Sun, Sep 23, 2001
Matthew 13:31-33 by Joe Guglielmo
Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
Series: Topical Studies


MATTHEW 13:31-33


Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 13 as we are going to be looking at this morning the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven. Now keep in mind that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus took something they were familiar with, like sowing seed, wheat and tares, pearls, dragnets, and-so-on. And He drew out of them a spiritual truth for His disciples to learn.

First we are going to look at the parable of the mustard seed found in Matthew 13:31-32. But before we read our text, listen to these words which speak of what this parable is all about.

The WCC or World Council of Churches held its first meeting way back in 1948. It is a fellowship of over 120 Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and old Catholic churches from some 90 countries throughout the world and with a membership of over 400 million people.

Now the first goal of the Ecumenical movement spearheaded by the WCC is to bring all churches into one visible organization. The ultimate goal of the movement is to bring all religions together. The WCC now holds dialogues on "peace" with representatives of 1.5 billion people on the earth!

As you will see, that seems to be what this parable is all about, false church growth, and it is what the WCC and the Ecumenical movement is doing. With that said, let’s look at these verses and see what the Lord has for us this morning beginning in verse 31 of Matthew chapter 13.

MATTHEW 13:313-32

Here is the picture. You have this tiny mustard seed that has been sown in the field. Now we know from other parables that the field is speaking of the world. So the mustard seed is sown in the world. And this seed is very tiny, it is the tiniest seed known back then, and yet it can grow into a bush, sometimes reaching a height of 12 to 15 feet high.

But please don’t miss what is going on here. For if you do you will miss what this parable is all about. You see, we are told that this seed does not grow into a bush, like it is suppose to, but into a tree. It speaks of abnormal growth. It is so big that the birds of the air nest in its branches. The birds, as we are told in the parable of the soils, are the wicked one and his ministers.

Please don’t take this as normal growth, as I have said. It is not a picture of the church growing and getting bigger and bigger and the people of the world can rest within her branches, take refuge within it. That is a nice picture, but it does not fit what the Lord is saying here. This is a picture of abnormal growth spurred on by Satan and his messengers. It is a picture of false growth within the church, you might say the tares are sown amongst the wheat! Thus, the numbers of people that call themselves Christians is deceptive. I believe in this nation there are over 80% of Americans that call themselves Christians. No way! Look at their lifestyles, look at what they love, what they say, and you will see that their words don’t match up to their actions. It is more of a name relationship. They are professors of God and not possessors of God. Let me explain.

In the November 20, 2000 U.S. News & World Report, a few people sent in letters to the editor in regards to a previous article they ran. The article was entitled "Divining The God Factor." This is what one letter said:

To the question as to whether a religious revival is sweeping America, the answer is a most definite "No." A religious something is sweeping this country, but revival is an inaccurate noun to describe it. Perhaps the word "fad" is better. Or, better still, maybe "marketing campaign," since a description of a growing portion of contemporary Christianity is a picture of a merger between American capitalism, modern culture, and traditional faith. Are these signs of revival? Hardly. A true revival can be described as a divine force, maybe powerful, maybe subtle, maybe both, that calls a society to question its direction. The authority of a revival can be found in its results. To be called to take a hard look at oneself, turn from that which is wrong, and to be challenged to move upward to a higher spiritual plane constitutes some of the many purposes of a true revival.

- Chris Benedict, Blue Springs, Mo.

You see, it is popular to be religious, to call yourself a Christian. From books, to magazines, to music, even movies, Christianity sells, and that has drawn many into the faith for the wrong reasons. Thus, what we see is a false growth within the church as is evidenced by this December 17, 1990 Newsweek article entitled "A Time To Seek." Listen to some of the quotes from this article and I think you will see what I mean.

Thus, there is no commitment to God, to a church, only to self. People are more interested in what the church can give them than what they can give to the church. And in doing that, there is no true spiritual growth, it is easy believism, a fell-good gospel that does not deal with sin, the need for a Savior, and-so-on. It is as Robert Schuller said to an audience of Unity ministers:

"I believe that the responsibility in this Age is to ‘positivize’ religion. Now this probably doesn’t have much bearing to you people, being Unity people, you’re positive. But I talk a great deal to groups that are not positive...even to what we would call Fundamentalists who deal constantly with words like sin, salvation, repentance, guilty, that sort of thing. So when I’m dealing with these people...what we have to do is positivize the words that have classically only had a negative interpretation."

