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← Understanding Spiritual Growth - Charles Leiter

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Showing Revision 6 created 01/25/2018 by Carrie Spradlin.

  1. Well, Paul says in Philippians 2,
  2. "work out your salvation
  3. with fear and trembling.
  4. For it is God who works in you,
  5. both to will and to work (or to do)
  6. of His good pleasure."
  7. And so, on the one hand, he says to us
  8. work out our salvation.
  9. On the other hand, he says
  10. God is working in you
  11. to cause you to want to do what's right
  12. and to enable you to do what's right.
  13. So which is it?
  14. Is it man's responsibility
  15. or is it God working in us?
  16. And it's both, isn't it?
  17. And it's not like a yoke of oxen
  18. where you do your part
  19. and God does His part like this.
  20. But it's more like two cups
  21. that one fits inside the other one.
  22. And God is the one moving
    everything forward,
  23. but He does it through
    our willing and doing
  24. what He's worked in us to will and do.
  25. So we've heard this morning,

  26. a little bit of exhortation
  27. about the necessity for us
  28. to work out our salvation.
  29. And beloved, if you don't
    spend time in the Word,
  30. and you don't spend time in prayer,
  31. and you don't spend time
    with the people of God,
  32. you're not going to make it.
  33. But on the other hand,
  34. God is the one that works in us
  35. to cause us to want to open that Bible
  36. and to actually get it open.
  37. And so we're going to
    get both barrels today, I trust.
  38. The first one: those exhortations
  39. of our responsibility.
  40. But what we're going
    to look at this morning

  41. is a parable of the Lord Jesus
  42. where He emphasizes what's going on
  43. behind the scenes.
  44. And so let's turn to Mark 4.
  45. And we'll read four verses.
  46. Mark 4:26
  47. "And He was saying,
  48. 'The Kingdom of God is like
  49. a man who casts seed upon the ground.'"
  50. Now, He's going to tell us something;
  51. a fact about spiritual reality
  52. of what the kingdom is like.
  53. "'The kingdom of God is like a man
  54. who casts seed upon the ground,
  55. and goes to bed at night
  56. and gets up by day and the seed
  57. sprouts up and grows.
  58. How he himself does not know.
  59. The earth produces crops by itself.
  60. First the blade, then the head,
  61. then the mature grain in the head.
  62. But when the crop permits,
  63. he immediately puts in the sickle
  64. because the harvest has come.'"
  65. If you're a Christian here this morning,

  66. you already realize
  67. that the greatest Teacher who ever lived
  68. was the Lord Jesus Christ.
  69. His emphasis was never lopsided.
  70. He never had a bump on the tire.
  71. Everything that He said -
  72. His manner, His methods
  73. were always perfect.
  74. It says in John 3 that
    He whom God has sent
  75. speaks the very words of God,
  76. for He gives the Spirit
    without measure unto Him.
  77. So everything: perfect.
  78. Every response.
  79. Every emphasis.
  80. Every manner. Every method.
  81. And one of His favorite methods
  82. was the parable.
  83. There's a special beauty
  84. and special wonder
  85. about these parables, isn't there?
  86. They're so earthy.
  87. I mean, seeds and farmers
    and what-have-you.
  88. And they're so heavenly.
  89. In four verses, the Lord Jesus
  90. can say more than all the wise men
  91. of the ages.
  92. And He often opened His mouth in parables.
  93. We read here a little later in v. 33-34,

  94. "with many such parables, He was
  95. speaking the Word to them as they were
  96. able to hear it.
  97. And He was not speaking to them
  98. without parables.
  99. He was explaining everything privately
  100. to His own disciples."
  101. And in Matthew, we're told
  102. that one of the psalms alluded to this
  103. about the Messiah.
  104. It says, "I will open
    my mouth in parables.
  105. I will utter things hidden from
    the foundation of the world."
  106. And so the Lord Jesus Christ
  107. was speaking in these parables
  108. things that nobody had ever heard;
  109. that had never been said
  110. since the foundation of the world.
  111. He said, "blessed are your ears,"
  112. to hear such words as we've just read,
  113. because many prophets and righteous men -
  114. even kings - desired to hear the things
  115. that you hear.
  116. They didn't get to hear them.
  117. What a privilege we have
  118. to be able to even study this parable.
  119. He's telling us some things
  120. about the nature of the kingdom.
  121. Very different than the ideas
  122. that the Jews had at that time
  123. about the nature of the kingdom.
  124. And many of those
    parables are of that sort.
  125. But today, we want to look
    at this parable in Mark 4.

