Q80 : The Parable of the Four Soils

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Q80 : The Parable of the Four Soils


I have really enjoyed your teaching with Dr. Mal Couch. I receive many of the CDs you and Dr. Couch have done and have learned so much from your teaching.

I wonder if I could have a little of your time to help me understand a particular passage of Scripture? I have heard this passage interpreted so many different ways. The passage is Mark 4:1-20. I have heard so many interpret this passage as being about who is saved and who is not, but that interpretation doesn't seem to satisfy me. Is that the correct idea of the passage or is it something else? I really appreciate your input on this matter.

Thank you.

A80 : by Andy Woods

Thank you for your kind words concerning our teaching.

Regarding Mark 4, I am not sure if this passage is only about who is/is not saved since it might deal with the situation of Christians who resist the work of God in their lives thereby making them unfruitful.

Interestingly, some kind of spiritual activity is mentioned in each of the four soils indicating the possibility that all groups are believers. The first group has the word of God "in them" (Mark 2:15). The second batch of seed "sprang up" (Mark 2:5) and they received the word of God "with joy" (Mark 2:16). The third group apparently already had received the word but became unfruitful in their Christian life due to the cares of this world. Only a believer can be unfruitful. An unbeliever does not even have the possibility of bearing any fruit. The thorns choking the good seed (Mark 2:7) seems to indicate that the good seed was initially taking effect in the person's life before being choked. No one disputes the salvation of those in the fourth group.

My view on some of these soteriological passages is a minority position. I do not view them like a typical Calvinist (those that bore no fruit were not saved in the first place) or Arminian (those that bore no fruit lost their salvation). Rather, I see Scripture routinely warning against carnal Christianity so that the believer can avoid losing rewards at the Bema Seat Judgment (1 Cor 3:15).

For better validation of the rewards view, see Dillow's Reign of the Servant Kings as well as many of the other fine books put out by the Grace Evangelical Society.

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