We often focus too much upon tactics, tricks, and schemes in our evangelism. While some people have the wrong focus, others seem to complicate evangelism by turning it into a robust system. What does biblical evangelism look like? Jesus provides us the answer in a simple parable found in Mark’s gospel.
Recently, I had the privilege to talk with Gary, a man who lives directly across the street from our church. This man’s family has had a long history within our church, but Gary has consistently remained disconnected from our church for the majority of his life. Another gentleman from our church accompanied me to Gary’s home and we were invited inside. As we talked, I spoke to Gary and asked if I could share the gospel of Jesus Christ with him. After sharing the gospel, I talked about how Jesus Christ changed my life. As I finished, I told Gary that I would like for him to consider the condition of his soul. Before I could go on, he stopped me and said, “Pastor, I need the Lord. I know I need Him.”
I was preparing to tell Gary that we would leave because I’m not a “used car salesman” when it comes to the presentation of the gospel. No offense if you’re a car salesman, I’m simply not into pressuring people into making a quick decision for Jesus. What I wanted to do was come back and followup with Gary and make sure that he understood the gospel. He insisted that he understood and made it quite clear that he needed the Lord to save him. That night, in his living room, Gary called out to the Lord to save him and became a follower of Jesus Christ.
Jesus provides us with a parable in Mark 4:1-20. The parable has become known as the “Parable of the Sower.” Jesus describes biblical evangelism by telling a story about a sower who went out to sow seed and as he went along spreading seed, the seed fell upon different types of ground:
- The Path
- Rocky Ground
- Good Soil
The only seed that resulted in a lasting harvest was the seed that fell upon the “good soil.” As with Jesus’ popular pattern of teaching, His parables were earthly stories with a spiritual (divine) meaning. Jesus goes on to explain His story to the disciples. According to Jesus:
- The sower is anyone who spreads the Word of God.
- The seed represents the Word of God.
- Seed on the path represents the hard hearted person that never gave the seed an opportunity to gain root on the hard path, and the birds that came along and devoured the seed represent Satan who comes along to steal the Word.
- The rocky ground represents the people who receive the seed of the Word, but because there isn’t good soil, when the hardships of persecution or trial come along, the seed dies. It will not last on rocky ground.
- The thorns represent the people who receive the seed of God’s Word, but the cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches, and the desires of other things choke the Word and it becomes unfruitful.
- The good soil represents the people who receive the Word and the seed roots in the fertile ground and brings forth a harvest in due season.
The soil is the issue in Jesus’ story and it represents the heart of man. Sometimes, when you share the gospel with a neighbor or a friend, you will find that it bounces off of them because of the hardness of their heart. Perhaps you have shared the gospel with another type of person who seemed to accept it with joy, but in just a short while they walked away from the church and the gospel too. We have all witnessed the person who seemed to love God and His Word, but the cares of the world became the god that they eventually bowed down to and devoted their life to. What a blessing it is to share the gospel with someone and see them produce fruit that demonstrates genuine faith in Christ.
On Easter Sunday, we had the privilege to witness Gary and his wife follow the Lord in believer’s baptism. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Consider the vast amounts of people that surround you, your home, and your church campus that need Jesus. We often think of the mission field as some place on the other side of the ocean. Have you considered the field where you work and where you live? Will you be faithful to go and sow the seed of the gospel and trust God to bring about a harvest in due season? Perhaps you will encounter people with hearts like the good soil and perhaps someone has been sowing in their soil for years. Perhaps others have been watering. Could it be that the Lord would use you in the final stages of this process? God alone can bring about the harvest, but He is sending out laborers into the fields (1 Corinthians 3:6). Will you go?
As we go out into the fields with the seed of God’s Word, let us remember that very little has changed through the years with farming. The seed and the soil are the same. Certainly there are different pieces of equipment that have made things easier in the process of farming, but the basic idea is still the same. We must not place more emphasis upon the set design, marketing campaigns, and social media applications than we do the gospel of Christ. Our confidence must be upon the Word – not the machine. The tractor cannot produce a harvest. While the tractor helps in the process, the seed must enter the soil and the good soil must receive the seed in order for a harvest to take place. When was the last time you passed a large field of crops and thought about what the farmer must have been wearing? It is my prayer that we will use different tools in our modern age, but that our confidence will remain centered upon God’s power to bring about a harvest through His seed of the gospel. Are you a sower? What’s in your bag? If you aren’t scattering gospel seed, don’t expect to see a harvest in due season.
As my friend and I left Gary’s home the evening that he turned to Jesus for salvation, I said, “You know who will be rewarded for this before the Lord?” He said, “Who?” I said, “There’s a lady he works with who’s a member of our church. She has been sharing the gospel with him, praying for him, and inviting him to church for years. We made one visit and he bowed to Christ. She was the faithful sower.” There’s a lesson for us all to learn in the story of Gary’s salvation. We must be focused on biblical evangelism, like a farmer sowing the seed in a field, and trust God to bring about a harvest.
Paul Washer has rightly said, “It is no exaggeration to say that our understanding of regeneration will determine our view of conversion and our methodology in evangelism.”