THE CO-EXISTING KINGDOM OF GOD
The Bible tells us that the earth belongs to the Lord, He is the King over all the earth. However Satan’s evil forces have invaded our planet and they presently occupy the world and we believers are living in enemy occupied territory.
Ill. When the Nazis invaded and occupied Holland during the 2nd World War, the Dutch government was still operating under the leadership of the Queen Wilhelmina even though she was in England at the time. From England she guided and directed her loyal subjects, she constantly communicated with the Dutch people by radio, she inspired the resistance movement, gave hope and encouragement and yet it seemed the Nazis were running the country. The Kingdom of Wilhelmina was still operating, still exercising power and authority over the lives of those who acknowledged her as their queen but at that time it was a hidden, unseen kingdom.
And so it is with the Kingdom of God at this time in history. God is the rightful owner and ruler of this world and His kingdom is still operating, but at present the world is occupied by enemy forces under the leadership of Satan. And those forces are working out their godless, evil purposes largely through human beings and their authority structures and systems.
In Matthew 13 there are 6 parables Jesus told which are stories with a parallel meaning. And these 6 parables describe the Kingdom of God as it is operating in its present form.
This morning we will look at the parable of the wheat and the weeds. This parable tells as that at present God’s kingdom is co-existing, or operating along side the godless man made authority structures of this world under the power of Satan.
THE PARABLE v24-30
Jesus said that the Kingdom of heaven is a like a farmer who sowed good seed in his field and while he was asleep, someone who hated him, came along and sowed weeds among the wheat. When he was told what had happened he said to his farm hands, “Don’t pull out the weeds now because you might pull out the wheat plants by mistake. Wait until the wheat is fully grown and then it will be easier to tell which plants are wheat and which plants are weeds.
THE PARALLEL MEANING v36-43
Jesus only explained the meaning of the parables to those who believed in Him and accepted His message and so He waited until the crowds had gone and then he told His disciples what the parable meant.
The good seed speaks of those who belong to God’s Kingdom and the weeds refer to those who belong to the godless systems of this world ruled over by Satan. The field is the world and notice it belongs to Jesus. Satan has placed his followers in the world among the followers of Jesus.
So here we have those who are under Satan’s power and those who have submitted to Jesus leadership living alongside each other like wheat and weeds in a field, but at this stage it is difficult to clearly distinguish between the two.
Jesus makes it clear that this situation will exist until He returns to earth and then it will be more evident who belongs to God’s Kingdom and who doesn’t.
Why has Jesus allowed us to be surrounded by those who don’t believe in Him and even are opposed to Him, a situation where good and evil exist side by side?
3 main reasons:
- Jesus has placed His followers in this ungodly, evil environment to develop and mature our faith and character.
James 1:2 “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be mature and complete, needing nothing.”
Romans 5:3 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops our character, and character strengthens our confident hope in our coming deliverance.”
Ill. When a grain of sand gets inside an oyster it irritates the oyster and causes it pain, but instead of trying to get rid of the grain of sand, instead of avoiding the pain or fighting the irritation, the oyster wraps the grain of sand in layer after layer of a beautiful substance called nacre. The oyster actually embraces the very thing that is causing it pain and uses it to produce a pearl.
Ill. Fred Whiteman was a believer who went through more pain than most of us in our entire lifetime. Within a period of months his best friend died of cancer, his mum died and his wife was killed. Next, he underwent a heart transplant. And while he was still recovering he had to deal with cancer in his own body and a lawsuit. I’ve known Christians like this. One tragedy after another. What was Fred’s response to these painful experiences? He wrote, “When you’re overwhelmed it’s easy to “jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job, but when we can’t figure it out, we have to faith it out.” Here’s what he learned from the trials he went through (a) It shows you how much you need God. It reminds you of your humanity; that you’re just a heartbeat from eternity. (b) It produces character, refines the integrity of your heart and takes away the desire to pretend. (c) It lets God use you by showing others that in their darkest hour He’ll be there for them too. And I can wholehearted agree with that.
