Sermon Illustrations

Scholar Gary North observes:

“The kingdom of God is like leaven. Christianity is the yeast, and it has a leavening effect on pagan, satanic cultures around it. It permeates the whole culture, causing it to rise. The bread which is produced by this leaven is the preferred bread. In ancient times – indeed, right up until the advent of late-nineteenth century industrialism and modern agricultural methods – leavened bread was considered the staff of life, the symbol of God’s sustaining hand. ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ Christians have prayed for centuries, and they have eaten leavened bread at their tables. So did the ancient Hebrews. The kingdom of God is the force that produces the fine quality bread which all men seek. The symbolism should be obvious: Christianity makes life a joy for godly men. It provides men with the very best.

“Leaven takes time to produce its product. It takes time for leaven-laden dough to rise. Leaven is a symbol of historical continuity, just as unleavened bread was Israel’s symbol of historical discontinuity. Men can wait for yeast to do it work. God give man time for the working of His spiritual leaven. Men may not understand exactly how leaven works – how the spiritual power of God’s kingdom spreads throughout their culture and makes it rise – but they can see and taste its effects. If we really push the analogy (pound it, even), we can point to the fact that dough is pounded down several times by the baker before the final baking, almost as God, through the agents of Satan in the world, pounds His kingdom in history. Nevertheless, the yeast does its marvelous work, just so long as the fires of the oven are not lit prematurely. If the full heat of the oven is applied to the dough before the yeast has done its work, both the yeast and the dough perish in the flames. God waits to apply the final heat (2 Peter 3:9-10). First, His yeast – His church – must do its work, in time and on earth. The kingdom of God (which includes the institutional church, but is broader than the institutional church) must rise, having ‘incorrupted’ the satanic dough of the kingdom of Satan with the gospel of life, including the life-giving reconstruction of all institutions of culture.

“What a marvelous description of God’s kingdom! Christians work inside the cultural material available in any given culture, seeking to refine...

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