Good morning, Bereans. We are looking at Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians—a letter he wrote just a few months after writing 1 Thessalonians. This church that had come into existence out of a pagan culture just about 12-18 months before and was being held up as an example to other churches. This was a very young but very mature church.
After his salutation, Paul's first sentence (from verses 3 through 10) is a long, complicated sentence in the Greek. Let's look at our text for today.
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore, we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 ESV
Paul begins this letter with a thanksgiving to God for the church, similar to that of his first letter to this congregation.
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV
"We"—this refers to Paul, Silas and Timothy. The Greek text begins with the emphatic "we ourselves," which appears to introduce a contrast—but with what? Paul says, "We ourselves ought always to give thanks to God for you." The Thessalonians may have had a rather low view of themselves, especially in light of the shame they endured as a persecuted people, and so Paul contrasts his boasting of their faith to the churches with the shame these believers felt. We ourselves, Paul, Silas and Timothy, give thanks to God for you.
"Ought always to give thanks to God for you"—by thanking God for their growth in faith and love, rather than congratulating the Thessalonians for their progress, Paul is acknowledging that these qualities come from God. While we are responsible to grow in faith and love, we can only do so as we depend on the indwelling Spirit's power.
"Ought"—is the Greek word, opheilo, which means "we are under obligation." They were compelled to thank God because He was clearly behind this growth.
He may have added, "as is right," because he had heard that the Thessalonians were protesting that his earlier praise of them was excessive. "As is right" literally means "just as it is fitting, worthy." "Right" is the Greek word, axios, which means "worthy, fit, in keeping with what deserves to be done."
So, Paul is encouraging them by saying that their evident growth in faith and love shows that God is truly at work in their hearts. A spirit of thanksgiving characterizes the entire letter.
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV
Why does Paul give thanks to God rather than commending the Thessalonians for their wise choice to believe in Christ? It's because Paul understands that salvation is a sovereign work of God.
As believers, we have a duty to be grateful for the daily grace and love that God lavishes on us. The more we understand what our redemption means, the more we will lift up our voices in heartfelt praise to our Savior.
Paul is thanking God for them, "Because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing." In his earlier epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul prayed for them to grow in faith.
as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? 1 Thessalonians 3:10 ESV
He also prayed that they would increase in love.
and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 1 Thessalonians 3:12 ESV
He now rejoiced that Yahweh had answered these prayers. Paul had invested times of prayer for these believers, and he was seeing answers to his prayers. You'll never know the joy of answered prayer if you're not praying. Believers, prayer is something that we all should be involved in. Notice what Paul says to the believers at Colossae.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2 ESV
Continue steadfastly is from the Greek word, proskartereō, which calls attention to something that is regular, loved, and prioritized. The word is used of a ruler's devotion to his task, that is, his busying himself with the priorities of his office. Proskartereō implies that someone is busily engaged in something, persisting in it with regularity.
Too often we don't pray because we haven't got the answers we wanted in the past. I think it would help our prayer life to realized that prayer is a declaration of our dependence upon God. Every time we pray, we're saying, "God, I need you!" We ask God's forgiveness because we know we are dependent upon Him to forgive. We thank Him in prayer because we know that whatever we are or have has come from Him. We petition Him because only He can give us what we need. We know that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Prayer, then, is humility in action. It is saying, "God I can't do this, so I come to you acknowledging my need." Does your prayer life declare that you are dependent upon God for everything?
Paul is thankful for them, "because your faith is growing abundantly." This metaphor from agriculture expresses vigorous plant growth. "Growing abundantly" is from the Greek verb, huperauxanō. This verb is an unusual one. It is used only here in the Greek Bible and gives the thought of a very vigorous growth. So, their faith had not only grown, but it had flourished.
"And the love of every one of you for one another is increasing"—"increasing" here is from the Greek, pleonazō, which means "to do, make or be more, that is, increase; by extension to superabound. This word was used metaphorically to invoke images of swelling flood waters. Literally, the Greek text reads "the love of each one of you all for one another abounds."
