Exposing the Secret of Your Heart (Easter 2017)

Sunday, April 16th, 2017
Sermon Series: Easter

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Exposing the Secret of your Heart

It is not a secret–Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Christianity declares, God took on human flesh and was born a man, lived among us for 33 years, offered Himself as a substitute for the sins of His children, then proved He accomplished redemption, proved He had conquered death, proved He alone provides the only forgiveness for sin.

Christ proved He is the only way of salvation. Christ proved He’s the only one who can bring you to Heaven. Christ proved He provides life after death because Christ is alive. He has risen from the dead and that is not a secret. It is fact–historical, provable. That is not a secret! What is a secret, what is unknown, what is uncertain is you–your heart.

So many know about Christ. Many believe He’s God, died for sin, even rose from the dead–but they do not know Christ personally. They have religion, but no relationship. They prayed a prayer once. They walked an aisle. They used to attend church. They used to serve Christ. They would still say they’re Christians. But they do not follow Christ, obey His Word, or manifest conversion.

They made a connection with Jesus, but He did not convert them. They like the idea of a Savior, but they don’t submit to Christ as their Lord. And the secret, the mystery today is where they really stand before God. The mystery is–are they a real believer, or are they a make-believer?

The scariest verse in the entire Bible declares some of you are fake Christians. Matthew 7:22 and 23 say, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

Now that is scary, to think you are saved but not be. To stand before the judge thinking you are right with God and get to go to Heaven, but to actually be self-deceived and be sent to Hell. That is scary. And the scariest word of the scariest verse is the very first word–what is it? “MANY will say”—many, not a rare one or two, but many.

It is a fact that Jesus is risen from the dead–that is no secret! But whether you are a false believer or a born again believer can be a mystery. So to take the head scratching out of it, Jesus taught a parable which would expose the phony and affirm the genuine. And it is found in Matthew 13. Turn there—let’s expose the secret of your heart.

Secrets are fun–a surprise party is a lot of work, but is a lot of fun as well. Keeping secrets from your kids when they are small is fun—“We’re going to the P.O.O.L.” “There is this girl who likes you. She thinks your really cute.” You have to know who that is–but enough about Jean. Secrets are great!

Who Christ is, why He died and rose again, what true salvation is and how to get right with God now and spend eternity in Heaven is not a secret. But the big secret this Easter morning is whether Christ is in you or not. The Bible commands every Christian to test themselves in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves [here is the test], that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test.”

Are you born again, indwelt with God’s Spirit? Do you have a new heart that wants to follow Christ, obey His Word, deny yourself, commit your entire life to Christ, willing to do any and all for Christ as your first love? That is the heart of the genuine Christian. That is not a super committed Christian, but a regular, average believer. If Christ is in you, He will show through you. If Christ is risen and alive in your life, He will dramatically show through your life.

Well, in Matthew 13 the parable of the sower was written to describe the difference between a phony Christian and the genuine, born again believer. Here’s what was happening. Jesus is now in His second year of ministry–a year of popularity. Because of who Jesus spends time with, the miraculous things He does, and the straightforward truth He teaches, He was incredibly popular.

The crowds are saying He’s the one–Jesus is the promised Messiah. Yet the Pharisees, representing the country as a whole, reject Christ. They said He was doing what He did by the power of Satan. So Christ begins to minister to the crowds in a pointed way. He tells them, He who is not with Me is against Me. And whoever does the will of My Father, he is the one who is truly My family. Those who follow Me are my family–those who don’t follow Me are not.

So instead of trying to separate the believers from the unbelievers, Jesus teaches everyone (believers and unbelievers) so that the believing understand, and those who are rejecting Him don’t. And the main method Jesus uses is parables. I will focus on three parables–are you curious about your heart before God?

My wife is a learner and she is really a curious person. I told her one day, “Jean, you are so curious.” And she said, “No I am not.” I just smiled. I waited, and four hours later I said, “Hey honey, you’ll never guess what I found out—it’s incredible! Oh never mind.” She said, “What, what was it, what are you talking about?” I said, “You’re curious.” She hit me.

I hope you’re curious today. Sit down by the Sea of Galilee with a crowd so great, Jesus has to get into a boat to teach the multitude on the shore. And listen to Jesus teach a secret which will expose where you’re at with God. SECRET #1 . . .

#1  Four responses to the Word of God will REVEAL your heart

Look at verse 3, “Behold the sower went out to sow.” Behold could be translated “look”. There may have been a sower right there as Jesus spoke. He’d be a man with his leather seed pouch slung over his shoulder, reaching inside his pouch and scattering seed into the field as he walked through it. Look at where the seed fell on four different soils. One of these describes you–match your life to these four responses.

First  Verse 4, “Some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and devoured them.” Most every field has hard, beaten paths or roads through them for traveling and harvesting. When sowing the entire field, some seed is going to fall on the packed soil (the paths), lay on top of the ground and be easy prey for the birds.

Second  Verse 5 says the seed also falls upon rocky soil. Not soil with rocks in it, farmers remove those–but a few inches of soil above solid shale bedrock. The roots go down and flourish for a time because of the warmth of the soil, but the roots aren’t able to penetrate the rock to find water and nourishment. So verse 6 says, “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.”

Third  Type of ground is where the seeds fall upon soil infested with thorns and weeds. After this ground is cultivated it looks great, but when the grain begins to sprout, so do the thorns. Verse 7 says, “The weeds came up and choked out [the good seed].”

Fourth  The fourth type of soil is good soil. Verse 8 says, “And others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” After Jesus explains to the disciples why He’s speaking in parables, He shares His secret in verse 18. What do the different elements represent?

Looking at the parallel accounts in Luke 8 and Mark 4, we learn the sower is Jesus and the sower can be His followers. The seed is the Word of God, specifically the message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. The soil is the hearts of people who hear the Word of God—your heart. So this parable is about Christ’s followers sharing His Word, specifically the Gospel, to people, and Jesus showing us how they will respond. This is about your heart. You are one of the soils–see if you can determine which one you are.

First  The first soil is the UNRESPONSIVE HEART

Verse 19, “When any one hears the Word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.  This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.” The Word of God is shared, but the seed didn’t even penetrate the heart, there was no response at all, total indifference. Satan picks up the seed and that’s it.

Verse 19 tells us when you share the Word of God it will be totally rejected by some. There’ll be some hearts who will slam the door to salvation in Christ. Talk about Jesus as the only way, people will look at you like you need to switch to decaf. “Whoa, get a Frappuccino and sweeten up, dude.”

This explains why some of you here grew up in Christian homes or have heard the word over and over and rejected it—your heart is hard soil. You are still in rebellion to God. And guess who will win the struggle? No matter how good you are or how strong you are, you can’t beat God. A friend of mine was thrown out of a car at 60 mph in order for him to respond. Sometimes it’s a struggling marriage, a wayward child, getting fired–God softens your heart. The unresponsive hearer just walks away, does their own thing; lives life their way.

Second  The second kind of soil is the SUPERFICIAL HEART

Look at verses 20 to 21 and see this outward response. “And the one on who seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.”

These are the students who hear the Word and with joy spring out of the ground. There’s excitement–you’ve seen them. Wow, forgiven, what a feeling, a high, happy–but when the price, cost, or hurt gets high, they’re gone. These are the people who add Jesus to their lifestyle without having Him transform their hearts. It’s an outward response, a shallow acceptance—it’s not real.

This person has a religious experience—the come to camp, pray prayers, sing songs, read books, study the Bible, give impressive answers, but have no root in spiritual reality and therefore can’t produce spiritual fruit. They are not genuine wheat, they are a tare. You know friends who’ve responded excitedly, but there’s no depth, no reality.

Therefore when the pressure heats up they fulfill 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us [WHY?], because they were not of us.” This might have been you at some point. You made a decision, you seemed sincere, but there was no substance. You were never saved–you fade away. Do you have a stony heart?

Third  The THIRD soil is the Worldly HEART WEEDY

Jesus says in verse 22, this is the man who “hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” This is the friend who turns to Christ, makes a decision, prays a prayer–but after a while they fall right back into their pursuit of boys, or the hunt for girls.

They pursue their sports or their non-believing friends–no more church, just drinking, hanging out, video games, boyfriends, popularity, the job, the kids, fun, vacation, money, marriage, job, career, hobbies, and more. And though they may not deny Christ, He is definitely not their first love, He is not their life passion, He is not their Lord, and therefore not their Savior.

The weedy soil is a worldly heart. These people may make a profession of faith, but when they have to decide between the Word of God and the world, they choke on the Word and chose the world. Like Demas, who was once a faithful helper, later was described with these words in 2 Timothy 4:10, “For Demas, having loved this present world has deserted me and gone.”

James spells it out even more clearly in James 4:4, “Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” First John 2:15 goes for the throat when He says, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.” Jesus is saying we should expect some to fall away, meaning they were never saved in the first place.

There will be those who seem to turn to Christ, but then the pleasures of the world and wealth will choke out the appearance of truth and expose what kind of heart they really had in the first place. They were never genuinely saved. Do you have a weedy, worldly heart?

Fourth  The fourth soil is the RECEPTIVE HEART

Verse 23, this is the man who “hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” They hear God’s Word–it takes root, grows, and bears fruit. With every true response, there’ll be fruit. Genuine believers bear fruit. And just as some soils produce greater fruit, so some hearts will produce greater fruit as well.

In our day, there will be some hundred-fold fruit believers, some sixty-fold fruit believers and some thirty-fold. Those figures represent incredible yields. Hundred-fold equals 10,000%, sixty-fold equals 6,000%, and thirty-fold equals 3,000%. There will be differing degrees of yield, but there’ll always be some fruit. The fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of good works, the fruit of lips in praise and thanks–but some fruit­ of Jesus shines through.

