The Wayside of The World And The Wayside in The Church (Zacharias T. Fomum)
Some of the seed that the sower sowed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
Th Bible says these are those who, when the word is sown,
“when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them” (Mark 4:15).
“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path” (Matthew 13:19).
“The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12).
As we have said, the Holy Spirit sows the gospel in the hearts of people and not just in their minds. Because He does this, all types of people hear the gospel. Very learned professors hear it as well as very simple-minded people. Their mind capacities vary. However, in receiving the gospel, the university professor has no advantage over the simple-minded villager. This is because the gospel is sown by the Holy Spirit and He does not deal principally with the mind, but with the heart. The professor and villager must both receive the gospel into their hearts. The Holy Spirit sows the gospel into both hearts. The professor has no advantage over the villager as far as the condition of his heart is concerned because of his learning. The heart is not educated towards God by philosophy, mathematics, chemistry, or any such thing. All hearts have the same capacity to receive the Word that is sown.
So the Word is sown in both hearts. Now, what will make the difference is the heart of the professor and that of the villager. As we have said, neither of them has any advantage or disadvantage because of much learning or none at all. The only difference comes from what the condition of their hearts is. That condition influences what they do with the Word that is sown in their hearts.
They are both able to receive the Word that is sown. They can respond. They can hide the Word in their hearts. They can let God have all of their being. They have heard the Word. God has been fair. They can both receive it with a good and honest heart, or they can refuse to receive it. If they receive it, they will hide it in their hearts and that will make the Word unavailable to Satan. They do not receive it. They do not incorporate it into their being. They do not hide it. They make it an intellectual exercise and begin to argue and analyze. The Bible says,
“Although they knew God they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal or man or birds or animals or reptiles” (Romans 1:21-23).
They make the knowing of God something purely intellectual, whereas it is, first of all, something of the heart and only secondarily, something of the mind. The Lord Jesus said,
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4: 23-24).
True worship is an act of the spirit (of the heart) and all in whose hearts the Holy Spirit has imparted God’s life can worship God, regardless of the differences in their mind power. This worship is the spontaneous flow of the human heart towards God.
Those whose hearts are like the roadside will not respond to the Word of God. They let the devil come and snatch it away. The Word of God talks of the Word being snatched from their hearts. This implies that the devil took it away suddenly or took it away through guile. There are those who do not intend to reject the Word of the Lord. However, when they hear it, they do not do anything about it. They do not obey. They postpone taking any decision and then the devil comes and snatches the Word that was sown. There are others who reject it forthwith. God is too much of a threat to their independence. He is too much of an interferer and they do not want Him. A university teacher once told me, “When I was studying in the United States, I had too many conflicts between what I did and what the Bible said. There was so much conflict that I was miserable. I then decided to declare that God was dead. I did and then peace came to my soul. I could do anything I wanted with a good conscience from that day on. It has been well with my soul. It is well with my soul.” He had allowed the devil to take away the seed that was sown. He still goes to “church” but his heart is the wayside heart. It became the wayside heart by a deliberate act on his part, and God sealed his decision.
The real problem is that there are such downright unbelievers even in a church where the gospel is preached faithfully by people on whom the Holy Spirit has fallen. Such people are there to seek one advantage or another. It could be that they came there because:
1. They were having financial problems
2. They were having marital problems
3. They wanted to be healed
4. And all the others.
They do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God; rather, they believe in Him as a Miracle-Worker and want
a miracle from Him. They doubt the Word of God. They doubt the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They wonder if the Bible is true. They wonder if there is life after death. Today they believe, tomorrow they doubt, and the third day they believe.
Their hearts are hardened towards God. They may carry out the outward motions of Bible reading and prayer and may even say some things about what God has done for them, but they have no communion with God. There is no life-union between them and the Life-Giver.
The devil has already snatched the seed that was sown in their hearts. If they were immoral people, they continue to practise their immorality in secret. If they were moral people, they continue to be moral. If they were religious, they continue to be religious. They may even become very religious. Meanwhile, it is dark in their hearts. They use their wills, minds and feelings to carry out a religious life that is not rooted in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. They may even grow to positions of responsibility in the visible church, but they have never been transformed by the Lord Jesus. They may tell you of the day they “decided for Christ” or the day they accepted Him, but it was all something of the intellect, will and emotion. They were never truly converted. They never received a new heart and a new spirit from the Lord. They are lost but are in the “church”.
Everyone who hears the Word is under duty to receive it and to hide it in his heart. He is under duty to cry out to God, saying, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner that I am.” He is under duty to ensure that his so-called spiritual experience not something purely intellectual or of his will or emotions. The Lord Jesus said, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.
”For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him” (John 6:63-64).
I find one thing that is disturbing in many churches that I have attended. Immediately after the service is ended, regardless of the message that was preached, believers immediately get into worldly talking. Things that are not related to the message are thrown into the air and the minds of many poisoned. It is therefore not surprising that the devil immediately snatches the Word away. It is even more worrying when a believer has been witnessing to an unbeliever. No sooner has he told him about the Lord and the need to repent and believe the gospel than the believer now turns and fills the unbeliever with useless talk about the inflation, corruption... of the day. Is there any surprise that the seed does not germinate? As we have said, the things that are on a person’s heart will come out in his speech. Those who have money, worldly gain, politics... on their hearts, will have these things flow out even after a moving sermon. The crucial need then is for a believer to truly ensure that the foreskin of his heart has been circumcised by the Lord, and then he will witness and follow it up with a godly life. Unless a deep work has taken place to transform the heart, there is really no quality on his witnessing. There can be attempts made to discipline the lips, but lasting results are produced when the heart is brought under control. Lord, do this in all Your children. Amen.