Luke 8:4-8 (ESV)
4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable:
5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it.
6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.
7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.
8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Luke 8:9-15 (ESV)
9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant,
10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.
14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
As we continue our study of the parable of the sower, let us now turn our attention to the seed that was sown among the rocky soil. Jesus describes them as “those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in times of testing fall away” (Lk. 8:13). Matthew’s account records his explanation this way: “The one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away” (Matt. 13:20-21).
Christians, when we bring the gospel to lost souls, some of them will obey the gospel. They will “hear the word” and “receive it with joy.” These are not people who will outright reject the Word of God. No, they will respond by expressing their faith in Christ, their desire to repent of their sins, and their need to be baptized into Christ (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-41; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:1-5). That in itself is a wonderful event.
However — and please remember this if you remember nothing else from reading this, Christians — all new converts are, spiritually speaking, infants (cf. John 3:3-5; 1 Cor. 3:1-2; Heb. 5:11-14). Think of a physical infant. They are completely helpless. They can’t take care of themselves in any way. In fact, they don’t have the knowledge necessary to provide for their own needs in any way, not even in the simplest of ways. They need their parents to help them, and over time as they grow in strength and knowledge they come to be able, one step at a time, to provide for themselves. Christians, we do new converts a great disservice when we give them a hug after they come up out of the water, and then do little to nothing to help and guide them along this new path they’ve just started. Without further teaching, mentoring, and guidance from us, the new convert will fail to develop any “root in himself” (Matt. 13:20-21).
That makes their obedience of the gospel more emotional than anything else, when all is said and done. Remember, they had “received the word with joy,” as well they should have. Emotion has its place in the Christian religion. Yet emotion cannot on its own bring anyone to where God wants them to be. Without a strong biblical foundation — which they will only get from you and me, Christians, assuming we ourselves have grown in God’s Word as we should — their new faith will have no deep roots.
That being the case, what will happen when hardships arise in their lives, especially hardships that come specifically because they are Christians? What will happen when they are suddenly faced with being disowned by their family because they were baptized into Christ? What will happen when their friends begin to distance themselves once these new converts start “acting weird,” i.e., acting different from the world (cf. 1 Pet. 3:3-4)?
If their brand-new “church family” is, weeks and months and years after their baptism, still nothing more than a bunch of strangers or barely acquaintances whom they see very briefly a couple of times a week at church, and if they’ve tried to study the Bible on their own but find it difficult without someone helping them (cf. Acts 8:30-31), then we should not be surprised to look around one Sunday and realize that we haven’t seen them in…well, months. And what were their names again?
Is this what Jesus wants? Granted, it is true that some will never allow their faith to develop deep roots no matter what efforts we make with them. However, it is also true that many fall away when hardships come because their church family was not in any real way exactly that for them during the hard times Satan throws at them.
Let us remember this, brethren, and work very hard to teach, mentor, and truly befriend every new convert, every new member, and every person in the pews whom we do not know or barely know. Souls are at stake!