The First - and the Second - Word of the Kingdom
... the Seed of God’s Planting
In Matthew 13:19-23 (and in Mark 4:14-20) the Lord Jesus explained His first Parable of the Kingdom. In it He revealed there are six forces that will work against the development of Kingdom life in us. Our purpose, particularly in the accompanying "prayer starters," is to check these in our own lives.
The first is the devil himself. As soon as the seed, which is the Word of the Kingdom, is planted in a heart, then cometh the wicked one (Mt 13:19). So fearful is he of the Kingdom’s development in anyone of us, he watches for the planting of its powerful Word with the anticipation of snatching it away. Second, to test and maybe wear us out, comes tribulation or persecution (Mt 13:21). Both of these are bound to come. While serving us well if the Kingdom has taken good root in us, they will offend us if there is but little root. Third is the care of this world (Mt 13:22a). This is the distraction the present age brings with its entanglements. If we allow it, it will wrap around our souls like choke weed only to squelch the workings of God’s Kingdom in us.
Fourth is the deceitfulness of riches (Mt 13:22b). This too is like a weed. Obsession with gaining wealth can quickly choke the Kingdom’s operation in anyone even if once they rejoiced in the Kingdom.
Fifth is the lusts of other things entering in (Mk 4:19). This is when our wants get out of control and carnal and soulish desire take the dominance. Then the Kingdom becomes a lesser thing till finally it is choked to death. Sixth is the mediocrity that settles over some souls who don’t care to commit their way completely to the Lord and to His call and purpose. These are the sixtyfold and thirtyfold the Lord mentioned in Mt 13:8. They may experience some of the life of the Kingdom, but it is to be doubted they will be of much use in its spread.
Seeing these six points we discover forces that can stop the development of the people the Lord Jesus, in His second Kingdom Parable, called the children of the Kingdom—Mt 13:38. They are the ones through whom God’s government will spread in the world. Any point of the six may prove to be the undoing of any potential child of the Kingdom who hears, but does not understand, the Word of the Kingdom. How we respond at each point of testing will determine whether we will have the inner resource to share the inheritance of the Kingdom with Christ.
In His second Parable (Mt 13:24-30, explained in verses 34-43) the Lord Jesus calls the people who will spread the Kingdom the good seed. They are the children of the Kingdom. Here the word children is from the Greek huíos. It means more than what we consider as mere children. Actually it means the mature ones in a family who have grown to the point they can receive and handle the responsibility of their inheritance. In this Parable, when they are thrown to the wind to land where they may, they grow and make manifest the Kingdom wherever they land.
We must see it: what starts us on our way to become mature sons and daughters in the Kingdom is the Word of the Kingdom. It gets planted in our hearts like a seed holding a germ of Kingdom life. It’s no small wonder the devil hates, and fears, this Word.
But see this also: every point of testing is a point at which a son or daughter of the Kingdom can find God’s enabling grace and the inner strength of His Spirit to become an overcomer.
YEARS AGO WHILE I WAS IN AFRICA ministering to some open and hungry hearts on the Word of the Kingdom, the Lord spoke to me. "Do you know what is the first Word of the Kingdom?"
For some reason I had not thought about this, but as I was there among those poverty stricken, yet deeply spiritual and open souls, the question became meaningful. As soon as it came I knew the answer. "Oh yes! The first Word of the Kingdom is repent." This is the first thing Jesus ever said about the Kingdom. It is recorded in Mt 4:17. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
Then He spoke to me, "Aren’t you ready to know the second Word of the Kingdom?" He is very gracious, for as soon as He asked me, He showed me. The second Word of the Kingdom is right there with the first one…the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
This is the second Word Jesus spoke about the Kingdom. It’s not a far away thing. It came into the earth with Him and He never withdrew it. We have to remember as He spent those last forty days with His disciples, He showed himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and He spoke to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God—Ac 1:3. Through all the Book of Acts this is what the disciples preached— His Resurrection and the Kingdom of God.
We have no right as His Church to move away from the commission of the Lord Jesus, nor from the first two seeds of Kingdom life He planted in their hearts. We want them planted in ours and we want them to sprout and grow in us as the Kingdom gains its hold in our inner man.
We’ve seen it before. Repent is from metanoéo. It means ‘‘to change one’s way of thinking.’’ Jesus wanted His disciples to undergo a change in their frame of mind and feeling. He called upon them to make a change in the principles by which they lived. This meant they would submit the inner workings of their minds and hearts to the searching and revitalizing work of the God’s Spirit. On doing this, they could begin knowing that the Kingdom is at hand.
