Today we’re continuing our new message series “Profound Stories” about some of the parables that Jesus taught. Jesus’ parables were stories about people or events in everyday settings that had profound spiritual meanings.
My message today is entitled “Kingdom Minded.” We’re going to talking about some of the profound stories that Jesus told about the Kingdom of God, also referred to as the Kingdom of Heaven. What is the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God is the realm of God’s sovereign reign, past, present and future. The present reality of the Kingdom of God is spiritual, which is what we’re going to be talking about today. The final culmination of the Kingdom of God will be the physical merged with the spiritual in the new heavens and new earth.
Let’s explore the present nature of the Kingdom of God in a video called “Invisible Kingdom.”
So, the present day Kingdom of God is the spiritual realm in which God’s rule is acknowledged. It is not aligned with any government or any country. Opposing the Kingdom of God is the domain of darkness, ruled by Satan, resulting in perpetual spiritual warfare that affects every person. The New Testament writers use these phrases, Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven over eighty times. So, this is not a minor topic, but a major emphasis of both Jesus and the other New Testament writers.
Yet, it is not talked about much in churches and not well understood. Why not? Because of the spiritual warfare, we’ve mentioned. The enemy, Satan, tries to keep the most important topics in Scripture wrapped in mystery and neglect, even in churches. Yet, in the past week, we have the most unlikely of all spokesman, Kanye West, released his new album entitled Jesus is King. God works in mysterious ways to save unlikely people and to promote the truth. Jesus is indeed the King of the Kingdom of God.
If we don’t understand the Kingdom of God, we won’t be able to understand the events in our world. We’ll have trouble discerning between truth and falsehood and thus open to deception. But when we understand and see the Kingdom, when we enter the Kingdom, then we’ll find our true purpose in life. Which is expanding the Kingdom. Jesus taught us to pray in
Matthew 6:10 (ESV) Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
You see in heaven right now, the Kingdom is completely dominate, there is no sin, no evil, no death in heaven. Yet, on earth, we do not yet see the final triumph of the Kingdom. So our purpose in living as believers is to work to see God’s Kingdom have complete victory on earth, just as exists in heaven. And one day, God’s Kingdom will triumph and evil will be eliminated. Yet, even now, the power of the Kingdom is breaking into our world through the church.
Matthew 16:18 (ESV) And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The rock that Jesus was talking about was Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Messiah, the King. Jesus the King promised to build His church as the vehicle of the Kingdom to crash through and defeat the gates or forces of hell. When the supernatural power of the Kingdom breaks into our world, the Bible speaks of the Kingdom being near. Jesus said in …
Luke 10:9 (ESV) Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
Our privilege as a church serving King Jesus is to bring the supernatural power of the Kingdom into our city to change lives forever. So, let’s learn more from Jesus about the Kingdom of God, which is very different than earthly kingdoms.
Matthew 21:28-30 (ESV) “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.
In this story of Jesus, the two sons represent two different kinds of people, those who enter the Kingdom and those who do not. The vineyard represents the Kingdom and you enter the Kingdom in order to work there. The father represents God who commands everyone to enter and work in His Kingdom. The first son, initially refused, but then changed his mind and entered. The second son, said he was going to enter the Kingdom, but did not actually enter. The answer to the question who enters the Kingdom is …
Matthew 21:31-32 (ESV) Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
In this incident, Jesus is speaking to a group of chief priests and elders in the temple. They correctly answer Jesus question of which son did his father’s will, which was the first son. The first son said he wasn’t going to enter, but changed his mind and went. Jesus then explains who the two sons refer to in his context. The first son refers to the tax collectors and prostitutes. They obviously had been living a life of sin. However, they listened to Jesus’ teaching, repented and believed in Him and entered the Kingdom. The Jewish leaders heard the teaching of John the Baptist and Jesus, but refused to believe him and repent. Thus they did not obey the Father and enter the kingdom. Repentance for sin is a requirement to enter the Kingdom of God.
A second and corollary answer to the question of who enters the Kingdom is …
In speaking to Nicodemus, Jesus said …
John 3:3, 5 (ESV) Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” … Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Unless your born again, you can’t see or enter the Kingdom. Being born again is a spiritual birth, spoken of Jesus of the washing of the Word and the birth through the Spirit. One is born again through believing in Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and submitting to Him as the Lord or King of your life. Jesus talks about this a little further on in the chapter in the famous verse, John 3:16. When you are born again, you enter into the Kingdom of God in this life, an invisible, but very real Kingdom. In this world, therefore, you have two and only two classes of people. Those who are Kingdom citizens and those who are not. Those in the Kingdom have eternal life and those outside do not.
The most popular concept of being right with God is by being a good person. We see from Jesus’ teaching that being good is not how a person enters the Kingdom. Saying the right words is not how you enter, it is a spiritual transaction that is involved, initiated through faith. Another widespread idea is that you just get saved or enter the Kingdom in order to get a ticket to heaven in the next life. We see from Jesus’ story, that He commands us to enter the vineyard or Kingdom in order to work there. You cannot say you’re entering the Kingdom and be lazy and do no work. That is like the second son, who said he was going to enter, but never did and never worked there. All who truly enter the Kingdom by faith will be engaged in Kingdom work. Now, let’s look more closely at what Jesus taught about the Kingdom by asking the question …
Mark 4:26-27 (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.
