It is difficult to express the idea of true spirituality, but it can be narrowed to a principle: in order to relate to and function spiritually one must be “spiritually minded,” or be “in the Spirit.”  For us to be considered as being spiritual indicates that we have come into a degree of spiritual balance and maturity wherein we are living and walking in an ongoing personal relationship with our Savior, Jesus.  In Romans Paul makes this painfully clear, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”  (Romans 8:6)  Whether we are carnally or spiritually minded is not up to God (it is His intention we be spiritual minded), our pastor, spouse, family, or friends, but up to us.  Are we willing to endure God’s dealings and judgments in our lives to be able to put the mind of Christ (please see Ephesians 2:5) on? Do we really think just because we have asked Jesus into our heart (hopefully we did not repeat the sinner prayer) God will give us the ability to think like Christ?  Oh no my friend do not believe the latest lies from the word of faith crowd; coming to know how God operates and functions will cost you something my friend like things of yourself, things of the world you MUST give up to win Christ.  To know how God flows and moves today (where we have the mind of Christ) we will have to have an experiential knowledge of God and His ways for this to happen we MUST have experiences with God.  We MUST like the disciples be able to say in our own words, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”  (1 John 1:1-4)  In these four verses John uses the words “we have seen and heard or we declare.” How can we truly have fellowship with Christians who have never allowed God to work in their lives?  What is their testimony?  They walked the aisle? To be able to say these words God MUST be able to take us to a place (far beyond faith) where trust is being developed in us. How can we preach and teach a risen Christ if we have never experienced the resurrection power of God as He takes us from one level of glory to the next? How can we tell the truth if we have never allowed God to take us through anything? Far too many Christians are comfortable in their Sunday go to meeting Christianity filled with religious and pious traditions and have never experienced the work of God in their lives.  They just go through the motions every Sunday, content in the good feeling they get from the routine and ceremony never allowing God to get them out of their comfort zone so He can become a real God to them.  It is when we get outside our comfort zone God can begin to work in our lives and not until then.  Far too many pastors, teachers, and evangelists never venture outside their little safe world protecting the rice bowl they have earned, but lacking in real spiritual growth and development from experiences where God can get them out on a limb and maybe cut it off.   Did you know my friend it is our own words that reflects where we are in God?  To find out where you are in God all I have to do is let you speak, after all out of our mouth speaks our heart.  To see what type of person you are all I have to do is taste of the fruit hanging from your branches. My friend our walk with the LORD must be first-hand experience (things we have touched and tasted of God) if not then we do not know what we are talking about. Far too many Christians have this type of Christianity; saved from something, but knowing not the God they think has saved them. Our salvation MUST be in our own words.         

 To be “spiritually minded” also implies that we have been fitly joined together” into the Body of Christ and function in our position.  For us to be considered as being spiritual means that we are living in absolute integrity and have a positive testimony before all those to whom we relate or interact with in life.  Paul expresses this thought in Ephesians, That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, andcunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:14-16) Sadly some pastors, teachers, and evangelists teach from the Word of God that knowing truth as being an end in itself, feeling that this is the mark of spirituality.  The revelation may be genuine and true, yet unless it effects a change within our lives we will becomes as a “sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.” Our consecration to the Lord, our walk with Him, our fellowship with the Body of Believers of which we are a part, our relationship to the world in which we live, must be of such a quality that the revelation which we have (seen, heard, and declared) will find its expression and fulfillment through our daily life experiences.  The quickened, revealed Word must become a personal reality so it can be both seen and handled by those to whom we witness. The level of spiritual maturity to which we have attained is not determined by the amount of or the greatness of our revelation, but rather our spiritual maturity relates to the consistent application of spiritual laws and truths to our daily life experience. The Lord is looking for those who are willing to accept and conform to the Word that He is speaking and separate themselves from all that might hinder or limit this flow of spiritual understanding and relationship.  For us to be considered as being “spiritual” indicates that we have come into a degree of “spiritual maturity” in which we can discern and respond to His voice and presence, and maintain an active ongoing personal relationship with the LORD.  There should be within us a measure (30-60-100 fold) of God (as seen in the parable of the sower) which others can sense and relate to.

Now the parable of the sower is not about four types of spiritual ground (heart conditions) in which the word of God can be sown in as much as it is about four types of spiritual growth and development we experience as we allow God to work in our lives and teach us His ways.  Jesus sets up these truths and explains “the mystery of the kingdom of God” in parables (Jesus was the Master of using parables) beginning in Mark Chapter 4, “And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 10And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. 11And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: 12That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”  (Mark 4:10-12)  The “without” Jesus was talking about was the understanding that comes with “ears to hear.” These ears are not given to us at salvation, but must be developed in us as we allow God to work in our lives though His dealings and judgments. At the end of verse 12 is a mystery to me.  That is okay I like mysteries, who would want to serve God you can figure out?  Apparently Jesus was not ready (at that time) to reveal the secrets of the kingdom of God to others, only the disciples.  Why I do not know, but I am sure Jesus had a reason.  My best guess would be He wanted to lay a solid foundation first in the disciples.  Just a note of interest here; seemingly the people had to understand this parable before they could get converted, “lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” What a mystery. Then in verse 13 Jesus gives us the key, the Rosetta Stone to understand all of the parables He taught.  “And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?”  (Mark 4:13)  Jesus was saying if you cannot unlock the truth in this parable then you will not be able to understand all other parables He teaches.  Truth is built on precept upon precept and line upon line, so if we fail to understand foundational principles (and that will be seen by what type of fruit growing in our lives) we will never be able to understand deeper truths that are progressive. Truth never abides alone and is always moving to the next level     

