Harold Gwinnell - "Parables of Jesus" - Canea Convention, 1981

Hymn 224 - Satisfied   (368 in 1987 edition)

"All these things did Jesus speak to them in parables." I have thought that I would like to understand these things better, and I felt that it was something worth delving into. These things that have been kept secret from the beginning, many have tried to delve into them and understand them, and Jesus said, "Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see the things that ye see and they have not seen them."  God's people in the Old Testament days were looking forward to this day, and when Jesus came, they did not understand. Only the disciples who followed Him understood what He meant. These things had been kept secret.

In Matthew 13, there are seven parables together. Seven in the Bible is perfect. The Bible is full of sevens from beginning to end, and more so in the end. The book of Revelation is chiefly sevens. We read after the messages to the churches that there came an angel who had a book in his hand, sealed with seven seals, and John looked upon this scene and wept, because there was no one in heaven or earth, dead or alive, that could open the seals. This is the last will of God, the last expression of God to humanity, what He is going to fulfill, and there was not one to open it. We know that the scriptures have been opened unto us, delivered unto us, and we are glad of the seven seals, and the wonderful truths that we have understood. An angel came to John and said, "Weep not, for there is one found to open the seals."  John saw a Lamb, and he began to open the seals, one by one, and this is revealed to us. John wrote it, and it's wonderful that God has preserved it to us. It has faced all the onslaughts of men, and today we have the privilege of reading it, and having one seal after another opened to us.

Then we have what was in this book, and we have a complete picture. We see one riding on a white horse, then at the last we see the last seal having in it the wrath of the Lamb; we have a complete picture from beginning to end, of things that would happen down here. This is not a nice picture, but it is coming to pass. We read of the second horse, and we don't know whether it has gone forth yet, but it seems as though he has. He is coming to take peace from the earth, and we can see man doing things that are stupid, there is no sense in them, men of no understanding doing things to the detriment of mankind. If God wills it so, it will be.

The next horse tells of famine following, and this is always the case, then death and hell will follow that. Then we have the seven trumpets and seven angels, all having something to unfold and this is what God is going to do in the future, and somewhere in these chapters we are living today. The angel of God had a message to each church, and this tells us what will be in our day, and what is to come. When the seventh angel sounded the seal was opened, "Now is the kingdom of the world become the kingdom of our Lord."  That is the time that we are looking for. We may not feel that we will be ready; perhaps we feel that we are spotted, but we are glad of that verse that says, "Now unto Him who is able to present you faultless."  This is something that we can look forward to. John saw a great multitude and he asked the question, "What were they?"  "These are they who have come out of much tribulation."  They had to struggle, and to fight for it, and they washed their clothes in the blood of the Lamb. When you wash your clothes in blood, you will have a worse mess than before, but the blood of Christ is different. His saving is in His blood, it has a different effect. You only wash dirty clothes, those that are soiled, and these people had not been perfect; they had not been doing all that was right, so they washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. This is the provision God has made for His people, and I am grateful that Jesus ever lived so that we may have that. We may feel that it was unfortunate for John that he was on the Isle of Patmos. He could have felt that he was away from the Lord's people and couldn't be a help to them, but while he was there, he saw the Lord's people in a different light. You can't kill vision. If we keep our spirits right, if we are in the spirit every day, the Lord can help us.

It says that John turned. Sometimes we are taken up so much with our own troubles and difficulties that we cannot see. We owe a good deal to John. We don't know the value of our Bible. It cost a lot for John to get that vision. Circumstances of John did not blur his vision. In Isaiah, it speaks about the valley of vision, and we are not always on the mountain tops; we are not there very often, and when we do get there, it's not long before Satan knocks us down and we're down in the bottom, discouraged. Oftentimes we are passing down in the deep, and it's good when the valley is a valley of vision. We sometimes feel things are against us, circumstances against us, and we are subject to go to pieces. We do not want to go to the meetings, we just stay away, but the vision in the valley is the most important thing. John saw a vision in the valley of Patmos, and it was priceless. He saw what God was doing; He saw the One that was on the throne. He was on the Isle of Patmos suffering because of the throne of Rome. Nero, the emperor, was trying to swamp the whole thing that John was lifting up, but now here John saw an open door, he saw One on the throne. He saw what was the condition of the Lord's people and he saw that all things had been created for His pleasure and God is all in all. It is good if we realize that in the midst of troubles of this age that there is a throne, and that there is one upon the throne who rules over the kingdom of men.

