“The Sower Went Forth to Sow”

25 Jan

The Sower and the Seed
By the parable of the sower, Christ illustrates the things of the kingdom of heaven, and the work
of the great Husbandman for His people. Like a sower in the field, He came to scatter the heavenly
grain of truth. And His parable teaching itself was the seed with which the most precious truths of His
grace were sown. Because of its simplicity the parable of the sower has not been valued as it should be.
From the natural seed cast into the soil, Christ desires to lead our minds to the gospel seed, the sowing
of which results in bringing man back to his loyalty to God. He who gave the parable of the tiny seed is
the Sovereign of heaven, and the same laws that govern earthly seed sowing govern the sowing of the
seeds of truth. {COL 33.1}
By the Sea of Galilee a company had gathered to see and hear Jesus–an eager, expectant throng.
The sick were there, lying on their mats, waiting to present their
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cases before Him. It was Christ’s God-given right to heal the woes of a sinful race, and He now
rebuked disease, and diffused around Him life and health and peace. {COL 33.2}
As the crowd continued to increase, the people pressed close about Christ until there was no room
to receive them. Then, speaking a word to the men in their fishing boats, He stepped into the boat that
was waiting to take Him across the lake, and bidding His disciples push off a little from the land, He
spoke to the multitude upon the shore. {COL 34.1}
Beside the sea lay the beautiful plain of Gennesaret, beyond rose the hills, and upon hillside and plain
both sowers and reapers were busy, the one casting seed and the other harvesting the early grain.
Looking upon the scene, Christ said– {COL 34.2}
“Behold, the sower went forth to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the
birds came and devoured them” (R.V.); “some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth;
and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they
were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and
the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an
hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” {COL 34.3}
Christ’s mission was not understood by the people of His time. The manner of His coming was not in
accordance with their expectations. The Lord Jesus was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy.
Its imposing services were of divine appointment. They were designed to teach the people that at the
time appointed One would come to whom those ceremonies pointed. But the Jews had exalted the
forms and ceremonies and had lost sight of their object. The traditions, maxims, and enactments of men
hid from them the lessons which God intended to
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convey. These maxims and traditions became an obstacle to their understanding and practice of true
religion. And when the Reality came, in the person of Christ, they did not recognize in Him the fulfillment
of all their types, the substance of all their shadows. They rejected the antitype, and clung to their types
and useless ceremonies. The Son of God had come, but they continued to ask for a sign. The message,
“Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” they answered by demands for a miracle. Matt. 3:2.
The gospel of Christ was a stumbling block to them because they demanded signs instead of a Saviour.
They expected the Messiah to prove His claims by mighty deeds of conquest, to establish His empire on
the ruins of earthly kingdoms. This expectation Christ answered in the parable of the sower. Not by
force of arms, not by violent interpositions, was the kingdom of God to prevail, but by the implanting of
a new principle in the hearts of men. {COL 34.4}
“He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man.” Matt. 13:37. Christ had come, not as a king, but
as a sower; not for the overthrow of kingdoms, but for the scattering of seed; not to point His followers
to earthly triumphs and national greatness, but to a harvest to be gathered after patient toil and through
losses and disappointments. {COL 35.1}
The Pharisees perceived the meaning of Christ’s parable, but to them its lesson was unwelcome.
They affected not to understand it. To the multitude it involved in still greater mystery the purpose of the
new teacher, whose words had so strangely moved their hearts and so bitterly disappointed their
ambitions. The disciples themselves had not understood the parable, but their interest was awakened.
They came to Jesus privately and asked for an explanation. {COL 35.2}
This was the desire which Christ wished to arouse, that He might give them more definite instruction.
He
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explained the parable to them, as He will make plain His word to all who seek Him in sincerity of heart.
Those who study the word of God with hearts open to the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, will not
remain in darkness as to the meaning of the word. “If any man willeth to do His will,” Christ said, “he
shall know of the teaching whether it be of God, or whether I speak from Myself.” John 7:17, R.V. All
who come to Christ for a clearer knowledge of the truth will receive it. He will unfold to them the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and these mysteries will be understood by the heart that longs to
know the truth. A heavenly light will shine into the soul temple, and will be revealed to others as the
bright shining of a lamp on a dark path. {COL 35.3}
“The sower went forth to sow” (R.V.). In the East the state of affairs was so unsettled, and there was
so great danger from violence that the people dwelt chiefly in walled towns, and the husbandmen went
forth daily to their labor outside the walls. So Christ, the heavenly Sower, went forth to sow. He left His
home of security and peace, left the glory that He had with the Father before the world was, left His
position upon the throne of the universe. He went forth, a suffering, tempted man; went forth in solitude,
to sow in tears, to water with His blood, the seed of life for a world lost. {COL 36.1}
His servants in like manner must go forth to sow. When called to become a sower of the seed of
truth, Abraham was bidden, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s
house, unto a land that I will show thee.” Gen. 12:1. “And he went out, not knowing whither he went.”
