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Parable of the Mustard Seed

Matthew 13:31-32



Ill.—a young teenager was walking to church in a blinding snowstorm.  He was unable to get to his church, so he turned in to a little Methodist chapel.  The storm was so severe that the preacher couldn’t make it in that night, so a layman stood up to throw something together for a tiny group gathered.  He spoke on just one verse from Isaiah, “look unto me and be saved, all ends of the earth.”  And from that one little mustard seed on a most unlikely occasion, faith was planted in the heart of that teen boy for the first time…his name was Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who later shook England for God, won thousands to Christ, and built a 5,000 seat auditorium in his 20s, and yet it was never big enough to accommodate the crowds!


A whole lot can come from just a little mustard seed!


Today we have mostly apostate churches...made up of people who have turned away from the fundamentals of the faith.  Constant diligence must be given to keep the church true to the Bible and its teachings. 


Just as God’s Word predicts, people in these last days turn away their ears from the truth, and are turned to fables.  Did you know that whatever you want to believe, there’s a group in town that will accommodate you?

        If you want to deny there is a hell, there is a church in town for you.  Deny the Trinity?  There’s a local group who mock our ‘3 headed God’.  Believe baptism saves, and infants even?  You have several local choices. 


Some veer so far away from Scripture that they now are rewriting it to help accommodate their beliefs.


A new English translation recently published eliminates references to God the Father, calls the Son of Man ‘the human one’, and removes accusations that Christ was killed by the Jews.  It says children should heed their parents, not obey them.  Wives are no longer subject to their husbands, but committed to them.  Darkness is no longer equated with evil because of racist overtones, and the Lord’s Prayer now begins:  ‘Our Father-Mother in heaven…’  It reduces the number of times God is referred to as ‘Lord’, because lords as a ruling group are passé.  The editor of this version said, “The Lord doesn’t cut it these days, because we don’t have lords.”  Is that blatant heresy or what?


This is the general direction of the church at large today, and the question must be raised, “Where will it end?  What is the future of organized religion?”  The answer can be found in this parable.


The elements:  the seed, the tree, and the birds.


1.     The Seed*

v. 31        In eastern culture the mustard seed symbolizes something small and insignificant.  Jewish rabbis in those days used a figure of speech when referring to something tiny, “it’s as small as a mustard seed.”  And let’s not forget what Jesus said in describing faith…

Matthew 17:20
If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

It’s not the size of your faith that matters as much as the OBJECT of your faith, which should be Christ.


When you look at the Christian belief in ‘seed form’ and compare this to the logic and philosophy of mankind, it seems to be small and insignificant.  At the university level the Bible is made fun of as compared to ‘conventional wisdom.’  They will tell you that the belief that 'God literally created the universe and all that is' is a belief for the simple and uneducated, whose brains can only handle a small seed of a thought.  Meanwhile, they say, evolution is for thinking people who have outgrown that simple idea of Creationism.  They’ll tell you there’s no absolutes, that all is relative to the situation, so open your mind and embrace something bigger.


Ted Turner said Christianity is a crutch for losers and bozos.  He later apologized under public pressure, but make no mistake about how he truly believes, and he speaks for many today.


From that viewpoint, Christianity truly is like a little mustard seed!  And I’m ok with that, because my Bible says I cannot even enter the kingdom of heaven until I trust in Christ in ‘childlike’ faith.  And ‘little is much when God is in it!’


Though the seed is small, it is not insignificant, for in that little seed is great power and everlasting life!


Think of the humble beginnings of Christianity as a whole:

        Where did it all start?  With a little baby in a manger…just a little mustard seed!

        He grew up and trained just 12 men, unlearned, who turned the world upside down!


We plant little seeds in the hearts of our kids by letting them know when they sin, that God is not happy with them.  We believe those little seeds will eventually lead them to the knowledge of sin and the Savior, and salvation!


The seed…


2.     The Tree*

v. 32        Much like the leaven of the next verse, many misunderstand this part of the parable, saying it is a tribute to the worldwide success of the church. 

But we reject this notion, for several reasons:

  • A mustard seed is a plant, not a tree.  This is an aberration, not normal.  It becomes something it was never meant to be.
  • The parable before it is about counterfeit Christians [tares] and the one after it [leaven] is about counterfeit doctrine.  I believe this mustard seed grows into the counterfeit church.


The Bible sometimes uses a tree to symbolize power and organization.  [ex. Dan. 4:22-Babylon [apostate religion] is symbolized by a growing tree.]


Ill.—in 313 A.D. Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.  Some see that as a great day…but it was a dark day, when the church moved out of the catacombs and into the cathedrals.  And then pagan religion began to invade and infect the true church.  Salvation fell by the wayside and sacraments took over!  Repentance gave way to rituals!


And here’s where it’s all heading:  in the end times we will have a one world church.  The cry of the day is globalism.  It's one world this and one world that.  Our president is considered president of the world, and even Superman is now for truth, justice, and the international way!


And how do we get to the one world church mentality?  Through all of our churches coming together.  I like it when likeminded churches can work together, but the Bible warns against joining w/ those whose doctrine is different.  And though I believe in being friendly with those who agree with us in Christ, even if we have different preferences, I say we need to be wary of today’s movement which says, lay down your doctrine and tear down the walls of separation which divide churches.  The ecumenical movement is a greased slide toward the one world church, and we need have no part of it!


Christian unity is never supposed to be at the expense of truth.


So, Christianity started out as a humble mustard seed, then organized religion took over, and it has become a monstrosity of a tree with many branches.  And in those branches are the devil’s ‘dirty birds’…


3.     The Birds*

v. 32b      The mustard seed tree is for the birds.  What did the Lord have to say about the birds in the previous parable?

v. 4          V. 19 tells us what these fowl represent.  They are of the devil.  Satan has his ‘loons of liberalism’, ‘crows of compromise’, ‘marlins of modernism.’

Revelation 18:2
And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

We cannot keep the devil’s dirty birds out of all of Christianity, but we can certainly keep them out of FBC, and our own lives!

Jude 1:3
Beloved…it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

So, call me narrow-minded, bigoted, and uncooperative.  The true church has always been criticized for such things, so it goes w/ the territory.  It goes all the way back to Cain and Abel.  Cain was the first apostate.  He knew full well what sacrifice to bring, but thought it should work ok another way.


So let’s stand for something, lest we fall for anything!  May we always believe this to be the inspired Word of God, and go by it 100%.  May we always hold fast the fact that abortion is murder, homosexuality is an abomination to God, alcohol is a mocker and we shouldn’t even look at it, sex is for marriage, and Christians are to be separate from the world!


And there’s all the difference in the world between getting religion and getting saved.  May we proclaim it clearly forevermore!

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