Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
October 19, 2014
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”
— Matthew 13:31-35, ESV
Let’s take over the world, just me and you and a few others. Why not? I think we can make it a better place. Others have tried, and some are trying now, but if you ask me they are making a mess of it. So, let’s go, let’s take over the world.
Jesus has promised that we can do it; or, better stated, He can do it, and we get to be involved. The first two parables in Matthew 13 beg the question, “Are you in the kingdom of God?” The next two ask, “Is the kingdom of God in you?” If so, then you are part and parcel of the greatest, fastest growing, longest lasting, and most powerful movement in the history of mankind. It will not be stopped until Christ and Christians take over the world as we know it, and as we have yet to know it.
A “mustard seed” and “leaven” are things “hidden” that become visible, powerful, and create exponential growth. A mustard seed in the hand is hardly visible, then when planted in the ground becomes absolutely invisible, yet it can produce a tree ten-feet tall. A little leaven can hardly be seen, when weaved into dough it cannot be seen, yet it rises to fill a pan, an oven, or a hungry stomach. What is invisible becomes visible. What is hardly noticed rises to dominate space and time.
So it is with the kingdom of God. No one noticed it at first, and most people hardly notice it now. It has been ignored, maligned, persecuted, infiltrated with impostors, marginalized, and criticized for two millennium. But one day, the kingdom of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His followers, will take over this present and future world.
Here is how it works:
Jesus Christ Takes Over Your Soul
Contrary to the claims of false gospels and human nature, your soul cannot be saved by works. Works are things you can see, do, and boast about. Salvation first comes invisibly, then visibly, and then still, eternally.
You cannot see grace. It is invisible, yet irresistible when planted in the human heart. Once inside, it regenerates and begins to grow exponentially. It sprouts repentance and faith, grace gifts from God. It spreads through the mind, enabling a human being to understand and apply the gospel and the word of God. It captivates the heart, making it spiritually alive, and the desires and decrees of God become love and obedience in the man or woman of God. It transforms the will, God’s will becoming our will, and though a struggle ensues that lasts all throughout this lifetime, greater is the new nature wrought by a mustard seed of grace than the sinful nature that is in the world (ref. 1 John 4:4). As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (ref. Philippians 1:6).
Is the kingdom of God in you? The mustard seed and the leaven is like the kingdom of God. If it is in you, if Christ the King is savingly in your life, then you are growing. Grace cannot stand still. Faith without works is dead (ref. James 1:21). God’s work in salvation, a grace you cannot see, produces good works in the life of a true believer that you can see. Granted, growth is different in different believers, and the harvesting of the fruit of the Spirit varies, but if Jesus Christ has taken over your soul it should be plain to you and to others around you that you are in the kingdom of God and the kingdom of God is in you.
And if through invisible and irresistible grace Christ has captured your soul, then He has also assigned you a place and position in the visible expression of the kingdom of God, the New Testament church.
Jesus Christ Takes Over His Church
Contrary to the claims of other religions, the Christian church is the only place to visibly unite with the invisible kingdom of God. And since the church is related in that way to the kingdom of God, it is like the mustard seed and the leaven. It starts insignificantly, then becomes the biggest gathering of people the best expression of the body of Christ on earth. Set into motion by Christ Himself, the church cannot and will not be stopped until it spreads all over the world and eventually takes over by the presence and power of the Lord Jesus Christ (ref. Matthew 16:18).
We often consider all of the problems with the church, and admittedly there are many. But let us consider today the progress of the church. She was started by one man, the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Almost no one believed Him when He began His relatively brief, three-year itinerate ministry. He had only twelve apprentices, and one of them was a hypocrite intentionally chosen to further His purposes. He wound up being killed by a religious and government conspiracy, and when He died His followers, His early church, numbered about 120.
That was two thousand years ago, a drop of time in the eternal scheme of things. Today, in spite of our differences, divisions, and often detrimental behavior, the church is composed of about two billion visible members. I know not every one of them possesses saving grace, but what started out as one man claiming to be the Messiah has grown exponentially into, by far, the world’s largest religious faith. For two thousand years we have influenced governments for good, cared for human bodies in need, gathered for worship on every continent and in virtually every country, and together the communion of Christ proclaims the most important message in the world, the gospel, and will not stop until the end of the world, when Jesus Christ Himself will rule not only in the church, but in the whole wide world.
Are we in the kingdom of God? Is the kingdom of God in us? Are we visibly Christ’s church, recognizing Him as our Head and ministering His grace and law through His word and Spirit? Then we are part of a people and a movement that cannot and will not be stopped, until Christ comes again to take over this entire world.
Jesus Christ Takes Over the World
Contrary to historic world powers, this world cannot be won by war. War is too big, too loud, too proud. Ancient empires, like Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, have tried and failed. World Wars have been fought but never completely won, for tyranny and poverty can never be absolutely annihilated by an army. Neither British or American imperialism, with all of its noble pursuits, nor Islamic or ISIS terrorism, with all of its bloodthirsty tactics, will ever achieve total dominance over the world as we know it. Man cannot take over the world.
But the Son of Man can, and the Lord Jesus Christ will. Furthermore, Christ will conquer by peace first, then one final war. Peace comes first, and peace first came as the Prince of Peace. He was alone in a manger, and thirty years later launched, alone, a seemingly insignificance pubic ministry, about the size of a mustard seed or grain of yeast. But at the end of the day, the day of the return of Christ, He and His people will take over the world. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is King, and the kingdoms of this world will become exclusively and totally His (ref. Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:5-11; Revelation 11:5).
It begins small and grows slow, like a mustard seed or a little leaven. It provides shade from the heat of judgment and food for the soul, like trees and bread. It fills, first the soul, then the church, and ultimately the world. And only those who know the kingdom of God is in them can enjoy the blessings and benefits of the kingdom of God on earth. Are you in the kingdom of God? Is the kingdom of God in you? Then come on, let’s take over the world, graciously and peacefully, one soul at a time.