And you can fill churches with that message that is leading people to Hell. And we do see today this outward, abnormal growth. But there is also another problem, and that is the inward issues, the false doctrine or the puffing up of the believers, which the parable of the leaven speaks of. Paul, in II Timothy 4:2-4 tells us "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." People are not interested in being holy, but happy! But God’s desire is that we be a holy people, and in doing that there is great joy, happiness, if we would only obey!

Let me share with you again from Robert Schuller from his book Self Esteem: The New Reformation. Notice how he has changed many of the Biblical terms we use to fit his new theology. Listen to how he defines these words:

Sin - "any human condition or act that robs God of glory by stripping one of his children of their right to divine dignity, that deep lack of trust that separates me from God and leaves me with a sense of shame and unworthiness, any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem." (Page 14).

Guilt - "loss of self-esteem." (Page 65).

Hell - "the loss of pride that naturally follows separation from God. A person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem." (Pages 14-15).

Salvation - "rescue from shame to glory, guilt to pride, fear to love, distrust to faith, hypocrisy to honesty." (Page 151).

Being Born Again - "means that we must be changed from a negative to a positive self-image, from inferiority to self-esteem, from fear to love, from doubt to trust." (Page 68).

Repentance - "positive, dynamic and highly-motivated redirection of life from a guilt-induced fear and its consequent withdrawal from the divine call to a caring, risky trust which promises the hope of glory, for yourself and your heavenly Father, through noble, human-need filing achievements." (Page 104).

Grace - "divine self-esteem." (Page 95).

Also, the Central Committee of the WCC is the principal policy-making body of that organization. In its meeting in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia several years ago, it had many messages of people urging us to adopt new approaches to non-Christian faiths. They said:

"Because Christians cannot claim to have a monopoly of truth, we need to meet men of other faiths and ideologies as part of our trust in and obedience to the promise of Christ."

What a joke! It makes no sense. Jesus said in John 8:32, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." We need to die to self, not build up self, the flesh. And what is the truth? Jesus tells us in John 17:17, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." If you want to know the truth, get into the Word of God! And you can easily see how false doctrine, listening to the wisdom of man, going outside the Word of God, will lead a person down a path of destruction, away from God, and feeling good about it! And that is what we see in our next parable in verse 33 of Matthew chapter 13, the parable of the leaven.


This is not a picture of the church growing until it covers the whole world, as some like to teach. It is a picture of false doctrine growing within the church. You see, leaven in the Bible is a type of sin. It grows, multiply’s by rotting putrefying!

Thus, the picture here is false doctrine getting into the church, and it grows and grows affecting all of it if it is not separated or removed! Do we see that happening today? You bet we do and at alarming rates! Let me give you a few examples.

This is from the Daily Herald back on October 20, 1993 and the report is entitled "Evangelical Lutheran report urges acceptance of homosexual unions." The report goes like this:

Masturbation is healthy, the Bible supports homosexual unions and teaching teens how to use condoms to prevent disease is a moral imperative, says a task force leading the nation’s largest Lutheran body into the sex wars.

Please listen to the next one and tell me if they are crazy. The article is from March 14, 1993 and is entitled "Texas college unveils nude models." It goes like this:

Baylor University will allow nude models in its art classes for the first time beginning next fall, but the conservative Baptist school still plans to draw the line when it comes to students baring all...But university officials stress that the new policy does not represent a shift in Baylor’s strong moral standards. For example, the school will continue to ban on-campus dances in keeping with Baptist leaders’ belief that dancing could lead to immorality.

And nudity won’t!? I don’t get that one, do you? But those are small potato’s when you think about what the following news release has to say. Listen carefully:

A press release issued by the Vatican on October 29, 1996 stated the following: "Made public today was the message of Cardinal Francis Arinze president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue to Hindus on the occasion of the feast of Diwali, which they will celebrate this year on November 12." A note accompanying the message mentioned that "Diwali is a festival of illumination" and " a feast of renewal as the Hindus believe that on this day the divine power has overcome the darkness of the world."

