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The Story of a Grain of Wheat
“Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth . . . alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit” John 12 v24.
The Lord Jesus Himself is undoubtedly the One referred to primarily in this passage, but He adds “If any man serve Me, let him follow Me” to call the “Children of the Kingdom” into fullest fellowship with Himself, so that in the laying down of life they too may bring forth much fruit to His Father’s glory. Not, be it remembered, in the aspect of propitiation for sins, for “He trod the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with Him”, but in obedience to the law of sacrifice for fruitfulness. Union with Him Who gave His life as the first Seed-grain is essential to us His followers to-day, if we are to fulfil the purpose of our being.
To trace the early history of God’s seed-grains, we must turn to the parable of the Sower, the parable of beginnings.
“He said unto them, know ye not this parable? and how shall ye know all the parables?” Mark 14 v13.
If we do not understand how the seed springs into life quickened by the Holy Spirit’s power, and becomes the beginning of the life of God in the soul, how can we understand the development of that life, and the later stages of its growth, as they are put before us in other parables? How shall we be able to comprehend the law of sacrifice, as revealed in the pouring out unto death of the first Seed-grain? For true knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom always correspond to the development of the hidden life of the Kingdom, within us.
THE PARABLE OF BEGINNINGS
THE SOWER, THE SEED AND THE GROUND
“Behold the sower went forth to sow” Mark 4 v3.
The sower may be the husbandman Himself, or His labourers sent forth at His command. In either case we see that all seeking for souls, and all sowing of the seed of life begins on God’s side, with God Himself. “God so loved . . . that He gave” John 3 v16.
The seed sown by the sower:
“The seed is the word of God” Luke 8 v11. “The word of the Kingdom” Matt. 13 v19. The written word contains the germ of eternal life. The Living Word, the Christ of God, is hidden in the written word’ and when planted in the heart of man, a new life is communicated, so that souls are “Begotten with the word of truth”. James 1 v18. “Born again, not of corruptible seed but . . . by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” 1 Peter 1 v23.
The ground in which the seed is sown:
“Some fell by the wayside” Mark 4 v4. “Some fell on stony ground” Mark 4 v5. “Some fell among thorns” Mark 4 v7. “Other fell on good ground” Mark 4 v8. The same seed, containing the same life-germ, the same possibilities, yet, meeting with four different results in four classes of hearers. Oh, how solemn is this parable of beginnings. How much depends on the start.
The wayside sowing:
“Those by the wayside are they that have heard; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word” Luke 8 v12.
That which lies on the surface is easily caught away. The devil comes to every seed-sowing of the word of life. He must be there to immediately snatch the seed away, for the hearer must not be given time to think. Mark 4 v15. What he fears is “lest they should believe, and be saved.” It is the Word of God that he is keen to snatch away. Let God’s messengers remember this. The devil is not afraid of addresses about the Word, but of the Word itself which contains the germ of life. Addresses may be so brilliant, or so voluminous, as to contain no real seeds, or else so scattered that they do not reach the ground of the hearts of the hearers at all.
The seed in the stony ground:
“Those on the rock are they which, when they have heard, receive the word with joy, and these have no roots which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” Luke 8 v13. These hearers received the word with joy; their emotions were deeply stirred, but these joyful receivers had no root. How could there be deep root unless the stony ground had been ploughed, and the stones gathered out? The sower must not only sow the seed, but he must sow it in ploughed ground.
The seed sown on these two kinds of ground apparently comes to nothing. The hearers have passed-on, possibly to be reached again by some other sower.
The seed in thorny ground:
“Other fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.... These are they that have heard the word, and the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” Mark 4 v17-19. Here the seed of life has really taken root, and sprung up. It is planted in the heart, but it has not room enough to permit of its full growth. It is choked with 1) cares, 2) riches, 3) pleasures, or 4) the love of other things.
