Those who truly hear the word of God are motivated to respond to it through faith. Those who come to truly know God are those who prepare their hearts to receive His will completely and unequivocally. Like the Earth, which is prepared to receive the sower’s seed in order that it might produce fruit, prepared hearts are ready to receive whatever God has written that spiritual fruit might mature to the honor and praise of the God of heaven. To those with prepared hearts, the case for God is solidly confirmed and becomes the firm foundation for all their thoughts and actions.
In the Old Testament book of Ezra the inspired word says, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra 7:10
Ezra had determined to learn the word of God, and knowing what God required of him he was ready to practice those things in his life, and beyond that, he was prepared to teach these things to others. The text says he had prepared his heart to do all this. There was no miraculous intervention into the life of Ezra which caused him to do God’s will. Ezra prepared himself, and so should all men.
Again, the words of the Old Testament confirm that God has revealed certain information for us to know.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever …” Deuteronomy 29:29
Though this was written to the Jewish nation, who were under the Law of Moses, the principal is applicable to God’s law in every age. God has revealed to us everything that we need to know in order to serve and please Him. It then becomes incumbent upon us — as it did Ezra — to learn it, live it and teach it.
In the New Testament James, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to those who were seeking to serve God according to His will, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1:21
James, like Ezra, admonishes us to prepare our hearts to receive the word of God in order that the implanted word in the heart might produce a spiritual harvest, like the seed implanted in the prepared Earth produces a natural or physical harvest. The key word here is “prepared.” The parable Jesus taught in the gospels written by Matthew, Mark and Luke about the farmer who sowed seed in his field, reveals that the seed which fell into the prepared Earth was the seed that produced the intended crop. (Matthew 13:1-52; Mark 4:1-34; Luke 8:4-18). Seed that fell on ground that was not prepared produced nothing and provided nothing in the harvest.
It is certain that God’s word accomplishes what He intends.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote these words from the Spirit of God, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void. But it shall
accomplish what I please. And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
The word of God like the farmer’s seed, when planted in a prepared heart such as that described by James, a heart divested of all filthiness, which is the pollution of the world or worldly mind and the wickedness of spiritual disobedience. Such a heart will produce exactly what God intends — a faithful believer and follower of the Christ. It will produce one who truly knows the Lord.
Preparation of the heart is not accomplished by accident nor without effort on the part of the believer.
The apostle Paul wrote the young preacher Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
The word diligent in this text means to deliberately apply one’s self, and some translators use the word “study.” What it means is that we can learn to present ourselves as one approved by God, one who works unashamedly, rightly understanding and sowing the word of God in the hearts of those who are prepared to hear. May our hearts be always prepared to hear whatever God has to say, that with meekness we may receive His word planted in our hearts.
C.E. White is a native of Nacogdoches who graduated from NHS in 1965 and SFA in 1974. He is a Navy veteran and refers to himself as simply “a Bible student.” He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.