The Propagation of the Seed
“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces; some a hundred-fold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23).
“Most assuredly I say to you, unless a grain [seed] of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24).
“Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (I Peter 1:23).
Now let us draw our attention to the New Testament period and the advent of something brand new: The church!
Jesus, on many occasions told His disciples that He must die and be raised again. His death was necessary because, just as a seed in nature must be planted and experience transformation (death), so must the Son of God be delivered to the dust of this earth, be planted, and experience death in order to bring about a new entity to the world – the Church, His body! The death of Jesus Christ and His subsequent resurrection had many ramifications for us. Not only do we receive forgiveness of sins, deliverance from the curse of the Law, reconciliation with God, through His death and the promise of eternal life, justification before God, and the life of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, through His resurrection, but we are also incorporated into His body, the Church. The death of Christ was the means by which He obtained the church, God’s new Israel, the new vessel of testimony and blessing, and the bride for His Son in the age to come. This aspect of the death and resurrection of Christ is quite often obscured from our thoughts by over-emphasis on forgiveness and personal salvation. The message of the corporate vessel obtained by God through the death and resurrection of His Son must be taught as often as the message of redemption from sin and death. Salvation is totally and personally individual. Subsequent to this experience, however, believers must realize the corporate nature of their life and the necessity of being incorporated and fit into the body of Christ. We see a beautiful type of this reality in the creation of Eve in Genesis 2:21-24. Just as Adam was without a “compatible” helper and could not exercise dominion in its full sense, so our Lord Jesus is in need of a “compatible” helper, a vessel, a bride, who will be His life partner and co-ruler, sitting with Him on the throne and exercising dominion on behalf of God. Where did Eve come from? She was not a direct but an indirect creation of God, not created out of nothing, but created out of someone: Adam! Likewise, the church was not brought into being out of nothing, but out of someone: Jesus our Lord! The church, unlike any other institution in the world, is a supernatural and divinely created entity. It was not created by the will of man, nor by organizing some people into a certain relationship with one another, nor by gathering people for a common purpose, but by God taken directly out of the body of His son Jesus Christ. People do not create the church. The church cannot be registered like other corporations or institutions. It cannot be called into existence by a committee of well-meaning and sincere individuals concerned about the state of the society. The church appears on this earth when God decides to create its local expression out of an existing invisible body. The church is the creation of God in Christ! I believe that every time a church is established in a locality, God manifests what He has created in Christ on a universal basis. The curtain is pulled back in that locality and we get a glimpse of the spectacular creation of God! Adam called his wife, Eve, because she was the mother of all living beings! Likewise, the church is the mother of all those who have received life from the heavenly Father and been placed in the church to be nurtured and brought into maturity for the age to come. The parallel is incredible!
God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam (Genesis 2:21), just as He caused His Son Jesus Christ, the last Adam, to fall into the sleep of death. The death of the Lord on the cross gave the Father the opportunity to obtain a bride, a compatible helper, and a “wom(b)man” for His Son and His Seed. “He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a wom(b)man, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man’” (2:22-23).
At the death of Jesus Christ, God took the church out of Him. Upon His resurrection and ascension, and the descent of the Holy Spirit, presented the church to Him, His body, His bride, His helper, His co-ruler, and the mother of true living humans! The church is the mother of the believers. Why do I equate the church with motherhood? Because, first of all the type, Eve was called a mother. Through her, even though her children were after the flesh, humans were born and lived on this planet. Likewise, through and out of the church will come those who will live and populate the universe one day, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Secondly, she was the vessel that took Adam’s seed and nurtured it to maturity and birth! So is the church! God plants His divine Seed in us and the church becomes the womb and the environment which nurtures the Seed of God. The church is the vessel of planting God’s Seed into the hearts of all believers for the purpose of birthing them into the kingdom of Christ!
That is one of the reasons why the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is such a vital and important event. When Jesus died, the Seed fell into the ground and died, and later obtained a great harvest of grain for His Father’s purposes and pleasure. In John 12:24, Jesus told His disciples what His death would accomplish. It would result in an abundant production of grain. The church, composed of millions upon millions of believers throughout the next 2000 years, would be the fruit of this single act. Yes! The Seed of God had to die; it had to release the divine life it held – the divine life that no one had ever experienced had to be released and made available to us so that we could receive and experience its awesome power and promise. The outer shell of the Seed, the body of our Lord, had to be crushed and bruised so that His life would be released in everyone on His path.