It’s here we find the deliverance and freedom repentance makes possible. When we open our inner man to the Lord with a readiness to take on a new way of thinking and responding to life, we need a power greater than we have known before. We need an inward force greater than ourselves to rout out the old ways and set in motion the new ways the Kingdom demands. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand to supply this inward force.
If we don’t let repentance run deep and if we hold on to things offensive to the Kingdom, two things will happen. One, we will become useless for the Kingdom. Two, we will not make it through the time of testing coming upon the world as the age draws to its close.
LET’S SEE IF WE CAN MAKE SOME THINGS CLEAR regarding the Kingdom. Starting with repentance, it does its beginning work in us as individuals before it will spread in the earth. Its work is based on the grace of God. It progresses in us according to our own strong desire. God allows us to want it, more than we want anything else. If not pursued with a single eye, it may well diminish in us till there is no recognition of its character or strength left in us.
Satan hates the development of the Kingdom in anyone and will do his utmost to stop its growth. As his time decreases his wrath will only increase. With his depraved wisdom he studies us to know our weak points with the intention of plotting our defeat. He loves any weakness or depravity he can find. It’s like the "fruit" of his spirit and presents an open invitation to him.
When we receive the second Word of the Kingdom and let it grow, we’re on our way to becoming overcomers. Not only can we find our deliverance from inner corruption, but we become ready to ward off any chasing or afflicting devil. He will meet more than his match in us who know the Kingdom is at hand, both to dwell in us and to prevail in our behalf.
But remember this, Satan does not provide the only force that will oppose the Kingdom’s development in a person. There is the care of this world—Mt 13:22. Care is from the Greek mérimna which comes from the compound of two words that make it quite literally mean "the dividing of the mind." It generally means anxiety, worry, care, fretfulness, all of which give the picture of a mind fractured and unable to function without going to pieces. There is a marvelous discussion of this from Jesus in Mt 6:25-34. Here He says, Take no thought for your life... (6:25).
Thought is from the same word, mérimna. He said, in effect, "Don’t have anxiety about the everyday things of your life." Instead, Seek ye first the Kingdom of God... (6:33). That is, "Make the Kingdom of God the primary object of your search."
I’ve had to learn this. I grew up during World War II. Anxiety was our way of life. My two older brothers and my father were in the war. Everyday was a day of worry. We knew some little about praying, but we knew more about worrying. It became a way of life for me as I grew up, something that only the entrance of God’s Kingdom into my inner man could finally overcome.
We were never wealthy so the deceitfulness of riches, another hindrance to the development of Kingdom life, never got a stronghold on me—in one respect. I never learned to trust in uncertain riches (I Tim 6:17). But, I learned to have an undue concern over where enough money would come from to pay the necessary bills and buy food.
EARLY TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO SOMETHING TOOK place with me that brought Glenda and me to financial security and enabled us to become fully obedient to God’s will. Since that time all of our needs have been met and we have been able to give untold amounts to the work of the Lord and to help others. (By "untold" I mean we have not kept records of all we’ve given.)
In the mid-1970’s it seemed we were living "from hand to mouth." We had barely enough to scrape by. We ministered full-time but never with enough from offerings to meet all needs. In our community were two families whose houses were badly in need of some repair and painting. It came to me that I should do this work without charge for them. I did it on the principle of Lk 6:38. Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Now there’s a strange thing about this verse. The word "men" is not in the original. In fact there is no subject stated for the Verb shall give. It is an entirely open matter. The giving may come from any source. The matter is left up to God.)
We put the principle of that verse into action and found released into our lives something that made the new obedience possible. It wasn’t long before the Lord called us to go to the nations, and never did He give us any guidance to raise the necessary funds. All He called upon us to do was to be obedient.
We went to some of the most poverty stricken and desolate places to meet with national Pastors who were struggling under circumstances we had never dreamed one could face and still be a minister to others. The Word working in my heart to release to them was what we were finding from Mt 13 about the Kingdom. There was an anointing to teach like I’d never known. Those people had ears to hear. There, I saw that one of the great hindrances to people in the United States preventing many from hearing the Word of the Kingdom is materialism, an inordinate love of things. And something else became firm among my convictions. I saw Rev 5:9,10 was being readied to unfold. God is gathering a people to reign with Christ on earth out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. The people who will reign with Him must first hear so they can have opportunity to respond to the Word of the Kingdom.
As I looked on the poverty of the people—most of them ministers—to whom we were ministering, I was stirred. They were hindered in their ministry because of so much lack. I wished we could have given and given to them so they might each have, at least, a decent home and clothes for their families, as well as some form of transportation. We knew of ministries who tried to supply these, only to raise up men with clothes and automobiles and good houses, but left with an inner corruption that would have no place in God’s Kingdom.
