The Coming Kingdom 017

Dr. Andy Woods | May 17, 2017 | Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | The Coming Kingdom

Andy Woods                                                                                                                The Coming Kingdom                                                                                                               5-17-17     Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23        Lesson 17

Let’s take our Bibles and open them to Matthew 13.  This is actually our last lesson for the spring quarter so we’re taking the summer off, so we’re just going to pick up the study where we left off beginning the last Wednesday in August I think.  And next week is going to be fun, it’s going to be the kids presentation to kind of showcase what they’ve been learning in terms of Bible verses and things like that.  So if  you’re interested in that I encourage you to come out for that.  And then Wednesday night’s disappear for a little while and then they come right back in August after we’re tanned, rested and ready.

Let’s open our Bibles to Matthew 13 and I’m getting used to all this new technology we have here so I may not have to look down here anymore, I just have to look at that screen up there. I’m instinctively looking here anyway; that’s a habit I have to break.  But the first part of our study we’re looking at what does the Bible have to say about the kingdom.  So if you need a hand out put your hand up and we’ll be happy to bring you one.  As they’re passing that out I’m just going to do this fast review; since you guys are not going to hear this review all summer I need to say it one more time, right.

The kingdom program starts in Genesis 1 where God reigned over a man and that’s what was lost in Eden.  So it was supposed to be God governing Adam with his wife and them governing creation for God.  So Genesis 3 talks about how they stopped governing creation for God and started listening to creation in rebellion against God.  So then God takes a nation, called the nation of Israel, around Genesis 12 this happens, and it becomes very clear as God enters into a covenant with Abraham that it’s going to be through Israel that He’s going to restore His kingdom purposes to the earth.   So Israel at that point is given ownership of her blessings and those blessings are: land, seed and blessing.

And then we flash forward about 600 years and this is where God enters into a covenant with Moses and this is where you start to see if/then language.  So the Abrahamic Covenant gives Israel owner­ship, the Mosaic Covenant gives  Israel possession.  And as long as Israel is just the owner but not the possessor, because she’s never complied with the Mosaic Covenant… by the way, who does the Mosaic Covenant point to?  Christ. So as long as national Israel is a Christ-rejecting nation she’s the owner but not the possessor of her blessings and the kingdom at that point remains in a state of what?  Postponement, not cancellation.

And then we find the divided kingdom; after the reign of Solomon the kingdom is divided into two, north and south.  And the most important of those two sections is which part of it?  The south because in the south is the tribe of Judah, and Genesis 49:10 tells us that God’s promises are going to be mediated through Judah.  [Genesis 49:10, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”] That’s why Jesus Christ was of the tribe of Judah.

And then the Babylonian captivity starts, the north is swept away by the Assyrians; the south is taken into captivity and that happens around 586 B.C. (roughly).  So that starts the times of the Gentiles and if you’ve been tracking with us on Sunday you’re familiar with that concept; it’s the series of Gentile powers that are going to dominate Israel during this time period when the kingdom is in postponement.  So the times of the Gentiles started with Nebuchadnezzar and have the times of the Gentiles ended yet?  No, they continue right on through the antichrist in the tribulation period followed by the personal return of Christ at the end of the tribulation period.  And then and only then will He take His seat on David’s throne and start the kingdom and the times of the Gentiles will be over.  Daniel 2 and 7 are giving us prophecies about that time period.

So during this time, while the kingdom is in postponement the prophets function as a light shining in a dark place (as Peter tells us), and they take out their paint brushes and give us a portrait of what the kingdom is going to be like one day, when it comes to give us hope in the midst of this time of postponement that we’re in.

Then the nation of Israel comes back into the land after seventy years of captivity and under whose reign did they return?  Cyrus of Persia.  And then Persia is replaced by Greece, Greece is replaced by Rome, although Israel is in the land for 400 years she’s still under the Gentile rod of dominion.  And it’s in the empire of Rome that who shows up and offers the long-awaited kingdom?  Christ!  And that’s what we call the offer of the kingdom.  So had the nation enthroned Christ the kingdom (hypothetically) could have come.  But we study the Gospels carefully and we learn that the nation rejected the offer and that pushed the kingdom into not cancellation but what? Postponement.  So as long as Israel has never enthroned her king she’s the owner but not the possessor of her blessings and the kingdom is in a state of postponement, which is why we’re not in the kingdom time now.

