"No Root System" - May 2012
“And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.” (Mark 4:1-8)
This month I want to look at Jesus’ parable about the sower and the different types of ground the seed was sown in. But I only want to focus my attention on one ground upon which he sowed. “And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.”
I have been concerned about what I see happening in the church now days. It is happening among most of the churches so I am not talking about any particular one or particular denomination. There is a new breed of churches on the rise, they are called “Mega” churches. These are churches that are made up of thousands of attendees. To have a “Mega” church is every pastor’s dream. It is the kind of place most want to attend so they can be part of a bigger picture. Not only are Mega churches on the rise, small church congregations are growing, people are filling up the churches, and this is what concerns me. Please don’t misunderstand and bear with me I am heading to a point. I am not saying that you should not go to church. Personally, I would love to see each and every church filled to running over all the time. Jesus had “congregations” of thousands that followed Him and listened to His teaching and preaching all the time-- He could rarely get away from the crowds. We should desire more people to come into our churches. We should want to see multitudes saved and enter into the Kingdom of God and eternal life. So the “size” of the church is not necessarily the issue I want to address. The thing that concerns me is that we have “full” pews and “empty” people.
As you look around at most congregations you see the people, but do you see people who have a “root system” in their lives? Are they rooted and grounded in faith? Or are they just “superficial”? Do they look good on the outside but have nothing underneath them giving them support? In some of the neighborhoods where I live, there are these majestic oak trees. They are magnificent looking. They look strong and stable. But when a storm or strong wind has come along many of them have fallen. From their appearance you would think that they would be able to withstand whatever nature threw their way. But they don't. The reason is because they don't have a very good root system. They either don’t have enough roots to hold them up or the roots that are there are shallow and not very deep at all-- they are too close to the surface. This is what Jesus was addressing in His parable. If there are no roots, or the roots are shallow, a tree cannot stand. And if we have no spiritual root system, or that root system is shallow, we cannot stand either. “And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.”
This is why I am concerned. The crowds are there. They look the part. They are in church. But what about their root system? Is it even there? Do they even have one? Just because a person attends church doesn’t mean they are a Christian. It doesn’t mean they even have “spiritual roots”. It doesn’t even mean they are saved. Just because you sit in a pew week after week doesn’t make you saved any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car or sitting in McDonald’s makes you a Big Mac.
What would make me concerned or wonder about their root system? The fact that when you look at their lives and you see how easily shaken they are by even the slightest trial. The fact that their Bible reading and study is not an important part of their daily routine- some never even open it until the next time they get in church. You can’t help but be concerned if they have any roots when there is no application of the Word of God in their lives, there are no signs of holiness, discipline, the Fruit of the Spirit, when there is prayerlessness and there is no seeking of the Kingdom of God. You can’t help but be concerned when the lifestyle they portray is immoral, ungodly, self-centered, unholy, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God and they are following after their own lusts, desires and ambitions. You can't help but be concerned when there is no evidence of the surrender of their lives to the Lordship of Jesus, and when they prefer what they want over the teachings of God's Word.
You might say that it is not my place to “judge”. How do I know that they aren’t right with God? True enough, I don’t know their heart only God does. But the Bible clearly tells us that there should be some “evidence” in our lives as the proof that backs up what we say. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) If we are “in Christ” (saved, Christians) then there should be something that others can “behold” in our lives that would attest to the fact that something happened inside of us. Even in a plant, if the root (that you can’t see) is there, you will be able to tell it in the part of the plant that you can see. And vice versa, if the root is not there, it will be evident in the plant. Even Jesus Himself taught that there would be evidence by which others would be able to judge that you are what you say you are. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)
“And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.” Jesus taught that the seed was the Word of God. “The sower soweth the word.” (Mark 4:14) Salvation begins with the “planting” of the Word of God. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:13,14) “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21) When a person hears the Word of God, it is like having a “seed” dropped in their heart. That seed is suppose to produce something. In this case it is the seed of faith for salvation and eternal life. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
“And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness.” (Mark 4:5,16) So how do we get a “root system”? Jesus taught that a root system comes as a result of being “born-again”. Which is a result of repentance. “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Matthew 4:17; Luke 13:3) “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:1,3,5,7) In order to even have a root system you have to have some “depth of earth”. Depth of earth means being born-again. Many that sit in churches today are not truly born-again. They are religious- like Nicodemus. He was a very devote, religious man- even a teacher of the law. But Jesus told him he had to be born-again if he wanted to enter into heaven. A vast majority of the attendees in most churches are not born-again. They have no depth in them. They think they do because they became a member of a particular congregation, or because they attend services week after week, or because they went through some classes that familiarized them with the church, or because they are church workers, or because they were baptized in water, shook the preacher’s hand, joined the choir, etc., etc., etc. Yes, I am concerned. Because not everyone sitting on a church pew is born-again and has a root system. It may be a large congregation, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a saved congregation filled with born-again people. Don’t confuse the two. Jesus said that straight and narrow is the way that leads to eternal life and few there be that find it. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13,14)
“But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” (Matthew 15:13) Every plant has some sort of root but it won't thrive and grow if it is not planted in the right soil. Our lives are already "planted" in the soil of sin when we are born, but that soil will bring death. We have to be planted in "life". We must be born-again and planted in Jesus Christ. When we are, He gives us a new root system. He becomes our “root system”- He is the vine and we are the branches. The vine/root is where the life of the plant is found. It supplies life to the branches. Without Jesus in a person’s life, there is no root system. There is nothing to sustain them or feed them. They have no source on which to draw life. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:1,4,5)
The main concern is that there are a lot of church-goers that look good on the outside (surface Christians) yet have no spiritual root system but think they do. The second concern is about the roots of those who are planted in Christ. Are their roots buried deep or are they shallow? "They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.” (Luke 8:13; Mark 4:6) The danger in not having a deep root system is that you will fall and wither away. Temptations, offenses, trials and persecution will come and if we don't have a root system, if it is not a strong one, if we do not protect it, we will fall.
