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Sunday, March 26, 2006 

Wheat and Tares

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By Mike Ratliff

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast n
aked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:9-15 KJV Emphasis Mine)

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, 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. 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? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:24-30 KJV)

Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:36-43 KJV)

Not too long ago, I had a preacher ask me what a tare was. He knew that I was from Oklahoma and he thought I would know. I am no country boy, but when I was a young man, I worked in a grain elevator. Actually, most wheat farmers I knew complained about a weed, which grew in their fields, they called "Cheat." I may not be spelling it correctly. I have seen the weed though. Wheat looks like a thick-bladed grass when it is young and green. "Cheat" is a native rye grass whose species name is Lolium Temulentum. When it is young, it looks just like the Wheat. However, when it matures, it has a head on it as Wheat does, but you can tell them apart. Wheat has value, but "Cheat" is a nuisance. We offered a Wheat cleaning service to farmers just prior to planting. To clean Wheat seed we ran it through a screening process to remove any other seeds that were not Wheat. We would drop the grain down a chute into a cleaning machine that had several well-placed screens that allowed only the Wheat grains to make it through the process. The rest of the chaff and weed seeds were waste. Some of the farmers took that waste and fed it to their chickens.

I placed three scripture passages at the beginning of this post. The first one explains the events immediately after Adam's sin that we call the original sin. God questions Adam who blames Eve. God questions Eve who blames the serpent. God then addresses the serpent who we know is Satan. Let us look at that part of the passage again.

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:14-15 KJV)

This passage is symbolic. The serpent is Satan. The woman represents the Church, which is the elect. The seed of Satan are all reprobate people who are not part of the elect. God proclaims to Satan that He will put enmity between him and the elect. That is no surprise. He also tells him there will be enmity between his seed and the Woman's seed. Women do not have seed, men do. Women have ovaries and eggs not seed. The Woman's seed symbolizes those who are not born of Man. This statement symbolizes the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Is there enmity between Satan and our Lord Jesus Christ? Satan bruised Jesus' heel at the cross, a non-fatal blow. However, Jesus bruised or crushed Satan's head, a fatal blow, in His victory over sin at the cross. The seed of the Woman also includes the elect who are regenerated, reborn, through saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This regeneration is followed quickly by justification by God declaring these Born Again believers righteous. This is possible because of the act of Atonement for the elect's sin. (Romans 5:11) Jesus paid the price for the elect's sin by becoming sin on the cross. This satisfied the justice of God against that sin. As regeneration becomes fact, because of the Atoning work done by the Lord, God the Father adopts all new believers into the family of God. This is why the Woman's seed includes Jesus Christ and all believers because God the Father considers all in Christ as Jesus' brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:14-18)

As we have seen, there is enmity between Satan's seed and the Woman's seed. Since the Woman's seed is Jesus Christ and all of His brothers and sisters, we must conclude Satan and his seed really hate the true Church as much as they hate Him. Satan's seed are the reprobate non-elect in this world who will never believe. Unlike the unregenerate elect, these unregenerate will always hate God, the gospel, and the true Church.

The next two passages I placed at the beginning of this post are a parable Jesus told followed by His interpretation. I have heard many sermons and teachings on the "Wheat and the Tares" parable. After I studied this for myself, I have found that most of those sermons were dead wrong.

A very famous evangelist came to our Church in Yukon, Oklahoma when I was a deacon there. He preached a sermon titled, "The Wheat and the Tares." His sermon had Jesus give this parable to us as a warning that the Church contained true believers (the Wheat) alongside phony believers (the tares). He has boasted that this sermon usually results in most of the deacons at whatever church he preaches it in "getting saved." I remember when he preached it in our church. I knew I was a believer and his sermon did not cause me to doubt. When he gave his invitation at the end, he seemed very disappointed when none of our deacons "got resaved." His approach was Arminian to the core. He also misinterpreted Jesus parable of the Wheat and the Tares. Let's look at Jesus own interpretation of this parable.

Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man… (Matthew 13:36-37 KJV)

Who sows the good seed? Jesus says He does that. This is talking about salvation. This is describing the regenerate, the chosen of God, as seed the Lord sows. The seed do not choose this. The sower sows them. The Lord saves those who are His. There is no human choice involved here at all. Where does Jesus sow His good seeds?

The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one… (Matthew 13:38 KJV)

This verse shows us that Jesus sows His good seed in the world and those seed are the children of the kingdom. The chosen of God are Jesus siblings by adoption. They are God's children. Since they are in the world this is referring to living believers. This is not a picture of the Church as a whole, but is a picture of believers living in the world. What about the tares, who are they?

The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. (Matthew 13:38-39 KJV)

This is very clear. The tares are Satan's seed that he planted in the world. Notice very carefully, the Wheat does not become tares and the tares do not become Wheat. This is a very straightforward teaching on election and perseverance of the Saints. God knows those who are His. He also knows who the tares are. Could it be possible for tares to be part of the Church? There most definitely are tares in the visible or physical Church. Remember the Counterfeit Church from this post? If there are tares who are professing believers then they are part of that Church, spiritually. A local church body may very well contain members of both the Counterfeit Church and the true Church, side-by-side. All genuine believers, the chosen, are part of the true Church, spiritually. However, physically they may be part of the Counterfeit Church if they are mired in false doctrine. The physical churches contain believers and non-believers. However, the spiritual true Church is 100% chosen of God. The following diagram may help.

  • The Spiritual True Church contains all of the chosen no matter if they are in physical churches that are Counterfeit doctrinally.
  • The Spiritual Counterfeit Church contains all false professors.
  • The Physical (Visible) True Church contains the chosen that are part of doctrinally pure churches and some false professors.
  • The Physical (Visible) Counterfeit Church contains some deceived chosen and many false professors.
  • There are millions of tares that are pagans or atheists so are not part of any "church"


  • All non-professing reprobate people are Satan's seed and are not part of any church but are tares in the world. The false professors are those who claim to be Christian but are not so they are Satan's seed as well. These would be tares in the physical church. The Spiritual true Church contains no tares. The false professors are not the chosen of God. They are tares. What happens to the tares at the end of the age?

    The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:39-42 KJV)

    There is nothing funny about that message. The chosen of God will avoid the furnace of fire. However, the tares will not. It is at this point the Pelagian and Arminian would step up and say something like, "There must be something we can do to get these poor people to decide for Christ in light of their future!" This is not a message of evangelism. This is a message by our Lord about the future of those who are not the chosen of God. Yes, we must get the gospel to all people because there are many elect who have not believed. The gospel must be freely given to all people so they will have a chance to believe, but only the chosen of God will believe because there are the only ones given God's effectual call by His grace.

    This post is an excerpt from my book All for His Glory. It is not yet under contract.

    Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™ Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

    Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are taken from The Holy Bible, King James Version.

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