But just because we’re not in the kingdom does that mean God is not working?  It doesn’t mean God is not working because He is working and what we discover in point 10 here is that we get a description of the interim age.  The interim age is the time period where God is doing something; He’s working today, He’s been working for the last 2,000 years.  As I’ll be showing you though, that’s not to be confused with the kingdom.  So if you want to understand the plan and program of God today you have to start studying this interim age.  And there are two areas of the Bible which fill this out for us: one part of it is the Matthew 13 parables which we’re going to start looking at tonight and the other part of it is studying what the Bible says about the church.  So if you can understand everything the Bible says about the church and the Matthew 13 parables you’ll understand exactly what God is doing today, although His plan and program is not to be confused with the kingdom.

So when we started talking about this interim age I made some preliminary observations: it’s an authentic age, it’s an age caused by Israel’s unbelief, it’s a mystery age.  What does it mean when we say it’s a mystery age?  Never before disclosed but now revealed.  It’s an age where Jesus is functioning not as prophet, not as king but as high priest at the right hand of the Father, after the order of Melchizedek.  It’s not an afterthought in God’s mind; it’s an important time period that God always said He’d bring into existence, it just hadn’t been revealed yet.

So really to understand the first part of the interim age is to understand these Matthew 13 parables, so that’s kind of the direction we’re going in tonight.  Last time we were together I gave you the background of these parables.  Number 1, notice their position in Matthew’s Gospel.  Chapter 13 comes after chapter 12; what happened in chapter 12?  The nation rejects the offer of the kingdom.  So now that that’s happened what’s going to be the plan of God, since the kingdom is not going to be coming to the earth?  Matthew 13 explains this time period to us.  So Matthew 13 parables are strategically placed after chapter 12.

I think it’s verse 11 they are also called a mystery, these parables, meaning this is a time period that you can’t find in any of the teachings of Christ up to this point, you can’t find it in the Old Testa­ment, so this is brand new information. These parables, as I’ll be showing you, do not represent the kingdom but rather they represent the course of the present age while the kingdom is in post­ponement.   And they represent the experiences of the sons of the kingdom, or by extension the daughters of the kingdom.  So if a son than an heir.  So the kingdom is not here but we’re inheritors of it one day, right?

So what is God doing today with us as His sons and daughters of the kingdom while the kingdom is not here?  The Matthew 13 parables explain this, and they are taught in parables because a parable is designed to conceal truth and what?  Reveal!  So He’s concealing it from first century’s leadership that’s already made their decision, they’re going to reject the King and the kingdom.  And He’s revealing it to who?  The remnant who are going to become the foundation stones of the soon to be birthed church.

And we talked last time about how these parables have two divisions in it; the first part of it He gives in the open and the second part of it He gives in the house.  So the first part of it is public to the remnant, the second part of it is private.  And I gave you my theory on that, I think by the time He got through parables 1-4 He was telling them (A) the kingdom is not going to come like you think it is, because they were expecting the kingdom to appear immediately.  And not only is this age that we’re entering not going to be the kingdom age…remember right up to Acts 1 they were asking Him, Acts 1:6-7, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel.  [Acts 1:6-7, “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ [7] He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;’”]  So they’re thinking in kingdom terms and He’s saying no, the kingdom is in postponement now, here’s an interim age where the kingdom is absent.

And B, it’s an age of incredible deception and apostasy that these parables explain, because a lot of people today are all upset about this ministry is going apostate and this guy on TV I used to like is now saying strange things.  And people get all upset about this but if I’m understanding these parables correctly apostasy, which simply means drifting away from truth, is normal in this age.  So when I study these parables I’m not really shocked at the reality of apostasy.  What shocks me these days is seeing a ministry faithful to the truth; that’s what’s abnormal.   So He’s going to tell them, number 1, the kingdom is not coming and number 2, this is an age of apostasy.

And I think at that point they’re going to be very despondent so He gets them together privately in the house and gives them the final four parables.  First four public, second four private, to explain to them that don’t get too discouraged God is still working.  So I think that explains the two-fold division of these parables.  We covered that a little bit last time, didn’t we?

So let’s look at the first of these eight parables.  If God allows it we might be able to do the parable of the sower tonight and also the parable of the wheat and the tares.  You’ll notice that He taught these things openly before a crowd, chapter 13, verses 1 and 2, and this is before He went into the house and taught the final four parables privately beginning in verse 36.  [Matthew 13:36, “Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.’”]

