Let Us Sow More Seed
Thousands of children attend Sunday School regularly. This is a great opportunity; for while many of these boys and girls come from Christian families, many more live in homes where the gospel of Christ is unknown.
Our responsibility, however, is just as great as our opportunity. We should “be deeply concerned that although numerous pupils come to know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Saviour, a significant number leave Sunday School without showing evidence that they have been born again.
The Bible is the chief text in our assembly Sunday Schools. The authority of the Scriptures is unquestioned. The gospel is taught in sincerity by teachers who desire to win young hearts to the Lord. Children are urged to accept the Saviour revealed in the Word of God. The blessings of salvation and the horrors of perdition are explained to every child who comes into our care.
We can thank God that this faithful teaching leads many children to Christ; nevertheless, we must deplore the fact that many others are passing through the Sunday School without getting saved. Furthermore, we seldom hear of them coming to Christ in later life. No conscientious teacher could possibly be satisfied with the harvest of souls which we are reaping.
We are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23). Therefore, it is pertinent to ask whether or not we should be satisfied with the extent to which we are sowing the good seed of God’s Word.
Obviously there is more than one factor bearing upon our success in winning the young to the Lord. The teacher must be motivated by devotion to Christ and love for souls (1 Cor. 13:1-4). The heart and life should be fully consecrated to the Master (Rom. 6:13-22; 12:1-2). The Word of God must be taught in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:1-5). Unless these conditions are fulfilled, the most thorough course of Bible teaching will bear little fruit for God.
Furthermore, there are different types of soil. No matter how extensive our sowing might be, some good seed will fall by the way side, upon stony places, and among thorns (Matt. 13:1-23).
Nevertheless, reaping is proportional to sowing (2 Cor. 9:6. Gal. 6:7). We reap much when we sow much; we reap little when we sow little. These facts are just as true spiritually as they are physically. If our Sunday Schools are not enjoying an abundant harvest of souls, questions must be raised about the amount of sowing, as well as about the method of sowing.
How much do our “graduates” know about the Bible after five to ten years of Sunday School attendance? In itself, Bible knowledge is not enough to produce conversion; the work of the Holy Spirit is indispensable (John 3:3-8). However, the Spirit of God works through the Word of God (Eph. 6:17).
How much do our pupils learn about creation and the great men in Genesis? Perhaps a great deal in some schools; but how much do they learn about the history of Israel, beyond the journey from Egypt to Canaan? What do they know about the dealings of God with the kings of Israel and Judah? How much have they absorbed of the messages given by God to Israel and Judah through the prophets?
To what extent do they appreciate the life of Christ in its entirety? Have they grasped the primary significance (not allegorical application) of the parables and miracles of our Lord? How familiar have they become with the founding and development of the Church? Do they have any conception of the relations between the Acts and the Epistles? What do they understand about the great Christian doctrines of justification, sanctification, and consecration? Do they have any scriptural foundation upon which to base a rational understanding of the doctrine of the Lord’s return?
Not all of these topics can be understood by young children — gradation of instruction is necessary. Nor can all this material be covered in a short period — years of teaching are required. Nor can the teaching of the way of salvation be neglected for the sake of giving children a knowledge of the whole Word of God — a balanced curriculum is essential.
Nevertheless, if children are spending years in Sunday School without acquiring a good knowledge of Scripture as a whole and without coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, it is quite possible that these two phenomena are related as cause and effect.
If we believe that souls are born again through the incorruptible seed of God’s Word, and if we are concerned about laying the groundwork for a genuine Christian life, then our most fundamental objective should be to teach the whole Word of God to all of the children entrusted to our care.
Many assembly Christians are proud of our freedom to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). Indeed, we are all glad that prevailing thought amongst us favours a respect for every part of Scripture. At the same time, would we be justified in claiming that the whole Word of God is being taught in our Sunday Schools?
If we believe in teaching all of the Scripture, then why not give the whole Word of God to our Sunday School pupils? It is true that some children come to Christ without much knowledge of the Bible; while others remain in their sins despite a considerable knowledge: but surely no one would point to these facts and say that therefore the amount of Scripture which we teach is relatively unimportant!!
We have no knowledge of the amount of Scripture required to bring a particular soul to Christ. Our responsibility is to preach the Word, and we believe that this alone will bring souls to Christ. Then let us do more of it by giving them the whole Word of God.
No doubt we come to know God better as we come to know more of His Word. Therefore if we want our pupils to acquire an increasing knowledge of God, let us extend their knowledge to include every part and aspect of His Word!!
Even in a lifetime, it is impossible to absorb more than a small fraction of the truth which God has given us in the Scriptures. Therefore, the sooner we start teaching our children all the truths of His Word, the fuller will be their knowledge of its Author, and the more effective will be their Christian experience when they do finally experience the second birth.
However, the sower must gather seed before he can sow it, and apart from serious study, the sower of God’s Word will be unable to teach the Bible as a whole. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things” (Matt. 12:34-35). If our hearts are filled with God’s Word, we shall be able to bring forth many good things in teaching our classes.
Newborn babes require the milk of the Word for growth (1 Pet. 2:1), but teachers must get beyond first principles. They must be skillful in handling the Word of righteousness, and must advance further than the elementary knowledge of the Scriptures which characterizes the new convert (Heb. 5:11-14).
The greatest Teacher of children had the most extensive knowledge of God’s Word. The Lord Jesus Christ had an intimate acquaintance with every part of Scripture, as His disciples learned particularly after His resurrection (Lk. 24:25-27, 44-45). During His public ministry, His skill in handling the Old Testament was very evident (Matt. 22:23-46). Even as a “boy, His understanding astonished the teachers (Lk. 2:46-47).
Paul knew that Timothy was well versed in the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:15). He could safely encourage Timothy to teach the truths which he had received (2 Tim. 2:2). Furthermore, Timothy was directed to teach faithful men who would be able to teach others. In other words, such men could be expected to teach effectively only after receiving the doctrine themselves.
Paul exemplifies the extent to which a man can be used of God when he is saturated with a knowledge of the Word of God. One Epistle is sufficient to prove him a master of the Old Testament — his masterpiece,. the letter to the Romans.
Paul’s effectiveness was based upon his comprehension of the relationships between various parts of the Sacred Writings. While the illumination of the Holy Spirit is essential for such an understanding, this illumination comes only in diligent meditation of God’s Word.
It is possible that herein lies the chief secret of success in winning the young to Christ. Perhaps as teachers we need more than anything else to heed the Lord’s instructions to Joshua: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Josh. 1:8).
The study of God’s Word is essential not only for a knowledge of its contents and the relationships existing amongst its various parts, but also for that clarity of personal understanding which enables the teacher to present his lesson in a comprehensible manner.
The extent of the teacher’s own appreciation of the Scriptures will determine the extent to which he can stimulate children’s thinking. Unless they are provoked to be thoughtful about the lesson, and unless they realize the impact of the Bible’s teaching upon their own lives, it is unlikely that lasting impressions will be made upon their hearts.
The provocation of questions will be effective only if the teacher is sufficiently acquainted with the Scriptures that he can satisfactorily answer the queries of puzzled pupils. The thorough student of the Word will so seek to prepare himself for the lesson that the Holy Spirit will supply him with all the wisdom and knowledge needed to meet the rising tide of curiosity which a well taught lesson is bound to develop in the minds of his pupils.