Five Parables

 

    We will, the Lord willing, consider five parables  found in Matthew 13: 24-46. These parables are popularly known as, Wheat and Tares,  Mustard Seed,  Meal and Leaven, Treasure and the Field, and The Merchant Man and the Pearl.

     Before considering the parables we will say something concerning parables. Bible parables, especially those of the Lord Jesus Christ, are the choicest examples of figurative speech employed to express and enforce Divine truths. In the age and country in which Jesus appeared, parables were a common and popular method of instruction, for both parables and fables were popular among the people of the East.

     A good definition for parable is taken from ‘Fausset’s Dictionary,’  “A placing side by side or comparing earthly truths, expressed, with heavenly truths to be understood.” An earthly story with a heavenly meaning.

     In Jesus’ earlier  teaching, as the sermon on the mount, He taught plainly and generally without parables; but when His teaching was rejected, He in the latter half of His ministry judicially punished the unbelieving by parabolic veiling of the truth; “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them,”  (Matthew 13: 10-17).

Wheat and Tares

 

   “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn,”  (Matthew 13: 24-30).

     ‘The kingdom of heaven’ is the church, the good seed are ‘the children of the kingdom,’ the church, (see verse 38). He that sowed the good seed is the ‘Son of Man,’ (see verse 37). The tares are ‘the children of the wicked one,’ (see verse 38). ‘The enemy that sowed them is the devil,’ (see verse 39). The field is ’the world,’ see verse 38). However, here it is said, He sowed in ‘His field’, for His church ‘is not of this world.’ The wheat is the harvest from the good seed.

     ‘But while men slept;’  men aren’t conscious when they are asleep, and night is the normal time to sleep. In the darkness is when and where Satan does his work, he is the prince of darkness. When  not being watched is when Satan does his dirty work, subtlety and unnoticed by men. For example we presently have a movement by some Liberals to modernize Zion. The seed for these things were planted by Satan in the dark recesses of their minds, and unnoticed by men, however, the seed sprouted and grew and now the ‘true obedient servants’ of God can clearly identify the tares; they were not able to identify them until the tares brought forth their fruit.

     ‘Then appeared the tares,’ it was not until the fruit was born that the servants where able to identify the tares. The Lord of course, always knew what was wheat and what was tares, but the servants could not identify the wheat from the tares until the fruit was born. I understand the scriptures to teach that  we are allowed to be fruit judges and no more. Luke 6:44,  “For every tree is known by his own fruit.”  In John 15:4 it says. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”  So when a person is bearing good fruit we judge them to be a good tree, and when a person is bearing bad fruit we judge them to be a bad tree, and this we are allowed to do. However,  we know that at times if we were to be judged folks might say surely he is a good tree, and then at other times they might find us to be bearing evil fruit. It depends on where the fruit is coming from, when we are in the flesh our fruit is sure to be judged as evil, and when we are in the spirit the fruit is bound to be good. However, if the Spirit does not abide in us, or unless we ‘abide in the vine,’ we can not bring forth good fruit.

      It is impossible for the Natural Man to bring forth spiritual fruit, because the spirit is not in him and it is impossible for him to bear spiritual fruit. Like it says in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” So the tares could only bring forth evil fruit while the good seed brought forth good fruit. Also, it is very emphatically set forth that the tares although they looked like the wheat or good seed, they were tares of evil seed. Although the tares had similarities to  the wheat it was distinctly different, it was a tare and not wheat, and there is absolutely no way that  it could ever be changed from being a tare, any more than the wheat could be changed into a tare; the same is true with sheep and goats, there is absolutely no way to change goats into sheep and vise versa.

     ‘The servants of the householder.’  Notice! these are servants (ministers in the kingdom of heaven, the church), not angels or reapers (see verses 30, 39). The householder is their Lord, to which they inquire, “Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in ‘thy field’ (church)? From whence then hath it tares?”  He said, ‘An enemy hath done this;’ the enemy was the devil that had done this evil work. The servants (ministers) asked Him if He wanted them to go and gather up the tares. His answer was an emphatic Nay; because ‘while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. The concern was for the wheat. This work is God’s work not men’s. He shall root out the tares and not one wheat plant shall be disturbed or rooted out. It is a work that only God can do. Man is not capable of doing this work and God never sent man to do a work that he can’t do.

