THIRTY, SIXTY, AND A HUNDRED
Copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
It may be true that the parable of the sower is the fundamental parable of the Kingdom of God.
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. (Matthew 13:3)
The first thing we must remember is that the Seed is Christ. The Seed is the Resurrection and the Life, and all righteousness, holiness, love, joy, and peace. The Seed is the Kingdom of God.
When the Seed fell on hard ground it did not germinate. It lay there exposed. Satan came and removed it. This is like a person who has hardened his or her heart against God. He has permitted many different religions and ideologies to trample on his heart.
There are many such today. Some declare themselves “atheists.” It is a choice people make, I guess, refusing to perceive that our physical environment reveals intelligent design.
The second kind of ground receives the Seed enthusiastically and makes a fine show of religious belief. But its life is all on the surface. When pain and trouble come, as it always does, the believer falls away. He had no root, the root that comes from prayer, reading the Word, and obeying Christ in the details of life. He is splendid in church but does not enjoy the prayer closet.
He bears no lasting fruit. The individual who bears no lasting fruit is removed from the Vine, removed from Christ. What his or her final destiny is I do not know; but there are many such “Christians” today. When the American chaos arrives, that presently is on the horizon, they will have no more to do with the Seed. They will revert to the Antichrist world system.
There is a third kind of ground. It may flourish for a brief time. But the cares of this world system and the deceitfulness of money choke it out. Again, no lasting fruit is born and the individual is removed from Christ.
The are people preaching today claiming that we can be cut off from the Vine of eternal resurrection Life and still be “saved.” This is unscriptural nonsense, reflecting the heavy influence of Humanism on the Christian message.
By being “saved” they mean escape Hell and go to Heaven to live in a mansion. How would you like to go to Heaven and live in a mansion, and yet be cut off from Christ, cut off from eternal Life, righteousness, holiness, love, joy, and peace?
Now we come to the kind of ground that bears lasting fruit. It is good soil. Luke refers to this “good soil” as a “noble and good heart.”
Let’s think about this for a moment. A “noble and good heart.” The “four steps of salvation” appears to insist that there never has been a good person except one who has “accepted Christ.” After being with Christian people for several years I think we can say there are some people who have “accepted Christ” who do not practice good behavior.
While Paul quoted from the Old Testament that there is no good person, and it is true within the confines of Paul’s argument against the Jews and the Old Testament usage, Jesus did refer to a noble and good heart as “good soil.”
It is a fact that ultimately the adamic heart never is “good” by the standard God uses. However, there is such a thing as a “good person,” by our customary standards, who does not believe in Christ. You probably have met some during your life. Peter said to Cornelius that God accepts everyone who behaves righteously. Of course, this does not mean that an individual can refuse to accept Christ when Christ is presented to him or her. Such refusal brings Divine condemnation.
If an individual does not have integrity he or she never can bring forth lasting fruit. The pressures and hostility from evil spirits and people is too great.
The three different kinds of fruit-bearing does not mean an individual is, say, thirty percent of Christ and seventy percent of the natural man. Rather it is referring to bushels to the acre, so to speak. It is referring to the amount of Christ that is brought forth.
Some people bring forth thirty bushels to the acre, some sixty, and some one hundred. Why is this? The amount of Christ we bring forth in our personality depends on the rank in the Kingdom to which God has appointed us. It depends also on how willing we are to be pruned.
God has assigned ranks in the Kingdom from the beginning of time. This does not mean everyone attains to his assigned rank. Neither does it signify we cannot ask God for more of Christ or for a closer walk with Him.
God never will turn away anyone who comes to Him for more of Christ or for a closer walk with Him. If the truth be known, however, the desire for more of God comes from God. In the last analysis, God has His way in everything. He is the Potter!
But we make real choices nevertheless, and it is up to us to choose God, regardless what else may be true. Someone wisely said, “If you want to know if you are one of the elect, then act like it.”
The thirtyfold Christian is a genuine Christian. Christ is being formed in him. He loves to attend the assembling of the saints and sing the songs of Zion. He has eternal life, righteousness, holiness, love, joy, and peace. He is a true witness of Christ.
