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The Strategic View of the Parable of the Soil

11"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12Those 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. 13Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop (Luke 8:4-15).

Often, Jesus spoke on two levels, the cellular and organism levels. While we should receive God’s Word personally at the cellular level, we can also look at this passage from a strategic sowing and harvesting level of an area, state, or country. Our Lord commands us to preach the Gospel to the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and the end will not come until the job is done (Matthew 24:14). How can we sow our resources to get maximum fruit for God's Kingdom with that Scripture in mind? We shouldn't spend our missionary resources trying to raise a harvest on pathway soil and ground, which will bring little return on the investment. Strategic thinking is required to find suitable soil to maximize the yield.

Any good farmer will test the soil's pH level to determine if it will grow what he wishes to plant. Let me illustrate what I mean. When I worked as a commercial fisherman with my father, we wouldn't hunt for the small fish called sprats in the summer. There were only certain times of the year that the sprats would school together in huge numbers. Putting sprat nets on our gear and trying to catch them was not strategic or pragmatic. The times and seasons determined the investment to catch the fish. C. Peter Wagner uses the illustration of an apple farm:

"Suppose I have an apple farm with three fields. The apples are so ripe in the first field that one worker can reap five bushels in one hour. Only a few have ripened in the second field, and it would take five hours to reap one bushel. In the third are no ripe apples at all. I have 30 workers to send out to pick apples. Where to send them is not a difficult decision. I would not send all 30 into the first field where the apples are ripe, but I would send 29. I would ask the other worker to go into the second field and pick as many apples as possible but frequently travel to the third field. When this worker returns, I do not expect to see a great number of apples. In this case, I am more interested in information than apples. Through this person, I will know when the other apples ripen, and on that basis, redeploy my workforce. The harvest determines the quantity of workers employed."[1]

Timing and location are essential in bringing in the harvest. Countries and regions go through seasons of fruitfulness. Please don't misunderstand me. There are people in all countries ready to receive the Word of God and come to Christ, but revivals are often due to something God is doing in a region or country. Godly leaders in the Church need to look strategically at where God is working and which fields are ripe. Let me give you an example. In the early 1980s, Argentina was hard pathway soil trusting in its leadership council, but all that changed when the military leadership sent an invasion force to capture the Malvinas Islands or the Falkland Islands from the British. Maggie Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, deployed the British troops to the South Atlantic and recaptured the Falklands after several battles with the loss of many lives.

The Argentine national pride was humbled, and with it, a loss of trust in their leaders. God said, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land...” (2 Chronicles 7:14). The Lord used the prayers and the humbling of the Argentine people to turn hard pathway soil into good, rich growing soil. A massive turning to Evangelical Christianity and an enormous revival took place. The Lord uses political situations to create fertile ground for planting and harvesting. God is working by His Spirit all over the world, but history shows us that vast moves of the Spirit come at different times and places that change the spiritual climate of countries. We should redeploy our assets when we see God at work through those changing climates.

Here in the United States, our soil condition is one of the weeds for the most part. Fruitfulness is in the soil, but the weeds choke the plant's growth. Our adversary, the devil, pushes hard to transform the culture into one of deception and evil, but I sense that God, out of His mercy, will not allow our complacency to continue! I believe that God is changing the spiritual climate for the United States to create the right conditions for a massive harvest among people today, especially in our youth. Let us pray it into being. Keith Thomas.

Taken from the in-depth Luke study # 16, The Parable of the Soil.

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[1] C. Peter Wagner, Strategies for Church Growth, Published by Regal Books. Page 65.


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