THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM
PART SIX – THE KINGDOM PRINCIPLE
So, over the past few weeks we have been covering the mysteries of God’s kingdom—which are the parables that Jesus taught describing both the nature and operation of the kingdom of God. And through these parables, we are learning how the kingdom of God both works and functions so that we can begin letting those spiritual laws work for us in our lives.
And, church, it is such a refreshing thing to me that God’s kingdom has principles that govern it just like this world around us has its natural laws that determine how things work. Why? Because if it is not a hit or miss thing, where I am dependent on something or someone else, then I know I can choose to cooperate with these kingdom laws and determine myself just how fruitful I am in my life.
So, that’s what we’ve been doing—We’ve been looking at some of these principles that govern God’s kingdom and learning how it works. But we have begun by learning that the analogy of sowing & reaping was the most oft used example that Jesus used to teach about what the kingdom is like. Yes, He used the example of seedtime & harvest more than any other thing to describe how the kingdom of God works.
Most recently, we looked at the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. And, no, not the Parable of the Tares as Jesus’ disciples called it. And that was a point we made concerning it—that while we have the tendency to look at the negative side of things in the world around us, the tares don’t deserve all the attention. There is also good seed that has been planted and is bringing forth fruit, and that is worth celebrating!
You see, the kingdom of God is always advancing and ever increasing, and we must avoid the tendency to let what we see and hear in the world around us steal our faith in what God is doing. And we do this by keeping ever before us the good news instead of the bad news.
So, yes, while there is certainly the bad seed out there—the tares sown by the wicked one—there is the good seed too. That means that in everyone and in everything—from the entire world to our individual lives—there will be good and there will be bad, wheat and tares. So, why focus on the flaws and the evil instead of the beauty and the good that God has made and is making?
Which is another point we made: We are one of those good things God has made! Yes, we learned from this parable that part of the gospel is that we are “good seed.” Yes, the Lord sees all of the sons of His kingdom as “good seed.” Do you see yourself that way? You should—because God does. Amen.
But, as I made the point of last week, one of the more fascinating parts of this parable to me is how the Lord will deal with these things: God is not quick to judge the tares! No, His judgment is apparently suspended. Why? As the Scriptures teach us, it is because God is longsuffering, not desiring that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance. Yes, He gives all of the tares out there space to repent and turn to Him. That is the gracious and merciful God we serve! Hallelujah!
But we also noticed in this parable that this impending judgment of being thrown into the fire was not reserved for the wheat but for the tares. In other words, the judgment was not for the good seed that the Lord sowed; it was for the bad seed that the devil sowed. Now, which one are you? Well, I hope that we all here today are the good seed—the wheat sown by the Lord Jesus—and if we are, we don’t need to fear God’s wrath and punishment—for we are not reserved for wrath but that we might be gathered together and put in God’s barn as Jesus said here. Amen. Then, as Jesus said, “the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (See verse 43). Glory, church, our destiny is to shine as the sun (i.e., Son)—all because the Lord sowed us, the good seed.
Then, the week before last, we looked at another agricultural parable given to us by the Lord—The Parable of the Mustard Seed:
We learned in this parable that Jesus was drawing on the single best natural example that He could, to paint a picture of what the kingdom of God is like. So, out of every example from this world that Jesus could have used to illustrate God’s kingdom, He chose to use the example of a mustard seed.
We learned that in God’s kingdom, small and seemingly insignificant things have great potential. We looked at Jesus’ example of faith being like a mustard seed as how God’s kingdom works, where it is not by works and self-effort that things get produced but by faith in God’s grace.
But we saw how this mustard seed in Jesus’ parable was not just faith; it was Himself because of how it was said to be taken by the man and put in his garden. This was how the First Adam was said to be placed in Eden. So, the Last Adam was sown not just on to the earth, but into the earth like a mustard seed. And the fact He described Himself as a mustard seed shows us how “little” He was, being made a “little” lower than the angels. Yes, as Isaiah 53 said, He was a tender plant and a root out of dry ground, having no form or comeliness.