Heb. 11:8. So to the apostle Paul, praying in the temple at Jerusalem, came the message from God,
“Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” Acts 22:21. So those who are called
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to unite with Christ must leave all, in order to follow Him. Old associations must be broken up, plans of
life relinquished, earthly hopes surrendered. In toil and tears, in solitude, and through sacrifice, must the
seed be sown. {COL 36.2}
“The sower soweth the word.” Christ came to sow the world with truth. Ever since the fall of man,
Satan has been sowing the seeds of error. It was by a lie that he first gained control over men, and thus
he still works to overthrow God’s kingdom in the earth and to bring men
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under his power. A sower from a higher world, Christ came to sow the seeds of truth. He who had
stood in the councils of God, who had dwelt in the innermost sanctuary of the Eternal, could bring to
men the pure principles of truth. Ever since the fall of man, Christ had been the Revealer of truth to the
world. By Him the incorruptible seed, “the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever,” is
communicated to men. 1 Peter 1:23. In that first promise spoken to our fallen race in Eden, Christ was
sowing the gospel seed. But it is to His personal ministry among men and to the work which He thus
established that the parable of the sower especially applies. {COL 37.1}
The word of God is the seed. Every seed has in itself a germinating principle. In it the life of the plant
is enfolded. So there is life in God’s word. Christ says, “The words that I speak unto you, they are
Spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63. “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath
everlasting life.” John 5:24. In every command and in every promise of the word of God is the power,
the very life of God, by which the command may be fulfilled and the promise realized. He who by faith
receives the word is receiving the very life and character of God. {COL 38.1}
Every seed brings forth fruit after its kind. Sow the seed under right conditions, and it will develop its
own life in the plant. Receive into the soul by faith the incorruptible seed of the word, and it will bring
forth a character and a life after the similitude of the character and the life of God. {COL 38.2}
The teachers of Israel were not sowing the seed of the word of God. Christ’s work as a teacher of
truth was in marked contrast to that of the rabbis of His time. They dwelt upon traditions, upon human
theories and speculations. Often that which man had taught and written about
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the word, they put in place of the word itself. Their teaching had no power to quicken the soul. The
subject of Christ’s teaching and preaching was the word of God. He met questioners with a plain, “It is
written.” “What saith the Scriptures?” “How readest thou?” At every opportunity, when an interest was
awakened by either friend or foe, He sowed the seed of the word. He who is the Way, the Truth, and
the Life, Himself the living Word, points to the Scriptures, saying, “They are they which testify of Me.”
And “beginning at Moses and all the prophets,” He opened to His disciples “in all the Scriptures the
things concerning Himself.” John 5:39; Luke 24:27. {COL 38.3}
Christ’s servants are to do the same work. In our day, as of old, the vital truths of God’s word are
set aside for human theories and speculations. Many professed ministers of the gospel do not accept the
whole Bible as the inspired word. One wise man rejects one portion; another questions another part.
They set up their judgment as superior to the word; and the Scripture which they do teach rests upon
their own authority. Its divine authenticity is destroyed. Thus the seeds of infidelity are sown broadcast;
for the people become confused and know not what to believe. There are many beliefs that the mind
has no right to entertain. In the days of Christ the rabbis put a forced, mystical construction upon many
portions of Scripture. Because the plain teaching of God’s word condemned their practices, they tried to
destroy its force. The same thing is done today. The word of God is made to appear mysterious and
obscure in order to excuse transgression of His law. Christ rebuked these practices in His day. He
taught that the word of God was to be understood by all. He pointed to the Scriptures as of
unquestionable authority, and we should do the same. The Bible is to be presented as the word of the
infinite God, as
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the end of all controversy and the foundation of all faith. {COL 39.1}
The Bible has been robbed of its power, and the results are seen in a lowering of the tone of spiritual
life. In the sermons from many pulpits of today there is not that divine manifestation which awakens the
conscience and brings life to the soul. The hearers can not say, “Did not our heart burn within us, while
He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:32. There are many
who are crying out for the living God, longing for the divine presence. Philosophical theories or literary
essays, however brilliant, cannot satisfy the heart. The assertions and inventions of men are of no value.
