Friday, July 25, 2014

Gold or Fool’s Gold? Wheat or Tares?


This is an outline of the message I shared with the Renmark West and Renmark Town Uniting Churches on 20/714 

Scripture Passages.

Matthew 13.
24 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer sowing good seed in his field; 25 but one night as he slept, his enemy came and sowed thistles among the wheat. 26 When the crop began to grow, the thistles grew too.
27 “The farmer’s men came and told him, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that choice seed is full of thistles!’
28 “‘An enemy has done it,’ he exclaimed.
“‘Shall we pull out the thistles?’ they asked.
29 “‘No,’ he replied. ‘You’ll hurt the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and I will tell the reapers to sort out the thistles and burn them, and put the wheat in the barn.’”
31-32 Here is another of his illustrations: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a tiny mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds but becomes the largest of plants, and grows into a tree where birds can come and find shelter.”
33 He also used this example:
“The Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a woman making bread. She takes a measure of flour and mixes in the yeast until it permeates every part of the dough.”
34-35 Jesus constantly used these illustrations when speaking to the crowds. In fact, because the prophets said that he would use so many, he never spoke to them without at least one illustration. For it had been prophesied, “I will talk in parables; I will explain mysteries hidden since the beginning of time.”[e] 36 Then, leaving the crowds outside, he went into the house. His disciples asked him to explain to them the illustration of the thistles and the wheat.
37 “All right,” he said, “I am[f] the farmer who sows the choice seed. 38 The field is the world, and the seed represents the people of the Kingdom; the thistles are the people belonging to Satan. 39 The enemy who sowed the thistles among the wheat is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels.
40 “Just as in this story the thistles are separated and burned, so shall it be at the end of the world: 41 I[g] will send my angels, and they will separate out of the Kingdom every temptation and all who are evil, 42 and throw them into the furnace and burn them. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the godly shall shine as the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Let those with ears, listen!

Romans 8:12-23
12 So, dear brothers, you have no obligations whatever to your old sinful nature to do what it begs you to do. 13 For if you keep on following it you are lost and will perish, but if through the power of the Holy Spirit you crush it and its evil deeds, you shall live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
15 And so we should not be like cringing, fearful slaves, but we should behave like God’s very own children, adopted into the bosom of his family, and calling to him, “Father, Father.” 16 For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we really are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we will share his treasures—for all God gives to his Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. 19 For all creation is waiting patiently and hopefully for that future day[b] when God will resurrect his children. 20-21 For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay[c]—the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command—will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy.

Gold or Fool’s Gold?  Wheat or Tares?

That’s the title I have chosen today and that has been suggested to me by our passage about the parable of the wheat and the tares.

My late grandfather ,who was brought up on a sheep station on the Darling River, used to tell us how he once found Lassetter’s lost reef.

He never was able to find it again.

We suspect that what he found was a reef of “fool’s gold” or iron pyrites.

He was adamant that he had found the real thing. It was a frustration for him that he never found it again.

Many have been fooled by fool's gold, particularly in the gold rush era.

The parable of the wheat and the tares talks about the difficulty in telling the difference;

between false and real and what not to do when you think you have identified some tares or thistles.



The Church is really the best place on earth to be!

Would you agree with that statement?

Or would you perhaps say the Church should be the best place on earth to be!

Sadly often it's not!

Sometimes we come to Church and go home feeling totally re vitalized and ready to face whatever happens during the week.

Sometimes we go home feeling disappointed.

It might be the music,the message, no one said hello to me, or someone said something or did something you found troubling.

Or someone was there you really dislike.

We all probably have those experiences, sometimes even our ministers.

You would like to think that our Church is a loving accepting place where people can feel most welcome and want to belong or take part.

Want to know more about Jesus and what Christianity is all about.

The following couple of paragraphs were written by a retired minister who was a great mentor to Lesley and I.

I have chosen to read it because it touches on our Matthew 13 Bible passage today.

"I have been semi-retired or full time retired for 20 years now and I have pondered deeply this terrible,spiritual malaise afflicting most churches. During these 20 years I have worshipped in two churches and have listened to some very fine biblical  preaching from three very different Bible teaching preachers.
Each of these preachers was excellent ,but there was something that greatlypuzzled me.
Although the word of God was splendidly expounded to us it never seemed to make any impact on us.
We never seemed to respond to it.

It was certainly preaching which should have made a lfe changing impact on us, but it didn't. 
Why?