My friend told me, “You may have to look for some shriveled up grapes under a leaf somewhere, but there will be fruit.” Faith without works is dead. A genuine believer will produce fruit because they want to produce fruit from a new, transformed heart. This parable is called by many the parable of the sower, but it really should be called the parable of the soils, for it’s about the different soils of men’s hearts.

So what secrets about your heart do we learn from Jesus here? There are four major responses to the Gospel, but only one will bear spiritual fruit, and that’s the true Christian. All true Christians bear fruit, and why Paul reminded the Corinthians in 6:9 to 10, “Do not be deceived, the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Only those who know Jesus continue to bear fruit–not perfectly, but progressively.

Jesus says in this parable, the reason many drop out and fade away from Christ and the Church is because they’re not saved. They were never saved in the first place. Jesus says there’ll be many who appear to be the real thing who aren’t, but eventually they’ll show their true colors by walking away.

If you are a genuine Christian you will impact others–some thirty-, some sixty- and some hundred-fold, but all of you will impact others. That’s the fruit Jesus is describing. You will confess Christ openly, you will want others to turn to Christ–you will be burdened about friends who are not following Christ. That is why there are no lukewarm, middle-of-the-road Christians. True Christians are committed. True Christians are passionate. True Christians are hot. True Christians influence others to be more like Christ. SECRET #2 . . .

#2  A sold-out, passionate commitment reveals a GENUINE heart

Turn to the parable of the treasure in verse 44. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. The bank in ancient times was a hole in the ground. People used to hide their treasure in the ground–that was their bank.

So in this parable, this man finds treasure in a field. The previous owner left his bank. The man who owns the field is not the owner of the treasure, so being honest, this man buys the whole field from the owner in order to possess the treasure. And do you see the passion here? He sold all he had and bought the field. With joy, he’s willing to give up everything he has to get this treasure.

Now look at the parable of the pearl in verses 45 to 46. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. Here is a pearl he’s been looking for all his life. With the treasure, the man stumbles over it, but with the pearl, he has been searching everywhere for it. But in both cases, he would sell all he has in order to obtain it.

The secret Jesus is exposing is a passion for Christ and for the message of the Gospel. These parables teach us salvation is personally received, it’s priceless, is not superficially seen–but the source of joy, entered into by different circumstances but is transforming. Salvation is the exchange of all that I am for all that Jesus is. It’s the heart willingness to give up all you are and have to gain Christ. You give up your dream and follow Christ.

You don’t buy it nor earn it, but exchange your sin for His life. Christ is the treasure some stumble upon, others search for, but Christ alone is worth surrendering all your hopes, dreams, desires, possessions, family, honors and position for. In return, we end up with the greatest treasure, the greatest fulfillment, the greatest hope and the greatest need of every heart.

Did you exchange all that you are for all that Jesus is? Did you give up all your entire life for Christ? Are there any competitors? Boy- or girlfriend, a sport, popularity, your looks, your marriage, your children, your job, your money, your comfort? If it cost you your life, would you still follow Christ with joy? All genuine Christians would. Every single average, normal Christian follows Christ and obeys His Word.

Will you today? Are you the real thing? Christ is risen, Christ is alive, Christ is salvation. Do you have Christ?

1  EXAMINE your heart carefully

Could you have a stony or worldly heart that has looked like a real Christian for years? You come to church, but when you hold your life up against the fruit of the Spirit, the heart of Christ, and good works which point only to God, you see yourself sadly lacking? Could you be a tare, looking like the real thing, but in your heart, you don’t have a relationship with Christ?

Could you be the kind trying to hide from God by living good, attending church, serving, even caring, but it is from your own strength and really for your own honor? Like the older brother of the prodigal, you secretly think you deserve more from God, and experience a lot of anger and frustration for the way things turn out.

It’s time for you to come to Christ–to say, “Lord Jesus, I can’t save myself, I can’t live right–I need you. I give You all of me, my sin, my life and exchange it for all of You–your salvation, your life, your love, and your Word.

2  Destroy whatever is STOPPING you from pursuing Christ

Whatever it is–busy excuses, over commitments to sports, job, hobbies, recreation, stop it. Whatever is preventing you from fulfilling your purpose and living in God’s will–in order to be fruitful and effective, you will to have to do less on the planet. You have a ministry in the church through your giftedness and a ministry in the world through the Gospel.

Limit your video games, computer, sports, free time. Stop making family, money, schooling, kids, business your excuse. If Christ is your life, then you live every aspect of your life for Christ.

3  Pursue IMPACTING others to be like Christ

Don’t make this more difficult. If you bake, bake two dozen cookies and give one to a neighbor. If you know how to fix cars, fix your neighbor’s car. If you do good gardening, help your neighbor garden. If you are a great golfer, give lessons. Work in cubs and give something to each of the other cubbies. Put your good, attractive deeds on display, then use them to talk about Christ.

If you just share and not show, you could become a hypocrite. If you show but not share, you’re a coward. Commit to sharing and showing off Christ. Let’s pray.

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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