So the first four are public parables, not for the whole nation.  If they were for the whole nation He wouldn’t be teaching in parables, but public for the remnant or the group that has been following Him, which at this point is still a large crowd, although the leaders have rejected Him.

Notice if you will the parable of the sower, Matthew 13:1-9, the first of these parables explaining what God is doing presently.  And I’m going to go ahead and read these verses to you.  “That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. [2] And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.”  So the crowd is so big He’s got to get on this boat and kind of move offshore to address everybody.  Verse 3, “And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, ‘Behold, the sower went out to sow; [4] and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.  [5] Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. [6] But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.   [7] Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.  [8] And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.  [9] He who has ears, let him hear.”

So here He’s saying the kingdom is not going to be restored presently, there’s going to be this era of different harvests.  And He’s using agrarian terminology that the first century world, as farmers, all understood.  Now fortunately with the parable of the sower we don’t have to resort to our sanctified imaginations to understand what this means because it’s interpreted in verses 18-23.  So notice what it says in verses 18-23.

[18] “Hear then the parable of the sower. [19] When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. [20] The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; [21]yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises” notice that Jesus doesn’t say “if” the persecution arises, He says “when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. [22] And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. [23]And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

Now with each of these parables I’m going to just try to step back and give you the main point.  This is fascinating to get into all the details of this but the main point of this is in this new age of time, in this mystery age, in this period of time when the kingdom is not present but is in post­ponement the gospel is going to be preached but it’s going to have different results, depending on who hears the gospel.  So the soils represent different conditions of the human heart, just like soil has to be prepared for the seed to become productive the human heart has to be prepared correctly to hear the Word of God, to hear the gospel so that it can become fruitful.  And what it’s basically saying is in this new age of time, while the kingdom is not here the gospel is going to go out and yet it’s going to have different results, depending on who hears it.  And He describes basically four kinds of people.

So that is the big point of this; in other words, don’t expect the world to get converted in this age.  Now you guys have heard teaching on this, no doubt.  Many people will teach that this is some kind of statement about how the kingdom comes today and I want to give you four reasons why Jesus is not teaching that.  Specifically what has happened is the kingdom offer has been rejected, the kingdom is in postponement; He’s describing a new period of time where God is working but it has really nothing to do with the kingdom. And there are basically four clues in this passage that tell you that this is not teaching “kingdom now” theology.

The first clue is in verse 3, where it says “the sower went out.”  See that?  “the sower went out to sow.”   If you look at chapter 13 and verse 3 it says “He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, ‘Behold, the sower went out to sow;’” that is huge in the Bible because it never worked that way up to this point in time.  The nation of Israel never went out like we today in the church age go out (in terms of missionary work).  The strategy of God up to this point in time was not a “go out” strategy but it was for the world to come and see.  It was a come and see strategy.  And this is why in 2 Chronicles 9:1-12 we have this record of this Queen of Sheba who traveled (keep in mind this is in the time of Solomon, 1000 B.C. so you don’t have airplanes, you don’t have boats or anything like that) she traveled 1,200 miles from where she lived to sit at Solomon’s feet and learn of His wisdom.

So the whole strategy of God was to build this incredible nation, this incredible temple, and that’s why the Jews that are around the world are told to go back to Jerusalem on certain feast days to celebrate these feast days.  And it was not a go out and evangelize strategy, it was a come and see strategy.  And when you understand this you begin to understand why Jesus, when He went into the temple and found it reduced to commercialism and money-changing, what did He do?  He got very upset, right, and He overturned the tables and all that.  And you have to ask yourself, why was He so put off by all of this?  Because the whole plan and program of God was to build this beautiful temple.

We read about the construction of the temple under Solomon and the Shekinah glory of God entered that temple and the world was basically supposed to come and look at this temple and see in it a glimpse of God, of His character, of His holiness, of His love for planet earth, of His grace.  And they took that and they turned it into a first colony mall or whatever.  And Jesus is so angry because it was ruining the testimony of God to the world.  It was giving the world the impression that God was after the gold of people when in reality God did what He did out of love for people.

