Looking at the Mystery of how the Kingdom of God operates
He (Jesus) answered, “because it has been given to you to know the mysteries (secrets) of the Kingdom of heaven…12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him….14 in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: “Hearing you will hear and shall not understand…15 for the hearts of this people have grown dull…” 16 Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets…desired to….hear what you hear, and did not hear it. 18 Therefore hear the parable of the sower…22 He who received seed (Word) among the thorns is he who hears the Word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 He who received seed (Word) on the good ground is he who hears the Word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a 100-fold, some 60, some 30.” (Mt. 13:11-23)
- Jesus used a familiar agricultural illustration to teach them how the Kingdom of God operates. It is parallel to a farmer who works for months to cultivate his fields that he might harvest the crops to sell in the marketplace. It was common for a farmer to discover that a portion of his field did not yield fruit that was good enough to sell in the market. His neglect in cultivating the land impacted how much return he had at the harvest. It was rare that one would yield fruit from 100% of the ground. It was a wonderful, but rare thing for a farmer to receive a 100-fold return on his labor in the field with no waste or loss of the potential fruitfulness of his land.
- Jesus’ goal was to present the wisdom of pursuing a lifestyle of obedience now that results in a 100-fold return on the “potential” of what God has invited us to receive from our time on earth in this age.
Principle #1: The “Harvest” or the return on our labors has 3 dimensions to it.
- The primary return is at the harvest at the end-of-the-age, when Jesus returns to establish His earthly Kingdom (Mt. 25:14-30). This is when the return on our labor is fully manifested and received. The harvest is the end of the age… (Mt. 13:39)
- A secondary dimension of the return occurs in terms of impacting people now. The gospel…is bringing forth fruit…among you since the day you heard (Col. 1:6).
- A third dimension of the return occurs now in terms of bearing the fruit of the Spirit or experiencing an increase of grace on our hearts as individuals. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace….(Gal. 5:22-23)
Principle #2: The return one receives is directly related to the quality of one’s work in cultivating the field some 30-fold, some 60-fold and some 100-fold.
Principle #3: one of the mysteries (secrets) of the Kingdom is that God gives abundantly more according to responsiveness and takes away according to neglect allowing dullness to grow in the heart.
Pursuing a lifestyle of 100-fold obedience is seeking to be perfect (mature in obedience).
You shall be perfect (mature in obedience) just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Mt. 5:48)
Be even more diligent…for if you do these things you will never stumble; (2 Pet. 1:10)
If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. (Jas 3:2)
The pursuing of 100-fold obedience is very different than attaining it. There are so many powerful and wonderful dynamics that occur in our heart when we soberly aim at pursuing 100-fold obedience. His presence, His powerful, it is so worth it and so wonderful.
The 98% pursuit of obedience has a limited blessing on it. However, the last 2% has double the grace on the heart. The place of power is in pursuing obedience in the last 2% of our heart. We cannot manipulate the Holy Spirit, if we do everything He leads us to but leave one thing out, He will withold His presence and power and keep bringing it up until we surrender.
The pursuit of 100-fold obedience includes things like making a covenant with our eyes (Ps. 101:3; Job 31:1), bridling our speech (Jas 3:2; Eph. 4:29-5:4), managing our time (Eph. 5:15-16; Ps. 90:12) and money to increase the Kingdom (beyond personal comfort and honor) (1 Tim. 6:8; Mt. 6:19-21) as we engage in communing prayer with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14). There is a glory and a necessity in pursuing 100-fold obedience if we are to receive the maximum blessing of what God has offered each one of us from our labors in this life.
The Rewards of Obedience
He said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ (Lk. 19:17)
Jesus’ revelation of the “great exchange” from this age to the next. In other words, the exchange of “very little” to “government over ten cities.” The revelation of the great exchange of “few things” to “many things” and the revelation of the joy in ruling. In other words, the saints will enjoy ruling in partnership with Jesus.
Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy (saints will enjoy ruling) of your lord. (Mt. 25:21)
What the World calls Foolish
27 God has chosen the (so-called) foolish things of the world (Mt. 5-7 lifestyle) to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the (so-called) weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. (1 Cor. 1:27-29)
Our primary calling in this life is internal! The lifestyle Jesus outlined in Matt 567 of serving, giving, fasting, praying and forgiving that is foundational to our call is weak in the eyes of men. The Holy Spirit gives us confidence that our weak activity is valuable to God and has an eternal reward. This seems too hard and somewhat unrewarding. We must have faith (confidence) that our calling to so-called weakness as a disciple is valuable to God. This revelation equips our heart to rejoice in the “weak and small things” of the Kingdom instead of despising them. Only with this perspective can we consistently live wholehearted. We are empowered to do this by being transformed daily into His image by praying the Word and radically apply it to our lives. We will be especially evaluated on Judgment Day for how well we did this on each day. He will not ask how big our bank account got, but how big our hearts got, ie. being transformed into the image of Christ through prayer and the Word. He has entrusted us this body and life, and we must be faithful in transforming it.
SOME SCRIPTURES ON RECEIVING OUR FULL REWARD OR INHERITANCE OF OUR LABORS
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Mt. 5:5)
If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Cor. 3:14-15)
There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. (1 Cor. 15:41-42)
I chose you…that you should…bear fruit and that your fruit should remain…(Jn. 15:16).
Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. (2 Jn. 8, NIV)
I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Rev. 3:11)
Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it…whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Lk. 17:33)
I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest…I… become disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:27)
That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:10-14)
For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead (for the world in the Millennial Kingdom)? (Rom. 11:15)
For many are called (invited by God), but few are chosen (found faithful by God) (Mt. 22:14).
- Many people are called (invited to inherit great things) yet only a few are chosen or esteemed by God as faithful or worthy of ruling with Jesus when He comes. Jesus taught that only a few will have a sufficient maturity in their obedience so as to receive ALL that God called (invited) them to in being in His Millennial government.
When He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints… therefore we pray always for you that God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all (fullness of our calling as seen in the Millennial Kingdom) the good pleasure of His goodness…(2 Thes. 1:10-11)
But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Mt. 19:30)
- Jesus gave His disciples the revelation of the great exchange that occurs at the harvest as some who are “last” in privilege and prominence in this age will be “first” in the Kingdom Age.
The last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” (Mt. 20:16)
MANY HEAR THIS AND RESPOND “THIS IS TOO HARD”
For the kingdom of heaven is like a Man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one…19 After a long time the Lord came and settled accounts with them. 20 So He who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’ 24 Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid Your talent in the ground. Look, there You have what is Yours.’ 26 “But his Lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. (Mt. 25:24-26)
- The value of small things – the Lord requires faithfulness even in the smallest areas of being entrusted with just one talent, how much more when He entrust us with more. Jesus is challenging the false idea that accountability only matters if the sphere that He gives us is large. We must understand the dignity of the small things that God entrusts to us because they are valuable to Him.
- There is a common problem of unperceived blame shifting to God. We must view our problems and obstacles to overcome, or burdens to bear, knowing there is a reward for carrying the cross with joy, for the joy set before us.
Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew You to be a hard man, reaping where You have not sown, and gathering where You have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there You have what is Yours.’ 26 “But his Lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. (Mt. 25:24- 26)
- This man was confident in his theology of God requiring too much and offering too little help and too little reward for our struggles and efforts. In other words, the theological accusation is that God is not a God of grace in asking too much from us without supplying strength and in asking more than He gives back (in terms of present and future rewards). In other words, that God is unrealistic is what He requires from us. This is a familiar cry through the ages against God that He does not understand the real issues of life.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. (1 Jn. 5:3-4)
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Mt. 11:30)
- Many find fault in God without understanding that the real issues are is in their heart. Jesus exposed their problem as wickedness and laziness (lust and sloth). They spend their strength (time and money) on immediate personal honor and comfort (physical and emotional) more than on God’s purposes.
- What is yours – Jesus’ inheritance in us and His investment in us is related to the assignment He gives us. Jesus loses in our unfaithfulness as we do. What God calls us to or entrusts to us has inherent dignity and value to God, therefore, to ignore it is to spurn God’s grace and gift.