10- The Kingdom of God is Like .....
By Colleen Donahue

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1. The Kingdom of God coming to earth through Jesus was a whole new concept at the time Jesus started to preach. That's why he spoke about it in parables. He told stories that people could relate to and then tied it to some aspect of the Kingdom of God. We need these just as much today. While Jesus' main message was the Kingdom of God, that message is seldom taught today. So it's important that we also open our ears to hear these parables with fresh intent. The fact is, if you are a follower of Jesus with His Spirit indwelling you, then what is already true?
Mark 4:11

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WORTH EVERYTHING

2. In looking at the parables Jesus told about what the "Kingdom of God is like", we can see a pattern by topic. First Jesus wanted us to know that obtaining the Kingdom of God - being a citizen in the Kingdom of God and being part of God's family was a search worth everything we owned. Who did Jesus compare someone who is seeking for the truth of God and his Kingdom?
Matthew 13:44-45

And when they found it what did they do?
Matthew 13:44b, 46

What is this "treasure" we would sell all for? Remember that where the king is located there is also his kingdom. Jesus came to bring back the Holy Spirit to indwell our human spirit just the way God originally made us. So having the treasure of God's own Spirit abiding in us and walking through life with us is beyond anything this world could give us.
2 Corinthians 4:7

The Apostle Paul goes onto explain that having the Holy Spirit indwelling our life enables us to live above the trials of life.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

And transforms us so that what will happen through us?
2 Corinthians 4:10-12

(Note that Paul repeats God's purpose for us two times in these verses).

HOW THE KINGDOM OF GOD ADVANCES

3. Next, in two different parables Jesus explains how the Kingdom of God advances on earth. It's through the Word of God which Jesus likens to seed.
Mark 4:26-29

If as believers we set about sharing God's word in anyway we can, then we can count on God using it in the lives of others. Slowly but surely the word will take root in someone's heart. Here's a good example of a partnership we have with God indwelling us. We scatter the seed and God does the rest. If we don't do our part, God can't do his.

4. A second parable about the seed of God's word is recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke. This tells us it was so important that all of them recorded it. It may be familiar to you but look at it with fresh eyes. Here we have the picture of a farmer grabbing fistfuls of seed and throwing it all around him. Jesus tells us that the seed falls on four main soil types. List what those are.
Matthew 13:3-9

For each soil type Jesus tells us outright what will happen to the seek falling there. Next to your listing of the soil types, write down what will happen.
Matthew 13:18-23

This should be good news to us and not discouraging in our endeavors to share with others. We can count on 25% of those we share God's word with to produce a crop yielding far beyond what we sowed. And how can we share God's truth? Sometimes it may be through a discussion with someone. If you're a writer, it could be through a letter, email, tract, book or Bible study that you write. (I'm sowing seed right now and praying for you. ) You can share truth through a talk, a sermon, a class, a Bible study or a website/blog. If you can sing it might be through a song. If you don't feel you can write or speak you might leave a card or a tract. Let the Holy Spirit guide you and then obey him. If you don't start doing something then He has nothing to bless.

THE CHURCH IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD

5. Several of Christ's parables made reference to His Church (within the Kingdom of God) without actually using the term. The first is the parable of the mustard seed recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke
Matthew 13:31-32 / Also Mark 4:30-32 & Luke 13:18-19

The mustard seed was the smallest of all seeds that grew into the largest of all the herb bushes -- about the size of a fig tree. It would grow so large that often all kinds of birds could be found nesting and feeding in it. Often in scripture birds and fowls represent an evil presence. The church which started from the seed sown by one man (Jesus), grew through the original 12 apostles to a large family all around the world. It will help us make sense of several parables if we understand the church.

The Greek word for church was ecclesia which was what the Roman senate was called. As the Roman senate was the governing body of the Roman empire, so the church is the governing body in the Kingdom of God with Jesus as it's head. It is the family of God here on earth -- a place where Kingdom of God citizens can grow and love and find protection.

Like the large herb bush of the mustard seed, the church can be very attractive to all kinds of birds (people) - both good and bad, true and false. How often outsiders looking at the church are critical of the behaviour of those in the church. There is good reason for that. On earth the church has its doors open to everyone. Go to any church around the world and you'll find a mixture of people there. Within the physical church will be those I'll call the "true church" and those who are spectators. The "true church" are individuals with Christ's Spirit indwelling them whose allegiance is 100% to follow Jesus. They are citizens first and foremost in the Kingdom of God. The spectators can be those seeking the truth or just "camp followers" -- those who like the people, the music, the atmosphere or the refreshments. Nevertheless, the church on earth is a mixture.

6. Let's look at another parable showing this same idea. It's in:
Matthew 13:47-51

Like the fish net that catches all kinds of fish, the gospel draws all kinds of people into the church. But it's clear from this parable that not all will remain in Christ's church when it comes time for judgment.

7. Satan hates Christ's church and is doing everything he can to destroy it. He knows that this is best done from within. Let's look at another parable that describes this reality.
Matthew 13:24-30

The disciples didn't quite understand this parable and so they asked Jesus to explain it further.
Matthew 13:36-43

Jesus tells us outright that true believers (wheat) and hypocrites (weeds) will be found side by side in the church until the time of harvest or judgment. Jesus knew that they could only be separated safely at the proper time by himself because He knows every heart.