after we hold the understanding in our heart for a brief second or two.  There are things I have been holding before the LORD for years and when I am ready for God to open them up to me I will hold them awhile and they will lead me to the next level of truth contained therein. Jesus goes on to explain what the sower was sowing. “The sower soweth the word.”  (Mark 4:14) The seed was not money as most Christian TV celebrities and greedy pastors, teachers, and evangelists teach.  God is not so much concerned with money as man is.  This has been a liberating truth for BHG, if God wants me to do something He will make the funds available through people who are connected with us and who are obedient to His word.  I do make the need known and Godly people respond out of a heart of love and obedience.  I do not say, “Brother plant your seed (money) in the good ground of my ministry (it is not my ministry it is God’s that is why my name is not attached to it) and God will give you a 100 fold return” this my friend is nothing, but pure greed. By all means we must be led by the Spirit and give whatsoever He is telling us, God wants His money back and we need the reward that comes with our obedience.  The seed was the word of God and not money.  Jesus now gets into the four different types of spiritual growth. “And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.” (Mark 4:15)  For most people when the word of God is sown in their heart it is lost to misunderstanding. Make no mistake misunderstanding is a form of understanding, but it is a misapplication of the word sown.  I do not believe Satan has the power to reach into our heart and steal the word of God unless we allow. Often this permission comes by way of us not understanding what was said and the application of the word then is lost. New Christians often get lost from misapplication on their way to the wilderness (where God can begin to work in their lives), but if they are serious God will keep them until they can once again find their way.  Jesus then went on to talk about the second type of spiritual growth and development where there was some understanding applied. “And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.”  (Mark 4:16-17)  Notice the word was still being sowed.  The Christian now has matured in ways where the word was “immediately receive it with gladness” they heard the word, but because the Christians had no experience in dealing with the word of God (no depth of understanding) and had never allowed God to build in him a trust (beyond faith) the word sprang up in their heart, but was cut out of their heart by life’s many troubles and circumstances. Here the new Christian is trying to walk with the LORD (the word of God is getting through), but make no mistake when we desire to walk with LORD afflictions and persecutions will arise in our lives our family and friends as well as God will see to it. Here are a few promises (probably not found in promises boxes) from God, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”  (2 Timothy 3:11)  Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33) What wonderful promises from God.  And make no mistake once you make up your mind you will serve the LORD your friends and family (especially family and even children) will not understand and turn their backs on you, but Jesus said,  be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” There is also a danger in this verse.  Many new Christians and even many pastors, teachers, evangelists have no root or understanding in them so they hear some truth (get a message from the internet or from another pastor, teacher, or evangelist) are happy and run out and share it, but when troubles comes their way they lose the truth of the message because it was never a part of them spiritually. They then will have to run back to get the message again and again. This is the picture of most churches today or worse there is a cross pollination of churches by pastors whereby a hot evangelist or teacher receives a word from God we often see this on Christian TV and in magazines (that has not been worked into their lives) and then they travel the circuit from one church to the next depositing something they know little about. No root no lasting effect in our lives. One last thought here; make sure the persecution and affliction that comes our way is because of the sake of the word and not because of our sake.  Jesus continues on our spiritual progression,  “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”  (Mark 4:18-19)  Here the word was sowed among “thorns” what Jesus referred to as cares, deceitfulness of riches, and lust yet the word grew, but the word was unfruitful because it was mixed with thorns.  Fruit grew from what it was planted with.  So too as we grow in the LORD we can mix the word and produce fruit in our lives that was not intended by God.  The seed was from God, but the ground was made up from others things which affected the seed.  It was sown maybe not in peace, but in arrogance, greed, or even in selfishness, but remember whatsoever is planted will grow.  Here the new Christian is growing and failing (even maybe in ministry) in God, but now producing fruit.  And lastly we discover the good ground a maturing Christian whose foundation is God’s word and God’s dealings and judgments in their lives. “And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. “(Mark 4:20)  Notice the three steps:  they heard (understood it) the word, they received the word, and it brought forth fruit.  God is not complicated, three easy steps.  Now the amount of harvest depends not on the seed (all of God’s seed produces a 100 fold return), but on the ability of the hearer to receive the word.  The more we can receive (by closing out the world and our self) of God the more fruitful we can become. As we walk with the LORD God will plow our hearts, till our lives, dung and water us with others (I have been dunged and watered by many wonderful people) lives achieving a fertile life in us in which to sow seeds that will germinate and bring forth fruit that will produce seed after seed and remain. Now please know I am not saying any of the three previous types of spiritual growths are bad (they are not) they are typical of our walk with the LORD as we develop in Him as He is able to bring us along. The Body of Christ is made up from Christians from these four types of spiritual development and as we allow God to help us overcome things in our lives we all will be fruitful and give God a return on His investment.  Our walk with the LORD MUST be in our words and out from our own life; if not then it can never be said we are spiritual and will always be “carnally minded.”     

by David Stahl