So, we saw how this mustard seed grew and became a large tree, full of large branches. And we are those large branches, church! Now that little mustard seed has become even greater than the angels, having received an even more excellent name than they! Likewise, being parts of His body and heirs of this kingdom, we have the blessed promise that the Lord’s angels will minister to those who have inherited salvation. Amen! Church, Jesus said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church, and we are that church—the branches of that mustard tree that was sown into the earth and has arisen from the ground!
But the first parable we looked at that teaches this principle of sowing & reaping was Jesus’ Parable of the Sower: We spent a couple of weeks in this parable, learning that this was Jesus’ most fundamental and foundational teaching, describing how the kingdom of God worked. We saw both what the seed is and what the ground is, and how God’s Word being sown into the good ground of our hearts is how the fruit of God’s kingdom is produced.
We learned that just as Jesus said in this parable that a sower that went out to sow, we too must be intentional and deliberate in, first, seeing ourselves as sowers and, secondly, as living our lives sowing seed in a purposeful manner. We do this by understanding what the seed is (i.e., the Word of God’s kingdom) and selecting specific seed from His Word to sow into our own lives and into the lives of others.
We also learned how to sow this respective seed—by first meditating on these truths until they are planted in our hearts and then speaking those same truths out of our mouths until they change the very circumstances that we desire to see God’s kingdom come in. Amen!
Church, this is how things work in God’s kingdom. It is a spiritual law--the kingdom principle if you would.
THE PARABLE OF THE GROWING SEED
So, what I want to talk to you about today is the kingdom principle. That’s right—not a kingdom principle or one of the kingdom principles—This is the kingdom principle.
Now I understand that this is a strong statement to call this the absolute law of the kingdom, but I can assure you, just as Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, the law of sowing & reaping is the way, the truth and the life of the kingdom of God. Amen!
Well, this week, I want us to move on in discussing this kingdom principle by looking at another parable that Jesus taught us using the same example of sowing & reaping found in Mark 4:26-29. I believe this parable more concisely illustrates to us this kingdom principle than the Parable of the Sower …
In this, what is traditionally called the Parable of the Growing Seed, Jesus uses a similar example to the Parable of the Sower. But this time, the lesson to be learned is not about the condition of the ground; the focus of this parable is how the ground (i.e., the heart) and the seed (i.e., the Word) already have programmed in them what to do when the seed is planted in the ground.
So, let’s look in depth at this parable and pick out some of the powerful nuggets contained in it:
Verse 26 begins by saying— “And He said …” Now by using the conjunction “And” here, we should see our need to understand what He had just said before moving on into this parable.
Of course, Jesus had just taught the Parable of the Sower, and then, in verses 23-24, He says, “’If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.’ Then He said to them, ‘Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you, and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, but whoever does not have, even what has will be taken away from him.”
Basically, what Jesus was teaching here is that we need to both take heed to what we are hearing and how we are hearing it. Why? Because this is evidently how the seed of God’s Word is sown into our hearts and can greatly determine both the quantity and quality of fruit that we produce. Amen! So, we need to be extremely vigilant concerning what we allow to be sown into our hearts because, as Solomon taught us, out of our hearts flow the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).
Then Jesus went on to say in verse 26— “The kingdom of God is as…” In other words, Jesus was saying, “This is how the kingdom of God operates! This is a law of the kingdom, and it will work this way every single time!”
So, let’s look at this kingdom principle as illustrated in Jesus’ Parable of the Growing Seed and find out how His kingdom works so that we can see it working in our lives! Amen?
NO RESPECTOR OF SOWERS
Again, Jesus says in verse 26— “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground …”
Now notice that He used the word “if” here: By using the word “if”, Jesus is saying that this principle of the kingdom is conditional. Conditional on what? Conditional as to whether or not this man should scatter seed on the ground! What this means is that it is not up to God! It is our responsibility if this kingdom law will become effective in our lives or not. Amen?
Now I believe this point needs to be made here: Did you know that if everything that happened in our lives was the will of God, we could have no “if?” Absolutely! If there is an “if” in a passage of Scripture like this one, then that indicates that there is a part we have to play in seeing God’s will come to pass in our lives. Amen?
Now we know from the previous parable in Mark chapter 4 (the Parable of the Sower) that the seed is the Word of God and the ground is our hearts. So, the condition to seeing this kingdom principle becoming effective in our lives is if we are going to take the time to sow the Word in hearts that is good, noble and pure (See Luke 8:15).
