1. THE POWER IS FROM GOD
a. To whom do we owe our existence? Acts 17:28; Isaiah 44:24.
b. What two things does God provide to all mankind in order to sustain life? Matthew 5:45. How does God’s power work in the spiritual realm? Isaiah 55:10, 11.
“There is life in the seed, there is power in the soil; but unless an infinite power is exercised day and night, the seed will yield no returns. The showers of rain must be sent to give moisture to the thirsty fields, the sun must impart heat, electricity must be conveyed to the buried seed. The life which the Creator has implanted, He alone can call forth. Every seed grows, every plant develops, by the power of God. . . .
“As in the natural, so in the spiritual sowing; the teacher of truth must seek to prepare the soil of the heart; he must sow the seed; but the power that alone can produce life is from God. There is a point beyond which human effort is in vain. While we are to preach the word, we cannot impart the power that will quicken the soul, and cause righteousness and praise to spring forth. In the preaching of the word there must be the working of an agency beyond any human power. Only through the divine Spirit will the word be living and powerful to renew the soul unto eternal life.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 63, 64.
2. SOWING THE SEED
a. What is represented by the seed in the parables of Jesus? Luke 8:11.
b. Where should we sow this seed? Ecclesiastes 11:6; Isaiah 32:20.
“To sow beside all waters means to give wherever our help is needed. This will not tend to poverty. ‘He which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully’ (2 Corinthians 9:6). By casting it away the sower multiplies his seed. So by imparting we increase our blessings. God’s promise assures a sufficiency, that we may continue to give.
“More than this: as we impart the blessings of this life, gratitude in the recipient prepares the heart to receive spiritual truth, and a harvest is produced unto life everlasting. . . .
“The life that will be preserved is the life that is freely given in service to God and man.”—Education, pp. 109, 110.
c. How should we sow the gospel seed, and why? 2 Corinthians 9:6.
“We are to sow beside all waters, keeping our souls in the love of God, working while it is day, using the means entrusted to us in the Master’s service. Whatever our hands find to do, we are to do it with cheerfulness; whatever sacrifice we are called upon to make, we are to make it cheerfully. As we sow beside all waters, we shall realize the truth of the words, ‘He which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.’
“We owe everything to grace, sovereign grace. Grace ordained our redemption, our regeneration, and our adoption to heirship with Jesus Christ. Let this grace be revealed to others.
“The Saviour takes those whom He finds will be molded, and uses them for His own name’s glory. He uses material that others would pass by, and works in all who will give themselves to Him. He delights to take apparently hopeless material, those whom Satan has debased, and through whom he has worked, and make them the subjects of His grace. He rejoices to deliver them from suffering, and from the wrath that is to fall upon the disobedient. He makes His children His agents in the accomplishment of this work, and in its success, even in this life, they find a precious reward.”—Reflecting Christ, p. 256.
3. THE GROWTH OF THE SEED
a. How does the good seed grow in the heart? Zechariah 4:6; Hosea 14:5, 7; Mark 4:26, 27.
“The plant grows by receiving that which God has provided to sustain its life. It sends down its roots into the earth. It drinks in the sunshine, the dew, and the rain. It receives the life-giving properties from the air. So the Christian is to grow by cooperating with the divine agencies. Feeling our helplessness, we are to improve all the opportunities granted us to gain a fuller experience. As the plant takes root in the soil, so we are to take deep root in Christ. As the plant receives the sunshine, the dew, and the rain, we are to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 66, 67.
b. How do we know whether the seed growing in our heart is good or bad? Luke 6:45. What does God want us to do as the good seed grows within us? Verse 38.
“Words and acts testify plainly what is in the heart. If vanity and pride, love of self and love of dress, fill the heart, the conversation will be upon the fashions, the dress, and the appearance, but not upon Christ or the kingdom of heaven. If envious feelings dwell in the heart, the same will be manifested in words and acts. . . .
“Some dwell upon what they shall eat and drink and wherewithal they shall be clothed. Their hearts are filled with these thoughts, and they flow out from the abundance of the heart, as though these things were their grand aim in life, their highest attainment.”—Our High Calling, p. 283.
“The heart that has once tasted the love of Christ, cries out continually for a deeper draft, and as you impart you will receive in richer and more abundant measure. . . . To Jesus, who emptied Himself for the salvation of lost humanity, the Holy Spirit was given without measure. So it will be given to every follower of Christ when the whole heart is surrendered for His indwelling.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 20, 21.
c. In what areas of our experience does God especially want to see growth? 2 Peter 3:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:3.
4. LESSONS FROM A SMALL SEED
a. What lessons can we learn from the mustard seed? Mark 4:30–32.
“The seed from which sprang this giant [mustard] plant was among the least of all seeds. At first it sent up a tender shoot, but it was of strong vitality, and grew and flourished until it reached its present great size. So the kingdom of Christ in its beginning seemed humble and insignificant. Compared with earthly kingdoms it appeared to be the least of all. By the rulers of this world Christ’s claim to be a king was ridiculed. Yet in the mighty truths committed to His followers the kingdom of the gospel possessed a divine life. And how rapid was its growth, how widespread its influence! When Christ spoke this parable, there were only a few Galilean peasants to represent the new kingdom. Their poverty, the fewness of their numbers, were urged over and over again as a reason why men should not connect themselves with these simple-minded fishermen who followed Jesus. But the mustard seed was to grow and spread forth its branches throughout the world. When the earthly kingdoms whose glory then filled the hearts of men should perish, the kingdom of Christ would remain, a mighty and far-reaching power.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 77, 78.
b. How important are the things in life which we consider just little things? Are they really little things? Song of Solomon 2:15.
“A single grain of wheat, increased by repeated sowings, would cover a whole land with golden sheaves. So widespread may be the influence of a single life, of even a single act.”—Education, p. 109.
c. What do we know about the development of a plant from a seed? Mark 4:26–29. How does this growth relate to our own development?
“In the earliest years of the child’s life the soil of the heart should be carefully prepared for the showers of God’s grace. Then the seeds of truth are to be carefully sown and diligently tended. And God, who rewards every effort made in His name, will put life into the seed sown; and there will appear first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.”—The Adventist Home, p. 201.
5. THE LAW OF CAUSE AND EFFECT
a. What will determine what we reap in the harvest? Galatians 6:7, 8; Matthew 7:16, 17.
“By the laws of God in nature, effect follows cause with unvarying certainty. The reaping testifies to the sowing. Here no pretense is tolerated. Men may deceive their fellow men and may receive praise and compensation for service which they have not rendered. But in nature there can be no deception. On the unfaithful husbandman the harvest passes sentence of condemnation. And in the highest sense this is true also in the spiritual realm. . . . [The man in any business or profession who is untrue to his highest responsibilities] may flatter himself that, so long as the wrong is concealed, he is gaining an advantage. But not so; he is cheating himself. The harvest of life is character, and it is this that determines destiny, both for this life and for the life to come.
“The harvest is a reproduction of the seed sown. Every seed yields fruit after its kind. So it is with the traits of character we cherish. Selfishness, self-love, self-esteem, self-indulgence, reproduce themselves, and the end is wretchedness and ruin. . . . Love, sympathy, and kindness yield fruitage of blessing, a harvest that is imperishable.”—Education, pp. 108, 109.
b. What will we reap if we put God above every earthly consideration? Luke 18:29, 30.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Although the seed has life in itself, what is needed to make it grow? What is needed for growth in the spiritual realm?
2. What should be our attitude in sowing the gospel seed? How has the Saviour given us an example in this regard?
3. If we have good seed growing in our heart, what will our conversation be upon?
4. How does the mustard seed illustrate the growth of God’s kingdom?
5. What do we need to sow in order to reap an imperishable harvest?