Many of Jesus’ stories about the Kingdom are about Kingdom growth. This story begins with a man sowing seed, doing the work of the kingdom. We know from Jesus’ other parables or stories that sowing seed is a picture of spreading the truth of the gospel. God’s Word is the seed and the soil is unbeliever’s lives. The point of this story is that Kingdom work is sowing the seed. The growth of the seed is something that the man doesn’t need to worry about or work at, because …
Mark 4:28-29 (ESV) 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.”
God is the one who makes the seed grow and eventually the grain become ripe. Then the second type of work in the kingdom happens, the reaping of the harvest. What is the reaping of the harvest? It is the point at which a person, represented by the wheat makes a decision to believe in Jesus. That is the harvest. So the work of the Kingdom is to sow seeds of God’s Word into people’s lives. God causes the seed to grow unto the point where it is ready to be reaped. But the reaping of the harvest is required for the person to enter into the Kingdom. Not only does the Kingdom grow supernaturally …
Mark 4:30-32 (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.”
In the first story, the seed represented a single person. In this story, the Kingdom is like sowing a small mustard seed, a very small seed. That very small seed grow into a large plant. The mustard seed is only about 1 mm in diameter, yet can grow into a mustard tree that can be 20 – 30 feet high. The point being that a very small seed of truth, of God’s Word, can result in huge growth. In this story, I believe that Jesus is referring to how obedience to sowing seed for the Kingdom will result in exponential Kingdom growth. It may refer to the results that can happen when one person becomes saved through the truth of God’s Word. They in turn plant more seeds, which results in more people being saved, who in turn continue to spread the Gospel. The end result is far bigger and greater than the seemingly minute seed originally sown.
What are some of the take home lessons from these two Kingdom stories. First of all, we need to see the importance of sowing seeds, of being witnesses for Jesus. This is not optional, this is the main work of the Kingdom for every believer. Next, we need to have patience when we are sowing the Gospel with our friends and relatives. It takes time for the seed to grow and be ready for harvest. Not only does it take time, but we need to trust God to cause the growth. Yet, we must be ready, when the plant is mature, to harvest the crop. To harvest is to see the person make a decision for Christ and be added to the church.
The second story speaks to us of not despising small beginnings or Kingdom initiatives that seem very small. All too often, people give up on Kingdom things that seem too small or are not growing fast enough. Have patience, trust God, the seed sown will produce an exponential result if you keep believing and working in the Kingdom. Our last question to learn about the Kingdom is …
Matthew 13:24-25 (ESV) He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
This is a much longer story of Jesus and I’d encourage you to read the whole chapter this week, but we’ll cover the high points today. Again, we see the common Kingdom work of sowing good seed in the field of the world. But here, Jesus says that there is another sower, an enemy, who is sowing bad seeds or weeds among the good wheat seeds. So here, now we have for the first time, the two types of people in the world, those who are the wheat and those who are the weeds. This is the present picture of our world, a wheat field infested with weeds. Jesus said that the weeds would not be removed until the harvest at the end of time when …
Matthew 13:30 (ESV) Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Jesus is clearly teaching that evil and evil doers will exist in our world until Jesus returns. Both will grow together. Yet, notice that the field is a wheat field with weeds mixed in. The Kingdom is the wheat field and consists of all believers. At the end of time, the weeds will be removed from the field for burning and the wheat will be harvested.
Matthew 13:41-43 (ESV) The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
At the end of time, the angels will remove the weeds, here described as all causes of sin and all law-breakers, which are unbelievers. What will be the fate of those who choose in this life not to submit to Jesus, the King of the Kingdom? They will be thrown into the fiery furnace of hell, a place of eternal torment. What remains will be the wheat, the righteous, who will shine brightly in the Kingdom forever and ever. Two absolutely opposite fates will be the culmination of each person’s life on earth, an eternity of joy with God or an eternity of torment without Him. Jesus left no doubt that the Kingdom would triumph in the end, along with all those who have seen and entered it in their lifetimes.
How can the future of the Kingdom that Jesus taught help us in our lives today? First of all, we can have a realistic view of what to expect in our world. The view that the world is getting to get better and better and eventually everyone will be saved is false. The wheat and tares will grow together till the end of the time. Those in the Kingdom of God will be in conflict with those in the enemy’s domain throughout this age. Yet, we should be encouraged, that in the end, the Kingdom, which we as believers are part of, will triumph. There is coming a day when sin and all law-breakers will be removed from the Kingdom. Death, sickness, pain and sin will be no more. We look forward to an eternity with God in His Kingdom, in the new heavens and new earth. The future is not just about heaven, it’s about heaven coming down and merging with earth, it’s a new heavens and a new earth. It’s about having glorified bodies, like Jesus, bodies both spiritual and physical. It will be incredible, more wonderful than we can imagine.
So, what must we be about in our lives. As a believer, we must be about the work of the Kingdom. That work is sowing seeds into the lives of people around us. Believing that God will make those seeds grow. At the right time, we reap a harvest as our friends and relatives believe and put their trust in Jesus, the King of the Kingdom. Despite setbacks, opposition by the enemy and the weeds, we are encouraged because we know the end of the story. The complete triumph of the Kingdom and an eternity with the King. The same King that created this earth and the entire universe has an eternity planned for us too wonderful to describe. Let’s live for the King and bring as many people as we can into His Kingdom.