“…Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn”. Matt. 13:30
Let us read, in the 13th chapter of Matthew, the parable of the tares as given by the Lord Jesus.
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay: lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” — Matthew 13:24-30
Now, for an interpretation of that parable turn to verse 36 of this chapter and you will find the parable explained…
“Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world (end of the age); and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them also which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” — Matthew 13:36-43
I have been thinking much lately about the parable of the tares, so I started reading it to find out who the tares really represent.
I have come to this conclusion: I have been wrong to an extent. I had always thought the tares represent all of the drunkards, harlots, gamblers, etc., who belong to churches. But I have come to this conclusion: if I were the Devil, I would not want that kind of church member. I would want the best. So, I believe that many of the lost church members appear to be the best church members we have.
I used to long for a big church. I used to say if I could ever have a church with a thousand members I would be the happiest man in the world. Then, when I got a thousand, I wanted two thousand. Now that I have two thousand, I want three thousand. But I have a new goal: I would love to pastor a church some day that is completely regenerated. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a church in which every member is born again? Many of you have, some time, somewhere, belonged to a church as an unregenerate church member. Sometimes I wonder if we who preach on this often, who preach and teach that you must be born again, who magnify the plan of salvation — if we have people who are tares. Think about the churches who never hear any preaching about it — who many of them must be unsaved?
I only want people in my church who have been born again. I would not spend fifteen minutes of my time going up and down the city begging folks to join my church who have not personally trusted Christ for salvation. What we most need today to solve our problems is a re-emphasis on the new birth. We don’t need primarily more training, or more study courses, more seals, more diplomas; brother, we badly need to get some folks saved in our churches.
Now, in the beginning of this message I want to make this statement:
THE GREATEST FIFTH COLUMN IN THE WORLD IS IN THE CHURCH.
If I were the Devil, I would get my members in the best churches in the land, and I would make my members appear the best members in the land. A drunkard in the gutter is not a good advertisement for the Devil. An advertisement for the Devil is a good looking lady sipping cocktails or drinking eggnog at the Christmas party, not a lady with sunken eyes, a wrinkled face, and discolored hair. A man who goes to church on Sunday, and goes out to the job as “a man of distinction” is a good advertisement for the Devil.
Now, look at the sowing in verses 24 and 25 of Matthew 13. You recall that the good man spoken of in verse 38 is the Son of man. He is the one who sows seed in the fields. Now, WE are the seed, and the field is the world. It says that “while men slept” the enemy came. The enemy is the Devil.
While men slept the Devil came and sowed his own seed among the wheat. A tare looks like the wheat — a tare can be mistaken for the wheat. In many churches there is no mistake — they are all of the Devil. But the Devil comes among God’s people, among born-again people, and sows seed among them that grows up WITH THE WHEAT. The tare grows side by side with the wheat.
You cannot tell them from the wheat. No one but God and the angels can tell them from the wheat. Satan’s greatest work is not the drunkard, not the prostitute, not the prison system; but his greatest work is the tare!
One morning I started out to feed my dog. My hair was a fright! Now, I put my hat on to cover up my hair, and put my overcoat on over my pajamas. My little boy David said, “Bye-bye, Daddy”. He thought I was going to church. I had my hat and coat on. I was a tare. On the outside I looked like a fellow going to church. I looked exactly like I looked thirty minutes later when I was ready to get into the car. I had the same hat and the same overcoat. David thought I was going to church, but when I took my overcoat and hat off it was a different sight.
A tare cannot be recognized by those who look only on the outside. A tare can only be determined by those who look on the inside. The only ones who can look on the inside of your heart today are you and God and, the Bible says, the angels.
A TARE IS THE GREATEST WORK OF THE DEVIL.
When did the tares get sown in the fields? Look at verse 25, “While men slept”. Why do you think we preachers go around all the time trying to wake people up? We are trying to keep the Devil from sowing tares in the church. A fellow said to me recently, “Brother Jack, you holler too loud. You need to be a little softer”.
I said, “Now, you listen, friend; your church here has, by a standing vote, only three people who have won any one to Jesus in the last twelve months. I always make my hollering to a man who is asleep in direct proportion as to how long he has been sleeping, and how sleepy he is”.
When I was in the service let us suppose the sergeant came through at 6:00 each morning, and he came to my bunk with a little engraved invitation which said: “The First Sergeant desires your presence at the Mess Hall at 7:00 for the observance of the morning meal”. Then let us suppose he said, “Jackie Boy, if it is all right with you (I do not want to disturb you because you have been giving some money to the company pot lately, and you are one of the most influential people in this outfit) — if you are so disposed, and if you do not mind, and if you are not too cold, and if it will not hurt your feelings, would you mind opening brown eyes and trickling on down to the Mess Hall for breakfast?”
And let us suppose I said, “Sergeant, my Aunt Lucy is coming today, and I have not seen her in six or eight years”.
And, do you suppose he says, “That’s all right — just come when you can”? Oh, no!
He came in and shouted, “You lazy bunch of buzzards, get up!! It’s five minutes after six — get on your feet! Get up!!! And he used some more words that I cannot repeat here. I felt impressed to get up, and I got up.
The average preacher should do the same. We should wake them up! The tares are sown in the church while we are asleep. If we will stay awake in the church the Devil will not sow as many tares.
While we are asleep the tares are coming in. If we do not wake our churches up, we are going to be full of tares. I can tell many churches are run by tares, and are full of tares. It happens while we are asleep.
Now, let’s look again at verses 26-28:
“But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this”.
Do you know what we should say? “Now, let’s be ethical about this thing. They mean well; they are just not dispositioned like we are. Let’s not be critical.” But the householder said, “An ENEMY hath done this thing”.
“The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?”
The Lord is preaching to me here; I would like to go gather them up. But it goes on to say, “Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.” We are not to put lost sinners to death. Wait till the harvest! We cannot send them to Hell. Wait till God sends His angels to do that.
“Let both grow together until the harvest.”
Dear friend, it would do you well to examine your own conversion experience. The Bible says, “Let both grow together”. Anybody can tell a weed from wheat, but it takes a pretty good person to tell a tare. If you are a weed, you know it. If you are a tare, the Devil will tell you that you are wheat.
THEY GROW TOGETHER. They go to Sunday School together, they go to Training Union together, they do church work together. The Devil puts tares in good churches. he often makes them pray in public, he sometimes makes Sunday school teachers of them. This may sound a little peculiar, but I am persuaded to believe that this chapter teaches that the tares look just about like the wheat. They grow together. They go to church together, may be apparently some of the best members we have, yet the Bible says that they are tares. The Lord said to just let them grow together.
ONLY THE ANGELS KNOW THEM. Many times a tare looks as much like a Christian as a Christian does. Often the Devil makes his tares look so much like wheat that often they make better looking wheat than the wheat. But they just do not make very good bread. Only the angels know.
We have seen the sowing, the growing, then there comes the knowing. Look at verse 30 of chapter 13. The Lord is speaking now. “Let both grow together until the harvest”, and it says over in the explanation in verses 36 to 43 that the harvest is the end of the age. Dear friend, the KNOWING is this: the end is coming! Look out, tares, when the end comes! You can fool those who plant, you can fool those who water, you can fool all of those who chop the weeds — they will never chop you. You can fool all of those who irrigate, and all of those who fertilize, but you will NEVER fool those who reap.
You looked like wheat, you acted like wheat, you prayed like wheat, but you are a tare. Dear friend, the end is going to come! But you say, “I do not feel bad about this thing”. You won’t friend, until the end comes. I do not think that you will feel very bad, because as long as you are looking like wheat, as long as folks think you are wheat, there is no reason to feel bad.
You know when you’ll feel bad? When you are afraid that you are not looking to people like wheat. If the Bible is true, then there are going to be tares sown among the wheat, and when the harvest time comes, the end of the age, you will be found out!
The second thing about the knowing is that the showdown is coming. The angels know.
The third thing, I want you to look at verse 30 again: “Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them”. The tares won’t be any good at the harvest, because they are no good to anybody. All the tares are going to end in being burned.
I do not care how good you lived in the harvest field, if you are a tare, you are going to be burned.
HE KNOWS HIS OWN. May I ask you a question? Are YOU wheat, or are you a tare? How do I know that I am wheat? Listen to me, dear friend; the Bible says that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Salvation is not crying, salvation is not a sorrow for sin, salvation is not a sorrow for getting caught, salvation is not a turning from sin alone, salvation is receiving Christ by faith completely, realizing that we are sinners condemned by our sin, realizing that Jesus on the cross died for sinners and that if we will receive Him as our substitute we can be saved. This is a transaction between the sinner and the Saviour. Examine your heart, as I have examined mine, and BE SURE YOU ARE WHEAT. —–