Satan has planted his godless, evil weeds among the followers of Jesus seeking to discourage, distract and destroy them, but God who is far greater than the evil one can use even the wickedness of men and the evil schemes of Satan to build and develop faith and Christ-like character.
Ill. In the 19th Century Frederick Faber wrote these words
“Ill that God blesses is our good and unblessed good is ill. And all is right that seems so wrong, if it be His blessed will.”
Ill. Billy Graham told of a friend who during the Depression lost his job, his fortune, his wife and his home. But he tenaciously held to his faith – the only thing he had left. One day he stopped to watch some men doing stonework on a huge church. One of the stone masons was chiselling a triangular piece of stone. Billy’s friend him ‘What’s that for?’ The workman said, ‘See that little opening way up there near the steeple? Well, I’m shaping this stone down here so that it’ll fit in up there.’ Billy said, “Tears filled the eyes of my friend as he walked away, for God had used that stone mason to help him understand the tough time he was going through. ‘I’m shaping you down here, so that you’ll fit in up there…”
- The second reason God has allowed us to co-exist in a world with ungodly, unbelieving people is so that we can influence them for Christ.
Ill. Many of you know of Cliff Richard. Cliff became a Christian while he was a rock star and many well meaning Christians put pressure on him to get out of the entertainment industry because of the godless influences there. For a time Cliff seriously looked at other options, but he felt God wanted him to stay there. He copped a lot of flack because of his decision, but he has maintained a strong Christian witness in the entertainment business, and has had a very positive influence on many in the industry and has been able to use his position to raise millions of dollars for Christian work.
Ill. Doctor Boris Kornfield, a Jewish surgeon, was imprisoned by the communists in Siberia where he treated both staff and prisoners. There he met a Christian whose life and witness had a profound affect on him. One day Boris Kornfield was working on a communist guard who had slashed his artery and he seriously considered sewing it up so that the guard would die slowly from internal bleeding. His thoughts so shocked him that he found himself praying the prayer he had heard the Christian prisoner pray, “Forgive us our sins….” After that he determined never to do anything that was immoral or inhumane even though it might cost him his life. One afternoon Boris Kornfield was examining a patient who had undergone surgery and he saw in this man’s eyes such deep sadness that he shared with him his life story including how he had become a follower of Jesus. That night Dr. Kornfield was murdered as he slept. But his testimony wasn’t wasted. The patient he had shared his faith with it with was Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who himself became a follower of Jesus and whose writings exposed the Russian prison camps and saved thousands of lives.
God has placed us in this unbelieving, godless world so that we can make a difference and have an influence for Jesus.
Ill. How many of you have seen the movie “Amazing Grace” It is the true story of William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was a deeply committed Christian who worked tirelessly to outlaw the evil practice of slavery. He was constantly under threat from slave owners, not to mention those MPs who themselves owned plantations and slaves. His fight lasted for decades. Encouraged by people like John Wesley and the Prime Minister, William Pitt and John Newton the converted slave trader, Wilberforce awakened the conscience of the nation. Finally in 1833 Parliament passed The Act of Abolition outlawing slavery forever. Eventually Wilberforce’s influence reached America and slavery was abolished there too. Wilberforce like the wheat among the weeds remained in Parliament and with God’s help was able to change the whole mindset of his nation.
- Jesus has allowed good and evil to grow together so that it will become more obvious who are His followers and who are not.
It is not until the weeds and the wheat are fully grown that it will be clear which is which. That means that not only will the believers grow to maturity in that environment but evil itself will grow and mature until Jesus returns.
God has left you and me here in enemy occupied territory so that we might grow to become mature believers. He wants adult children He wants us as Ephesians 4 says, to grow up in everyway into Christ.
What are some important the marks of maturity:
A mature believer is one who reflects the character of Jesus. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians he said, “You are still childish, self-centred believers because you are behaving like the godless unbelievers around you. Proud, boastful, critical, divisive, resentful. And then he described to them in chapter 13 what mature Christian Character is like. He says it is patient and kind. Not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. It never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Or as Galatians 5 says Christian maturity it is expressed in love joy peace patience kindness, goodness, gentleness, humility and self-control.
