In an effort to make full disclosure to those who reject Jesus and His Gospel, it should be understood that God will not grant you the ability to know anything about Him after you state that God does not exist. The premise for God to reveal Himself to anyone is humility. A person who claims that God does not exist, is disingenuous. God stated that He created every person with a knowledge that He exists (Romans 1:19).
God said that His creation of the universe is His first proof that He exists. If a person will undergo a serious study in the science of the universe, they will discover that all any scientists has ever offered for how the universe came into existence suddenly and began to expand into all that exists today, is strictly based upon speculation. There is no naturalistic, scientific proof that the universe is an accident. If the universe is not an accident, it happened on purpose.
The discovery of fine-tuned physical constants which make human life a reality on earth, is the greatest empirical evidence that God must exist. No natural process is capable of setting a physical constant within boundaries that are so close, even a change of 10^40 would cause human life to cease. In a universe filled at 60 percent with grains of sand, removing just one grain is equal to a change of 10^40.
The atheist will often state that they cannot find any evidence for God. There is good reason for this. First, they are not sincerely looking for evidence. Second, Jesus said that after a person rejects Him, He blinds their eyes so that they cannot see God.
When Moses came before Pharaoh in Egypt, this king had already hardened his heart towards God. Every evidence that Moses presented to Pharaoh, only hardened his heart further.
And Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.” ~Exodus 5:2 (NKJV)
When Jesus walked the earth and performed works of healing for every disease, even raising Lazarus and the widow’s son from the dead, the testimony of the men who wrote the New Testament stated that most people “still would not believe in Jesus.”
But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. ~John 12:37 (NLT)
Evidence does not convince a person who has determined that they will not believe. Evidence only serves to harden the heart of those who have no desire for God, further. Even if Jesus were to appear on earth today and perform the greatest miracle imagined, those who do not believe the evidence of the universe and the testimony that is provided by the New Testament narratives of Jesus, would still not believe.
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus describes four different types of soil and seed that is cast upon that soil. The soil is the word of human heart, and the seed is the word of God.
- The Footpath: People with a hard heart who don’t understand, never believe.
- The Rocky Soil: People who fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.
- The Thorns: People who are focussed on this life and gaining wealth, God’s word is crowded out of their life.
- The Good Soil: People who hear, understand, believe, produce a fruitful life for the Lord and lead many other to Him.
“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 1.) The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 2.)The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 3.) The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. 4.) The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” ~Matthew 13:1-8
Many who make themselves an atheist have undergone the processes described by Jesus in these first three types.
- They hear the message about Jesus but don’t understand it. The devil sows seeds of doubts in their mind and heart. They begin to read the lies of other atheists and believe them. They do not seek to gain knowledge from the other side of the question which proves the existence of God. After awhile, they cannot believe because they are fully deceived. When this takes place, Jesus blinds their eyes from ever being able to see God or understand evidence that proves He exists. This will persist until the person humbles themselves and turns to God in repentance. The Bible is clear that once this process has run its course, it is impossible for these persons to believe (Hebrews 6:4-7). Only by an intervention from God can this impossible situation be corrected (Matthew 19:25-26). In most cases, God knows whether a person has simply misunderstood and can be saved, or if they have gone too far and they cannot be saved, even by Him (Acts 15:18).
- A person who hears the message about Jesus and receives it. They begin to believe, but because this person does not continued to study the words of scripture each day to build a foundation for faith, they quickly fall away from Jesus. Jesus said that when these person begins to have trials in their life or they are persecuted for believing in Jesus, they give up and no longer follow Him. Many atheists will tell you that they were once a Christian, but now no longer believe. This second example that Jesus describes in this parable, is the reason; a lack of foundation in the word of God. We will learn later that these persons never were true believers, for if they were, they would not have left Jesus (1 John 2:19). The true believer; the one who genuinely has experienced a second spiritual birth, will not depart and cease to believe in Jesus (Matthew 10:22).