  126. And what a wonderful parable it is,
  127. and how thankful we should be
  128. for the truth that it contains.
  129. Before we begin,
  130. I just want to remind you again
  131. that these parables are
  132. speaking truth about invisible reality.
  133. They're telling us something about
  134. the nature of things in the kingdom.
  135. And so the Lord Jesus said,
  136. now there's a realm
    here that you can't see;
  137. that you can't understand.
  138. But I want to tell you something about it.
  139. This is what it's like -
  140. the kingdom of God is like this.
  141. It's like a man who casts
    seed on the ground,
  142. and goes to bed at night
  143. and gets up by day.
  144. Out of all the Gospels,
  145. only found here in Mark.
  146. It's kind of a buried treasure
  147. you come upon; you stumble upon it
  148. in the field as you're going through
  149. the Gospel of Mark.
  150. So the first question we should ask is

  151. what is the theme or overall subject
  152. of this parable?
  153. Before we get to the details,
  154. you say what's He talking about here?
  155. And I think the answer is
  156. He's talking about growth.
  157. V. 27 "He goes to bed at night,
  158. gets up by day, the seed
    sprouts up and grows."
  159. V. 28 "The earth produces crops by itself.
  160. First the blade, then the head,
  161. then the mature grain in the head."
  162. So we know right off,
  163. the Lord is unfolding to us
  164. some of the mysteries about growth
  165. in the kingdom;
  166. growth of the kingdom of God as a whole
  167. down through church history.
  168. He said this is the way it's going to be.
  169. And growth in our individual lives
  170. and in the lives of other Christians.
  171. This is the reality.
  172. He says this is the way it happens.
  173. So, with that in mind,

  174. let's look at the details.
  175. First of all, v. 26, He was saying,
  176. "the kingdom of God is like a man
  177. who casts seed upon the ground."
  178. So the first thing is the
    prerequisite of growth,
  179. which is planting.
  180. You can't have a crop;
  181. you can't have growth without planting.
  182. And that is a big emphasis, you remember,
  183. in the parables.
  184. It comes up again and again.
  185. You have a man, a sower, sowing seed.
  186. And you have that
    picture; that illustration
  187. where the seed is the Word of God.
  188. And then you have this man who
  189. plants good seed in the field.
  190. And these plants come up.
  191. It has to do with God Himself planting.
  192. Ultimately, the man is God.
  193. He represents God.
  194. And God is the one that plants
  195. the seed in the ground of the Christian.
  196. You remember what Jesus said?
  197. Every plant that My Heavenly Father
  198. has not planted shall be rooted up.
  199. Isn't this a wonderful thing to think
  200. that God is in the business
  201. of planting good seed that springs up
  202. and becomes a wheat harvest?
  203. God does that.
  204. So the seeds are men sown by God;
  205. converts.
  206. But then if you go back a little further,
  207. Jesus uses this matter of the seed
  208. being the Word of God.
  209. And you have that aspect of it
  210. which has to do with, of course,
  211. this is the way God does save people.
  212. He plants people and saves people
  213. through us sowing the seed
  214. of the Word of God.
  215. And so both of these, I think,
  216. are involved here when He talks about
  217. growth in the kingdom.
  218. Remember, Paul in 1 Corinthians 3 says,
  219. "I planted."
  220. I planted.
  221. So God uses men to plant
    the seed of the Word.
  222. And He uses that seed to save people
  223. and plant true converts.
  224. So do we see ourselves as sowers