Such is the initial salvation level, and there have been and yet are multitudes of individuals who possess Christ at this level.
If the person has been appointed to a higher level in the Kingdom of God, the Spirit of God looks to see when he or she is ready to be pruned.
Those who have been pruned by the Lord know what I have been speaking of. Our former experiences sort of dry up and blow away. We do not stand out in church like we used to. Sometimes the Lord seems far away and our prayers are not answered as readily as they used to be—at least it seems that way.
We may suffer sickness or problems in our family. There are no end of Job’s comforters who will advise us that we would not have problems if we had faith. We must be doing something wrong, they conjecture. They are no help to us in our misery. We used to be “God’s man of faith and power.” Now we have reverted to our own man with neither faith nor power.
Have you been there? Don’t quit. God is bringing you into a greater knowledge of His Spirit. After a while things will pick up and your former joy and fruitfulness will return.
The reason for these dry seasons is that Jesus wants to know you better and have you know Him better. One day, if you remain faithful, you are going to rise spiritually from your deathbed and visit with Jesus. You may hug Him if you wish. You and He will talk for a bit.
Then He will reveal to you your inheritance. You will be overwhelmed with glory. Had you not gone through a dry season with the Lord you would forget all about Him and seek to go forth and enjoy the splendor that has been spread out before you.
But during your time of pruning you had become acquainted with the Lord. So instead of rushing forth to the scene before you, you will turn back to Him with thanksgiving and ask Him what He would like you to do. I’ll tell you, it takes a while before we get in the habit of asking Jesus about everything!
There now may be a protracted season of witnessing and ministry. You are a joyful Christian, looked up to by other Christians. You are able to help the weak and otherwise serve the Lord. The Bible opens up to you, and you begin to realize the difference between the Christian religion and the daily interaction with the living Jesus.
But perhaps it has not been written of you that you are to reap Christ only to the extent of the sixtyfold level. Maybe rom the beginning of time God chose you to reap Christ a hundredfold.
God knows the severity of pruning required to bring a sixtyfold Christian to a hundredfold Christian. He understands the danger of losing you along the way. But God understands also the good that will come to Himself, to you, and to His Kingdom if you can stand that degree of pruning.
So we might imagine that God looks around at His counselors, the people and angels who always surround Him, and asks their thoughts. They consider the risk and the possible good that can come from a hundredfold person, and give their judgment. If God and His counselors decide in favor of this next step, the pruning begins. It is an attempt to bring forth much fruit.
Will he or she survive the pruning? The Apostle Paul did. He considered himself crucified with Christ and living by the Life of Jesus. So have other great saints of God. Consider Abraham as he ascended Mount Moriah with Isaac, wondering what he was going to say to Sarah when he returned home without her boy.
How is the third pruning going to affect you? You know the Lord. You pray in the Spirit. And now comes a period of bewilderment. You ask the Lord where all this is going? Yet you know He is not going to answer you. You are going to have to walk it out, a step at a time, not knowing whether you are going to live or die.
You feel like you are an arrow on the Lord’s bow. He is raising it until it points toward some target that He alone knows. As He raises the arrow the tension increases. Lord, where, when, who, what is taking place?
Should I proactively choose what direction I want to go? Or should I just wait and see what the Lord does? The passive approach results in ambivalence as our desires swing back and forth. Sometimes the Lord asks us what we desire. My response to this has been, “Lord, you know all things. I don’t. I trust you to bring me to love, joy, and peace whether or not this is what I choose.
This sort of “deadness” can go on for years. In the meanwhile there may be ministry of some sort. Certainly wisdom is gained. Day by day utters speech but knowledge is gained in the nighttimes.
Our part is to remain faithful to God even though we do not understand what He is doing. We think of Aaron’s rod laid up in the Most Holy Place before the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron’s rod undoubtedly was a fire-hardened stick. Yet it bore buds, blossoms, and almonds. So it is true that out of our death to our own will comes life for other people.