Let the word of God speak to the people. Let those who have heard only traditions and human theories
and maxims hear the voice of Him whose word can renew the soul unto everlasting life. {COL 40.1}
Christ’s favorite theme was the paternal tenderness and abundant grace of God; He dwelt much
upon the holiness of His character and His law; He presented Himself to the people as the Way, the
Truth, and the Life. Let these be the themes of Christ’s ministers. Present the truth as it is in Jesus. Make
plain the requirements of the law and the gospel. Tell the people of Christ’s life of self-denial and
sacrifice; of His humiliation and death; of His resurrection and ascension; of His intercession for them in
the courts of God; of His promise, “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.” John 14:3. {COL
40.2}
Instead of discussing erroneous theories, or seeking to combat the opponents of the gospel, follow
the example of Christ. Let fresh truths from God’s treasure house flash into life. “Preach the word.”
“Sow beside all waters.” “Be instant in season, out of season.” “He that hath My word, let him speak
My word faithfully. What is the chaff
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to the wheat? saith the Lord.” “Every word of God is pure. . . . Add thou not unto His words, lest He
reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” 2 Tim. 4:2; Isa. 32:20; Jer. 23:28; Prov. 30:5, 6. {COL 40.3}
“The sower soweth the word.” Here is presented the great principle which should underlie all
educational work. “The seed is the word of God.” But in too many schools of our day God’s word is set
aside. Other subjects occupy the mind. The study of infidel authors holds a large place in the educational
system. Skeptical sentiments are interwoven in the matter placed in school books. Scientific research
becomes misleading, because its discoveries are misinterpreted and perverted. The word of God is
compared with the supposed teachings of science, and is made to appear uncertain and untrustworthy.
Thus the seeds of doubt are planted in the minds of the youth, and in time of temptation they spring up.
When faith in God’s word is lost, the soul has no guide, no safeguard. The youth are drawn into paths
which lead away from God and from everlasting life. {COL 41.1}
To this cause may in great degree be attributed the widespread iniquity in our world today. When the
word of God is set aside, its power to restrain the evil passions of the natural heart is rejected. Men sow
to the flesh, and of the flesh they reap corruption. {COL 41.2}
And here, too, is the great cause of mental weakness and inefficiency. In turning from God’s word to
feed on the writings of uninspired men, the mind becomes dwarfed and cheapened. It is not brought in
contact with deep, broad principles of eternal truth. The understanding adapts itself to the
comprehension of the things with which it is familiar, and in this devotion to finite things it is weakened,
its power is contracted, and after a time it becomes unable to expand. {COL 41.3}
All this is false education. The work of every teacher
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should be to fasten the mind of the youth upon the grand truths of the word of Inspiration. This is the
education essential for this life and for the life to come. {COL 41.4}
And let it not be thought that this will prevent the study of the sciences, or cause a lower standard in
education. The knowledge of God is as high as heaven and as broad as the universe. There is nothing so
ennobling and invigorating as a study of the great themes which concern our eternal life. Let the youth
seek to grasp these God-given truths, and their minds will expand and grow strong in the effort. It will
bring every student who is a doer of the word into a broader field of thought, and secure for him a
wealth of knowledge that is imperishable. {COL 42.1}
The education to be secured by searching the Scriptures is an experimental knowledge of the plan of
salvation.
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Such an education will restore the image of God in the soul. It will strengthen and fortify the mind against
temptation, and fit the learner to become a co-worker with Christ in His mission of mercy to the world.
It will make him a member of the heavenly family; and prepare him to share the inheritance of the saints
in light. {COL 42.2}
But the teacher of sacred truth can impart only that which he himself knows by experience. “The
sower sowed his seed.” Christ taught the truth because He was the truth. His own thought, His
character, His life-experience, were embodied in His teaching. So with His servants: those who would
teach the word are to make it their own by a personal experience. They must know what it is to have
Christ made unto them wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. In presenting the
word of God to others, they are not to make it a suppose-so or a may-be. They should declare with the
apostle Peter, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the
power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of His majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16.
Every minister of Christ and every teacher should be able to say with the beloved John, “The life was
manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with
the Father, and was manifested unto us.” 1 John 1:2. {COL 43.1}
The Soil–by the Wayside
That with which the parable of the sower chiefly deals is the effect produced on the growth of
the seed by the soil into which it is cast. By this parable Christ was virtually saying to His hearers, It is
not safe for you to stand as critics of My work, or to indulge disappointment because it does not meet
your ideas. The question of
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greatest importance to you is, How do you treat My message? Upon your reception or rejection of it
your eternal destiny depends. {COL 43.2}
Explaining the seed that fell by the wayside, He said, “When any one heareth the word of the
kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was
sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside.” {COL 44.1}
The seed sown by the wayside represents the word of God as it falls upon the heart of an inattentive
hearer. Like the hard-beaten path, trodden down by the feet of men and beasts, is the heart that
becomes a highway for the world’s traffic, its pleasures and sins. Absorbed in selfish aims and sinful
indulgences, the soul is “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Heb. 3:13. The spiritual faculties are
paralyzed. Men hear the word, but understand it not. They do not discern that it applies to themselves.
