Sunday, October 22, 2006

Salvation is so much more than personal

Salvation is so much more than personal
The Story of the Seeds
Luke 8: 4-8As they went from town to town, a lot of people joined in and traveled along. He addressed them, using this story: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. Some of it fell on the road; it was tramped down and the birds ate it. Other seed fell in the gravel; it sprouted, but withered because it didn't have good roots. Other seed fell in the weeds; the weeds grew with it and strangled it. Other seed fell in rich earth and produced a bumper crop.
"Are you listening to this? Really listening?"
9His disciples asked, "Why did you tell this story?"
10He said, "You've been given insight into God's kingdom—you know how it works. There are others who need stories. But even with stories some of them aren't going to get it: Their eyes are open but don't see a thing, Their ears are open but don't hear a thing.
11-12"This story is about some of those people. The seed is the Word of God. The seeds on the road are those who hear the Word, but no sooner do they hear it than the Devil snatches it from them so they won't believe and be saved.
13"The seeds in the gravel are those who hear with enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm doesn't go very deep. It's only another fad, and the moment there's trouble it's gone.
14"And the seed that fell in the weeds—well, these are the ones who hear, but then the seed is crowded out and nothing comes of it as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money, and having fun.
15"But the seed in the good earth—these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there's a harvest.
(The Message)

I have often read, taught and heard sermons from this story and passage. It is also in Matthew 13 and Mark 4 with slight variance. It is interesting to note that most often it is used in evangelism. I do not see anything to the contrary, yet I have been seeing more than that in this passage. Really this is not just about personal salvation, but as the passage states; “insight into God's kingdom”. This means of course this is much bigger than ones own personal salvation. This holds in it the revelational relationship we hold as we are immersed and become literally part of the Body of Christ collectively. Meaning we are saved on a personal level, yet end welled with the deity of the Creator. We are not “deity” in that we become God, rather we are brought into a much bigger picture of the fullness of redemption or the salvation of all creation. We are in fact part of the “mystery” of God. Again, this is very personal, yet so much more than just about me… It calls into play the “New Creation” or rather as N.T Wright states in a lecture on “Jesus and the Kingdom of God” at the Salt and Light Leaders Conference in the Greek reads in 2 Cor 5: 17. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!. Notice that it is not “a new creation” but simply “new creation” which implies much more than being just about my own personal salvation.

Romans 8: 16 - 23. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. NIV

Notice as the sons of God are revealed, creation will be brought out of subjection of death and decay, and brought to freedom of the children of God. In other words as we are revealed as to who we really are in Christ, the world will be brought out of bondage and freed… within that story that is the mystery that is being revealed we find in 1 Cor 5 we are a part of “New Creation” and not just simply a new creation. Furthering of this thought is the idea behind the “new Heavens and New Earth. Peter touches on this in 2 Peter 3:10 – 13 as he explains how this earth and all its elements will be burned up and the ungodly will be judged at the final judgment. The story of the redemption of this creation and its being “New Creation” is summed up in Revelations chapter 21. This is “salvation” in the Bible; personal, yet so much more.

Another point is Jesus is talking to the Jews in the passage in Luke 8. These were those who claimed Abraham to be their father, and in that claim the Abrahamic covenant on themselves. That is true, yet the biggest part of that covenant is basically, “I will bless you and you will be a blessing to all the earth.”

Gen 12: 1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.
2 "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring (Or also translated seed) I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. 9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
Out of Abraham would come a nation that would be blessed to be a blessing to all the nations. And out of that nation would come a seed (Jesus) would bless the whole earth.

Paul touches on this in Galatians 3: 16. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.
“The seed is the Word of God” or rather Jesus Himself. So many times I have heard it taught to be the Bible, when in fact the passage is about Jesus being received into the hearts (the soil) of those who received the seed.

Let’s look at those who hear the Seed.

  1. The first hearer does hear, but the devil snatches it before they can receive it. Their hearts were like a cement or rocky road.

  2. The seed sown on Gravel is heard and the hearer becomes very enthusiastic. Yet, this is not the same as receiving the seed. Enthusiasm does not save one. In fact enthusiasm is often very deceptive as one can look and seem very much like that person is saved yet without the Seed planted in their heart, they are still very much lost. Enthusiasm comes in many forms. It is the difference between a fan of the sports team, and being a player. One can wear the colors, and cheer and become very excited over the success of their team, but they will never receive the salary or a player, nor say if their team wins the Superbowl, wear the Superbowl ring knowing it came from their success. (Don’t go too far with that analogy as I am not saying we must earn salvation like a football team, rather the focus is on just being an enthusiastic fan.)

  3. The next Seed falls among weeds. These weeds seem to be more of distractions in the form of people with priorities other than the Kingdom of God. “as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money, and having fun”. These weeds do not live by faith, but it seems they live just as anyone else who is without Christ in their heart. One clarification here; there is nothing wrong in having “fun” unless that is your only focus… which is the main point of this. It is the preoccupation with one’s “Self” and having no focus on others. It is often manifested in one needing to be “right” or “self righteous” and looking at others in disdain or contempt as people less than one’s self. It is placing your own desires, ambitions and righteousness over another in judgmentalism and condemning them. This is what Jesus spoke of when He said in Matt 16:6 "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

  4. The last ones of course are the ones God desires us to be. The one’s with the heart that seizes Jesus and hangs on… I prefer what the Amplified version says “But as for that [seed] in the good soil, these are [the people] who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in a just ([d]noble, virtuous) and worthy heart, and steadily bring forth fruit with patience.” The Seed will only grow in the right soil…

The Seed will only grow in the “worthy” soil… so what is this “worthy soil”?

It is the person who sees that they must seize the Kingdom… remember this is what the passage is about as Jesus stated, “You've been given insight into God's kingdom.” It is the ones who not just receive by hearing, but actively take and seize Jesus… and in doing that are changed and bear fruit. Notice it does say “with patience” so one should not expect to bear fruit overnight. Most often you will see much changed in your heart as you possess Jesus, yet believe me, that is just the beginning of the journey and not the end and completion of it. It is as we hold fast and persevere we bear fruit. Often the persevering will be in the form of struggles and even persecutions. Even so, I encourage someone who is new to the faith, that this journey is not easy… in fact it is often hard to bear… yet in those times we must trust even more in Christ. As you do that you will find that the burden then becomes lighter and easier and something in you will change. That is you character or your inner person, the New Creation… the New You in Christ.

I hope to write more soon on "New Creation"… It is a rich and wonderful promise that is not just coming but is now active.


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