BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“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’” (Matthew 13:24-30 NKJV).
What you’ve just read is the parable of the wheat and the tares (weeds), which Jesus told His disciples. He explained the meaning of the parable in verses 37-43 when His disciples asked Him for the meaning in verse 36.
The parable of the wheat and the weeds tells us what will happen when God will judge this world. However, it is also relevant to the church. There are two categories of people in the church today – genuine Christians and fake Christians. The genuine believers, the true saints, are the wheat planted by the farmer (Jesus through his ministers) while the fake believers, the hypocrites, are the tares or weeds planted by the enemy (the devil). That means it is not everybody who claims to be a Christian that is a Christian though hardly will anyone agree that he or she is a fake Christian.
Concern about Fake Christians
Many people, including non-believers, have expressed much concern about the bad name some professed Christians are giving the church by their unbiblical lifestyle. How did fake Christians enter the Church, many of them even occupying top positions? In the parable of the wheat and the tares (weeds), Jesus said, “While men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way” (Matthew 13:25). While the ministers of God – pastors and the church leaders went to sleep, the devil brought his children into the church, not to receive salvation but to pretend to be saved.
Sinners pretending to be Christians are not afraid to join the church today; they can even take over the leadership and be in any department. This was not like that when the church first started, for the Bible says, “No one else dared to join them, though everyone had high regard for them” (Acts 5:13 NLT). Sinners were afraid to join them except they were ready to give their lives to Jesus. However, over time, we read in the Bible the infiltration of the church by false brethren.
What God said about the wheat and the tares (weeds) in Matthew 13:30 also applies to the church. Both genuine believers and fake believers must co-exist until the day of “harvest” when there will be separation and eternal judgment. “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’” (Matthew 13:30 NKJV).
Matthew 25:31-32 says a similar thing. “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” (NKJV). Those of us in church today may do as we like as if there is not going to be eternal judgment, but we’ll be playing with fire! Those who don’t believe in church or don’t go to church may also continue in their reckless lifestyle as if there’ll be no consequence, but there is eternal judgment.
My concern really in this message is the fake Christian and the genuine Christian. The genuine Christians, the true saints, who are so disturbed about what is going on in the church in our day should not forget that God’s longsuffering does not mean indifference. Neither should the fake Christians, the hypocrites, the children of the devil, mistake God’s longsuffering for approval of their lifestyle. “The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty…” (Numbers 14:18 KJV).
God’s longsuffering is to allow more time for repentance. He gave the generation of Noah 120 years to repent during which Noah preached to them and built the ark. Only his family members and his in-laws were saved; Noah had no other convert! 1 Peter 3:20 says that Noah’s generation “disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood” (NLT). God destroyed that generation. According to 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (NKJV).
Reward for genuine Christians and fake Christians
Both genuine Christians and fake Christians will be rewarded. Genuine Christians will spend their eternity with God while fake Christians, sinners who pretend to be born again, will be cast into hellfire (Matthew 13:42, 49-50; 22:11-13; 24:48-51; 25:30; Psalm 9:17).
In verses 47-50 of Matthew 13, Jesus gave another parable about the Kingdom of heaven. He likened the Kingdom of heaven to a net cast into the sea, which gathered both the good and the bad but, eventually, there was a separation at the shore. The good fish was put into basket and the bad and worthless fish was cast away. That again tells us that there are two categories of people in the Kingdom of heaven; there are fake Christians and genuine Christians in the church and they must co-exist until the time of separation. To try to separate the fake from the genuine now will be premature. God will do it Himself at the fullness of time; He does not need anybody’s help.
Verse 50 tells us the end of fake believers. They will be thrown into the furnace of fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 22:1-13 also talks about the good and bad, the separation and the eternal punishment. The wedding garment put on by those invited to the wedding in that passage is a metaphor for righteousness – holy and upright living in accordance with God’s standard, right standing with God, which God expects every believer to possess (Revelation 3:4-5; 19:7-8; Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:1-5).