But I find something very interesting here in Mark chapter 4: In His interpretation of the Parable of the Sower, Jesus tells us what both the seed and the ground represent, but He never told us who the sower was? And do you know why? Jesus doesn’t tell us who the sower is in these parables because it does not matter who the sower is! Amen!
You see, a seed will produce when sown into good ground every single time! It doesn’t matter how the seed got there or who it was that sowed it! The seed is programmed to work no matter whose hands it was scattered through. So, who the sower might be is irrelevant.
But I know some people might argue this point, saying, “No, brother, I believe the sower here is the Lord Himself!” I differ from that interpretation, however, because notice what Jesus went on to say that the sower did next in His Parable of the Growing Seed (verse 27): He said, “and should sleep by night and rise by day …” Don’t the Scriptures teach us that God neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121: 3-4)? Don’t they teach us that there is no nighttime in the kingdom of heaven (Revelation 22:5)? Therefore, the man in this parable that did the sowing cannot be symbolic of God; it has to be a man since God does not sleep, correct?
But the fact of the matter is, it does not matter who that sower is because the seed and the ground do their thing whether one person sows it or another person sows it.
Saints, even if it was God who was doing the sowing here, it still would not matter because (get this now!) God’s Word coming out of our mouth is just as powerful as God’s Word coming out of His mouth! Amen! How can I make such a bold statement? It’s because it is God’s Word, and it is a seed! Therefore, if we just take His Word that He has already spoken and plant it in good ground, it will produce the same results! Amen!
Friends, the seed and the soil are no respecter of persons or we could say that they are no respecter of “sowers!” Praise God!
ENTERING INTO HIS REST
But the point of this parable is that this man (whoever he happens to be) just simply scattered seed on the ground and then went about his business. He didn’t stay up all night, wringing his hands, fretting over whether he was going to get a harvest or not. No, Jesus told us that after he scattered the seed on the ground, he just went to bed and rested.
You know, whenever we begin to fret, get anxious and worry about the things that we need or desire to see change in our life, we are not operating according to this kingdom principle. No, when we are abiding in this law of the kingdom, we will enter into His rest.
Friends, this is such a super important part of kingdom living—entering into the Lord’s rest! Yet this is so hard on our flesh. And, no, I am not talking about “resting” from a natural perspective, but “resting” from a mental, emotional, and spiritual perspective.
Do you remember the words of the Master in Matthew 11:28-30 when He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you … for My yoke is easy and My burden is light”?
I would venture to say that every one of us has to learn this at some point or another once we become Christians. Why? It is because it is so easy to try to make things happen in the arm of the flesh and lean to our own understanding. When we do this, what this causes is undue stress as opposed to living in the rest that Christ has afforded us.
But do you know what I’ve learned? As I have come to know God—intimately and experientially—I have learned how to better enter His rest. Let me give you a good example: If I buy something from some person or company, and it is defective or maybe never even arrives, I might tend to be a little anxious and fret if I’ve never done business with them before. Will they make it right? I might be thinking. But if I know the person or company and have seen their integrity or their good customer service before, I will be more at peace even though there might be issues with the product. Why? Because I have come to know them and trust in how they do business.
Likewise, we need to be so much about our Father’s business to where we are convinced and persuaded of how He does business. When we do this, we will learn to enter His rest. Amen.
You see, we cannot bear fruit in God’s kingdom by “white-knuckling” it. What I mean by that is that the fruit that comes according to this kingdom principle will not be produced by the will of man or the will of the flesh (See John 1:13). No, the transformation of life in God’s kingdom only comes by resting in the work of another—namely, the Grace of God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!
So, with that said—Does this mean we can just kick back and relax and let God do everything? Does it mean that we have no part to play? Of course not, or else every born-again believer would be bearing a bunch of fruit, right?
So, what part do we have to play? It is found in these kingdom parables found in Mark chapter 4—just sow the Word! Our only job is to sow the Word into our situation and sit back and watch God be God! Hallelujah!
