The Review and Herald


May 31, 1892

Gospel Hearers—No. 1

Wayside Hearers


The great controversy between Christ, the prince of light, and Satan, the prince of darkness, is presented before us in the parable of the sower. A great multitude had gathered together to hear the words of Christ, so that he was thronged upon all sides; and in order that the people might better see and hear him, he stepped into a boat and pushed out a little from the shore. In plain sight were the sowers and the reapers, side by side, the one casting the seed, the other harvesting the early grain. Calling the attention of the people to the scene before him, he utters the parable that is to teach the lesson of the reception and rejection of gospel truth to the end of probation. RH May 31, 1892, par. 1

He said: “Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” RH May 31, 1892, par. 2

The Sower is the Son of God, or he to whom he delegates his work; for by co-operating with Christ, man is to become a laborer together with God. Those who by personal ministry open to others the Scriptures, are sowing the good seed, for the good seed is the word of God. In order that the seed may find a soil in which it may germinate and bring forth fruit, the heart must be prepared. The seed sown by the wayside represents the word of God as it falls upon the heart of him who is an inattentive hearer; for those who are to bring the fruit forth must meditate much upon the word of God which has been presented to them. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” As the birds of the air are ready to catch up the seed from the wayside, so Satan is represented as ready with his unseen agencies of evil, to catch away the seeds of divine truth from the heart, lest it should find a lodgment there, and bring forth fruit unto eternal life. He fears that the word of God may awaken the careless, and take effect upon the hardened heart. RH May 31, 1892, par. 3

It is when souls are awakened to their condition, that there is need of personal ministry on the part of him who is presenting the word of God; for the enemy waits to catch away the truth, and enshroud the seeker after light, in darkness. Much of the time spent in sermonizing should be devoted to personal labor for the souls of the lost. The minister should seek to break up the fallow ground of the heart, that the word of God may find a soil in which it may grow. The word must be preached, but this work of personal ministry must not be neglected. RH May 31, 1892, par. 4

Satan and his angels are in the assembly where the gospel of the kingdom is preached. While heavenly angels also are present to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation, the enemy is ever on the alert that he may make of no effect the influence of the truth. With an earnestness that is only equaled by his malice, he seeks to thwart the operation of the Spirit of God on the heart of the hearer; for he sees that if the truth is accepted, he has lost control of his subject, and Christ has won the victory. Jesus says, in explaining the part of the parable where the seed fell by the wayside, “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.” RH May 31, 1892, par. 5

But in spite of all the efforts of the enemy to make of none effect the word of God, he who has a heart to search for truth will find it; for it lies open before him, revealed in the word of God, as the secrets of nature are open to him who studies her laws. God's word is the revelation of all truth; and in laboring for souls, the minister should seek to unveil the truth in such a way that it will make the right impression upon the heart, that the sinner may renounce his allegiance to Satan, and turn to Christ. Jesus is ready to accept the soul who turns to him, pleading the merits of the blood of Christ. He will receive, pardon, purify, and make him whole. But before this point is reached, before the soul surrenders to Christ, there is a time when the will is vacillating, when the soul is under conviction, and pressed by doubt, and it is then that a strong personal effort should be made. The minister should come close to the trembling one, and point him to Calvary, lifting up a crucified and risen Saviour as the sinner's only hope. There are many whose hearts are as hard as the beaten highway, and apparently it is a useless effort to present the truth to them; but while logic may fail to move, and argument be worthless to convince, let the laborer for Christ come close to such in Christlike sympathy and compassion, and it may be that the love of Christ will subdue and melt the soul into tenderness and contrition. “The world by wisdom knew not God.” Let the wayward and hard-hearted be led to the feet of Jesus; here they may learn precious lessons of love of their Creator and Redeemer, and hope will spring up. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” RH May 31, 1892, par. 6

The wicked one is in continual controversy with God, seeking to make of no effect the mission and work of Christ. Christ came to save sinners; but when some hear the word, and become convicted, and their hearts are weighed down by a sense of their sins, and stirred by the forgiving love of God, lest they should be wholly persuaded to become the followers of Christ, the enemy immediately seeks to entice them to their former allegiance to him, by presenting to them the attractions of the world and its lusts, and the words of truth are made of no effect. The heart that has long yielded to the influences of the world, that has long indulged in the gratification of its own selfish desires, is not prepared for the reception of the word. RH May 31, 1892, par. 7

Satan ever works to carry out to completion the scheme of rebellion which he originated in the courts of heaven. When Jesus, the sinner's only hope, draws the soul by the cords of his love, the enemy begins a work of opposition, and tries to turn the attention of the one who is moved to seek Jesus, to the world. He engages the mind of the seeker in his delusive snares, and catches away the word of truth; for his falsehoods seem more palatable to the natural heart than do the truths of heavenly origin, and men accept them, rejecting the word of truth. But we can be saved only through the reception of the truth, whose power will sanctify and refine the soul, for the gospel of Christ is adapted to the need of a fallen, apostate race. RH May 31, 1892, par. 8

The reason why it seems so difficult to win souls for Christ, is that Satan is continually engaged in misrepresenting the character of God to the human mind. Christ came to reveal the Father to the world in his true character, that the false conceptions which men entertained of the divine character might be swept away. Proud and worldly hearts sometimes are subdued by the power of the truth; but when the people of the world accept the truth, there will be much work to be done in their behalf, that their false theories of religion may be replaced by true theories, that their false conceptions of God may be banished through the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness shining into the darkened chambers of mind and heart. They must be awakened to investigate the truth, and to meditate much upon the plan of salvation in the light of Calvary's cross. RH May 31, 1892, par. 9

Through every possible device, through evil angels, and wicked men, Satan will seek to catch away the truth from the soul, and lead the sinner from the path of peace and righteousness. This is the special work of the enemy, and when he who has been seeking light, turns to engage in pleasure, to follow the ways of the world, manifesting pride and unbelief, it is evident that he has permitted the enemy to catch away the good seed from his heart; he has chosen darkness, rather than light. He did not accept the love of the truth, but yielded to the suggestions of Satan, and was taken captive by his strong delusions. He was led to believe a lie. RH May 31, 1892, par. 10

Through the years of probation, God is testing and proving the hearts of men, that it may be seen who will find room for Jesus. The question to be answered by every soul is, Will you accept the pardoning love of God, which is a remedy for the diseases of the soul, or will you choose the enmity of Satan, and reap the terrible doom of the lost? In order that sin may be cleansed from the soul, it is necessary to believe the word of God. Satan will suggest unbelief, and while it is not always necessary or wise to seek to answer the cavils of infidels and skeptics, it is well to be able to give an answer to every honest inquirer, the reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Plant your feet on the word of God, and give the reason of your faith and hope, but let not the unbeliever drag you down into his cave of darkness; rather invite him up to stand under the light of the Sun of righteousness, that he may recognize the voice of God. There will no excuse be found for unbelief in the judgment. RH May 31, 1892, par. 11

In order to be able to help those who are in unbelief and sin, we must needs feel our own weakness, our utter helplessness without Christ. Through the grace of God given unto us, we must be delivered from all our worldliness, our pride, our selfishness. By looking to Jesus we may see what changes must take place in our character, and by beholding him we shall become changed. We cannot change ourselves. We cannot be good, or do good to others, of ourselves. Christ has said: “Without me ye can do nothing.” But Jesus can cleanse us. He is the hope of the lost. RH May 31, 1892, par. 12