THE PARABLE OF THE HARVEST
The Bible also tells us that after a person has been saved and has received the Lord’s life, he becomes part of the crop in the Lord’s field (Rev. 14:15-16). Would the master reap the harvest and gather it into the barn before it is ripe? Of course he would not. Revelation 14 tells us that among the Christians a small number of overcomers will be raptured to the heavens before the harvest. They are the firstfruits, the produce that has ripened first.
In northern China by the month of April the wheat in the field has grown very tall and displays a golden color. This indicates that the wheat has ripened thoroughly. The owner of the field first goes and reaps the firstfruits and brings them home. Then at the Double Fifth Festival, the family eats the firstfruits for their special enjoyment. After another two weeks the rest of the harvest in the field ripens, and the owner reaps the crop and brings it into the barn. Matthew 13 clearly tells us that the field refers to the world, and the barn refers to the kingdom of the Father (vv. 24, 30, 38, 43). Today we are God’s crop growing in the field—the world—until we become thoroughly ripened. Then God will come to reap us and bring us into the eternal barn.
If the crop were not ripe but still green and tender, the owner of the field would never harvest the crop and bring it into the barn. Likewise, there is no question that the saved ones will enter into the kingdom. However, there is a condition—they need to be ripe. The earth is the field, and the heavens are the barn. What is the requirement for us, the crop, to be gathered from the field on the earth into the barn in the heavens? The requirement is that we need to be ripe. Only the ripe ones can be gathered into the barn. The unripe ones will be left in the field to continue growing. As wheat grows, it enjoys the elements of the soil, the supply of water, and the provision of fertilizer. If the wheat could speak, it would say, “This is very sweet! What an enjoyment I have here!” However, when the crop is being ripened, it undergoes a great amount of suffering. Not only is the fertilizer withheld and the water reduced, but the wheat is also exposed to the intense heat of the sun to make it turn from being greenish to being golden. Likewise, when a person who belongs to the Lord is newly saved, he enjoys a very sweet period of time. However, unless he goes on to pay a price, be dealt with, and have the experience of being exposed to the sun, he cannot readily grow and become mature.
THE IMMATURE ONES NOT BEING ABLE TO ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM
The only kind of people who can enter into the kingdom are those who are mature. If we read through Revelation carefully, we can see that all the Christians who will be in the kingdom will be the ripened ones. Those who do not ripen cannot enter into the kingdom. This is similar to the fact that all the produce that is in the barn is ripe. The produce that is not yet ripe has to remain in the field until it is ripened either through the heat of the sun or the blowing of the wind. It must be ripened before it can be harvested. Likewise, although all Christians have been saved, they cannot enter into the kingdom without being matured. Therefore, the thought that the soul of a Christian goes to heaven after he dies is shallow and childish. It is not the truth revealed in the Bible but the tradition of Roman Catholicism. The notion of going to heaven is not in the Bible.
(How to Be Useful to the Lord, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)