The Sower, the Seed, the Soil, and the Spirit
We preached on the parable of the sower a year or so back, but this morning we want to preach it again with a slightly different emphasis.
1. First we want to notice the sower (READ vs. 5):
The sower here is just a plain, simple farmer.
His training was probably limited to the traditional knowledge of the farmers of that day. He employed no special methods, but he just broadcasted seed throughout the field. The sower couldnít discern the quality of the soil beneath the ground surface, therefore he had to sow seed everywhere, whether the ground was good or bad. He had no special equipment that we know of, just a bag full of seed. In this parable the emphasis is not on the sower, other than he simply does his job. The results of the increase were not dependant on the sower.
By analogy, the sower in our text is not unlike a plain country preacher.
He has no special training, other than a good solid teaching ministry in a Baptist Church. He has no special manmade helps; no bag of tricks; just a Bible full of Gospel seed. He employs no humanistic methods or devices of men, he just broadcasts the seed. Like the sower, he canít discern the quality of the soil beneath the ground surface, he canít look deep into menís hearts and souls, therefore he just sows the seed everywhere, and trusts the results to the giver of life. He is just a plain, honest, sincere sower of the Gospel seed. That is what is needed today. He doesnít rely on himself, or his wisdom, or his abilities and techniques to get results.
How unlike this plain country preacher is the modernistic preacher of our time.
They have their ďspecial trainingĒ in soul winning, and ďhow to get resultsĒ methods. Their emphasis is on sower and his ability to sow cunningly and skillfully. Their dependence on the sower, and on his skill, and on his tactics to get results. Their motive is their vain glory, and their love of menís praise.
No, beloved, the sower that our Lord portrays here is just a plain, sincere man of God doing the work he was called to do. This ought to be a great encouragement and incentive to us.
The disciples of Jesus were just plain men; mostly unlearned fishermen. Their spiritual training was sitting at Jesusí feet and listening to Him, and traveling with Him and observing Him, and going forth sowing seed under His guidance and instruction. This beloved, was the best training that a sower could ever have!
Today we can sit at Jesus feet, as it were, under the ministry of His local New Testament Baptist Church. I believe that the church is still the best place to be trained for the ministry. We hear His preachers and teachers expound the Word of God, and observe and learn from them, and go out sowing under the guidance and instruction of the Lordís Church. This is the New Testament way, or at least this is the way that the Apostle Paul taught in Ephesians 4, and other places.
But the great encouragement about all this is, the results of sowing are not dependant on the abilities and methodologies and the persuasiveness of the sower, but only on his obedience and willingness to do his job. The sower doesnít need to be frustrated about getting results, but he leaves the results of his sowing to the Lord.
2. Secondly we want to notice the seed (READ verses 5 & 11):
The seed in our parable was the Word of God, or that is, the Gospel of Jesus. The seed is the only true Gospel of the grace of God, which is how that Christ died for our sins, was buried in a tomb, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. All who will truly believe in the Person and work of Jesus on the cross for their sins, shall be saved.
The sower in our text only sowed one kind of seed, which was the good seed of wheat. There are other kinds of seeds beloved, that might even grow in bad soil. These are the seeds of tares and other useless and even harmful weeds. Some of them grow up to even look like wheat, so that one can scarcely tell the wheat from the tares. We are taught this in the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13. Beloved, I wonder how many tares there are among the true wheat in the Lordís true churches!
But there is only one kind of seed that will produce wheat, and that is wheat seed. And every good and faithful sower will only sow that good seed, because he only wants that good wheat in the time of harvest.
A good and faithful sower doesnít care about how full the fields appear, if it means that most of the crop is useless tares and weeds. The sower wants to see the fields full, but he wants them full of good and valuable wheat!
Now beloved, in the spiritual realm there are many varieties of tare seeds weeds that unfaithful sowers are sowing in the world of religion. Their seed is the seed of manís wisdom and human reasoning, and is sown using manís methods and tactics.
There is the seed of baptism and church membership for salvation. There is the seed of easy believism, which might involve repeating a prayer after the sower, or signing the sowerís card, or walking down a church aisle and shaking the preacherís hand, and other such unscriptural notions. There is the seed of pray your way through. There is the seed of reformation and turning over a new fig leaf. There is the seed of doing the best you can and you will go to heaven.
Well, the list of bad seed goes on, but these seeds cannot produce spiritual wheat! They cannot give life, but only dead religion that looks like the good wheat, but in the end is only chaff that must be burnt in the fire of Godís justice.
Beloved, the sowers that sow bad seed are not concerned with they quality of the crop, but rather the fullness of the field. Their pride and glory is seeing the fields full, regardless of what kind of tares and weeds are growing in the fields. And sad to say, Iím afraid that is what most church fields are full of today.
To help them sow their bad seed, they have developed many unscriptural methods and tactics. There is the new tactic of religious entertainment and church programs. Some churches actually compete with each other, to see who can have the biggest ďgospel singing groupsĒ, or plays and cantatas, and ecumenical meetings. They say in as many words, ďLetís through out the truth of the Godís Word and have one big party for Jesus.Ē
They employ their religious puppets and clowns. They have ďgive awayĒ gimmicks, and raffles, and pie in the preacherís face promotions. You name it, and they use it to fill up their fields with tares. I heard where one church even used naked women to promote their church. Well, I suppose they believe that the end justifies the means. May God help us if we ever resort to such foolishness and ungodliness to fill our church! Beloved, when men depart from the plain teachings of the Bible, it is hard to tell what they might do in the name of religion, even in the name of Jesus!