They do not realize their need or their danger. They do not perceive the love of Christ, and they pass by
the message of His grace as something that does not concern them. {COL 44.2}
As the birds are ready to catch up the seed from the wayside, so Satan is ready to catch away the
seeds of divine truth from the soul. He fears that the word of God may awaken the careless, and take
effect upon the hardened heart. Satan and his angels are in the assemblies where the gospel is preached.
While angels of heaven endeavor to impress hearts with the word of God, the enemy is on the alert to
make the word of no effect. With an earnestness equaled only by his malice, he tries to thwart the work
of the Spirit of God. While Christ is drawing the soul by His love, Satan tries to turn away the attention
of the one who is moved to seek the Saviour. He engages the mind with worldly schemes. He excites
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criticism, or insinuates doubt and unbelief. The speaker’s choice of language or his manner may not
please the hearers, and they dwell upon these defects. Thus the truth they need, and which God has
graciously sent them, makes no lasting impression. {COL 44.3}
Satan has many helpers. Many who profess to be Christians are aiding the tempter to catch away the
seeds of truth from other hearts. Many who listen to the preaching of the word of God make it the
subject of criticism at home. They sit in judgment on the sermon as they would on the words of a
lecturer or a political speaker. The message that should be regarded as the word of the Lord to them is
dwelt upon with trifling or sarcastic comment. The minister’s character, motives, and actions, and the
conduct of fellow members of the church, are freely discussed. Severe judgment is pronounced, gossip
or slander repeated, and this in the hearing of the unconverted. Often these things are spoken by parents
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in the hearing of their own children. Thus are destroyed respect for God’s messengers, and reverence
for their message. And many are taught to regard lightly God’s word itself. {COL 45.1}
Thus in the homes of professed Christians many youth are educated to be infidels. And the parents
question why their children are so little interested in the gospel, and so ready to doubt the truth of the
Bible. They wonder that it is so difficult to reach them with moral and religious influences. They do not
see that their own example has hardened the hearts of their children. The good seed finds no place to
take root, and Satan catches it away. {COL 46.1}
In Stony Places
“He that receiveth the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon
with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or
persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” {COL 46.2}
The seed sown upon stony ground finds little depth of soil. The plant springs up quickly, but the root
cannot penetrate the rock to find nutriment to sustain its growth, and it soon perishes. Many who make
a profession of religion are stony-ground hearers. Like the rock underlying the layer of earth, the
selfishness of the natural heart underlies the soil of their good desires and aspirations. The love of self is
not subdued. They have not seen the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the heart has not been humbled
under a sense of its guilt. This class may be easily convinced, and appear to be bright converts, but they
have only a superficial religion. {COL 46.3}
It is not because men receive the word immediately, nor because they rejoice in it, that they fall
away. As soon
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as Matthew heard the Saviour’s call, immediately he rose up, left all, and followed Him. As soon as the
divine word comes to our hearts, God desires us to receive it; and it is right to accept it with joy. “Joy
shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:7. And there is joy in the soul that believes
on Christ. But those who in the parable are said to receive the word immediately, do not count the cost.
They do not consider what the word of God requires of them. They do not bring it face to face with all
their habits of life, and yield themselves fully to its control. {COL 46.4}
The roots of the plant strike down deep into the soil, and hidden from sight nourish the life of the
plant. So with the Christian; it is by the invisible union of the soul with Christ, through faith, that the
spiritual life is nourished. But the stony-ground hearers depend upon self instead of Christ. They trust in
their good works and good impulses, and are strong in their own righteousness. They are not strong in
the Lord, and in the power of His might. Such a one “hath not root in himself”; for he is not connected
with Christ. {COL 47.1}
The hot summer sun, that strengthens and ripens the hardy grain, destroys that which has no depth of
root. So he who “hath not root in himself,” “dureth for a while”; but “when tribulation or persecution
ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” Many receive the gospel as a way of escape
from suffering, rather than as a deliverance from sin. They rejoice for a season, for they think that
religion will free them from difficulty and trial. While life moves smoothly with them, they may appear to
be consistent Christians. But they faint beneath the fiery test of temptation. They cannot bear reproach
for Christ’s sake. When the word of God points out some cherished sin, or requires self-denial or
sacrifice, they are offended. It
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would cost them too much effort to make a radical change in their life. They look at the present
inconvenience and trial, and forget the eternal realities. Like the disciples who left Jesus, they are ready
to say, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” John 6:60. {COL 47.2}
There are very many who claim to serve God, but who have no experimental knowledge of Him.
