From the Series THINGS JESUS TAUGHT US this sermon was preached at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cherry Log, Georgia on Sunday August 18, 2013 by Pastor Paul Mims.
Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43The headline read: KNOW THE ENEMIES OF YOUR HEART. It was an article about maintaining a healthy heart from the University of Wisconsin Medical School. It said, “The key to understanding your enemy is knowing the facts about heart disease and stroke:
Cardiovascular disease includes diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Most heart and blood vessel problems develop over time and occur when your arteries develop atherosclerosis – a process that begins in childhood and involves a gradual buildup inside them called plaque inside the arteries.
Plaque contains fat, cholesterol and other substances, and can grow large enough to significantly reduce blood flow through an artery. Most of the damage occurs when a plaque becomes fragile and ruptures.
Plaques that rupture can cause blood clots to form. These clots can block blood flow at the site of the rupture or can break off and travel through the artery to another part of the body. If either happens and blocks an artery that feeds the heart or brain, it causes a heart attack or stroke.”
That is something that we all need to know about. Jesus told us something much more important about having a healthy heart. We also have to know the enemies of our hearts in the spiritual realm. He indicated that it is a life or death matter. In the parable of the WHEAT AND THE TARES Jesus describes the enemies of the Kingdom. I want to use four words that are gerunds to interpret the parable. The first word is:
I. SOWING “The Kingdom is heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” (vv.24-25) Jesus explained that the field is the world. He has come to sow good seed. “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” This was a designation that Jesus often used of himself. It speaks of his humanity and humility. He is the “second Adam” who has come to restore the marred image of God in mankind. We must understand that the field is the world – not the church. Jesus wants it clear that the “good seed” stands for “the sons of the Kingdom” and the “weeds” are the sons of the evil one. Both Jesus and Satan are sowing their seeds in the world. Both have their methods, goals, and outcomes. The Lord scatters his sons and daughters out across the world to sow the word of the Kingdom. Satan also has his disciples who preach his teachings everywhere. It is evident that there are more of “them” than there are of “us.”
This parable is close to the parable of the sower, but is different in its points of emphasis. The main thing that we are to see here is the great cosmic battle between God and Satan for the hearts of people. Jesus said that Satan did his sowing “while everyone was sleeping.” The term was used by John F. Kennedy as a title of his book before he became President of the United States: While Men Slept. It was frequently used with reference to the Western powers during the age of the rise of Adolph Hitler and the others who were associated with Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s. While the church is sleeping the evil one is sowing his seeds in every community. While the parents are sleeping – not being aware of what is happening – the evil one is capturing the hearts of their children. Today, there are unprecedented ways of sowing through the media, internet, and telephones. These things are in our homes, before our faces, and in our hands. The sower can get up close and personal.
The reference point of Jesus is the actual practice of an enemy destroying the crop of a neighbor. It was a practice with which his hearers were familiar. R.C. Trench says, in his book on the parables, “A modern writer affirms the same to be now practiced in India. In Ireland, an outgoing tenant, in spite, sowed wild oats in the fields which he was leaving, and it was next to impossible to exterminate them.” The Romans, who occupied the land during the life of Jesus had a law against sowing wild seed in the fields and stipulated the punishment for it.
The second word is:
II. GROWING “When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.” (v.26) The “tare” or “darnel” was a weed that for a time in its growth looked very similar to the wheat plant and it was hard to distinguish them apart. It was also a bit poisonous and could cause a person to become dizzy. It left a bitter taste in the mouth. So the weed and the wheat grew together and looked the same.
The kingdom is growing and disciples of Satan are also growing. I recently read an article by Marc Yoder on REASONS WHY OUR KIDS LEAVE CHURCH. (1) They don’t need it. They picked up on the message we unwittingly taught. If the church is simply a place to learn life application principles to achieve a better life in community…you don’t need a crucified Jesus for that. (2) They can’t do it. All that “be nice” moralism that they have been taught is just “Law.” (3) They got tired of pretending. With a diet of unreality fed to them of “best life now” and “every day a Friday” with no room for depression, struggle or doubt and “be happy all the time” has led them to feel that the church is not shooting straight with them. (4) They found better feelings. Rather than external, objective, historical faith, we have given our youth an internal, subjective faith. We are not teachings our youth the fundamentals of the faith, we are simply encouraging them to “be nice” and “love Jesus.” When they find that they can be authentic with a life coach, friends, or volunteering at a shelter, they jump at the chance. (5) We give them “hand me downs” of our own subjective faith of what we want them to “feel.” Without anything solid to hang their faith upon, with no historic foundation in centuries of Christian History, they are left with their own subjective feelings. (6) We sent them out unarmed basically ignorant of the Christian faith on the quest to “find God’s will for your life.” When we choose leaders who just entertain the youth rather than teaching them the historic and orthodox faith – they don’t know the difference between justification and sanctification. (7) We tend to dumb down the expectations of the Gospel. But the agnostics and atheists treat our youth as intelligent and challenge their intellect with deep thoughts of question and doubt. (8) We don’t present to them an authentic gospel. We have taken a historic 2,000 year old faith, dressed it in plaid and skinny jeans and tried to sell it as “cool” to our youth and say to them, “This is authentic.” Seventy percent of youth stop attending church when they graduate from high school. Nearly a decade later, about half return to church. My concern is for our youth at Cornerstone to be taught and come to know Jesus in a way that he truly captures their hearts.
The third word is:
III. KNOWING “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where did these weeds come from? Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let them both grow until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it to my barn.’” (vv27-30).
One of the big dilemmas for Christians is “What do we do about the evil in the world all about us?” Alexander Maclaren said, “Where the good seed is sown, there the evil is scattered thickest. False Christs and false apostles dog the true like their shadows. Every truth has its counterfeit.”
As Christians, we must know that there is always a hostile sowing of evil seed. We must always be on our guard for its influence around us. There are times when we must resist evil and times when we should not. We should always resist Satan’s assaults on us. Jesus taught us to “resist not the evil person” in Matthew 5:39. We are to show love instead of hate, compassion instead of judgment, and are to “turn the other cheek” if we are to have any chance of winning them to Christ.
E. Calvin Beisner says, “If there’s anything likely to stump Christians when witnessing, it is the challenge, “If God exists, why is there evil?” Merely anticipating the objection can stop many Christians cold in their tracks. Through the centuries theologians and philosophers from a wide range of backgrounds and interests have tried various responses to explain what appears to be a logical contradiction in the following five propositions: 1. God exists. 2. God is all-powerful. 3. God is all-knowing. 4. God is all-good. 5. Evil exists. Some have denied proposition 5, that anything truly evil occurs. What seems evil is really good. Our perceiving it as evil is illusion. This has been the answer of pantheism, Gnosticism, and modern Christian Science, but never of Christianity. For if evil is mere illusion, then, first, disobedience to God’s law is equally as good as obedience, and second, Christ’s dying on a cross as atonement for sin was an exercise in futility, for there was no sin for which to atone. If evil is an illusion, Christianity is false. But then the illusion of evil certainly seems to be as evil as evil itself would have been if real. The same suffering, grief, terror, anger, envy, and other mental states that we associate with evil still occur. Illusory evil doesn’t solve the problem of evil even for the non-Christian.”
Knowing the biblical doctrine of evil is essential to a balanced Christian faith. There are two sowers in the world: God and Satan. Both desire to capture your heart and those of your family.
We also need to know that the harvest is coming. The harvest is the judgment. Jesus said, ”The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy that sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (vv.37-42)
Billy Graham said, “A number of years ago I was stopped for driving too fast in a speed zone, and in the courtroom I pleaded guilty. The judge was not only friendly but embarrassed for me to be in his court. The fine was ten dollars. If he let me go free, it would have been inconsistent with justice. The penalty had to be paid either by me or someone else! Judgment is consistent with love. A God of love must be a God of justice. It is because God loves that He is just. His justice balances His love and makes His acts of both love and justice meaningful.” The judge himself left the bench and came down and paid the fine for him. Jesus left the glory of heaven and came down and paid for you and me in our guilt so that we would be ready for the judgment.
The fourth word is:
IV. SHINING “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
There will come a day when we will be free from problems of evil, the power of evil, and even the presence of evil. The children of God will shine forth like the sun shining forth as a cloud moves away. We will “shine forth” in the robe of Christ’s righteousness. We will have perfect holiness of nature, prosperity of soul; incorruption, and immortality. We will have no spot or any cloud of darkness or any possibility of it for all eternity.
In the film series, “Focus on the Family, James Dobson said, ” I shared a story about a 5-year-old African-American boy who will never be forgotten by those who knew him. A nurse with whom I worked, Gracie Schaeffler, took care of this lad during the latter days of his life. He was dying of lung cancer, which is a terrifying disease in its final stages. The lungs fill with fluid, and the patient is unable to breathe. It is terribly claustrophobic, especially for a small child.
This little boy had a Christian mother who loved him and stayed by his side through the long ordeal. She cradled him on her lap and talked softly about the Lord. Instinctively, the woman was preparing her son for the final hours to come. Gracie told me that she entered his room one day as death approached, and she heard this lad talking about hearing bells. “The bells are ringing, Mommie,” he said. “I can hear them.”
Gracie thought he was hallucinating because he was already slipping away. She left and returned a few minutes later and again heard him talking about hearing bells ringing. The nurse said to his mother, ‘I’m sure you know your baby is hearing things that aren’t there. He is hallucinating because of the sickness.”
The mother pulled her son closer to her chest, smiled and said, “No, Miss Schaeffler. He is not hallucinating. I told him when he was frightened — when he couldn’t breathe — if he would listen carefully, he could hear the bells of heaven ringing for him. That is what he’s been talking about all day.”
That precious child died on his mother’s lap later that evening, and he was still talking about the bells of heaven when the angels came to take him. What a brave little trooper he was!”
Even a child can understand this!
PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!