The Apostle Paul knew what it was to die to his own life and bring forth resurrection life (Christ) for other people:
Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? (II Corinthians 11:23-29—NIV)
The Book of Second Corinthians has much to say about Paul’s sufferings. Paul had the sentence of death in himself that he should not trust in himself but in God who raises the dead.
As though Paul did not have enough trouble, Christ permitted Satan to afflict him, probably in his eyes. When Paul sought the Lord about this, Christ responded that His (Christ’s) strength was made perfect in Paul’s weakness
Now, think for just a minute about the fruitfulness borne Paul—especially through his epistles. It staggers the mind to try to conceive of the fruit that Paul bore during his own lifetime, with the churches he established. But think of the fruit that has come from his letters to the churches!
Down through the centuries of the Christian Era devout men and women have studied what Paul wrote—that which he had learned during his stay in Arabia and then throughout his ministry. Today, with such improved communication devices the ancient Apostle guides us into a closer walk with the Lord Jesus.
Think about the fruitfulness of the suffering Paul. This is what the Lord Jesus means by hundredfold fruit-bearing. Of course, there are others who attain to this high platform whose fruitfulness may not be as apparent as that of Paul. But God regards them just as highly
There are three deaths and three resurrection that the hundredfold Christian must experience if he or she is to bear the fullness of Christ’s Life that is available.
The first death and resurrection is that of death to the world and resurrection into the Kingdom of God. This experience is to take place as we are baptized in water; and after that we are to count ourselves dead with Christ and risen with Christ. We must maintain this orientation to the Kingdom of God every day of our discipleship.
The second death and resurrection is that of death to sin and resurrection into the Life of the Spirit of God. The Spirit does more than comfort us. He provides all the enablement we need to grow in Christ and to minister to the Body of Christ. To grow in Christ is to grow in the willingness and strength to utterly reject and renounce all that is wicked and sinful, and to grow in a fervent love for righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.
The third death and resurrection is that of hundredfold fruitfulness. It is death to self and resurrection into the Life of Christ such that we live by His Life and not our own. This accounts for the long periods of bewilderment as we wonder what God is going to do with us.
It is at this level that we begin to know the Father as never before. Christ reveals the Father to us, as He promised. Death to our self-love and self-will is the third pruning. It is typified by the River Jordan. We have to cross over this Jordan if we are to enter the land of the promised resurrection Life that is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
It is typified also by the third and fourth levels of Ezekiel’s River. First the judgment to the hips, speaking of the weakening of our strength. Then the waters to swim in, in which we are lost in the purposes of God. Now we return to the bank, so to speak, and stand as a tree of life, bringing eternal Life (Christ) to the sea of mankind
The Lord said that if we try to save our life we will lose it. He means that we must cease from our self-love and self-will and learn to live by His Life.
Jesus said also that except a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains alone. But if the grain is planted in the ground it brings forth fruit, multiplying itself numerous time. So it is that if we insist on living our own life, even our own Christian life, we will not bring forth Christ in other people. But if we are willing to live by the Life of Jesus instead of by our own plans, desires, and ambitions, we will cause Christ to be formed in many people
Notice how this was true of the Apostle Paul:
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (II Corinthians 4:10-12)
How do we learn to live by the Life of Jesus? It does not happen all at once, but it can begin in you right now. All through the day and when you are awake at night, keep committing your way to the Lord. Ask Him about every decision you have to make. Then when trouble comes, you will look to Jesus, and His resurrection Life will bring you through the danger.
Sometimes you are tempted to take some action that you feel might be displeasing to the Lord. If you call on Christ for help, and do not yield to that temptation, Christ will give you of His body and blood in the spirit realms. They contain His resurrection Life. Christ will grow in you as you do this.
But if you give in to the temptation, you will not grow in Christ, In fact, your sinful nature may be strengthened. What you must do to regain your strength in Christ is to confess your sin clearly to Christ, renouncing and rejecting it with all your strength. Ask Christ to help you do this.
Then the Lord will forgive that sin and cleanse you from all of the unrighteousness that has occurred. He will help you put that kind of behavior to death. The next time you are tempted you will have the strength to refuse to yield to that particular temptation.
