Luke 8:15 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.
Now we come to the seed which found good soil. This alone, out of the four soils described by Jesus, is real conversion to Christ and real salvation. Only here do we find true faith and the fruit that such faith brings. Three things mark this good response to the Word that is cast:
1) They hear the Word of God. Lots of people hear the Gospel without believing it, but Jesus’ point here is that this hearing results in faith. They hear it, not just with natural human ears, but with the ears of faith.
2) They hold it fast in an honest and true heart. When they hear it they will not let it go. It is precious to them. Their hearts are honest and true in that they know that they are sinners and can do nothing to save themselves. They see that if Jesus does not die for them they are without hope. They see that the Gospel is their only hope and so they refuse to give it up. Nothing will make these people surrender up the great truth to them that Jesus has come and lived a life they could not live, died as the punishment for their sins, rose as a vindication of His work for all them, guaranteeing their own resurrection. Let this go? How could they ever let this go? Take their lives if you choose, but they would rather die than lessen their grip on this soul liberating Gospel.
“…in an honest and true heart”. Does this mean that it is possible to hold on to the Gospel in a false manner? Is it possible to hold fast to something that one thinks is the real thing when in fact it is not? The Scriptures indicate that this is indeed the case. Consider those in Matthew 7:21-23 who stand before the great judge and exclaim how they preached and healed and cast out demons. They are not lying. They really did those things. And even though they did them they are not admitted into the Kingdom. They held fast in their preaching and miracle working and healing for a long time and yet they were never saved. Paul exhorts the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if the are truly in the faith. They have professed Christ, been baptized and serve in the church. But Paul knows that it is possible that some of them are not true believers. True believers are those who hold fast in an honest and true heart. There is no show, no put-on for others to be impressed with. They have responded to the call of the Gospel with heartfelt honesty and truth. And this is the only way that we can come to salvation.
3) They bear fruit with patience. A seed is cast into the ground and when it bears fruit, that fruit will contain hundreds of seeds. But they do not appear overnight. You do not plant seed in the morning and pick fruit or vegetables that evening. It takes time. There must be watering, weeding, sun, and time. Months later, after much backbreaking work, there will be reward for the work. But one must be patient. God does not zap us with instantaneous sanctification. We are going to be fruitful but there is much spiritual watering (getting under the sound of the Word), weeding (seriously tackling the sins that tempt us), sun (exposure to the things that will help us – Christian fellowship, prayer, Bible reading, the Lord’s supper). There will be setbacks and disappointments. But there will always be progress and faith and perseverance and resolve, for this is what a real believer does.
There is no such thing as a fruitless believer. There is no one going to heaven who does not produce spiritual fruit. This does not necessarily refer to leading others to Christ. There is other fruit than soul winning. The fruit of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23 is part of that and even that list is not all the fruit that a believer will show in his life (Romans 8:5-8). There is love for neighbour, including enemies, love for all who belong to Christ (John 13:35), holiness of life (Hebrews 12:14), the proper use of the gifts (I Corinthians 12:7). The New Testament is full of examples of what the fruit is that true believers will demonstrate.
It is easy to claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, especially in North America where we have rights and freedoms to believe as we wish. But God looks on the heart. The Parable of the sower shows us what He will find in those who truly believe in Him. Accept no substitutes – especially in yourself.