Thursday 9 July 2020

MATTHEW 13. V 1/9 and 18/23
Jesus once again has a large crowd of people who have come to hear him, and takes a place on a boat where he sits.  It was common practice for a Jewish pastor to sit when teaching. When Jesus wanted to get a message across to people, a favorite means of communicating truth in order to teach a spiritual or moral message, was in the form of a parable in which he took familiar scenes which the people would understand. On this occasion, he took that of a farmer sowing seeds on his land.

The theme on the mind of Jesus was one which should be on every Christian’s mind, the importance of  the Word of God; almost everything rests upon the proper hearing. He is speaking to all who have had the opportunity of hearing, and he listed four different approaches which result in different ways of responding. In the story the farmer sowing represent Jesus teaching the Word, which is portrayed as the seed.   In Palestine the fields were laid out in long strips with paths made to walk along.

When the farmer sowed the seed, casting it by hand, some would land on the field and some on the paths.  The paths were hard and the seed would not penetrate, and some of the ground was stony and part would have a covering of earth on top. The seed which landed on those parts would grow on the earth, but as that was a very thin base, the seed would start to grow but not last. Seed also fell on ground which had thorns and weeds on, but had been turned over without clearing  the debris, this meant the seed would grow, but the weeds being stronger would choke the seed. But other seed fell on fertile soil and grew.

Jesus then relates the effects of the sowing the seed, which represents the Word of God, to apply to how the Bible is received by people. The seed which fell on hard ground is like the reaction of so many people nowadays, a complete rejection dismissed out of hand. That which fell on stony ground is like a person who hears what is being said, but soon forgets having little interest.  The third kind are those who do take notice of what they hear, but let the earthly world with its attractions and pleasures push God’s Word aside.

But the seed which takes root in the ground resembles the people who come to Church and listen to what is said and respond faithfully. It is like two people coming to Church together, one listening to the Words being said, the other listening to the message, which makes an impact.

There is a message of encouragement here, especially for preachers. The Apostles were probably feeling discouraged, they and their Master were faithfully preaching yet not getting the response expected.  Jesus is implying only one person in four can be relied on to respond.

When a farmer sows seed he does not know what the outcome of his efforts is going to be, in a like manner a preacher can never know the effect his preaching has had. Years after I have preached at a Church and moved on, and more so now when I move to a different Church week by week, I have met people who remind me of a visit and tell what they heard and how it had led them to attend Church worship. God takes a person’s heart, in his own time, and fulfils his promise to love them. He can take the hardest heart, and make it soft enough to listen and respond.

Jesus said the Kingdom of God is like this.  The term ‘Kingdom of God’, is where God’s will is perfectly done.  Each parable does of course have a spiritual meaning.  Just as the farmer cannot make the seed grow, we cannot make the Kingdom of God grow on our own.  God has given us His Word, the Bible, and as we study and meditate on it we will then be able to play our part in making it grow.

We need to follow the farmer analogy as we consider Church growth.  We should first let the Word of God be preached and then allow time for it to root and grow. There is no point in trying to rush things.  Just as nature’s growth is so powerful, so is Gods’ Word to change lives.  This is why coming to Church is so important.   Most people have not recognised the treasure which is the Christian gospel. The vast majority of people have not got their priorities right.

Just as there is a wrong way of hearing, there is a wrong way of preaching. In the last hours before he left this earth Jesus told his Apostles to take the gospel to all nations and make disciples.  This could only be truly done by telling all he had taught and commanded.  It is therefore beyond all shame and disgrace, that in these days we have men and now women in Ministry, who have taken solemn vows on the Bible before God that they would faithfully preach that Word, twisting and turning the sacred words to justify to their guilty minds all that the Bible demands, in order to ease whatever they have left of a conscience as they act and teach contrary. Too many in high Ministerial Office are even calling for the teaching of the Bible to be abandoned if it offends those who wish to act to their own desires

 This is why it is of the utmost importance that all preaching must be based on the Word of God which he handed down to us in the Bible. It is only through the reading and knowledge of the Bible that we learn God wants to love all people, but he can only accept them if they are cleansed of all sin. We can’t cleanse ourselves to make God accept us, but we can become acceptable to him only one way.  Jesus said, I am that way; no one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus came to this earth with the specific purpose of bringing people to know God, and he has made that possible by giving his life in the most cruel manner devised by man; he was beaten 39 times with a leather belt studded with pieces of steel, the made to carry his own Cross, on which he was placed with nails driven through his hands and feet, then left to hang there until he died many hours later.

One day we will all be held accountable for the way we have served and reacted to God, and we will answer to Jesus when nothing shall be hid and all secrets opened. This is what Jesus is warning about, and one day every man and woman will either rejoice or fear for their future. This should make everyone  consider their position, which the Bible will guide them on. He will look for those who attended his Church and gave just a few moments each week to worship him, as opposed to those who wanted his blessing and help, without giving in return.

People have great excuses not to come to church. They tell me that you do not have to go to church to be a Christian, but they are not at home on a Sunday morning doing bible study by themselves. They are not involved in serving God. They have chosen that other things are more important. Usually they have made a choice that other things, not spiritual things, are more important to them. They make a choice for themselves, sadly they also make a choice for their families too. The choice has an effect which rebounds down the generations.

When people stop attending church and stop taking  children to church, they have effectively stopped their grandchildren and great grandchildren going to church as well. So that today we have several decades of people who have not had any contact with Christians teaching whatsoever, and that means no spiritual grounding in their lives at all. And that is where we are as a country, with people largely adrift in terms of a spiritual anchor to inform their ethical, moral and life decisions.

Now is the time for anyone who does not know or subscribe to what the Bible states should meditate on. Regrettably state schools do not generally teach the Bible, more seem to be concerned with teaching all manner of explicit sex and gender change. They know nothing of the Bible or the great stories of the Bible. Consequently our children are denied the Christian knowledge which was once standard.

 Unfortunately most parents have little, if any, bible knowledge but this can easily be remedied. Bibles are widely available in different style, some in older type of language, but there are numerous versions in everyday form of speaking. In addition, there are CDs for smartphones, tapes for learning all at reasonable costs.

The Bible contains the very presence of Christ Himself There is something inside the Bible that when it is planted into a person’s heart, the interest in Christ begins to grow.   The Bible has a mysterious power.  That is why it is so essential that preachers should faithfully prepare and preach that Word. 

For the newcomer to the Bible, and indeed for the most experienced, the Living Bible is a lovely edition told in such manner to make it easy reading without losing any meaning of the original wording, and portraying in an enjoyable read. This is also accompanied by the New Living Testament, Good News, and for the more experienced there are The New International and English Standard Versions which are written in easy words compiled by some of the world’s most evangelical scholars.

The Apostle Paul, the great Bible missionary stated the Bible gives you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes from Christ, and went on to say,
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realis what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  

Each church has to play their part to encourage and welcome to church those who feel that it is not for them. Some of them might have a good reason to think we don’t want them. They might have had an unfortunate contact with a vicar or a churchgoer, who put them off and they thought, well if that is what being a Christians is like, I don’t want to know. 

What you can do as a church might seem small. It may seem insignificant but of course the message of the parables which we have Church which began so small.  As Christianity spread across the world, without any radio, television, newspapers, or any of the aids we have, so it can do so again.

What you heard this morning is that it might seem small, you might not even notice the effect, but this is how the kingdom is grown. The Bible is telling us God is at much work today as He ever was sowing by His Word into our hearts and lives and we must be ready to serve Him when the opportunity arises.

No comments:

Post a Comment