Sow your seed morning and evening (Ecclesiastes 11:6)

To be a witness for Jesus Christ is an essential part of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus has called His disciples to be witnesses to Him. In fact, the last thing that Jesus said to His disciples before He ascended to heaven after His resurrection was, “You shall be My witnesses . . . to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8).” Thus, being a witness (“martyr” in the Greek) for Jesus is virtually synonymous with being a disciple. And what is the best means that we have, as His followers, to witness for Him in this world? The best means we have been given is the gospel. We are called to sow the seed of the gospel so that Jesus Christ is glorified.

AGRICULTURAL WISDOM

Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether this or that will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good. – Ecclesiastes 11:6

The author of Ecclesiastes gives us simple wisdom about successful agriculture in chapter 11, verse 6: Scatter the seed! And then continue to sow the seed. Morning and evening (an expression that means “all the time”) sow the seed, because you have no idea which will sprout, but we do know that you will not have a good harvest if you do not scatter any seed. Of course, God gives us this wisdom for more than just agriculture. When considering the seed of the gospel, what wisdom can we take away from this? Scatter the seed! Morning and evening and all the time sow the seed, for we do not know which of them God will use to change a heart.

Matthew 13 is a chapter that is full of “kingdom parables,” which tell us about the kingdom of heaven through stories of everyday life. In the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-8, Jesus tells the large crowds, “Behold, the sower went out to sow.” Then we see the sower scatter the seed indiscriminately on roads and among weeds and on the rocks and in good soil, apparently indifferent to where the seed is going. Yet, despite the sower’s careless sowing, Jesus makes no mention about the need for greater skill on the part of the sower. The sower is not rebuked. Why not? Because the sower is not called to evaluate the condition of the soil, but is called to sow the seed, and trust that the seed will yield a crop. The sower’s confidence is in the seed. Just so, we cannot see the condition of the human heart and so we cannot know what the Lord will do when we sow the seed of the gospel. We have been called to sow the seed indiscriminately and extravagantly and then trust the Lord to bring the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

FAITHFUL SOWERS AND WASTED SEED

The sower who does not sow is a contradiction in terms. How can it be that the one who is defined by his task does not do the work that defines him? A sower is obviously hired to sow seed. If he does not sow seed, shouldn’t his compensation be in jeopardy? Indeed, his very identity is in jeopardy! Now, the believer is called to be a sower of the seed of the gospel. If we do not sow the gospel seed, shouldn’t we be concerned about our identity? Therefore, since Jesus has called us to be sowers of the seed of the gospel, let us be sure that we are laboring at our defining task.

If some of his master’s seed is “wasted” by extravagant and indiscriminate sowing, the sower will still be praised as faithful to his duty, because the master has called the sower into the field to sow. Now, we know that the seed of the gospel is potent seed and that the master has an ample supply, but we also know that the sowers of the seed are few (Matthew 9:37). Finding faithful sowers of the seed is the limiting factor.

The only “wasted seed” is the seed that is never sown.

The unfaithful sower is the sower who has been given seed that he does not sow (Matthew 25:24-26).

Let us, therefore, be faithful sowers who extravagantly scatter the seed of the gospel.

SDG                 rmb                 1/22/2021

How will they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14-15)

BRITTON BUSINESS SCHOOL CASE STUDY

The sales manager was at a loss as to what to do next. Sales had been flat to slightly declining for almost five years now, despite having a clearly superior product at a more competitive price. True, the product had not been changed or been upgraded for a while, but the existing features and benefits already so far exceeded all the competition that an upgrade should have been unnecessary. That, in combination with a sales price much less than the competing products, made it hard to explain why sales were not steadily increasing.

“Far superior product at a lower price; Why can’t we move the needle on sales?”

He considered the company’s decision to cut marketing. Could that be it? Yes, they spent less than 25% of what the competition spent on marketing, but that could not be the full explanation.

He thought about sales training as a possible answer. “Maybe our salespeople need more training.” But that didn’t make sense, because both his salespeople had been selling the product for at least twenty years. Both knew how to prospect, how to make and convert cold calls, how to show the superior features and benefits of the product. As far as skill at one-on-one sales, the sales manager would put both his salespeople up against anyone in the business.