The Lord spoke to me, "Share with them the principles that have worked in your lives with regard to having your needs met. This will help make them children of the Kingdom."
I had never before expressed those principles so precisely as the Lord helped me see them that day. Yet, as the Lord spoke to me, I realized Glenda and I had been living and ministering out of them for some lime. I could express them with the conviction that they were—and still are—viable principles of Kingdom life, ready to work in any of us.
First, we buy the field. I think, when it comes to living out of the resources of God’s Kingdom, this is the primary principle. I’ve told this before. We find it stated in Mt 13:44. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. To acquire the Kingdom, it costs all one has. There remains no part of life untouched or unclaimed by the Kingdom. With me it was a simple transaction: "Lord, I want to buy the field." He responded.
Second, we learn to give. When we do this in accordance with the above stated verse from Luke 6, we learn to give without attachment or demand. Nor do we expect immediate result. We learn to give and leave the "re-giving" to the Lord alone, in His time and His way. Oh, what glory and excitement this opens up along the path of a child of the Kingdom!
Third, we learn to bind and to loose. This is in accord with Mt 18:18. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. There is much we could say about this verse. But we say this at least: learn it. Bind it upon your heart. Hold it close for whatever circumstance may come upon you. Ask the Holy Spirit to quicken it in your mind and heart.
There is one thing I should draw to your attention about the wording of the verse. It makes use of a periphrastic Future Perfect construction. (I’m sure that makes a lot of sense to most of you!?!) Anyway, it makes the verse mean "whenever you bind anything on earth, it shall already have been bound in the heavens, and, whenever you loose anything on earth, it shall already have been loosed in the heavens." In other words, we learn to live out of a work that is finished, whether we be dealing with demons, circumstances, financial hindrances, opposition from people, or whatever... If we’ve bought the field, if we’ve learned to give without reservation, and if we’ve come to know the finished work of the Lord Jesus, there is no force on earth that can hinder us in fulfilling God’s purpose and call upon us.
AND, THE LORD JESUS SPOKE CLEARLY ABOUT tribulation and persecution. If the Kingdom is at operation in us, tribulation will come—and persecution. We might easily say they can both be provoked by the wicked one with the intention of discouraging us with regard to God’s Kingdom. We must remember this: they are bound to come but they can serve us well.
Jesus compared tribulation and persecution with the sun. This is amazing. The sun will scorch plants that have a weak root system and bring them to little or no fruit. But the same sun will cause plants with good roots to grow and produce much fruit. The devilish purpose behind tribulation or persecution is to make us useless for the Kingdom. But, if we allow our Kingdom roots to run deep, those forces against us will only make us more useful for the Kingdom.
Tribulation is from the Greek thlípsis. It means "pressure," sometimes severe and distressing. I think it is best illustrated by the blow of the hammer on the head of a nail. This brings the nail into the place for which it was designed. Without the pressure of the hammer ‘s weight, intensified by the muscle of the one wielding it, a nail has little value. It may be used to scratch a line, to draw in the dirt, or clean one’s fingemail. But that is small use for something so valuable as a nail.
So, the pressure blows of tribulation, regardless of their source, can serve us well if we have but received the "germs" of Kingdom life. Like a hammer’s pressure on the head of a well-aimed nail, tribulation on us "well-aimed" believers will bring us on to the place to which God calls us. Without it we could remain as nearly useless as a nail without a hammer.
If we can see this, we will not have to struggle so hard to develop a theology that takes us out of the world before the time of great tribulation. Think about this. The greater the pressure, the greater the force that will drive a Kingdom person on to his or her place.
Persecution is a hunting word. It comes from the Greek diogmós and means "a chase, or pursuit" like that of a mounted policeman chasing a criminal, or a hunting dog chasing an animal.
I stood in a cow lot one day talking with a farmer. As we talked, a beagle hound came chasing a rabbit through the lot. The rabbit was a large domestic one that has been turned loose to become wild. We paid little attention to the animals except that the farmer said, "They do that every day."
Later, the question came to my mind: why did the beagle never catch the rabbit?
Immediately I perceived the answer. It was because the rabbit knew where his hole was. The beagle only helped him get there the sooner.
The Lord spoke to me, "If you know where your ‘hole’ is, the chase of the wicked one will only bring you into it sooner."
Oh! We know! We know! Our "hole" is in Christ. If we dwell there, no persecution can hinder us. No chase from the devil can drive us wild. It will only serve a child of the Kingdom well.
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