8. In the parable of the great feast, Jesus tells us again about the mixture of people that we'll see in his church on earth. Read through the whole parable.
Matthew 22:1-14

First we have a group called "those who were invited". Israel was to have been God's chosen nation to influence the entire world for the Kingdom of God. But, Jews ignored God's offer of salvation through Jesus. He reached out to the Jewish people twice in this parable. What happened?
Matthew 22:5-7

And so the king extended his invitation. Who showed up to the banquet?
Matthew 22:8-10
Notice especially verse 10. The banquet was full of good and bad alike.

The story then ends on a curious note.
Matthew 22:11-14

It was a custom in ancient times for kings and princes to provide a wedding garment for their guests. It was most often a long white robe. So in this story the fact that the man refused it was an expression of utter contempt for the king. It is a story that illustrates the hypocrite in the church. A garment of salvation has been prepared for him by Jesus, but instead of putting it on the hypocrite comes before God in his street clothes -- which to God are like filthy rags. The problem and condemnation for the hypocrite is not being a guest in God's house but in refusing to be saved the way that God has provided in His Son Jesus. So once again, Jesus alerts us to the mixture that will be in the church on earth.

9. Let's look at one more parable about the mixture that will be found in the church on earth.
Luke 14:15-24

We must look back at Luke 14:1 to find that Jesus was having dinner at the home of the one of the leading Pharisees. Once again it was the Jewish people that God had specially chosen for his Kingdom of God purposes but they had rejected his invitation giving one excuse after another. Who ended up being invited?
Luke 14:21 & 23

This is really good news for most of us. Because the Jews rejected God's offer of abundant life (great banquet) through Jesus, it opened up the way for everyone else to accept the offer. And so the church today is open to anyone who will come and accept the abundant life that Jesus offers. But we see again that the church of God on earth will be filled with a mixture of people: true believers, seekers and hypocrites.

THE ROLE OF BELIEVERS IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD

10. In a few parables Jesus shows us the role of a true believer in the Kingdom of God. Here is a short 1 line parable about a homeowner.
Matthew 13:52

Every disciple of Jesus stores up what he has learned of truth in his treasury. He can then bring it forth as the occasion demands. New and old truths are not to stay hidden but are to be brought out and shared with others as is needed so that many can benefit. If we don't share what we heard with others then soon it becomes harder to take in new truth.

11. Here is a short parable of a woman baking bread with a lot of symbolism.
Matthew 13:33

Meal or flour speaks of a heart that is broken or humbled so that the gospel can work upon it. The leaven must be hidden in the heart where it works slowly but surely. The leaven or yeast makes a universal change to the dough. So it is that every true believer acts as leaven or yeast in society. Just our very presence raises the level of discourse or community within our family or work place. Even without a word the Spirit of Jesus within us begins to work on others just because we are there.

12. In another parable Jesus told, it showed both the role of every believer as well as the mixture in the church. It is the story of the ten bridesmaids or virgins.
Matthew 25:1-13

The ten bridesmaids speak of the church. The marriage ceremony is the coming of Jesus Christ to receive his true church to Himself. It was the custom for there to be seven days of celebration at the bride's father house. Then the groom would come with great pomp and splendour to take his bride to his own home. The five foolish bridesmaids are those who profess to love Jesus but have little evidence of grace and holiness in their lives. The five wise bridesmaids are those who live in a state of readiness to receive Jesus at His return whenever that will be. And that is one of the believer's roles -- to always live with the fact that Jesus may return at any time to bring us into the eternal Kingdom of God. Once the door is shut, no more will enter.

13. Right after Jesus tells the ten bridesmaids story, he tells us the story of a man going on a long trip.
Matthew 25:14-30

We might think of the money being entrusted to his servants as the opportunities that are given to every believer. God gives to all of us in his kingdom opportunities to manage some part of his kingdom and we are expected to be faithful in that sphere. Notice again in this parable the mixture that will be in the church. Those who don't use what God gives them to advance his kingdom are showing contempt to the King. Read again the three results of this contempt.
Matthew 25:26, 28 & 30

So the current slogan, "use it or lose it" certainly applies to all of us.

PARALLEL KINGDOMS

In our study called "A tale of two kingdoms" we looked at the fact that the Kingdom of God in Heaven runs parallel to the Kingdom of God here on earth. This parable of a king who decides to bring his accounts up to date is an illustration of that.
Matthew 18:23-35

Everyone of us has sinned against a holy God in thought, word and deed. We have treated Him with contempt, choosing to go our own way rather than HIS way. We deserve the death penalty. But what does God offer us instead when we plead to Him for mercy?
Matthew 18:27

God expects us to show the same mercy to our fellow man when they owe us something that they can't readily pay us for. Our debt to God is "off the charts" compared to what others owe us. Jesus used two monitary items to show us this. A "talent" was worth more than 15 years worth of wages and this man owed the King 10,000 talents! A "denarius" was worth the usual day's wage for a laborer and the man in this parable owed him 100 denarii.

Most of us have heard someone say or you've said it yourself, "I just can't forgive them for all they have done to me." A red flag should go up when you hear or say this. If we won't forgive another, then what will be certain for us?
Matthew 18:34-35

And since our debt to God can never be paid for on our own, it means an eternity of life without God. Jesus wants us to get serious about the fact that what we do here does matter in eternity.

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