This post was first published October 21, 2016. —ed.
How do you sleep at night?
With all the trouble and turmoil in the world; with the threat of violence and financial collapse always looming; with corruption permeating governments at every level; and with strife, anger, and conflict along every social and political dividing line, how can any of us get a good night’s rest?
The prospect of sound sleep is even slimmer for believers, as we look at culture in love with sin and eager to celebrate every sort of blasphemy, debauchery, and depravity it can concoct. Every night we try to go to sleep in a world full of lost and dying sinners blind to their desperate need for the Savior. And if you believe what church growth experts have to say about evangelism these days, the pressure of reaching and saving those lost souls is on you and me. It’s a wonder we ever find any rest at all!
But thanks be to God that the responsibility of halting a world sprinting to hell does not fall on our shoulders. As John MacArthur explains in his sermon “God’s Sovereignty, the Gospel, and Sleeping Well,” Scripture clearly teaches that our job is simply to sow the seed of the gospel and sleep.
The fourth chapter of Mark’s gospel is home to one of the Lord’s most beloved and well-known lessons—the Parable of the Soils (Mark 4:1-20). Many modern church leaders and evangelistic gurus will use that illustration to emphasize the skill and tactics Christians need to employ as sowers of the gospel seed—that we need to pay close attention to which kind of “soil” we’re sowing into, and tailor the message to fit those particular needs.
But that’s not the point of the parable at all, and Christ Himself makes that clear just a few verses later with another simple parable about another sower. Here’s what He said:
The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come. (Mark 4:26-29)
As John MacArthur explains, the sower can’t do anything to make the seed more potent, the ground more fruitful, or the crop more bountiful. He has a specific and simple job—to faithfully sow. Everything after that is God’s work.
Understanding that blessed truth brings rich depth to the parable of the soils, and fresh energy to your own evangelistic efforts. If you’re struggling with the weight of this world’s comprehensive spiritual needs, or if you simply want to be reminded of God’s sovereignty in the work of His kingdom, this message will be an encouragement to you. More than that, it will stimulate your desire to see others transformed through the work of God and His Word, and embolden your efforts to reach them with the gospel.
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