The Parables Series  #2




TEXT:         Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43


INTRO:       There are many reasons people join churches:


a.   The social thing to do

b.   Curiosity about religion

c.   Their friends go

d.   They like to sing

e.   To keep their family happy

f.    To express worship to God

g.   For fellowship

h.   Don't like to be a home on Sundays

i.    To find out what's going on in town etc.

j.    They might even like the Pastor!


Now stop and think; why do you go to church?


ILLUS:    Emerson Colaw tells about doing some work with his church's nonresident membership list.  He wrote a letter to one family that had been very active in his church.  A letter came back saying, "Mr. Colaw, we now live near a university campus and we go every Sunday to the chapel service there.  They have unusually fine music -- they have nationally known preachers ever Sunday morning."  And she added a note he didn't think necessary.  "We had not heard such preaching as that before.  The children are being taught in church school by seminary students."  And then she ended, "But the best of all there is no membership, no pledging, and no women's society asking me to work.  So if you don't mind, we'll just leave our membership at Hyde Park and continue to enjoy what we have here."  No involvement, no bother.  No crosses. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 87.


PROP. SENT:    This parable teaches us that there are two kinds of people on this earth; sons of God's kingdom and son's of Satan's kingdom ... and it is not a matter of just going to church that determines which kingdom they are in but “why” they go to church and identify themselves with the kingdom of God!


I.   THE SOWER    Matt. 13:24-26 (“Son of Man” Matt. 13:37-38)


A.   Seed    Matt. 13:24,38

1.   The sower is Jesus Himself – the “Son of Man.”

2.   Good seed -- saved “sons of the kingdom” (NIV) (wheat)

3.   Bad seed -- unsaved “sons of the evil one” (NIV) (weeds) (tares KJV))


ILLUS:    I often visit newcomers in town and find them to be church shopping.  They want to know what they can get out of church. Churches are one more consumer commodity.  Worship services are not a place for us to serve God and neighbor but a place where people expect to purchase the best:  inspiring worship, good music, moving sermons, quality child care.  As if we buy God and not vice versa. -- Arthur Boers in The Other Side (May/June 1989). Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 11.


4.   It is important to recognize that the seed is NEVER the problem!

a.   God’s Word is always good, it is living, powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword.

b.   God’s Word gives life … it is the “Gospel” or “good news” … the seed will always be good, we do not have to worry about the quality of the seed, that is never contested.  It will yield life if given opportunity to be planted properly.

c.   The issue will be somewhere else.


B.   Sleepers    Matt. 13:25

1.   When the enemy attacks is when we are asleep.

a.   Off guard!  The enemy’s plan cannot destroy the seed … so he has to come up with another plan.  This new plan is simply to plant weeds in the midst of the good seed.  The best way to damage a good crop if you can’t do anything about the good seed is to try and overwhelm it with lots of weeds.

b.   Apathy – draw away the energy from the new life.  This is what weeds do to good new plants.


ILLUS:    The building is not really the Church. God's people are.  Yet the Church today spends more money for buildings than for anything else.  When an artist was asked to paint a picture of a decaying church, to everyone's astonishment, instead of putting on canvas an old, tottering ruin, the artist painted a stately edifice of modern grandeur.  Through the open portals could be seen the richly carved pulpit, the magnificent organ, and the beautiful stained glass windows. To one side was an elaborately designed offering plate for foreign missions -covered by a cobweb! – Source Unknown


2.   Best time to do damage is when a plant is just starting to grow!

3.   This may also be a metaphor for the period of time between Jesus giving the seed and the time of the harvest at the end of time, in other words, the time of sleeping is simply a reference to His being gone until He returns again.

a.   If so it reminds us that during this time frame there will be a mixture in the church, those of true faith and those who are not true to the faith.

b.   The problem with weeds in their early stage is that they look a lot like plants you want … it will be hard to distinguish at times the real heads of wheat from the weeds until they are more mature.

c.   Jesus warns however about starting to yank everything out that looks like a weed too early, the point is to be careful that we don’t go on purification hunts to try and purge all the weeds out of the church … that is a job for the angels at the end of time.  Our job is to simply continue to serve the Lord until the end of time, not try and clean out the garden.

4.   Jesus recognized that Satan would come and plant bad seeds among the good seed.  Matt. 13:27-28

a.   During this period of grace Satan is able to plant his phony seed, and they grow up sometimes among the wheat.

b.   Notice that Jesus insisted however that His disciples not get sidetracked at “pulling up the weeds” … Matt. 13:28b Instead Jesus wanted them to remain on task with spreading more good seed.

c.   How many Christians and churches waste valuable time and resources doing this however … they continuously spend their time and energy “purging the church” of sinners and sin instead of reaching out to sinners.  They lose focus on the real mission of the church.


C.   Sprouts   Matt. 13:26

1.   Formed heads -- wheat

a.   Bears fruit

b.   Increases itself -- multiplies

2.   No heads, but they appear also -- weeds

a.   Unfruitful

b.   They appear at the same time.

c.   Notice that they may be in the same location.


ILLUS:    No sooner is a temple built to God, but the Devil builds a chapel hard by. -- As quoted in Bob Phillips, Phillips' Book of Great Thoughts & Funny Sayings, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1993), p. 68.


(1.   Abide in church

(2.   Claim to be doing God's bidding while hurting the church!

(3.   Are you building up or tearing down God's kingdom ... It is always easier to tear something down than to build something up.

3.   It is possible that too many weeds could impact the fruitfulness of the wheat by crowding the wheat out.  They would certainly compete for the same resources.  Yet the damage done by trying to root out the weeds might be more powerful than simply allowing them to exist in place.