Then he wondered whether it was the competition. While it was a fact that the competition was well-established in the market, it was also a fact that almost all of their existing customers had at one point in time been using the competitive product and had switched when they heard about our product and what it had to offer. “No, it’s not the competition. It must be something else that I can’t put my finger on. There has to be some reason why we can’t get more market share, especially with more than 50 million potential customers in our territory.” The sales manager decided to call his two salespeople into his office and see if they could brainstorm and come up with an answer.

CASE STUDY ANALYSIS

            As business consultants, how would you explain the lack of anticipated sales at this company? What would be your recommendation for the sales manager as to how to increase sales?

            Okay, time’s up. What is your answer? I hope that you said something like, “Get more salespeople out there! If you have a market of 50 million people and TWO SALESPEOPLE, you are desperately understaffed and need to figure out how to let more people know that there is a far superior product available at a lower price. People will not buy the best product in the world, even if it is free, if they don’t know that the product exists.

THE GOSPEL ANALOGY

            In Romans 10:14-15, the apostle Paul lays out four essential steps for any person anywhere to be saved. After declaring that, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13),” Paul then tells how that blessing of salvation takes place, starting with the end and working backwards. So, he asks how they will call on the Lord if they have not believed in the Lord. (Implied answer: They won’t!) Backing up one more step, he asks how they will believe in Jesus if they have never heard the gospel about Jesus. (Implied answer: They won’t!) Finally, he asks the critical question, “And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Implied answer: They won’t!) All these steps are necessary for salvation. No step can be omitted. Therefore, it is necessary for salvation for there to be “a preacher” (see below for a description of what it means to be “a preacher”) to proclaim the gospel message so that an unsaved person will hear the gospel. And it is necessary for salvation for the person who hears the gospel message to believe that message. And it is necessary for salvation for the person who believes the gospel message to call on the name of the Lord in repentance and faith as a response to their believing the gospel message that was preached and heard. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth (a verbal call on the name of the Lord) Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” That means that if there is true belief in your heart, it will issue forth in verbal confession from your mouth and then in life and behavior change as sanctification occurs.

WHO IS A PREACHER?

            So, from Scripture we see that a preacher is necessary for salvation because the gospel message must be heralded to the unsaved. But now the question comes up, “Well, who is a preacher?” Various pictures may be conjured up in your mind in answer to this question. The caricature seems to be of some man sweating profusely as he shouts at his hapless congregation. The popularity of this image would suggest that the picture was designed in hell and has resulted in the perishing of many souls as they laughed off “the preacher.” But the biblical word that is used in Romans 10:14-15 is that of a herald, of a person who had been entrusted with a critically important message and was sent out to proclaim exactly that message, even if the herald was killed in carrying out the task. This is the biblical picture. In the Bible, Paul was a preacher (2 Timothy 1:11). John the Baptist was a preacher. Solomon was a Preacher (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Noah was a preacher (2 Peter 2:5). Most significant of all, the Lord Jesus Himself was a Preacher. There is no reason to shrink back from being a preacher based on reputation.

            But who is a preacher? Think about the preacher’s task. The preacher is a herald sent out to proclaim a message. Now consider Matthew 28:19-20, when Jesus told us to “Go, therefore” in the Great Commission. Jesus was sending every member of His church out to proclaim the gospel to the nations. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus says to His first disciples, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Those are herald words. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us. We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Again, herald words. Jesus told the parable in Matthew 13, “The sower went out to sow.” We find out that “the sower” sows the Word of God, and it doesn’t take a leap of imagination to see that every believer could be described as a sower. Again, more herald words.

            Who is a preacher? Who is a herald? Who has been sent out by the Lord Jesus Christ to herald His message to perishing men and women so that they might be saved? That is the privileged calling of the preacher. Who wouldn’t want to be called to that task? And what Paul is saying in Romans 10:14 is that you and I have been called as preachers (“heralds”) of the good news so that people will hear and believe and call on the name of the Lord.

            So, whether your audience is few or many, you are the one who has been called by your Lord and Savior to let others know about Jesus and about how they can be delivered from the wrath to come.

            In Matthew 9:38, after seeing the misery of the people who were like sheep without a shepherd, He said, “Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Just as the company in the case study needed more salespeople, so the Lord Jesus is seeking more heralds who will be active in His harvest.

SDG                 rmb                 9.8.2020