"But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13)
What about shallow Christians–people who have faith without depth. What about having simplistic and naive views about the things of God? Is there anything wrong with never seeing beneath the obvious, always lingering on the surface of the things of God? This is, of course, the way all of us begin in Christ. No one starts out with a lot of spiritual depth. But what about remaining in that condition? Surely you know the churches of our land, and city, are filled with people whose faith is anything but deep–people having very little understanding of the things of the Spirit of God.
Jesus addressed this matter in His parable about the Sower–a parable delivered to "a great multitude" (8:4). Unwilling to guess at the meaning of the veiled saying, His disciples asked, "What does this parable mean?" Our Lord then explained it, telling them "the seed is the Word of God" (8:11). Several different kinds of people are said to be exposed to that Word. Those lacking depth are one type.
This type of person is described as "rock"–not A rock, but "rock." It is like a layer of rock that has a little bit of dirt on the top–shallow soil. People like this never get beyond the surface. They can shout, clap, sing, and be happy–but they never really see the issues. They can start well, but they cannot finish. When they hear the Word, they "receive the word with joy." Matthews says, such "immediately receives it with joy" (Matt 13:20). It sounds good to them, and they are happy about what they see. The trouble is, they do not see far enough. Jesus continues, "these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away." Matthew says, "when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles." Mark says, "when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended" (Mk 4:17). They fall as quickly as they received the Word, because "they had no root in themselves" (Mk 4:17). Their faith was on the surface.
The faith of such people may be genuine at first, but Jesus said they only "believe for a while." Mark says they "endure only for a time." Faith does not automatically endure. Believing can be "only for a while." In the time temptation, these "fall away." Is there hope for such people? Jesus offered none. There is no salvation promised to those who "fall away," are "offended," or "have no root in themselves." You will search in vain for a single promise of good to any such person. Such a commitment simply does not exist.
Why do people "fall away?" Why are they "offended?" Why are they unable to bear "persecution?" It is because they have no "depth," no "root in themselves." The Word never got down into their heart, where their thoughts and motives are found. What is the answer? "Let these words sink down into your ears" (Lk 9:44). Decide to have depth!