We have been discussing that the church is God’s plan to implement His purposes for this time period before Christ’s return. It should function efficiently with love and consistent with God’s word. Last week we overviewed scriptural methods to recognize true believers in the church. This week we discuss methods to recognize those who might be churched unbelievers or tares (Matthew 13:24-30).
Jesus said there will be tares (who look like wheat, but are false believers) in the church of whom we cannot differentiate until He returns. However, as part of our love for the church and its people we should try, as best we can, to discern those who are not really saved so we might help them understand the gospel.
Who are they? Again it is difficult to determine, but on close inspection, the opposite of scripture and without the knowledge of salvation. Regarding the list below, we all probably struggle with these issues from time to time (I do), but for the tare it characterizes their whole life.
What they say?
- Self-focused – They talk about themselves usually expressing: self-aggrandizement, desire, jealousy, criticism and lack of gratitude.
- They speak church ‘jargonese’- It is like learning just enough Spanish to get by in Mexico City, it may sound good on first hearing, but you sure do not want to get into a detailed theological conversation. Tares will pick up just enough church jargon, which is easier than learning scripture, to fit in socially. What is ‘jargonese’? It may possess a grain of truth, sounds good, but generally teaches lies about God and cannot be found in scripture, such as: ‘I was called to do this’, ‘God has one person for me to marry’, ‘God will open a door’, ‘I’m in the place where God wants me’, ‘I don’t have a peace about this (so I will not do it)’, etc.
- Victims – They often feel they are treated unfairly. Most usually their expectations for the church, its leadership and their fellow members are not met, leading often to bitterness and criticism.
What they know?
- Scriptural knowledge – They do not know much! They usually are familiar with a few individual versus that they learned in high school or college and fill in the rest with whatever legalistic system is pushed by their domination or church, or the youth group where they first learned Christianity. This makes for a person who may be inflexible and does not know or enjoy the freedom offered by scripture and living by faith.
- They know they are right – Not knowing scripture and clinging to a legalistic system does not provide them a strong basis to make decisions or handle change. This may cause the tare to become defensive, and cling to their stance despite biblical evidence to the contrary.
- Salvation by what? – If you simply ask them ‘what gives you the right to enter heaven when you die?’ they will not give you a coherent or correct answer, but they hesitantly may give you a long, circuitous and confabulated explanation.
What do they do? What they do is simple, ‘peudo’-scripture.
- Christian practice – They may show up for church, but rarely practice on their own the five tools to maturity (prayer, praise, teaching, Bible study and Bible-based fellowship) outside of church. They do not exhibit spiritual growth. They are more comfortable with non-spiritual (but often needed) service activities such as keeping nursery, arranging showers, etc.
- Scriptural application to their lives – When confronted with scripture they doggedly dig in and hold to the system of Christianity they learned in their youth (e.g., ‘this is the Baptist Church, we immerse here’).
- Comfort – They typically desire a secure churched-based earthly existence within social Christianity.
- Teaching and evangelism – These are not parts of Christianity with which they are comfortable with perhaps not their ‘gift’. If they do teach at all it is typically from prepared material from a book or video. In contrast, a true believer, even if young, over time will start to speak and do the things of God in a loving but truthful manner. They will grow to love His Word. We should seek to identify and then help those who do not know the full regenerative power of the Holy Spirit through Christ’s forgiveness in faith so they too may contribute to the church.
That’s all for today thank you for joining me. Please return next week as we discuss how to handle tares in the church.