It gradually dawned on me there was nothing wrong with the preaching and certainly there was nothing wrong  with the teaching and certainly there was nothing wrong with the Word of God, there was however something wrong with those of us hearing it.

The fact was we were not hearing the Word of God at all and what is more we were not seeing what God was saying.
It seemed to me the scriptures described us exactly.

Matthew 13.

13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

This peculiar blindness and deafness I came to attribute,not without the best authority, to Satan and his demons. Said Jesus.
Matthew 13.

"19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart"

And when the farmer sowed good seed in his field and a little later saw tares growing among the good seed, the explanation was :-

Matthew 13:

"24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

2 Corinthians 4:3,4  

"3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."

When Iasked the questions : Who above all woud want Christians not to hear the Word of God and not acto it? (James 1:22 Moffat) 

There was only one answer I could give:Satan and his demons.
Thus I came to make the BigLeap. I did not go to the wisdom of men for answers. I went to the Word of God.
What follows is something of what I found."

( for more in depth teaching on spiritual warfare, which is what Frank Hunting is talking about you will find the whole of the Big Leap booklet on this blog. Alternatively I would recommend the ministry of Neil T Anderson, his books ,video and on line presence at Freedom in Christ International.) 

I was somewhat taken aback once when I was a relatively new Christian by a visitor to our then Church.

We were really going through an enthusiastic time of wanting to reach out to others, we had lots of home groups set up.

We were all engaged in home bible study.

We were really wanting our Church to grow and be everything it should be.

This particular night we were having an after church fellowship supper.

The type that Churches are really good at doing.

A rather tall man had been there during the evening service,

a stranger to us.

I invited him out to the supper and engaged in conversation during the evening.

At the end of he night I said to him I had enjoyed meeting him and hoped he would be able to visit again.

He said quite bluntly. “I won’t be coming back again.”

I said why?

He said. “There is no love in this Church?”

I was amazed as I thought our Church at the time was very loving and caring.

I was to find out later that he had some mental health issues but even so maybe he was actually quite perceptive as people like him often have a need to feel and experience acceptance of others.

So to begin un packing the parable of the wheat and the tares.

This is not to be confused with the earlier parable in this chapter.Chapter 13.

That is the parable of the sower and the seeds.

The seeds in that parable, that went deep down into good soil and flourished and grew, are now the same people,seeds, that Jesus says he planted .

Matth 13:

37 “All right,” he said, “I am[f] the farmer who sows the choice seed. 38 The field is the world, and the seed represents the people of the Kingdom;  

The people of the kingdom are those who are Christians.

That means us.

According to Ray Stedman concerning the farmer sowingthe good seed:

It is essential to notice that the field represents not the church but the world. These sons of the kingdom are put where God wants them -- in the world. Wherever you are, as a child of God, as a son of the kingdom by faith in Jesus Christ, you have been put there by the Lord Jesus. It is so important to understand that he has sown you and put you where you are. The church, you see, is to gather together for worship, for instruction, and for mutual fellowship, but then it is to go out. There is a kind of a rhythm of life within the church -- it comes together, then goes out again, scattered out into the world. And where you are out there is where the word of witness is given, where the truth of the word is promulgated. That is what the Lord has in mind here. The field therefore is the world, the human race, society, as we normally term it. In that world of humanity the Lord Jesus has scattered his own.”

Now while we come across people in our society, and ideas, who are obviously bad seed who are out to destroy the gospel, destroy people with their false doctrines and ideas,the sad thing is that such people do infiltrate the Church and Church organisations.

The cause of much division in Churches is because there has been something enter via people or groups of people which is not of God but of the devil.

The problems in  a church really begin to escalate when Christians take up a position against what some other Christians are pushing or promoting.

It may be a fight over how money is used, what songs are sung, what doctrine is important, how the Bible is interpreted.

I have chaired many Church  AGM’s where people who hardly say boo all year turn up and  air their grievances very strongly.

Where behaviour is anything but Christian.

Of course we all have our opinions about whatever the issues are and quite often think we are the only ones right.

Denominationalism often is a dividing factor.

I have a very old Bible at home from a couple of hundred years ago and it is amazing the number of  Christian sects and Churches existed at the time. They are in a great long list in the bible.

Many of them were named after some peculiar belief they saw as important.

We have a big temptation in churches to try and outshout or outvote those we disagree with.

