Bible Study Lessons

God’s Invisible Work

Introduction

It had been seven years since Mike's buddy told him about the gospel of Jesus Christ as they were working out at the gym in the barracks. But now Mike was alone in a hotel room with nothing else to do. He pulled out the Gideon Bible in the nightstand drawer and started reading. There, in that hotel room, Mike repented of his sin and trusted in Christ alone to save Him. Today Mike travels and speaks - sharing the gospel with others. As we study the parables Jesus told in Mark 4:26-34, we see that even though God's work of bringing spiritual life from the gospel we share is invisible, it is just as real as His work of bringing seeds to life.

Observation

Pray

Before you study His Word, ask God to give you wisdom and understanding through it. Ask Him to give you a willing, obedient heart to receive His Word and do it.

Read Focus Verses

Read Mark 4:26-34 and notice what idea Jesus tells us about in these verses.

Kingdom of God

What is the key idea that Jesus says both in verse 26 and verse 30 that He is explaining?

Key Phrase - Kingdom of God

Marking the phrase kingdom of God will help it stand out to us as the key to these verses.

Kingdom of God

Marking

Mark the phrase kingdom of God in Mark 4:26-34.

Parable

What does verse 33 call these stories which illustrate a spiritual concept using natural things?

First Parable

Which verses relate Jesus' first parable in today's passage?

Second Parable

Which verses relate Jesus' second parable in today's passage?

Farmer

What does the farmer do in verses 26-27?

Seed

What happens to the seed in verses 26-29?

Mustard Seed

What kind of specific seed does Jesus use as an illustration in the second parable?

When Planted

What does Jesus say about the mustard seed when it is planted?

When Grown

What does Jesus say about the mustard plant when it is grown?

The Birds

What does the mention of birds in verse 32 tell us about the mustard plant?

As They Were Able to Hear

What does verse 33 tell us about how Jesus told the parables to the crowd?

Not Without a Parable

What does the beginning of verse 34 tell us about how Jesus was teaching the crowd?

Disciples

What does the end of verse 34 tell us about how Jesus was teaching His disciples?

When?

When was Jesus explaining the parables to His disciples according to verse 34?

Keyword - Jesus Christ

Continue marking all the references to Jesus showing that He is the main character throughout the book of Mark.

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Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

Mark the references to Jesus Christ in Mark 4:26-34.

Interpretation

Identity

Earlier in Mark 4:1-20 Jesus told another parable that uses similar word pictures.

God's Word

What did the seed represent in that parable?

A Person's Heart

What did the different kinds of soil represent in that parable?

Does It Fit?

Could that interpretation also fit with today's parables?

Understand

How does understanding the identity of the seed (God's Word) and the soil (a person's heart ) help us begin to understand today's parables?

Parables

We looked in depth at parables - what they are, why Jesus used them, and how we can understand them - in the study plan for Mark 4:10-13 called "Parables: How to Understand Them." If you haven't studied that passage, it will help you understand today's parables better.

Who?

Mark 16:15 identifies both the one who is to spread the seed and where they are to spread it.

You

Who does Jesus specifically say in Mark 16:15 should be the one who sows the seed of the kingdom? (Hint: it's a pronoun not a name.)

Every Person

To whom does Jesus want the gospel preached according to Mark 16:15?

All the Time

Ecclesiastes 11:6 tells us when we should sow these seeds, and why.

When?

When does Ecclesiastes 11:6 tell us to sow?

Why?

Why does it say we should sow all the time?

I Don't Know

How could you use these verses and the parable you're studying to show someone who said they didn’t share they gospel because they couldn't tell whose heart was ready for it that God wants Christians to tell everyone the gospel?

Promise

Proverbs 11:18 gives a sweet promise to everyone who obeys Jesus' command and sows the Word of the gospel in all seasons.

Sure Reward

What does Proverbs 11:18 promise to this faithful one?

My Word Is Like…

Isaiah 55:10-11 begins to explain to us how God's Word takes root and grows in a person's heart even though we can't see it.

Deep

Hebrews 4:12 tells us how deep God's Word goes into our hearts.

Begin to Explain

How do these two verses begin to explain how God's Word takes root in a person's heart?

God Gives the Increase

1 Corinthians 3:6-9 further explains how all this works.

Like the Wind

In John 3:7-8 Jesus speaks again of the invisible work God does in a person's heart to transform them like the invisible work that brings a seed to life and makes it grow.

