Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 3, 1958
NUMBER 47, PAGE 9a-11a

The Seed Of The Kingdom (Part I)

W. W. Otey, Winfield, Kansas

In the fourth chapter of Mark and the eighth of Luke we find the record of the parable of the sower.

In the thirteenth chapter of Matthew the parable of the wheat and tares is recorded.

"Behold, the sower went forth to sow: and it came to pass, as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside, and the birds devoured it. And other fell on the rocky ground, where it had not much earth; and when the sun was risen, it was scorched: and because it had no root, it withered away. And other seeds fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other seed fell into the good ground, and yielded fruit, growing up and increasing; and brought forth thirty fold, sixty fold and an hundred fold."

In this parable we have seed, a sower and four kinds of soil. Three kinds of soil failed to produce a harvest. The failure was not in the seed or the sower. The fault was in the soil. The four kinds of soil are four kinds of hearts of the hearers of the gospel, or the "seed of the kingdom." Jesus holds up a mirror and reveals to each one of us who has heard the gospel his position before the Lord, and why he is in that position. The wayside hearer represents every one who has heard the gospel but has not "obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine" God has delivered. (Rom. 6:1-5.) That one has permitted Satan to "take away that which hath been sown." The stony ground represents those who have heard the word, "immediately receive it with joy, but in time of temptation fall away." These are the great number that we call "backsliders." In some places we find as many, perhaps, as we find who are faithful to the Lord. Sad to say but little effort is made to restore them to the fellowship with the Lord.

The thorny ground represents those who hear the gospel and obey it. Then "the cares of the world," "the deceitfulness of riches," and "the pleasures of life," choke the word out and no fruit is produced. There is no intimation that these went back into the world, or immoral practices. They simply became so deeply immersed in providing their temporal needs; seeking worldly pleasures, and the "deceitfulness of riches" that their lives are unfruitful in the kingdom of God. Their lives seemed to be morally correct but spiritually dead.

The good ground are those who hear the word, and obey it with joy. They are the faithful servants of the Lord. Their lives show the "praises of him who called them out of darkness into the light." These are they who "do his commandments," and will "enter through the gates and have right to the tree of life."

The seed of the kingdom — the gospel — is God's infallible remedy for the sin of all men, for all races and for all time. Sin is rebellion against God during all past time and will so remain till time is no more. The material inventions of man need to be changed and improved to fit the advances in man's temporal affairs. In this field God has left man free to change and improve upon man's needs and desires. But sin, the disease, never changes, and so even God does not change the remedy — the gospel and church. This lesson few have ever learned, or having learned, prefer changes that satisfy his fleshly desire for something easier than humble submission of the wisdom of God.

God has decreed that every seed shall bring forth after its kind. "What ye sow that shall ye also reap." This decree has never been violated in the animal and vegetable kingdoms. It is also immutable in the spiritual realm. Sowing the seed of the kingdom — the gospel — has never produced anything other than disciples of Christ, children of God, Christians. The word of God unmixed with the teachings of men never made a Mormon. It takes something in addition to the word of God — the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants by Joe Smith, to make a Mormon. The word of God unmixed with the teachings of men never made a Methodist; a Baptist; a Presbyterian; or an Episcopalian in religion. The same is true in regard to all other denominations none of which are even mentioned in the word of God.

In the parable of the sower Jesus teaches the effects the word of God has on the individual. In the parable of the wheat and tares he tells the effect that tares — teaching of men — has in the church universal or the kingdom.

"Another parable set he before them, saying: The Kingdom of heaven in likened unto a man that sowed good seed in his field but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat and went his way. But when the blade sprang up there appeared the tares also. And the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field. From whence then hath it tares? And he said unto them, An enemy hath done this. And the servants said unto him. Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he saith, Nay, lest haply while ye gather up the tares ye root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of the harvest I will say unto the reapers, Gather up first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn . . . And he answered and said, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man, and the field is the world: and the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy that sowed them is the devil; and the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered out of the kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He that hath ears to hear let him hear." (Matthew 13:2437-45.)

We learn from this parable how all denominations originated, wearing names not even found in the word of God. "He that sowed the good seed is the Son of man," and the "good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom, and the tares are the sons of the evil ones, and he that sowed them is the devil; and the harvest is the end of the world and the reapers are the angels."

The seed of the kingdom never produced anything else than disciples of Christ, or Christians. The seed of the kingdom never established or built any institution or organization than the church of God, the church of the Lord, or church of Christ. When Jesus ascended to his throne in heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit to "guide the apostles into all truth," and bring to their remembrance all that he had commanded them to teach.

On the day of Pentecost the "seed of the kingdom" was preached to a multitude. About three thousand received it into their hearts. On that day Christ was announced to a great audience as king seated at God's right hand. The seed of the kingdom made believers in Christ.

On that day for the first time sinners were commanded to obey Christ in order to have the remission of their sins. About three thousand obeyed the command of Jesus the Christ to be baptized.