The prophet Daniel said about Belteshazzar, "Your father was in the wilderness with wild beasts, that he might learn that the high God rules in the kingdom of men." This was a great help to Daniel in time of distress and difficulty. It’s good to keep this in mind for we do not know what is ahead. The kingdoms of men are striving for mastery, but nothing can ever happen but what God allows. Regardless of what man may invent, the Lord's hand still rules in the kingdoms of men, and this is our confidence. This is what we rest upon. God only allows what He wants, and He stops what He doesn't want. Nothing can alter the rule of God. God will someday bring the Prince of Life, the King of Kings. A prince is not a king; he is next in line but is waiting for his time. Jesus is the prince of peace, He is not the prince of war, and some day He will exert himself as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This will be at the end. "Now is the kingdom of men become the kingdom of our Lord."  This is our confidence, and we do not need to worry about what things are happening, because neither life nor death, neither things on the earth, things present nor things to come can separate us from the love of God.

Jesus gave His life, He spent His life so that seed could be given to us, and in our gathering today we can say, "wherever you ripe fields behold, be sure some corn of wheat has died."  We are here today, not because of any cost of money, but there are the lives of God's servants and people, which is a very costly thing.

A few years ago in London, a big evangelist came; he was a Pentecostal, spoke with the gift of tongues and he was noted to be a great man. There was a notice on every bus to say that there was going to be a convention for four days at Westminster Hall, the biggest hall there was. They had a great electric organ, piano, a fine lady trying to sing praise to the Lord, just working people up to get them excited. We went along to see what was happening, and when people were worked up, a woman began to swoon and roll about; other people joined in, hands were up in the air, and they spoke from Acts 2 where people were speaking in tongues, and you never saw such a performance. A good many got up and gave their testimony of being healed, but there was nothing to it. They spoke about aches and pains, stomach pains, various other complaints. A man said he had got his sight back, but he was still wearing glasses! After a while my companion and I left them to it, and as we were going out the door a young lady at the door said, "I hope you'll come again."  But my companion had more courage than I did, and he said, "We've seen enough of the devil for one night."  In the midst of all that carry on there was an appeal for the cost of that mission. They needed £1,200 which was a fair bit for those days. They were half way through the mission, and they hadn't gathered half the amount of money. They expected the city to pay for it, and they said that those who were better off could give so much, and those who were not so fortunate they could give less, so that the target could be reached. What a poor man; he did not know a thing about the way of God, to have to beg for money. We are so glad that our eyes are opened to something better. We know that things have to be paid for, and they are paid for. It is God moving upon the hearts of His people.

At the convention where we prepare, the butcher can't understand it. He brings the meat at 6 o'clock in the morning and we sometimes have a chat, and he can't make out how all the work is done, and everything paid for and nothing said; it is a mystery. I was able to tell him that before all these people leave, every bill is paid. When we put first things first, all these things will be taken care of, all these things fall in their place. We know that at convention it's not only what you hear that counts, but what you see, the service that we do for each other. The butcher asked if we ever had any strikes, and I told him that the only strikes are when we are putting in pegs with a sledgehammer - the hammer hitting the pegs. The Lord looks after all these things. We ought to be glad that we have something that is hid from the wise and prudent, that we have been born into God's kingdom, and our eyes have been opened to these things.

We know that Jesus taught of the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus did not come to tell the Jews how to make money; that would be insult to them, but He told them of the Kingdom of Heaven. They did not want a king like that. The kingdom of Heaven begins by a sower going forth to sow, and this shows that it does not all depend upon the seed. God's seed is good seed. His messengers go in a good way. Our duty is to sow the seed; the seed we have is the richest thing that there is. The message of the gospel does not change, and the fruit of it does not change. The same gospel produces the same in every part of the world, and we are just one great family.

I like it in Ephesians that in the fullness of time He will gather all in one. Those in Heaven and those on earth will be all gathered in one. It will not be a matter of some party there and some somewhere else, but to a child of God, all will be one, all who have received His life and nature will come together. The gift of God is eternal life. The devil sometimes torments us, asking if we started right. Maybe we would do better if we had professed through someone else, but this is only a carnal way. We are either in it or out of it. If this gospel has not changed your life, it has never begun. The gift of God is perfect. A lot depends on the soil whether there is a harvest. Some soil is shallow, some is rocky. Some people are just a thoroughfare for anything. To them, gossip with other people means just as much. Jesus spoke of the third kind of soil and the cares of life and deceitfulness of riches choking the word - not destroying, but choking, it. That is what prosperity does, it does not help people. It has not helped the people of God. People get bigger homes, better furniture, bigger cars, and becomes something that you can't manage. Human nature always wants to climb up; it will never want to climb down.

