by Peter Doerksen
Session One: Is Your Faith Rooted in the Gospel? (Matt. 13:1-9)
We want to use roots and plant life as a word picture and explanation of what it means to be “rooted in the gospel.” We begin with the parable Jesus told of the “four soils” as found in Matthew 13:1-9. In Luke 8:11 Jesus clarifies that “the seed is the word of God.”
How does this parable relate to our question, “Is my faith rooted in the gospel?” Farmers, even gardeners, know that something can be done with nearly every type of soil. Hard soil can be softened by working it, especially after a rain. Fields that have rocks may still have good soil; obviously the rocks need to be picked in order to raise a crop. Thorns grow in rich soil, choking the seed that germinated just fine.
The gospel’s transforming impact on our lives may vary from instantaneous to years. I clearly remember the day I knelt in repentance and asked Jesus to be my Saviour at age 12, but the next significant step in my spiritual journey only happened at age 19.
Two significant struggles in my life were my anger and an addiction to pornography. I would hear testimonies of how people would come to Christ and were immediately released from their addictions. For me, it took approximately 10 years before I could say that my anger was under control and I was walking in victory with my addictions.
Growth Isn’t a Formula
The story of the Chinese bamboo tree illustrates for me that we cannot put growth in our faith into a formula. There are times growth happens overnight; at times it can take years.
The Chinese bamboo tree starts with a little seed. You plant it, water it, and fertilize it for a whole year, and nothing happens. The second year you water it, and fertilize it, and nothing happens. The third year you water it and fertilize it, and nothing happens. How discouraging this becomes!
The fifth year you continue to water and fertilize the seed. And then take note. Sometime during the fifth year, the Chinese bamboo tree sprouts and grows 90 feet in six weeks! Did the tree grow 90 feet in just six weeks? No, it grew 90 feet in five years. The gospel of Jesus Christ does change my life!
Session Two: Is Your Gospel Contaminated? (Matt. 13:24-30)
In the June 22 edition of the Edmonton Journal Paula Simons writes an article entitled: Bad seed: The mystery of Alberta’s rogue GMO wheat puts our reputation at risk. The article outlines how seven stalks of GMO wheat were discovered that were herbicide-resistant.
She noted, “GMO wheat isn’t dangerous to human health. It isn’t ‘banned’ in Canada because it’s risky to eat it. This isn’t like finding mad cows. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is fatal to humans. GMO wheat can’t hurt people. The threat it poses is economic.”
What is the problem? It was not registered/certified. The parable Jesus told in Matthew 13:24-30 illustrates that we have an enemy who will do anything he can to keep the gospel from bearing fruit.
Therefore, Paul’s words to the Galatians are still relevant today: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel —which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6-7 NIV).
The Centrality of Christ
Notice the words “deserting” and “turning” from the person and centrality of Christ, which results in confusion and perversion. The prophet Jeremiah describes the opposite: “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jer. 17:7-8).
Here we have words like “trust” and “confidence” both rooted in the Lord. The result is a faith that has no fear of the heat of adversity; it does not worry when drought comes. What a difference from the “different gospel ” to which Paul refers.
So, what is it that threatens to contaminate our gospel? One is that of taking God’s Word out of context. Paul reminds Timothy of how important context is. He says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16).
Another is anything that threatens the centrality of Jesus. “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2) and “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached” (2 Cor. 11:4) are good reminders that it is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What is a telltale sign that someone’s gospel might be contaminated? Possibly it’s like the problem with the seven stalks of GMO wheat. It was unregistered. No one knows where it came from.
Which leads us to ask, “Does the gospel we preach have connections with the rest of the body of Christ? Is it ‘registered’?” The gospel of Jesus Christ is certified seed!
Session Three: Is Your Gospel Bearing Fruit? (Col. 1:3-14)
Why does the farmer sow seed? Why do we plant gardens? To harvest more than we planted! How disappointing to have a crop failure or like Emily said in the Convention promo: to pick what appears to be a delicious tomato only to realize it is rotten. Plants, fruit trees, crops need to do more than just look good. They need to bear fruit.
Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
The Gospel Produces Fruit
Faith rooted in the gospel will bear fruit! Colossians 1:6 says, “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing.” We are saved by responding to the call of the gospel, and then by responding to its call daily we will continue to grow and bear fruit.
2 Peter 1:5-8 says, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What is our part? Jesus said in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
The gospel of Jesus Christ produces fruit! My prayer for us is that we will “bear much fruit, showing ourselves to be his disciples” (John 15:8 paraphrased).
Peter Doerksen is the senior pastor of Vanderhoof Christian Fellowship in the central interior of B.C. He and his wife Martha have served in pastoral ministry since 1986. Peter was our 2018 convention speaker in London, Ont. This article is his condensing of his three messages.