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Five Truths For The Ministry of Sowing

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Mark 4:9)

I pay a lot of attention to how the gospel is preached. I listen carefully to invitations to accept Christ. I compare the things I hear to Scripture. I compare them to how Jesus, the Apostles, and other Christians in the New Testament preached.

Much of what I hear today doesn't sound like what I read.

My desire is to make my own proclamation and gospel testimony sound more like the example of Christ. More like the Apostles. Less like a salesman.

How about you?

If we want to understand the ministry of sowing, we can find no better teacher than Jesus. This is His teaching:

"Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold." And He was saying, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Mark 4:3-9)

Those who heard Jesus teach this parable were confused. Fortunately for us, Christ's explanation of this parable was given to His disciples and recorded in the Scriptures.

Hopefully we have ears to hear. Jesus tells us five important truths.

1. The Seed is the Word.

Jesus said, "The sower sows the word" (Mark 4:14). This is no insignificant point.

Sowing the Seed of the Word
The flavor of Jesus' teaching has already been described in Mark's Gospel.
Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
(Mark 1:14-15)
Now is the time. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent. Believe the gospel.

If we want to be faithful in the ministry of sowing, we must sow the word. Not our word. God's word.

This requires that we be diligent and faithful to study the Scriptures for ourselves. We don't want to be sowing the words of men.

If you will take up your Bibles and read you will see that the words Christ and the Apostles preached sound very different than the words of many of our famous pastors and teachers today.

Don't sow the words of men. Sow the word of God.

2. Satan Steals Seed.

Pray against Satan stealing the seed
Our battle is not against flesh and blood. It is a spiritual battle. We have an invisible enemy who seeks to steal the seed that is sown.

In the parable, this is the case for the seed that falls beside the rode and is eaten by birds. When they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them (Mark 4:15b).

Understanding that Jesus teaches us the truth, if we walk by faith we will be wise to pray against this thieving enemy. To pray that God will rebuke Satan and not allow him to come and steal the seed that is sown.

3. Persecution Causes Some To Fall Away.

When the word is sown some receive it with joy.

Persecution is a cause for stumbling
A modern practice is to tell all who respond initially with joy - perhaps with every eye closed and every head bowed - that they are Christians now! They have passed from death to life! They are bound for heaven! Don't let anyone deceive them that they are now children of God!

But Christ warns against such foolish declarations. Instead, Christ tells us the plain truth that some who receive the word with joy initially will fall away. They will not endure once persecution or affliction arise.

In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. (Mark 4:16-17)

Notice that the persecution and affliction arise because of the word. Those who turn to Christ are given a role as ambassadors in His kingdom. We are called to proclaim His word. For His glory. To every creature. And to the ends of the earth.

As we proclaim the Word and live godly in Christ Jesus we will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). We would be better suited to warn our hearers of the danger of falling away when persecution and affliction arises than assuring them that their initial joy is assurance of everlasting life. It isn't. Not according to Christ. To tell them otherwise, is to build on the authority of men.

"An appalling and horrible thing
Has happened in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority;
And my people love it so!
But what will you do at the end of it?"
(Jeremiah 5:30-31)

This modern practice of assuring all who initially respond with joy that they are guaranteed heaven is directly contrary to Christ's own teaching. We should rejoice when someone responds with joy. But we should also tell them the truth that they must endure until the end. This will require their enduring through persecution and affliction if they truly put Jesus' teachings into practice and truly testify to His word.

4. Choked Out By Ungodly Pursuits.

Not everyone who falls away from Christ does so because of affliction. Persecution doesn't kill every profession of faith. Another category of danger exists. Sometimes comfort and ease bring death for the seed.

And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Mark 4:18-19)

Thorns can choke the word
Thorns can ruin someone who professes faith in Christ but pursues the wrong things.

Worries of the world. Deceitfulness of riches. Desire for other things.

When these worldly pursuits become the focus, the word is choked out.

Much of what passes for Christianity today is simply worldliness. Pursuits of worldly things instead of pursuing the glory of our God. We have been told that this is the American dream. It is just thorns, waiting to choke out the word of God.

Don't be deceived. Worldliness is deadly.

James put it this way:
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
(James 4:4)
Pursuing worldliness chokes out the word. It makes you an enemy of God. Paul agreed:
For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
(Philippians 3:18-19)
What is your mind set on? What is your pursuit? The answer to this question is more important than if you think you really meant it when you repeated a prayer after someone.

5. Bear Fruit.

Only one category of people is described as "good soil." It's those who hear the word. Who accept it. Who bear fruit.
And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.
(Mark 4:20)

Walk in newness of Life
If we desire to be faithful in our sowing, we must encourage people to hear. To accept. To bear fruit. To endure until the end. To pursue the right things.

Do you have ears to hear?

Jesus said, "Take care what you listen to" (Mark 4:24).

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