The Kingdom of Heaven
and The Wheat and the Tares
Part 1: Tares Within the Body
and the Local Assembly
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 4 September 2004
"Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who 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 grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' "He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' "But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'" (Matt.13:24-30, NKJV).
I would like to welcome everyone here today in Yah'shua (Jesus') Name to this the beginning of our Autumn Pastors' Conference and to especially welcome our guests from abroad who have joined us for this session. Our theme is going to be the Kingdom of Heaven, how it is corrupted, and how it must be redeemed. Our focal scripture is the well-known Parable of the Wheat and the Tares which will be the subject of our study today and next week.
"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way." I have often asked people what they believe this passage of Scripture means. Almost everyone will tell you that the Kingdom of Heaven is the Messianic Community or Church. The true born-again believers, they say, are those who are symbolised by the wheat. They will tell you that the tares represent those who are not true Christians - perhaps nominal ones who have not been born again, and perhaps even satanic plants whose mission is to destroy that local assembly or church. And, armed with that belief, they will resist you when you try to do something about purging that local church of the 'tares'. 'You can't do that,' they may tell you, 'because it says in the Scripture that you will uproot the wheat and destroy the congregation. You have to wait until the right time ... when the tares are clearly visible and seen to be distinct from the wheat. For as you know, the wheat and the tares look alike until they ripen.' I have to say that much of this analysis is correct, but there is a lot more that is usually missed which can lead to unnecessary strife and conflict in local congregations.
I think many people assume that there will always be tares - false Christians - mixed up with the true ones which leads to a false spirit of resignation. This is a very dangerous assumption and is contradicted by what Yah'shua (Jesus) actually said. Let's reread the opening passage one more time: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept ...". Now, I want you to ask yourself the question: Are we, as believers, supposed to be asleep? And what exactly does Yah'shua (Jesus) mean by 'asleep'?
A believer who is asleep is one who has allowed himself to gradually drift into spiritual darkness and unconsciousness. Paul cries out in his letter to the Ephesians: "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light" (Eph.5:14, NKJV). To the Corinthians he pleads: "Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God" (1 Cor.15:34, NKJV). People fall asleep spiritually for many reasons - a lack of obedience to the commandments, carelessness, laziness, or outright rebellion against authority. There are many attitudes of mind and heart, and many dark deeds, that will send a soul asleep. And when that happens in a local congregation - when enough men and women fall asleep, and particularly those who are leading that church - then what happens? "His enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way". Notice, please, that the enemy did not remain - he sneaked in, sowed the tares, and departed.
I think many believers have this idea that everything is fine so long as Satan isn't standing right there in front of you directly opposing you. That he does this cannot be denied, but only in certain situations. He is a busy devil, he has a lot of work to do around the world, and he doesn't waste his time. He doesn't come after a local church with all guns blazing. He works by stealth, by cunning, and by deceit. Look at the Body of Christ today - look at the churches around you - and consider how the present state of darkness has come about. The tares that Satan planted in the Body of Christ he planted over one and a half thousand years ago. They have been growing alongside the wheat for one and a half millennia but only now, thanks to the work of restoration amongst us, can we actually see the tares for what they are. In other words, the tares only become visible after the wheat has formed heads of grain. The tares only become visible as the true believers come to full spiritual maturity.
"But while they slept ..." Satan planted the tares only when the Body went to sleep. So ask yourself the question: is it Yahweh's will that we, as believers, go to sleep, so that Satan can plant his tares? Obviously not. It is the will of Yahweh that all be saved through faith and obedience in a state of spiritual wakefulness. He wants everyone to be awake disciples because when you area sleep you are vulnerable and unguarded. When the local assembly, or indeed the Body of Christ as a whole, falls asleep it is only because it has sinned, and it is never His will that anyone should sin. If we say it is, then we blaspheme the character of God Almighty. It is His will that believers gather or assemble to form a messianic community that is awake, alive, dynamic, on the alert at all times, and pure. He wants none of us to go to sleep. He does not want the enemy to come and sabotage our salvation. He does not want Satan to booby trap the local assembly of believers. This was never His will! But it has happened - it is the reality around us, and because of our carelessness, we must pay a heavy price. And the parable of the wheat and the tares tells us what we must do if this terrible state of affairs results. It is true of the Body of Christ world-wide but it does not have to be true of your congregation or mine.
This parable tells us that if we have been careless enough to let our people fall asleep, for whatever reason (and we'll take a look at some of these presently), then we must follow His instructions carefully. And the first principle Christ teaches us is that a witch hunt won't work. For if we have let our congregation go to sleep then the leaders must be partly asleep themselves. If you try to have a purging of the members you will root up the tares and the wheat because your discernment will not be right. Half-asleep people are not the best navigators.
Those of you who are gardeners know that if you allow weeds to grow up in your flower beds that the roots of the weeds often get entangled with the roots of the good plants. The tare is careful to interweave its roots throughout the root system of the wheat field. In an ordinary garden, we can usually spot the weeds when they are young and so harmlessly uproot them. But with tares you cannot do that because you don't know what they are when they are young. You can't discern them because they are look-alikes.
When Yah'shua (Jesus) told this parable His listeners, who were mostly farmers, knew exactly what He meant. The tares that He speaks of are weeds known as 'darnel' that grows up among the wheat. The darnel is of the Lolium temulentum family, a species of rye grass. The seeds are a strong soporific poison. It bears a very close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears, and only then the difference is discovered. It grows plentifully in Syria and Palestine. The grains of the tares (L. temulentum), if eaten, will produce convulsions, and even death. The Jews have always referred to this weed as 'Bastard Wheat'.
Satan is the great imitator. He is in the business of forging. His reproductions look like the real thing. There are people posing as Christians everywhere. They will even go to the trouble of doing good works. They smile, they're polite, they dress well, they are generous in their giving, and appear to be philanthropic in every way. But underneath they are ravenous wolves. Their real, inner selves are poisonous - they will kill you spiritually by putting you to sleep. The effects of bastard wheat were known to the people who heard Yah'shua's (Jesus') sermons - they would have known that eating this bastard wheat puts you to sleep and kills you. They knew about these things. They knew how impossible it was to identify this bastard wheat until the heads began to ripen when suddenly it became easy to spot them and dig them up. But that's the important thing: if you spot them and don't dig them up by expelling them from your congregation, their seed will mix with the true seed and poison you.
Let me tell you the story of a congregation in the United States. It is an extreme example but makes the point I want to get across. The local Satanists wanted to infiltrate and destroy this particular church so the coven instructed three of its wealthy members to join it and pose as upstanding believers. The church had financial difficulties and the Satanists knew this. Moreover, the people were getting disgruntled and were thinking of replacing the pastor. So the pastor was concerned about his position ... and his salary. So these three wealthy Satanist businessmen pretending to be Christians approached pastor and said: 'Look, we see the problems you are having, and we really want to help you out as best we can. We will give so many thousand dollars each month if you will promote us as upstanding Christians in the local community. Moreover, if there are any disputes in the governing body of your church, we'll support you all the way down the line.'
So they made out that all they really wanted was support so they could be accepted locally for business purposes. The pastor was in a fix and they offered a way out. He interpreted this to be an answer to his prayers. So these Satanists kept their word and started pumping lots of dollars into that congregation. The esteem of the pastor grew and the congregation stopped discussing removing him. For his part, the pastor gave lots of spin to the three counterfeits so that over time they gained more and more power over that pastor. They started suggesting that the church should be run in different ways - prayer was downgraded and choir performances and the arts replaced it. Spiritually-minded officers like youth pastors were replaced by their own people ... whom the Satanists introduced into the congregation. The pastor was weak but even he began to realise that something was not quite right, and he began to resist. To corrupt him even more, a very beautiful young woman from the coven was introduced to him and seduced him. She became his mistress. He was trapped. They threatened to reveal the affair if he did not comply with their wishes and there was nothing he could do. Over a matter of a few years the whole of that church was corrupted and was well on the way to becoming an annex of Satan's Kingdom until a deliverance minister I know was sent to that church by Yahweh to expose what was going on. That congregation was rescued but at a terrible price - very many members were lost to the world because of their disillusionment.
So let me repeat - it is not Yahweh's will that tares be allowed to grow up amongst the wheat. Do you suppose that he wanted those Satanists in that church? It is not His will that His people fall asleep spiritually. But if this happens, then, as with all adversity, He will use it for the good, even if the price the righteous must pay is high.
How, you may ask, can we practically identify the tares in our congregation? Very simply, teach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We fall asleep only when we start believing lies. And what kinds of lies are those? Well, doctrinal lies for one ... and there are plenty of those in the churches. But there are others too. We can start believing lies about ourselves and about others. Listening to gossip and believing it instead of going through the proper channels causes lies to be spread far and wide. Yahweh has set up the local fellowship with officers and these officers have been given the charge to test and examine all matters.
In the church I mentioned to you, the reason the people went to sleep was because they believed in doctrinal lies. They could not discern what was going on because they were already partially asleep. And when the fraud was exposed amongst them, many concluded that the Gospel was not true. They were too proud to admit that they themselves had believed lies that had put them spiritually asleep in the first place. The fault was not entirely the pastor's ... they themselves bore a measure of the blame.
To be quite honest with you I have never met a local congregation of believers in our day which does not have tares amongst them. As deliverance ministers we are acutely aware of the fact that there are Satanist infiltrators in nearly all churches. Many so-called Christian churches are satanic fronts. I know of some of these. The pastors are respected Satanists, their congregations a mixture of Satanists and Christians who have been duped by a false spirit. Does that sound so fantastic? The Book of Revelation reminds us that this has happened before - the seven churches of Asia Minor were choking with weeds - all the others had been successfully destroyed!
So what do you do if you discover there are tares in your local congregation? And the chances are almost 100% that there are. Firstly, you realise that the state of affairs exists only because of sin and negligence in the first place. The pastor and his counsellors need to repent. Then the rest of the true believers do. They are the custodians of their assemblies and bear the responsibility. Far too many want to be politically correct - they don't want to stir things up because they are afraid of conflict. Worse, they may be afraid of their salaries, which is why pastors shouldn't have salaries at all. Today's pastors who are trying to follow the Word of God are being kicked out of their churches - the people simply choose pastors who will suit their carnal needs, pastors who will not disturb the status quo. In the West in particular churches are so structured that the pastors don't really have any power, and whilst I can understand people being wary about autocratic pastors taking control who do not love the flock but are Satan's hirelings (there are plenty of those), pastors do nevertheless have certain rights and privileges in the apostolic system. But that's the problem - there are few apostles.
I want you now to consider the positive aspects of tares in your local congregation. For one, they strengthen the roots of the wheat. It's ironic in a way but in order to remain concealed they do have to support that church to a certain extent. Their destiny is intertwined with yours - they don't want to see the church destroyed unless they are Satanist infiltrators. They may want that church preserved for all the wrong reasons, but they are at least, in principle, not against the church. That is to your benefit. Secondly, by being present, the tares stir up conflict within the congregation that has the positive effect of forcing those who are partly asleep and deceived to deal with the lies that Yah'shua (Jesus) wants them to confront and remove. It may not be a very pleasant sight but in the chaos the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is working. We had many such conflicts in our early days and soon discovered those who really belonged and those who did not. Many secret agendas were exposed, many heresies surfaced, and the congregation was well and truly cleaned out. When conflict like this happens, it can stir the people into prayer and spiritual warfare. In time, Yahweh's sovereignty in the conflict becomes visible and understood to be the refining fire that His people need to get into right relationship with Him again.
The struggle can be long and painful to be sure and there are many who would rather keep the peace at all costs than to deal with the problems that confront the congregation. They may cite scripture to you like, "Blessed are the peace makers", forgetting, though that Yahweh's shalom or peace is not the same as the compromise and apostate peace of the world and of all false systems. Yah'shua (Jesus) also said that He had come to bring a sword (Mt.10:34). True peace - true shalom - can, in any case, only come about when Satan has been expelled from an assembly. Until that happens, there will only be sleep which will appear to be peaceful but is the Trojan Horse and the means by which Satan gradually takes over.
There is a time and season for tares to be burned. It is already happening today. We have been looking at the outer manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven today in the form of the whole Body of Christ over the last two thousand years, and the local assembly over shorter spans of time. But as we shall see next week, the Kingdom is not merely outward. The Kingdom is also within and as individuals we have our own personal wheat and our own personal tares.
I would like to invite you, over the next week, to ask Yahweh in your prayers how your local congregation may be asleep and what your part on that sleepiness may be. Next week we will see how to awaken and how to set a spiritual revival going in the local assembly. Amen.
Click here for Part 2
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Last updated on 30 September 2004
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