Here we have a heart which has opened to receive the Word of God, but which has never been cleansed in its desires, or wholly surrendered to God. Carnal Christians, fruitless Christians, what multitudes there are! They bring no fruit to perfection. Luke 8 v14, & Rev. 3 v2. They never reach the point of fitness to be God’s seed-grains. There is fruit, in the sense that the little blade of wheat begins to show itself, but it is weak, feeble, stunted in its growth. Can nothing be done to the thorny ground, even though the beginning shows a possible end of no fruit to perfection? Yes, thank God, there can, for other parables tell how God deals with unfruitful souls. The thorny ground may yet be cleared of its thorns, and the seed of life come to full maturity. The prophet Isaiah gives us, in Old Testament language, a vivid picture of the way God must deal with the life which produces thorns, “The Lord of Hosts . . . shall kindle a burning like the burning of afire. And the light of Israel shall be for a fire and His Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns. and his briers in one day, and shall consume; . . from the soul, and even to the flesh.” Isa. 10 v16-18. The thorns of earth which made a thorny crown for the Christ of God, and which will make a thorny path for us in following Him, must be burned. The meaning of this is simply, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” John 20 v22. “God, which knoweth the heart, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost . . . cleansing their hearts” Acts 15 v 8-9.
How many receive Jesus the Saviour, Himself the gift of eternal life, who do not know that they may also receive the gift of the Ascended Lord, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. How few know that the Holy Spirit comes to cleanse the heart, and to reveal in ever deepening reality, the Christ of God. If the seed of life is to reach full growth, the Holy Spirit must be given entire control in the whole being. “When the Comforter is come . . . He shall bear witness of Me” John 15 v26, said the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit will bear witness to the finished work of the Redeemer, and give a true inward knowledge of the Cross of Calvary, furthermore revealing the Risen and Ascended Lord. He will purify the heart from its old desires, by applying the death of the Crucified One, and will make the Cross a continuous power to separate from that earth-life which produced the thorns, so that the heavenly life may grow within us to full maturity, for “the Word of the Cross . . . unto us which are being saved . . . is the power of God” 1 Cor. 1 v18.
THE STORY OF THE SEED-GRAIN
“That in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word hold it fast, and bring forth fruit with patience” Luke 8 v15.
Let us now trace the story of the seed of life planted in good soil. The life with the most favourable beginning will come to maturity the soonest. Let us remember this fellow sowers in the Master’s service. Let us aim at well-born souls. Let us seek to do more careful sowing so as to send the young converts out into the world handicapped as little as possible at the start. Nay, even more, let us remember that our own level oft-times determines the level of those we lead to Christ. A feeble tree produces sickly fruit. Let the life be strong in us, and it will be strong in those we win for Christ.
The Master describes the ground as good when it is honest. “None is good, save . . . God”, said the Holy Son of God. “There is none that doeth good, no not one”, adds the Apostle Paul. A good heart therefore seems to be an honest heart, honest with itself, and God, honest in purpose to know the truth, and to do it.
An honest heart will not try to cloak its sins, and to make excuses for circumstances, and training. It will not evade the truth of God, and seek to establish its own righteousness. It will cry out, “God be merciful to me a sinner”, whilst others may be saying, “I thank Thee I am not as other men”. It is honest with itself, it honestly desires to know the truth about itself, however humiliating that may be. It is honestly willing to put away sin, and to accept salvation on God’s terms.
Honest renouncing of sin because it is sin, will make good ground for the word of life, for many grieve over the consequences of their sin far more than over the sin itself in its exceeding sinfulness. An honest heart “heareth the word, and understandeth it” Matt. 13 v23, because the Spirit reveals the truth when there is honest desire to obey it, for He will deign to teach a soul beset with honest difficulties whilst He refuses to satisfy mere curiosity Luke 23 v8-9.
Honest dealing with sin, honest renunciation of all known sin, honest confession of sin, honest desire to know the truth and to do it, honest reception of the word of God without reasoning; these conditions make good ground for the sowing of the seed. In such a heart the word of God can work effectually. In such a heart the seed takes rapid root, and the “Word of the Cross” will have full power. Honest obedience, holding fast the Word of God as revealed by the Spirit day by day, will lead the soul from faith to faith in steady growth. The Father is the Husbandman. He has sent forth His Spirit to take personal charge of the one that receives His Son, and He will faithfully do His work as the silent, unceasing, Operator within.
THE GROWTH OF THE SEED OF LIFE
“Having heard the word, keep it (not hurrying it into forced growth), and bring forth fruit with patience” Luke 8 v15.