- They hear the message about Jesus but cares and riches crowd Jesus out. These people hear the Gospel message of salvation in Christ preached, but as soon as they return to their day to day life, the message of Jesus is crowded out by the worries and a desire for the things of this present world. These person give up and stop following Jesus. This is also a possible course that has led many people to proclaim they are an atheist. The problem was not with the word of God or who Jesus is, but their own heart which had a greater desire for money and the things this world offers, than the things that Jesus offers (Matthew 19:16-22).
- They hear the message about Jesus, understand enough to continue with Him and learn more as they study HIs life and how to follow Him in the New Testament. These persons continue to believe their whole life, though doubts do come and often there are problems and hurts that cause questions. In spite of these difficulties, these persons determine to continue with Jesus and refuse to leave Him. This results in a life that produces good results, called “fruit.” Depending upon the desire and work of the person, they can produce 30, 60, or 100 times as much fruit as their own life. In other words, people who see the testimony of their faithful life to Jesus and also believe because they see the commitment of the faithful follower of Jesus. Jesus will reward those who never give up and lead others to Him, by granting authority in heaven and during His kingdom on earth, by various crowns that are described in the New Testament (Revelation 5:10).
This parable is so important that three of the four Gospel writers include it in their texts. Matthew 13:1-9, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-8.
One of the indications that these three Gospels are independent of each other and are all telling the same story, is the attribute of slight additions or omissions of details for the same narrative.
Mark adds the detail in verse 13: “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables?” The indication from Jesus is that this particular parable about the four soils, a picture of the human heart who hears the message about Jesus and then goes on to produce a fruitful life, or falls away, is essential in understanding everything else that Jesus illustrates in all of the other parables.
Matthew adds the detail that the seed which fell on the footpath was stepped on. This is an indication that the path was hardened, describing the condition of a hard heart in the first example Jesus details in this parable of the four soils. In my conversations with many who call themselves an atheist, there is often a strong indication that the heart has become hardened towards God. There are many things that can cause this condition. Some of these are:
- The loss of a loved one after prayer in asking God to save or heal their loved one.
- The bad behavior of a person who claims to be a Christian, but is nothing like Jesus.
- Abuse by a person in a position of authority in a religious institution.
- Greed and deceit from persons who use religion to gain wealth.
- Abuse by a parent who also claimed to believe in Jesus.
- Deceit by college professors who teach that the Bible is not reliable, Jesus is a myth, the New Testament was not written by eyewitnesses, etc.
- Continual participation in sin without repentance.
- Misunderstanding a portion of the Bible, ie. the judgment of God against persons in the Old Testament who were destroyed. Strange scriptures that were only applicable to the Jews, but are thought to be applicable today.
- A desire to live a life that is contrary to the Bible, unwillingness to obey scripture.
- Struggles with sexual sin and the guilt that results, causing a withdrawal from God.
There are many additional reasons that persons harden their heart against God and decide not to believe. These are the types of things that can happen in the life of a person that are illustrated by the footpath that is continually stepped on. There are reasonable answers for all of these struggles and doubts, but rarely do people seek the solutions. Instead, the hard heart causes these persons to lose whatever faith they did have and fall away.
Why Jesus Taught In Parables
One of the often unknown parts of this parable is the fact that Jesus used this method of teaching for a very good reason. Most of the people who came to hear Jesus, only wanted the benefit of His healing power, or the food He provided. They had no interest in turning from their sins and receiving Jesus into their life. This difficulty is still present today in the hearts of people who hear the story of Jesus. They are impressed with His teaching, love, and ability to help people, but not His command to turn from sin and believe the Gospel.
Jesus later said that the reason people will not come to Him for salvation is because they love their sins (John 3:19). People like their lives the way they are without God. Many people do not confess Jesus as their Savior because they don’t want to change their life. People are happy with the freedom they imagine they have—living the way they want. Jesus said that these persons are slaves to sin, and pawns of the devil who has lied to them and seeks to destroy their lives (2 Timothy 2:26, Romans 6:6, 6:16).
This is one of the primary reasons that a great number of atheists will not believe in Jesus; they like things the way they are and don’t want to turn from their sins and live a new way. Most people see the evidence for the universe and understand by all that they perceive around them that this universe and all the beauty we behold and enjoy, could not happen by accident. Isn’t it amazing that all of the 118 elements of the Periodic Table that make everything possible on earth, just happen to exist so that everything we need, build, eat, and enjoy, are possible? If the universe came into existence by itself and went through all of the difficult processes necessary to produce these elements on earth, how could this ever happen by chance? You will discover, it couldn’t.
