Sowing the Seed
- Monday, February 1, 2016
- By Tyler Strickler
And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seeds upon the soil; and goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts up and grows− how he does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
For many Christians, evangelism is intimidating. Why is that? Because we are scared. We fear rejection. We fear ‘messing up’ the presentation by saying something wrong or not being able to answer someone’s questions. We fear we haven’t shown them the gospel before telling them the gospel. We tend to think that it is our responsibility to convince people of the truth of the gospel, yet we fear making a mistake somewhere along the way that keeps them from accepting the gospel. We fool ourselves into thinking that their salvation rests upon us. But it doesn’t.
As I read this wonderful little parable in our Bible reading this morning, I was struck at the way in which Jesus describes the kingdom of God. It is like a man who casts seeds upon the soil.
In this parable, the man has two responsibilities. First, he is to cast the seed. This is the proclaiming of the gospel. Earlier in the chapter Jesus told the parable of the four soils. In that context Jesus tells His disciples that the seed is the Word of God. Although that explanation is not given here, it is safe to assume that Jesus is using it in the same way. So our first responsibility is to tell people the gospel from the Bible. Don’t use your opinions or statements. Show them the gospel truths straight from the pages of Scripture.
The farmer’s second responsibility is to reap the harvest. The farmer waits until the crop is ready, then he puts in the sickle. In his great little book entitled Evangelism, J. Mack Stiles defines evangelism as teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade. Farmer’s don’t plant crops for fun. They plant them expecting a harvest. In evangelism we present/teach the gospel truths of Scripture with the aim of persuading people for the gospel. The goal of sowing the Word is to reap a spiritual harvest of souls.
Yet sandwiched between the sowing and the reaping is a whole process that we do not have control over. The farmer sows the seed, then he goes to bed and sleeps. He gets up by day, but he has no effect upon the plant actually growing. The seed sprouts and the soil produces a crop without the farmer doing anything. In fact, the farmer himself does not know how this happens. It just happens while he waits for the harvest.
Salvation is God’s work as the Spirit draws sinners to the gospel through the Word. Jesus said in John 6:44, No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him. A little later in the same chapter Jesus said no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father (vs. 65). God is the one who takes the word sown, causes it to germinate, grow, and mature to the harvest. But then He gives the farmer the great joy of reaping the results of His work!
Our responsibility is to present the truth of Scripture and call people to respond. When they do, we should be prepared to help them. Yet the actual work of convincing and converting is not our work. It is the work of God as He takes His word and impresses it upon the hearts of people. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because he knew it was the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). This brought him to the firm conviction that it is through the foolishness of the message preached that God is well-pleased to save those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21).
We cannot save anyone. So we sow the seed in love and grace. We answer people’s questions. We care. We call for a response. Then at the right time, we put the sickle in because God has given us a harvest. We do fear our inability nor trust our method of presentation. Instead, we present the truths of the gospel from the Word of God and trust that God will do the work He has promised to do in-between. This is what Paul meant when he said in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.