Over the next three weeks, we are going to make a very
special evangelistic push. On May 17, we are presenting a special
lesson that helps us as we face the difficult and frightening
financial times we are in and heading for. Thereís a lot of fear
in the world right now. When people are afraid, they turn to God.
I think it is a great time for us to capitalize on this natural
tendency. Weíll be studying from John
5:1-17 about the invalid by the pool of Bethesda who had
nowhere to turn for healing, but was healed by the Lord. He
trusted in the pool of Bethesda and was hoping for a lucky break.
Instead, he learned to lean on the Lord. The title of the lesson
is, ďIf You Want to Win Lifeís Lottery, Youíve Got to Lean
on the Lord.Ē Over the next three weeks, the elders are asking
you to invite like youíve never invited before. About this time
last year, the Lanton Church of Christ in Spring Hill did this
kind of push. Instead of their average 45 in attendance, they had
109 and baptized three people. The Central Church of Christ in
Ocala, Florida used a push like this a few weeks ago and had 100
guests come from the community.
However, this effort is going to take more than a fun
sermon title, a special day, and some splashy looking cards. This
is going to take work. It is going to take work not just from the
elders, not just from me, not just from the deacons. It is going
to take work from each and every one of us. Remember what Harold
Comer shared with us, it takes about 100 invitations for us to
ever find that one person who is truly open to Godís truth. That
doesnít mean we should give up. It means we need to invite more
and more and more. With all of this in mind, I want to look at the
Parable of the Sower (Luke
8:5-8) and talk about some very simple points about evangelism
that I hope will help us over the next three weeks as we work to
make this evangelistic effort a success. I know this parable is
about the soils, however, Iíd like us to consider the sower in
this story and how he relates to us.
Trust the seed.
In the parable, the sower went out with some seed. He
placed a great deal of trust in his seed. He believed if he sowed
that seed, it would produce fruit and he would have crops to eat.
If he didnít trust the seed, he wouldnít sow it.
We need to do the same. We need to trust our seed.
According to Luke 8:11,
our seed is the word of God. We need to trust that seed. We
donít need to invite folks to a carnival. We donít need to
invite folks to a movie. We donít need to invite folks to a
concert. God doesnít need us to prop up His gospel with our
attempts to make it more palatable to people. We just need to
trust the seed of Godís word.
is an interesting passage. Jesus is addressing a group of people
He had miraculously fed the day before. Theyíve come after Him
because they misunderstood the feeding. They wanted a King who
would feed them like that every day. Jesus, however, was pointing
out that His ministry was not about feeding people. Iím often
amazed at the number of folks today who go to this context about
feeding the 5000 as if it demonstrates we need to rely on food to
bring people in. Jesus says people wonít be won by food. Those
who will be saved will be saved by being taught of God. Psalm
119:97-104 talks about this. We are taught of God when we
learn from His word. Godís word doesnít need our props.
Godís word doesnít need our decorations. Godís word
doesnít need our crutches. Godís word needs our trust.
explains God will make His word accomplish what He wants. It will
not return to Him void. We need to trust our seed. We need to
trust our God who designed the seed. Our job is to sow the seed,
not decorate it.
Be ambitious, sow everywhere.
The sower was an ambitious farmer. He had seed and he sowed
it everywhere he could. He didnít prejudge the soil. He didnít
decide beforehand that the soil was too hard, too rocky, too
thorny. He knew his job was to be a sower of the seed not a tester
of the soil.
We need to be ambitious. We need to sow everywhere. Today
we hear a lot about niche marketing. Instead of trying to get your
message out to everybody, just try to get it out to the right
people. The gospel, however, is not for a niche market. The gospel
is for everyone. Instead of trying to determine what kind of soil
they are ahead of time, letís just sow the seed and let God work
on the soil.
Corinthians 6:9-11. The Corinthian Christians had been
adulterers, idolaters, homosexuals, thieves, coveters, drunkards,
etc. Why were they Christians? Because someone was ambitious with
the seed and sowed it everywhere.
The person may be a lay about drunk whoremonger. Invite him
anyway. The person may be a faithful member of a church that
teaches error. Invite her anyway. The person may have pink hair
and a nose ring connected by a chain to his earring. Invite him
anyway. The person may be an absolute atheist. Invite her anyway.
The person may be rich or poor, black or white, male or female,
Democrat or Republican, educated or ignorant. Invite them anyway.
Our job is to sow seed. Then we trust the seed to do its
The birds are going to get some.