  225. planting seed?
  226. We have seed.
  227. We've been given the seed.
  228. And isn't it something?
  229. The seed looks so insignificant.
  230. Vance Havner said when he was young -
  231. I don't know; do they still do this?
  232. You get your garden
    seeds in a little package
  233. and it has a beautiful picture on there?
  234. And you know it's a
    promise of what could be.
  235. But you look inside -
  236. I mean, lettuce is really the one,
  237. when you look inside,
  238. it looks like you're planting pepper
  239. in the ground.
  240. It's like how can this possibly
  241. bring forth a crop?
  242. Well, you think of Paul standing
  243. on Mars Hill among the scoffers.
  244. This is what we are.
  245. We're in a heathen society
  246. that hates the Word,
  247. and it looks like those seeds are so small
  248. and there's a step of
    faith involved in that;
  249. in just planting that seed.
  250. The promise of what
    can be is on the cover,
  251. but it requires a step of faith.
  252. The giant sunflowers, you know,
  253. that is almost like a tree -
  254. that starts out from one seed.
  255. And so are we sowing?
  256. Brother Kurt Daniel, a
    pastor there in Illinois,
  257. you call his number -
    if you don't get him,
  258. you get the answering machine,
  259. and at the end he'll say,
  260. "and remember the
    words of the Lord Jesus,"
  261. and then he quotes a verse of Scripture.
  262. What's that? Planting a seed.
  263. Well, that won't do any good.
  264. Well, God says the opposite, doesn't He?
  265. Ecclesiastes 11:4-6
  266. "He who watches the wind will not sow,
  267. and he who looks at the clouds
  268. will not reap.
  269. Just as you do not know
    the path of the wind,
  270. and how bones are formed in the womb
  271. of a pregnant woman,
  272. so you do not know the activity of God
  273. who makes all things.
  274. Sow your seed in the morning,
  275. and do not be idle in the evening.
  276. For you do not know whether morning
  277. or evening sowing will succeed
  278. or whether both of
    them alike will be good."
  279. Now, the devil tells you
    the opposite, doesn't he?
  280. You don't know.
  281. Nothing will happen in the morning.
  282. You don't even know,
  283. maybe nothing will happen
    in either one of them.
  284. God says just the other way around.
  285. He says sow in the morning;
  286. sow it in the evening.
  287. You don't know what I might do.
  288. I might do something with both of them.
  289. And it's happened, hasn't it,
  290. again and again in the most unlikely cases
  291. where God has taken some seed
  292. through the instrumentality of man
  293. planting some little insignificant seed;
  294. God has planted a real, true Christian.
  295. And lo and behold, they spring up
  296. out of dry ground.
  297. And they're sustained by God.
  298. So the prerequisite of growth is planted.
  299. And that has to be.
  300. God has to plant the person
  301. and He does it through the instrumentality
  302. of us planting the seed.
  303. Secondly, what else is true

  304. about the kingdom of God?
  305. Are you listening to this?
  306. There is a time element involved.
  307. There is a process involved.
  308. He goes to bed at night;
  309. he gets up by day.
  310. He goes to bed at night;
  311. he gets up by day.
  312. What's Jesus saying?
  313. He's saying there is a
    time element involved
  314. in this matter of growth.
  315. One of the things that a farmer
    has to have is patience.

  316. And actually, as I see the weather
    patterns and what-have-you,
  317. I think well, you now,
  318. I really don't want to be a farmer.
  319. I mean, think of it.
  320. James specifically brings this out.
  321. "Be patient therefore, brethren,
  322. until the coming of the Lord.
  323. Behold the farmer waits
  324. for the precious produce of the soil
  325. being patient about it
  326. until it gets the early and late rains.
  327. You too be patient.
  328. Strengthen your hearts
  329. for the coming of the Lord is at hand."
  330. We don't like to think in these terms.
  331. But, the Lord is telling
    us something here, isn't He?
  332. You just picture a farmer
  333. sitting dejectedly on this tractor
  334. at the end of the day,
  335. and you say, "what's wrong?"
  336. And he says, "I don't have any crops."
  337. "When did you plant?"
  338. "This morning."
  339. It's absurd isn't it?
  340. That's exactly the way we are.
  341. Instant.
  342. I read my Bible every day this week
  343. and I don't see any growth.
  344. You know?
  345. In the area of witnessing;
  346. in the area of Bible study;
  347. in the area of prayer,
  348. this instant mentality.
  349. Miles Stanford said, "when God
  350. wants to make a squash,
  351. He takes just a short time.
  352. But when He wants to make an oak tree,
  353. it might take a hundred years."
  354. There's a time element involved.
  355. Prime Minister Disraeli there in England

  356. at one point, the story is
  357. that he stood up and gave
    an extemporaneous speech.
  358. And later in the day,
  359. they were having some kind of
  360. state function,
  361. and one of the ladies of state
  362. came up to him and said,
  363. "I want to tell you how much I enjoyed
  364. that extemporaneous speech."
  365. She said, "it's been on my mind all day."
  366. He said, "Madam, that speech has
  367. been on my mind for twenty years."
  368. That's the time element.
  369. You hear one of these brothers get up
  370. and give an extemporaneous word.
  371. That's been there a long time.
  372. That doesn't just happen.
  373. It takes time.
  374. God works gradually.
  375. There's a time element
    involved with true growth.
  376. Let me say it another way.