     In the last few years we have seen a number of tares (I’m speaking of instruments and doctrines of men here) planted in the church, ‘His field,’ by the enemy (devil) ‘while men slept;’ that is failed to see or shut their eyes so they couldn’t see. Such as a preachers training school (seminary), foreign missions, youth camps, bible schools, women’s societies,  a salaried ministry, tithing, premillennialism and no-hellism. A disregard for the work of sister churches against known adulators, heretics, and more I’m sure that doesn’t come to mind at this time. I have asked myself what can I do to root these things out of the kingdom?  My conclusion is, that there is not a single thing that I can do. I f they are rooted out God will have to do it. However, if God will bless me to do so, and this is my constant prayer, I will endeavor to keep these things out of ‘His field’ that  I endeavor to labor in. Our text tells us that God is able to root these things out and we should all pray that these troubles will be rooted out from among us. We can withdraw from them, and we should, but God has reserved the rooting up of the tares to Himself. It is not possible for man to infallibly distinguish between the tares and the wheat. We would only add to the problem, add insult to injury. We would surely harm some of the Lord’s little children as we were trying to get to and root out the tares.

     Notice! I am not saying that the men who advocate and teach these things that I listed above are reprobates, nothing will ever change their place with God, if they ever were the children of God they always will be, however, I am saying that those things that they teach are from the evil one, for such evil seed was not planted by God in ‘His Field.’ We earnestly pray that God will be merciful and lead them all to repentance and that they will return to their first love, ‘HIS FIELD,’ THE CHURCH, for Zion’s sake. This is where they all were to begin with , and they loved being there, but now they have left to serve these other gods. They have willingly deserted God’s True Church to serve the god’s of the world. They need our prayers, but I am afraid that they don’t know it.

     This is history repeating its self, many of the things that are being introduced into the church at this present time are the same things that were introduced into the church in the early eighteen- hundreds. Those churches today, that were advocating such things then, are now void of hardly any resemblance to what they were when they first left the TRUE CHURCH to establish their New Church and to follow after the same strange gods we listed above. Surely, if what the New Baptists advocated then were needed (the same as being introduced among us today) we should see a much better and more well informed people concerning bible truths now than we did then, and we should see a more Godly nation now than we did then, however, quite the opposite has occurred.

      If the Lord’s people had continued in the PRIMITIVE WAY and held to God’s doctrine and form of worship, then the scene today would be considerably better. There has never been a more revealing example given to us by our Lord to demonstrate the failure of men’s works than the failure of those who set out to improve or modernize God’s church in the split of 1832. Those who advocated change and left the vineyard of the Lord lost their place in the True Church, ‘His Field,’ and they planted a field full of nettles (tares) to leave their posterity, and we can plainly see the results of their efforts in this rebellious and evil nation today. Like boils they started out just as a red inflamed area, they grew and festered, then erupted and scabbed over, and finally like the scab, they sloughed off and fell away, however, they left their scar.

     Why should those who advocate changes today expect anything less for their efforts to change HIS CHURCH? God will do with them, as He did with those in 1832. He will withdraw from them and leave them alone in their folly with Satan. However, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever,” (Daniel 2: 44). God’s kingdom (church) is in good hands, it is in His hands, He did not leave it with men to do as they want with it. Those who have attempted to change His church will only succeed in losing their place in His church and their kingdom will be destroyed, but His Kingdom shall endure for ever. So “if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD,”  (Joshua 24: 15).

     Now when the time for the final harvest comes at the end of the world (verse 40), God will  say ‘to the reapers’ (the angels, verse 39), “Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Notice, the tares were to be gathered and ‘bound in bundles to burn,’  not necessarily to burn up, but to burn; the lot of the non-elect  is to burn eternally in Hell.  “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:  And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” (Matthew 25: 31-34). Then in Matthew 25:41,  “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

      But the wheat, ‘the good seed,’ was to be gathered into His barn. This was a special depository for the wheat, as Heaven was especially prepared before as a depository for ‘the good seed,’ the elect children of God. Every one of those elect and predestined or ‘good seed’ will be gathered into its place (Heaven), and the tares or non-elect shall be gathered together to burn in (not up) the fire. There will not be one tare in Heaven nor one wheat in Hell. The tares are gathered together to burn, but the wheat is harvested, “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice,” (Psalm 50: 5).

     This is to be done at the end of this world, verse 40. There is an end to this present world that we live in, however, there is no end of the world we shall be taken to, the eternal world, the abode of God and His saints.

 

The Parable Of The Mustard Seed

 

    “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to 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 becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof,” (Matthew 13: 31, 32).

     In keeping with the interpretation given to us by Jesus in verse 37, the field is the world, the planter of the good seed is the ‘Son of Man,’ which is Jesus. The Mustard seed, ‘the least of all seeds’ is the New Testament Church spoken of in Daniel’s prophecy, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever,” (Daniel 2: 44).

     Notice, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man (Jesus) took, and sowed in his field.’ The ‘kingdom of heaven’ and ‘His field’ are both speaking of His church. The church is the main object of the parable.

     Jesus set up His church, in its embryonic stage, with just a few poor fishermen, in the midst of Daniel’s fourth kingdom of the world (the Roman empire) this kingdom (church) has grown and spread its branches to every nation of the world and has out-lasted all the kingdoms of the past and shall still be standing when Jesus comes again, although there may be many other kingdoms rise and fall before He comes.

     ‘The birds of the air’ refer to those false teachers and their followers who seek shelter under the branches of the church, since she has grown and become more powerful in her outward appearance, and more numerous. Isaiah prophesied, “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach,” (Isaiah 4: 1).

     There are many that claim Jesus today in their profession, however, there is where it stops. They wear their own robes of works and self righteousness and seek after the doctrines of men while professing to be seeking after Jesus and His righteousness. They are hypocrites, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity,” (Matthew 23: 27-28).

     A historical example: When persecution broke out against the Church in 249 A.D. hundreds apostatized. At the end of two years when the persecutions abated, many of those who had apostatized desired to come back. Novation was an elder in the church at Rome. Cornelius was also an elder in the church at Rome. Novation opposed receiving any who had denounced the Christian faith during the persecution, and Cornelius favored receiving them. The advocates of lax discipline let the bars down and a great multitude of worldly minded people came into the Church. Thusly Cornelius became ‘The Man of Sin.’ It was from this group that the Church of Rome (Catholic) came. Cornelius and his followers were birds that sought shelter under the canopy of the church, however, when persecution came to the church, they changed their garments and followed the persecutors of the church. Elder Novation and the other followers of Jesus withdrew from Cornelius and his followers have remained separate and resisted them ever since.

 

Meal And The Leaven

 

    “Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” (Matthew 13:33).

     In this brief parable, (only 24 words) concerning the leaven in the meal, volumes could probably be written. Jesus continues here with much the same teaching as the parable of the Mustard Seed which is the ‘greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree.’  Notice!  ‘The kingdom of heaven’ or the church, the Lord’s spiritual kingdom,  is like unto leaven. Although leaven in the scriptures, for the most part, is used in the bad sense, here it is used in the good sense. However, in Leviticus 23:17 we seed leaven as good, “Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.” Which is speaking of a wave or heave (heavenly offering of thanksgiving unto the Lord), and is applicable to our lesson here. The church is the main object of this parable, the church of the first fruits.

     The woman is the same that we find in Revelation 12: 1, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” Which is speaking of the New Testament church (the church is always spoken of in the feminine gender) having the greater light when compared to the Old Testament church. Also the New Testament church, or the Apostolic church (twelve apostles, twelve stars) had a crown of twelve stars signifying that she was functioning under the authority given the apostles by her Lord. She, the New Testament church, had the moon under her feet, which speaks of the law service being subservient to the kingdom of grace. She was clothed with the sun the greater light of understanding, she no longer worshipped in types and shadows, but now with the understanding of the gospel that was given to the New Testament church.