To pass from the sixtyfold level of Christ to the hundredfold level, and stand on Mount Zion with the Lord’s firstfruits, you absolutely must confess every sin the Holy Spirit points out to you. There can be no compromise whatever.
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:4,5)
“They did not defile themselves with women” means they have released to the Lord all relationships to people, things, and circumstances. They keep themselves pure from attachments which cause them to share part of their heart so that Jesus does not have their entire worship.
They do not clutch any relationship to people, things, or circumstances. They let everything go as the Lord calls for the item. Think of Abraham and Isaac. One of God’s names is “Jealous.” He will not share our worship with any person, thing, or circumstance. Every one of our idols must go as the Lord calls for them if we would bear fruit to the hundredfold level.
We must keep ourselves pure. We might wish that Christ would do it all for us, but He doesn’t. He will do His part if we do our part.
“They follow the Lamb wherever He goes” means that He has surrendered His right to be alone in favor of our always being with Him. We also must surrender to God our right to be alone, an individual in this sense. We never lose our unique identity as a person; but we must permit ourselves to become an integral part of another, that is, of the Lord Jesus.
The firstfruits are an offering to God from mankind, a firstfruits to God and the Lamb. Every student of the Levitical Law knows how important the concept of a firstfruits is to God. The offering of the hundredfold means they belong to God in a special manner. They are His possession. God accepts the firstfruits on the behalf of mankind so that the other people do not have to press into God to this extent.
When John says no lie was found in their mouth he is speaking of the absence of the sinful nature. Every human being is a liar by birth. Not everyone lies grossly, but there is a subtle lie, a Jacob supplanting nature in most of us. To take the lie out of us requires hot fires over a period of time.
But there is no lie in God, in Christ, or in the Holy Spirit. Since we are being made in the image of God, there can be no lie in us whatever.
Christ is the Word of God made flesh. We are the flesh being made the Word of God, as brothers of Christ, and there can be no lie in us—no not the slightest. We are to be exactly like our Father in this respect.
“They are blameless.” Think of it! Can a human being, who starts off in his or her discipleship filled with sin and self-seeking, ever become blameless?
Well, certainly not by any religious efforts of our own. But we have been born again of the Divine Nature. If we are willing to go through the three deaths and resurrections with the Lord Jesus, the time will arrive when we are a new creation. All the old shall have passed away. All shall have become new and be of God. This is what the Scripture declares, and the Scripture cannot be broken!
I would suggest to you, dear reader, that if it is within you to desire to press forward into God’s highest and best that you count the cost, receive the iron into your soul, and press on. Perhaps no one will go with you, understand you, or sympathize with you.
But you have decided to follow Christ—to Gethsemane if need be. You have decided that you will do God’s will no matter what it is as He provides the grace.
You have decided that while you are alive on the earth it never can be said that God looked for someone to stand in the gap before Him but could not find one person.
Tell God about your determination and then stay with it for the remainder of your life on the earth.
When you die and rise to meet the Lord you will have a depth of fellowship with Him that only the hundredfold experience. You will sing a song that only the firstfruits of the earth can sing.
You have chosen your destiny, and it is to experience all the wonders of God. You will become a patriarch in charge of a multitude of God’s children. As the Kingdom keeps expanding until people have to move to the stars to find living room, you will be growing in God’s image until you are revealing Him in your person, just as the Lord Jesus does.
You will be a true brother of Jesus. You and He have experienced the death of the cross and have remained faithful to your Father.
After a billion years of earth time you still will be growing in the image of God. Your inheritance will be expanding. The fullness of righteousness, holiness, obedience to God, love, joy, and peace to an extent not even comprehensible or imaginable in the present hour now characterizes your personality.
All things are possible with God, and you have inherited the all things of God. Your are God’s son and God is your Father.
God, Christ, an enormous multitude of people, and you yourself will profit for eternity if you have been appointed to hundredfold fruit-bearing and are willing to accept the death to self that is required.
(“Thirty, Sixty, and a Hundred”, 3349-1)