So it was a misrepresentation of God.  So Jesus was very angry.  It’s the same angry you feel when you channel surf and there’s some televangelists, under the guise of Christianity, turning the Christianity that you love into some kind of get rich quick scheme or some sort of money making scheme and you get very angry about that when you see it.  And that’s how Christ felt when He saw the temple being reduced to this commercial enterprise because it was completely ruining the plan of God, which was a come and see strategy.

So as you go through the Old Testament you do not find God sending out missionaries.  The only prophet I know of that went out was which prophet?  Jonah and he didn’t want to go, and he was mad that he had to go.  But other than that it’s not a go out and send strategy, it’s a come and see strategy.  And you see, this is one of the problems with the mega church model.  Anne and I met at a mega church in California and I was a volunteer at that time, and I was sitting in a meeting and the leader of this particular group made the statement, he said “if we build it they will come.”  And I started thinking to myself, is that in the Bible?  I know it’s in the movies, I think in the movie The Field of Dreams, isn’t it…  “if we build it they will come.”

So a lot of the mega church mentality is we’re going to build this beautiful edifice.  I grew up, maybe twenty minutes from Garden Grove, California, Robert Schuller was doing his stuff, back in the  70’s and 80’s, it was this beautiful cathedral made of glass, the Crystal Cathedral as he called it, and it was a “come and see” strategy.  I mean, let’s get everybody in here and they’re going to sense the love of God and all of these kinds of things.  And the fact of the matter is that’s not the strategy of the church; that’s the strategy for Israel.  Israel’s strategy was a come and see strategy.

When you look at Christ’s plan for the church in the great commission it’s to build up the saints  and send them out.  So on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights my target audience, generally speaking, is not unsaved people, as the pastor-teacher here at Sugar Land Bible Church; we like it when unsaved people come and that’s why we faithfully give the gospel, but we’re not following a come and see strategy.  The strategy that we’re following is right out of Ephesians 4 where it talks about how God has put gifted men in the body of Christ to build up the saints, which would be you, right?  And as the saints become healthy you go out into your families, you go out into your work place and you have contact with people that I couldn’t even dream of having contact with.   And that’s how the gospel is spread.  So it’s not let’s get all the unsaved people into this building; the strategy is let’s build up a Christian because I’m going to have a lot more of an influence if I equip you and you go out that week and you equip or touch four people.  My influence is multiplied through that, rather than let’s get a bunch of unsaved people in the door.

So the problem with many churches today is they’re still following this come and see strategy when the New Testament church is not a come and see strategy, it’s a build and send strategy.  So when Christ makes this point, “Behold the sower went out to sow” He’s saying something completely different, that’s never been said before up to this point in the Bible.  And so that in and of itself tells you that it’s a new age, it’s not dealing with Israel predominantly anymore and it’s not dealing with the kingdom anymore.

Arthur Pink puts it this way,  “The words ‘went forth to sow,’ or as Mark’s Gospel puts it ‘went out’ were indicative of the great dispensational change” that word “dispensational” means house rules, “dispensation” comes from the word oikonomia, that’s how the word “dispensation” in some of your versions it’ll translate as dispensation, in Ephesians 1:10 and Ephesians 3:2.  [Ephesians 1:10, “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:” KJV.  Ephesians 3:2, “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” KJV]

But it’s a compound word, meaning a Greek word made up of two words, oikos, meaning house and nomos meaning laws or rules.  A dispensational change is a change in the rules of God.  What is happening now is the evangelistic strategy of God has changed; the house rules changed.  The expression, “a sower went out to sow” alerts us to that fact.

The words ‘went forth to sow,’ or as Mark’s Gospel puts it ‘went out’ were indicative of the great dispensational change which was soon to be introduced. There was no longer to be a planting of vines or fig-trees in Israel, but a going out of the mercy of God unto the Gentiles; therefore what we have here is the broadcast sowing of the seed in the field at large, for as verse 38 tells us ‘the field is the world.’”