  377. Growth is imperceptible.
  378. That's another way of saying it.
  379. Growth is imperceptible.
  380. You think of corn plants.
  381. Just sit; go out in the field.
  382. I don't know - you all don't have
  383. much corn down here.
  384. But you go out and look at a corn plant.
  385. Just stare at it really hard.
  386. Keep an eye on it.
  387. Watch it grow.
  388. You won't see anything whatsoever.
  389. You look at your own life really hard.
  390. Stare at it really hard
  391. to detect a trace of growth.
  392. You're not going to see anything.
  393. That's encouraging, isn't it?
  394. I mean, you parents -
  395. you know, this morning,
  396. your kids walked into the room
  397. and you said, "My, how you've grown
  398. during the night."
  399. No.
  400. But somebody that hasn't
    seen them for a while,
  401. they come in - it's amazing.
  402. And we forget.
  403. And the quickest way to get discouraged
  404. is to look inside all the time
  405. and keep a real good eye on yourself
  406. and see whether you're growing.
  407. We forget how different people are now
  408. from what they were ten years ago.
  409. And growth is like that.
  410. It's imperceptible.
  411. It's slow.
  412. It's mysteriously slow.
  413. There's an apparent slowness about it.
  414. What is does Jesus tell us?

  415. Well, He talks about the
    mystery of growth in v. 27.
  416. "He goes to bed at night;
  417. gets up by day."
  418. There's this time element.
  419. Time element.
  420. My mother used to say that she thought
  421. she could hear corn growing in the night.
  422. I don't think so.
  423. I think she could
    hear the leaves rustling.
  424. There's a time element.
  425. But then He says,
  426. "the seed sprouts up and grows.
  427. How he himself does not know."
  428. There's a mystery.
  429. Now listen to this,

  430. Jesus said this is the way
  431. the kingdom of heaven is.
  432. You do not know how growth takes place.
  433. That's the way it is.
  434. You don't know how it takes place.
  435. That's what He's already said.
  436. It's mysterious.
  437. The Gospel takes root in your life,
  438. and in other's life,
  439. and you see things happen that
  440. you cannot figure out.
  441. It fills you with amazement and wonder.
  442. And you're not going to
    have the slightest idea how.
  443. Jesus said the wind blows where it wishes.
  444. You hear the sound of it.
  445. You don't know where it comes from
  446. or where it's going.
  447. So is everyone who's born of the Spirit.
  448. I've never understood growth in myself
  449. or anyone else.
  450. We know, like we've heard this morning,
  451. we know it has to do with
  452. spending time in the Word;
  453. it has to do with prayer;
  454. it has to do with fellowship.
  455. All those things are the context.
  456. So how many of you have just decided
  457. I'm going to read my Bible
    every day this week?
  458. How'd you do on that?
  459. See what I'm saying?
  460. Underneath it all,
  461. there's a mysterious working
  462. of the power of God
  463. underneath; sustaining everything.
  464. Work out your salvation
    with fear and trembling
  465. for God is working inside of you
  466. supernaturally, or you're
    not going to make it.
  467. You're not going to make it.
  468. But He is working inside of you
  469. if you're a Christian.
  470. And you are going to make it.
  471. See?
  472. It's mysterious.
  473. I've never understood growth in myself
  474. or anybody else.
  475. If it's something where you can say,
  476. I did this, and I did
    this, and I did this,
  477. you've probably got some kind
  478. of Pharisaical counterfeit.
  479. That's what you've got.
  480. I've never liked how-to's.

