The joy of the gospel
Luke 8: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.
V11-12 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”
But it’s a path! Seed won’t germinate on a path! If that is so obvious then the only reason why we risk seed landing there, is because we love the gospel so much. We love the message of Christ’s love.
Just speaking it is a joy in itself.
As a child I was in the Salvation Army and every Sunday we would be out doing an ‘open-air’. I haven’t seen one of these for years but the band and sometimes the songsters (the choir) would go on to the streets in the neighbourhood and we would gather in a circle and have a meeting outside. The band would play, there would be soloists and then the very important testimony and also a short sermon. There wasn’t a lot of results from those open-airs. That wasn’t the point. The reason was the gospel was going out. We were in love with the gospel and we loved the community so much that we needed to be there. As we scattered the seed some fell along the paths, the people hanging out of the windows of the block of flats, they heard the music and the testimony, but then they closed their windows and went back to their lives till next Sunday, no change, just entertainment.
When I moved from the Army into the Elim Church it was quite a culture shock in many ways but they shared the love for the gospel. This involved street evangelism, not quite the open-air of the Army, we had sketch-boards and flannel graphs, we didn’t have brass instruments but we did have guitars and drums and we did have testimonies. We also had the Gospel service on a Sunday evening. Everyone had a Gospel service at that time. It was great. It was all about scattering the seed. Testimonies, songs, dramas, engaging gospel sermons, I remember my father would often take some story from the newspaper, he would even bring it into the pulpit, the bible and the Daily Mail and would thread it together into a gospel message. Perfect! All we had to do was to get people into the church service to experience this. That’s where we began to hit a difficulty. Churches began to struggle and realised that the Gospel services were not working because they were just ‘preaching to the converted’ so they were stopped and everyone had family time on Sunday evenings because that’s what God wants.
Sunday mornings became crucially important for teaching because it was the only service when the Church were together. Street evangelism became rare as licences were needed to be on the street and lives became really busy anyway. The result was that the gospel message, the seed, stopped being seen as much. The Church became uneducated to the gospel and lost their first love for the gospel and a generation went by who had not only led anyone to Christ but had not given a gospel presentation to anyone. The seed had stopped being scattered.
When the seed stops being scattered joy soon leaves. The Churches that are struggling with political infighting the most, the Churches that are declining the most are the ones who are not scattering the seed. Yesterday a leader was sharing with me how his friend who Pastors a church recently told him that only 1% of his 70 size church were true disciples. Seems a bit low to me! What I do know is the key to discipleship is gospel sharing, it is mission, it is the scattering of the seed, the Word of God.
This week I was asked what I thought a Pentecostal was. Tomorrow is Pentecost and what a great day to celebrate! A Pentecostal is a disciple who is saturated by the Spirit of Got to be empowered to share the gospel to the lost people of this world.
We need to fall in love with the gospel of Jesus Christ again. First love preaching. First love testimonies. We need our first love back. We need the joy of the gospel. Fall on us Spirit of God!