Don’t judge any Christian
It is not for you to judge anyone who claims to be a Christian because you may be wrong. Tares and wheat look alike when they are growing. “It bears the closest resemblance to wheat till the ear appears, and only then the difference is discovered” (Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary). Similarly, The American Tract Society Dictionary says about tares: “It grows among the wheat everywhere in Palestine, and bears a great resemblance to it while growing, so much so that before they head out the two plants can hardly be distinguished.” Furthermore, Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary describes tares as “A poisonous grass resembling wheat, but with smaller seeds. The tares were usually left in the fields until harvest time, then separated from the wheat during winnowing.”
To uproot the tares before the harvest time would be acting prematurely and the wheat could also be uprooted in the process. The Bible says judge not. Another translation says, “Judge not that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1 KJV). “Stop criticizing others so that you may not be criticized yourselves” (Matthew 7:1 The New Testament: A Translation in the Language of the People). James 4:12b says, “But who are you to be your neighbour’s judge” (Bible in Basic English). Who are you to judge another man’s servant? (Romans 14:4; Luke 6:37).
God doesn’t give up on anyone. The most stubborn fake Christian can still be saved if he or she will genuinely repent. Don’t judge. You may confuse weeds with wheat and vice versa. Leave judgment to God; His judgment is always true and just (Revelation 16:5, 7; 19:2). God’s ways are true and just (Revelation 15:3). God is the judge of all (Hebrews 12:23; Genesis 18:25). Both the fake Christian and the true Christian will give account to God after death (Hebrews 9:27). There’s life beyond the grave.
What the true believers must do now
Although God causes His rain to fall on both the fake Christian and the genuine Christian as Jesus said in Matthew 5:45, on the Day of Judgment, the false believer will not enjoy such pleasant treatment. The fake Christian will receive his just reward in hellfire like that guest in the parable of Jesus who had no wedding cloth and was bound hand and foot, taken away and cast into “outer darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13 KJV).
God does not require the help of true believers to judge other believers either fake or genuine. What God wants every true believer to do now is to have compassion on such people, pray for them and teach them the truth of God’s Word. “And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 22-23 NKJV). God wants genuine Christians to hold on fast to their confession of faith (Hebrews 10:23; Jude 3). God wants genuine Christians to keep standing lest they should fall – they should avoid spiritual pride (1 Corinthians 10:12). Just as Jesus warned that the first shall be the last and the last shall be the first (Mark 10:31; Matthew 19:30), every believer should ensure that he or she is true, and trust God who is able to keep him or her from falling (Jude 24). Genuine Christians must always recognize the grace of God and depend on it. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV).
Are you a genuine Christian or a fake Christian?
“Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other…” (Romans 14:12-13 NLT). There will always be false believers in the Kingdom just as there will be false prophets, false Messiahs, false apostles, false teachers (Deuteronomy 18:21-22; Jeremiah 28:9; Matthew 24:11; Mark 13:22; 2 Corinthians 11:13; Titus 1:10-11; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1; Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). The justice of God will settle everything eventually.
Are you a genuine Christian or a fake Christian? Have you truly given your life to Jesus, submitting to the Word of God? Or are you just pretending, going to church looking for the blessings of God without knowing the One who blesses? You may call yourself a Christian. But are you living according to the Word of God?
A genuine Christian is one who has given his or her life to Jesus and lives in obedience to his Word. “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings’” (John 8:31 NLT). Are you obeying the teachings of Jesus? Matthew 7:21-23 says, “Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day, many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized’” (NLT). It is not everyone who goes to church that God regards as a genuine Christian. By their fruits, you shall know them (Matthew 7:16, 20; 12:33). Jesus said, “My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father” (John 15:8 NLT).
Don’t deceive yourself, repent now!
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7 NKJV). Don’t deceive yourself by the position you occupy in church or how long you claim to have been born again. You must repent now and be genuinely converted because a time is coming when repentance will be too late. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:22). “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30 NKJV).
Pastors and other concerned Christians may not be able to stop fake Christians from joining their assemblies. Some church leaders may even lower the standard; they may dilute or adulterate the Word just to have more members! However, God has appointed a time for separation and judgment. “‘He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work’” (Revelation 22:11-12 NKJV). If you’re not genuinely born again or you are a Christian living in sin, repent now and be genuinely converted.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947