December 12, 2017

Shallow Soil

By Irven Lee

When the sower went out to sow his seed, some seed fell upon a rock, and as soon as it sprang up it withered away because it lacked moisture. These on the stony ground had not much earth. They sprang up immediately, but when the sun was up they were scorched. This is a picture of people who for a while believe and in time of temptation fall away. The parable of the sower with the Lord's explanation is found in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8.

There are many joys that come to the gospel preacher and other faithful workers, but there are some disappointments. It is very pleasant to see people obey the gospel, but it hurts to see those who are baptized give up and ignore the church which our Lord purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25). He evidently considers the church to be important or He would not have purchased it at such a price.

Christians are taught to do certain things while together. (Read Acts 20:7; Eph. 5:19; Acts 2:42.) We should not be guilty of willful sin by forsaking the assembling (Heb. 10:25-31). The one who is absent does not exert the good influence on others that he is capable of rendering, and he is not protected by the example and teachings of others. The early disciples at Jerusalem "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer." It is evident that they were to be steadfast in these things, and that their faith and love were such that they were glad to worship together. (See Acts 2:46,47.) 1 wish that all that I baptize would show such zeal and concern for the church.

Some may not have been properly taught. The apostles were asked to teach and baptize and then continue to teach men to observe all things taught by the Lord (Matt. 28:18-20). The edifying is important (Eph. 4:11-16). There is to be the watering as well as the planting (1 Cor. 3:1-8). Even in the matter of helping the babes in Christ, they need to desire the sincere milk of the word that they may grow (1 Pet. 2:2). It is not easy to feed one who is not hungry (Matt. 5:6).

Parents who do not attend worship are not likely to teach their children the wonderful words of life at home. The failure to teach and the negative example will likely lead the children into ignorance of the Bible and indifference toward the church. It could be very different if the parents had unfeigned faith as did Eunice and Lois. (Read 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14,15.) Think of the position of parents who turn their own children into the broad way to destruction by their own lukewarmness. The word makes it very clear that they are to train the child in the way he should go. (See Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4; 1 Tim. 5:14.)

In the parable of the sower some seed fell among thorns and produced no fruit because they were choked. The Lord mentioned cares, riches, and pleasures as thorns. People in this class become too busy in trivial things to have time to do the very important things. They do not have time to teach their children or neighbors because they are watching TV or earning extra money to satisfy some fancy. If we could arrange our priorities we could have some pleasure, meet our responsibilities to the family, and earn enough to provide proper things for their needs. We are to seek the kingdom of God above things in this life, but our riches and pleasures must not choke out our spiritual growth.

It is the will of God that the gospel be preached to every creature since God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. He knows that all will not receive the word into honest and good hearts, but we cannot be sure who will until proper effort has been made to reach the lost, but we are not to condemn ourselves too severely if we fail. Failure may come because of a lack of effort on the part of the teacher, but it may also come because of the condition of those to be taught. If one's ears and eyes are closed he cannot be taught. He cannot be taught against his will.

If there are one hundred fifty members of the church in a given community there will likely be fifteen or more who never attend, with as many others who are not regular at all. These figures are not accurate, but they are used to suggest the seriousness of this tendency to drop out of the work.

There may be another fifteen in such a community who were carried to worship as babies but were never baptized and

who never attend now that they are adults.

Some members of the church marry companions who will not encourage their steadfastness nor help in training children to be Christians. It is not easy to walk the narrow way alone, nor to bring up the children in the nurture and admonishment of the Lord without the help of the marriage companion. "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me smttereth abroad" (Matt. 12:30). It is good if young Christians consider these things before they marry.

If efforts are made again and again, some of these dropouts might be reached, or their children might be encouraged to come into the family of God. Each soul is precious in the sight of God. Let each faithful Christian remember that much of the effective teaching is done privately, so many should teach publicly and privately in the effort to reach as many as possible before it is too late. If one is reached, this often leads to the saving of others.

Guardian of Truth XXX: 20, pp. 621, 633
October 16, 1986

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