John Piper has not been Tweeting long, but he sure has done a great job of turning the micro-blog into a platform for the gospel. Yesterday, he posted a line that is worth some reflection. Here it is:
“The devil’s main American M. O. is soil three not soil two (Luke 8:23-24)”
This is a reference to Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the soils in Luke 8 (the verses are actually Luke 8:13-14), and it is an apt word for our culture. Here’s the text:
13 “And those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 “And the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
You will remember, that there are four soils in this parable and that only the last one bears fruit. I take it that fruitfulness is the sign of genuine conversion and that the only “soil” that is truly saved in this parable is soil number four. The first three soils bear no fruit and thus show no evidence of conversion.
What is interesting in this text, however, is that it indicates that both trials and prosperity can choke the gospel out of one’s life. Soil number two consists of those who are tempted to turn away from the gospel because of a trialâ€”perhaps some kind of suffering or persecution. Soil number three consists of those who trade-in the gospel for “riches” and the “pleasures” of this life.
According to Piper, soil number three describes the American experience more than does soil number two. Why? Because American Christians by and large live in relative peace and prosperity and aren’t tried by persecution. Soil number three, however, does describe the American experience very well. In fact, it describes my experience very well. It’s a devastating word to my own idolatrous heartâ€”a word I need to hear. Maybe you do too.