Please find below, the full teaching notes for “Seed of Life,” Pt. 2 of the teaching series, Spiritual Greenhouse Theology. Read on if you’re interested in these notes…
Big Idea: Every seed has inherent within it everything it needs (DNA) to be what it was created and meant to be; as a Christ-follower, the Seed of Life, Jesus Christ, lives in you!
Text: Col. 1:27-29 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. 28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.
The labeling on a packet of seeds tells me that “inside” this packet are corn seeds. Because of that I fully expect that when I plant these in the ground, I’m going to get corn plants. I know that, not only because it says it on the label, but more importantly because I understand this basic biological principle- that life reproduces life after its kind! That what “grows” out of the seed is dictated by the DNA that is in the seed! Every seed has life in it- the life it will develop and reproduce because of its genetic code or DNA!
If only the church could deliver on what we put on the label! We advertise things like: “We love everyone” and we don’t! “We’re Christ-followers” and we’re not! We put a lot of information on the label, but often what people experience is not what we’ve advertised or worse yet, guaranteed!
How is this possible, when more often than not, most of us proclaimed Christ-followers really do want to follow deliver on what we promise? Well, in my opinion we’re trying way too hard to be who we either think Jesus is or worse, want Jesus to be, instead of simply letting Jesus be who Jesus is and letting Jesus do what Jesus does!
To facilitate this we need to again understand some things about biological life, and specifically the science of botany, which is plant biology.
Biological DNA: Life in the Seed
There are over 550,000 species of living organisms! All of these contain DNA. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses. The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints or a recipe, or a code, since it contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells, such as proteins and RNA molecules. The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in regulating the use of this genetic information.
Mendel’s Laws: The laws of inheritance were derived by Gregor Mendel,a 19th century Augustinian priest/monk conducting hybridization experiments in garden peas. Between 1856 and 1863, he cultivated and tested some 29,000 pea plants. From these experiments he deduced two generalizations which later became known as Mendel’s Principles or Laws of Heredity
Two Laws: 1) Law of Segregation- pair of genes, but you only pass on one to your offspring, essentially one from each parent. 2) Law of Independent Assortment- separate genes for separate traits are passed independently of one another- it’s a toss up, random, etc.
But here’s the thing, essentially there are dominant and recessive genes, and depending on how these are “randomly” passed on, you can get a variety of combinations. For example, if a green pea plant and a yellow pea plant are crossed, you will get a green pea plant if the green is dominant or a yellow pea plant if the yellow is dominant. However, because you crossed them, each parent plant supplies one gene randomly, so depending on which are dominant and recessive, you get the result. That’s why two parents with two children can have one child with brown hair and blue eyes and the other with blond hair and brown eyes- it depends on the genes passed on by the parents and how they were randomly joined, etc.
We always have the same “kind” but characteristics may vary… So, for spiritual life, even though we all have the same Jesus in us, too often WE are the dominant “factor” and not Jesus! It’s why we have all types or variations of “Jesus”: The denominational Jesus’, the flannel graph Jesus, the Judge Judy Jesus, the … We are the dominant factor and not him!!
In Pt. 3 I’ll further explain how and why that happens. But I will say for now that people don’t experience the true “spirit” of who Jesus is because we make Jesus instead of making disciples! In other words, the church, me, you, we all focus on the wrong thing- we put our effort into making church and Jesus into what we want it to be and we end up with a lot of Jesus’- (The youth group Jesus, the Ranger or Missionette Jesus, the Senior Citizen’s Jesus, the A/G Jesus or the …. You get the picture!
We need to focus on Jesus being Jesus! Our culture desperately needs to encounter the real Jesus! That changes everything! For that to happen we need to understand this…
Spiritual DNA: The Seed of Life
Every seed has within it everything it needs to be what it was meant to be. Here’s the big secret!! Jesus lives in you!! Already living in you is the Seed of Life, Jesus Christ, everything and all you need for Jesus to be Jesus, for Jesus to not merely live in you… but to live through you! His convictions, character and cause is inherently within you- that doesn’t have to be developed.
You can’t make Jesus more Jesus! You’re not developing Him! Buy you can, and we do, “create” an entirely different Jesus- one more to our preference! This is why the world no longer takes us seriously: because we advertise one thing on the label, but something altogether different is what people get and experience! They’ve been burned too many times- that’s why the unchurched population in America is exploding!
Listen, the Spirit of Christ abides in you, and you must abide in him; meaning you see and experience life in terms of who Jesus is and what Jesus wants!
Note Jn. 15:1-8 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
Notice some key things here that are very explicit: Jesus is the Seed of Life, he’s the main plant. There’s a lot of pruning that has to happen. Remain in him (do what he wants) and he remains in you. Apart from him you can do NOTHING! You are a true disciple and bring glory to God when you reproduce more disciples (after His kind)!
