December 29, 2016

Disciples Making Disciples – Sowing

This is the third of six articles in the series “Disciples Making Disciples,” about growing and nurturing disciples for God’s kingdom.

To have a large harvest you have to sow lots of seed. Sowing a small amount of seeds leads to a small harvest. Harvest size is proportional to the amount of seed sown.

I remember the first time my dad allowed me to grow some radishes in his vegetable garden. I planted them in a row one afternoon after school. The next afternoon I checked, but saw no growth. I did the same the next afternoon. I lost my patience the following afternoon and dug up a portion of the row to see the seeds with small white roots growing into the soil. Planting seed brought a change, but I couldn’t see it immediately. Dad eventually discovered my lack of patience.

Real-life stories about what God is doing in our lives are very powerful.

Talking About Potential

All seeds have the potential of life-giving power within.

The gospel is the powerful seed of God that must be planted in receptive hearts for real discipleship to emerge. Jesus went from synagogue to mountain field to homes to teach and preach God’s message (Matt. 9:35, 36). The good news of Jesus is the seed.

Jesus dealt with issues that inhibit our desire to live forever (Eccl. 3:11). God loves humans and allowed His Son to condescend and be human to show God’s love in human flesh (John 1:1-4, 14-18; 3:16). Jesus not only identified with us, He overcame the sin that separates us from God (1 John 3:5, Heb. 4:12). He also paid the penalty of our evil by dying for us (Rom. 5:8, Eph. 1:7).

But no dead man can save us. Jesus conquered death, the other obstacle we face (1 Cor. 15:1-7, 15-17). And now He ministers His grace and justice for us (Heb. 4:16). He will return to earth to restore us to our original, perfect, and eternal state (John 14:1-3, 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Without this seed being sowed into people’s prepared hearts there will be no change or growth.

There is a limitless supply of gospel seed; and, unlike seed for various plants today, there is nothing wrong with it. This seed is eternal (1 Peter 1:23). Within each seed is an unexplainable but majestic life-giving power that, under the right circumstances, will spring to life.

Plans for Planting

So how do we sow the seed?

We could start by sharing small spiritual experiences in conversations. Such as, “I went to a small group during the week,” or, “I went to church on Saturday.” Telling others what God has done in our lives—answers to prayer, changes in lifestyle and attitude—are great ways to plant gospel seed. My bike-riding friends were willing to listen to how God changed my son’s life as we huffed and puffed up a climb.

Reality TV is popular. Real-life stories about what God is doing in our lives are very powerful. Eventually, people may want to hear how Jesus became important in our lives.

The apostle Paul’ story about how Jesus changed his life is recorded twice (Acts 24:10-21, 26:2-23). Each time, he briefly told what his life was like before Jesus (not glorifying the past), then he told how he met Jesus (his story was dramatic; for people like me it took time), then he described the difference Jesus made to his present life.

The demoniac from the Geresenes told how Jesus changed his life, and the whole community came out to see Jesus the next time He visited (Mark 5:19, 20; 7:31-8:10).

Seed is sown when we share the good news about Jesus.

Besides sharing our personal testimony (Rev. 12:10), seed is sown when we share the good news about Jesus. This can be done by inviting people to read the Gospels together, and perhaps having a short Bible study based on asking open ended questions.

Other ways of sowing gospel seed include giving out Bible tracts, sending Signs of the Times magazine to friends, handing out Beyond DVDs, putting up posts or blogs on your personal Internet sites, sending Bible texts by SMS to family and friends.

Churches sow seeds in Sabbath school classes from babies to adults, through Bible or Prophecy Seminars, or public evangelistic meetings. The corporate church sows seed through its network of Seventh-day Adventist schools, Hope Channel, Adventist World Radio, and local FM radio stations. These are all ways of scattering seed that will grow and bring a change when people’s hearts are receptive.

The gospel is powerful; it changes lives when sown into receptive hearts. How freely are you and I sowing that seed?

Glenn Townend is president of the South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists.