The King and His Kingdom - The Goal is Maturity
© 2022 Philip M Spence
Jesus instructed His disciples that on their way through life they were to promote the Kingdom of God through what they said, and what they did. They were to boldly proclaim the same gospel as Jesus and John the Baptist and perform supernatural signs that would demonstrate the authority and power of the King of this Kingdom (Matthew 10:7-8).
The first and most important aspect to life in the Kingdom is that it is not a set of religious functions, but a lifestyle that reflects the Kingdom of Heaven on Planet Earth. As we become who He has called us to be in this Kingdom, our lifestyle will reflect the values and culture of the Kingdom. As we go about fulfilling this Kingdom lifestyle, certain things will be evident.
Firstly, we will have a message inside us that has to get out of us. The good news that the Kingdom of Heaven has come, it is continuing to come into effect, and will come in its completeness, cannot be locked up. Kingdom people will passionately and persuasively talk about this message wherever they go.
Secondly, Jesus promised that where we proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, He will respond with supernatural acts which will attest to the truth of what we say (Mark 16:20). We are not only called to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom; we are to demonstrate the authority and power of the Kingdom through supernatural acts.
Supernatural outcomes follow the lives of Kingdom people (Mark 16:17-18). Wherever we go, the authority of the King should be evident by demons trembling and being cast out, and the dead being raised. The power of the King should be evident in healings and other miraculous occurrences.
As people of the Kingdom, we are not called to follow or idolise people who perform miracles. We are also not called to follow those who operate ‘spiritual gifts’. We are ourselves, as believers, called to function in the authority and power of God, and do miracles wherever we go.
Interestingly Jesus talked about the kind of people who keep on looking for signs and wonders. He declared that those who are fixated on these things are adulterous, or apostate, and cause damage to the Kingdom: His assertion, not mine (Matthew 12:39).
If Christians primarily go to meetings where gifts are operating, and miracles are happening, rather than having signs and wonders follow their own lives, this points to an immaturity which can cause Kingdom advancement to become stagnant, because we are not to just seek signs.
I believe the world is looking for believers who will represent the King and His Kingdom, in the way Jesus always intended, as they go about their daily lives in the marketplace. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrew believers exhorted them to not remain at a foundational level in their understanding, or in their Kingdom lifestyle and ministry (Hebrews 6:1-3). His encouragement to them was to maintain the foundations, but to move forward beyond them to a more mature position and function.
Five-fold ministries should not keep laying the same foundation repeatedly in the lives of believers who need to grow and mature. Obviously, we must lay the same foundation in the lives of new believers, but then we must lead them on to maturity.
There are many ideas regarding what maturity is in the Kingdom of God. I am not going to discuss them here, but this leads me to the parable of the sower, which Jesus told to a huge crowd that gathered at the seaside to hear Him speak (Matthew 13:3-9).
The story goes something like this: A farmer went out to plant seed in his field. It seems he was indiscriminate in his sowing because his seed landed in varying environments. Some of the seed ended up beyond the border of his field, on the roadway, and hungry birds took advantage of seed that was so easily available.
Some of his seed fell on rocky ground where there was not much soil. Perhaps he had not cleared his field effectively, or maybe this was the environment around the fringe of his field. This seed seemed to have steroids added, as it sprouted quickly. However, when the sun came up, these plants withered as quickly as they had sprouted.
Still other seed landed amongst weeds and thorny bushes. Weeds often seem to do better than the things we plant for a purpose. The weeds and thorny bushes crowded the seed the farmer had planted. Even if he tried to harvest the ears of the plants here, he would have to separate the plants. Also, he would have been severely hampered by the thorns.
Finally, some seed landed where it was supposed to, in the well cultivated soil of the field. It took root in the soil, sprouted, grew to maturity, and produced a wonderful harvest. Jesus finished the story with a statement He used frequently, and which the Apostle John repeated several times. He said that if we have ears that can hear, we need to come to an understanding of what He was saying in this parable (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29, and 3: 6, 13, & 22).
Though the principles found in this story can apply to evangelism, this is not an evangelism parable. Jesus was addressing a crowd of Jews, religious people, who had seen the miracles He did, heard Him teach with great authority, and were hungry for more. Nor is this parable primarily about the state of a person’s heart when the Word of God is shared with them. It is far more than that. We are not the only ones to have misunderstood this parable. Jesus’ disciples expressed concern that the crowd would not understand His message if He continued to teach them using parables.
In reality, it was Jesus’ own disciples who didn’t yet understand what Jesus was saying. They were still to go on to maturity. His disciples responded to this parable of the sower and the seed by asking Jesus why he spoke to the crowds using parables. Jesus replied that His disciples, who were to become His apostles and lead the advancement of the Kingdom across the globe, needed to understand the hidden and mysterious aspects of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:10-17).
However, the crowd was full of people who had not yet received the ability to comprehend the message and the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven here on Planet Earth. Their hearts and minds were closed to the understanding of these things, so Jesus did not explain the parable to them. It was not their time yet.
Jesus then explained what the parable of the sower meant for His close disciples who were to become His apostles. His purpose was to give His close disciples the opportunity to comprehend the message and the mysteries of the Kingdom so that they could mature into those who could spearhead the advancement and establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on Planet Earth.
Interestingly, as a prelude to His explanation of this parable, Jesus gave His disciples the keys to conversion and entrance into the Kingdom of God. His list looks like a sequence of events, or a group of essentials, that produce the conversion outcome and maturity in the Kingdom of God.
He said that people need eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts that comprehend the things of the Kingdom. Then they could be converted and made whole. Without eyes that can see and ears that can hear, there is no ability to comprehend the things of the Kingdom. The extent to which we understand the message, and the mysteries, of the Kingdom determines the level of our maturity in the Kingdom of Heaven here on Planet Earth.