The seed need not be watched to see if it is growing. It need not be dug up to see if it has taken root. It can be left. “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed upon the earth; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he knoweth not how.” Mark 4 v26-27. It will do its own work, and conquer and make room for itself, under the watchful care of the Divine Spirit. If the human sower was purely the channel of the Spirit in receiving the message and in ministering the word of life the Divine Spirit would direct the seed into the right ground, and the sower could go his way. It can be left for it will spring up of itself, and bring forth fruit in its season, “first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.” Mark 4 v28. Patience is needed. Oh, the patience of Jesus Christ.
“The Husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth and hath long patience for it” James 5 v7. He is patient over the stages of its steady development, “first the blade then the ear”. To the little green blade, just shooting out of the ground, He does not speak of “falling into the ground to die”. He is silent about this even when the green stalk appears, and begins to grow tall. When the green ear of wheat is forming, and is preparing to become the “full corn in the ear”, when still in its green, pulpy condition, it is far from being fit for sowing in the ground. Patience child of God. Learn to wait. Learn to give God time with thyself and others. “God . . . worketh for him that waiteth for Him”. “Consider the lilies . . . how they grow, they toil not,” but how we toil in struggling to grow. How heavy we make the burden of watching, and caring for the soul.
Depend upon the Holy Spirit, oh honest heart, the Holy Spirit Who is the breath of God, to breath into thee day by day and quicken and nourish the life He has planted in thee. He will watch over His Word to perform it, and bring forth the life eternal from blade to ear, and after that the full corn in the ear.
But “how far does He depend on me to co-operate with Him” is the question here. Just so far as to ask thy utter abandonment to Him day by day, and implicit obedience to all the light He reveals. For it is true that “you can go no faster than a full dependence upon God can carry you”. “God is always present, and always working towards the life of the soul, and its deliverance from captivity . . . but this inward work of God, though never ceasing, or altering, is yet always and only hindered by the activity of our own nature, and faculties; by bad men through their obedience to earthly passions; by good men through striving to be good in their own way, by their natural strength, and . . . seemingly holy labours and contrivances.”
The Husbandman is satisfied with the blade of wheat at its proper stage. He does not expect it to be golden grain. Patience, patience, little green blade. “He that believeth shall not make haste.”
Time goes on. The little green blade has left its growth to God and has almost forgotten about its growing, for it has just been trusting through the dark days, and rejoicing in the sunny ones when they came, accepting each from the Father’s hand.
It has given up toiling and taken to trusting, when suddenly it awakens to find that it is a “full corn in the ear”. It thought it would never produce some real grains, the growth seemed so slow ! Then when the grains came they seemed at first so immature and so unfit for any use. The ears seemed all husk with no grain at all. Would it never be golden grain it said to itself. Meanwhile the days went on. The Sun of Righteousness shone into the heart, and there came the rain of the Spirit from the Father, until at last the fruit was ripe. In the sunshine there sways in the breeze on the top of the stalk, the full corn in the ear.
THE RIPE GRAIN OF WHEAT
“Fruit, thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold . . . when the fruit is ripe, straightway He putteth forth the sickle” Mark 4 v20 &29.
Let us leave the group of grains, the full corn in the ear to which the seed sown by the sower has matured, and follow the story of one little grain of wheat out of the hundredfold. The little grain of wheat finds itself one of many, all bound together in cosy nests on the top of the stalk. Such a happy group, living in the sunshine, rejoicing in the refreshing showers, and the lovely summer air. Is this the end of it all, we ask. Is this the goal, is this the full purpose of its being? If the grain of wheat could talk we might see it looking down on the little blades of wheat just peeping out of the ground, and hear it say, ‘Come up here’. Or it might forget then altogether, and become absorbed in its own beautiful life ‘far above all’, for it left all of earth when it grew up to its present position, and nothing concerns it where it is. On the top of that stalk there is peace from the strife of tongues, separation from the things of earth, and happy fellowship with its own group of grains. There is only room for just the hundredfold in the ear of wheat, and the little grain is apt to be limited to its own point of vision, and to think that no other full corn in the ear, is quite like its own. What a picture of many of God’s children who have followed on to know the Lord, and have grown up with others in happy circles, and favoured surroundings. How bright the days, how happy the fellowship, how delightful the meetings, the Bible readings, the service of God. How easy to look out from cosy nests, and to pity less favoured souls. How easy to become spiritually self-absorbed. Holy yet hard, is the danger here, for it is possible to be a really sanctified soul, but shut in and narrowed within our own limit, a victorious soul, but severe on others not on our level of experience. We may know how to work for God, and yet lack that passion for self-sacrifice which would lead us to be poured out upon the sacrifice and service of other’s faith like the Apostle Paul. Phil. 2 v17.