According to Luke
8:5, some of the seed fell on the path, was trampled
underfoot, and eaten by the birds. Canít you just imagine what
the sower thought as this was happening. His precious seed being
stolen from the ground before it even had the chance to germinate
and possibly grow into a plant.
The lesson we need to learn is that the birds are going to
get some. No matter what a great job we do of sowing, the birds
are going to eat some of the seed. According to Luke
8:12, this represented the devil coming and stealing the word
Let me tell you what that means. Youíre going to take
your invitation cards. Youíre going to give one to Bob or Suzy
or Jimmy or Jane. Theyíre going to take one and say, ďThat
sounds interesting. Iíll have to check that out.Ē Youíre
going to think youíve found a prospect. But your going to get
here on May 17 and theyíre not going to show up. Why? Because
the birds are going to get some. The devil is going to steal the
seed away from some.
This will happen in numerous ways. It may be that even
while they took the card, they had no intention of attending but
they didnít want to hurt your feelings. It may be that they had
intended to come, but then someone said, ďYouíre going to go
to that Franklin Church of Christ? You know they donít believe
in music and they think theyíre the only ones going to
heaven?Ē It may be that they had intended on coming but then
lost the card and on that Sunday just completely forgot. Who
knows? Instead of getting bogged down in trying to figure out why
they didnít come, letís just understand the birds are going to
get some. Letís be ready for that.
Keep on sowing.
Think about that first soil and the way birds work. The
sower didnít sow in then find out a few days later that the
birds got some of the seed. While he was tossing the seed out the
birds would come flocking around. As he was sowing he saw the
birds eating some of the seed he trusted. What did he do? Did he
say, ďThis is hopeless; the birds are eating half my seedĒ?
Did he give up? No, he kept on sowing.
That is our job. Keep on sowing. We can all come up with a
thousand reasons we think Satan might steal the word out of
someoneís heart. We can even see it happen as someone sounds
interested and then finds out the church of which we are members;
their face drops and they lose interest. We see it when they say
things like, ďOh yeah, Iíve heard of you. You guys believe
baptism saves; you believe in works salvation.Ē Some of us have
begun to believe sowing the seed is hopeless because the birds eat
half the seed. But the sower kept on sowing. We need to do the
Donít spend your time wondering why and how the birds get
the seed. Donít spend your time trying to chase off the birds.
Donít spend your time trying to scoop the seed back up. Just
keep sowing the seed.
The sun is going to get some.
According to Luke
8:6, some fell on rocky soil. It immediately germinated and
sprang up, but because it had no roots, little moisture, it
withered. According to Matthew
13:6, Jesus said this was because of the sun.
We just need to understand, the sun is going to get some.
No matter what kind of great job we do sowing the seed, some of
them will be nothing more than a flash in the pan. According to Luke
8:13, this represents those who hear the good news and they
love it. They can taste the freedom; they can see the forgiveness;
they long for the mercy. However, they never dig deep into Christ
and when they discover being in Christ is not all ease and luxury,
they wither away.
Let me tell you what this means. This means your going to
give an invitation to Bob, Suzy, Jimmy, or Jane. Theyíll show
up. Theyíll even like what they hear. They may even come back.
But then they just drop out. Why? The sun got them. We just need
to understand this is going to happen.
Keep on sowing.
It will be really easy to remember some of the folks who we
have invited who came for a while but then didnít come back. Or
even remember some we baptized into Christ who seemed to great for
a brief while but then just dropped out. It will be easy to say,
ďThereís no point. This evangelism stuff doesnít work.Ē
However, we need to simply keep on sowing. Donít stop.
Donít give up just because there is some bad soil out there.
Donít get bogged down trying to figure out why or taking a break
to remove all the rocks. Keep on sowing the seed.
The thorns are going to get some.
According to Luke
8:7, some of the seed fell among thorns. The thorns used up so
much of the nutrition in the ground that they choked out the seed.
The seeds germinated. The seeds grew into plants, but they never
had enough nutrition to bear fruit. They just kind of sit there
doing nothing but taking up space.
According to Luke
8:14, these are folks who hear the word and they like it, but
as they go on about their way they get distracted by the cares of
the world. They get caught up in the pursuit of riches. They get
caught up in worries about health, wealth, and every day life.
They get caught up in pursuing fun and pleasures.
We just need to understand that the thorns are going to get
some. Let me tell you what this means. This means weíre going to
invite Bob, Suzy, Jimmy, and Jane. Theyíll come. Theyíll
respond. Theyíll walk with us for a while. However, the economy
will start to tank and theyíll get worried about retirement.
