The Seed – Part 1
The Seed – Part 1
Jesus talked a lot about seeds, and in this article, we will look at seeds, especially The Seed.
Jesus tells all humanity what their priority in this life should be. Jesus says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness." Matthew 6:33. That should be the priority of every human being on the face of this earth, an earth that has been in turmoil and trouble for 6,000 years, because of sin.
Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness." We must have both. We must have His righteousness in order to some day enter into His kingdom.
God says, Put that at the top of the list every day, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness." It is the priority that God wants for us. We make out lists all the time. My wife is well known for lists. She will make lists, and the first thing on a list is the priority. She works herself down the list, and if the last things do not happen, it is all right.
I want to look with you at the first thing, the top of the list. That is what Jesus is saying: I want you to put this on the top of the list, Seek ye first the kingdom of God. It is a wonderful thing to be able to study the Word of God and see harmony coming through. That harmony is the result of divine Providence guiding in producing the Holy Bible. It is a tremendous work of God. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were seeking the kingdom of God. "And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo, here! Or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:20, 21.
Seeking the Kingdom of God
The Children of Israel in Jesus’ day, even in the midst of their apostasy, were seeking the kingdom of God, but they were looking in a direction other than God would have them look. They wanted something they could see, something they could feel, something with substance. They were looking for a physical kingdom on this earth. Jesus told them the kingdom of God was within them, and they did not want to hear that. It was totally opposite of the theology of the day.
Have you ever heard theology that is totally contrary to the Word of God? It is all around us in Christendom today. It was all around them in Jesus’ day also. God was revealing His kingdom in their midst, but they did not see it.
In John, we find an interview that Jesus had with one of the leaders of Israel. His name, we are told, was Nicodemus. He came to Jesus by night, because he did not want his peers to see him with Jesus. Jesus was not a popular figure, and interestingly enough, Jesus has never been a popular figure, even though it appears that He is, because He makes known the truth to people. Jesus spoke these words to Nicodemus, words that reveal what is necessary in regard to the kingdom of God.
"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3.
Jesus now said, Unless you are born again, you cannot even see the kingdom of God, let alone be in it. What did Jesus mean when He said be "born again?" What is the inference? Here is a mature man standing before Him, a man who was already born.
Putting on a New Nature
What is He telling Nicodemus? He is saying, You must have a whole new nature, before you are able to see the kingdom of God. Why is that necessary? God makes it very clear.
God uses Paul the apostle to tell us why it is necessary, and He is not just talking to the Jews. He is telling the Jews and the Gentiles—all humanity—why it is necessary to be born again.
"You hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." Ephesians 2:1–3.
You and I come into this world as every human being has since the fall of Adam, with a fallen nature, a nature that is not in harmony with God’s kingdom. It is totally out of harmony with His righteousness, and if we choose to retain that nature, God has left on record the consequence: "The wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23. That is not merely physical death; it is not being physically laid out in a cemetery because you died.
No, God is making it clear that there is a second death, a total extinction of life where you will never again be, and you will be as though you never were. So God says, in His mercy and in His compassion to all of us, You need to be born again. You need to have a new nature before you are able to even see My kingdom.
God says it even more clearly in 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10. He tells us why this nature, that is based on the flesh and not on the Spirit of God, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. He uses Paul again to make the issues clear to us. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?"
What does it mean to be unrighteous? Paul defines unrighteousness: "Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." It is just not going to happen. God does not want us in that context, but He does want us in His kingdom. For God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9.
Being Born Again
Let us go back to Nicodemus’ response. He said, Wait a minute! How can a man that is old, be born again? And that is the question that we need to ask. How is it that we can be born again?
There is a lot of theology in Christendom today that will give you an answer, but it is not in harmony with God’s Word. They are dealing with being born again on an outward basis—what they can see, what they can feel, what they can do. What did Jesus tell the Pharisees when they demanded to know when the kingdom of God should come?
He pointed them to within themselves. If it happens at all, it is going to happen within you. To understand what it means to be born again, look at the first parable regarding seeds. When Jesus was growing up, before He left home to begin His ministry at the age of 30, He spent time in a garden. He planted seeds just like we do. He learned lessons from His experience in the garden, and that is why He shares with us these parables.
