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Parables of the Kingdom

Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  21:41
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This morning we are going to look at three of the four parables of Jesus found in Mark 4. I have chosen not to look at the Parable of the Sower because it is so well known and focus on the next three parables which are often neglected. As Jesus explains to His disciples, all His parables are double edged: They serve as both a warning and an encouragement. There has been perhaps no time when these parables are more needed. The West, and increasingly the rest of the world, is under a powerful delusion called Naturalistic Secularism.
Make no mistakes, even though the world “secular” is in it, is world view has all the characteristics of a religion.
Via Darwin and his theory of Evolution, it offers a Doctrine of Creation and Providence.
Via Freud and his theory of Psychology, it offers a Doctrine of Personal Salvation and Sanctification called Psychology.
Via Marx and his theory of Socialism, it offers a Doctrine of a New Heaven and New Earth.
Naturalistic Secularism is the default worldview of western society. It has taken over our schools and universities. It has taken over the entertainment and new media. It has taken over all the mainline Protestantism denominations, and increasingly it is the worldview of many who call themselves “evangelicals” or “born again” believers.
Why is it so powerful? Because it offers an alternative gospel. A gospel that is much more “user friendly”. A gospel that will not open you up to criticism and rejection by the world. This is why we need these parables more than ever. We need to be warned of the consequences of abandoning Jesus’ gospel and encouraged to remain faithful to it.
Let us begin by looking at the first of these parables, it is called The Parable of The Lamp:
Mark 4:21–25 ESV
And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
From this parable we learn...

God’s Kingdom Will Expose Your Heart

Two thousand years ago the Good News of God’s Kingdom came into this world as a lamp upon a stand. God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ did not intend that the message of God’s Kingdom be hidden under a basket, but publically known and in plan sight of everyone.
Why is this important? It is important because our sin nature loves the idea of a “secret gospel” that we mold and shape to our sinful whims.
In the early church there was a group of false teachers called Gnostics who claimed that the gospel was indeed “hidden under a basket,” they claimed to have a “secret knowledge” that the average person was not privileged to. God and His Kingdom was to not found not in the words of Jesus, but within one’s self. There is one problem with this, what we find within ourselves is not God, but sin! The apostle Paul tells it like it is:
Romans 7:18 ESV
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
If this “looking within” sounds familiar, it is because this is exactly what people are doing today. How often do you hear from people something like this, “I don’t believe in the Bible, because “my God” would never....”
What has been happening ever since Jesus first preached the Gospel is this, the true nature of our hearts is being exposed. If we have a good heart we come to Christ and embrace His Word. If we have a wicked heart, we reject Christ and His Word.
There is a warning here for you, it was given to us by Christ to so that we would examine our hearts. Are you taking you ques from Christ and His Word or are you taking your cues from the wisdom of this world?
There is also a promise and encouragement in this parable. It is found in verses 24 and 25. Let us look at these two verses again:
Mark 4:24–25 ESV
And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
As we come to the Light, more light will be given!
I have had so many Christians say to me recently, “It seems as thought the world is going crazy.”
These two verses explain exactly what is happening, the more a person feeds of Christ and His Word the more clearly they see reality. Conversely, the more a person rejects Christ, the more they sink into a sin induced delusion. So you are right, as our society rejects Christ it is going crazy!
Do not play around with the Gospel and the Word of God. It is either 100% or it will become 0%.
There is also an encouragement here, increasingly Bible believing Christians are being marginalized and even persecuted. Our motives are questioned and we are falsely accused. For example, Christian businesses such as Chic
The second parable is The Parable of the Growing Seed:
Mark 4:26–29 ESV
And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
From this parable we learn...

God’s Kingdom Will Elude Your Control

As any gardener or farmer knows, the timing and the fruitfulness of the harvest is outside our control. Yes, it is true there is much we can do to help, but even the best practices cannot guarantee a good harvest. Jesus is using this very familiar truth to teach us about the Kingdom of God.
How different is the belief of those who hold to the secular naturalistic worldview of our day and age.
Have you noticed the growing radicalism in our society? People actually believe that the future of humanity hangs in the balance if they do not successfully advance their political and social views. A few weeks ago a young Swedish girl stood up before the UN and gave an impassioned plea to “save the planet” from global warming. She became an overnight celebrity. Some even called her the next “Jesus Christ”!
Before you dismiss as another example “left wing” wackos, consider the hundreds of millions killed in the 20th and 21st centuries in the name of Fascism, Communism, Socialism and eugenics. What do all these movements have in common? The establishment of a utopian society. In other words, “heaven on earth”.
This is nothing new, the Zealots of Jesus’ day wanted to establish “heaven on earth as well;” through the use of arms and terrorism they sought to establish God’s rule over the earth. In their eyes, Jesus preaching of the Kingdom must have seemed pathetic. They, like so many today, were looking for a “man of action” and in their judgement Jesus was not that man!
Jesus’ message to them and to us, is that the Kingdom of God does not come by human force, but by the quite power of God!
We cannot usher in the Kingdom of God on earth. Many in the church today are restless. They look at the world and they don’t like it. Taking their cue from the revolutionaries of this world, many ministers have abandoned preaching of “Christ and him crucified” and instead preach activism. Jesus in this parable warns us of the folly of doing this, but by faithfully preaching the Gospel the seed will grow, the harvest will come and when it does it will exceed all expectations!
This brings us to the third and final parable, The Parable of the Mustard Seed:
Mark 4:30–34 ESV
And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
From this parable we learn:

God’s Kingdom Will Exceed Your Expectations

In the eyes of the world, Christ’s Kingdom seems. I know the number of people professing faith in Christ numbers in the billions and by this count Christianity is the largest religion on the planet, but when you look beyond the profession of faith and at the actual faith itself, you discover a tiny remnant of believers. The Kingdom of God looks small, like a mustard seed!
Jesus is encouraging us to look beyond what our physical eyes can see and see with the eyes of faith. Considering what the Scripture as a whole teaches concerning the number of true believers being a tiny remnant, I doubt that Jesus is saying that God’s Kingdom will be like a great tree because the total number of the elect will exceed the total number of the dammed. What He is saying is the glory of God’s Kingdom will exceed the glory of the kingdoms of this world. As God’s Kingdom grows, bringing in true believers from every nation, it’s glory grows. Someday, when the New Heaven and New Earth are established on this planet the glory of God will cover every square inch! In the closing chapters of the Bible we read this:
Revelation 21:5–8 ESV
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
The book of Revelation was given to persecuted Christians in the first century to encourage them. Surely God’s Kingdom seemed small and insignificant in comparison to the mighty Roman Empire—small like a mustard seed. Today in the comparison to the naturalistic secular worldview, the church again seems insignificant: Small like a mustard seed, but don’t let looks deceive you. The glory of God’s Kingdom is growing daily! Soon it will become “larger than all the garden plants” and in it’s branches will be “birds” from every tribe, people and nation!
Dear believer, do not become discouraged. Do not be tempted to compromise and adopt the world’s ways. Do not listen to the false promises of the false gospels of this age. The Light has come! He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Amen.
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