March 7, 2011
Selected as OBU's student preacher for a spring chapel service, senior Bible major Clay Phillips spoke to students Monday, March 7, about being faithful and bearing fruit.
Phillips, who is from Heavener, Okla., focused on the Scripture in Matthew 13, in which Jesus spoke to the masses in parables. Phillips said parables are simple stories that are a way for people to understand the greatness and mightiness of God.
He began by dissecting verse 18 of the passage, known as the "parable of the sower." Phillips explained the "sower" represents God, who spreads the "seed," which is the Gospel. The "evil one" is Satan, who comes and tries to snatch up the seed, just as a bird might snatch a seed from a field.
In the illustration, the seed is first sown along a path. Phillips said he would compare this hard soil to an atheist or an apatheist. Phillips asked the students to consider what the parable means for Christians. He said Christians must not give up on people who are resistant to the Gospel. Rather, he urged the students to remember it is a Christian's job to live out 1 Timothy 2:1-4, which says Christians are to "give prayers, and supplications, and intercessions, on behalf of all people."
He continued with Matthew 13:21, in which the parable describes seed falling on rocky ground. Since there is no root, the plant soon withers. The illustration represents a person who hears the Word and, for a time, is filled with joy. But as soon as persecution comes, the person falls away from the Gospel.
Phillips said this person could be described as a "revival Christian." He explained these people think they can walk down a church aisle, recite a prayer, and get back to living their life without change. However, Phillips disagreed with the notion.
"Jesus Christ is the Life, and he must be your life if you are to be true," Phillips said.
In Matthew 13:22, the Scripture tells about seed sown among thorns. Phillips explained how greenbriers can easily be relatable to someone who hears the Gospel, but "the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful."
Phillips said briers are slow-growing, prickly shrubs that grow in bundles. When they grow together, they can easily trap an animal and choke the animal to death. He said this relates to a person who becomes active in church, and it seems the person is growing in his or her faith, yet they become too concerned with the things of the world.
He concluded by addressing Matthew 13:23, which describes the seed falling on good soil. The passage refers to someone who hears the Word, understands it and applies it to their life -- illustrated by a life which "bears fruit." Phillips said the good soil is always bearing fruit and never goes dry.
"This parable is not about four soils, it is about two -- there is good soil, and there is bad soil," Phillips said.
He said the only soil that is good is the one which bears fruit.
"The one who has his faith firmly founded on Jesus Christ can't do anything but bear fruit -- can't do anything but produce works," Phillips said.
Phillips concluded by urging students to examine their hearts, work on being faithful, and to be the kind of "soil" which bears fruit.