The fervent desire of the true evangelist is that he may so preach as that conviction of sin may follow in the conscience of his hearers. He prays that the ploughshare of truth may make a deep furrow in the sinner’s soul, in order that, when the good tidings of grace are afterwards presented, they may be received with avidity, and the once burdened heart set at liberty for the new and happy service of the Lord.
He regards this deep ploughing as no small part of his responsibility; and, if a wise man, he will attach more importance to this than to anything else. He fully owns it to be the work of the Spirit of God, but he knows that the word of truth is chiefly used by the Spirit to that end, as, for instance, at Pentecost (Acts 2), and he devotes himself, in diligent faith, to reach it by the ministry of that word. But, if deep ploughing is the work of the evangelist, deep digging should be that of the awakened soul. This is the responsibility of the young believer. Hence the Lord said, in Luke 6:47-48, “Whosoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings, and does them, I will show you to whom he is like. He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.”
A man sets to work to build a house; he first seeks a foundation. He selects the rock. That is wise, at any rate; but merely to lay the stones on the surface were folly. Hence he digs! This means toil, but it is toil that pays. He digs deep! This means determination. He dreads superficiality and flimsiness. He expects the flood to arise and the stream to beat, and perhaps to beat vehemently; and so every additional spadeful quarried from the rock, every effort that tends to produce a unity between the rock and the house, is, he deems, invaluable. He grudges not the labour. He spends great pains on what is initial, in view of the tests which must assuredly follow. This is all the work of a wise man.
He digs deep! I would like to press this thought on young souls today.
It is all very well and necessary for the preacher to plough deep, but unless the young Christian dig deep the preacher’s work is really ineffective. Ploughing and digging must go on together.
And what is the digging?
I would say that the Bereans of Acts 17 dug deep—“They searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Therefore “many of them believed.”
Show me a convert who searches the Scriptures daily, and you show me one who digs deep.
Or again, in Acts 20:36, we read that when Paul “had thus spoken” (to the elders of the assembly at Ephesus), “he kneeled down and prayed with them all.”
Mark, he prayed with, not for, them all. A lovely picture of dependence on God, and therefore a fine evidence of beginners who dug deep! They who know how to kneel down before God in the expression of entire dependence on Him, and who daily search His word, it is they who dig deep, and give proof of building on the rock. Nor does anyone advance in divine ways who fails in these two spiritual exercises.
The floods are certain to arise, and the streams to beat. We may expect the truth to be assailed by enemies of every kind—infidelity, lasciviousness, imitation, persecution, trial, worldliness, even Satan himself; and no weapon can overcome but faithfulness to God and the Spirit-given use of the word.
The house that is thus deeply founded on that rock cannot be shaken.
And it is just the lack of this deep digging that accounts for the disappointments of the day in vast numbers of those who profess to be believers.
Every child of God must get alone with God daily. There must be intense individual dealing with Him. The company is feeble but for individual character. The chain breaks at the weakest link. For the whole to be in power each must be in power, and to have to do with God, in the rich revelation of Christianity, is not bondage, but holy, happy liberty.
May every young believer in our Lord Jesus Christ learn to dig deep!