“Bless the LORD,” pens the songwriter, “and forget not all His benefits” (Ps. 103:2). Praise Him as you count the many blessings that come from being His. That verse comes to mind as I hover over a well-known, well-worn, perhaps too often forgotten story of Jesus recorded in Luke’s gospel.
For, among all the blessings that come with our salvation–our sins put away as far as the east is from the west; our lives rescued from the pit; our spiritual thirst satisfied; our eyes open to the wonders of a God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love . . . and the list goes on (Ps. 103:3-12)–this morning, I’m reminded of another perk freely given to those who have been redeemed of God.
“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God”
(Luke 8:10a ESV)
You! Believer! Child of God! You have been granted insight into God’s kingdom (MSG). You can know how it works. That’s what Jesus told His disciples.
Talk about your insider knowledge! The hidden mysteries of God’s reign–the invisible, behind the scenes story of His active agency both in heaven and on earth–available to every follower of Jesus, to those who have “ears to hear” (8:8b).
Come on, people! Shouldn’t that rank among the top of our “forget not all His benefits” list? I’m thinkin’ . . .
And what’s secret number one? What’s the first story Jesus tells? It’s this, bearing fruit comes from planting seed.
What? That’s it? That’s the big secret of the kingdom of God? Duh! Of course, you can’t bear fruit apart from planting seed. That’s not a secret of the kingdom that’s Agriculture 101.
Hold on. The mystery is not that fruit comes from seed. The kingdom secret, the wonderful heavenly reality, the mysterious dynamic at work is found in the nature of the seed that bears supernatural fruit.
“The seed is the word of God.”
(Luke 8:11 ESV)
I know. Well known. Well worn. Perhaps easily taken for granted or simply forgotten. But that doesn’t change the fact of the matter. That bearing fruit in the kingdom of God is sourced in the word of God.
I don’t care what kind of fruit were talking about: the fruit of righteousness; the fruit of love, joy, and peace; the fruit of godly character; the fruit of good works; the fruit of souls saved and disciples made; the fruit of understanding other mysteries about the kingdom; it all starts with the planting of seed. And the seed is the word of God. And that’s a secret of the kingdom of God.
What’s more, the secret is that the seed needs to find root in the heart in order to produce fruit. The heart is the soil for the seed. That’s why the devil, who loathes the bearing of kingdom fruit, will work relentlessly to take away the word from people’s hearts (8:12).
But the heart needs to be soft and fertilized continually with faith in order for the seed to put down deep roots. Where the heart becomes hard, and belief is absent, times of testing will invariably result in falling way (8:13).
And don’t even get me started on the tragedy of good seed, planted in good soil, putting down good roots, starting to bear good fruit, then being choked out by the weeds and thistles and thorns of the “cares and riches and pleasures of life” (8:14).
So that’s the mystery, the secret of God’s supernatural reign which has come, is still coming, and is yet to come: the seed of the word, when allowed to be planted in soft hearts, fertilized through faith, and focused on seeking first the kingdom of God, when that happens, the seed bears fruit. The full potential of new life in Christ is realized. Life and life to the full is experienced.
Well known story. Well worn. But let us not take it for granted. Nor let us become complacent about the wonder of how God has determined to use His word in His kingdom.
Word of God speak. Sow the seed of the kingdom in hearts prepared by Your Spirit and made ready through faith. That we might bear fruit for the kingdom.
By Your grace. For Your glory.