Isaiah chapter 55 describes how this works in a nutshell:
Beginning in verse 6, he says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ ‘For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Verses 6-11)
Notice in these words how the Lord’s thoughts and ways are described as being higher than the earth. Then he goes on to describe how the rain and snow come down from the heaven. I don’t believe the Lord was changing “thoughts” here; I believe He was describing how His thoughts and ways have come down to us, and how they will produce when sown into the ground of our hearts.
You see, Jesus was telling us here that His Word already has programmed in it to produce what it was sent to perform and the good and noble heart that is not full of the weeds, thorns and rocks of this world will germinate the seed. All we have to do is spend time meditating on His Word till it becomes planted in our hearts and then just rest from trying to force fruit in our lives! Amen!
Church, the Word is the source of our fruit, not us. This is why Jesus went on to say in this parable— “and the seed should sprout and grow …” Amen! It’s the seed that does the sprouting and growing all on its own, without any of the sower’s help! He can just kick back and rest knowing the seed is working behind the scenes! Thank you, Lord!
Now that leads me to what I consider to be the most significant phrase in this parable …
Notice what Jesus said in the rest of verse 27— “he himself does not know how.” I believe this is the most powerful statement in this parable and I also believe that it is the point Jesus was trying to convey.
Again, this sower simply planted the seed in good ground and then there was nothing else he could do to help the process! He could just rest! Then, after the process of time, the seed began to sprout and grow, and he couldn’t even explain how it happened.
You see, this is the only way God will allow you to grow spiritually. He is not going to let you try and force fruit in your life. Actually, if you try to force fruit, the Bible teaches us He will actually oppose you (See Proverbs 4:6)! Why? Because He wants all the glory! He does not want you to be able to take credit for your growth. He wants you to be like this sower who would have had to say if asked about the harvest he had in his field— “You know what? All I did was put the seed in the ground. I couldn’t tell you how those little seeds produced all this. It just happened on its own. I can’t figure it out. I don’t know how this happened!” Thank you, Lord!
You see, in verse 28 Jesus goes on to say, “For the earth yields crops by itself …” Here, Jesus reiterates that the earth produces by itself—not with any help from the owner of the ground. The crop just comes forth independent from his help.
Friends, the earth—being the heart of man—will produce whatever you sow into it. As Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Never forget this one thing: you will become in your actions whatever you have allowed yourself to become in your heart. Therefore, when you meditate on the Word of God and allow those seeds to be planted in your heart you will eventually produce the fruit of the Word. You become transformed by the renewing of your mind (See Romans 12:2).
Finally, notice that Jesus gives us the steps that this harvest takes place in the remaining part of verse 28: He says, “first the blade, then the head, and after that the full grain in the head.” What this is speaking of is patience!
You see, most believers, when they get a hold of this principle, will begin to read and meditate the Word and then when they don’t see any results in, for instance, a month, they quit and say it doesn’t work. Well, how ridiculous would it be for a farmer to plant some seed and then after a week or two, when it hasn’t produced, dig up the seed and say this farming stuff doesn’t work? That would be ridiculous, right?
No, reaping a harvest is a process! Eventually, we will start seeing some results as we abide by this kingdom principle, but don’t expect the full harvest to come quickly. We have to go through stages one and two first (i.e., “first the blade, then the head”)! And then, don’t quit—knowing that the full grain in the head is coming in due season if we faint not!
This is why Jesus said in His Parable of the Sower, that the good ground—the one that produced some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundredfold—bore fruit with patience (See Luke 8:15). There will be an element of patience involved in whatever God gives increase in. Although there are certainly the “immediately’s” and the “suddenly’s” in God’s kingdom, this is not how the fruit that endures is generally produced. In God’s kingdom, abiding fruit is produced through patience. Amen!
But this abiding fruit comes when God’s Word is sown into our hearts, and as we allow God’s Word to spring up in our hearts, then we will begin to see the production of it in our lives.
So, when we desire to see the fruit of God’s kingdom coming in our lives, sow the Word! When it comes to situations and circumstances in our lives that we know need to change, sow the Word! Find Scriptures that promise what we want to see and begin to let God perform His good Word and let it prosper in the thing for which He sent it! It works every time, my friends! It is a law! It is the kingdom principle! Amen!