Their desire to do His will is based upon their own inclination, not upon the deep conviction of the Holy
Spirit. Their conduct is not brought into harmony with the law of God. They profess to accept Christ as
their Saviour, but they do not believe that He will give them power to overcome their sins. They have
not a personal relation with a living Saviour, and their characters reveal defects both hereditary and
cultivated. {COL 48.1}
It is one thing to assent in a general way to the agency of the Holy Spirit, and another thing to accept
His work as a reprover calling to repentance. Many feel a sense of estrangement from God, a realization
of their bondage to self and sin; they make efforts for reform; but they do not crucify self. They do not
give themselves entirely into the hands of Christ, seeking for divine power to do His will. They are not
willing to be molded after the divine similitude. In a general way they acknowledge their imperfections,
but they do not give up their particular sins. With each wrong act the old selfish nature is gaining
strength. {COL 48.2}
The only hope for these souls is to realize in themselves the truth of Christ’s words to Nicodemus,
“Ye must be born again.” “Except a man be born from above, he can not see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:7, 3, margin. {COL 48.3}
True holiness is wholeness in the service of God. This is the condition of true Christian living. Christ
asks for an
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unreserved consecration, for undivided service. He demands the heart, the mind, the soul, the strength.
Self is not to be cherished. He who lives to himself is not a Christian. {COL 48.4}
Love must be the principle of action. Love is the underlying principle of God’s government in heaven
and earth, and it must be the foundation of the Christian’s character. This alone can make and keep him
steadfast. This alone can enable him to withstand trial and temptation. {COL 49.1}
And love will be revealed in sacrifice. The plan of redemption was laid in sacrifice–a sacrifice so
broad and deep and high that it is immeasurable. Christ gave all for us, and those who receive Christ will
be ready to sacrifice all for the sake of their Redeemer. The thought of His honor and glory will come
before anything else. {COL 49.2}
If we love Jesus, we shall love to live for Him, to present our thank offerings to Him, to labor for
Him. The very labor will be light. For His sake we shall covet
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pain and toil and sacrifice. We shall sympathize with His longing for the salvation of men. We shall feel
the same tender craving for souls that He has felt. {COL 49.3}
This is the religion of Christ. Anything short of it is a deception. No mere theory of truth or
profession of discipleship will save any soul. We do not belong to Christ unless we are His wholly. It is
by halfheartedness in the Christian life that men become feeble in purpose and changeable in desire. The
effort to serve both self and Christ makes one a stony-ground hearer, and he will not endure when the
test comes upon him. {COL 50.1}
Among Thorns
“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this
world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” {COL 50.2}
The gospel seed often falls among thorns and noxious weeds; and if there is not a moral
transformation in the human heart, if old habits and practices and the former life of sin are not left
behind, if the attributes of Satan are not expelled from the soul, the wheat crop will be choked. The
thorns will come to be the crop, and will kill out the wheat. {COL 50.3}
Grace can thrive only in the heart that is being constantly prepared for the precious seeds of truth.
The thorns of sin will grow in any soil; they need no cultivation; but grace must be carefully cultivated.
The briers and thorns are always ready to spring up, and the work of purification must advance
continually. If the heart is not kept under the control of God, if the Holy Spirit does not work
unceasingly to refine and ennoble the character, the old habits will reveal themselves in the life. Men may
profess to believe the gospel; but unless they are sanctified
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by the gospel their profession is of no avail. If they do not gain the victory over sin, then sin is gaining the
victory over them. The thorns that have been cut off but not uprooted grow apace, until the soul is
overspread with them. {COL 50.4}
Christ specified the things that are dangerous to the soul. As recorded by Mark He mentions the
cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things. Luke specifies the cares,
riches, and pleasures of this life. These are what choke the word, the growing spiritual seed. The soul
ceases to draw nourishment from Christ, and spirituality dies out of the heart. {COL 51.1}
“The cares of this world.” No class is free from the temptation to worldly care. To the poor, toil and
deprivation and the fear of want bring perplexities and burdens. To the rich come fear of loss and a
multitude of anxious cares. Many of Christ’s followers forget the lesson He has bidden us learn from the
flowers of the field. They do not trust to His constant care. Christ cannot carry their burden, because
they do not cast it upon Him. Therefore the cares of life, which should drive them to the Saviour for help
and comfort, separate them from Him. {COL 51.2}
Many who might be fruitful in God’s service become bent on acquiring wealth. Their whole energy is
absorbed in business enterprises, and they feel obliged to neglect things of a spiritual nature. Thus they
separate themselves from God. We are enjoined in the Scriptures to be “not slothful in business.” Rom.