  481. There's books out on that -
  482. how to win souls;
  483. how to have church growth.
  484. The Lord Jesus said right
    here there's no "how-to."
  485. He said you don't know how.
  486. That just did away with
    a bunch of conferences.
  487. You don't need to waste your time.
  488. I've seen people taking notes on how-to.
  489. They fill up 20 pages.
  490. A year later, they're coming back
    to the same conference;
  491. filling up 20 more pages.
  492. Nothing ever changes.
  493. You've got to be cast upon God
  494. like Brother Merle used to say.
  495. The Bible's not a how-to book,
  496. it's a what-to book.
  497. A lot of the stuff Nathan
    was saying to us today,
  498. that's what-to, you know?
  499. You be strong; you be stable.
  500. How in the world am I going to do that?
  501. Well, you've got to go to God.
  502. Usually what happens in true growth
  503. is you're crying out to God for change.
  504. You've tried this. You've tried that.
  505. You've gone to this conference.
  506. You've gone to that conference.
  507. You've tried squinting your eyes harder
  508. when you repented.
  509. And none of it worked.
  510. And then, lo and behold,
  511. you look back and it's:
    God has changed me;
  512. set me free from this.
  513. He's working in my life.
  514. Isn't it wonderful?
  515. He says it happens -
  516. it happens how? You don't know.
  517. I don't know how this happened.
  518. But I know, yes, I had to spend time
  519. in the Word.
  520. Yes, I had to cry out to God.
  521. Yes, on all that,
  522. but in the end you look back.
  523. You know I used to think

  524. that victory over sin would be -
  525. I'd be standing there like these hunters
  526. in Africa, you know,
  527. with my rifle and my foot
    on the head of the lion.
  528. This is Charles with victory over sin.
  529. It's more like you're shaking your head
  530. saying I can't figure out how in the world
  531. God ever set me free from that,
  532. but it sure is good to be free from that.
  533. And now I see how bad it was.
  534. I couldn't even see how bad it was before.
  535. Isn't that true?
  536. It's mysterious.

  537. The mistake that people make
  538. is to take their own experiences
  539. and try to get a formula that you can
  540. give to everybody else,
  541. and if they do that it'll work.
  542. It won't.
  543. God uses things in one person's life
  544. and the next person reads
    that same book or whatever
  545. and they don't get a thing out of it.
  546. You remember with the ark.
  547. They said, well, take that,
  548. it will work for us.
  549. No, it won't.
  550. Well, what else does He teach us?

  551. Growth is miraculous - v. 28.
  552. "The earth produces crops by itself."
  553. Presto! They just pop out of it.
  554. That's what Jesus said.
  555. In other words, He's saying
  556. there's something supernatural about this.
  557. You can't explain this on your own.
  558. "The earth produces crops by itself."
  559. It's beyond man's power totally.
  560. And it's incredible how it happens.
  561. There's a power there outside of us.
  562. And we don't know.
  563. We're not the one that grows the seed.
  564. God is the one that does that.
  565. All we do is put the seed into the ground.
  566. And so there's a miraculous
    aspect about growth.
  567. There's power and vitality
    in the seed itself.
  568. Peter talks about being born again,
  569. not of corruptible seed,
    but of incorruptible
  570. by the Word of God
  571. that lives and abides forever.
  572. Romans 1:16 "I am not
    ashamed of the Gospel.
  573. It is the power of God unto salvation..."
  574. 1 Thessalonians 2:13
  575. "The Word of God which performs its work
  576. in you who believe."
  577. And I like that where Paul says
  578. in Acts 20 - he says I commend you to God.
  579. We've done this often with people
  580. leaving the church and going back
  581. to China or wherever.
  582. I commend you to God
  583. and to the word of His grace
  584. which is able to build you up
  585. and give you an inheritance.
  586. It's just wonderful, isn't it?
  587. There's life in the seed itself.
  588. The very idea of seed -
  589. it's the Greek word semen.
  590. 1 John - "God's seed remains in him."
  591. So there's something
    miraculous about the seed,