Theyíll take extra jobs that keep them from studying, from
praying, from assembling. Theyíll stop growing spiritually and
begin to fade away. They may still hang around, but after a while,
they stop bearing fruit. Or theyíll try to hang on to Christ
with one hand while they pursue the pleasures Satan has to offer
with the other. Theyíll work to get as close to the line as
possible with sinful pleasure and, in time, theyíll cross that
line. We just need to recognize the thorns are going to get some
and thereís not anything we can do about that.
Keep on sowing.
It is easy for us to look around and see folks who have
come into the body of Christ who just arenít growing. They
arenít doing anything spiritually. We even see them waffling
around with sin. It is easy to wonder what good all this sowing is
However, we simply need to keep on sowing. Donít stop.
Donít get bogged down in trying to figure out what all the
thorns are. Donít get bogged down in trying to chase away the
thorns. If you do, youíll stop sowing the seed. Keep on sowing
If you keep on sowing, some will fall on fertile ground.
According to Luke
8:8, even though a whole bunch of the seed didnít produce
good fruit, even though a whole bunch were stolen by the birds,
scorched by the sun, and choked out by the thorns, some of the
seed did fall on good ground. Some of the seed sank into the rich
earth, sprang up shoots, grew into plants, and bore amazing fruit.
According to Luke
8:15, this represents people who hear the Word, accept the
Word, hang on to the Word, grow because of the Word, and bear
fruit from the Word. They do so with patience. It doesnít happen
overnight. But it will happen.
Let me tell you what this means. This means you will invite
Bob, Suzy, Jimmy, or Jane and they will come. They will be
intrigued and keep coming. They will study and keep coming. They
will accept and become Godís children. Theyíll keep coming.
Theyíll keep praying, studying, assembling, growing. In time,
theyíll bear fruit in their own lives and in the lives of
others. All this will happen because you sowed the seed.
But what would have happened if you had seen the birds
hovering over head and not sown the seed? What would have happened
if you had seen the rocks in the field and not sown the seed? What
would have happened if you had seen the thorns sprouting and not
sown the seed? In each case, the seed would never have found the
good ground. Here is the take away. If you get only one point from
this lesson, please get this one. The seed only falls on good
ground if we keep sowing it. We are to be sowers of the seed, not
testers of the soil. Remember Ecclesiastes
11:6. We need to simply sow at all times, because we never
know which will bear the fruit. The only thing we do know is if we
donít sow, there will be no fruit.
Letís prepare for rain.
There is part of this story that is not actually stated in
this story. However, it is implied. It must be. The fact is, for
all the trust in the seed and for all that the sower relied on
finding good ground, there is just a whole bunch of this we
canít do anything about. The farmer knows this. He puts out the
seed and he hopes for rain. He puts out the seed and he trusts God
Sadly, too many sowers are like the one mentioned in Ecclesiastes 11:4. They are watching the winds and the clouds. They
decide whether or not they think it will rain to decide whether or
not they will sow. Instead of regarding the wind and the clouds,
we need to remember that is Godís job. Our job is to sow the
seed. Godís job is to grow the seed.
Corinthians 3:5-7. Our job is to sow the seed. Godís job is
to grow the seed. The question is, do we trust God to do His job?
If we do, then instead of waiting around until we think we see the
wind and the clouds just right, we need to start sowing. Let us no
longer despair about how useless evangelism is or how useless it
is in Middle Tennessee. Let us quit thinking of all the reasons
something wonít work and remember our God is more powerful than
that. Granted, we canít make any seeds grow, either here or in
any place. But our God can. As long as we are sowing, it will
eventually fall on good soil and God will grow the seed.
Obviously, we do not want to sow the seed for only three
weeks. However, we do have a very important evangelistic push
coming up in just 21 days. Three Sundays from now, we want to get
as many people here as possible. Can we double our attendance on
that day? Can we get over 300 people here? I know our God can do
that? Are we willing to sow the seed and let God do His work?
Remember, our God can do far more abundantly beyond all we ask or
think (Ephesians 3:20).
Letís ask and think big. I want to encourage you to offer at
least 5 invitations per week. Thatís just one per week day.
Donít worry about whether or not you can say it just right.
Donít worry about whether or not the birds are hovering in that
personís life. Donít worry about how many rocks or thorns are
in that personís life. Just sow the seed. Then let God do His
work and see where He takes us. Are you ready for that?
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