Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
Authored By :
Published On :
September 16, 1999
Last Updated :
September 18, 2013
Positive Fruit Of God's Word, Parable Of The Sower, God's Purposes Will Be Accomplished, We Are Made Accountable By The Word, Parable Of The Mustard Seed, Tree Ravaged By The Storm, Faith Founded Upon Rock Of God's Word, Stand Fast And Resist Satan's Temptations, Mature Fruit-Bearing Trees, Flexibility, Life Springs Forth From Death, Jesus Is The Firstfruits Of The Resurrection, We Need To Die Daily To Serve The Lord And Bring Forth Fruit Unto God, God Requires Us To Forsake All, Lightning Fires, Purged In The Fires Of God's Afflictions
As we learned in part one, in contrast to those people who in their foolish pride and stubborn arrogance resist God's Word and try to flee from the Truth that it reveals, if we humbly allow the precious seed of God's Word to be planted in the fertile ground of our receptive hearts, just as the Lord taught in the Gospels, we can grow into strong trees which bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. You may recall that in the Parable of the Sower, Jesus stated the following:
"But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold . . . But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."
Matthew 13:8, 23, KJV
Almost eight hundred years earlier, the Lord inspired the Prophet Isaiah to write the following lines, which perfectly describe how the Seed of God's Word always accomplishes the purpose for which it was sent forth by the Lord:
"For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Isaiah 55:10-11, KJV
The Prophet Isaiah was not the only individual who the Lord inspired with such wise thoughts. The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes -- who many people assume was King David's son, Solomon -- also had this to say:
"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Psalms 126:6, KJV
Perhaps not all of the seed will fall on good ground, but in His Wisdom, the Lord knows that it will still accomplish His purpose; because as we learned in part one, by simply hearing the Word of God, whether we choose to receive it or to reject it, we are each made accountable for knowing the truth. In another one of His instructive Parables, which Jesus may have shared with His followers shortly after imparting the Parable of the Sower -- being as they are both found in the very same chapter -- Jesus discusses the issue of faith and the Kingdom of God. In this Parable, He makes the following interesting comparison:
"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."
Matthew 13:31-32, KJV
Allow me to share with you an interesting story, which is directly related to this topic of the Seed of God's Word and spiritual growth. Where I live, perhaps fifty feet away from my kitchen window, there was once a large, beautiful, old tree. At the time that I originally authored this article in 1999, I did not know what kind of a tree it was, or even its precise age. However, going by its appearance at that time, I would venture to say that it was more than likely decades old. Whenever I stood there washing the dishes, I always gazed out the window and admired this wonderful creation of the Lord. Its beautiful branches filled with dense green foliage which reached towards the heavens really inspired my heart. Unless one closely examined this tree, he would never even begin to realize how many battles the tree had been through during its long life. He would never even notice the many battle scars which marked its thick trunk as well as most of its elegantly clothed branches.
But you see, I knew; because for many years I watched as that tree endured one severe storm after another. In the aftermath of such powerful events, I also watched as our neighbors had to clean up the fallen leaves, and haul away the broken and destroyed branches which came crashing down to the ground during the height of some of these storms. At times, the wall of rain was so thick, that the tree was not even visible during the daylight hours; even though it was situated only a stone's throw away from my window. In fact, some of these meteorological monsters -- they are called typhoons here -- have been so tremendous, that not only have many homes been heavily damaged or completely destroyed, but there have been a few times when the electricity to my home has been down for up to several weeks following the storm's passage. In fact, on one occasion, it was out for just over one month due to the widespread damage which had been inflicted by one particular storm.
But concerning that majestic, old tree, on many occasions, it was left completely barren of its leaves, so that its bleak, storm-ravaged skeletal structure stood out quite noticeably after such an awesome assault by these tropical visitors. Those leaves which were not blown away, more often than not eventually dried up and fell to the ground, due to the fact that they were severely wind-burned.
Yet, regardless of how many storms it had been through, that wonderful tree endured. It always managed to bounce back to life, and to heal its open scars. Within a few weeks, it was clothed once again in its verdant glory which had been given to it by the Lord, and new branches began to grow in places where others had been violently ripped away by a storm. What was the secret of that tree's endurance? Basically, it was due to two main reasons; both of which have clear spiritual applications to our lives as Christians. The first reason why that majestic tree endured for so many years, is because it was firmly rooted in the rock and soil, thus enabling it to endure the strong winds of adversity. In a similar manner, if the roots of our faith are firmly anchored in the Rock of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if we are obedient to His Holy Word, we will likewise be able to endure the spiritual winds of adversity which may come our way, as we see by the following verses:
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."
Colossians 2:6-7, KJV
"Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock."
Luke 6:47-48, KJV
"And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."
1 Corinthians 10:4, KJV
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 3:11, KJV
"For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock."
Psalms 27:5, KJV
"He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings."
Psalms 40:2, KJV
To reiterate this important point, if our spiritual roots are deeply embedded in God's Word, -- that is, the Bible -- we will likewise be watered and nourished by the spiritual nutrients which it provides. As a result, it will enable us to grow into strong, healthy Christians for the Lord, who will be able to endure, and to stand fast against the subtle temptations and onslaughts of our spiritual adversary; that is, the Devil. Consider the following verses in which the Apostles Peter, Paul and James encourage us to be strong in the Lord, and to stand fast in the faith:
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 15:58, KJV
"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."
1 Corinthians 16:13, KJV
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:1, KJV
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might . . . Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"
Ephesians 6:10, 13-17, KJV
"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;"
Philippians 1:27, KJV
"Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved."
Philippians 4:1, KJV
"For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord."
