Matthew 13:3b
“Consider the sower who went out to sow.”
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

The parable of the sower has long fascinated me. When reading this parable, some think primarily of the soils, but I prefer to dwell on the seed. There was no seed shortage. With reckless abandon, the sower threw seed everywhere, acting as if He had an infinite supply of it. His goal was saturation of a field.

This scattering of seed was obviously never meant to be done solely inside church buildings. Our church buildings are granaries. The wild unsown fields are out in the world.

Jesus said He would make us fishers of men. We tend to shepherd fellow believers to the exclusion of fishing for unbelievers. We believers are to be fishers, catching the lost, and sowers, casting God’s seed everywhere.

The USA has been one of the most beautiful flowers ever grown in God’s garden. Many feel our flower is spiritually dying. One of the last acts of a fading beautiful flower is to cast its seed. Maybe our current era is meant to be the USA’s finest hour in missions, in casting her seed. Whether our USA flower fades or not, we are called to cast Gospel seed everywhere, to tell the world about Jesus.

Beware ethnocentricism, thinking God loves the USA more than any other nation. It hurts to think the USA may be losing its role as leader of conservative evangelical Christianity, but remember, the USA is only 5% of the world’s population. May God give us a world-wide love. Rejoice in this fact, even if the USA falters, the Gospel torch can not be extinguished, and will be passed on.

It is a privilege to be alive now, when more people are coming to Jesus than at any other time in history. Though nearby all around us we see spiritual decline, farther away on the horizon we see suns of victory rising.

To sow seed well, we must precisely determine what it is. Jesus said, “The seed is the Word of God” (LK 8:11). We need to sow the Word, to proclaim Jesus every way we can to everyone we can every time we can ( radio, TV, tracts, tapes, Bibles, books, talk at home, school, and work, nativity sets at Christmas. Be jealous for Jesus. Spread His Word everywhere.

I’ve long recognized this “Get the Word out!” aspect of sowing the seed. I previously failed to notice, God’s people themselves, in addition to the Word, are to be cast and scattered as seed. In the parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus said, “The good seed are the children of the kingdom” (MT 13:38). I should have seen this before, having read the Bible often, but somehow missed this detail.

The fact we ourselves, along with the Word, are to be cast as seed in harvest fields should not surprise us. Gospel success requires two things: a message and a messenger. The message, Christ’s cross and empty tomb, has no voice till we speak. The Bible is a sword needing a hand to wield it; a hammer requiring a hand to give power to its blows; a fire needing a hand to stoke it.

The Gospel, to succeed, must be spoken and shown. It requires words plus works, both speech and being illustrated in a holy effective life. Thus, Satan attacks both, seeking to undermine the Bible, and to silence Christ’s witnesses.

First, Satan tries to discredit Scripture. Bible Christianity is the real deal. All else is counterfeit. Liberalism bears the kiss of death. One liberal denomination’s only missionary to India converted to Hinduism. If people want something other than true Christianity, they’ll go elsewhere than to us to find it. Our only legitimate option to offer the lost is for them to receive or reject the real McCoy.

Liberalism is toothless and spineless, yet very seductive. Our pride makes us want to be identified with scholars, with the intellectual elite. Beware the serpent skin of scholasticism so-called. We often find ourselves terrorized at the prospect of being considered “unlearned and ignorant.” Yet this is exactly how the disciples were viewed when winning their greatest victories (AC 4:13).

Second, Satan seeks to silence our witness. Early believers were persecuted not for being Christians, but for being bold witnesses. Truth never gains the voice and vote of a majority. Believers are always “odd man out.” Cowardice is our temptation and our enemy. The early believes, knowing they needed super-human courage, prayed for boldness. We too need divine, miraculous boldness. I know I need it. This is my most glaring weakness.

Success, for our part, is measured not as much by the number of converts we win as by how widely we boldly scatter the seed. Conversion is God’s work. Our job is contact. We cannot compel anyone to decide for Christ, but we are to boldly compel every person to decide one way or the other. By presenting the Gospel to them, we transfer responsibility for their lostness from us to them.

We start with prechristians next door, but then have to pack a suitcase, and go find them everywhere. We all have to go, and go to all. Going is not optional. We are required to obey. Until ready and willing to go to everyone everywhere, we are unfit to preach to anyone anywhere.

We must never minimize the fact many who live a stone’s throw away from our church building and homes need to hear the Gospel. May we also never maximize this fact to the neglect and exclusion of those far away.

Selfishness begins at home, and stays there. Love begins at home, and spreads therefrom. Some say we too much emphasize missions away, and need to do more at home, yet our church does more in Springfield than in Missouri, the USA, and the uttermost combined.

On a recent Sunday night, we celebrated our missions projects. When we asked people to come forward who had gone on an international trip, several came. When we asked those who had been on a mission trip to Missouri or the USA to come forward, many came. When we asked those who had been involved in a Springfield mission project to come forward, the whole building rumbled, resounding with the sound of multitudes of workers rising to come forward.

Do we need to do less in Springfield? No. May our local projects increase. I’m merely saying we cannot use our perceptions and concerns about local needs as an excuse not to go into all the world. It’s both-and, not either-or.

Are we sowing at home and abroad the Word and our witness? In the fields, God wants to sow the Bible, and a believer behind it. We not only sow the Word as seed, but also plant ourselves as living, breathing, talking seed in the midst of lostness. We are to sow our very selves in the soil of society, touching the world not in a cursory way, but burying ourselves in it. Seeds sprout only when buried. We die to ourselves, bury ourselves among the lost, and then repeatedly come forth to resurrection, bringing the lost with us.