God, through the death and resurrection of Christ, created the vessel –
a brand new vessel, not related to anything of the past. The church was neither Jewish nor Gentile. It was not based on any culture, religion, thought, creed, organization, or imagination. It was a new thing that the Lord had brought into view – a new community, a new people, a new nation, and a new Israel! The vessel was obtained at the death and resurrection of Christ, but its activation as the vessel of God’s choice came on the day of Pentecost. In the Acts of the Apostle (Acts of the church) chapter 2, we read about how, on the day of Pentecost, this new vessel made up of about 120 individuals, was fused together by the Holy Spirit, and filled with the life of God, so that it could fulfill its calling and destiny: Ruling for blessing!
Shortly after the birth of the church, when Peter and John were confronted by the Jewish leaders as to their real intentions in healing the beggar who sat at the Beautiful Gate, these men revealed the truth we have already mentioned about the mission of Jesus Christ! In Acts 3:25-26, Peter, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said, “You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your Seed [Christ] all the families of the earth shall be blessed’; to you first God, having raised up His servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away everyone of you from your iniquities.”
Peter reminds the Jews, as he reminds us today, that Jesus came to bless us! This mission was later handed over to the church as the representative of Christ on earth during His absence: Blessing this world, helping and exhorting people to turn away from their iniquities to Christ as Savior and Lord. The message and the character of the Seed were not duplicated in many! Jesus, who was just one person when He was on this earth, is now operational and living in and through countless individuals who have trusted Him and allowed Him to take control of their lives. The church is like the vessel Elisha used to pour out the salt and heal the deadly waters of Jericho. Christ has His church in His hand as the new vessel of God and is sprinkling life into the dead and poisoned pond of humanity, healing those who would yield themselves to Him; and one day very soon, the entire world will receive His abundant blessings! In Revelation chapter 1, Jesus is seen by John the apostle, as one holding the seven stars and walking in the midst of the seven lampstands, both representative of the church! Yes, the church is in Christ’s hand for the purpose of pouring blessings upon this world – the blessing of divine life, healing of death, forgiveness of sins, clearing the accounts of people, deliverance from the curse of the Law, ushering mankind into grace, and countless other blessings, both physical and spiritual.
The Seed is now a harvest of many seeds, all in the image and likeness of the first seed filling the world with their presence and the presence of God. This is the purpose, calling, and mission of the church in this age and the age to come.
In Galatians 3:29, Paul tells the believers that if they are Christ’s, then they are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
But, what is the promise to the church, or believers in Christ, who are the seed of Abraham? Well, the promise is mentioned in 3:16, where Paul says, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds as of many’, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ”. And in the preceding verses we read, “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are the sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand saying, ‘In you [your seed] all the nations shall be blessed.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham” (Gen. 3:7-9).
What is then the meaning of the church? Here is where I believe we need additional light and revelation from the Word of God to come to see what the nature and the mission of the church are. From these and other verses which I will share, I gather the following conclusions which shed light upon God’s plan through the death and the release of the life of the divine Seed (the resurrection of Christ):
1. Paul emphasizes that the promise of God to Abraham was not to “seeds”, but to a singular “Seed”, namely Jesus Christ. We already know this to be the case. God has one Seed and one Seed alone! There is only one Son of God, one savior, one redeemer, and one Lord, and that is none other than the Seed of the woman, the promised seed to Israel, the revealed Seed of the New Testament, the Seed of the Church, Jesus Christ our Lord. But, something more interesting appears in Galatians 3:29. Paul says that those who are Christ’s are Abraham’s seed (singular). What Paul is implying is that as Christ was the Seed and He alone was God’s expression, manifestation, and representation here on earth, so is the church, which is a singular entity and is called the Seed. Christ is Abraham’s Seed, so is the church! The church has the exact life and nature that was in Christ as the original Seed! The quality of life and message that was hidden in Christ, as God’s chosen Seed, is now supernaturally, deposited in the church, which is made up of believers regenerated by Christ! What I am saying is this: Christ has replaced Himself, singular, with Himself, plural! A singular Christ is now a corporate Christ! The body is no different than its head (with the exception of Christ’s divinity, and that is why He will always and exclusively remain the head). In II Peter 1:3-4 Peter says that God has given us His divine power (seed), and has made us partakers of the divine nature through the Word of God (Christ Himself) which lives and abides forever.