Next Jesus goes on to encourage His disciples to listen to His explanation of what the parable of the sower means. This was their opportunity to comprehend the truth hidden within the parable, and by so doing they would increase in maturity (Matthew 13:18-23).
The first aspect of the story explained by Jesus concerns the opposite to having comprehension. He talked about people being in a state where nothing could penetrate their hearts. He described it as when anyone hears the message about the Kingdom and does not understand it, and then the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart.
This is the seed sown along the pathway outside or alongside the paddock. This was the soil that had not been prepared to receive seed. It had not been tilled or ploughed. In fact, this environment has been deliberately packed hard so that it cannot receive understanding. Worse than that, the seed would sit on the surface and be stolen or lost.
This is the state of heart and mind described by Paul the Apostle when he talked about smashing down impenetrable places in our minds, dismantling the web of preconceptions that defy comprehension, and destroying everything that stands in the way of fully understanding the message and the mysteries of the Kingdom.
This action is essential so that people can come to maturity in the Kingdom of Heaven here on Planet Earth (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). If the message of the Kingdom cannot penetrate the heart and mind of a person, there can be no growth toward maturity in the Kingdom of God. Instead, there is the potential that this person could put their hands to the plough but end up turning back and becoming ineligible for the Kingdom of Heaven here on Planet Earth (Luke 9:62).
They may begin to build, but find they are not able to finish, or they can go to war only to find they become overwhelmed by a greater force. To grow toward maturity, people must have a change of heart so that the message of the Kingdom can penetrate and bring change.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 1974 Cyclone Tracy crossed the northern coast of Australia and devastated Darwin, Australia’s most northern city. It was a category five cyclone with winds up to 240 kilometres per hour. Seventy-one people died, and seventy percent of the city was destroyed. Eighty-seven percent of the population were left homeless and had to be relocated to other cities, many as far away as Adelaide.
In the aftermath and the rebuilding of the city, Australian building codes were changed, and new measures introduced to ensure that houses would no longer disintegrate in such extreme storm conditions and other natural events.
However, it was discovered in future disaster events that these measures were only truly effective if the foundations could also withstand the onslaught of the high winds. There were events where many homes remained intact but were ripped out of the ground with the stumps and the concrete foundations attached, leaving the house on its side and still completely intact.
Jesus addressed this principle in this parable. He said that the seed falling on rocky ground refers to people who hear the word and immediately embrace it with enthusiasm. But since the seed is not able to take root in their lives because of the rocky state of the soil, they last only a short time.
When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word, they get uprooted and quickly fall away. There was nothing wrong with the seed, but if the person’s foundation is inadequate, or not appropriately constructed to withstand the storms of life, the seed cannot remain strong and grow in their lives. Jesus taught that once the message of the Kingdom has penetrated a heart, it then must become the foundation of that life.
The purpose of a foundation is to undergird a building. No one builds a foundation for its own sake, but to go on and build a structure on top of it. The extent of the foundation is determined by the size of the structure that has been envisioned, and the size of structure that can be built is determined by the foundation that has been laid.
The third phase of Jesus’ parable deals with seeing the obstacles to Kingdom progress and growth, and removing them. This requires insight and discernment which are hallmarks of a mature Kingdom person. Jesus said that the seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of leisure and pleasure choke the Word, making it unfruitful. In fact, the reality of what Jesus describes leads to a life entangled with the things of this world. This entanglement robs us of Kingdom maturity.
In the Kingdom of Heaven on Planet Earth we are to be focussed on honouring the King and advancing His Kingdom. This is an upward, outward, and forward perspective which is essential to maturity in the Kingdom. Without a progressive, prophetic vision people will be self-focussed, self-consumed, and ultimately become self-destructive. This statement is about what we are focussed on; what fills our gaze; and what we see as important to our lives (Proverbs 29:18).
Jesus was emphatic about the message of the Kingdom being the primary focus, in fact the only focus, of the lives of those in His Kingdom. If our vision is firmly fixed on fully understanding the message and the mysteries of the Kingdom, we will grow in maturity.
A mature crop means a bumper harvest. A mature crop means great fruitfulness. A mature crop also means receiving and understanding the message of the Kingdom, our foundation being built on that message, and our lives manifesting the attributes of the Kingdom in a way that influences others everywhere we go.
Jesus told His disciples that the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the person who goes on to produce a crop that yields a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.
Maturity in the Kingdom of God is not about church attendance or service. It is also not about how much of the Bible we have memorised, or what position we might have in the church or denomination. Maturity in the Kingdom of God is demonstrated by the application and implementation of the revelation we have been given, and the resulting outcomes.
This is shown in the original mandate given to mankind by the creator. His destiny for the highest of His creation was for them to be fruitful and multiply until they occupy the earth and rule it (Genesis 1:28). It is also seen in Jesus’ response to a fig tree that was not bearing fruit. He cursed it and it died because a fruit tree is supposed to bear fruit (Mark 11:12-14 and 20-22). In fact, in the New Covenant of the Kingdom of God we are to be people of the Holy Spirit in whom the fruit of the Spirit are evident (Galatians 5:22-23).
The world we live in is tired of organised religion in all its forms. People have become jaded with hypocrisy and religiosity that is not real or relevant. The people of our time will not abide legalism or judgmentalism.
All around us are those who have abandoned what our forefathers stood for and have opted for alternate ideologies and lifestyles. God has not been taken by surprise throughout this transition. He has foreseen it and is using the current shifts to raise up a generation of Kingdom people who are passionate about following their King and being like Him.
May your Kingdom come, and your will be done!!
The above is an excerpt from the book The King and His Kingdom. To download your copy, go to Amazon.com or click the button below: