(Photo Credit: MozartFoto Flickr.com)
Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
What does it mean to be a Christian? Is it the way we act or what we believe that determines if we are a Christian or just a pretender?
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).
God’s Word makes it clear that it is our faith that makes the difference. Many people say that they believe in Jesus Christ, but if that belief is just “head knowledge” and they don’t…believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead…” then their words mean nothing.
How far would you go to prove you’re a Christian? I’ve heard the hypothetical question “If you were hauled into court for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” For many people around the world, this isn’t hypothetical. In Muslim countries it is a crime to be a Christian, yet there are many brave people who stand firm on their faith in Christ.
It is our faith that determines our salvation, but that faith should be evident by our actions:
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:19-20)
Many people sitting in a pew each Sunday say that they believe but show no fruits of their faith, and non-Christians often do great works yet deny Christ. True faith should be proclaimed by our mouth and also shown in our actions…not for our own glory but for that of Christ Jesus. Our daily walk should reflect who we are in Christ. Our living for Christ should be so obvious in this life that even when viewed by the most hardened Christ-rejecter he should be 100% certain he’s witnessing a true and devout follower of Jesus Christ. You might say the true Christian is wheat, while those who just mouth words of faith but live according to the world are tares.
Jesus spoke many deep truths in parables. One of those tells of the wheat and the tares:
“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” (Matthew 13:24b-26).
We all know what wheat is but what are tares? It is a grain that resembles wheat, but has no value. In fact the seeds are poisonous. When it grew in a wheat field it was allowed to mature, but at harvest it was separated out and burned. Why has it become so difficult, especially in our current age, to make a determination as to which of those professing to follow Christ are the “wheat” and which are the “tares” currently infiltrating the ranks of the true believers? What is it that has changed in society today that gives us cause to ponder, Jesus’ words?
“But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity?” (Luke 13:27)
It’s easy to say you’re a Christian but it’s a lot harder to stand firm for Jesus Christ in the face of adversity. Call yourself a Christian all day long but if you’re not walking the walk you’re probably one of the tares.
“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?” (Matthew 13:27).
In our Lord’s parable even the servants of the householder had no difficulty noticing the difference between wheat and tares – good seed and bad – true believers vs. phonies. How did they know? They had knowledge. Today we hear many false doctrines being taught, such as: “There are many paths to heaven” or the “name it and claim it” heresy among others. Only studying God’s Word will teach you the truth. In knowing the truth you will know the difference between the nourishing wheat and the poisonous tares.
Jesus was asked to explain this parable, and Matthew 13:37-43 records His answer. Jesus is the One who sows the good seed, the field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, the tares are the sons of Satan and he is who sowed the bad seed, the harvest is the end of the age. Although we can see the corruption happening within the Christian community, Jesus doesn’t confine the location of the tares to within the Ekklesia. Soon the Ekklesia will be raptured and the tares will continue to grow. There will be many people who will come to know Jesus after the Rapture and the tares will continue to corrupt until the final judgment when the wheat is harvested and the tares are burned.
Christians, we need to understand that God gave us His inerrant Word and it has not changed one iota in meaning. We need to stand firm on His Word and not be swayed by the lies planted by Satan. God’s Word is quite clear that Jesus Christ is God, but Satan plants the poisonous tares by spreading the lie that Jesus was just a prophet or merely a very nice man. A very nice man would have died and been buried. But Jesus shed His blood on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin. He arose from the grave and His victory over death gives all true believers eternal life.
God’s Word makes it quite clear that all sexual activity outside of a, one-man one-woman marriage, is a sin. Homosexuality is an abomination to God, but Satan plants the poisonous tares by saying that it is just a choice of lifestyle. How many single people sitting in pews on Sunday morning have spent Saturday night in bed with their girlfriend or boyfriend? “It’s just human nature,” says the father of all lies, but God’s Word tells us differently. I choose to bring up sexual sin because it is widespread, condoned, and encouraged in music, TV shows, movies, and books, but any behavior that is contrary to God’s word needs to be changed. Our schools are even teaching our children how to commit sexual sin. The wheat will grow strong in the Lord, but the tares will poison those who partake of it.
Satan uses the same subtle lies today as he used to confuse Eve in the Garden of Eden.
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).
Satan began sowing tares long ago, and the idea behind the enemy’s deception is to bring about a subtle “change” that, over time, will confuse those looking into Christ’s Ekklesia. They will be confused as to what Christianity is and what it means to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. He means to deceive those seeking something more out of life than just their mundane daily existence. If Christians feel that it is okay to live the same sinful lifestyle of the unsaved, why should the lost of this world see a reason to accept Christ?
The life of a Christian is filled with hope, which extends beyond the confines of this life. That’s exciting! Many people are seeking God but Satan in no way wants them to find Christ as their answer. Instead of learning the truth of who Jesus is, Satan will give the seeker a false gospel to follow thereby diverting that person off the true path that leads to salvation and onto the other path that leads to destruction.
We can see and know with little doubt just who the tares are. Who are they? If you have to ask that question, you’re in trouble. But I’ll give you a little help. If you know someone who claims to be a Christian but they also claim there are errors in God’s Word, or else they don’t even believe God’s Word, they are tares. If they don’t believe Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven then that would be a huge red flag and they are tares. A tare is someone who spreads the poisonous claim that the Bible was written to people a long time ago, but people have changed and so the Bible is outdated and needs to be amended to fit today’s world.
“When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are” (Luke 13:25).
Are you wheat or are you a tare? You need to honestly ask yourself that question today because there will come a time when it is too late. The door will be shut. Today may be your last day on earth and you will face eternity in heaven or in hell. The choice is yours. If the Rapture happens as you are reading this commentary, will you go with the wheat or be left with the tares? True Christians will be taken, but the tares will be left here to face God’s wrath. The Tribulation, and more specifically the last half of that time of judgment known as the Great Tribulation, will be filled with unimaginable horrors. Jesus said:
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21).
If you are living a life filled with sin and opposed to God’s Word, don’t wait another minute to accept His free gift of salvation and change your life. The harvest is coming and tomorrow may be too late.
God bless you all,
(Ron Graham died on March 14, 2013)