Is the Husbandman satisfied?
Nay, He has fuller purposes for the grain of wheat. It has not yet fulfilled the cause of its being. It has reached maturity it is true, and hitherto the main purpose has been its growth, for it has been getting for itself, and absorbing all the necessary nourishment that it might become the golden grain.
There are now three courses open to the ripened grain of wheat:
l) It may be garnered alone into the heavenly garner. “He will gather His wheat into the garner” Matt. 3 v12.
Although sifted by Satan and tossed by sorrow and trial, the Father has promised that not the least grain shall fall. Amos 9 v9. But to be one of the garnered ones in the great harvest of the Son of Man, is not the fullest development possible to the grain of wheat. Yet how many place their own salvation, or sanctification, as the ultimate end of all their desires.
2) It may be used as bread-corn. “Bread-corn is bruised, nay, He will not ever be threshing it . . . He doth not crush it” Isa. 28 v28.
The wheat that is gathered into the garner is separated from the chaff, but it is neither bruised nor broken, and both are necessary for the further use or development of the ripened grain. The Father’s bread-corn must needs be bruised, but it is never crushed so as to be useless. May this not mean fellowship with the sufferings of Christ, so as to be made “perfect through suffering”, for “the disciple must be perfected as his Master? Luke 6 v40.
3) It may become one of the seed-grains, bringing forth much fruit. “Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die it beareth much fruit.” John 12 v24. “That which thou thyself sowest is not quickened except it die.” 1 Cor. 15 v36.
The bruised bread-corn, and the buried grain of wheat, may be but two aspects of God’s working for bringing the “life of God in the soul of man” into the fullest development for His eternal glory. The bread-corn may speak of the God ward aspect, as the bruising and threshing brings conformity to the image of Christ. The “bread of God in the Holy Place” Lev. 21 v21, signified the character of Jesus, and His perfect acceptance by the Father, as the One in Whom He was well-pleased. It is also written that “we who are many are one bread, one body”. l Cor. 10 v17. The bread is composed of many grains of wheat, ground and knit together by fire to form one loaf. Thus are we joined to Christ our Head, and in Him and with Him, in the Holy Place, do we become the bread of God, accepted in the Beloved. The buried corn may speak of the man-ward aspect of the breaking forth of the Divine life from the broken grain, even as it is written, “death worketh in us, life in you”. 2 Cor. 4 v12. This seems to point to the being poured out upon the sacrifice and service of the faith of others, the self-lessness of self-forgetfulness that others may be blest. To see the way the Husbandman brings this about, let us pass on to the history of the buried seed-grain.
THE BURIED SEED GRAIN
“Another parable put He forth unto them . . . He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man: The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the Kingdom” Matt. 13 v24&37.
Here we have another sowing quite distinct from the sowing of the seed of the Word. The sowing of the children of the Kingdom, in the field of the world, by the Son of Man Himself, is expressly stated.
The sowing of the seed-grains, produced from the sowing of the seed of the Word in the good ground, and coming to the full corn in the ear, is now spoken of. The Master uses His labourers to sow the word of life, but each seed-grain He takes into His own pierced hands; He can trust it to no other, and He says, “I will sow her unto Me in the earth. Hosea 2 v23. ‘Her?’ The one He has allured into the wilderness. The one He has drawn away from all of earth to hear Him say, “I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness . . . and thou shalt know the Lord”. Hosea 2 v19-20. The one joined to the Lord, Who is the first Seed-grain. “It shall come to pass in that day, I will answer, saith the Lord, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth; and the earth shall answer the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall answer, whom God soweth, and I will sow her unto Me in the land.” Hosea 2 v21-23.
The Creator answers the desire of the heaven, and commands it to pour out its blessing on the earth. The heaven answers the cry of the earth by giving the early and latter rain. Whereupon the earth answers the corn and wine and oil by giving them forth in abundant measure. Heaven and earth unite in responding to the will of the Creator for the buried seed-grain “whom God soweth”.
Then it shall come to pass through the yielded life of the soul in union with its Lord, “I will say to them which were not My people, thou art My people; and they shall say, Thou art my God”. How much may depend upon our discerning the mysteries of God in these last days, when the Holy Ghost is doing a quick work upon the earth, in preparing the handful of corn . . . upon the top of the mountains, Ps. 72 v16, whose fruit shall be as Lebanon.
Surely, the word is true to-day:
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed, and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.” Amos 9 v13.
Let us turn to the seed-grain, and see the picture lesson that in these last days we may intelligently yield to the pierced hand of God, and permit His fullest purposes to be fulfilled in us. Joined to the Lord, one spirit, the grain of wheat awakens to the law of its being, and yields itself to the Son of God for sowing in the earth. It cries to God to make it fruitful at any cost. The purpose of its life begins to dawn upon it. It sees that there is an element of selfishness in being absorbed in its own advancement and its own growth. It shrinks from the possible garnering alone. The Heavenly Husbandman hears the cry of the grain of wheat, prompted by the Divine Spirit, and silently begins to prepare it for the answer to its prayer. He prepares it for sowing in the ground, by gently and imperceptibly detaching and loosening it from the bands that bind it to its nest. It may appear as if He had not heeded the cry, and the little grain wonders why He does not answer, but the air and sunshine are doing their silent work. The corn is ripening unconsciously to itself, until suddenly it finds itself loosened from its old ties; a hand takes hold of it; it is caught away and dropped down into some spot of earth, dark lonely, strange. What has happened?
The little grain of wheat asked for fruit, but not for this strange path. Where is the sunshine, the old companions, the old happy experience? ‘Where am I?’ ‘What does it mean?’ cries the lonely grain. ‘Am I to be of no more use?’ ‘Where is my cosy nest, and all that I have been accustomed to in comfortable and congenial surroundings?’ ‘This dark spot of earth, so repulsive seems to be injuring my nice coat; it was so beautiful in my little nest on the top of the stalk. I was so far away from earth, so far above it all’. So the little grain speaks within itself.
Presently it is shocked to find its covering going to pieces. This is worse than all. So long as it could retain its exterior beauty it would not mind the isolation, the darkness, the apparent uselessness. Ah me, is this retrogression? What can it be? Moreover it seems like giving way to its surroundings. It is broken by them and is not able to guard itself, and remain so far above all as before. It never thought it would be moved by earthly things again. Meanwhile the little grain rests on the faithfulness of God. In spite of these strange dealings it knows that He is a faithful God, and will lead it safely as the blind one by a way that it knows not. It cries with the Psalmist, “I shall yet praise Him Who is the health of my countenance, and my God”. Poor little grain. Trampled upon in the dark earth, buried out of sight, ignored, forgotten. This little grain of wheat that was once so admired. How the other members of the group of grains looked up to it, and listened with reverence to all its counsels. Like one of old it cries “unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence for my council . . . they waited for me as for the rain . . . If I laughed on them, they believed it not . . . I chose out their way, and sat as chief . . . As one that comforteth the mourners. But now! Job 29 v21-25, 30. Now it is forgotten as it passes into solitude, crying “I looked for some to take pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none”. Other children of God may “tell of the sorrow of those whom Thou hast wounded”. Possibly without a burden of intercession, or anguish of heart, or tears, as suffering with others, which suffer adversity, as being also in the body. Heb. 13 v3.
Buried grain, say Yes, to God. He is answering your prayers. Maybe you were occupied with your successful service, and with your happy experience in those old days. How little you were able to understand the temptations, and the difficulties of the little blades of wheat. How stern you were with those who fell, not looking to thyself lest thou also be tempted. How you talked to the tiny blades of green just peeping through the ground, that they ought to be much older, and more matured. How weak you thought them because they were bowed to the ground immediately when some heavy foot trod upon them. How you discouraged them when they were weak in the faith, and did not receive them, nor bear lovingly with their weaknesses. How you tried to make them see what you saw in your fuller maturity. You did not understand how to wait, and to encourage them, and to give them time to grow. You wanted to hurry them on, and failed to see that they would only have increased vision as they followed on to know the Lord.