  592. but there's something miraculous also
  593. about the earth.
  594. The earth brings forth fruit of itself.
  595. Isaiah 61 says this:
  596. "I will rejoice greatly in the Lord.
  597. My soul will exult in my God,
  598. for He has clothed me with garments
  599. of salvation;
  600. He has wrapped me with
    a robe of righteousness
  601. as a bridegroom decks himself
  602. with a garland,
  603. and as a bride adorns
    herself with her jewels.
  604. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
  605. and as a garden causes the things
  606. sown in it to spring up,
  607. so the Lord God..."
  608. He's the Garden here, see?
  609. The garden causes the things sown in it
  610. to spring up.
  611. "So the Lord God will cause
  612. righteousness and praise to spring up
  613. before all the nations."
  614. Now that's what we're talking about here.
  615. What Jesus is saying is
  616. God is at work underneath the surface
  617. to make things spring up supernaturally
  618. that could not otherwise happen.
  619. You remember in 1 Corinthians 3,
  620. "What then is Apollos? What is Paul?
  621. Servants through whom you believed
  622. even as the Lord gave
    opportunity to each one.
  623. I planted. Apollos watered.
  624. But God was causing the growth."
  625. You know, if you think about it,
  626. what are you really doing when you
    put a seed in the ground?
  627. You're not doing anything.
  628. You put water on it.
  629. God is the one making that
    germinate and grow.
  630. Are you listening to me?
  631. God causes growth.
  632. The only way you're ever going to grow
  633. is if God causes you to grow.
  634. That's the only way.
  635. The only way you're ever going to change;
  636. the only way you're ever going to be
  637. more Christlike is if God causes you
  638. to become more Christlike.
  639. And that's what He's promised to do.
  640. That's what He's promised to do in you.
  641. What a glorious thing!
  642. The only hope anybody has -
  643. none of us will ever rise any higher
  644. than God lifts us by His grace.
  645. You're not going to do it.
  646. But He will do it.
  647. He will do it.
  648. The Lord God will cause righteousness
  649. and praise to spring up
  650. before all nations.
  651. That's the only hope we have.
  652. God working in us to will and do
  653. of His good pleasure;
  654. causing growth.
  655. He causes you to will.
  656. He gives you that desire,
  657. and then it's a long ways from the time
  658. you start thinking I want to be more holy
  659. in this or that;
  660. it's a long ways before
    you're actually there.
  661. He works in you both to will and to work
  662. for His good pleasure.
  663. So if our Christianity can be explained

  664. by human psychology
  665. or turning over a new leaf
  666. or trying to be better or so on;
  667. there's no miracle,
  668. there's no outside power,
  669. then you're not a Christian.
  670. What an encouragement this is God's work,
  671. and He will accomplish what concerns us.
  672. Alright, number five.

  673. The progressiveness of growth.
  674. You see it in v. 27, it sprouts up.
  675. First of all, it has to sprout up
  676. and it grows.
  677. V. 28, "First the blade,
  678. then the head,
  679. then the mature grain in the head."
  680. Progressive.
  681. Now that's simple, isn't it?
  682. This and then this and then this.
  683. We don't want that.
  684. What we want is:
  685. go from here over to there.
  686. You know, you could have
    such-and-such experience.
  687. That puts you clear over here.
  688. You could enter into
    entire sanctification.
  689. Just have this happen.
  690. Skip over all that stuff.
  691. It's kind of hard going through
  692. all that stuff anyway.
  693. A lot of teaching is like that.
  694. Anything that is held out to you
  695. that makes you think:
  696. if I could just have such-and-such,
  697. I could skip over these stages.
  698. That's a false teaching.
  699. And you may have people say
  700. that they've entered in and they have;
  701. there's been some special thing
  702. happen in their life where
  703. they're in a different plane;
  704. a higher plane than they were before.
  705. That happens.
  706. But beloved, I'll guarantee you this,
  707. they're still going through the stages
  708. just like you are.
  709. First the blade, then the head,
  710. then the mature grain.
  711. That's always the way it is.
  712. You see somebody that's
    entirely sanctified,
  713. you're looking at Jesus.
  714. And He's the only one -
  715. until heaven.
  716. The holiest man in the world today
  717. has so much sin, he'd be in hell.
  718. (incomplete thought)
  719. Can you imagine the way Jesus
  720. handled a towel?
  721. There's nobody in the world
  722. that could hold a towel the way Jesus did
  723. and wash somebody's feet.
  724. You can't begin to be
    like Him in that sense.
  725. But we can walk in His steps.
  726. Growth is progressive.

