The Scriptures use a variety of images and symbols to speak forth truth and to bring understanding to the people of God. Indeed, the entire creation was designed to show forth parables. As we observe events and images in the natural, we are able to perceive things in the spiritual realms.
Two of the most prevalent images that confront people as they read the Bible are that of shepherds with a flock, and husbandmen tending a field or vineyard. The Scriptures declare that the people of God are both Yahweh’s flock and His field. If the people of God are His field, what type of crop is He desiring to bring forth from this field? It can be clearly stated that God is very definite in that which He is seeking to bring forth from His people.
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you...
The gospel of Christ is unique among all messages proclaimed by the religions of the world. There are many faiths that are focused upon a moral code of conduct. There are numerous ways presented to attain to a happy afterlife. But there is only found in the gospel the message that a man must be born again as a spiritual creature.
Yahshua answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" Yahshua answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, "You must be born again.’”
There is no other religion on earth that declares to mankind that they are incomplete and unable to attain to the desire of God apart from experiencing a spiritual birth. This spiritual birth is critical. Apart from being born again a man can neither see, nor enter into, the kingdom of God.
In other religions anybody may join and begin to practice the teachings of its prophets and leaders. In Christianity, however, there is but one entrance, and one path to admission. All must enter in through Christ. All must begin by being born again spiritually of the seed of Christ.
I Peter 1:23
For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.
I John 3:9
No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
Spiritual life begins at conception even as does physical life. Apart from receiving spiritual life into their being, mankind cannot live as Christ lived. All attempts to imitate the life of Christ are vanity and striving after the wind. The life of Christ cannot be imitated. It can only be replicated. The seed of Christ’s life must take root in the heart of a man and begin to grow. It must continue to grow until the full image of Christ comes forth.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
The church today has lost the understanding of the purpose of ministers. Ministers are not given to the church to direct the saints into good works, nor to keep them busy with the activities and programs of the church. Christ gave ministers to equip the body of Christ with the knowledge of the Son of God who resides in them, and to urge them on to a life of faith where they reckon that Christ is in them, that all things have changed and become new. These ministers are given to bring the members of Christ’s body to the same fulness of stature that belongs to the Son of God. They are to direct the body of Christ to labor to see Christ fully formed in them.
Such growth into a mature image of Christ is a natural spiritual progression. Once the seed of Christ is received in the soil of man its regular course is to grow and mature. Yet like a seed of corn planted in the ground there are many things that can affect the maturing of this seed. Crops can wither from drought, disease, and pestilence. Crops can fail to mature due to poor soil conditions, by being choked out by weeds, or by having the seed snatched away by predators.
God’s ministers are called to serve as husbandmen. They are to tend the soil in which the seed has been planted, laboring to see that it comes to maturity. The apostle Paul spoke the following words to the young minister Timothy.
II Timothy 2:6-7
The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
No farmer would be so careless as to go and cast seed out over the field only to return at the end of the growing season expecting to reap a great harvest. Much work has to go into preparing the soil. The ground has to be watered, and weeds and pests must be removed throughout the growing season. The ministers of God are to work together to bring forth a mature crop from the seed of Christ that has been planted in the lives of men.
I Corinthians 3:6-9
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field...
A great many ministers today do not know what it is that the seed of Christ must grow into. They do not know whether they have planted watermelons, or rice, or peas in the field. Their labor is therefore haphazard. Many seeing an image of Christ appearing among the people of God, pull it up and cast it away as an unwanted weed, not discerning that this is what they are to be bringing forth for the glory of God.
How can a minister labor to bring forth from the seed of Christ planted in God’s field an hundred fold increase of the image of Christ if they do not know that this is the object of their labor? The call of God’s minister is to see Christ fully formed in the people of God. Such mature spiritual men will be able to then hear God for themselves. They will walk with God even as did Christ. They will go where the Father directs, and do the works the Father reveals that they are to do.
Many ministers do not desire to see people come forth who are a mature reflection of Christ. The ministers want to direct the people, telling them what works to do, and keeping them forever attending their teaching, putting money in the coffers of their church, and keeping the programs the minister oversees running smoothly. Such usurpers will see all who are coming to maturity as a threat, and they will seek to rein them in, controlling their lives. In doing so they repeat the grave error of the Jewish leaders.
"Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey. And when the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. And the vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.' But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.' And they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?" They said to Him, "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons...” “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.”
How have the ministers of the church today NOT done the same things of which Christ accused the Jewish religious leaders? The ministers of the church today have refused to bring forth a mature crop to present to God the Father, the owner of the field. They have taken the proceeds from the field and gathered it into their own barns, enriching themselves. They have been evil in their labors, intentionally sowing weeds and loosing pests among the standing grain. They have spread the disease of material prosperity, carnal desires, and false doctrine as if it was fertilizer to enrich the soil, but they have merely managed to choke out that which was growing. And should they see any coming to maturity despite all of these disadvantages, they will uproot them and cast them away, seeing them as a threat to their dominion.
God will bring those wretches to a wretched end. He will then place the field in the hands of faithful servants who will bring forth the increase that He has long desired. This activity is at hand. We will soon see this judgment and transfer occur.
Zechariah 11:4-5, 13:8-9
Thus says Yahweh my God, "Pasture the flock doomed to slaughter. Those who buy them slay them and go unpunished, and each of those who sell them says, ‘Blessed be Yahweh, for I have become rich!' And their own shepherds have no pity on them...”
“It will come about in all the land," declares Yahweh, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,' And they will say, ‘Yahweh is my God.’”
In this hour the judgment of God will come to the shepherds of God’s people. Many will be consumed, and God will raise up godly shepherds who will pasture His flock in good grass and beside clean waters. No longer will they be fed that which is sick and diseased, nor led beside polluted streams to drink. The words of Ezekiel will be fulfilled:
"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, "Thus says Yahweh God, ‘Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.’”
Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Yahweh: "As I live," declares Yaweh God, "surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Yahweh: ‘Thus says Yahweh God, "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them."'"
God will call forth a remnant of His people and place over them true shepherds, and faithful husbandmen, who will do all His good pleasure. These will labor faithfully to see Christ formed in every man. They will strive to bring forth an abundant increase for the glory of God the Father. A vision will be upon the eyes of God’s servants. They will perceive the seed of Christ growing in the soil of God’s field, and they will labor to see it come to maturity until Christ is clearly visible in every direction, and on every hand.
These shepherds and husbandmen will receive wages according to their labor. The Father will reward them for bringing forth that which is the desire of His heart, even many sons in the image of His firstborn. These shepherds and husbandmen will not fatten themselves on the field and flock of God. They will not pollute the land, nor foul the waters. These will cleanse the way before them, removing stumblingblocks and stones from the fields.
Therefore thus says Yahweh God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: "You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds," declares Yahweh. "Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing," declares Yahweh.
People of God, listen to what the Spirit is speaking. Yahweh must raise up true shepherds for His people at the end of this age in which we now live. He will have a purified people, and a bride prepared for the return of His Son. Though it be a remnant who are saved, and the people of God appear as a much smaller flock than the hundreds of millions who now profess to be His people, He will have a victorious, overcoming body of believers who will manifest fully the life of His Son in them.
These ministers have been walking with God, coming to understand His ways. They know what is necessary to bring forth the image of Christ among His people. These will not drown the growing grain with too much water, nor cause it to perish with too much drought. They understand that even as Christ was perfected by the things He suffered, so too must those be who would attain to His image. There is a need for the early and latter rains, as well as for the hot dry weariness of summer.
Apart from the working of the cross there can be no conformity to the image of Christ. Most ministers today are enemies of the cross. Their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame. They therefore lead others to do the same. They want to consume and experience endless pleasure, but this has caused the image of Christ to be absent among the people of God. True ministers with hearts after God’s own will seek that which is the Father’s desire. They will not serve as hirelings and men-pleasers. Their vision will be to bring forth that which will satisfy the One who chose them to tend field and flock.
The one thing that will satisfy God will be to have many sons in His image. The path must involve suffering, but the end is glory.
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
God will only be satisfied when He observes among mankind many sons conformed to the image of His firstborn.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren...
Christ must be fully formed in His people. This is God’s desire for you and for me. He will accomplish His desire. Though it be at the end of the age that the church finally brings forth sons after the image of Christ, she will bring them forth. Like Sarah who gave birth to Isaac in her old age, the church must bring forth sons. Like Rachel who gave birth to Jacob’s last two sons, Joseph and Benjamin, even as her own life was fading, so too must the church bring forth sons to share the birthright and to receive power at the end of this age.
Although the earth and the people of God must endure great tribulation such as has never been experienced before, this time will be as a woman in her birth pangs. She will have sorrow in the process, but afterward she will forget her pain for the joy that a man has been born into the world.
It has ever been the plan of God for His Son to see His seed, His offspring, fully bearing His image. The plan of God has not been thwarted, or even hindered. There is an appointed time for all things.
Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief: when You shall make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see his seed, He shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in His hand.
It was for this purpose that Christ came and laid down His life. He was promised that if He laid down His life He would see His seed, many sons in His image.
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Christ laid down His life to bring forth Christ in others. All those who have received His seed are to be growing up into His image and likeness. We are his field. All things produce after their kind. It is the will of the Father that Christ be fully formed in you.
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