Increasing love for one another flows out of growing faith in the Lord Yeshua, who commanded us to love one another even as He loved us.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35 ESV
Please notice, this is NOT a suggestion; it's a commandment. You cannot live out the Christian life without a commitment to loving other people. Some Christians place an emphasis on prophecy, some place an emphasis on spiritual gifts, some place an emphasis on social issues; but the core curriculum for the Christian life is to love one another. It doesn't matter how much we know or how much we do. If we cannot pass this test, Paul said we're "nothing":
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV
The Greek text at the end of verse 2 does not say that he is nobody. That would be strong. But the Greek text says he is nothing, a zero. Write down five zero's and then add them up. What do you get? Zero! Life minus love equals zero. The loveless person produces nothing, is nothing, and gains nothing. If we are going to be faithful Christians, we can't pick and choose whom we're going to love, and we can't let love become a secondary issue. Love is more than just an option; it is the entry-level requirement to discipleship. Yeshua said, "A new command I give you: Love one another as I have loved you."
Let's take a minute to let that sink in. Love—it's the most significant attribute Christians can offer the world. We need to love one another. Now, I'm not quoting a tweed-wearing, pipe-smoking, liberal theologian; I'm quoting Yeshua. He said that others would know we are His disciples by our love. To not be a loving person is not some small character flaw; it is the breaking of the greatest commandment. It is to not love God. So, we must understand that love is a requirement.
Notice here that we are to love one another, "just as I have loved you." The sacrificial work of Yeshua on the cross of Calvary is the "new" standard for the Christian's love for fellow believers. They had seen His love for them during His entire earthly ministry, but they would only understand its depth through the Cross.
We all know that we are to love one another, but are we aware that we are called to love others in the same way that Christ loved us?
Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV
How do we imitate God? "Walk in love"—our heavenly Father is a God of love, and as His children, we are to walk in love as our heavenly Father does. When Paul tells us to "Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us," we do not need nor are we able to be the substitute for another with regard to securing their pardon. But we are called to give our lives for others. How do we do this? We do it by making sacrifices for them.
Selfishness is the major impediment to love. So, to grow in love, you must think about the other person's needs ahead of your own. You must lay aside your rights and sacrifice your time and effort for the other person. Paul put it this way.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 ESV
Believers, faith and love are the essence and sum of the Christian life. And both faith and love were growing like well-fertilized plants, beyond what would have been normally expected. This was an exceptional church. This is what Paul focuses on in verse 3 as cause for great rejoicing.
Therefore, we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4 ESV
"Therefore, we ourselves"—this again is a very emphatic expression, much more emphatic than we might expect in such a connection. It implies a strong contrast.
It could be that others had spoken of the faith and love and endurance of these believers in the midst of their affliction. But their perseverance and faith were such that the missionary team was constrained to boast about this body of Christians to other churches.
"Boast about you in the churches of God"—the verb translated boast is from the Greek, kauchaomai, which means "to boast; to vaunt, glory, joy, rejoice." This verb appears only here in the New Testament. Now remember what he said in the previous verse, "we give thanks to God for you." So, Paul was boasting about what God was doing in the lives of the Thessalonians. It was their faith and love, thriving in the midst of persecutions and tribulations, that made Paul boast of the Thessalonians to other churches.
"For your steadfastness and faith"—the word "steadfastness" here is the Greek word hupomonē which means "endurance, constancy." This noun comes from hupo, which means "under," and from meno, which means "to abide, remain." It speaks of remaining under a trial without giving in; of an ability to endure or remain or be steadfast regardless of the intensity and length of the testing. Hupomone is used in relation to the various kinds of trials that we all face in life as human beings (e.g., sickness, pain, financial loss, death of loved ones, warfare, physical and spiritual weaknesses, and persecution).
There is always a temptation to give up when things get difficult. Hupomone has the idea of "to remain under pressure or trials." It means continuing even when everything inside us wants to quit. It is the fortitude that not only survives trouble but is made stronger by it. Endurance comes from hope of the future.
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:25 ESV
So, endurance comes from hope. Where does hope come from?
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4 ESV
The instruction which Scripture imparts is directed to endurance and comfort. The word endurance is hupomone. We gain endurance from the Scripture which gives us hope. I think it would be safe to say that their endurance was rooted in the hope they held in the coming of the Lord Yeshua.
"For your steadfastness and faith"—faith is used of their faithfulness in the midst of persecution.
"In all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring"—"persecutions" here is diogmos, a word used primarily of religious persecution and which describes the hostile actions of others. They were suffering at the hands of their contemporaries who were motivated by Satan.