Now once the age of the church is over  and the kingdom is finally established on the earth it’s not going to be a go out strategy any more, we’re back to which strategy?  Come and see.  And that’s why it talks in Isaiah 2:2-3 about the nations having to journey to Jerusalem on certain feast days.  [Isaiah 2:2-3, “Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the Lord Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. [3] And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.’ For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”]

The Word of God at that point will go forth from where?  From Zion, so now we’re back to the come and see strategy in the millennial kingdom.  And the nations that don’t go to worship the King… where is the King going to be once the kingdom comes?  In Jerusalem, He’s not going to be out functioning as a missionary in the world, He’s going to be reigning from Jerusalem and the nations are going to have to go there to worship the King and if they won’t go there to worship the King then their crops will receive no moisture.  In other words, there’s going to be an immediate judgment of God on those people.  So the kingdom is not going to be a send strategy, it’s going to be a come and see strategy just like it was all the way through the pages of the Old Testament into the ministry of Christ and the house rules don’t change until Matthew 13.

So that’s clue one that this parable is not dealing with the manifestation of the kingdom of God on the earth because many people are trying to argue today that these parables are describing the kingdom today and I’m trying to tell you that that is NOT what he’s describing, and the very first clue is “a sower went out to sow.”  Immediately when he starts talking about missions and missionary work you know that it’s not the kingdom age.  The kingdom age is a time period where the nations come and see as Jesus is ruling in Jerusalem.

The second clue that Matthew 13, the parable of the sower, is not talking about a manifestation of the kingdom on the earth is the expression “the word of the Kingdom,” at least the concept, enters people’s hearts.  So if you look at Matthew 13:19 it talks about the “word of the kingdom” entering the hearts of people, is basically what it’s speaking of here.  So verse 19 says, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.”

So notice very clearly here that it never says the kingdom is entering people; it says the what? “the word of the kingdom” is entering people. See the difference?  A lot of people want this to read the kingdom is being preached and it’s entering certain soils, it’s going into certain hearts and yet the passage never says that, does it?  It doesn’t say the kingdom enters people, what it says is “the word of the kingdom” is preached.  So what is the difference between the kingdom and the “the word of the kingdom”?  The kingdom is the kingdom; the kingdom is everything we’ve studied thus far in the Bible, the physical reign of God on planet earth.  The “word of the kingdom” is something completely different, isn’t it?  It’s the message about the kingdom; it’s not the kingdom itself.  Watch this very carefully; it is the message of the kingdom.

So Arthur Pink says in verse 19 “In verse 19 it is called ‘the word of the kingdom,’ while in verse 38 we read ‘the good seed are the children of the kingdom.’ Like produces like: the word of the kingdom produces” what? “sons of the kingdom: the fruit is according to the Seed!”  So what is being preached in this interim age according to this first parable, the parable of the sower, is the message of the kingdom, the message of the kingdom’s values and future certainty that enters people.  So when you preach the gospel and someone receives it the kingdom doesn’t enter a person. What happens is the message about the soon manifestation of the kingdom enters that person, so that person begins to understand that they have a kingdom that they belong to which transcends their lives at it exists.

It’s not a statement that the kingdom is here; it’s a statement that they’ve trusted in the gospel and now they have the certainty of the coming kingdom.  That’s very important to understand.  And this expression, “sons of the kingdom” that are being created in the inner advent age, the mystery age, is so significant because if you look at Matthew 13:38 you see what’s being produced here as the gospel is going out.  The kingdom is not coming into people.  What is happening and what is being created here are “sons of the kingdom.” Matthew 13:38, “and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the” what? “sons of the kingdom; and the tares” now we haven’t talked about the wheat and the tares yet, but “the tares are the sons of the evil one;”

Now Paul said in Galatians 4:7, “if a son, then” a what? “an heir.”  [Galatians 4:7, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”]  So the definition of “son” basically is communicating heirship.  What is heirship?  It’s a legal right that’s coming your way that you haven’t entered into yet.  So what is being created in the present age is not the kingdom, but the sons of the kingdom; as people receive the gospel they’re learning that they are heirs of the coming kingdom because they are receiving a message of the kingdom values and certainty and that’s what’s entering people.

So Dr. Toussaint and Dr. Quine, in their article, say this: “When Jesus explained in Matthew 13:36–43 His parable of the tares among the wheat (vv. 24–30), He said “the sons of the kingdom” and “the sons of the evil one” are represented by the good seed and the tares, respectively (v. 38). The latter” that’s the tares that we haven’t talked about yet, “the latter are obviously unbelievers, and the former are sons of the kingdom not in the sense that the kingdom is present” it’s very important to understand this, “not in the sense that the kingdom is present but in the sense that as believers they will” what? “inherit the millennial kingdom.”     [Stanley D. Toussaint and Jay A. Quine, “No, Not Yet: The Contingency of God’s Promised Kingdom,” Biblioteca Sacra 164 (April–June 2007): 140.]