  727. And you see here the utter stupidity
  728. of the professing church in this.
  729. There's some former football player
  730. or singer or whatever;
  731. they get converted and two weeks later,
  732. they're speaking to a
    crowd of 1,000 people.
  733. Or 10,000. More like 20,000 people.
  734. You take some little immature plant,
  735. at best, and stick them out there.
  736. That's not the way it is.
  737. That's folly.
  738. There's a process involved.
  739. Hudson Taylor, before he became

  740. the head of the China Inland Mission
  741. had to spend years in obscurity
  742. as a nobody learning things from God.
  743. And I like that two volume set
  744. on the life of Hudson Taylor.
  745. Volume 1: The Growth of a Soul.
  746. Volume 2: The Growth of a Work of God.
  747. This tells my age,
  748. but back when I was young,
  749. we always talked about
  750. the Empire State Building.
  751. Boy, this is the tallest
    building in the world.
  752. Well, anyway, they said it took as long
  753. to put that foundation in,
  754. and there's as much in the foundation
  755. as there is in the rest of the building.
  756. Picture building some of these
  757. massive things that they've got now
  758. on a five-foot foundation.
  759. How long would that last?
  760. I think it's the Washington Cathedral
  761. I saw years ago with my mother.
  762. And in one way, it's impressive
  763. looking at those top spires
  764. and everything up there,
  765. but to me, the most impressive thing
  766. was when they took us
    down into the basement.
  767. And they said, now this rounded wall here
  768. is part of one of the pillars
  769. that supports this building.
  770. And you could barely see the curve in it
  771. it was so big.
  772. Any life that is real
  773. has as much underground
    or more underground
  774. as there is above the surface.
  775. It's always that way.
  776. (incomplete thought)
  777. You're looking up there at those spires
  778. of the building,
  779. when God is driving foundation piling
  780. in your life that is much harder -
  781. hard stuff that you've got to learn.
  782. I was talking about the
    hymn the other night.

  783. I like that hymn, I think Vance Havner
  784. quoted it:
  785. "Many a rapturous minstrel
  786. among the sons of light
  787. will say of his sweetest music
  788. 'I learned it in the night.'
  789. And many a rolling anthem
  790. that fills the Father's throne,
  791. sobbed at his first rehearsal
  792. in the shroud of a darkened room."
  793. That's God putting the foundation
  794. down under the building.
  795. There is a slowness involved.
  796. There is a process involved.
  797. Don't let anybody trick you
  798. into the idea that you can jump
  799. from here to here.
  800. You're not going to shortchange anything.
  801. You might say, well, I'm going to
  802. memorize the whole New Testament.
  803. Well, that's great,
  804. but it's not going to make you
  805. a spiritual giant.
  806. I mean, it's stages.
  807. Well, the progressiveness of growth.

  808. Then, the certainty of growth.
  809. Now remember, the Lord is describing
  810. the way things are in the kingdom.
  811. It's like a man who plants
    seed in the ground.
  812. And he goes to bed at night.
  813. This comes up. It grows.
  814. It grows. It grows.
  815. And then it dies and withers.
  816. That's not what He says.
  817. That's not the way it is when God
  818. is involved in this.
  819. It is going to make it.
  820. It's certain.
  821. It's going to grow.
  822. When men plant things,
  823. they often die.
  824. Not so with God.
  825. And you can look at that
  826. in relation to church history as a whole.
  827. That little seed that was planted
  828. at the beginning,
  829. it becomes a great tree.
  830. And God's not going to fail.
  831. The church is not going to fail.
  832. He's advancing His kingdom.
  833. He's going to do it. He will do it.
  834. It will bring forth a crop.
  835. It will grow.
  836. It's a certainty.
  837. Colossians - Paul talks about this.
  838. He says "you previously heard
  839. in the Word of truth - the Gospel
  840. which has come to you,
  841. just as in all the world also,
  842. it's constantly bearing
    fruit and increasing,
  843. even as it has been doing in you also
  844. since the day you heard of it
  845. and understood the grace of God in truth."
  846. So growth is certain.
  847. The church isn't going to fail.
  848. And growth is also certain

  849. in the life of every true believer.
  850. Why? Because it's not dependent upon man.
  851. "Being confident of this very thing,
  852. that He who began a good work in you" -
  853. God did it.
  854. "...Will perform it until the
    day of Jesus Christ."
  855. We're confident of that. He's the one.
  856. He'll do it.
  857. God says in the New Covenant
  858. there in Ezekiel 36,
  859. "I will cleanse you of all your filthiness
  860. and all your idols.
  861. I will put My Spirit in you and cause you
  862. to walk in My statutes."
  863. I'm so thankful.
  864. He's saying I'm not going to quit on you.
  865. You may fight this.
  866. You either fight it or embrace it,
  867. but if you fight it,
  868. eventually you're going to embrace it
  869. if you're a child of God.
  870. I will cleanse you. I'll
    cause you to walk...
  871. It's a hard way though sometimes
  872. if we resist what God's
    doing in our lives.
  873. Jesus said, "blessed is everyone who has;

