ago. Why should I put more in"? Because your car won't move if you don't. Unless you have one of those electric cars. You have to keep refilling your car over and over. To the point even if you have an electric car you have to plug it in and recharge it. God wants to fill you over and over with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5 says, "Be filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs". Or from the Greek. "Be constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit". Alexander MaClaren said, "He who has the Holy Spirit in his heart and the Scripture in his hands has all that he needs".