So what is the spiritual DNA of the Seed of Life?
Convictions/Core Values: what Jesus is about!
Do the will of the one who sent me.
All people have worth.
The Word needs to become flesh.
The World is my mission field!
Inherent within Jesus are these convictions and core values- what Jesus is about! Think about how they impact your life?? Think about what the results are when you are constantly submitting to the will of God, to seeing the worth of every person, to living out the word of God daily in your life, and to actively serving your “world” as a missionary! It changes everything!
Character: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Gl. 5:22-23. Who Jesus is!
The fruit described here- character of Christ, is not produced by you, but by the Holy Spirit working through you! The word “fruit” is singular, indicating that these qualities constitute what Jesus’ character looks like through your life- it’s what is IN Christ, but not what is in you/flesh! In an ultimate sense this “fruit” is simply the life of Christ lived out through you. It also points to the method whereby Christ is formed in a believer (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 1:21).
The first three characteristics are habits of mind, which find their source in God.
Love (agapē) is listed first because it is the foundational to everything that is Jesus. God is love and loves the world (cf. 1 John 4:8; John 3:16). Such self-sacrificing love that sent Christ to die for sinners is the kind of love that believers who are Spirit-controlled manifest.
Joy (chara) is a deep and abiding inner rejoicing or strength, which was promised to those who abide in Christ (cf. John 15:11). It does not depend on circumstances because it rests in God’s sovereign control of all things (cf. Rom. 8:28).
Peace (eirēnē) is again a gift of Christ (cf. John 14:27). It is an inner sense of “control” and quietness, even in the face of adverse circumstances; it defies human understanding (cf. Phil. 4:7).
The second three have to do with how Jesus through you reaches out to others, fortified by love, joy, and peace.
Patience (makrothymia) is the quality of forbearance under provocation (cf. 2 Cor. 6:6; Col. 1:11; 3:12). It entertains no thoughts of retaliation even when wrongfully treated.
Kindness (chrēstotēs) is benevolence in action such as God demonstrated toward men. Since God is kind toward sinners (cf. Rom. 2:4; Eph. 2:7) a Christian should display the same virtue (cf. 2 Cor. 6:6; Col. 3:12).
Goodness (agathōsynē) may be thought of both as an uprightness of soul and as an action reaching out to others to do good even when it is not deserved.
The final three graces guide the general conduct of a believer who is led by the Spirit.
Faithfulness (pistis) is the quality which renders a person trustworthy or reliable, like the faithful servant in Luke 16:10-12.
Gentleness (prautēs) marks a person who is submissive to God’s Word (cf. James 1:21) and who is considerate of others when discipline is needed (cf. “gently” in Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:25; “gentle” in 1 Cor. 4:21; Eph. 4:2; “gentleness” in Col. 3:12; 1 Peter 3:16).
Self-control (enkrateia; this noun is used in the NT only here and in Acts 24:25; 2 Peter 1:6) denotes self-mastery and no doubt primarily relates to curbing the fleshly impulses just described. Such a quality is impossible to attain apart from the power of God’s Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:16).
We want these “genes” to be the dominant traits in our lives because this is who Jesus is! This is living differently than most of the world lives. When people encounter these traits in your life, they encounter Jesus!
Cause of Christ: Why Jesus lives in you! Jesus, on this planet, was a missionary! We know he came to die and be resurrected- but what about the 33 years he spent in this world? What was that all about? I can tell you in simple terms- do be a missionary and multiply disciples!
If God did not have a mission for you- to be a missionary and multiply disciples, He’d take you out of this world as soon as you get saved! We live like our only objective is to get saved and make it to heaven!
Jesus lives in us so He can live through us to continue to fulfill his mission!
Here are some of the things you can expect Jesus to want to do through you- because this is why he lives in you! To “give LIFE” (Jn. 10:10). To “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). To “bring truth to the world” (John 18:37). To “serve others” (Matt. 20:28). To “make disciples” (Matt. 4:19; 28:18-20). To “preach Good News” and “proclaim freedom” (Luke 4:18). To “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). To “give the Ministry Gifts- Leadership” to the Church (Eph. 4:11-12)
This is always the tension in our lives- why we think Jesus lives in us and why Jesus actually lives in us!
Seed of Life! Every seed has within it all the dominant genes/factors to make it what is and what if will be! Jesus is IN you to live THROUGH you- it’s all about his convictions- what Jesus’ is about, his character- who Jesus really is, and his cause- why Jesus’ came, why he wants to live through you!
Remember Mendel’s Laws? Well, with Jesus in you, first there’s no combining you and Jesus to form a hybrid, and second, there’s no random, let’s see what Jesus or the church turns out to be! This is profound…
How do we make sure Jesus is the dominant factor, and we are the recessive factor? We will talk more about how that process needs to happen next week in Pt. 3, “Spiritual Germination.”
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