Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 2: "The Sower Went Forth to Sow"
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To this cause may in great degree be attributed the
widespread iniquity in our world today. When the word
of God is set aside, its power to restrain the evil passions of
the natural heart is rejected. Men sow to the flesh, and
of the flesh they reap corruption.
And here, too, is the great cause of mental weakness
and inefficiency. In turning from God's word to feed on the
writings of uninspired men, the mind becomes dwarfed and
cheapened. It is not brought in contact with deep, broad
principles of eternal truth. The understanding adapts itself
to the comprehension of the things with which it is familiar,
and in this devotion to finite things it is weakened, its power
is contracted, and after a time it becomes unable to expand.
All this is false education. The work of every teacher [p. 42] should be to fasten the mind of the youth upon the grand
truths of the word of Inspiration. This is the education
essential for this life and for the life to come.
And let it not be thought that this will prevent the
study of the sciences, or cause a lower standard in
education. The knowledge of God is as high as heaven and
as broad as the universe. There is nothing so ennobling
and invigorating as a study of the great themes which
concern our eternal life. Let the youth seek to grasp these
God-given truths, and their minds will expand and grow
strong in the effort. It will bring every student who is a
doer of the word into a broader field of thought, and
secure for him a wealth of knowledge that is imperishable.
The education to be secured by searching the Scriptures
is an experimental knowledge of the plan of salvation. [p. 43] Such an education will restore the image of God in the
soul. It will strengthen and fortify the mind against
temptation, and fit the learner to become a co-worker with Christ
in His mission of mercy to the world. It will make him a
member of the heavenly family; and prepare him to share
the inheritance of the saints in light.
But the teacher of sacred truth can impart only that
which he himself knows by experience. "The sower sowed
his seed." Christ taught the truth because He was the
truth. His own thought, His character, His life-experience,
were embodied in His teaching. So with His servants:
those who would teach the word are to make it their own
by a personal experience. They must know what it is to
have Christ made unto them wisdom and righteousness and
sanctification and redemption. In presenting the word of
God to others, they are not to make it a suppose-so or a
may-be. They should declare with the apostle Peter, "We
have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made
known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ, but were eye-witnesses of His majesty." 2 Peter
1:16. Every minister of Christ and every teacher should
be able to say with the beloved John, "The life was
manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show
unto you that eternal life which was with the Father, and
was manifested unto us." 1 John 1:2.
The Soil—by the Wayside
That with which the parable of the sower chiefly deals
is the effect produced on the growth of the seed by the
soil into which it is cast. By this parable Christ was
virtually saying to His hearers, It is not safe for you to
stand as critics of My work, or to indulge disappointment
because it does not meet your ideas. The question of [p. 44] greatest importance to you is, How do you treat My
message? Upon your reception or rejection of it your
eternal destiny depends.
Explaining the seed that fell by the wayside, He said,
"When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and
understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and
catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is
he which received seed by the wayside."
The seed sown by the wayside represents the word of
God as it falls upon the heart of an inattentive hearer.
Like the hard-beaten path, trodden down by the feet of
men and beasts, is the heart that becomes a highway for
the world's traffic, its pleasures and sins. Absorbed in
selfish aims and sinful indulgences, the soul is "hardened
through the deceitfulness of sin." Heb. 3:13. The spiritual
faculties are paralyzed. Men hear the word, but understand
it not. They do not discern that it applies to themselves.
They do not realize their need or their danger.
They do not perceive the love of Christ, and they pass by
the message of His grace as something that does not
As the birds are ready to catch up the seed from the
wayside, so Satan is ready to catch away the seeds of
divine truth from the soul. He fears that the word of
God may awaken the careless, and take effect upon the
hardened heart. Satan and his angels are in the assemblies
where the gospel is preached. While angels of heaven
endeavor to impress hearts with the word of God, the
enemy is on the alert to make the word of no effect.
With an earnestness equaled only by his malice, he tries
to thwart the work of the Spirit of God. While Christ is
drawing the soul by His love, Satan tries to turn away
the attention of the one who is moved to seek the Saviour.
He engages the mind with worldly schemes. He excites [p. 45] criticism, or insinuates doubt and unbelief. The speaker's
choice of language or his manner may not please the
hearers, and they dwell upon these defects. Thus the truth
they need, and which God has graciously sent them,
makes no lasting impression.
Satan has many helpers. Many who profess to be
Christians are aiding the tempter to catch away the seeds
of truth from other hearts. Many who listen to the preaching
of the word of God make it the subject of criticism
at home. They sit in judgment on the sermon as they
would on the words of a lecturer or a political speaker.
The message that should be regarded as the word of the
Lord to them is dwelt upon with trifling or sarcastic comment.
The minister's character, motives, and actions, and
the conduct of fellow members of the church, are freely
discussed. Severe judgment is pronounced, gossip
or slander repeated, and this in the hearing of the
unconverted. Often these things are spoken by parents [p. 46] in the hearing of their own children. Thus are destroyed
respect for God's messengers, and reverence for their
message. And many are taught to regard lightly God's
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