The Seed—The Power
"He said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?" He looked around in the society of men, in the nations, and in the kingdoms of men and He could find no comparison whatsoever. He could only find a comparison in the garden. "It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it." Mark 4:30–32. How small God’s kingdom has appeared to men in 6,000 years.
God tells us, in His Word, there will only be one kingdom. (See Daniel 2.) So this small beginning is going to eventually encompass the whole world with people who have been born again. With what does He compare the kingdom of God? A little seed that looks like nothing could ever grow from it.
"There is life in the seed, there is power in the soil; but unless an infinite power is exercised day and night, the seed will yield no returns. The showers of rain must be sent to give moisture to the thirsty fields, the sun must impart heat, the electricity must be conveyed to the buried seed. The life, which the Creator has implanted, He alone can call forth. Every seed grows, every plant develops, by the power of God." Christ’s Object Lessons, 63.
This does not happen apart from God in the physical world. When you plant that cucumber seed and the plant eventually emerges out of the ground and produces cucumbers, it is the direct result of God’s work.
Directly From God
Let us look at the parable in verses 26, 27 of Mark 4: "And He said, ‘So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.’" So what power produces the germination of that seed? It is God’s power.
Notice: "The germ in the seed grows by the unfolding of the life-principle which God has implanted. Its development depends upon no human power." Christ’s Object Lessons, 77. If it grows, it grows as a result of God and of His power and of His intercession. It is His sun that shines warmth down. It is His water or rain that waters that plant. It is His air, that He has created for life, that gives life to that seed. All the three essentials are directly from God.
Are we talking about growing seeds in the garden, or are we talking about being born again? Are they synonymous?
"So it is with the kingdom of Christ. It is a new creation." Ibid. This was not something hidden, before the days of Christ, from the Children of Israel. This was known to Nicodemus; it was not anything new. "Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Zechariah 4:6.
It is My Spirit, My power that gives life, God says. It is only His power that can bring a new nature out of a fallen nature.
The Blessing of the Seed
Jesus tells us clearly that the seed is able to produce a new creation, acceptable in the kingdom of God. "Now the parable is this: [Jesus says] The seed is the word of God." Luke 8:11. We hold the seed each time we hold our Bibles. God’s seed catalog describes the seed, describes what it will do, and also contains the seeds! The whole package is there. No mail order is necessary. He sent it to us. It was not even C.O.D.!
I want you to notice something very interesting. The seed that God has given to us, in this natural world, is most powerful. It has various abilities:
1 A seed can produce a living thing. That little, dormant seed looks dead, but it can produce a living thing. It can produce a new creation. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17.
2 Every seed that germinates, eventually grows up, and it also grows down. There is a balance in everything that God does. Working the kingdom of God in us, He works a balance. It will be inside first, within us, but it will eventually be seen outside in what we do, in the kind of person we are. Some drunk, in the gutter, who found a piece of the Word of God, or was invited to a mission to hear the Word of God, was changed completely. Were you to see that man a month later, you would not recognize that he was the same man. Why? Because he had allowed God to do something on the inside that eventually was revealed on the outside. Do you see that? The seed germinates down, puts its roots down, and the plant goes up. It is an inside/outside work that God wants to do, a balanced work.
3 This seed can reproduce its own kind. It can produce a new life, but more than that, it can reproduce itself. A cucumber seed will reproduce itself. And interestingly enough, it will not reproduce anything else but its own kind.
4 It can grow thousands of times its size in its lifetime. It is going to germinate. It is going to bear; it is going to bring up a blade, then the ear and then the full corn in the ear. It continues to grow and develop. Have you ever heard of indeterminate plants, especially among tomatoes? They just keep growing. This seed can actually reproduce itself thousands of times its size. A redwood tree seed is small, yet it produces a tree hundreds of feet in the air and many times around in diameter. Tremendous growth! God tells us our potential character development is limitless in regard to becoming more and more like Him. If we choose to receive the kingdom of God within us, by receiving the seed, which is the Word of God, our potential character development is limitless. We can grow and grow and never stop.