As James says in his epistle 1:21, the Seed was planted into us when we believed. This is a wonderful mystery and unfathomable by human mind, but we are of the exact nature and substance and life as Jesus Christ our Lord (with the exception of His divinity). As Eve was the bone of Adam’s bone and the flesh of Adam’s flesh, so is the church of the same spiritual life and substance as its head and savior, Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, in Colossians 3:3-4 Paul mentions that we “died and our [your and my] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our Life appears, then we also will appear with Him in glory”. Paul says that our life is hidden, or safeguarded and protected from harm with Christ. Our life is deeply connected to His life which in turn is rooted in God Himself. What is in us is God’s life! And that life is out of sight and deeply deposited with Christ in God Himself, but when Christ comes back and His church is glorified, our true nature and substance will be revealed. John says that “now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:2).
The church of Jesus Christ is a perfect substitution and representation of the Lord Himself on this earth. I am not referring to the visible, fallible, and flawed entities we call church, which are seen on every street corner. No, I am referring to the presence of Jesus Christ in and through His believers that encircles this planet and the invisible heavenly places, far from our reach and understanding, and maintains His testimony as to His Lordship and sovereignty to the hosts of wickedness and especially to Satan himself. The church is the presence of Christ in His believers and the gathering of these believers together for the sole purpose of manifesting this truth not in earthly and institutionalized methods and rituals, but in a spiritual reality. The mere gathering of believers in the name and spirit of Jesus invokes a powerful breakthrough and release in the heavenly places that alarms the powers of darkness as to the presence of Jesus Himself on the earth. The nightmare for Satan and his angels and demons has not yet ended. For the past 2000 years, they have been tormented by the presence of Christ on this earth, first personally and in a singular person (Jesus of Nazareth) and now corporately and in a plural entity called the church. The church remains the thorn in the side of the devil, regardless of how it appears to us on earth. We need to be liberated from our shallow, superficial, and human assessment of the church and realize that the presence of Christ is not a matter of man’s instigation, but a matter of the Holy Spirit triggering its manifestation and sensation by bringing ‘two or three’ believers together. Jesus Himself said, “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
The presence of Christ in and among His saints makes up the church. Any other gathering, in any other name and for any other purpose will not invoke the presence of Christ. In relation to Satan and his kingdom, the presence of Christ is judicial (John 16:8), but in relation to believers, it is redemptive and filling with the blessing. What our world needs to see and experience is not spectacular building facilities or programs, but the presence of Christ in His believers. That presence will convict them of sin, righteousness and judgment and will bring them to repentance and the blessing of His indwelling life! Buildings and wisely-crafted programs have absolutely no effect in invoking the presence of Christ in a locality. Only the gathering of the saints in the proper setting and understanding will reveal and manifest the presence of Christ.
The local church is the ground in which this revelation is possible. The local church is not the presence of Christ unless it stands on the ground of Christ’s resurrection and sovereignty over the kingdom of Satan. Also, the local congregation may not at all times be in such state of being to express this presence, but the invisible and universal church of Jesus Christ is forever, and continually, manifesting Christ’s presence in this world to the kingdom of darkness! The local may fail but the universal will never fail. Yes, the local church may face failure like the church in Ephesus which was warned by Christ. They were told that if they did not repent, their lampstand – the presence of Christ – would be removed. They would no more be effective and useful for His purposes!
The Seed of God, Christ, is now a corporate Seed with the same qualities, life and attributes as the original seed. That which was confined to one person, one locality, and one life is now corporate, universal, and in a multitude of lives.
