Which category do you fit in?
Have you noticed how many of those personality or temperament tests there are these days? It seems as if there is a self-test you can take for just about everything.
It would not be unusual to hear someone who had taken one of those test say, “I am an Artisan.” Another person might respond, “Oh, the test said I was a Guardian.”
Whatever these labels mean, there seems to be no shortage of them. It seems people love to take those tests so they can discover what “category” they fit into.
Did you know that you could find a test like that in the New Testament— one you can take to see what category you fall into?
In a very familiar passage of Scripture, Jesus used a parable to show us four types of people who hear God’s Word. In the fourth category you’ll find a special type of person—one who bears fruit one hundredfold and receives one hundredfold returns on the seed he sows.
Are you a Category 4 believer? If you’re not, I have good news for you. You can choose to be in that category if you want. You’re not stuck where you are.
A Hurricane of Spiritual Power
When you hear the term “Category 4,” you may instantly think hurricane—especially if you live near a seacoast. You probably know that a Category 4 storm is extremely powerful (in a very destructive way). But even greater than the power of a Category 4 storm to destroy is the power of a Category 4 believer to create.
A believer who falls into that fourth category of Word-hearers carries around the awesome power to bring the kingdom of God into manifestation.
So, are you ready to take the test?
By now I’m sure you’ve figured out that I’m talking about the parable of the sower found in Mark 4.
It’s a passage I’ve read and studied countless times over the years. In fact, there are so many handwritten notes in my Bible around those verses I can barely see the original scriptures now. There we find four types of soil used to represent four kinds of hearts.
First, we see those who had the seed of the Word sown on a hard, pavement-like heart. As Jesus explained to His disciples: “The ones along the path are those who have the Word sown [in their hearts], but when they hear, Satan comes at once and [by force] takes away the message which is sown in them” (Mark 4:15, The Amplified Bible).
Dealing With Life’s Storms
These are people who, according to Luke’s account, didn’t even get saved. They were there to hear the message, but didn’t believe. They probably didn’t even consider believing. Satan may have told them that they weren’t good enough, or perhaps that it would cost them too much. Maybe he inspired a relative to declare that salvation wasn’t real or that it was too good to be true. Whatever the devil said or whomever he said it through, the end result was that he was able to steal the seed of the Word they heard.
Of course, without seed, there can be no harvest.
The second type of person is the one with a “stony ground” heart. They receive the Word with gladness for a time, but when persecution comes, they get offended and wither away. Again, Jesus explains:
And in the same way the ones sown upon stony ground are those who, when they hear the Word, at once receive and accept and welcome it with joy; And they have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately are offended (become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and fall away (Mark 4:16,17, The Amplified Bible).
These poor folks had no root. Think of what a root does for a plant. It nourishes it, feeds it and anchors it during a storm. These people had none of these benefits to see them through the storms of life.
As soon as it looked to them that the Word wasn’t working, they shrugged their shoulders and turned away. Again, no harvest. No fruit.
How do you send down spiritual roots in your life? In times like these, it means getting totally serious about God. As you spend time in, believe, act on, and speak the Word, roots grow strong and deep.
Every Category 4 believer has gone through seasons of time in which it looked as if the Word wasn’t working. But the difference between them and the ones with no root is their refusal to quit. People who see the kingdom of God manifested in their lives keep speaking the Word and walking it out, no matter what it looks like to their natural senses.
That’s why Paul encourages us to be: “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith…” (Colossians 2:7).
You’ll notice, too, that those with no root were easily offended. Offense is one of the most crippling things the devil has ever come up with. You can be sure he will give you plenty of opportunities to get offended—offended at your neighbor who scoffs at the Word; or your preacher who steps on your toes when he teaches the Word; or, most destructive of all, offended at God.
The devil will whisper in your ear that God is playing favorites by blessing others and not you. He’ll bring heartache into your life and then try to convince you it was God’s doing.
Let me tell you, God is always good. He is always good. Don’t let the devil make you offended at God, because He’s never the problem. If things don’t seem to be working for you, the problem lies with you, not with God.
The end result for those sown on stony ground is that they, like those strewn along the path, receive no harvest. Although the seed of God’s Word was sown in their hearts, the seed was stolen and they were not changed as a result of the experience.
In the third category are those who allow the thorns—the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches—to choke the Word. “And the ones sown among the thorns are others who hear the Word; Then the cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless” (Mark 4:18,19, The Amplified Bible).
The distractions of this age, as The Amplified Bible puts it, keep them from ever seeking first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).
As a result, they remain “fruitless.”
“Good News” in Category 4
Thank God for the fourth category! There we find those who not only hear the Word but receive it. These believers bear fruit—some thirty, some sixty and some a hundred!
Why did Jesus tell this story? From His own mouth we learn that He shared it in order to show us something vitally important about the kingdom of God. When the disciples asked Him about the parable He said…“Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God…” (Mark 4:11).
This parable’s purpose was to tell the disciples, and us, what it takes to get the kingdom of God from the spiritual realm to the natural realm. Jesus even said that if they didn’t get this principle, they wouldn’t get anything!
At this point you may be wondering, Is the subject of the kingdom of God really that important? Isn’t it just an abstract theological concept?
Far from it. In Mark 1:14 we read: Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.