For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Yeshua that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 1 Thessalonians 2:14 ESV
Paul compares their suffering with the persecution of the Christians in the churches in Judea. This was a severe persecution which included the deaths of the Christian martyrs, Stephen and James, son of Zebedee. The persecution against the Thessalonian church began during the time when Paul and his companions were in the city and which continued afterward. Listen to what he is saying. This brand-new church in Thessalonica was dealing with persecution equal to that an older, mature church might expect to suffer because they too were abiding in Christ. They were walking in obedience to the Spirit of God and the Word of God.
"Your own countrymen"—many see this as referring to Gentiles. But the word "countrymen" is the Greek sumphuletēs. This is it's only use in the New Testament. Strong defines it as "a co-tribesman, that is, native of the same country: - countryman." This term does not define a people racially but embraces all who live within a locality.
Both of these words, Judea and Jews, are from the Greek Ioudaios. They were imitating the suffering that the churches in Judea suffered from the Judeans. They were suffering from their countrymen just like the Judeans suffered from their countrymen. We might understand that it was not only the Gentiles but also the Jews who continued to oppress the church.
Therefore, we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4 ESV
The plural, "persecutions," is strengthened by the adjective "all," and it most likely indicates that these outbreaks of hostility arose on various occasions and in a variety of ways. The author also describes their sufferings as "afflictions." It is from the Greek thlipsis which means "pressure, stress, tribulation, affliction." Diogmos is a special term for external persecutions inflicted by enemies of the gospel while thlipsis is more general and denotes tribulation of any kind. But in these letters, "trials" refers exclusively to the hostility they endured as Christians and as such, it is synonymous with the word persecutions.
Why were they suffering?
What precise form the persecutions took or exactly why they came is not clear. Presumably, both unbelieving Jews and Gentiles were accusing the small band of believers of practicing a religion that was incompatible with patriotic and religious loyalty to the Roman emperor and his cult (see Acts 17:1-9).
So, this church was a church that was experiencing a lot of persecution. As we study church history, it is interesting to find that persecution never hurt the church. The church always thrived in persecution. As this church seem at Thessalonica apparently was. The church in China has been severely persecuted as the result of godless communism. And yet, during this period of great tribulation and when only one Bible is available in some of the provinces for every 100,000 believers, the church has grown and expanded tremendously. There are some who estimate that there are as many as one hundred million believers within the home church in China.
The early church actually viewed persecution as a gift from God. Paul, in fact, teaches that suffering is a grace gift from God:
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, Philippians 1:29 ESV
The verse says, "It has been granted." This is the Greek verb charizomai, which comes from charis (grace). So charizomai is grace. The noun form is used for spiritual gifts. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says, "Charizomai primarily denotes "to show favor or kindness." In Galatians 3:18, it is "to give freely, bestow graciously." Suffering is a grace gift from God.
"For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe"— he compares suffering with salvation. Both are grace gifts. Salvation is a gift, according to Ephesians 2:8-9, and so is suffering. He doesn't say that suffering is punishment or that it is something that has happens by chance. God gives suffering as graciously and lovingly as He gives the faith to believe in His Son. Does this make sense to you? Suffering and persecution are a gracious gift from God?
Believers, we must understand that whenever Christians live as they ought to live in this world, wherever they live righteous lives and aggressively seek to spread the Gospel and make disciples, and whenever they stand for righteousness, the natural outcome will be suffering.
Notice Paul's promise to those who were suffering.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Yeshua our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 ESV
Persecution in verse 35 is our word diōgmos. Paul is telling believers that nothing will separate them from Yahweh's love—nothing. This is eternal security. Aggressive opposition would never separate them from the love of God, regardless of intensity or outcome. This is very comforting. But understand that this is speaking of our position in Christ, not our practice. That is why the writer of Hebrews warns believers.
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. Hebrews 3:12 ESV
One writer says, "This is not a reference to Christians, it refers to racial brothers, unbelieving Jews." Contextually, this is ridiculous because 3:1 clearly says, "Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling." The author is writing to believers and telling them to constantly be watching out lest there be found in them an evil heart of unbelief. The Greek word order is "a heart evil with reference to unbelief as in rebellion."
