CGG Weekly, May 14, 2021

"Though the land be good, you cannot have an abundant crop without cultivation."

We can readily find the themes of the Pentecost offering in the church, going all the way back to Christ's ministry. While many think of a harvest only in terms of a resurrection at the end of the age (Matthew 13:30; Revelation 14:15), Scripture speaks more broadly of ongoing harvests. Notice Christ's words in John 4:35, 38:

Do you not say, "There are still four months and then comes the harvest"? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! . . . I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.

Jesus, surveying the Gentile Samaritans around His location at Sychar, judged that the area was ready for a harvest—not one that involved physical death and resurrection but a gathering of people bearing fruit as a result of the implanted word preached to them. He perceived that spiritual growth was already taking place. He sent the disciples to "reap," symbolic of the teaching and works He commissioned them to perform (compare Matthew 9:35-38; 10:1-42; 11:1; Luke 10:1-20).

In the Parable of the Growing Seed, Jesus likewise shows the immediacy of a harvest as soon as grain ripens:

And He said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come." (Mark 4:26-29; emphasis ours)

Similarly, the New Testament speaks of firstfruits in the present tense, indicating a harvest already in process. In I Corinthians 16:15, Paul mentions "the household of Stephanas" as being "the firstfruits of Achaia." Romans 16:5 highlights "Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ." These believers were the early part of a spiritual harvest taking place in western Greece.

James 1:18 confirms this present-tense usage: "And it was of His own [free] will that He gave us birth [as sons] by [His] Word of Truth, so that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures [a sample of what He created to be consecrated to Himself]" (The Amplified Bible). Those in Christ are already part of a spiritual harvest due to baptism, which itself symbolizes death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12). Certainly, a harvest will occur at the end of the age, but the gospels and epistles show the harvest symbolism beginning during Christ's ministry.

As we saw in Part Three, the leavened loaves declare that our service and duty to each other is tainted simply because we have not yet put on incorruption. Among God's servants, there have always been differences, some of which are merely different ways of doing things (see I Corinthians 12:4-6), but others of which have given way to division and even hostility. For example, the disciples argued about who among them would be greatest, a matter that arose at least twice (Luke 9:46; 22:24). They preached the gospel, healed people, cast out demons—served their fellow man, as the grain offering portrays—but also jostled for dominance. Striving for preeminence always leavens relationships (see Philippians 1:16; 2:3; James 3:14-16; III John 9), for it reflects the defining image of Satan, the adversary (Isaiah 14:13-14).

Striving aside, the disciples also differed in their approaches. One was bold and impetuous, a couple wanted to call down fire from heaven, and others were apparently unobtrusive, with less written of them. Yet all of them forsook their perfect Friend for a time, failing to give the loyalty they owed that righteous Man—their symbolic grain offerings fell far short with regard to Him. But the High Priest could still use their flawed works because God accepted the leavening in conjunction with Christ's perfect work as Priest and the epitome of the burnt, sin, and peace offerings.

In the two loaves, the Pentecost offering contains the idea of difference, while the New Testament Pentecost in Acts 2 shows differences being divinely overcome in the church, even as the two loaves comprised a single offering. In Acts 2:1, the apostles were all of one accord and in one place. They were different people but one in purpose.

Because God accepted them (see Ephesians 1:6), He gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit. His gift included the gift of languages, which overcame the language barrier—a significant difference—and reversed in the church the confusion and scattering of Babel (see Genesis 11:7-9). God's Spirit also gives unity to those who are led by it (Ephesians 4:3). This unity is not perfect yet, but it is still superior to what we could ever achieve on our own.

In Acts 2:41, three thousand people became reconciled to God in a single day. In Acts 2:44-47, members of the young church freely gave to those in need. They continued daily with one accord, breaking bread from house to house, eating with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God. In other words, they imitated Christ's burnt and peace offerings after accepting His sin offering. This extraordinary example shows what is possible when our High Priest works to make imperfect labors with manifest differences acceptable to the Father. But it necessitates Christ supplying His own labors, for without Him, our spiritual efforts achieve nothing (John 15:5).

New Transcripts

1241c: Conspiracy Theory (Part Two)
Given by John W. Ritenbaugh on 22-Nov-14

1587bs: Our Affinity to Christ
Given by Richard T. Ritenbaugh on 13-Mar-21

1594: Abraham's Sacrifice (Part Four): Providence Manifested
Given by Richard T. Ritenbaugh on 24-Apr-21

1596: Isaac and the Day of Small Things
Given by Charles Whitaker on 08-May-21

1596c: The Ambiguous Mind
Given by Martin G. Collins on 08-May-21

1596s: Was Joshua Required to Offer the Wavesheaf?
Given by David C. Grabbe on 08-May-21

FT19-01-PM: Where God Places His Name (Part One)
Given by Richard T. Ritenbaugh on 14-Oct-19

Prayer Requests

New prayer request updates have been posted for the following people:

Brethren in Trinidad and Tobago
Sondra Hines
Lawrence Holley
Terri Paterson Mosby
Musonda Sakala
Jennifer Thomas
Thomas Tkaczyk
Charles Whitaker

From the Archives: Featured Sermon

Who Then Is In The Kingdom Of Heaven?
by Martin G. Collins

In Matthew 18:1-3, some presumptuous disciples speculated about who would receive the highest posts in the Kingdom of God. However, ambition, arrogance, and pride short-circuits such aspirations. Placing a child in their midst, Jesus warned them that they must emulate characteristics of a child: humility, meekness, open-mindedness, teachability, and indifference to social status—the same characteristics that Jesus taught about in the Beatitudes. Jesus later confirmed that the one who ascends to the greatest position must assume the role of a servant, overcoming the urge to lord it over others. If anyone tramples over the weak to get to the top, God will hold this wicked servant accountable. Jesus desires His servants to be shepherds and not tyrants, having the characteristics of (1.) humility, (2.) caring for the weak, (3.) forgiving others, and (4.) showing kindness rather than despising other believers. Realizing that God cares for all His sheep, expending great effort to bring back the lost ones, we must remember that: (1.) God cares for each of us individually, (2.) God thoroughly understands our weaknesses, (3.) God seeks us when we stray, (4.) God rejoices when we repent and turn to Him, and (5.) God's pursuit of the lost is effective. Like our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ, we should have great concern for someone who is lost and rejoice when he returns to the fold. When we bear with the scruples of the weak and vulnerable, we glorify God.

From the Archives: Featured Article

The Pentecost Witness
by David C. Grabbe

Pentecost is known for its stupendous signs, particularly the display of power in Acts 2. David Grabbe shows that Pentecost teaches us of another, more personal witness: our own display of Christ's way of life in us.

Holy Day Schedule

Please note that all times are in the Eastern time zone.
Holy Day Date Starting Time
Pentecost, AM May 23, 2021 10:30 AM
Pentecost, PM May 23, 2021 2:30 PM

Ministerial Visits

Date Minister Location Notes
June 12, 2021 Richard T. Ritenbaugh Denver, Colorado Sermon, Bible Study
July 17, 2021 Richard T. Ritenbaugh Colton, California Sermon, Bible Study
August 7, 2021 Richard T. Ritenbaugh Portland, Oregon Sermon, Bible Study

Friday Night Bible Study

The next Bible Study (Friday 14-May-21) will be The Commandments (Part Eight), given by John W. Ritenbaugh. The Bible Study will be featured on the CGG homepage from 6:00 pm Friday (EST) and all day Saturday.