Buried grain, you were verily guilty concerning your brother, in your lack of anguish of heart and many tears, over the temptations and sorrows of others. How you guarded yourself, and feared to stoop down to earth, to become as weak to the weak, that you might gain the more!
Now learn the mystery of the Kingdom unfolded in the picture lesson of the grain of wheat, remembering that it is only a picture lesson. The life of God in you, could not break forth into fruitfulness until you had been broken by God’s own hand. The earthly surroundings and testings, the loneliness and humiliation, were permitted of Him, that He might release into life abundant the life that had come from God.
At each stage of growth there must be the casting off of much that was necessary before, if there is to be fuller development. At the beginning, the germ of life is hidden within the outward form of the written word; the shell may pass away (i.e., from our memories) but the life, the Living Word, remains. Under favourable conditions for growth, in an honest and good heart, cleansed from all that would choke the seed, the life progresses, showing itself in varied outward forms that may be described as the blade, the stalk, the ear, the full corn in the ear.
In the fullness of time the knife must be used, for there must come the severance from old supports, the parting with old experiences, the passing away of outward things that once helped us. The blades of green, the stalk, the ear of wheat, were only outward coverings for a life that was pressing through them to full maturity and sacrifice for fruitfulness. Severed from old supports, detached from old surroundings, again the life within the matured grain cannot break forth into the hundredfold without a further stripping, a breaking of an outward shell that would prevent the fruitfulness. In honest hearts crying out to God for His fullest purposes to be fulfilled in them, the Holy Spirit works even when they do not understand His working. The danger lies in their clinging to old experiences, and old helps, and old supports, when the Spirit-life within is pressing them on to another stage; especially if that stage seems downward instead of upward, although our picture lesson shows us that downward means fruitfulness, and is the sequence to the upward path of the full development of the grain of wheat.
What all this means in practical experience the Holy Spirit alone can make us understand. It is sufficient for us to know something of the principles of His working, that we may learn to yield trustfully to all His dealings. That we may not think it strange when we are weighed down exceedingly, so that we despair even of life, and have as the answer to all our questionings that it is “death within ourselves, that we may not trust in ourselves but in God that raiseth the dead”. 2 Cor. 1 v9.
“Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die it beareth much fruit” John 12 v24.
“Death worked in us . . . life in you” 2 Cor. 4 v12.
At last the grain of wheat is willing to be hidden away from the eyes of men. Willing to be trampled upon and lie in silence in some lonely corner chosen of God. Willing to appear what others would call a failure. Willing to live in the will of God apart from glorious experiences. Willing to dwell in solitude and isolation, away from happy fellowship with the other grains of wheat. The little grain has learnt something of the meaning of fellowship with Christ in His death, and now comes to pass the saying, “Whosoever shall lose his life for My sake shall find it”. Matt.16 v25. Silently, surely, the Divine life breaks forth into fruitfulness. The grain has given itself, it has parted with its own life, yet it still lives, lives now in the life of its Lord.
A buried seed-grain, it is content to be forgotten. For who thinks of the grain, and of all the sorrow and suffering that it underwent while sown in the dark, when they see the harvest field? But the grain of wheat is satisfied because the law of its being is fulfilled. It has sunk itself and its own getting, and now lives in others, not even desiring to have it known that from it the hundredfold has sprung. So the Christ Himself poured out His soul unto death, that He might “see His seed”. See the travail of His soul and be satisfied, as He lives again in His redeemed ones. Thus in God’s wondrous law, the law of nature repeated in the spiritual world, the first grain of wheat, sown by God Himself, is reproduced in other grains, having the same characteristics, and law of being, “If it die . . . much fruit”.
THE LIFE OUT OF DEATH
“If it die, it beareth much fruit . . . If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be . . . him will the Father honour” John 12 v24-26. “For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” Col. 3 v3.