Keep in mind the fact that gospel means “good news.” What Jesus preached about the kingdom of God was good news!
“The kingdom” was the centerpiece of Jesus’ preaching. Everywhere He went He proclaimed it and used parables to illustrate it. He told people “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). When someone received a miracle, He told them “the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (Luke 10:11).
Jesus preached the kingdom everywhere He went and instructed His disciples to do the same.
It would be accurate to say that the kingdom of God was Jesus’ sermon. And if we’re going to walk in everything Jesus died and was raised to bring us, we’re going to have to understand it. It is our key to getting the good things which have been given us in the spiritual realm—healing, provision, miracles, etc.—down here into the natural realm where we can enjoy them and put them to use in carrying out God’s plans and purposes.
A kingdom is simply an area over which a king has dominion. That becomes evident if you just split the word into its two parts. A king is “one with the right and authority to rule.” The dom part of the word is the root of the words “dominion,” “domain” and “dominate.” It refers to the area over which the king’s will extends.
Now when most Christians hear the phrase “kingdom of God,” they think it refers to the territory of heaven. They believe we’ll have to wait until we get to heaven to experience it.
But if that were the case, why did Jesus instruct us to pray: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Here, Jesus actually defines the kingdom as God’s will, or rule, being manifested on earth!
Now the kingdom of God and the devil’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13 calls it “the domain of darkness”) are both operating on this earth. And whenever two rival kingdoms are trying to occupy the same space, you can be sure they are going to collide.
You need to know that whenever they come into contact, God’s kingdom always triumphs. Light always overcomes darkness.
Bringing Heaven Down
That brings us back to Mark 4 and the four categories of harvesters, because, as we’ve seen, it is here that Jesus reveals the mystery (one translation reads “secret’) of how to bring the kingdom of God into manifestation in our lives right now.
The instructions in Mark 4 tell us how to get the kingdom of God from the spiritual realm to the physical realm. The key, of course, is to have a heart that is good soil for God’s Word. In other words, to be a 30, 60, even one hundredfold harvester.
A “Category 4” believer is a person who knows how to operate in the kingdom of God. How do you do that? Read on to find out!
Soil Knows What to Do
If you want to be a Category 4 believer you start by making sure you’re not in Categories 1, 2 or 3!
Be sure you’re sowing God’s Word in your heart consistently. Then guard your heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23) to make sure you don’t allow Satan to steal the Word; refuse to let persecution or affliction make the soil of your heart stony; or allow the thorns, such as the cares of this world or the lusts of other things, choke the Word from your heart.
Once you’ve done that, it’s important to simply let the seed (the Word) and the soil (your heart) do what comes naturally to seed and soil when they get together. Jesus makes this clear just a few verses down:
The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come (Mark 4:26-29, New King James Version).
Your heart knows what to do with the seed planted in it, just as natural soil knows what to do with seed.
It never even occurs to an experienced farmer to wonder whether or not the seed he has planted will grow. If the seed is good (and we know the Word of God is incorruptible seed), it will grow (make things happen)—even while he sleeps.
We, too, can rest, knowing that if we’ve done our part to put the good seed of God’s Word into a good-soil heart, God will give the increase and the time will come when it’s time to “put in the sickle.” Your kingdom harvest will come.
Storming Satan’s Kingdom
What is it you lack today? What of heaven’s vast resources do you need to see manifested in the earth? In Matthew 6, Jesus once again links the meeting of our needs to the kingdom. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
Do you see it? Talk to Jesus about getting your needs met and He’ll talk to you about the kingdom of God. Why? Because the kingdom is manifested when spiritual provision becomes natural provision—whether it’s in the form of healing, deliverance or finances.
Yes, I said finances.
I often hear people criticizing what they call “the prosperity message.” They say they’re concerned about balance.
Well, I can’t be sure what they’ve heard but I do know this: the true prosperity message cannot be unbalanced because it’s based on Matthew 6:33!
Seek first the kingdom of God—His rule, His reign, His will—and “all these things” shall be added to you. If you’re seeking things rather than God, you’re not pursuing true, Bible prosperity. You’ve fallen prey to what Jesus described in Category 3—the deceitfulness of riches.
But if we keep God, His Word, and His will first in our lives, we can have confidence that everything we need to live abundantly will be ours.
When you use God’s Word as your standard, you don’t have to wonder about what His will is. I know what God’s will is for me concerning healing. I know what His will is where abundance and increase are concerned.
You don’t have to wonder either. His Word is clear. God’s will for you is wholeness. God’s will for you is soundness and sufficiency in every area of your life. You are to be the head and not the tail, the lender rather than the borrower. You are to be blessed coming in and going out, blessed in your body and in your storehouse. (See Deuteronomy 28:1-13.)
Are there areas of your life in which His will isn’t being done? Areas in which His wonderful promises don’t seem to be manifesting? If so, you “seek His kingdom” when you use the Word and your faith to bring those things into the natural realm.
Remember, light overcomes the darkness. When the kingdom of God collides with the enemy’s kingdom, the enemy loses. As you begin to allow yourself to be used to extend God’s dominion and will—in you and around you—you’ll start bearing fruit and reaping abundant harvests. When the devils in the kingdom of darkness see you coming, they’ll board up their houses and head for higher ground. Why?
There’s a Category 4 believer headed their way!
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