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Sermons

                                                                                                                       June 16, 2024

                                                                 "God Will Harvest His Word and the Fruit It Bore"

                                                                                                                      Mark 4: 26 - 34

 

Quite often, Jesus used parables to illustrate His points. Parables are simply earthly stories told with a spiritual application in mind. Jesus used this medium often to shed light on what the kingdom of heaven is like. Jesus tried to make His kingdom be more real to His listeners. It’s hard for people to grasp spiritual realities because these realities are outside our sensory reality. Spiritual truths when taken by themselves often times come across as abstract ideas. However, with the use of parables, Jesus intended to make His teachings about the kingdom of heaven more understandable and less abstract to His listeners.

 

In our text, we see that Jesus is speaking in parables. I would like to concentrate on the first parable in verses 26-29. Here Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a man who sows seed on the ground. He watches the seed grow into mature plants and then harvests them. I hope my explanation of this parable will make God’s kingdom more real to us.

 

The big thing that jumps out at me in this parable is the beginning and the end of the plants—and in this case the plant represents God’s word. God’s word is planted in the form of a seed and grows. It doesn’t lie dormant. It may seem that way to us at times because we don’t see the response we would like to see. We would like to see people responding in droves to God’s word. But that’s not the case. However, that doesn’t mean that the word is not having an effect in the world.

 

But as I mentioned, the beginning and end in this parable is what gets my attention. God began to plant His word at the beginning of time. He told the first two human beings not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and live. Obey God, and they would live. God promised life to them.

 

We know what happened next. They decided to eat from the tree and as a result, they would die. But God planted another seed. He promised to forgive them and to send a Savior into the world. This Savior would die for the sins of all people. So, here we see God planting the seed of His word in the very beginning. Since then, it has grown considerably.

 

But it isn’t going to grow forever here on earth. A time will come when the word of God will cease to grow. And that time, as we might suspect, is the end of time. God’s word will have run its course. We don’t know when that day will come, but when it does, all the preaching and teaching of God’s word will stop. All missionary activity will cease.

 

It’s a different story right now, though. We are very much involved in spreading God’s word. Churches continue to preach and teach the word. Churches continue to send missionaries out into the world. God is using His church to grow His word throughout the world and the Holy Spirit to grow God’s word in the hearts of people.

 

But this won’t go on forever. A time will come when the fruit of God’s word will be harvested. God will harvest His word and the fruit it bore, and that will be it. Once this happens, there won’t ever again be the opportunity for anyone to receive the word of God and so be saved. The opportunity to believe God’s word is now.

 

I think most of us know this. There may be the temptation to take God’s word for granted, not embrace it as we should. I believe we all are guilty of this from time to time. We’re overly confident that God’s word will be around for a long time and that if we don’t quite have our act together, there is still plenty of time. His word isn’t going anywhere.

 

But isn’t there a saying, “Why put off for tomorrow what you can do today”? Why wait to abide by God’s word? Now is the time to embrace it fully while there is still time. We don’t know when God plans to harvest His word and the fruit it bore. That’s why we grab hold of it now.

 

It seems to me that God has already harvested His word in some places, perhaps where it’s not welcome. I’m referring to those places where a church once was but is no longer there. I’m not suggesting that every church closing is a result of God’s being angry with that church or area. But it should get us to think. When a church closes, the word of God is no longer preached there. Sure, other means may fill the void there, such as a radio broadcast or TV program. But it’s not the same as hearing the word of God preached in church and heard by fellow believers.

 

I pray this doesn’t happen with us. I hope that our hearts never get so hard toward God’s word that He decides to take it away from us. I hope we will always have a desire to hear and learn it. God’s word is life for us. If God wants to harvest His word on the Last Day among us, that is His right. But I pray that He never harvests His word before that day. If He were to harvest His word and take it away from us, what would happen to us, to our congregation? I can’t say that it would be good.

 

I pray that God continues to use us to grow His kingdom here on earth, which means spreading His word, which means continuing to preach and teach it. So, I pray that He doesn’t take His word from us before the Last Day. I hope God’s word will run its course to the very end.

 

While God’s word is here, it’s growing. As I said before, it may not seem that way to us, especially when we look at the state of the church in our country. But this doesn’t mean God’s word is dormant. It is working. In other parts of the world, God’s word is producing fruit. In places like Africa, people are coming to faith. I sometimes wonder if those places will become the center of Christianity. The Christian churches there seem to be more conservative as well. In some denominations there is a growing rift between the mother churches here and the churches in Africa. But it’s evident that the word of God is growing. More people are entering God’s kingdom. It is growing.

 

Just to make things clear, when a person comes to faith by the Holy Spirit through God’s word, that person has entered God’s kingdom. In one sense God’s kingdom is in our midst. We call this the invisible church. All who truly believe in the Lord belong to the invisible church. Only God knows who really belongs to the invisible church. I will say it is comprised of all who believe in Him and that includes believers from other denominations. The invisible church isn’t restricted just to one denomination. It includes all true believers in the Lord. So, in a sense, God’s kingdom is here among us now.

 

But there is more to God’s kingdom. Even though it is in our midst now in one sense, it occupies another dimension in another sense. What I’m saying is that God’s kingdom is heaven, and we’re not there yet. Another aspect of God’s kingdom still awaits to be revealed. And it will be revealed to us when we die. Then we will enter into God’s eternal bliss. So, even though we are part of the invisible church, God’s kingdom here on earth, we still await being part of God’s heavenly kingdom.

 

I hope I haven’t confused us. It’s really quite easy to understand. This is what Jesus hoped to do through His use of parables. It was to help people better understand His kingdom.

 

Well, the parable compares God’s word to a plant. God plants His word in our world, and it grows, meaning people come to faith and enter God’s kingdom by believing God’s word. This is happening all the time. But a day will come when God will harvest His word and the fruit it bore. This will happen on the Last Day. So, we see that our earth and the preaching and teaching of God’s word won’t be around forever. It will all end.

 

But may we rejoice that we have God’s word among us, and may we continue to preach and teach it so that our Lord’s harvest will be abundant.