One of the signs you are starting to grow up spiritually is when you stop reacting to others and to situations and have the courage to deal with your reactions and address them first.
Another sign of spiritual maturity is when your main concern changes from your self-centred demands and preferences to the concern for Gods Kingdom and the needs of others. When we stop being preoccupied with getting, taking and using and become involved in giving, helping and blessing others. [Consumer Christians]
Paul expressed this longing for believers in Col. when he said, “I want to bring every believer to maturity in Christ.”
As parents we long to see our children progress from infancy, adolescence and become mature responsible adults. Nothing gives a parent greater satisfaction and God wants the same. One of the reasons He has placed us in this world is so that we will mature and as time goes by it will become more and more obvious that we are followers of Jesus.
Can you say this morning that you are seeing real change for good in your attitudes and behaviour? Ask your spouse and insist that they be truthful.
But Notice also that along with the wheat, the believers growing to maturity, Jesus said the weeds, the unbelievers, the godless, the evil doers will continue to grow to maturity and it will become more and more evident that they are followers of Satan.
The New Testament is very clear that as we near the end of time wickedness, lawlessness, godlessness, evil will grow to maturity as well. In Matthew 24 Jesus said that as we approach the end, wickedness would increase with the result that many believers love for Christ would grow cold.
In fact 2 Thessalonians 2 tells us that the secret power of lawlessness will continue to increase until it is finally personified in a world leader whom the Bible calls the lawless one.
In our country today lawlessness is increasing at an alarming rate. The law that should protect people and their property has been eroded and watered down to the extent that criminals have very little to fear from our justice system while victims who try to protect themselves are penalised. The growing rate of crime and lawlessness in NZ is a real concern. Burglaries have shot up 32% in the last 3 years, robberies 66%, twice as many per capita than the US.
Pastor of Manurewa Baptist burgled 3 times.
Sexual violence in NZ twice as much per capita as the US. There are more violent assaults per capita than in the US.
The government has had to build more prisons and increase the number of police to one for every 500 people.
Ill. When we visited Rarotonga we were told that before the missionaries came the Cook Islanders lived hidden up in hills because they were afraid of being attacked by each other. They couldn’t trust even their neighbours. When they became Christians they came out of the hills and lived on the coast in open communities without fear.
70 years ago NZers lived in communities without fear of being burgled. They didn’t lock their doors or cars and
if there was one murder a year the country was shocked. Today one of the fastest growing businesses in NZ is security and there is more than one murder a week.
But what is worse is that our parliament now decriminalises what God says is wrong and legislates against what God calls morally right and just.
God is allowing Evil to continue and escalate in this world so that it becomes more evident who belongs to Christ and who doesn’t.
And when evil is fully grown, and it is clearly obvious who do not belong to Christ, they will be weeded out of God’s kingdom and gathered to judgement, and Jesus didn’t mince His words when He spoke about the punishment of those who live rebellious, disobedient lives.
In fact Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven. Why? Because Hell is last place God wants anyone to go to and when people who have had the opportunity to turn to Him from their evil ways persist in rejecting Him and His will He has no other option.
V43. The righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Then the kingdom of God will come into its own and there will be no trace of evil, pain, sorry, darkness, despair or death.
If you are a believer this morning and can’t understand why God has allowed you to remain in a situation where you things are hard going, there is so much godless, evil, unpleasant stuff going on around you.
You are the wheat among the weeds – those very things you hate and despise, those very things that cause you pain and hardship are not there to destroy you but to develop your faith and build your character and you are there to offer them the only way out of their destructive lifestyle – through Jesus.
Hang in there until God has accomplished His purposes in you and through you, and if you remain faithful and true, God will complete the work He has begun in you. Take heart this morning because the cause of Christ and the Kingdom of God will triumph and so will you.
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.