“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Kingdom Growth (Mark 4:26-29) (William C. Sexton)
2) Truth and Error: How to Tell the Difference (Steve Klein)
William C. Sexton
A parable of the Lord which is peculiar to Mark’s gospel is that of the seed! We would do well, if we would look carefully at this parable relative to the growth of God’s kingdom. Let us think on two levels! how the individual is gained for the rule of Christ and how the ruled people work to build up a group who will submit to His Rule!
“So is the kingdom of God, as if a man 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. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come” (Mk. 4:26-29).
There are a number of significant points made in this parable, which we should be conscious of as we operate under the authority of Christ. We should observe these principles as we seek to grow, as well as observe them as we seek to help others to enter and develop in the kingdom of God.
1. Seed is essential to provide kingdom-citizens! This fact is stated clearly in many places and it is illustrated here, as parables illustrate principles established elsewhere.
Man may sow seed, but the germ of life resides within the seed, producing after its kind. One will never sow one kind of seed and reap fruit of another kind; the plant is determined by the seed. The seed of the kingdom is the word of God (Lk. 8:11). Therefore, the seed is indispensable, if kingdom-citizens are to be made.
Many people fail to accept this principle, thinking that God operates independently of His revealed word. However, just as surely as night follows day, one will not find a Christian where the seed, the word of God, has not been planted. Let us be aware of this fact and see the implications of it. (1) If we wish to grow, as citizens in the kingdom, we must have planted in our mind the word of God. (2) If we wish to gain others and bring them into the kingdom, we must be careful and sure to present to them the pure seed, unmixed with our ideology, etc.
2. Mystery in the Seed. None of us can explain why a seed placed in the ground, provided proper moisture, conditions, etc. will in time sprout, spring forth in a plant. However, we have all observed that such is the case. God, the Creator, has placed the life in the seed. Such is the way things are! We have no plants which are not so produced.
The principles that are operative in the plant and animal kingdom are also operating here. We need to see that such is true, and conclude “no planting, no harvest.” The kind of seed planted will determine the kind of fruit that can be expected, if indeed fruit is produced. The Word of God produces faith (Rom. 10:17; Jn. 20:30-31). Faith produces movement to obey the words, the requirements set forth therein (Rom. 6:16-18; Heb. 5:8-9). Repentance is a demand of “all” men everywhere (Acts 17:30-31). Confession is produced by the person whose faith leads him to repent, because Jesus points to the necessity of such (Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10). Baptism is the last of these steps in one’s movement toward salvation in Christ, which bring about the establishment of the relationship (Rom. 6:3-4).
Why such things are required, man does not know, except as we observe what happened in the New Testament (Acts 2:22-41; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). We see that these are acts produced by the word working in the heart of persons. Christ promises that sin is forgiven at this point. Faith moves one to so act. What about you, friend? Have you allowed the seed to enter the ground (your heart)? Has it produced the plant (baptized person by faith)? Are you growing?
3. The progress is orderly! First the blade, then the ear, and finally the grain is produced. One will not become a citizen of the Kingdom, except in an orderly fashion: Seed planted, time to germinate, plant springing up — one coming in faith, obeying, because he understands that such is required of God.
Likewise, growth doesn’t just happen! People begin to put off the old man and put on the new man. Daily, one has to consciously watch his language (Eph. 4:29), do that which is good (Eph. 4:28), and put away all unclean behavior. He has to allow Christ to be the example (1 Pet. 2:21-25).
One will not find himself automatically doing all that should be done or automatically leaving undone the inappropriate. Instead, one will find that he is missing the mark. Immediately, confession, repentance and prayer to God is in order (Acts 8:22; 1 Jn. 1:9). Moving on, growing by study and practice (Heb. 5:11-6:1ff) is essential for the kingdom-citizen.