Persevering in faith in the midst of difficult trials is not automatic! Listen believers, we ALL have the potential to doubt God and we all have the capacity for unbelief. Have you ever doubted God? Be honest. We are capable of doubting God, and it is particularly under persecution that that latent capacity seems to rise to the surface and to seep into our hearts like a poisonous anesthetic, thus robbing us of our spiritual sensitivity and hardening our hearts.
So, if you're facing a severe trial, take care! You can either have an evil, unbelieving heart in falling away from the living God, or your faith can grow vigorously as you trust in Him and see His faithfulness to His promises.
Contrary to many Lordship Theology writers the writer of Hebrews knew that because of persecutions and temptations that apostasy was a very real possibility for a believer. Our Lord taught this same idea in the Parable of the Soils. He described the way that some fall away when tribulation or persecution arises because of the Word.
And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: "Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold." And he said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Mark 4:2-9 ESV
This parable gives us insight to peoples' responses to the gospel, and in the end, it is a very encouraging text. The parable of the soils comes first in each of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke).
Yeshua's first-century audience was all too familiar with the problems attendant with growing food. Their primitive tools often made little impression on the hard and stony ground. The precious seed could so easily be wasted, and they all grieved when the birds ate the seed before it could take root. If the grain grew too quickly without being deeply rooted, the weeds choked the seed. These were everyday experiences of life for many. They were a part of their struggle to survive. But the question was, did they realize that they were illustrative of what could hinder their receiving His all-important message?
The "sower" is Yeshua the Christ. Matthew tells us this.
He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. Matthew 13:37 ESV
Yeshua was constantly sowing the message of the kingdom. But I don't think we need to limit the identity in this parable to Yeshua. The sower can be any Christian proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.
The word being sown is the Gospel message, the Word of God.
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Luke 8:11 ESV
This parable then is about preaching the Gospel. It shows us how people will respond to the Gospel. Who is responsible to sow the seed of the Word of God? All believers. Anyone who understands this glorious Gospel is responsible to share it.
We have four kinds of soil in this parable. The first one is the hard soil.
And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. Mark 4:15 ESV
This kind of soil represented those with hardened hearts. They are those who have not been called, those to whom Yahweh had not given a new heart. They are dead in their sin and cannot respond to the gospel.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV
We know that Satan is no longer in the picture, but men are still dead in sin and have no ability to respond to the truth of the Gospel.
Have you met people like this? You attempt to share the Gospel with them, and they just have no interest; they couldn't care less. Yeshua warned us that the sharing of the Gospel would get this response.
Yes, this parable teaches us how people will respond to the Gospel, but we must understand that these soils can change. We were all at one time hard soil. So, we continue to cast the seed knowing that the result is up to God.
Most people see these next two soils as non-believers. They see only one out of the four as pertaining to those who believe the Gospel. That's not how I see it. I see these last three soils as believers. So, who is right? You'll have to study it for yourself and come to your own conclusions.
And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. Mark 4:16 ESV
The word "receive" is in the present tense and has the idea of "keep on receiving" (John 1:12). And the word "joy" is from chara and is from the same root as "grace." It is a response to what God has given them. These people have believed the Gospel.
The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. Luke 8:12-13 ESV
Luke tells us that those depicted as hard soil do not believe and, therefore, they are not saved ("they may not believe and be saved"). Those of the rocky soil believe, but only briefly ("they believe for a while") because temptation causes them to fall away. So, some do not believe and, therefore, are not saved and some believe and, therefore, are saved. Believing brings salvation. You cannot believe unless God gives you life.
Everyone who believes that Yeshua is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 1 John 5:1 ESV
Belief follows the new birth and salvation follows belief.
And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. Mark 4:17 ESV
Here we find the same words in our text in 2 Thessalonians. When tribulation (thlipsis) or persecution (diōgmos) come on account of the Word, because of their position as believers, they fall apart. As mentioned before, Diogmos is a special term for external persecutions inflicted by enemies of the gospel while thlipsis is more general and denotes tribulation of any kind. Both of these categories of problems can be great opportunities for the application of doctrine, but these rocky-ground believers give up when the going gets rough.
The words "fall away" are from the Greek word skandalizo. It occurs only in Biblical Greek and literature influenced by it. The verb is always used metaphorically with the meaning "to ensnare into sin," "to take offence at," "to give offence to," or "to anger." Thus, they are ensnared into sin because they find the word a stumbling block. This word is clearly used of a believer in 1 Corinthians 8.
Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, [skandalizo] I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble [skandalizo]. 1 Corinthians 8:13 ESV
In the rocky soil, the word of the Kingdom is immediately received with joy. But because the message does not become firmly rooted in the new believer's heart, when tribulation and persecution arise as a consequence of the message, the temptation becomes over-powering to forsake the way that they know for a way that begins to oppose it.
Because the message is simply received with joy and not developed, there becomes nothing that can be relied upon in a time of trouble that will cause the believer to remain steadfast. It's not that the trouble is too great for him to bear, but it is rather that the root has not been sufficiently developed for him to be able to withstand what comes upon him.
Therefore, the shallowness of Christian experience and teaching is probably best understood as being an attribute of this believer's life who has nothing to draw on in the day of trouble.
Although the message is received and accepted with open arms as being the liberating message of God, it isn't developed. The believer does not run after the measure of the fullness of the Gospel. Do you know believers like this?
Saving faith is not the end as many would assert. Though it's the only way to come into a relationship with Christ and to be washed clean through the work of the cross, it must be remembered that that is the first step in a long journey.
And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. Mark 4:18-19 ESV
The sole point is that the life of the recipient of the message of the Gospel hasn't just the one seed growing in his life. There are others developing alongside. In this soil, the word germinates and takes root and appears to initially flourish well because of the good soil.
But the cares of the world pull away from the things of God. Each of us has to be aware that within a very short time, we can find ourselves so taken up with what's temporal that we forget about those things which are eternal.
Here is the believer who doesn't have his priorities straight. Instead of having a passionate desire for the Word, his life lusts after other things. These are believers who never come to maturity. They don't apostatize. They continue in the faith, but their growth is stunted. They don't follow the words of Yeshua in Matthew 6.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 ESV
The kingdom is not first in their lives because they have many other interests that draw them away from fellowship with the Lord. One of our problems here in America is that we are lured away by the "deceitfulness of riches."
Do you know any believers like this?
But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold." Mark 4:20 ESV
Finally, there's the seed that falls on good soil, soil free from hindrances. This is indicative of the person who hears the word of the Gospel and understands it and who allows it free development in his own life so that he forsakes those things that would hinder growth. Finally, fruit will be born that is useful to the farmer who sowed it (this is why Yeshua should be seen primarily as the sower).
The word "accept" is from the Greek word paradechomai. It means "to accept near." The word is received or welcomed alongside of you as a trusted companion. In the ancient world and even in the Near East today you never let someone you do not trust come alongside of you. So here the Word is trusted to come alongside.
As every farmer knew, some seed sown would produce a harvest. That was why he went on sowing. Thus, there were those who would hear the word and would take it to their hearts so that it could not only give them new life but would mold their lives. There would be fruit in abundance.
What is fruit? Fruit is the result that the Spirit produces (Christlikeness). Fruit is not something that is attached to the branch or is fastened on from without. Rather, it is the organic product of the inner life. Too often attention is directed to the outward services and actions or the results of these services. Good fruit is a Christlike life produced by the Spirit through us as we abide in Christ.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 ESV
So, we see here that as we abide in Christ, the fruit is produced by Him through us.
In spite of all the problems that he faced, the farmer could be sure that some would grow and flourish, and when it did, it would produce in abundance. In the end, the message is positive. A harvest is guaranteed. The seed will bear fruit in receptive hearers.
Please remember what I said earlier. These soils can change. It is central to our Christian faith that change is possible. We were all hard soil from birth. But Yahweh gave us a heart of flesh and we trusted in Christ. I know of those who were Rocky Soils and Weedy soils who have become fruitful. These soils are not necessarily permanent conditions. In light of this, how's your heart condition?
Yeshua is describing for us different responses to the Gospel. Be encouraged and remember the greater the sowing, the greater the harvest.
This was Paul's concern for the Thessalonians. He wanted them to be good soil that would continue to produce fruit. So, he sent Timothy to them to strengthen and encourage them. And then he sent them two letters. Likewise, we need to strengthen and encourage one another, especially when we see others going through persecution or suffering.
The key is to send down deep roots in the Word so that you will not wither in a time of trouble. One of the most important habits that you can develop is to spend time in God's Word and prayer every day.