“The son of man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:41-43)
Everyone may look saved in your church, but the Bible says it ain’t so. That’s what the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares is all about.
In fact, Jesus had no sooner told the parable when his disciples asked him to explain what he meant. “The one who sowed the good seed,” he told them, “is the son of man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.”
Parables always compare something we understand to something we don’t. In this case, Jesus emphasizes a spiritual truth that his followers, then and now, continue to overlook.
For example, today’s churches are full of tares, people who look just like us, and just like us, they think they’re going to heaven.
The truth is when you take a closer look, these who think they’re Christians have never followed the scriptural practices that the Bible says lead to salvation.
I learned that spiritual truth several years ago at a church I once attended. We had an alternative to Halloween this year. It was a drama that highlighted everyday situations in which people are making decisions that can lead to hell. Groups of 20 were taken on a tour where they followed the lives of several people all the way to the Day of Judgment. The people all looked the same, but some went to heaven while others were condemned to hell.
When the tour was completed, I was able to spend a little time with each group. I reminded them that all of us would one day face the same judgment and that our good works or warm smiles would not be what would save us from eternal condemnation. I then told them what salvation really meant. “The Bible says to be saved,” I explained, “you must confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.”
I then asked all of them to bow their heads with me and repeat a very simple prayer. “If you’re already saved,” I said, “then you are about to re-live the greatest moment of your life. But if you’re not saved, then you are about to experience the greatest moment of your life.”
“Father,” we prayed, “I am sorry for my sins. I ask you to come into my heart and cleanse me from all my unrighteousness. I accept Jesus as my savior and my lord and promise to live my life for him.”
When we finished that prayer, I looked around the room. “You all look like you’re saved,” I said, “but I wonder if that might have been the first time that any one of you has ever said that prayer?” One young lady timidly raised her hand, saying, “I always thought I was saved, but I’ve never said that prayer in my life.”
That’s one of the spiritual truths from this parable. We live in the Age of Grace, and not the Age of Judgment.
It may seem like God is doing nothing about the lawlessness we see, but the day will come when he will sort out the wheat from the tares. Until then, our mission is make sure that we don’t take someone else’s salvation for granted. As the Apostle Paul said, “Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)