2. The Church is the propagator of the Life of Christ on earth.
The church being both the new corporate Seed, and the vessel of the Seed, is on earth for one express purpose. As I stated earlier, the primary character of the Seed is Life; the church also is primarily engaged and preoccupied with dispensing life to the dying world. Just like in the story of Elisha healing the ‘dead’ waters of Jericho, the church is the new vessel through which God dispenses salt, a symbol of life, to the poisoned and dead waters of this world. The Lord Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 5:13 that they were “the salt of the earth”. They were the only life source that the earth could know and have. There is no life outside of the church. There is no light outside of the church. Remember when God was judging Egypt, darkness came over all the country except over Goshen. Goshen had light! There is life and light in the church! Those who enter the realm of the church, receive life to live and light to see! The primary mission of the church is to propagate and promote this life and light in the world. Jesus also told His disciple that they were the light of the world (Matt. 5:14). As I mentioned before, life and light go hand in hand. The church dispenses the life and the light of the knowledge of the Lord. What a serious calling and responsibility! How important it is for us to look at the church not as an institution or as an earthly enterprise, but as a heavenly organism on earth solely for the purpose of giving life and light to men and women who are dead and blind! How many times do we treat the church, the body of the Lord Jesus, with contempt and disregard for what it represents! We think of the church as a building, a non-profit organization, at best, a gathering of believers, not fully realizing that this gathering constitutes and invokes the full presence of the Lord Himself for the sole purpose of bestowing life to the dead and light to the blind in the spirit. We are guilty of negligence in this matter. No wonder Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, rebuked the believers and exhorted them to come to their spiritual senses and comprehend the true meaning of what they had embarked on: The body of Jesus Christ in Corinth! It is within this context that in chapter 11, on the subject of the Table of the Lord, Paul warns harshly, saying, “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of he Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, [the examination is not to find sin in us, since sin is always present in us, but to examine our attitude and standing in relation to the true meaning of the church and what it represents] and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner [worthiness is recognizing the meaning and the mission of the church and the relation of the believer to it] eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
May the Lord give us a true revelation of what the meaning and the mission of the church is. Paul insists that something mysterious occurs at the Table of the Lord. Partaking of the bread and the wine invokes the presence of the Lord and unites the various members of the body in a mysterious union with the Lord and with one another through the Life of the Lord. Paul is very concerned about these believers not having discernment when approaching the Table: there were divisions, factions, and all manner of worldliness openly operating in them. Paul is afraid that these saints may provoke the Lord’s anger as Israel did in the wilderness (I Cor. 10:1-10) and lose their testimony and effectiveness as the vessel of the Lord’s choice.
Consequently, every activity of the church must be in compliance with this principle, that the mission of the church is to propagate the life of Christ. The leaders and shepherds of the church must ask themselves this question, “Do all their activities and programs in some way dispense life and light to the people who need these?” If the answer is no, then even their most cherished and seemingly effective programs must be done away with unless they can be modified or changed to serve this purpose. The church has no business promoting culture or politics or social issues if the life and the light of the knowledge of God are not the end result. The church is in the business of resurrecting the dead! Life must attack death! Light must conquer darkness! If the church neglects to activate these elements, it has failed its mission and will be replaced with another more suitable vessel.
Let us carefully evaluate and understand this principle and submit to the voice of the Holy Spirit and allow the Lord to use us in the manner that He chooses.
3. The church, as the new corporate Seed, is the revealer of the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.
In Ephesians 3:8-10 Paul reveals a mystery to the believers – that the unsearchable riches of Christ have been preached among the Gentiles in order to make everyone see the mystery which from the beginning of the ages had been hidden in God. This was accomplished in and through the church for a higher cause: to make known the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. The church is not only the vessel of life and light in the hand of the Lord, but it is also the vessel of testimony on earth and in the heavenly places. The church is a heavenly organism, located in Heaven (its head, Jesus Christ, resides in Heaven at the right hand of God the Father), and yet, it operates, dispenses life and light here on earth; therefore, there is also an earthly dimension to the church. After all, the members of Christ’s body are located on earth. The mission of the church is both earthly and heavenly. Daniel came to realize that there were both earthly and heavenly aspects to everything. There is a parallelism that originates in the heavenly places and is reflected, like a mirror image, on earth. Daniel was in dire need to maintain his spiritual stand in the midst of a very powerful kingdom, but he was made aware that the problems he was facing on earth were in direct relation to conflicts in the heavenly places. Paul also, having realized the enormity of this truth and the ensuing conflict, encourages the Ephesian believers to gain insight and understand what God was doing through the church. The issue was not only evangelizing the world or helping the poor. It was not about converting people to a new faith or teaching them to lead a good life. No, the issue was much graver! The issue was the conflict that had begun with the birth of this new entity which was now in direct opposition with the kingdom of Satan. Thus, Paul reveals to these believers and to all of us God’s purpose in creating and using the church as a vessel. God uses the church to make known His manifold wisdom to Satan. The very humans that Satan had deceived into disobeying the Lord, were now redeemed and standing on the ground of truth and the sovereignty of God. God was revealing His endless wisdom through those who were once unwise and foolish! God had chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the so-called wise. Paul elaborated on this subjet in I Corinthians 1:19-24, 30 “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent [God destroyed the wisdom of Satan by the message of the cross. Satan and his kingdom have blinded the minds of people and yet the message of the cross becomes the wisdom of God destroying the wisdom of the enemy]. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of the age? [Satan is that disputer.] Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world [a wisdom originating from Satan and developed by mankind. For since in the wisdom of God the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God… But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”
It is quite clear what Paul meant in Ephesians 3:10 when he said that God makes known His manifold wisdom through the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. It is clear that God’s manifold wisdom is none other than the person of Jesus Christ, and Him crucified and risen! This message, the message of the cross, and the person of Jesus Christ as the subject and object of the message, must be made known through the church to Satan and his aides in the heavenly places. The Church not only spreads life and light in the world, but proclaims the manifold wisdom of God: Jesus Christ as Lord and sovereign in the heavenly places. The message of the cross is the weapon the church uses to attack the strongholds of the enemy in the high places and to weaken his hold on people, thus freeing them to receive the life and the light of the Lord. Further, in Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul lays out the strategy of battling, not flesh and blood, but the enemy, the forces concentrated in the heavenly places.
