Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 24, 1952

The Farmer And The Preacher

Thomas B. Warren, Galena Park, Texas

One day a preacher visited a farmer friend of his. The farmer was out in his field sowing seed, so the preacher joined him there.

"What are you doing?" the preacher asked the farmer.

"I am sowing several crops," answered the farmer. "I expect to harvest watermelons, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, corn, and okra from the seed which I am sowing."

"What!" cried the preacher. "Do you mean to tell me that you expect to have all of those different kinds of vegetables from just that one sowing? You must have all of those different kinds of seeds mixed together in that one sack."

"Oh, no," replied the farmer. "I have only turnip seed in the sack—but all of these different things will grow from this turnip seed if I am truly sincere in believing that they will, and will work hard to see that they grow."

"But surely;" said the preacher, "you are not so stupid as to believe that! Don't you know that Genesis 1:11-12 teaches that one of God's laws is that every seed shall bring forth after its own kind? If you plant turnip seed, it is impossible for you to harvest anything except turnips. If you want watermelons, you must plant watermelon seed. You are the first man I have ever seen who believed that watermelons would come from turnip seeds!"

The farmer was distressed at this turn of the conversation, for he had been led to believe that his sincerity could accomplish the task of a multiple harvest from one kind of seed. "Do you mean to say," he asked, "that a watermelon will not grow from turnip seed, no matter how sincere I may be?"

"My friend," said the preacher, "all the sincerity and hard work that you and the whole world might have cannot cause even one tiny watermelon to come from this turnip seed."

The following Sunday morning, the farmer went to hear the preacher deliver his sermon in the local church. The sermon was about what the preacher termed "the great invisible church." The preacher pointed out that this "invisible church" was made up of all the visible churches—the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Catholic, Christian Science, Pentecostal, etc.

"Any one of these churches," declared the preacher, "is just as good as any other, since all of them have come about as a result of the sowing of the seed of the gospel, the word of God, in the soil of the human heart."

As the farmer left the building, he looked the preacher squarely in the eye and said, "Kind sir, in my field yesterday, you showed me the error of my way in believing that watermelons would come from turnip seed; but here today you declare that all of these different fruits come from the same seed, the word of God. If it is impossible for watermelons and turnips to come from the same seed, how does it happen that Methodists and Baptists come from the same seed? If only turnips will come from turnip seed, why will not only Christians come from the seed of God's word? And if one has to plant something other than turnip seeds to get watermelons, why does one not have to plant something other than the seed of God's word to get Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians? Wouldn't you have to plant Baptist seed to get a Baptist? And Lutheran seed to get a Lutheran? And Methodist seed to get a Methodist? It seems to me that you are wrong in saying that all of these churches have come from the preaching of the same seed—the word of God. They must surely have come from the seeds and creeds of these various groups."

"Well, now, perhaps you are right on that score," said the preacher. "But after all, we cannot all see alike, and the sincerity of each individual will bring forth the fruit of a Christian life from any of these various churches, no matter what their belief or teaching may be."

"But yesterday," remonstrated the farmer, "you told me that sincerity could not make a watermelon come from a turnip seed. Neither then can a Baptist come from the seed of Christ's word, nor can a Christian grow from the seed of Episcopal teaching. The seed of the gospel of Christ will bring forth a Christian, and a Christian only; not some particular "kind" of a Christian. Baptist seed will bring forth Baptist fruit; one does not believe and accept Baptist teaching and become thereby a Methodist or a Lutheran. People do not become Methodists by listening to and accepting the teaching of a Baptist preacher; neither do they become Christians by listening to and accepting the teaching of a Methodist preacher."

"We-l-l-l," said the preacher, "maybe you had just better forget all such talk as that. You cause folks to become dissatisfied with the religion which their mothers and fathers handed down to them."

"If my mother and father had told me that watermelons would come from turnip seed, that would not have made it a fact," responded the farmer. "Neither will it help them for me to continue to hold a false idea, just as it will not help anyone for his children to hold on to some false idea that he may have. False religion should be abandoned, no matter how many generations it has been believed. I intend to tell every one I see that such an idea as you have is false, and cannot be found in the word of God."

And the conversation ended.