We have followed the little grain in its downward path into the ground to die, it has “hated its life in this world”, and now its life is hid with Christ in God. “Where I am, there shall also My servant be.” Whilst it has been consenting to the breaking and stripping in its lonely hidden path, the Divine life within it has been breaking forth in life to others, and silently springing up into stronger, fuller, purer union with the Ascended Lord. “Where I am there shall also my servant be, the servant that will follow Me to My cross and My grave shall go with Me to the Father, and his “life shall abide in heaven”. Phil. 2 v20. “Where I am, they . . . with Me.” John 17 v24.
THE FIRST GRAIN OF WHEAT AS THE PATTERN
“Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say ? Father, save Me from
this hour. But for this cause came I unto this hour. ‘Father, glorify Thy Name’”John 12 v27-28.
Even the Lord Christ was troubled as He drew near the hour of desolation and suffering foreshadowed in Psalm 22. The hiding of the Father’s face was more than broken heart, than nails and spear. He could have saved Himself, He could have spoken to His Father, and had legions of angels to fulfil His behests, but where then would have been the first-fruits unto God and the Lamb? “Now is My soul troubled: and what shall I say? Father save Me?” Nay, the Master’s only prayer could be, “Father, glorify Thy Name”.
When Thou dost hide Thy face - Glorify Thy Name. When Thou art silent to My bitter cry - Glorify Thy Name. When others reproach and despise Me - Glorify Thy Name. When I am taunted that God has failed Me - Glorify Thy Name.
When I am poured out like water; when My heart fails me; My strength is dried up; and I am brought to the dust of death - “Father glorify Thy Name”. If we follow the Lamb whither soever He goeth, there will surely come to us, as to Him, the assurance from the Father: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again”.
“He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with Me in My throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with My Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches” Rev. 3 v21-22.
THE HIDDEN LIFE OF THE GRAIN OF WHEAT
“For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” Col. 3 v3.
“Where I am, there shall also My servant be” John 12 v26.
“Where I am, they . . . with Me” John 17 v24.
God is teaching many of His children to-day the mysteries of the kingdom, as pictures in the seed-grain buried out of sight yet living with Christ in God, in the power of an indissoluble life. Just so far as they have hated their own life, to share in the life of the Lord, do they taste the “power of the age to come” Heb 6 v5, and have the earnest of their inheritance, a handful of the very same life that shall be theirs in all its fullness, when “what is mortal” shall be “swallowed up of life”. 2 Cor. 5 v4. United to Christ, and hidden in God, they dwell at the source of every precious thing, and in intercession at the Throne exercise even now “authority over the nations”, and power “over all the power of the enemy”, for “out of the mouth of babes . . . hast Thou established strength . . . that Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger”. Ps. 8 v2. They bring forth “much fruit” by abiding in living and hidden union with the Ascended Lord. They hide in Him, whilst, according to His promise, He abides in them, and glorifies His Father through them, producing fruit that shall remain and bear the test of the fire at the judgment seat.
In Matthew 6 the characteristics of the hidden life in the aspect of prayer are unfolded by Him Who was the very embodiment of all He taught.
1. It is prayer with no thought of what others think. Matt. 6 v5.
2. It is prayer shut in with God, whether in private or public, for God’s hidden ones are in the inner chamber of His Presence the moment they approach Him anywhere, and they see and hear none but God. Matt. 6 v6.
3. It is prayer, not so much of language as of heart. They do not need to use “vain repetitions”, for if they know that He heareth, they know that they have the petitions asked of Him. Matt. 6 v7.
4. It is prayer sure of response, for they speak to a Father Who knows their need, and, “how much more shall your Father . . . give good things to them that ask Him?” Matt. 6 v8.
5. It is prayer definite and to the point, for the Son of God knew His Father’s heart, and taught His children how few were the words requisite to bring response, “After this manner pray ye”. Matt. 6 v9.
6. It is the prayer of a child to a Father, and in union with the other children, “Our Father . . . in heaven.” Matt. 6 v9.
7. It is prayer that puts God’s glory and God’s kingdom first, and before all personal interest. “Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come” Matt. 6 v9-10.
8. It is prayer with a surrendered will for the will of God to be done in them as implicitly, and as rapidly, as it is done in heaven. Matt. 6 v10.