12:11. We are to labor that we may impart to him who needs. Christians must work, they must engage
in business, and they can do this without committing sin. But many become so absorbed in business that
they have no time for prayer, no time for the study of the Bible, no time to seek and serve God. At times
the longings of the soul go out for holiness and heaven; but there
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is no time to turn aside from the din of the world to listen to the majestic and authoritative utterances of
the Spirit of God. The things of eternity are made subordinate, the things of the world supreme. It is
impossible for the seed of the word to bring forth fruit; for the life of the soul is given to nourish the
thorns of worldliness. {COL 51.3}
And many who are working with a very different purpose, fall into a like error. They are working for
others’ good; their duties are pressing, their responsibilities are many, and they allow their labor to
crowd out devotion. Communion with God through prayer and a study of His word is neglected. They
forget that Christ has said, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. They walk apart from Christ,
their life is not pervaded by His grace, and the characteristics of self are revealed. Their service is
marred by desire for supremacy, and the harsh, unlovely traits of the unsubdued heart. Here is one of
the chief secrets of failure in Christian work. This is why its results are often so meager. {COL 52.1}
“The deceitfulness of riches.” The love of riches has an infatuating, deceptive power. Too often those
who possess worldly treasure forget that it is God who gives them power to get wealth. They say, “My
power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.” Deut. 8:17. Their riches, instead of
awakening gratitude to God, lead to the exaltation of self. They lose the sense of their dependence upon
God and their obligation to their fellow men. Instead of regarding wealth as a talent to be employed for
the glory of God and the uplifting of humanity, they look upon it as a means of serving themselves.
Instead of developing in man the attributes of God, riches thus used are developing in him the attributes
of Satan. The seed of the word is choked with thorns.
53
{COL 52.2}
“And pleasures of this life.” There is danger in amusement that is sought merely for self-gratification.
All habits of indulgence that weaken the physical powers, that becloud the mind, or that benumb the
spiritual perceptions, are “fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” 1 Peter 2:11. {COL 53.1}
“And the lusts of other things.” These are not necessarily things sinful in themselves, but something
that is made first instead of the kingdom of God. Whatever attracts the mind from God, whatever draws
the affections away from Christ, is an enemy to the soul.

{COL 53.2}
When the mind is youthful and vigorous and susceptible of rapid development, there is great
temptation to be ambitious for self, to serve self. If worldly schemes are successful, there is an inclination
to continue in a line that deadens conscience, and prevents a correct estimate as to what constitutes real
excellence of character. When circumstances favor this development, growth will be seen in a direction
prohibited by the word of God. {COL 53.3}
In this formative period of their children’s life, the responsibility of parents is very great. It should be
their study to surround the youth with right influences, influences that will give them correct views of life
and its true success. Instead of this, how many parents make it their first object to secure for their
children worldly prosperity. All their associations are chosen with reference to this object. Many parents
make their home in some large city, and introduce their children into fashionable society. They surround
them with influences that encourage worldliness and pride. In this atmosphere the mind and soul are
dwarfed. The high and noble aims of life are lost sight of. The privilege of being sons of God, heirs of
eternity, is bartered for worldly gain.
54
{COL 53.4}
Many parents seek to promote the happiness of their children by gratifying their love of amusement.