On the day of Pentecost the church that Jesus said "I will build" was established or set up. The church of the Lord was no longer in prophecy and preparation but was in actual existence — established. The Church was set up, the kingdom of heaven was inaugurated. The only institution produced by the word of God — "the seed of the kingdom" — was the church of the Lord, the church of Christ, which is his spiritual body. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit no other institution or organization was established. The Holy Spirit revealed the form of organization for the church, and the qualifications of the elders to oversee and manage its affairs of work and worship. It embraced the wisdom and power of God, in and through which to do all that God wants us to do. The gospel was preached, the widows and orphans were cared for by the church and individual members of the church. The seed of the kingdom produced no missionary society through which the church preached to gospel. The church was and is the only missionary society to originate in the wisdom of God. With no other organization, the gospel was preached in all parts of the then known world. The seed of the kingdom produced no old folks homes or orphan homes in which to herd hundreds of small children. God gave no command for the establishment of such institutions, either to supplement or to supplant the church, which was then and is now perfectly adapted to perform the work of preaching the gospel and caring for the needy. It is well known that the church has often neglected this kind of work. But who will be so bold as to say that failure to do what God commands gives men authority to substitute their inventions for the wisdom of God. Shall we ignore the terrible example that God has given in punishing Nadab and Abihu when they substituted fire from some place else than from the altar as God had commanded?

"Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before Jehovah which he had commanded them not. And there came forth fire from before Jehovah, and devoured them, and they died before Jehovah. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that Jehovah spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace." (Lev. 10:1-3.)

We can hardly imagine a smaller deviation from the commandment of the Lord than that of the two priests in offering the incense. God said: "take the fire off the altar.' Where they got the fire we are not informed. It may have been a more convenient place than the altar. Their sin was not a direct disobedience. It was only a very little change. God did not say in specific words that they must not get the fire from some other place. The Bible says they "offered strange fire before Jehovah, which he had not commanded them." They did that which God had not commanded. In specific words he had not said: "you must not get fire from any place except off the altar." When God said "take fire from off the altar," that excluded and forbid them getting it from any other place.

In referring to such acts under the law, Paul said: "Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they are written for our admonition upon whom the end of the ages are come." (I Cor. 10:11.) They not only died as punishment for their sins of disobedience, but especially to warn us who live under the Gospel dispensation. How few have ever learned that the examples of punishment under the law were to warn us lest we follow their example. How lightly it is regarded now by many of "us." We not only do not follow the New Testament pattern but establish institutions in and through which we do both evangelistic and benevolent work and thus supplement and supplant the church of the Lord. If we are "complete in him who is the head over all things to the church," and if God has "given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness," then all such arrangements formed by man are in violation of the word of God. "Take heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." Again we read: "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest haply we drift away from them. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Which having at first been spoken by the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard; God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will." (Heb. 2:1-4.) Had these terrible warnings been heeded, no missionary society, Herald of Truth, or benevolent organization would ever have been formed to divide the church of the Lord. They have been and are unheeded by many of those who in words profess to follow

the New Testament in all things. From a human point of view how small were the changes made by those whom the Lord punished — largely to warn us — when compared with many of the grand enterprises of some of our brethren.

For emphasis let it be again stated: The seed of the kingdom — the word of God, unmixed with the doctrine of men, never has and never will produce any other institution or organization great or small other than the church of the Lord. The seed of the kingdom never has and never can produce a denominational church; a missionary society; a Herald of Truth; a "sponsored" setup like those of Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, or Broadway in Lubbock, Texas; nor will it produce orphan homes like we have today, some of which have an investment valued at $750,000. All such arrangements originated in the wisdom of men, and are the harvest of tares.

During recent years a number of writers have declared that no opposition has been made against such benevolent institutions till very recently. If they believe this statement is true, it shows their lack of knowledge of what took place fifty to seventy years ago. For the information of those who sincerely desire to state facts correctly, I will go back fifty years:

"My dear friends, I am not opposing the good they do. I am only opposing the organization through which they do it, and he knows it and you know it. Still he harps on that, trying to turn your sympathies, and blind you to the real issue involved. I am not trying to appeal to your sympathies, but to your judgment and conscience. There is a time to appeal to sympathies but not now. Now is the time to appeal to your judgment, your intellect and conscience. That is what we are here for. So I will remark before I forget it. It has been heralded and published abroad that we, the church of Christ, are anti-missionary, that is, we are opposed to missionary work. I say to you that it is as unfounded a slander as was ever published against the Son of God. We are not anti-missionary. We are not opposed to sending the gospel to those who have it not, but we are anti-missionary-society with all our heart. Now, why not in your speaking publicly and privately, and publishing in your papers, do you not refer to these brethren as being anti-society? In the name of all that is fair and reasonable and true, why not?

"Do I believe in caring for the widow? Do I practice that to the extent of my ability? Ought the orphans to be cared for? Most assuredly. Anyone who would take any other position could not be called a Christian. Through what institution ought the church of Christ, the body of Christ, do this work? I will let the voice of God answer. 'If any provide not for his own and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. Let not the widow be taken into the number under three score years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works . . .(1 Tim. 5:8-9.) What institution or organization is in view here? The one body of Christ, the church. The state must care for its dependents through state institutions. Benevolently inclined people have the liberty to care for dependent ones through individual institutions. But Christians must care for their dependent ones through the church, the body of Christ, and not through any other institution.

"Now I am going to ask this question again: What is this discussion about? What are we discussing here? Are we debating whether we should preach the gospel? No, we both believe in that. Are we debating whether we should build meeting houses? No, sir, that is not involved. We both believe in that. Are we debating the question whether we should care for aged preachers? Certainly not. I believe I would be willing to divide my last meal with them. We both believe in that. Are we discussing whether we should care for widows? No, sir, we both believe in that. Are we discussing whether we should aid poor struggling Christians to build houses in which to worship? No, we both believe in that. I believe in that and so does he. The question is whether these things shall be done in and through the church, or whether through an organization formed by man." (Otey-Briney Debate, Louisville, Ky., September, 1908, pages, 245, 246, 274, 282, 283.)

(To be continued)