     So we will say that the woman is speaking of the New Testament Church. The three measures of meal speaks of the Lord’s elect people, and as it is written in 1 John 5:7, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one,” in like manner we see that the three measures of meal become one loaf. The leaven is hid within. The loaf then also is symbolic, as is the woman, of the church of the First Born, of he Lord. There is only one loaf, and there is only one church. The measurements were exact (three measures) for the loaf; and the number of the saints that make up the Lord’s body, loaf, or church, were carefully and exactly numbered in the eternal covenant by the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. As the three in the Godhead are one, so the three measures of meal became one loaf, one body, symbolic of one church.

     The leaven which was hidden in the three measures of meal, after they were kneaded together, began to do its work and ultimately permeated throughout the entire loaf. We can here, symbolically, see the work of the Holy Ghost as it is hidden in the heart of God’s children in regeneration and after awhile the affects of the leaven begin to appear outwardly. The same is seen in the body of the church in her beginning with Jesus and His apostles. Like the tiny mustard seed or some leaven hidden in the meal; the church began small and somewhat insignificantly in the Roman empire, but has grown to be seen in all parts of the earth.

 

Treasure And The Field

 

    “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field,” (Matthew 13:44). Again the main object of this parable is the Church.

     Here the kingdom of heaven (the church) is likened to a treasure. Any of the Lord’s people, that He has led to His church, will understand the joy the brother of this parable experienced, because the church of Jesus Christ is a treasure of joy unspeakable to them also, worth more than anything else in this world. In fact they would rather part with all their earthly possessions, as he did, if necessary before they would give up their church. Many have given their lives (the ultimate price) for the love of their Lord and His church.

     In Matthew 13: 24 we found that “the kingdom of heaven (church) is likened unto a man which soweth good seed in his field.” That man is the Lord Jesus Christ. In 2 Corinthians 4: 7 we read,  “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” The field of the Lord’s work is in the heart of His people. The  heart is the field where He hid the treasure in the brother of our parable, and when the time was full in his life, the Lord opened his heart and understanding, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into his heart, crying, Abba, Father. It became the first day of the rest of his life. His course had been altered by God, he had been led to repentance. The things of this world suddenly became of no importance to him, before they had been everything to him, now he was ready to sell all to obtain and pursue this very particular field. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” (Matthew 6: 21).

     He hid his treasure, however, like the leaven this treasure can’t be hidden very long. Perhaps he knew of no other he could share it with at first. Although he cherished the treasure so much, it would mean little to him unless he could find others to share the joy of his treasure. However, our parable tells us that the treasure that he found was the kingdom of heaven and all of its amenities, and it can’t be hidden. Wouldn’t this be a waste howling wilderness to us all without the treasure hid in the field, the church (the world can’t see it)?

 

   The Merchant Man And The Pearl

 

   “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it,” (Matthew 13: 45, 46). Again the church is the main object of this parable.

     The kingdom of heaven (church) here  is said to be like unto a merchant man seeking goodly pearls. This parable is much like the one we have just dealt with, however it has something for us that the other didn’t or the Lord wouldn’t have given it to us.

     The kingdom of heaven (Church) is of Jesus Christ, it is His kingdom and He is the King, the head over the kingdom, and the members are his subjects. God has “put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,”  (Ephesians 1: 22). Now I am not saying that Jesus came as a merchant man buying and selling, but the parable says “like unto a merchant man, seeking, goodly pearls.” As one who was able to pay the price for what He wanted and He didn’t want just any sort of pearls but was seeking goodly pearls. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19: 10).

     The Lord’s people are symbolically represented by the goodly pearls. Pearls are found  embedded in some oysters found in the bottom of the sea. The sea in the scriptures generally speaks of the world. The Lord’s people, like Jonah, by sin went down to the bottoms of the mountains, in the sea; the earth with her bars were about them for ever: see Jonah 2: 6.

     The pearls in the oysters make them of greater value and without the pearl they are of little or no value. The Lord’s people are goodly pearls by the grace of God and without God’s grace they are nothing. These goodly pearls are those that Jesus came to seek and to save. “Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God,” (Jonah 2:6).

   The price was a great price, He sold or gave all He had for the goodly pearls. He gave His life, the Just for the unjust, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 8). “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's,” (1 Corinthians 6: 20).

 

In Old Baptist Bonds

Elder Kenneth W. Clevenger

P. O. Box 238, Carl Junction, MO 64834