I can’t imagine anything worse than believing you are alright with God and when you stand before Him, hear those words, “I never knew you.” Yet, in the “Parable of the Wheat and the Tares,” Jesus acknowledged that there are many sitting in churches who don’t belong to Him. How can we know?
In chapter 47, the Babylonians thought they were strong and secure and untouchable. They trusted in themselves, their false gods, and their sorceries. They had set themselves against God and would soon be judged.
Like the Babylonians many today are busy enjoying their ease and success and power. Many of them have set themselves against God. They belittle His people as weak and God as merely a crutch. They want to make their own rules. Their first commandment is “Thou shalt not be intolerant of anything I want to do!” Even when they claim to believe in Him, they pervert the Word of God, twisting it to make it say the opposite of what it does.
They wrongly interpret God’s patience and tolerance.
“They have lied about the LORD and said, ‘He won’t bother us! No disasters will come upon us. There will be no war or famine’” (Jer. 5.12 NLT).
Instead of seeing God’s patience and mercy as an opportunity to repent, they decide there will never be a day of accounting.
Wheat, Tares, and Hypocrites
Then in chapter 48, God speaks to those who call themselves His people. Though He continues to assure them that He will not utterly destroy them because of His mercy and grace, he promises to judge those who hypocritically claim to believe one thing while practicing another.
In the New Testament Jesus told “the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.” He acknowledged there are many tares, unbelievers, growing alongside the wheat, believers. But he said:
“Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn’” (Matt. 13.30).
Many, even in our churches, are in danger of hearing the shocking truth when they stand before Him:
“‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt. 7.23).
Paul said in our New Testament reading, “But let each one examine his own work …” (Gal. 6.4). And in his instructions for taking the Lord’s Supper: Continue reading →
We are living in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous and a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and Christianity. Religious freedom and tolerance have been replaced with intolerance and, even, hatred. Christian organizations that support the traditional family and are pro-life have been listed as “hate groups” along with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.
Earlier this week Amy Barrett, a highly qualified nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit and a devout Catholic, was questioned about her religious convictions by two well-known Senators, even though the Constitution prohibits any kind of religious test to hold public office.
And we’ve probably just begun to experience the hostility and persecution that the Bible tells us will come.
Paul Nyquist in his book, Prepare, says the following:
Get ready. An exciting, yet terrifying era is beginning for American believers. As cultural changes sweep our country, we’ll soon be challenged to live out what the Bible says about confronting and responding to persecution. For nearly 250 years, Christians in America were able to live in relative freedom from persecution. We escaped because our society historically embraced and promoted biblical values. Our founding fathers penned a Constitution esteeming religious freedom and establishing that rights come from God, not the government.
But we’re witnessing an epic change in our culture— a spiritual climate shift threatening to reshape life as we know it. Hostility and intolerance are replacing toleration. Rejection and even hatred are pushing aside acceptance.
John S. Dickerson, in his well-researched book The Great Evangelical Recession, writes, “In the coming decades United States evangelicals will be tested as never before, by the ripping and tearing of external cultural change— a force more violent than many of us expect. Evangelicalism in the United States has stood strong through centuries of difficulties and setbacks. She has not seen anything quite like what she will see in the next fifty years.”
More and more often, Christians will be forced to choose between saying and doing what’s pleasing to God and what’s acceptable to those around us. And those opposed to biblical values are increasingly bold and vocal about their opposition and loathing.
Just this week, two well-known Senators challenged a judicial nominee about her ability to carry out the law because of her Catholic beliefs.
According to The Washington Post:
Amy Barrett, a nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit, has spoken often of her Catholic faith and drawn opposition from liberal groups, which argue that she’d place it above the law. Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, echoed those concerns Wednesday at a confirmation hearing, telling Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern …”
Here is the full context of Feinstein’s comments:
Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that — you know, dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.
It’s clear what Feinstein, a stalwart defender of abortion rights, is getting at here, given that her questioning of Barrett focused heavily on Barrett’s views of Roe v. Wade. But her use of the word “dogma” has plenty on the right alleging that she’s applying a religious test to Barrett’s nomination.
The Constitution, of course, prohibits religious tests, saying that ” … no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Some on the right now say Feinstein is violating that, too.
How to Prepare
Persecution has always been a reality for believers in Christ. It may vary in degree in different cultures and time periods, but Jesus warned us to expect it (Jn. 15.20). The Apostle Paul said, “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3.12).
In fact, in spite of the fact that it flies in the face of some current teaching, the Bible says persecution is good for us. James said:
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (Jas. 1.2-4 NLT).
Persecution, when responded to rightly, develops Christian character, helps us mature in Christ, draws us closer to the Lord, and is a testimony to the world. So how do we prepare to face it when it comes? Continue reading →