Issue No. 39 26 Sep - 2 Oct 2011
A Foolish Farmer?

(Matthew 13, Mark 4 & Luke 8)
By Mickey Chiang

Most of you who are reading this little article probably live in urban communities and have little contact with agriculture. So you probably saw nothing strange about the Parable of the Sower. However, when Jesus told the parable to a large crowd of people he was talking to people living in an agricultural economy, people familiar with the agricultural practices of their time.

Briefly, the parable is about a sower going out to sow seed. Some of the seed he (or she?) scattered fell on the path where birds found and ate them, some fell on rocky ground where they could not put down deep roots and were scorched by the sun, some fell among thorns and were strangled, and some fell on good soil and produced more seed. What was the probable reaction of Jesus’ audience to this parable? I believe the crowd laughed at the fool of a farmer.

Which competent farmer would scatter seed on a path? Or on rocky ground? Or among thorns? And waste precious seed? Haha, what an idiot! He obviously hadn’t even ploughed the field! If he had, he would have known where to drop the seed, namely on the good soil! Kick him out of the Farmers’ Association!

But let’s try to be fair to the sower. Is there any clue as to why he did such a strange and foolish thing as to sow seed in inappropriate places? Matthew 13:6, repeated in Mark 4:6, may provide a clue. Both verses say that, “But when the sun was up (NKJV; “came up”, NIV), the plants were scorched.” When the sun was up/came up? Doesn’t that mean the seeds were sown in the dark, when the sun was not up? Think about that, and have another laugh! How ridiculous it is to sow seed in the dark! No wonder some seeds fell along the path, some on rocky ground and some among thorns! What a silly sower!

No wonder Jesus’ disciples and followers could not understand the parable and approached Jesus when he was alone to ask him to explain the meaning of this and other parables he had told to the crowds of people (Mark 4:10).

But, think about it, Jesus was not speaking of a normal farmer but was speaking in spiritual terms. Earlier, Jesus had told his followers “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:14). They are the sowers, and the seed they are to sow is “the message of the kingdom (of heaven)”, (Mt 13:19). Thus, where a follower of Jesus stands there is light, and the sowing of the message or the word of God is done into the surrounding spiritual darkness, so some seed may fall on rocky ground and other non-receptive places. But that is not our concern as sowers. Our business is simply to sow as widely as possible, to reach as many people as possible. We do not know, we cannot know, whether a person we are sharing the gospel with is good soil or not. Thus, we are not in a position to choose who deserves to hear the gospel, and who does not. We are not God.

Please do take another look at the Parable of the Sower, and think deeply about it. If you don’t agree with the above, please send me an e-mail through the BGST Administrative Staff (bgst@pacific.net.sg). It is better to be corrected than to go through life carrying around a wrong idea.

Chapel Summary
Our last BGST Chapel on Sep 21 had a slightly different format than the usual. Our guest was Ms Lisa Theng, a practising lawyer of 21 years’ standing, as well as an Elder of Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church. She was interviewed by our Principal, Dr Satterthwaite on the broad topic of "What it means to be a Christian lawyer." Lisa shared about how she came to know Christ, her duties as a lawyer from the time she was first called to the Bar until the present, and the various joys and challenges of being a Christian lawyer. It was an enlightening session for the faculty, staff and students, as we heard about the challenges of making right and just decisions, balancing the profit motive versus caring for people, and juggling competing commitments.

This is the first in what we hope will be a series of Chapel services consisting of interviews with Christians in the Marketplace.

Chapel News
Rev Tan Kay Kiong, Bukit Panjang Centre, Covenant Evangelical Free Church will be our guest speaker at chapel on 5 October 2011. Chapel begins at 12 pm. You are welcome to join us.
Faculty News
Dr Philip Satterthwaite will be preaching at the 8.00am, 8.45am, 11.00am services of Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church (PSPC) on Sunday 2 October 2011. The topic is “Amos 2:4-16, I will not Revoke the Punishment”.

Dr Ng Peh Cheng will be speaking at Grace Chinese Christian Church, English Worship Service (Children’s day Celebration) on 2 October, 2011.

Mr Quek Tze-Ming will be preaching at the 8.30am and 10.45am service of the Bible Church on Sunday 2 October 2011. The Text is 2 Sam 19:9-20:26.

Upcoming Public Lecture

Dr Bruce Winter‘God goes to the Office? Who really owns the business world?'

Speaker : Dr Bruce Winter,
Principal, Queensland Theological College
Date : 15th October 2011, Saturday
Time : 7.30–9.00 p.m.
Venue : Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church
The BGST family extends its deepest condolences to Mr Cheok Cheng Jan (Administrative Manager) and family on the home going of his mother in law. Please pray for Cheng Jan and family during this time of bereavement.
Upcoming CBLT course

A full-day intensive course on The Message of the Song of Songs will be conducted by our Principal, Dr Philip E. Satterthwaite at Yishun Christian Church (Anglican) on 15 Oct.

The course will focus on biblical text, love poetry from other cultures and eras and introduce excerpts from some pieces of music which have been inspired by the theme of human and divine love.
The course synopsis can be found on our website under Courses & Events, Coming CBLT Event.

To register for the course, please email to May Fern at kohmf@bgst.edu.sg

Courses Commencing in Term 2, 2011-2012

Christian Biography (AT151, 1.5cr);
Dates & Time: Oct 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov 4; 7.15-10.15pm
Venue: Clarus Centre / Lecturer: Dr David Wong

Marketplace Theology (MM255, 1.5cr);
The course is cancelled due to Mr Ben Pwee's busy schedule.

*Scripture Recitation & Story Telling (ECF514, 1.5cr);
Dates & Time: Oct 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov 4; 7.15-10.15pm
Venue: Clarus Centre / Lecturer: Rev Ng Seng Chuan

Spiritual Retreat Experience: Nature, Purpose, Dynamics (ECF504, 3cr);
Dates & Time: Oct 18, 25, Nov 1, 8, 15, 7.15-9.45pm;
Venue: Telok Ayer CMC
Lecturer: Mr John Chong Ser Choon;
Residential Retreat Nov 17-20 (Additional Cost)

* Courses marked with an asterisk are not offered on audit basis.

The course schedule for Semester 2, year 2011-2012 is now available. For more information, please visit our website: http://bgst.edu.sg/courses-and-events

TENT 2011 Modules
Tentmakers Equipping 'N' Training

Tentmakers & Ethical Issues
Sat. Oct 8 & 15; 2011 (9.30-11.30am; 12.00-2.00pm)
Facilitator: A Former Singaporean Tentmaker

Coping with Stress
Tues. Oct 11, 18 & 25; 2011 (7.20-10.00pm)
Facilitator: Mr Yam Keng Mun

All TENT courses will be held at
37 Jalan Pemimpin, #06-05 Blk B Clarus Centre
(former Union Industrial Building)

For more information on TENT courses,
please visit our website:

37 Jalan Pemimpin, #06-05 Block B, Clarus Centre, S(577177).
Tel: 6227-6815 Fax: 6255-3686 Email: bgst@pacific.net.sg
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