5 The seed can produce roots that are actually powerful enough to break through rock, granite, anything. In the natural world, it is true. Brothers and sisters, it is also true in the spiritual world. This Word, allowed to have good ground, can make us more powerful than sin. It can give us power over sin, power over the great deceiver, and power over everything that is contrary to God. This seed has the power to do that!
I want you to notice that as it is in the physical, so it is in the spiritual. The three essential ingredients for a physical seed to grow, and which come only from God, are sunlight, water, and air.
You have sunshine—the righteousness of Christ, in the spiritual. You have water—the Spirit of God. Water is the latter rain, the former rain, the Spirit of God. And you have air—the grace of God. In Steps to Christ, 68, we are told that His grace encircles this earth just as much as the air we breathe.
What Can I Contribute?
They all come from God, in regards to the physical and to the spiritual. Those are necessary items for the growth of the seed. There is one more thing that is necessary however, if the seed is going to germinate, grow, and develop into a plant that bears fruit. God has not yet told us about this, and it has to do with you and me.
Jesus talks about seeds again in another parable. (See Matthew 13.) It is about a sower who went out and cast seed here and there. As he was sowing, some of the seed fell by the wayside. The wayside was a path that was trampled upon; people walked on it all the time. Seed fell there, and the birds came and took it away before it had time to do anything.
The second place the seed fell was on stony ground, on the rocks. The seed had enough soil to be able to germinate, to root down, to pop up, but when it got hot, the roots were not deep enough; the plant fell over and withered. It needed water, and it needed removal of stones to get the heat away from it.
The third place that the seed fell was into a bunch of thorns. You never want to plant a garden where there is a bunch of weeds. You want to take the weeds out and then plant the garden. But here you have seed falling in the midst of thorns, or weeds, and eventually being choked out. Even though two or three seeds germinated and grew, none of them lived. That should alarm us.
Another thing that should alarm us is where this is taking place. Where do people go to hear the Word of God spoken? In the church. This is not being spoken of in the world. Jesus is referring to those who would hear the Word of God, as His professed people, in His house. That should alarm us, because if it is true, if you took this literally, the percentage of those who respond correctly to the Word of God and have the kingdom of God growing within them is only 25 percent. That means that 75 percent reject it.
Should that alarm me sitting in a church? Oh, yes, it should cause me to examine myself, whether I am receiving the Word of God or whether I am just hearing it.
There is one thing the seed needs, which God does not give. If it does not have this, the seed will not germinate; it will not grow. "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." Luke 8:15. Jesus does not speak, in this parable, about the sunshine, the water, and the air. Why? Because He knows that His heavenly Father will supply that to the seed. But for us to grow, it is necessary to have good ground. Having good ground is up to us. God has nothing to do with producing good ground or bad ground, thorny ground or stony ground. We have everything to do with the kind of ground into which God’s Word falls.
Jesus Gives the Answer
God wants to be practical. God wants us to understand what good ground is so we can produce good ground for the seed to grow and develop. Jesus gives us a clear representation of what it means to have good ground.
Revelation 3:20, helps us see what good ground means and what God is asking of us in regard to having good ground. "Behold," Jesus says, "I stand at the door, and knock." Where is He in regard to the door? When you are standing at a door and knocking, you are on the outside.
He is on the outside, but He is knocking, knocking that He might come inside. Remember, the kingdom of God begins within you, and the heavenly Gardener needs to be where the seed is, to allow that seed to develop and grow. So He is knocking, and He says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." Jesus is saying, the good ground is the person who hears His voice and responds to the point of opening their heart to Him.
Faith Opens the Door
Here is where we get real practical. How do we open our hearts to God? If we ever have that experience, we should know that we have to exercise faith to open our heart to God, and faith is something that God gives as a gift to every man who comes into this world. (See Romans 12:3.)
Jesus said, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6. So faith opens the door! If we are going to be a consistent good-ground hearer, the door must remain open.
To be continued . . .
April 2002 Table of Contents