They allow them to engage in sports, and to attend parties of pleasure, and provide them with money to
use freely in display and self-gratification. The more the desire for pleasure is indulged, the stronger it
becomes. The interest of these youth is more and more absorbed in amusement, until they come to look
upon it as the great object of life. They form habits of idleness and self-indulgence that make it almost
impossible for them ever to become steadfast Christians. {COL 54.1}
Even the church, which should be the pillar and ground of the truth, is found encouraging the selfish
love of pleasure. When money is to be raised for religious purposes, to what means do many churches
resort? To bazaars, suppers, fancy fairs, even to lotteries, and like devices. Often the place set apart for
God’s worship is desecrated by feasting and drinking, buying, selling, and merrymaking. Respect for the
house of God and reverence for His worship are lessened in the minds of the youth. The barriers of
self-restraint are weakened. Selfishness, appetite, the love of display, are appealed to, and they
strengthen as they are indulged. {COL 54.2}
The pursuit of pleasure and amusement centers in the cities. Many parents who choose a city home
for their children, thinking to give them greater advantages, meet with disappointment, and too late
repent their terrible mistake. The cities of today are fast becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah. The
many holidays encourage idleness. The exciting sports–theatergoing, horse racing, gambling,
liquor-drinking, and reveling–stimulate every passion to intense activity. The youth are swept away by
the popular current. Those who learn to love amusement for its own
55
sake open the door to a flood of temptations. They give themselves up to social gaiety and thoughtless
mirth, and their intercourse with pleasure lovers has an intoxicating effect upon the mind. They are led on
from one form of dissipation to another, until they lose both the desire and the capacity for a life of
usefulness. Their religious aspirations are chilled; their spiritual life is darkened. All the nobler faculties of
the soul, all that link man with the spiritual world, are debased. {COL 54.3}
It is true that some may see their folly and repent. God may pardon them. But they have wounded
their own souls, and brought upon themselves a lifelong peril. The power of discernment, which ought
ever to be kept keen and sensitive to distinguish between right and wrong, is in a great measure
destroyed. They are not quick to recognize the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit, or to discern the devices
of Satan. Too often in time of danger they fall under temptation, and are led away from God. The end of
their pleasure-loving life is ruin for this world and for the world to come. {COL 55.1}
Cares, riches, pleasures, all are used by Satan in playing the game of life for the human soul. The
warning is given, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world,
the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the
eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15, 16. He who reads the
hearts of men as an open book says, “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be
overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and cares of this life.” Luke 21:34. And the apostle Paul by
the Holy Spirit writes, “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and
hurtful lusts, which
56
drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which, while some
coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1
Tim. 6:9, 10. {COL 55.2}
Preparation of the Soil
Throughout the parable of the sower, Christ represents the different results of the sowing as
depending upon the soil. In every case the sower and the seed are the same. Thus He teaches that if the
word of God fails of accomplishing its work in our hearts and lives, the reason is to be found in
ourselves. But the result is not beyond our control. True, we cannot change ourselves; but the power of
choice is ours, and it rests with us to determine what we will become. The wayside, the stony-ground,
the thorny-ground hearers need not remain such. The Spirit of God is ever seeking to break the spell of
infatuation that holds men absorbed in worldly things, and to awaken a desire for the imperishable
treasure. It is by resisting the Spirit that men become inattentive to or neglectful of God’s word. They are
themselves responsible for the hardness of heart that prevents the good seed from taking root, and for
the evil growths that check its development. {COL 56.1}
The garden of the heart must be cultivated. The soil must be broken up by deep repentance for sin.
Poisonous, Satanic plants must be uprooted. The soil once overgrown by thorns can be reclaimed only
by diligent labor. So the evil tendencies of the natural heart can be overcome only by earnest effort in
the name and strength of Jesus. The Lord bids us by His prophet, “Break up your fallow ground, and
sow not among thorns.” “Sow to yourselves in righteousness; reap in mercy.” Jer. 4:3; Hosea 10:12.
This work He desires to accomplish for us, and He asks us to co-operate with Him.
57
{COL 56.2}
The sowers of the seed have a work to do in preparing hearts to receive the gospel. In the ministry
of the word there is too much sermonizing, and too little of real heart-to-heart work. There is need of
personal labor for the souls of the lost. In Christlike sympathy we should come close to men individually,
and seek to awaken their interest in the great things of eternal life. Their hearts may be as hard as the
beaten highway, and apparently it may be a useless effort to present the Saviour to them; but while logic
may fail to move, and argument be powerless to convince, the love of Christ, revealed in personal
ministry, may soften the stony heart, so that the seed of truth can take root. {COL 57.1}
So the sowers have something to do that the seed may not be choked with thorns or perish because
of shallowness of soil. At the very outset of the Christian life every
58
believer should be taught its foundation principles. He should be taught that he is not merely to be saved
by Christ’s sacrifice, but that he is to make the life of Christ his life and the character of Christ his
character. Let all be taught that they are to bear burdens and to deny natural inclination. Let them learn
the blessedness of working for Christ, following Him in self-denial, and enduring hardness as good
soldiers. Let them learn to trust His love and to cast on Him their cares. Let them taste the joy of
winning souls for Him. In their love and interest for the lost, they will lose sight of self. The pleasures of
