Daily Devotional

February 12

Stony Ground Hearers

by Frans Bakker


And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth.—Mark 4:5

Bible Reading

Mark 4:1–9


A sower went out to sow. Some of his seed fell on stony ground where there was not much earth. It was rocky ground with a thin layer of soil on it. It is amazing how seeds will spring up quickly in this soil. This is because the seed cannot grow roots. All the growth goes upward and the soil retains the warmth of the sun even at night. At first sight, this soil can appear good soil indeed.

In rocky soil the young plant grows very fast with growth and blossom coming at almost the same time. This growth appears to be very promising, for when other seed has scarcely come up yet, this seed is almost ready to bear fruit. But as the farmer sees this he shakes his head. To him the seed is germinating too fast because it does not form roots in the soil.

In this illustration we see the result of God’s Word in the lives of many people. These people hear the Word and it penetrates their hearts but not deep enough. At first the response seems very promising. There are impressions, tears of confession, and prayers. And there is much warmth. With hot tears they confess that God’s Word is true.

But at the same time there is no real communion with God. Communion with God makes one humble and meek. But these people are not meek for they are not aware of their personal corruption and guilt. Such people claim deliverance without knowing their misery.

“When they have heard the Word, they immediately receive it with gladness.” It sounds like an incredible testimony. But in reality it is not a confession of true faith. Those who respond to God’s Word in this manner appear to be immediately delivered but they bypass their inner corruption. They have no strife. They seem to have no trouble with temptations. Deeper discoveries of sin are unknown to them. Sin seems to be for them a matter of the past that no longer troubles them. They rejoice and praise. They can always believe. They have a zeal that appears to be beyond that of mature Christians. Moreover they appear to be upright in their convictions. But all these affections are only for a time, but that time can last even until the time of their death. They may enter death with this faith, but it is insufficient for eternity.

On the surface this type of responder appears to be receptive but deep down his heart is as hard as a rock. Outwardly he is tender but inwardly he is hard. If the Word begins to sink in deeper, it recoils upon a rock full of hatred against God and his neighbor. The emotion is affected, but the will is not subdued, for an emotional person is not yet a subdued person. There is a deficiency in the depth and awareness of guilt. There is a lack of self-loathing, and an insufficient knowledge of God. Oh, dear friends, make sure your faith has a firm foundation.


From The Everlasting Word by Frans Bakker, compiled and translated by Gerald R. Procee. Reformation Heritage Books and Free Reformed Publications, 2007. Used by permission. For further information, click here.
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