4. Congregational Development. Just as the growth of kingdom-citizens is orderly and gradual, so is the growth of a congregation of those citizens in a community. The citizen must meet regularly, with the God-ordained practices of worship, teaching the pure word of God, and encouraging godly living. Such must take advantage of the many methods of evangelism available to them. Individually and collectively a demonstration must be made of the power in the gospel message to change peoples’ lives.
The faithful must be consistently patient, ever standing for the right and opposed to the wrong! Honesty must characterize them — individually and collectively. Spirituality must be “first” in the order of business in the life of the individual and the group in all that they do. Fruit isn’t reaped the next day after the planting takes place. Cultivation, watering, and waiting are all necessary to produce the fruit (1 Cor. 3:6-10).
Each group, that is under the headship of Christ, will take care of its own inter-group functioning, according to God’s instruction. Then they will reach out with the gospel message to others. Many groups go astray today because they reach out with something other than the seed. When the fruits are ready for picking, the taste has changed, because another seed was sown. Beloved, a congregation of God’s people has to get its life from Christ. His blood flows only to those who are connected by way of having been born into that family and then continued by correcting the faults in which one finds himself involved (Acts 8:22; 1 Jn. 1:9). A congregation which offers fellowship on any basis other than that approved by Christ through His word, is sowing seed other than that of the kingdom of God.
Beloved, all growth is not healthy, desirable, and God-approved. Are we mindful of these principles of growth set forth by the Master in this parable? Let us be careful observers, faithful practitioners, optimistic activists involved in the growth of the kingdom of God on both the personal, as well as the group, level. The results will be eternal in duration and spiritual in nature.
— via Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 7, pp. 209-210 April 5, 1984 https://www.truthmagazine.com/archives/volume28/GOT028116.html
Truth and Error: How to Tell the Difference
We learn about a thing by experiencing it. Babies learn sweet from sour, hot from cold, and wet from dry by experiencing these things. Even so, we learn spiritual truth by experiencing it in God’s word, which is truth (John 17:17). Our use of God’s word enables us to readily distinguish between truth and error. Haddon Robinson relates the following story that illustrates this point:
A Chinese boy who wanted to learn about jade went to study with a talented old teacher. This gentleman put a piece of the stone into the youth’s hand and told him to hold it tight. Then he began to talk of philosophy, men, women, the sun, and almost everything under it. After an hour he took back the stone and sent the boy home. The procedure was repeated for weeks. The boy became frustrated — when would he be told about jade? — but he was too polite to interrupt his venerable teacher. Then one day when the old man put a stone into his hands, the boy cried out instantly, “That’s not jade!” (Biblical Preaching, p. 102).
In Hebrews 5:12-14, the inspired writer is addressing Christians who were not mature enough to tell the difference between right and wrong. He admonishes them with these words:
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
There are two words in the text that shed much light on our current topic. The first is the word “unskilled” and it means “inexperienced.” The Hebrew Christians had not progressed and developed because they did not have enough experience in the word. As a result, they were like children who cannot discern right from left; they were spiritual babes who could not tell right from wrong. The second word to consider is the word “exercised.” It comes from the Greek word “gymnazo” from which we get our word “gymnasium” — the place where athletes practice and train. Those who regularly use God’s word have their senses trained to “discern both good and evil.”
Why is it that some brethren don’t seem to be able to identify obvious error when they hear it? Why are so many Christians bogged down in their spiritual lives by moral relativism and compromises with the world? Can we not tell the difference between good and evil? Could the root of the problem be that we have had no meaningful experience with the “word of righteousness”?
My friends, may we this day resolve to hold God’s word in our hearts — to study it, meditate on it, and practice it — so that when we’re given something else we will be able to simply exclaim, “That’s not truth!”
— Via The Beacon, July 3, 2022
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins. For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30). For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21). This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:27). And from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian. For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…
6) Continue in the faith by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday: 9 a.m. Bible Classes, 10 a.m. Worship
Every First Sunday of the Month: 5 p.m. Congregational Song Service
Wednesday: 7 p.m. Bible Classes
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
https://thomastedwards.com/go/all.htm/ (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)