9. It is prayer, not for luxuries, but for necessities. “Our bread for the coming day”, which means a life of simplicity, and contentment with “such things as ye have”. Matt. 6 v11.
10. It is prayer in the spirit of forgiving love, “we also have forgiven our debtors”, therefore we can ask Thee to forgive us our debts. Matt. 6 v12.
11. It is prayer in conscious dependence upon God’s keeping and in knowledge of the terrible forces of evil, and the evil one, arrayed against the children of the heavenly Father in the world of “the world rulers of this darkness”. Matt. 6 v13.
In short the hidden life is just the life of a little child, and a little child living in its Father’s presence, desiring its Father’s will, depending upon its Father for protection from all its foes, and showing its Father’s spirit to all around. Moreover, the soul abiding with Christ in God, is given:
“Hidden manna” for the sustenance of the inner life. “To him that overcometh . . . will I give of the hidden manna”. Rev. 2 v17. “He that eateth Me, he also shall live because of Me”. John 6 v57.
“Hidden wisdom” that is withholden from the wise. “The wisdom of God . . . the hidden wisdom . . . revealed . . . by His Spirit”. 1 Cor. 2 v7-10. “Hid . . . from the wise and prudent, revealed . . . unto babes”. Matt. 11 v25.
“Hidden riches” only gained in times of testing. “I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places”. Isa. 45 v3. “I know thy . . . tribulation . . . but thou art rich” Rev. 2 v9.
Fed with the hidden manna provided at the Father’s table alone; taught the hidden wisdom that the princes of this world do not know; given the hidden wisdom that can only be gained in times of trial and darkness, surely it is true that to them that love God, “God worketh all things with them for good”. Rom 8 v28, even to them that He has foreordained to be made like to the image of His Son, the first among many brethren.
Only through the testings can we enter into deep and full life in God. We can only know our God and His abundant grace as He brings us through circumstances that are ‘a good deal beyond the possible point’, as someone once said. Each ‘impossible’ point simply casts us upon the God in Whom we hide. “Deep, dwell deep”, said Ezekiel the prophet. How can we unless we have no resource but God, no refuge but in Him?
Dwelling deep in the heart of their God the hidden souls are then:
Hidden from the strife of tongues. Psa. 31 v20. Hidden in time of trouble. Psa. 27 v5. Hidden from the storm. Isa. 4 v6. Hidden in the secret presence of God. Psa. 31 v20. Hidden under His wings. Psa. 17 v8. Hidden, yes, hidden behind the Lord. Psa. 91 v1.
These passages tell of a life environed by God Himself for “In Him we live, and move, and have our being”. Finally, as regards the outward service of these hidden ones. They no longer ‘run’ without being ‘sent’, for their service as well as their life is changed. Their place is now in the hand of God. “In the shadow of His hand hath He hid me, and He hath made me a polished shaft, in His quiver hath He kept me close”. Isa. 49 v2.
The souls who are hid with Christ in God are thus under His full control. He keeps them close until the right moment arrives for sending them forth as “polished shafts”, silent and sure. When God wields the weapon He strikes the mark, for He knows the spot to aim at in the city of Mansoul. When not in active use they are kept hidden in His quiver, always ready at His hand. Polished shafts, they need much polishing to get the roughness off them, but the Master Workman knows how to prepare His instruments for His use. The “polished shafts” are kept for hidden work, awaiting in the sanctuary, entering into the counsels of God, ready to fulfil His will.
“Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself”. Isa. 45 v15. “There was the hiding of His power” Hab. 3 v4, tells us that God’s deepest work is hidden work. He is preparing a hidden kingdom, whilst permitting the kingdoms of this world to stand until all is ready. “In the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed . . . it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms”. Dan. 2 v44.
He is also building a hidden temple, for a habitation of God through the Spirit, and preparing a hidden Bride to share the throne of His Son. Yes, in this dispensation He is still a God that hideth Himself, and there is the hiding of His power as He silently works out His purposes, until the day when:
“Christ Who is our life shall be manifest, then shall we also with Him be manifested in glory”. Col. 3 v4.
“How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out”. Rom. 11 v33.
“Thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal then unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight”. Matt. 11 v25-26.