We get very critical of our politicians who do such things but in reality we are often not much better in our behavior in Church.

Our main mistake is that we don’t heed what we are taught in the Bible.

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood but principalities and powers in high places.”

We do not recognize who is sowing the words of division.

We try to use human methods to restore order.

Sometimes we lose our cool.

We can go so far as to ask people to leave.

I don’t know how many of you know much about wheat.

In this area certainly about fruit and grapes but a bit further away are most of the wheat farmers.

I used to think there was only one variety of wheat until we visited the Pinnaroo Agricultural Museum about a year ago.

There is a huge collection in there of hundreds of different varieties of wheat, all beautifully displayed.

I was staggered at the varieties.

In Churches we are all varieties of Christians.

Many of us are very different from each other. Some are also more mature in their faith than others.



If you had a field full of the varieties of wheat on display at Pinnaroo  a farmer may be very hard pressed to distinguish between them.

The varieties of wheat ,none the less have a similar outward appearance.

It is what is in the genetic make up of the plant that says is this wheat or not?

It is the Holy Spirit who determines who is a Christian and who is not.

In Church it is for us nurture each other and teach each other and to love each other. 

Not to be critical or judging.

We may think someone is a very poorly performing Christian or even a trouble making Christian.

But we do not know the heart of that person.

Jesus does . He knew that person from before they were born.

Our passages to day really tell us that is not for us to Judge.

On that day, the day when the creator comes to judge all the earth then the sheep will be sorted from the oats and the wheat from the tares.

We read in Romans 8.

19 For all creation is waiting patiently and hopefully for that future day[b] when God will resurrect his children. 20-21 For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay[c]—the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command—will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy.

And also in Matthew 13.

“All right,” he said, “I am[f] the farmer who sows the choice seed. 38 The field is the world, and the seed represents the people of the Kingdom; the thistles are the people belonging to Satan. 39 The enemy who sowed the thistles among the wheat is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels.
40 “Just as in this story the thistles are separated and burned, so shall it be at the end of the world: 41 I[g] will send my angels, and they will separate out of the Kingdom every temptation and all who are evil, 42 and throw them into the furnace and burn them. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the godly shall shine as the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Let those with ears, listen!"

So how does this parable apply to us.

What are we to make of it?

Do we go on a so called “witch hunt”?

No! 

The blame game is disasterous.

But we do need to use God's might weapons to bring down the devil's strongholds in our Churches and in our families,

we need to recognise the the devil sows the seeds of discontent.

Where we can see that a fellow Christian is stumbling or failing or not performing well, it is not for us to criticise or condemn or gossip, but to intercede in prayer on their behalf.

We are not fighting against flesh and blood!

The Church really is the best place to be. If it's not it can be!

I would like to share the last two paragraphs from Rays Tedman's sermon on the the wheat and the tares.

In his sermon he postulated the question is the world getting better or is it getting worse?

(The Case of the Mysterious Harvest)

"Now let's return in closing to answer the question with which we began: Is the world getting better, or is it getting worse? Well the answer our Lord gives is clearly, "Both!" Good men are getting better, and more powerful, and more extensive; and evil men are getting worse, and more powerful, and more destructive. The two sowings are growing up to a harvest, side by side. If evil is getting worse, God is matching it with a demonstration of his power and with the increase of good. That is why I think it is logical to expect that, as we near the end of the age, and increasingly see evil amassing itself and breaking out in tremendous authority and power, we will also see the Spirit of God breaking out in authority and power among the same groups of people and an awakening will occur right along with the deepening decline into darkness and evil. That is what is happening in our own day. Jesus says it will go on until the harvest. And when the harvest of earth comes at the end of the age God will begin to reap -- the good to be his, the evil to be destroyed.
Now, where do you stand? That is the question we leave each one with today. Is the seed of the Word of God growing in your heart? Are you a son of the kingdom, and therefore an influence for good throughout the earth? Or are you a son of the evil one, beginning to spread lies, deceptive concepts, and to spread abroad the destructive philosophies that are so widespread in the world today. They are part of the lie of Satan that man can live by himself, that he is self-sufficient, that he is able to carry on his own affairs, that he can run his own life, and, therefore, does not need God. That is the great lie which always marks the philosophy of the devil. Or are you one of the sons of the kingdom whom God is using in this day to bring this great harvest to fruition and to produce that which will glorify and delight his heart throughout all time?"

We will now close with our final hymn.