The Seed and the Enemy of Souls
To serve the Lord in
the gospel we must be
aware of the enemy
and his strength,
and overcome it
This past weekend we had a booth at a local neighborhood music festival in Chicago, as a gospel outreach. (You can get an idea of what that was like from this brief video: Jeff Fest Outreach 2022; be ready for a little rock music.) Each time I’m involved in such an outreach I’m more convicted of the need for the gospel to go forth again, that so many more people would turn to the Lord, both for His sake and for theirs!
As it happened, the week before I had been looking at the parable of the sower, to prepare for our radio program. This parable has so much to say about our spiritual growth as believers in Christ, and what can frustrate that growth. Yet, we can also learn a great deal from it regarding just what is involved in preaching the gospel.
In this regard I was especially struck with how each of the three Synoptic Gospels use different terms to describe both what is being sown, and the enemy who opposes that sowing. (Of course, the writers of the Gospels were translating the Lord’s speaking, which was in either Aramaic or Hebrew, into Greek. Thus, under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration they could each choose a different term to emphasize different aspects of the Lord’s meaning in what He spoke.)
As for the seed, Mark states that “the sower sows the word” (Mark 4:14). Luke says that “the seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). And Matthew speaks of it as “the word of the kingdom” (Matt. 13:19). So the sower, whether the Lord Himself or, today, a preacher of the gospel, is sowing the word of God, in order to bring forth God’s kingdom on the earth.
But, there is also an enemy who will do everything he can to oppose this work:
“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.”
— Matthew 13:19
So, here in Matthew this enemy is described as “the wicked one.” However, Mark, in the parallel verse in that Gospel, says that “Satan comes immediately and takes away the word” (Mark 4:15), and Luke states that,
“…the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.”
— Luke 8:12
From these verses, then, we see just how fierce is the enemy we must deal with in order to carry out the gospel preaching. In terms of his nature he is truly “wicked,” constantly working to prevent ones from “believing and be being saved” so that God may gain His kingdom on the earth. In terms of his work he is the “Adversary,” which is the meaning of the name “Satan”; that is, he actively opposes everything our holy God desires to do. And in terms of how he carries out that work he is “the Devil,” which means “Accuser”; he is constantly accusing us to God, and God to us.
In the context of the parable of the sower this accusing must include his efforts to cause people to doubt that the Bible really is the word of God, for it is the word of God that conveys the divine seed to those who hear.
Thus, to serve the Lord in the gospel we must be aware that,
The god of this age has blinded the thoughts of the unbelieving.
— 2 Corinthians 4:4
D.L. Moody was perhaps the greatest gospel preacher in the entire history of the church. He stated:
Most Christians fail because they underestimate the strength of the enemy.
From all this may we realize how much prayer, labor, and sacrifice is needed to deal with this Adversary and bind his work, so that the gospel may go forth again with fresh power! (Matt. 12:29). This is especially true in these days, when the corrupting course of the world is at a flood tide, sweeping away everything before it.
Yet, as Watchman Nee stated, as Christians we do not fight to victory, but rather, from victory; that is, to deal with the enemy we stand in the complete and final victory the Lord has already won over him on the cross. May the Lord gain so many in these days to take that position, to stand with Him in prayer and in preaching, so that the seed of the gospel and of the kingdom may go forth again in our time, and even grow up and bear fruit (Matt. 13:23), for His sake and His glory!
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— 3 August 2022 —