Beloved, there is only one true and good seed. There are many other kinds of seeds, but only one good seed that springs up into everlasting life. There is only one kind of seed that can bring forth a new creature in Christ Jesus, and that is the only true Gospel of the grace of God.
3. Thirdly we want to notice the soil (READ verses 12-15):
Up until this point in the farming process, all things are equal. Assuming that the sowers are sowing the good seed, they are doing a good job. They are doing what they are called to do, no more and no less. They can trust that by Godís grace they will have a harvest of good wheat. This is where we at Calvary Baptist Church want to be in our spiritual farming.
But when we come to the soil, we find there is a difference in the soil types. There are wayside soils, stony ground soils, thorny ground soils, and then there are good soils. The first three types are all one in the same in nature. The end result is the same for all three They are all bad and unproductive. Spiritually, these soils all represent the unregenerate, depraved hearts of all men, yet in this parable we see that human depravity shows itself in different ways, as each of these soils respond differently to the Gospel seed.
Most men are of the wayside soil variety. These refuse to even allow the Gospel seed the least place in their hearts and minds. They will not so much as hear what you have to say.
A few are like the stony ground, which receive the Word and suddenly are on-fire for the Lord for a very short while, but in no time it seems they burn out like a shooting star and disappear into the night, and blow away like chaff in the wind. Sometimes they donít even make it to the baptistry!
Some are like the thorny ground. They at least make it to the baptistry and join the church. Some of these even go along for the ride for several years, most likely because they think there is some monetary and material gain in it for them. But sooner or later, like Judas Iscariot, they realize that Christianity isnít getting them anywhere, and it is not profiting them in this life, and so they cash in and drop out.
And then of course there are the good ground hearers. They have an honest and good heart, Jesus said. The received the Gospel in sincerity and truth. Not only this, but they hear the Word and keep it! They hide it in their hearts where it is preserved, and they obey it. But what is more, they bring forth fruit with patience. They grow up to become good and profitable wheat for their Masterís use, and are at last brought into His garner.
4. Fourthly and finally we want to notice the Spirit.
What goes unstated in our text in Luke 8, is the Holy Spirit that makes the difference in the good ground hearers. They receive the Word with an honest and good heart. They bring forth fruit unto everlasting life. Thank the Lord for this kind of soil!
As we already have said, the sower is the same. The seed is the same. Only the ground is different. The question is Why?
Was it because that some soil was created better in the first place? NO. Was it because of something that the sower did to the soil to make it better? Not in this case. Now I canít say that the field wasnít plowed and prepared by the farmers. The text doesnít say whether it was or wasnít.
Beloved, I believe true preachers plow with the Word of God, and work that ground, and break up that fallow ground, so to speak, by preaching repentance of sin and sinful ways, and preaching Godís judgment to come upon all lost, rebellious sinners. We try to beak up that old hard and rocky and thorny ground with the Word of God. We turn that soil to allow the roots of the good Gospel seed to penetrate deep into the earth. We add the nutrients of love and benevolence, and goodness and kindness. We water with the water of the Word.
But beloved, after that we have done all this. After we have done all that is Scripturally within our power and authority to do; we must go back to the house and wait for God to give the increase!
(Please notice 1 Corinthians 3:5-9.)
Yes beloved, who is this preacher or that preacher. One plowed, another sowed, another watered, another cultivated, and so on. But all these things notwithstanding, it was God who gives the increase!!!
It is the Holy Spirit of God Who regenerates, Who quickens or makes alive, Who borns men again with the seed of the Gospel. Yes beloved, it is the Holy Spirit Who makes the soil good. Without Him and His work in the soil of menís hearts, there would be none good. There would be none who would or could receive the Gospel and bring forth spiritual fruit unto life everlasting.
In conclusion, we are to be sowers of the seed. We as a church are to be sowing the pure, good seed of the Gospel of Jesus. We are to sow the seed everywhere, on all types of soil, without exception or distinction. The seed will fall on various types of ground. Most perhaps will fall on wayside, stony, and thorny soils.
But thank God some will fall on good ground, and souls will be saved. We have this confidence and assurance. The Holy Spirit will prepare the ground of Godís elect, and they will receive the seed and bring forth fruit unto eternal life.
The results are not dependant upon us. We must only be faithful to sow the seed, the only true seed of the Gospel. It is the Holy Spiritís place to give the increase, and to save sinners for His glory.
How is it with you his morning? The Gospel seed has landed upon your ears, but has it landed upon the soil of your heart. Has Satan already snatched it away before it could take root.† Did you receive the Gospel on stony ground? Will your faith soon dry up and blow away? Did you receive the Gospel on thorny ground? Will the cares of this life choke the Word and you become unfruitful?
Or have you received the Gospel seed on good ground? Has the Holy Spirit worked true repentance and faith in Jesus in your soul?
We pray that it has this morning!