II.  THE SERVANTS    Matt. 13:27-30 (“Angels” Matt. 13:39-43)


A.    Surprised!   Matt. 13:27-30, 36-38

1.   Bad among the good and Godly!

2.   How can weeds be among the wheat?

a.   God allows this during this age.


ILLUS:     I believe a very large majority of churchgoers are merely unthinking, slumbering worshipers of an unknown God. -- Charles H. Spurgeon in Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 11. Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 1.


b.   Won't hurt God's true work.

c.   "I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it..."  {Jesus} 

3.   If Jesus said to leave the weeds alone He had good reason to do so.

a.   Then why do some today feel that they must “clean God’s house?”

b.   In the process they do so much damage to the kingdom of God, by “taring” up the church of Jesus Christ they leave good wheat destroyed in their tracks! 

c.   This is NOT the mission of the church … the Holy Spirit will convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment … the mission of the church is to reach the lost.

4.   Some local churches have horrific reputations of destroying peoples’ lives within the church body.  Ironically the very place that we are suppose to be building each other up in the most holy faith has far too often been a slaughter house!

5.   Jesus’ words could not have been clearer here:  Mat 13:30 “Let both grow together until the harvest.”

a.   There is no other way to interpret this since Jesus Himself tells us the interpretation that the seed here is the “sons of the kingdom” and the weeds are the “sons of the evil one.” Matt. 13:38 … and He says to let them grow together until the final harvest!!!!

b.   If these are Jesus’ instructions then why does anyone question them today?


B.   Satan     Matt. 13:28,39a

1.   Tries to “tare” up every church he can!

2.   Encourages everyone to focus on each other instead of Christ.

a.   Faults

b.   Programs

c.   The way we dress

d.   The parts in our hair, etc.

3.   Satan has many ways of killing a church:

a.   Don't come!

b.   If you do come, come late!

c.   When you come, come as a grouch!

d.   At every service ask yourself, "What do I get out of this?"

e.   Never accept an office or job, it is better to stay outside and criticize.

f.    Visit other churches about half of the time to show your pastor that you are not tied down to him.  There is nothing like independence!

g.   Let the Pastor earn his money; let him do all the work!

h.   Sit pretty well back and never sing.  If you have to sing, sing out of tune and behind everybody else.

i.    Don’t tithe, never pay in advance, especially for religion, wait until you get your money’s worth, and then wait a bit longer!

j.    Never encourage the preacher; if you like a sermon, keep mum about it, many a preacher has been ruined by flattery.  Don't let his blood be on your head!

k.   It is good to tell your pastor's failings to any strangers that may happen in; they might be a long time finding them out otherwise!

l.    Of course you can't be expected to get new members for the church with such a pastor as he.

m.  If there happens to be a few zealous workers in the church, make a tremendous protest against the church's being run by a clique!

n.   If your church unfortunately happens to be harmonious, call it apathy or hindrance or lack of zeal, anything under the sun except what it really is.


ILLUS:    Dear Pastor,

   You often stress attendance at worship as being very important for a Christian, but I think a person has a right to miss now and then. I think every person ought to be excused for the following reasons and the number of times indicated:

Christmas (Sunday before or after)—1

New Year's (Party lasted too long)—1

Easter (Get away for the holidays)—1

July 4 (National holiday)—1

Labor Day (Need to get away)—1

Memorial Day (Visit hometown)—1

School closing (Kids need a break)—1

School opens (One last fling)—1

Family reunions (Mine and wife's)—2

Sleep late (Saturday night activities)—4

Deaths in family—4

Anniversary (Second honeymoon)—1

Sickness (One for each family member)—5

Business trips (A must)—3

Vacation (3 weeks)—3

Bad weather (Ice, snow, rain, clouds)—6

Ball games—5

Unexpected company (Can't walk out)—5

Time changes (Spring ahead; fall back)—2

Special on TV (Super Bowl, etc.)—3

   Pastor, that leaves only two Sundays per year. So, you can count on us to be in church on the fourth Sunday in February and the third Sunday in August unless providentially hindered.


Faithful Member -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 88-89.


3.   Satan doesn’t usually destroy churches from outside sources, he usually is quite effective at destroying a church from inside sources.

a.   Ironically most churches suffer from insider revolution … not outsider revolution.

b.   Most churches that have bad reputations do so because of church members attacking church members, and harsh judgmental overtones, not because they are too aggressive with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the community.

c.   No church ever gets a bad rap for being a loving congregation!


C.   Separate    Matt. 13:30,39b-43

1.   A harvest however is coming!  There is a time when the separation will occur, God Himself will order it, and it will be done.

a.   Wheat will be gathered.  (For the barn)

b.   Tares will be gathered.   (For the burning)

c.   Now they exist side by side, but soon they shall be separated!


ILLUS:    Most professing Christians, from the liberals to the fundamentalists, remain practical atheists. They think the church is sustained by the services it provides or the amount of fellowship and good feeling in the congregation. This form of sentimentality has become the most detrimental corruption of the church and the ministry. -- Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon in the Christian Century (March 15, 1989). Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 15.


2.   Are you going to the barn or the burning?

a.   There will be a day when the wheat and tares will be separated … by God’s order and by God’s power.

b.   Then it will be too late to change your nature, you will be gathered either to the BARN or to the BURNING.

c.   Why not become wheat now.


CONCLUSION:     We are either destined for the Father or the Furnace … the Barn or the Burning, it is not so much if you go to church, but why you go!  Are you part of the real kingdom of God or are you taring it up?