Whose Work

Who is responsible for the invisible part of the work that we can't quite explain and which we can only see through the evidence that it has happened?

Start to Finish

As we read Philippians 1:6-11, we see the same growth process - a new work of God growing into fruitfulness - as in today's parable.

He Will Finish

What does Philippians 1:6 about God's work in a person's life once He has started it?

Transferred

Colossians 1:9-14 tells us more about how a person gets into God's kingdom in the first place.

Previously

To what kingdom does a person belong before being transferred to the kingdom of God according to Colossians 1:13?

By Whom?

Who does the transferring?

King

Who is the King of this new kingdom?

Cost

What is the cost and requirement of the transfer according to Colossians 1:14?

But God

Ephesians 2:1-10 explains our natural condition and the means of transfer in more detail.

Dead

What is a person's natural condition in the kingdom of sin according to Ephesians 2:1?

Mercy, Grace, Faith

What of the means of transfer in Ephesians 2:1-10. (Hint: it isn't by our works, it's by…)

Necessary

We see why forgiveness is the key to the transfer according to Colossians 1:14 when we look at Romans 3:23.

All of Us

What is true of all of us?

Blood

Romans 6:23 explains why Colossians 1:14 says it took the blood of Jesus Christ to forgive us and transfer us into God's kingdom.

Death

What is the penalty for our sin?

Jesus' Death

If we look at Romans 5:6-8 we understand the second half of Romans 6:23 better.

In Our Place

Why did Jesus who never sinned die?

What to Do

Back in Mark 1:15 Jesus Himself told us what to do to receive forgiveness through His blood and be transferred from the kingdom of sin into His glorious kingdom.

Repent and Believe

What two things does Jesus tell us to do to enter His kingdom?

Simple

If that seems simple, you've got it right. That's one of the things God loves about His gospel - it is so simple anyone can understand it. See what He says about that in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

God Likes It

What are some of the reasons God says He likes to make the gospel so simple?

The Analogy

Think a little bit about the analogy Jesus uses in this parable - a growing plant. What are some of the things a plant needs to thrive and bear fruit?

Water

Psalm 1:1-3 tells us where a believer gets water to grow strong and fruitful.

Fertilizer

1 Peter 2:1-3 tells us where God's people get their food for growth.

Sunlight

John 8:12 tells us where Christians find sunlight for healthy growth.

Bearing Fruit

John 15:1-8 explains how a Christian can bear real, godly fruit.

To Grow…

What things are necessary for a Christian to grow according to these verses?

The Bible

So what is most important to a Christian's life?

Mustard Seed

In this video you can see mustard seeds and mustard plants.

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I Can Do That

How can Jesus, using the picture of a tiny seed for the witness of the gospel, encourage Christians as they share the gospel?

The Harvest

Matthew records a parable that Jesus told before this one which isn't in Mark. The parable Jesus tells in Matthew 13:24-30 helps us understand the harvest.

The Harvest Explained

In Matthew 13:36-43 Jesus explains that parable.

Represent

What does the harvest represent?

Two Destinies

What are the two destinies represented by the destinies of the wheat and of the tares (which are weeds that look like wheat but don't bear fruit)?

Which Will It Be?

Revelation 14:12-19 tells us about part of this harvest of souls at the end of the world.

Kingdom and Destiny

Earlier we were looking at two kingdoms and now we see two destinies. Which kingdom leads to which eternal destiny?

The Explanation

The last verse of today's passage shows Jesus explaining His parables to His disciples. He wants to do that for you today, too, if you'll ask Him. Is there something in these parables that you don't understand or that you don't know how to live out? Sometimes He gives us insight by His Spirit right away, other times it comes as we keep reading the Bible, sometimes a seemingly unrelated comment in conversation or a sermon will help us understand. As you ask Him your questions and look for His answers, you'll get closer to Him like the disciples did. What will you ask Him about today?

Application

Which Are You?

Which of those kingdoms do you belong to? Which destiny is yours - blessings in God's presence forever or judgement away from God's presence forever? What do you need to do about that - praising God for His mercy or calling on His Name and asking for mercy?

The Sower

How can you help spread the word of God and share the good news of forgiveness through Jesus Christ this week?

God's Work

How can today's parable and the analogy of the invisible work God does to make a seed grow encourage you as you share the gospel even when you can't see results?

Wrapup

Closing

We hope this study has helped you understand these parables about the kingdom of God and has challenged you to share God's work with others knowing His work, though often invisible at first, will bring life and fruit in those He saves.

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