So in this interim age the kingdom is being proclaimed, the kingdom is not going out but the message of the kingdom is going out, the gospel is going out and it’s having different results depending on what soil it falls on.  And when people receive that message they are learning that they are a son or a daughter, or an inheritor of the coming kingdom.

Now when people say this good, or this seed that’s sown is the kingdom entering people, and a lot of theologians will give you that impression, you know right then and there that that statement could not be accurate because, watch this carefully, the kingdom never enters people. See that?  Rather it’s the other way around, isn’t it?  The kingdom doesn’t enter people, rather the way it’s normally portrayed in the Bible is people enter the kingdom.  So when people say the kingdom is being taught and it’s spiritually entering people, that is to reverse what the Bible normally portrays as the kingdom.  The Bible never portrays the kingdom entering people; it portrays people entering the kingdom.  And this is Christ’s whole point to Nicodemus in John 3:5, “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot” what? “enter into the kingdom of God.”’  In other words, Nicodemus, you’ve got to be born spiritually so you can get into the kingdom.

So the emphasis here on Christ is not Nicodemus, you’ve got to be born again so the kingdom can get into you; it’s the other way around, you’ve got to be born spiritually so you can enter the kingdom.  And when people finally begin to enter the kingdom, in the sheep and goat judgment which takes place essentially after the tribulation period is over, and there’ll be survivors on the earth at that time, and Jesus is trying to figure out which of these are believers so that they can enter the kingdom and which ones are unbelievers so that they can be cast off the earth into Hades.  Jesus says this in Matthew 25:34, “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit” or enter “the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

So what the Bible normally portrays is not the kingdom entering people, it’s the other way around, people enter the kingdom.  So these are just clues that you can look at which make it very clear that what Christ is describing here in this parable of the sower cannot be the kingdom.  First of all, if this were the kingdom the sower wouldn’t be going out to sow, would he?  It wouldn’t be a go out and evangelize strategy, it would be a come and see strategy.  Secondly, it never talks about the kingdom entering people; it talks about the message of the kingdom entering people.   And beyond that the kingdom never enters people; people enter the kingdom.

Now a third clue that this obviously is not talking about the manifestation of the kingdom on the earth is of these four soils how many of them are fruitful?  One in four; in other words, as the gospel is being preached in this interim mystery inter advent age, it’s being revealed here for the first time, it’s got a track record of about one in four.  One in four people, if I’m understanding this right, are going to be receptive to the message of the gospel.  The rest of them are going to reject it.

Now there’s a debate on how many of these soils are saved.  I’m kind of the view, I come from the free grace view, so I think it’s possible that, certainly the soil that’s very productive is saved, probably in two soils I think it’s possible for someone to be saved because it talks about the crops springing up, which to me speaks of some kind of life.  So they could be justified before God but they don’t get very far in discipleship because the cares of the world take over.  So I’m sort of open to the idea that folks are saved in at least three of the four soils.

You can differ with me on that and that’s a thing that we can debate but the reality that Jesus is getting at in only one of four soils—does a person not just become justified but starts to experience what?  Progressive sanctification.  Only one in four soils does a person not just become a believer but a disciple. And those odds really aren’t that great, are they?  One in four is not much of a percentage.

So if the gospel is only going to be productive in one of four human hearts then how in the world could this be a description of the kingdom?  In the kingdom itself, Isaiah 11 says, “For the earth will be full of” what? “the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”  [Isaiah 11:9, “They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”]

Is that what Jesus is describing here?  Is He describing the earth in this interim age being “full of the knowledge of the LORD?”  He’s not describing that at all, He’s saying only one of four soils, only one of four human hearts will the gospel even be productive to the point where someone is not just justified but actually becomes a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And did you notice also that in the one productive soil the number… does it increase or decrease?  It decreases.  He says in verse 23, “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty,” isn’t sixty lower than a hundred, “and some thirty.”  [Matthew 13:23]   So it doesn’t go 30, 60, 100 increasing, it decreases. So what he’s saying is look, in only one of four soils is the gospel going to be productive.  And even in that soil there’s not an increasing return but there’s a decreasing return.

