Christian Action Project (CAP) – Study 2 – Kingdom of God – The Parables
As I stated in the Announcement of the CAP, this will be an ongoing ‘work in progress’, continually asking for feedback of any kind. Also, if I feel that something should be added or amended, we will do so as necessary. Since there is already a wealth of Godly wisdom written over the centuries, I will draw mostly upon what has already been written by both historic and/or current writers.
One of my favorite resources is a DVD set by Dr. Marshall Foster entitled “From Terror to Triumph”, which traces the history of Christian action to advance the Kingdom of God in the world for the last 2000 years.
His entire presentation is based on 3 premises:
1-God is reconciling the world to Himself.
2-God has clearly revealed His strategy in the Bible – from Genesis to Revelation, by the commission given to Adam, Noah, Abraham, etc., culminating in Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.
3-All ‘terrors’ of history, whether perpetrated by ancient tyrants or various current ‘isms, are simply the result of various forms of paganism.
God’s Strategy: Bottom Up – Generational – Exponential - Internal to External - Family Plan; Manifestation of Kingdom of God on earth through Civilization
5 Principles of God’s Strategy for Victory
1. Redeeming Individuals
2. Family Dynasty - Deut. 7:9, Deut. 6:4-9 – Discipling
3. The Church Commission as the keeper of the Sacraments - “The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against the church”
4. Limited Civil Government – as a sphere of God’s authority
5. Common Grace- the blessing for the whole of society due to Christianity
For purposes of overview, this gives us a pre-suppositional basis, as we work through Gary North’s “Unconditional Surrender” book.
This Study 2 – Kingdom of God – The Parables will cover:
· Why begin at the parables?
· Why did the parables confuse both the masses and the disciples?
· What is the overriding lesson of the ‘wheat and the tares’ parable?
Additional comments: If you word search the term ‘Kingdom of God’ (or Kingdom of Heaven), you will have a multitude of hits. If you have a biblical concordance, you’ll see similar listings. Matthew alone has over 50 references. The Kingdom of God was prophesized by OT prophets, announced by John the Baptist, preached by Jesus constantly and taught by His apostles.
How often have you heard it preached lately?
Please read and check your own Bible for any listed references or those your own questions might raise.
We’ve only just begun!
(The following is from Gary North’s book - “Unconditional Surrender”.)
The best place to begin a study of the kingdom of God is to go to the parables and analogies regarding the kingdom which Jesus gave to His disciples. Some of them are what we might call "pocketbook parables," dealing with economic analogies. The parable of the talents is an example (Matthew 25:14-30), or the parable of the clever steward (Luke 16:1-11), or the parable of the unjust servant (Matthew 18:23-35), or of the field in which a treasure is buried (Matthew13:44), or of the analogy of the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46). Others are "agricultural parables," such as the parable of the four soils (Matthew13:3-23), or the parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32). But one of the most illuminating is the parable of the wheat and tares. "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn" (Matthew 13:24-30).
This parable confused His disciples. It was deliberately intended to confuse the masses who came to listen to Him, as He explained: "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 13:34-35). When the disciples asked Him why He spoke always in parables, He told them: "Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given" (Matthew 13:11). He spoke in parables, citing Isaiah 6:9-10, in order to keep the listeners in darkness: "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them" (Matthew 13:15).
There have always been people who haven't liked the idea that God deliberately hides the saving grace of the gospel from some rebellious men, but He does. Isaiah said so, Christ said so, and Paul said so (Acts 28:27).
So the disciples were confused by the parable of the wheat and tares. Christ explained it to them. “He
answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man. The field is the world;
the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:37-42). And the crowning triumph: "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 13:43).
The tares and the wheat continue to grow together in the field. There is no rooting up of either tares or wheat until the final day of judgment. This is extremely significant as an insight into God's plan for history. History unfolds as a field planted with two kinds of seed. One seed grows unto righteousness, and the other seed grows unto perdition. But the two grow side by side in the world. Neither is rooted up before its time, and both are rooted up on that final day. Each seed works out its particular destiny, and each type of seed develops according to its inherent characteristics. This is a parable describing the continuity of history, on earth. There is no discontinuity in the development of the two kinds of seeds. There is no premature rooting up of the wheat. From seeds to full-grown plants, there is no break in the process. Then comes the day of harvest, which is the day of burning for the tares.
If anyone looks at the parables of the kingdom, he finds this concept of historical continuity repeated. The parable of the talents teaches that each man develops his capital, working out the implications of his faith, in responsible or irresponsible stewardship. Then comes the day when the Master returns. Again and again, the parables point to the continuity of history, with good men and bad men working side by side in the same world, until the return of God in final judgment. There is only one return. There is only one judgment. There is only one period of rewards and punishments. There is no great intermediate discontinuous break in the development of the two principles, good and evil. The evil seeds have no warning of the impending judgment. They witness no period in which the wheat is pulled up, and then is replanted after a period of time, which would testify to the tares of what is coming at the end of the age……
This is what the Bible teaches about the kingdom of God. For many of you, it will seem very peculiar. Perhaps the idea of the day of judgment sounds too impossible to believe, and you will point to the continuity of history to make your point. I can well understand this approach to such a message of the coming perdition. It's the same response the people of Noah's day made to Noah. But what astounds me is that there are literally millions of Christians who don't believe what these parables teach about the development of good and evil. They believe that there will be a massive discontinuous event, possibly more than one, in which Christ will come first for His people (the wheat), gather them up into the sky, and keep them suspended there for up to seven years. Then He will replant them, except that they will be fully grown and already harvested, right next to the tares, and to make things even more complicated, He will sow the field again with another batch of wheat seeds. How in the world could the tares miss the significance of events like these? What a warning of the radically discontinuous event to come, namely, the last day! Yet Christ pointed out that at that final day, people will go about their business as they did before the Flood in Noah's day not after the Flood, not after a great warning had been sounded, but before.
If a great historical discontinuity in between the planting of Christ's kingdom and the final harvest is actually coming, why didn't any of our Lord's parables or analogies so much as mention such an event or events to come? If we are to take the parables seriously, then we have to begin to think about the continuity of history in between Pentecost and the final judgment. If there is no great break coming which will divide this period into two or more segments, then whatever happens to the world, the flesh, the devil, and the church (institutional) must happen without direct, cataclysmic intervention, either from God or Satan. The process will be one of growth or decay. The process may be an ebb and flow, heading for victory for the church or defeat for the church, in time and on earth. But what cannot possibly be true is that the church's victory process or defeat process will be interrupted and reversed by the direct, visible physical intervention of Jesus Christ and His angels. No discontinuity of history which overcomes the very processes of history in one cataclysmic break will take place.
Christians must not base their hopes for collective or personal victory on a historically unprecedented event in history which is in fact the destruction of history. They will sink or swim, win or lose, in time and on earth, by means of the same sorts of processes as we see today, although the speed will increase or decrease in response to man's ethical conformity to God's law, or his rebellion against that law.
(Next we will study the Growth of the Kingdom of God.)