Be careful, because riches are deceitful. Sometimes you go to the market and you think you've bought a bargain, and you get home and realize that the man has had you.  You have been deceived, and you don't like it. The love of riches can creep into the people of God. We are stewards only, and we can use these things in the wrong direction. The cares of life come thronging fast. This will rob you of praying and reading, because you will have so little time. Men have invented many machines, and have made them all to save time, but have you seen any time saved yet? No, there is no spare time.

In Revelation 12 we see what is happening. "Woe to the inhabitants of the world, for Satan has come down and he knows his time is short."  He's coming to torment us, to rob us of eternal life. He has lost it himself and wants you to lose it too. Someone asked me once, "Do you believe in a personal devil?"  He didn't; he was a religious man, and he said that the devil was like the evil in yourself. Jesus asked Satan to get behind. This wasn't the evil in himself. Satan is real all right, and Jesus knew where to place him. We encourage him sometimes.

Jesus spoke another parable that was different, the parable of the tares. The disciples were very particular about asking Jesus about this parable because this one affected them. This parable refers to the harvest field, refers to the sowing of seed, and the enemy sowing tares, and the servants coming and saying, "Will we pull out the tares?"  "No, let both grow till the harvest."  Then what did he say?  "The field is the world, and the seed is the children of the kingdom."  This parable is different, but it is just as important. The field is still there, and God wants to sow seed, the children of the kingdom in the world, that will produce a harvest. The servants of God know how difficult it is to get our seed to grow, to be productive, because there is so much other rubbish in the world. Satan is sowing his seed, and we know that weeds grow faster than good crop. We sometimes feel that we would like to grub them up, so that we can be given a bit of room to work, but God says that's not our business.  Let all grow till the harvest. Then the reapers will come, and the angel will come. Go and gather the tares and burn them. There is a time coming when all the false systems will be thrown on the scrap heap and there will be a great bonfire.  "Then shall the righteous shine forth."  Then God's servants will have their place, because the kingdom of God will be all theirs. There will be room someday if we just keep faithful.

Then it tells of the mustard seed.  It is the least of all seeds, and this is what the kingdom of Heaven is like. It began so very small in Bethlehem, but it became the greatest of all herbs. Herbs are something that keep us right, and there is everything in the kingdom of God to keep us right, keep us healthy with God. Then it speaks of the birds of the air lodging there. This speaks to us of rest; there is rest in the fold, rest in the One who is over this kingdom.

Then we read of the woman taking the meal, and putting in a little leaven until the whole is leavened, Jesus showing that God is putting a little of His spirit in you and me. A woman would not just take a measure of meal and bake that, because it would not be healthy, but she would put in a bit of yeast, and rise it up. God has a greater purpose for us. God works quietly, just as the yeast, and this work is not over till death, when we will be fitted for His home.

There are two other parables that show how we should value this kingdom. The man who found treasure in the field and sold all knew how we should value it. This kingdom should mean more to us than it used to, if we are going to get anything out of it. We think of coal mines and gold mines, men working to get something worthwhile out of them. They put the slack on top, and we need to know where to put the slack of life. You young people, see what you have refused, what others are living for. The slack is what we have refused and put out of our door, the valuable stuff has been taken away.

Then we have the man seeking goodly pearls and he keepeth it. We need to take care that we keep these things in our minds, that we are satisfied with what God has given us. There is going to be a harvest someday. It begins with a sower and ends with a harvest. It begins with a heavenly sowing, and it ends with an angelic harvest. It is left to the angels as to who is saved and who isn’t.

The Revelation tells us about all angels. After the third chapter you see angels at their post waiting for orders. In Heaven they cannot do as they like, but are all waiting there, being told what to do. Revelation 14 tells us of the time coming when the sickle will be put into the earth, one on a cloud like the son of man and he has a sickle, and we have no mistake as to who he is. Jesus first comes to reap His own. It tells us of another angel, and he is waiting also to be told, and he has a sickle, and he is coming to reap the vine of the earth, reaping all that's wicked, and putting it in the winepress of the wrath of God. Jesus said that no man knows when this will happen. Some people try to work it out, work out a time, but Jesus is waiting for the command from His Father.  He is waiting and no one else knows when the reaping time is.

Jesus gave His disciples the keys of the kingdom; they are able to let people into the kingdom.  Sometimes some slip in, like the man who did not have on a wedding garment.  Sometimes we just have to give people the benefit of the doubt.