Now how in the world can this be confused with the kingdom where it says in Isaiah 11:9 the earth is going to “be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea”?  This bears no resemblance at all, does it?  So what the world is going to be like when the kingdom comes, there’s not going to be fruit in one soil, the whole world gets saved.  There’s not going to be a decrease in one of the four soils; “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD.”  So that in and of itself tells you that Jesus is describing a time period that cannot be confused with the kingdom.

Back to Arthur Pink.  He says: ““In other words, we are shown what the results of this broadcast sowing of the Seed would be. First of all, most of the ground upon which it fell would prove unfavorable: the hard, shallow, and thorny soils were uncongenial to productiveness. Second, external opposition would be encountered: the birds of the air would come and catch it away. Third, the sun would scorch, and that which was lacking in moisture at its roots would wither away.”

“Only a fractional part of the Seed sown would yield any increase, and thus all expectations for the ultimate universal triumph of the Gospel were removed.”  A lot of people out there are saying the whole world is going to get saved before Christ comes back; the  world is going to get Christianized.  That’s a doctrine called kingdom now theology, or postmillennialism; that’s not at all what Jesus is saying here.  Yes, the kingdom is going to come one day after the King comes and sets it up but don’t expect everything to go out with a wave of great success before the kingdom comes, unless we choose to ignore what Jesus is saying here.  “Only a fractional part of the Seed sown would yield any increase, and thus all expectations for the ultimate universal triumph of the Gospel were removed.  The plain teaching of our present parable should at once dissipate the optimistic but vain dreams of post-millenarians… Instead of that, the Lord Himself has plainly warned us that instead of the fruitage from the Gospel showing an increase, there would be a marked decrease; for when speaking of the fruit borne He said, “which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty” (v. 23).” [A. W. Pink (2005). The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.]

So he’s pointing out in one soil is there fruit and even in that soil the return doesn’t increase but the return actually goes down.  And even beyond that one of the things Pink points out here is there’s a lot of hindrances, aren’t there?  As the gospel is being preached Christ describes three hindrances: number 1, the evil one himself, number 2, affliction of persecution, and number 3 the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth; these things choke the Word and make it unfruitful.

So as the gospel is going out elements are opposing it, thwarting it, hampering it, so how could this be the kingdom when the teachings of the King will never be opposed.  This is obviously talking about an interim period of time when the kingdom is not here.  Clearly God is at work because praise the Lord, at least one soil becomes productive.  So we can clearly see the work of God but the work of God in the present age is not to be confused with the kingdom.

Now if you’re a preacher and a teacher you see this parable working out all the time, because of satanic distractions that come upon people when you begin to present the Word of God.  You can hold people’s attention at Star Wars for two hours but holding their attention for an hour or less than an hour in a Bible study is… it’s a work to do that because what is Satan doing as the preacher is preaching?  He’s trying to distract your mind.  Gee, did I see so and so at church, maybe I should go out to lunch with them afterwards, and my stomach is growling, what am I going to have for lunch, oh, my, my cell phone just went off, you know, I’ve got to go to the bathroom.  And all of these things are happening and we really think nothing of them but they are actually a manifestation of the opposition that naturally takes place whenever the Word of God is shared.

And so we have to learn to sort of get beyond it and above it and pray against it.  But if you’re a preacher or a teacher or an evangelist or a sharer of the gospel in any sense, or you’re trying to speak to people you see the devil at work constantly through various distractions.  And he’s trying to take away what was sown because he doesn’t want your life to be blessed, he doesn’t want you to be fruitful, he doesn’t want you to grow, and the only way you can grow is to hear the Word of God and let it enter and germinate and so the devil is distracting a person’s mind constantly.

So the devil would have us do anything other than sitting under the teaching of the Word of God on Wednesday or Sunday.  Let me be distracted with softball, let me be distracted with family activities.  Let my mind think about anything other than what I’m supposed to be focused on.  And this is the natural course of spiritual warfare that takes place when you being to preach and teach the Word of God.

That’s one of the reasons that we prefer, and people think it harsh until you understand this parable but we prefer that small children that scream and yell during the service would be taken to our nursery, which by the way is a wonderful facility, nobody’s kids are going to be tortured in there, I can guarantee that, the kids will be very happy.  But a lot of people, they don’t understand that, they bring their very small children into the sanctuary and they don’t read our little thing on the bulletin which asks people to bring their children to the nursery and so what happens is this baby is screaming at the top of his lungs or everybody is kind of looking at…oh, look at the cut little baby over there.  And what’s happening is your mind is being distracted from the Word of God.