Jesus told us the parable of the four soils so that we would have a correct understanding of the human heart and how some people can fall away from Him, while others believe and continue to believe for their entire life. None of these four types of heart are prohibited from believing because there isn’t enough evidence. All of the problems that people have with God are because their own heart does not want to believe. In conclusion, atheism or unbelief, is a choice. This decision is not due to a lack of evidence that causes people to not believe in God; it is because of the conditions of the heart that Jesus describes in this parable that people do not believe and are saved.
Jesus Finishes This Parable With A Stunning Revelation
The disciples ask Jesus why He teaches by parables whenever the crowds of people are listening, but speaks clearly to the disciples when He teaches them. The answer is one that most people do not realize. To those who are not seeking God and have no desire to know Him, God hides Himself from these persons. To people who genuinely want to know God, He gives them information is small doses and they continue to seek Him.
The disciples came and said to Jesus, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”Jesus replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,
‘When you hear what I say,
you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
you will not comprehend.
For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’
“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it. ~Matthew 13:10-17
A parable is an eternal truth that is hidden in an illustration of something well known and familiar to most people in their everyday life. These commonly understood stories—such as how seeds are planted, and grow—hide a truth of infinite value. It was by this method of teaching that Jesus identified Himself as the object of this prophecy from Psalm 78.
For the casual listener, the parables Jesus taught were perceived as only simple stories. If, however, the listener continued to ponder and search out the deeper meaning, they could discover a spiritual truth that Jesus had hidden within.
A Parable Is An Earthly Illustration Of A Heavenly Truth
A person who came to be fed or healed by Jesus might listen to the parables and not give them much thought. There were, however, some who came to Jesus not for what they could receive materially, but for riches that were perceived in the deep spiritual and eternal knowledge that Jesus possessed. Paul wrote to the church at Colosse, that hidden within Jesus are all the treasures of all wisdom and knowledge.
…Jesus, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. ~Colossians 2:2-3
As the parable was spoken, there was a choice to be made—either to ponder the deeper meaning of what was being said, or to walk away perplexed and uninterested. It is true of the human heart that when it comes to spiritual matters, most people are really not that interested. When many people hear a story or illustration from the Bible, very often they could care less about the deeper meaning. For some who have a genuine heart to know who God is, when a parable or illustration is recited, an earnest desire springs up to understand the depth of the story.
The teaching of parables is similar to the teaching of prophecy. Both require an inquisitive mind, teamed with a willing heart, that are both searching for truth.
Everything that can be known about the word of God comes by careful and diligent study. Verses of scripture must be compared with other verses, along with prayer and a sincere desire to know God through the revelation of hidden truth. In order to understand the parables Jesus taught in the New Testament, the object is not to know the word of God but to know the God of the word.
The Lord reveals Himself to those who diligently seek Him and who honestly want to know Him and have a relationship with Him.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~Hebrews 11:6
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us… ~Acts 17:26-27
There are 28 parables found in four Gospels. This is 4 x 7, the number seven being the number of completion. In these 28 parables that Jesus taught, we see a complete explanation of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The time to believe in Jesus is now. We do not know that tomorrow we will still be alive and have an opportunity to receive the forgiveness of sins and salvation that Jesus offers. If we die without Christ, while still in our sins, we will not be able to avoid the judgement for our sins. Jesus has given us just one life to hear the Good News that He has paid the penalty we owe for our sins, and to let Jesus take away those sins. Those who receive Jesus’ offer of forgiveness, have their sins removed from their record and receive eternal life.
I pray that you will make the right decision and place your trust in the death that Jesus died for you and believe in Him for your salvation.
Categories: Jesus the Teacher, Living For Jesus, Not understanding salvation, Reasons For Unbelief, Robert Clifton Robinson, The Condition of the Heart, The Parables of Jesus, The Parables Prophecies and Prayers Of Jesus, True Repentance