The parables of Matthew thirteen reveal to us some of the grandest endtime truths Jesus ever uttered. Truths for our day. Our Lord chronicles for us certain events of the church age by using veiled language; i.e., a sower sowing seed, a mustard seed, leaven in a loaf, treasure hid in a field, pearl of great price, the dragnet, and a scribe. Read part one on the Parables of Matthew Thirteen here, part two here, and part three here.
The Mustard Seed (verses 31-32)
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches.”
Again, we need to identify. Christianity is the “least of all seeds,” flourishing during the first century with its simple message of love and community.
That message flourished in the midst of Rome, the political capital of the world; it grew in the middle of Athens, the intellectual capital; in the middle of Corinth, the occult capital; and it grew in the middle of Jerusalem, the religious capital. The message had taken root—until the herb mutated into a tree with birds in it.
In other words, Christianity became something it was not intended. There was a mutation. Herbs don’t become trees! Mutated Christianity became Christendom with all its branches, with all its denominations “shooting out great branches” (Mark 4:32). A thing God never intended. The Reformation was a mutation of the real thing. A mutation is not all bad but not all good. It’s a mixture of both good and bad. And so was the Reformation.
What’s the nature of a mutation? When a flower mutates, some of the original is still present but much is lost. And that describes the Reformation movement. Much was lost. I like the way James Rutz says it,
“The ‘priesthood of the believer,’ the central goal of the Reformation, has been restored only theologically, not practically. It still exists mainly on paper. In very important ways, our churches remain closed to laymen.”
Some Success and Some Failure
The Reformation was two-thirds successful. It restored the Word of God but not the work of God. It gave us back salvation by grace and justification by faith but failed to return the priesthood to the believers.
I’m about to say something, and it’s a Big Deal with God: The clergy/laity distinction (which doctrine Jesus hates, Rev.2: 6,15) is primarily the fruit of the Reformation. The results? Five hundred years, or more, of spectator Christianity.
The “branches” in this parable are denominations and “birds” are doctrines of religious demons (Rev.18:2). Sectarian spirits are sitting on the branches. Have you ever pondered—wondered why denominational churches almost supernaturally can’t, or don’t, get along with other churches? Here’s why—it’s next to impossible for God’s children to get along when religious demons are postured in their branches.
Doctrines of demons (a very unpopular topic) for the most part, keep God’s children polarized by keeping them incensed with a fixation on doctrinal differences. That fixation, I submit, is supernatural from the dark side. Stop and think. What if you were a non-Christian driving down the street one Sunday morning and saw all those church buildings. Talk about giving out the wrong signals. The city I live in has over 1,000 church buildings, some of them no more than a hundred feet apart.
What’s the message we Christians are sending to our nonbelieving friends? We can’t even get along. We Christians call it plurality of expression and freedom of worship. I think God calls it carnality (I Cor.3:3).
I’m describing the fruit of the Reformation.
Today we have over twenty-three hundred denominations, each with its own distinguishable doctrines, the logical offspring of the Reformation. Again, I know this is not a popular subject. Religious demons never are. The thing about doctrines of demons is they’re so darn religious! So difficult to get rid of. So “lodged” in our sectarian branches. The Lord certainly chose the right word—lodged. When a thing “lodges,” it sticks! The sectarian spirit has stuck with us for over two hundred years. One of the most difficult issues to deal with in the Body of Christ.
We need to remind ourselves, the Bible teaches unity of the faith, not conformity of convictions. The devil teaches conformity. God teaches unity. We tend to forget, fellowship is based upon His Lordship, not creedal agreement. All who confess Jesus as Lord are my brothers and sisters regardless of creed, class or color (Matt.16:16). I like to put it this way—If Jesus is the Lord of your heart and life and He’s the Lord of my heart and life, we’re family! You’re my brother. My sister.
The seed has now progressed from representing the heart of a man to the heart of men to the heart of a movement. The Reformation movement was a mutation of first century Christianity.
Let’s move on . . .
Parables of Matthew Thirteen Part one:
Parables of Matthew Thirteen Part two: