The Good Seed

Planting good seed

Many years ago, an interesting article appeared in a magazine. In the picture that accompanied the article a man was standing beside some pea vines. According to the article, some peas were found in a tomb in Egypt. These peas were purported to be over 2000 years old. The article went on to say the man had planted the peas to see if they would grow, which they did, and the peas produced were exactly like the peas found in the tomb. If true, it is a remarkable story and illus­trates some truths about spiri­tual seed.

Jesus spoke a parable about seed. He told of a man sowing seed in different kinds of ground. Some of it bore fruit and some did not bear fruit. It bore fruit when the ground was good. He explained what the seed represented, “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). He also explained what the different kinds of ground represented. Of the good ground He said, “these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance” (Luke 8:15).

Today there are many kinds of religious beliefs, all going by the name of “Christian.” When we see different kinds of plants, we know they grew from different kinds of seed. When there are different beliefs people should know that they are the result of different teachings. The right seed is the Word of God, the Bible. Any teach­ing that is not found in the Bible is the wrong seed and will produce the wrong fruit.

Seed produces after it’s kind

What fruit will the true seed produce when people take it into their hearts? It will produce Christians. It will make people believers in God and His Son Jesus Christ. It will cause them to love God and follow His teaching in His Word. If people follow God’s Word only, they will be Christians only, just like the first Christians.

Christians are people who have been born again. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). By what seed is he born? We find the answer in 1 Peter 1:23, “you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable…”

The fruit of the true seed is also the church. When one person receives the Word in faith and obe­dience, he becomes a Christian. When others do the same thing, they also are Christians, and the group of Christians is a church. A church is just a group of Christians who worship and serve God together. God gives instructions to the church in His Word. He describes how a church is to be organized, how Christians are to worship, to live, and to tell others about Christ. The way the apostles organized the churches they established is the way God wanted them to be organized. This is true because the apostles were God’s messengers and were inspired by His Spirit in them.

Paul’s warning

Paul warned that other seed would be planted and would pro­duce the wrong fruit. He said to the elders of the church at Ephesus, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31). The words Jesus spoke when He was here on earth were His words. When He went back to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide His apostles and others in teaching. What the Holy Spirit gave them to teach was Christ’s Word also. When He promised to send the Spirit He said, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:14-15).

Let us take into our hearts the pure Word of God. Let us con­tinue in that Word, learning it and following it. Never accept teach­ings that are not found there. In that way we will be faithful disciples, and the final fruit will be eternal life in the glory of God with all the redeemed.

Judge With Righteous Judgment

Use righteous judgment

In Genesis 1 we are told God made man in His image. Included would be the ability to reach a conclusion from observable evidences. The ability to reason manifests itself every time we make a judgment about a person or thing. Therefore, with this ability comes grave responsibility. It is such a serious a responsibility that there are admonitions in scripture warning us about how to judge.

A Warning

For instance, Jesus warns, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Jesus’ statement implies that mankind will make judgments from time to time.

The acceptability of an action or thing to God (is it righteous) is to be the basis of these judgments. Peter and John challenged the Sanhedrin of their day to judge if it was right to obey God rather than man (Acts 4:19). Paul asked the Corinthian brethren the rhetorical question, “Do you not judge those who are within the church?” (1 Corinthians 5:12). He then instructs Christians not to go to law against one another but to let brethren judge in any legal dispute that may arise (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). In 1 Corinthians 10:15 Paul continues by saying, “I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say.” Then he charges the brethren to judge whether it is proper for a Christian woman to pray to God unveiled (1 Corinthians 11:13). As we look to these many admonitions to “judge,” it is undeniable that men can and do, in fact must, make judgments. Therefore, those who would be righteous must judge with righteous judgment.

Wait until all evidence is in

When Jesus said that we are not to judge according to appearance, He was warning us not to make judgments before we have understood all the evidence. Paul makes this point concerning his own stewardship as an apostle of the Lord. In first Corinthians chapter four, he encourages them to accept him as a steward of the mysteries of God (vs. 1). He then says a steward must be found faithful (vs. 2). Next, he addresses the possibility man’s judgment can be faulty by saying, “But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord” (vvs. 3-4). Paul knew judgment without understanding could be faulty, hence his statement about man’s judgment. His own judgment of his stewardship did not justify (declare him righteous). Only the Lord can justify. The reason man’s judgment may be faulty is because of his propensity for prejudice (Proverbs 24:23).

Paul concludes the thought by saying, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God” (vs. 5). The way righteous judgments are made is by considering the evidence as Paul illustrates with the judgment of the Lord.

The Biblical Worldview

What is your view of the world? Each person has a worldview. This implies these views are both personal and that there are many different worldviews. While they are conceivable and likeable, it does not mean that all worldviews are credible and rational. Because of this, worldviews contradict each other.

How do we define a worldview? It is the way in which we see the world and all things in it. It is the way we try to fit all things together as we interpret and judge reality. In other words, our worldview is how we make sense of the world in which we live.

The Biblical Worldview:

To understand the Bible and life, we must place it within the sphere of the biblical worldview. In 1 Corinthians 1:17-31, we find what might be considered God’s (biblical) worldview. And it gives us the answer to the clash of cultures. The theme of this text is God’s Wisdom vs. Man’s Wisdom. The Bible presents God’s worldview as the only authoritative one.