So our services are designed to communicate truth as best we can in an undistracted environment because we know that the devil likes to create lots of distractions because of the power of the Word of God.  So is isn’t to be mean to the children or anything like that, it’s an understanding of the outworking of Matthew 13.

So obviously this opposition could not be the kingdom.  See that?  And then there’s a fourth reason that Jesus could not be describing the kingdom here because of the activity of who?  Satan. Look at verse 19, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it,” see here come all the distractions, Satan is creating this, “the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.”

So clearly what you see here is the activity of Satan.  The parable of the wheat and tares, which I wanted to talk about tonight, which we’re not going to get to,  also talks about the activity of Satan.  If you go down to verse 25 it says, in parable two, it says, “But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.”  And then if you drop down to verse 28 what does it say?  It says, “And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’”  And then if you go over to verses 38-39 it’s very clear that Satan is alive and well and active because it says in verse 39, “ the enemy who sowed them is the” what?  “the devil.  [Matthew 13:38, “and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; [39] and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.”]

That’s why I like the title of Hal Lindsay’s book, Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth.  So in at least two of these parables God is working but who else is working?  The devil, and these parables actually reveal the strategies that Satan uses in the interadvent age to distract people from the Word of God because Satan understands that the Word of God is what?   Powerful, “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.”  [Hebrews 4;12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”]

He knows that if you receive the Word of God, understand it and meditate on it, either through private reading or through teaching or through sermons your life will be different.  So he’s working in these parables to distract people from the Word of God, do anything but keep them from sitting under the teaching of the Word of God.

So since that is true, could the present age be the kingdom?  I mean, is the kingdom a period of time where Satan is active?  Not at all.  Have you studied Revelation 20:1-3 lately, which is describing what life is like once the kingdom comes.  [“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. [2] And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; [3] and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”]

Where is Satan during the kingdom?  He’s bound, he’s in a place called the abyss where he cannot bother the inhabitants of the earth for a thousand  years.  Revelation 20:1-3 says, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. [2] And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; [3] and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer…”  What’s Satan doing in this parable?  He’s deceiving people.  This is talking about a time period where he has no deceptive abilities at all because he’s incarcerated.  Until when?  “…until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”

So quite clearly this cannot be the kingdom age that Christ is describing here because Satan is active in two of the parables and the kingdom is a period of time where the devil is incarcerated.

So the big point of the parable is throughout the interim age the gospel is going to go out and it’s going to have different results depending on the human heart that hears it.  And the second major thing to understand about this is Christ cannot be talking about the kingdom here for four reasons: number 1, the sower went out to sow, the kingdom is a time period of not missionary work but a come and see strategy, it’s the old strategy from the Old Testament.

Number 2, it never talks about the kingdom entering people but the word of the kingdom entering people, which is the message of the kingdom.  And by the way, the kingdom never enters people but people enter the kingdom.

Number 3, this could not be the time period where the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord because only one type of soil is fruitful and even in that fruitful soil the percentage of productivity doesn’t increase but decreases.

And finally, number 4, Jesus could not be revealing the kingdom and its presence on the earth today because Satan is active in at least two of the eight parables and the kingdom is a period of time when Satan is bound.

So for each parable I’ll try to give you the main point of it and I’ll try to give you some descriptors for each one explaining why the kingdom is not here according to the details.  There just are not enough, if you’re a mathematician, there are not enough points of correspondence between what the Old Testament reveals about the kingdom and what Jesus is describing here.  He’s obviously describing something very different.

So we walk away from this being encouraged that God is working but we also walk away as realists, not expecting God to do something that He’s never promised He would do. See that?  A lot of people have a very unrealistic view of what God should do today and the reason they think that way is they don’t formulate their attitude of what God is doing from the right Scriptures so I’m trying to send you to the right Scriptures.  So we will stop talking at this point, 8:01, I didn’t do too bad tonight, and we’re going to pick this up in August and see if you can remember any of this between now and then, Satan is going to come and try to steal what was in your mind so you might want to review it.  And we’ll dismiss people that need to take off or pick up their kids and we will open it up for Q & A.