Cardinal Arnize wrote in his report that the Hindu feasts "are opportunities for us to draw closer to people belonging to different religious traditions and they are providential occasions to reflect together in the light of and in fidelity to our respective religious beliefs."

And folks, it just gets worse and worse. Many of you have heard of the Jesus Seminar, a group of so-called Bible scholars who gather together to tell us what Jesus really said and what was added by His followers. In fact, they have come to the conclusion that less than 20% of what is attributed to Jesus in the Scriptures, He really said!

They have concluded that Jesus never said the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew chapter 6 and Luke chapter 11. Those are not the words that Jesus spoke as He hung on the cross of Calvary - thus He never said "Paid in full!" Or "Tetelestai!" They say that Jesus never claimed to be God. They deny His virgin birth. They deny most of the miracles that Jesus did. And do you know what the kicker is? Take a guess! He never rose from the dead! They deny His bodily resurrection!

And as these false doctrines continue to creep into the church, they will grow and grow until it reaches a point where in some churches, there is no need for a Savior, your not a sinner, you just have low self-esteem! And what ends up happening is the blind are leading the blind and both are heading for destruction!

If these so-called "Bible scholars" would only read what they claim to understand. Paul, in I Corinthians 15:17-19, says "And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." You see, if Christ is still in the tomb, we are still lost in our sins! And, according to the Jesus Seminar and many others, that is what they believe!

But Paul goes on to say, and you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to understand it. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15:20-22, "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive." Not only has Christ risen from the dead, but all those who are in Christ, who are born again, will also be made alive, they will never die, spiritually speaking! To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord! It is a promise to us and we can believe it because Jesus has risen!

Now what will all this lead to? A one world religion that will be spear-headed by the false prophet. You see, I believe we are living in the days of the Laodicean church, the lukewarm church, the one that Jesus said He will vomit out of His mouth! Why? Because they have turned from Him, locked Him out of their lives, and they refuse to let Him in, to receive Him as Lord and Savior of their lives!

Now some of you may be thinking "That’s all very interesting, but what does it mean to me? What does it have to do with me?" Everything! Jude tells us "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ." Jude 3-4.

As Jude was writing about the glorious salvation that all believers have in Christ Jesus, all of a sudden the Holy Spirit got his attention and changed the direction he was going. Now he is going to appeal to his readers to contend earnestly for the faith. The Greek word used for "contend" means "to fight for something, with great strength, to strenuously defend something." We are in a battle for the truths of God as the enemy tries to negate what God has said, to deny what God has said.

In I Timothy 6:12 Paul tells Timothy to "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." You are in a battle, don’t give up, don’t surrender, but stand your ground for God’s Word is living, it is powerful, and it is able to change lives!

Also, in I Peter 3:15 we are told, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." If we, as Christians, can’t defend our own faith before someone who has honest questions, honest doubts, honest fears, then we are in trouble. It would be like going into battle without knowing how to use your sword! We must be able to give a reason of the hope that is in us but we also must do it in meekness. That is not being a wimp, but it is a word that speaks of power under control. It is seen in a wild horse that is broken. He still has all that power, but now it is under the control of their master. And we still have all that power, but it is under the control of our Master, Jesus Christ! You see, we are not to get into arguments or put people down, but in the fear of the Lord speak forth the truths of God in the love of God!

History has shown that once a school or church compromises its position and sells short the fundamental doctrines of the Word that there is no chance of their going back to retrieve that which they originally adhered to. Not in one instance has there been an apostate body that returned to fundamentalism!

Yes, the church will grow falsely in numbers. Yes, the church will adopt false doctrine, puffing itself up. Thus, we must stand strong in the faith, fight the good fight, hold onto that which is true and earnestly contend for, fight for the faith that has been delivered to each of us! It is as Paul says in Colossians 1:28-29, "Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily." May we have that same desire, to share the truths of God to those around us, to bring people to Jesus!

Let me close with this warning and exhortation. Paul tells us in Colossians 2:8-10, "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power."

The worlds doctrines will cheat you, they will rob you and they will deny and go against the Words of God! But, on the other hand, in Christ we are complete, we need nothing else. The choice is yours! Do you want to grow outwardly or inwardly? Do you want to be puffed up or built up? Do you want false hope or true hope? You see, the world or Christ, which one will you chose? May it be Jesus, the giver and sustainer of life!