1 Thessalonians 3:8, KJV
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
2 Thessalonians 2:15, KJV
"Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 2:1, KJV
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."
1 Peter 5:8-9, KJV
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
James 4:7, KJV
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
1 Corinthians 10:13, KJV
In the case of the aforementioned tree, because its strong root system enabled it to mature, and not be destroyed by each passing storm, it persevered long enough to become a productive seed-bearing tree, which resulted in the birth of young new trees. In similar fashion, if we persevere in our faith as Christians and don't allow Satan to steal the faith from our hearts -- please see Luke 22:31 -- we can reach an age of spiritual maturity. When we reach that point, we will also patiently bear fruit for the Lord. Following are a few additional verses -- not mentioned in part one -- which also discuss the topic of bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God:
"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Psalms 1:3, KJV
"But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."
Luke 8:15, KJV
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me."
John 15:1-4, KJV
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
Romans 7:4, KJV
The second main reason why this grand old tree was able to survive so many years of harsh abuse by these rapists of nature -- that is, the typhoons -- is because God designed it in such a way, that it possessed a degree of flexibility. In other words, similar to vast, golden wheat fields which bend and yield themselves to the roaming prairie winds, the tree was also able to bend in the direction of these mighty tempests, thereby reducing some of the pressure which bore down on its mighty branches. If the tree didn't possess this quality, it would definitely have suffered much more severe damage with each passing storm. It is even quite possible that it would have completely perished many years ago.
As I mentioned earlier, it was rather encouraging to know that even when some of the tree's branches lost their former flexibility due to their old age -- or were still young and too weak to resist the power of one of our tropical storms -- and were thus ripped away during one of such tropical storms, quite often the tree would eventually replace the broken limb with a new one, or even with several new ones. Thus, as Jesus also teaches us in the Gospels, death makes room for new life, as we see by the following verse:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
John 12:24, KJV
As you may already know from reading the surrounding verses, it is easily understood that the Lord was referring to His own coming Sacrifice, and how it would result in New Life; not only for Himself, but for the millions of other adopted children of God who would be born into the Kingdom of Heaven as a result of His obedience to His Father, and His Atonement for our sins. It is precisely for this reason, that following a spiritual parallel to the Jewish Feast of Firstfruits, in the Scriptures Jesus is referred to as the Firstfruits of the Resurrection. I discuss this same subject in more detail in articles such as "The Lamb of God Was a Goat", "The Judgment of Angels, Demons and Men", "Is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God?", and "Are You Saved and Sealed and Healed and Filled?". Consider the following verses where Jesus is called the firstfruits, the firstborn, and the first begotten of the dead:
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body . . . For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Romans 8:22-23, 29, KJV
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
1 Corinthians 15:19-23, KJV
"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature . . . And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."
Colossians 1:12-15, 18, KJV
"To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,"
Hebrews 12:23, KJV
"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."
James 1:18, KJV
"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,"
Revelation 1:5, KJV
"These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb."
Revelation 14:4, KJV
Along the same lines, as I amply discuss in articles such as "Are You Crucified With Christ?", the New Testament likewise informs us that as servants of Jesus Christ, we Christians are obligated to die to ourselves, and to our own desires in this present life on a daily basis, in order to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. We must forsake all. This Scriptural truth is made quite evident by powerful verses such as the following:
"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."
Luke 9:23-24, KJV
"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."
Romans 6:6, KJV
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Romans 12:1-2, KJV
"I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily."
1 Corinthians 15:31, KJV
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
Galatians 2:20, KJV
"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
Galatians 6:14, KJV
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
1 John 3:16, KJV
Sadly, many people -- including many Christians -- are very hesitant to do this. They simply do not want to die daily in order to truly serve the Lord. They want to hang on to their old life in this wicked world, including their family, their friends, their job in the world which perhaps pays them good money, their expensive house, their fancy car, their pets, and other secular things which stand in their way of serving the Lord. They are prisoners of their own materialism. Jesus warned us of these traps which prevent us from serving Him with our whole hearts in verses such as the following:
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also . . . No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Matthew 6:19-21, 24, KJV
"And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead."
Matthew 8:19-22, KJV
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."
Matthew 10:34-38, KJV
"Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."
Matthew 12:47-50, KJV
"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."
Matthew 19:29, KJV
"And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life."
Mark 10:29-30, KJV
"And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:57-62, KJV
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:26-33, KJV
So as you can plainly see, just as Jesus was willing to die to Himself and to His own desires as a human being, and to ultimately offer His very own life as a propitiation for our sins, we too must be willing to forsake all, and to die to ourselves on a daily basis, in order to bring forth fruit for the Kingdom of God. We must be like the corn [grain] of wheat which falls into the ground and dies, so that new life may spring forth from the same; new life in Jesus Christ.
Returning to our story regarding the tree and the storm, in reality, the fact that the tree loses some of its branches due to the strong tropical winds is a form of natural purge. It is similar to the lightning fires which often burn many acres of grasslands and forests. While such events appear to be tragedies, the truth is that they really clear the older, thicker vegetation, and make room for young new saplings and other plant life. Furthermore, what is burned away eventually is converted into new fertile soil. In a spiritual sense, the Scriptures also teach us that sometimes it becomes necessary for the Lord to purge His beloved children of their dross and impurities as well, in order that they might bear more fruit for His Kingdom. This has been the case throughout Biblical history, as we see by the following verses:
"But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
Job 23:10, KJV
"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God."
Zechariah 13:9, KJV
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
James 1:2-4, KJV
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"
1 Peter 1:7, KJV
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified."
1 Peter 4:12-14, KJV
"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
Revelation 3:18, KJV
Please go to part three for the continuation of this series.
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