Therefore, the church as the new Seed of God’s divine life and light, as the representative of Jesus Christ on earth, is to manifest and represent the sovereign will of God and the message of the cross as the means of executing the defeat that is to come.
Once the church assumes its rightful position and role as the vessel of God’s message of the cross and of His ultimate sovereignty over all that exists, the manifold wisdom of God is made known to these dark and hostile powers.
4. The church, as the Seed of God, is ultimately the recipient and upholder of the New Covenant.
The God of the Bible is a God of Covenants. From the first pages of Scripture, in the book of Genesis (3:15), God began to make a series of covenants with man in order to redeem and restore to him all that was lost in the fall. It is not in the scope of this book to study all of God’s covenants and their impact on His plan and purpose, but suffice it to say that the greatest of all these covenants was instituted by our Lord Jesus Himself on the eve of His death. He took the bread and the cup, blessed them and gave them to His disciples for them to partake of His body and blood and become the recipients and upholders of this covenant. This covenant, widely known as the Last Supper, is mentioned in detail in all of the synoptic gospels. Many sincere Christians believe that the New Testament began with the birth of Christ. I believe that the reality of the New Testament was instituted the night of Christ’s betrayal as He declared the coming of this New Covenant, looking forward to the creation and birth of a new entity which would be taken out of His wounds and fashioned into His body on this earth.
In Matthew 26:28 we read that Jesus took the cup and declared, “This is my blood of the New Covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” The New Covenant took effect that night and became the new ground upon which God would begin a new work among Jews and Gentiles alike. That night, looking to the future, Jesus tore down the wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles. The word “many” in verse 28 refers to countless others besides the Jewish disciples and the Jewish nation. It is an inclusive word. It encompasses people from all races, tongues, nations, and locations.
The New Covenant began with blood! Yes! The New Covenant did not begin with the birth of Christ, but with the blood of Christ and His death on the cross and His victorious resurrection from among the dead. I think one reason the early church did not place much emphasis on the actual day of Christ’s birth was this very truth. In the minds of the New Testament believers, the New Covenant began the eve of Christ’s death. That is why the Lord’s Table was the most important observance of the early church and great emphasis was placed on its sanctity. The baby Jesus in the manger is ineffective unless the man Jesus bleeds on the cross!
As Jesus was born to receive and uphold the testimony of the Old Covenant and its blessing upon the righteous, so the church is born to receive and uphold the testimony and the blessings of the New Covenant.
In Matthew 28:18, when Jesus was about to ascend into heaven, He reassured His disciples by saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on he earth. Go therefore…” What Jesus was telling His disciples was that the authority He had gained from the Father by the virtue of His death and resurrection, stood as the ground upon which the church would be able to uphold the New Covenant in the new era which was about to be ushered in; because of this, He would be personally present with them until the end of the age.
Paul toiled and strived to make the church a true and faithful witness to this calling. All the letters of Paul invariably have to do with the individual call of believers in Christ as well as the corporate call of the church.
The Church is the divine Seed of this New Covenant planted in this world, into the hearts and souls of countless men and women who will, in due time, become the fruit of the Seed who was planted in Judea two thousand years ago.
The church is the corporate and worldwide Seed, made up of many individual seeds who came into being when the “Seed” died and released His divine life into the world through His resurrection and the coming of His Spirit!
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