We started planting a small garden a couple of years ago. This year we got an Almanac and decided to plant everything “by the book”. We read that if we really wanted healthy plants that would produce a good harvest, we had to plant them deep. So we did- we planted them up to the first few branches and not just to the top of the roots. Our tomato plants look better and are doing better than they ever have before. They are loaded with tomatoes. This reminds me of what we have already talked about- being planted in “depth of earth”- in Christ. It is only when we are that we will be spiritually healthy, productive and fruitful. “And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.” (Hint- when we do things “by the Book”, God’s way, we will be safe, prosper, fruitful and blessed.)
Just because you have a root system doesn’t mean you don’t have to take care of it, do what needs to be done to keep it healthy or protect it. I am concerned that many of the “church-goers” aren’t developing a strong root system. Most churches have become social clubs- “wining and dining” its attendees. Preaching “feel good” sermons that “tickle the ear”, yet not giving any substance or sustenance that will help develop healthy roots. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19) As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6,7) Are they hearing sermons that are man-made philosophies meant to keep them coming back, as well as draw in bigger crowds? Or are they hearing the rightly divided word of truth that calls them to accountability and holy, Christ-centered living? “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philipians 2:12b)
In order to have a strong root system in the plants in my garden, I have to give them water and fertilizer (plant food) to help make them strong and healthy. We have to feed and water our spirits if we are going to have a strong, healthy spiritual life. We water them through God's word. “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” (Ephesians 5:26) And we also feed them through God’s word. “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) It is important that I use plant fertilizer on my garden. I can’t just go out there and sprinkle anything on it. Applying the wrong thing could stunt its growth, burn the plants or kill them all together. You can’t “apply” the wrong thing to your life and not be in danger of “killing the roots”. It is the “fertilizer” of God’s word that gives life and health to our spirits, not humanistic wisdom, not philosophy, not just knowledge and not ungodly entertainment. “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.” (Proverbs 4:20-22)
Applying food and water to our spirits is done by hiding God’s Word in our hearts, by meditating on it, by being a doer and not hearer only. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11) “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8) “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22) “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
In our garden we have to protect not only the plant but the roots also. We are experiencing something this year that we have never had happen before. Healthy looking plants are just dying. We are watering, fertilizing and keeping plenty of dirt around them. We discovered after pulling a few of the dead ones up that they have no roots. We also discovered a little insect that is going in the ground and eating the roots. So we are on the attack against it. We have an enemy (the devil) who is out to destroy our root system. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) If he can weaken us in our faith he can destroy our lives. Through times of testing, temptation and tribulation he is working at destroying your roots so that you have nothing to hold you up and keep you alive- he wants to separate you from the root/vine. We have discovered a product that will kill these insects that are attacking our garden so we have started applying it. There is something that will defeat the enemy that is attacking our lives-- it is the Blood of Jesus and the power of His Word. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11) When satan attacks, you have to continually apply the Word of God to the situation. You have to pull out your weapon-- the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God- and combat him with it. It will defeat him and protect your roots both at the same time. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17)
Jesus used another parable to illustrate the importance of having a good root system under you. He compared it to the foundation of a house. But it is the same thing we are talking about because the foundation of a plant is its root system. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24,27)
In both the parable of the sower sowing seeds and the man who built his house upon the rock, Jesus gave us a message of hope- the hope of eternal life and abundant life- when we have a healthy root system because it is based on His Word. In His parable of the sower sowing seed, He gave a warning about what would happen if you don’t have a healthy root system under you. In His parable of the house that is built on the sand, He gave another warming about what would happen if you don’t have a good foundation under you. In both cases the outcome was destruction, and the destruction was without remedy.
While we want to see big crowds in church, we should first want to see that these people come to Christ and then that they get a healthy root system under them. Our goal should never be to simply “fill a church” or “pack a pew”, but it should be to see sons and daughters born into the Kingdom of God. In this God is truly glorified.