  874. to him more shall be given.
  875. And he shall have an abundance."
  876. And that's a wonderful thing.
  877. If you have anything that's real,
  878. it'd be better to be the weakest Christian
  879. in the world today,
  880. if you have just a
    little grain that's real,
  881. because you're going to get more.
  882. And eventually, you're
    going to have a lot.
  883. Isn't that wonderful?
  884. This little tiny thing
    of grace in the life
  885. of a true Christian;
  886. He says blessed are you.
  887. Now him that does not have,
  888. even what he thinks he has
  889. shall be taken away.
  890. Better to be the weakest Christian
  891. in the world, than the strongest looking
  892. false professor.
  893. Every branch in Me that bears fruit,
  894. He purges it; He cleanses it
  895. that it might bring forth more fruit.
  896. (incomplete thought)
  897. "Herein is My Father glorified,
  898. that you bear much fruit
  899. and so prove to be My disciples."
  900. Some 100, some 60, some 30,
  901. but all have fruit.
  902. They're all growing.
  903. They're all producing fruit.
  904. Alright, last point.

  905. Final outcome of growth is harvest time.
  906. And He tells us that here.
  907. V. 29 "When the crop permits,
  908. he immediately puts in the sickle
  909. because the harvest has come."
  910. Why do you plant seed?
  911. You plant them in order to get a harvest.
  912. God is going to have a harvest, beloved.
  913. He's going to have a harvest.
  914. There's not going to be one missing.
  915. Think of this.
  916. Jesus says everyone that
    the Father's given Me
  917. will come to Me.
  918. And He that comes to Me,
  919. I will certainly not cast out.
  920. Why not?
  921. Why won't He cast us out?
  922. Well, because He says, I came down
  923. from Heaven to accomplish
    a specific purpose.
  924. I came down from Heaven
  925. not to do My own will,
  926. but the will of Him who sent Me.
  927. And this is the will of Him who sent Me,
  928. that of all that He has given Me,
  929. I lose only a few and
    then I raise up the rest
  930. at the last day.
  931. No, that's not what He said, is it?
  932. That of all that He has given Me,
  933. I lose not one!
  934. Think of this.
  935. Every plant that My Heavenly Father
  936. has not planted, shall be rooted up;
  937. but every plant that My
    Heavenly Father plants
  938. is going to make it all
    the way to the harvest.
  939. And there is a day coming -
  940. I think of it whenever
    we're together like this.
  941. Do you realize the hilarious joy
  942. we're going to have in seeing
  943. one another in heaven?
  944. What a day of rejoicing that will be!
  945. Why? Because it's
    the rejoicing of harvest.
  946. The crop's in.
  947. Up until that time,
  948. you're kind of gritting your teeth.
  949. I don't know if so-and-so's
    going to make it or not.
  950. I hope they're real.
  951. And there they are!
  952. You see them there -
  953. they're shining like the sun
  954. in the kingdom of their Father.
  955. What a day of rejoicing that will be!
  956. When the harvest is in.
  957. And we'll look back
  958. and it will be 10,000 times
  959. more wonderful than we ever thought
  960. as we see the providence of God
  961. in keeping His people and so on.
  962. There is a harvest coming.
  963. And it's going to be a great ingathering
  964. and a time of rejoicing.
  965. Another angel came out of the temple
  966. crying out with a loud voice
  967. to Him who sat on the cloud.
  968. Put in your sickel and reap
  969. because the hour to reap has come,
  970. because the harvest of the earth is ripe,
  971. and He who sat on the cloud
  972. (capital 'H' He) who sat on the cloud
  973. swung His sickle over the earth
  974. and the earth was reaped.
  975. Jesus is telling us the nature
  976. of the kingdom of God.
  977. And He's taking us back
  978. behind the scenes,
  979. and showing us how growth takes place.
  980. It takes place supernaturally
  981. by the power of God.
  982. And He will not have a crop failure.
  983. But He's going to take every one of us
  984. through all the stages necessary
  985. to get there.
  986. Amen.