The parable of the sewer is one of those parables that I have heard well-meaning Christians debate fervently while both sides of the debate missed the point entirely.
Luke 8:5-8 – 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
This is a pretty familiar passage to believers. It is easy to remember because of the simple imagery. We can all imagine a farmer planting seed. WE can easily imagine some seed growing and some not making it. And we can see that Jesus makes multiple parallels to real life.
The argument that I have heard that misses the point has to do with what this parable may or may not say about salvation and eternal security. If you have been around believers for a while, you may have heard them discuss which groups of the seeds represent saved people. Should we assume that the seeds that were scorched and choked by thorns are saved people who did not grow? Or should we assume they were lost? Or, even theologically worse, do those two categories hint at a loss of salvation (they do not, as the Bible is clear that saved people remain saved and grow)?
It is at this point that I want to call on us to stop asking the wrong question. Jesus did not present this parable to share with us highly nuanced categories of believers, non-growing believers, and the lost. Nor did Jesus offer this as a way to teach on the truth of eternal security, perseverance of the saints—at least not in the way that many bring it up. Jesus had a simple point he wanted to make. And if we miss it because of our questions, we do not help ourselves or anybody else.
The point is simple: true Christians grow. That is it. There are lots of people who will claim to believe in God. Good for them. True Christians grow. There are lots who will claim religion so long as religion costs them nothing. I’m not worried about that. True Christians grow. True Christians learn to obey Jesus. True Christians repent of sin, worship the Lord, and share his message with the world. The point of the parable is that true Christians grow.
So, reading that parable, stop trying to make every little part speak to a theological concept of salvation. Why would you worry about whether the thorn-choked seeds represented saved people? Instead, why not point out that our goal is not to be those folks? Our goal is to grow in Christ. Our goal is to bear fruit. Our goal is to not let the cares of this life or a fading initial joy wipe us out. We are to be in it for the long haul. We are to be committed with our entire lives through any circumstances, joys, pains, poverty, etc.
The point of this parable is to teach us that true Christians grow. Are you growing? Are you sticking with your commitment even when the initial joy is a distant memory? Are you sticking with the faith even when it hurts your prospects for worldly success? Are you sticking with the faith even when it is hard? Are you communicating the faith to the next generation? Are you setting down deep roots in the word of God and in obedience to the Savior? Those are the questions we should be asking when we read the parable of the sewer.