God’s Creation of Man:

To speak of God creating man “in His image” (Gen. 1:26) involves the totality of man—the moral, mental, emotional, physical, relational aspects of life, etc. (cf. Matt. 22:37-40). When God created man, He gave man various responsibilities which are all relational. First, God gave man the responsibility of dominion over the physical world and all things therein (Gen. 1:26-2:15). Second, God gave man the responsibility of honoring, obeying, and serving Him with promise of reward and punishment depending on our actions (Gen. 2:16-17). Third, God gave man the responsibility, of embracing the relationships, formed within the biblical worldview beginning with man’s relationship in the home and marriage which are foundational to society.

The Role of Man’s Free Will:

Responsibility implies free will; meaning man can choose to obey or choose to disobey God. The biblical worldview reveals the sad story of man exercising his free will resulting in sin. The result of man’s disobedience to God resulted in the first secular worldview. As Genesis 3 closes there exists two worldviews—God’s and man’s. As time progressed and man continued to reject God’s biblical worldview, man developed various competing and contradictory secular worldviews. These secular worldviews continue to compete and conflict with God’s biblical worldview. Some secular world views are:

  • Atheism: the philosophy that denies the existence of God. It is truly a belief of unbelief.
  • Agnosticism: the philosophy that enough evidence does not exist to know if God exists or does not exist; such as, God may exist, or God may not exist. We cannot determine which.
  • Darwinism: the philosophy that all things have their origin from the development of biological life resulting from a one-celled organism. In this development of life, to some Darwinian philosophers, man just happened to be the highest form of evolution which currently continues to work.
  • Determinism: the philosophy that all events, including human choices, are determined by previous causes.
  • Empiricism: the philosophy that all of man’s knowledge comes from his senses; therefore, we can only know things by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.
  • Existentialism: the philosophy that all truth is subjective and individualistic and is not universal, objective, and absolute.
  • Humanism: the philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively. Thus critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) are preferred over acceptance of dogma or superstition.

It is easy to understand why and how these secular worldviews conflict with God’s biblical worldview. Yet, we must always understand, God’s view is right!

Will Your Anchor Hold?

“Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
when the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
will your anchor drift, or firm remain?”

This is the opening stanza of the hymn “We Have an Anchor.” It is found in most songbooks that religious organizations use.

This question, “Will your anchor hold” is asked metaphorically to describe one’s life.  We have all used various metaphors on occasion to describe some aspect of ours or someone else’s life. So, when asked if your anchor will hold, we understand it is not a tangible (or actual) device. An anchor is defined as: “a device usually of metal attached to a ship or boat by a cable and cast overboard to hold it in a particular place by means of a fluke that digs into the bottom” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)When this question is asked, we should look to see what it is that fulfills the deeper meaning of the anchor.

Security and stability

What is it that provides the needed “security”, “stability”, and grounding one needs spiritually? The answer to this question should be easy, but too many seem to fail to be properly “anchored”. Hope in God’s Word of course is the answer. The apostle Paul makes that very clear when he said, “If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister” (Colossians 1:23).

However, many seek their hope from other sources. Obviously the things of the world cannot provide the stability needed, nor the promise of life beyond this one because, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). Thus, the physical things of the world will be destroyed when the trumpet sounds. And in 1 Corinthians 3:19, Paul writes that even the intangible things of this world are ineffective as an anchor for the soul. The world’s wisdom will also be destroyed with the world.

What is this anchor?

The Word of God is that in which we are to be anchored. “‘BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.’ And this is the word which was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:25).  So, having having established in what we are to be anchored, let’s make certain we understand each of us have responsibility in this. 

Considering the Word is sure, steadfast and unfailing, if our anchor does not hold, who’s fault is it? It would stand to reason it has to be ours. If we are in a boat, and toss the anchor out on smooth solid rock, it won’t catch, let alone hold. That’s why it is so important to be anchored in the gospel, the Word of God. Once we place our anchor in the Word of God, the only one that can release it is us!  

How an anchor works

Having spent some time fishing on Lake Cachuma and having to hold the boat in place, I know the anchor rope must become slack in order to release the anchor. If the boat maintains the tautness on the anchor (and it is properly seated), the anchor will not release. Now, apply this spiritually and we should see that we must maintain the proper tightness on the anchor, that which keeps us properly moored or connected to God. When we become slack or fail to do as we should, we allow our anchor to slip. Then we begin to drift just as a vessel on the water does. This could be devastating. And from a spiritual standpoint, it is eternally disastrous. Perhaps this is the reason we have so many passages warning Christians to hold fast, or to stand fast. Is this not what a properly engaged anchor does, hold fast?  

In Philippians 1:27, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so…I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” The same applies to us. We see this same idea directed toward the brethren in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 16:13. The point of what Paul is saying is that if they stand fast in the faith, they can remain strong. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 3:8 tells us we are “alive” (spiritually) if we stand fast in Christ.

Leaders must have stability

The elders (bishops) are also to have the characteristic of “stability” as they “hold fast” the Word of God. Titus 1:9 tells us this and tells us how the elders (and all others) can defend the Word of God if they hold it fast. And then we see those Christians of Jewish descent being exhorted to remain anchored in their profession in Hebrews 10:23 . We could site many more places, but these should be enough to show that we have full control of our stability.

“Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?” Don’t become slack and let your anchor drift. Seek the strength and stability in His Word.