the world will lose their power to attract and its burdens to dishearten. The plowshare of truth will do its
work. It will break up the fallow ground. It will not merely cut off the tops of the thorns, but will take
them out by the roots. {COL 57.2}
In Good Ground
The sower is not always to meet with disappointment. Of the seed that fell into good ground the
Saviour said, This “is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and
bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” “That on the good ground are they,
which, in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
{COL 58.1}
The “honest and good heart” of which the parable speaks, is not a heart without sin; for the gospel is
to be preached to the lost. Christ said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Mark 2:17. He has an honest heart who yields to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He confesses his
guilt, and feels his need of the mercy and love of God. He has a sincere desire to know the truth, that he
may obey it. The good heart is a believing
59
heart, one that has faith in the word of God. Without faith it is impossible to receive the word. “He that
cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
Heb. 11:6. {COL 58.2}
This “is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it.” The Pharisees of Christ’s day closed their
eyes lest they should see, and their ears lest they should hear; therefore the truth could not reach their
hearts. They were to suffer retribution for their willful ignorance and self-imposed blindness. But Christ
taught His disciples that they were to open their minds to instruction, and be ready to believe. He
pronounced a blessing upon them because they saw and heard with eyes and ears that believed. {COL
59.1}
The good-ground hearer receives the word “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of
God.” 1 Thess. 2:13. Only he who receives the Scriptures as the voice of God speaking to himself is a
true learner. He trembles at the word; for to him it is a living reality. He opens his understanding and his
heart to receive it. Such hearers were Cornelius and his friends, who said to the apostle Peter, “Now
therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” Acts
10:33. {COL 59.2}
A knowledge of the truth depends not so much upon strength of intellect as upon pureness of
purpose, the simplicity of an earnest, dependent faith. To those who in humility of heart seek for divine
guidance, angels of God draw near. The Holy Spirit is given to open to them the rich treasures of the
truth. {COL 59.3}
The good-ground hearers, having heard the word, keep it. Satan with all his agencies of evil is not
able to catch it away. {COL 59.4}
Merely to hear or to read the word is not enough. He who desires to be profited by the Scriptures
must meditate
60
upon the truth that has been presented to him. By earnest attention and prayerful thought he must learn
the meaning of the words of truth, and drink deep of the spirit of the holy oracles. {COL 59.5}
God bids us fill the mind with great thoughts, pure thoughts. He desires us to meditate upon His love
and mercy, to study His wonderful work in the great plan of redemption. Then clearer and still clearer
will be our perception of truth, higher, holier, our desire for purity of heart and clearness of thought. The
soul dwelling in the pure atmosphere of holy thought will be transformed by communion with God
through the study of Scriptures. {COL 60.1}
“And bring forth fruit.” Those who, having heard the word, keep it, will bring forth fruit in obedience.
The word of God, received into the soul, will be manifest in good works. Its results will be seen in a
Christlike character and life. Christ said of Himself, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is
within My heart.” Ps. 40:8. “I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.”
John 5:30. And the Scripture says, “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even
as He walked.” 1 John 2:6. {COL 60.2}
The word of God often comes in collision with man’s hereditary and cultivated traits of character and
his habits of life. But the good-ground hearer, in receiving the word, accepts all its conditions and
requirements. His habits, customs, and practices are brought into submission to God’s word. In his view
the commands of finite, erring man sink into insignificance beside the word of the infinite God. With the
whole heart, with undivided purpose, he is seeking the life eternal, and at the cost of loss, persecution,
or death itself, he will obey the truth. {COL 60.3}
And he brings forth fruit “with patience.” None who receive God’s word are exempt from difficulty
and trial; but
61
when affliction comes, the true Christian does not become restless, distrustful, or despondent. Though
we can not see the definite outcome of affairs, or discern the purpose of God’s providences, we are not
to cast away our confidence. Remembering the tender mercies of the Lord, we should cast our care
upon Him, and with patience wait for His salvation. {COL 60.4}
Through conflict the spiritual life is strengthened. Trials well borne will develop steadfastness of
character and precious spiritual graces. The perfect fruit of faith, meekness, and love often matures best
amid storm clouds and darkness. {COL 61.1}
“The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he
receive the early and latter rain.” James 5:7. So the Christian is to wait with patience for the fruition in his
life of the word of God. Often when we pray for the graces of the Spirit, God works to answer our
prayers by placing us in circumstances to develop these fruits; but we do not understand His purpose,
and wonder, and are dismayed. Yet none can develop these graces except through the process of
growth and fruit bearing. Our part is to receive God’s word and to hold it fast, yielding ourselves fully to
its control, and its purpose in us will be accomplished. {COL 61.2}
“If a man love Me,” Christ said, “he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and we will
come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John 14:23. The spell of a stronger, a perfect mind will
be over us; for we have a living connection with the source of all-enduring strength. In our divine life we
shall be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. We shall no longer live the common life of selfishness, but
Christ will live in us. His character will be reproduced in our nature. Thus shall we bring forth the fruits
of the Holy Spirit–“some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.” {COL 61.3}

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