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The parable of the wheat and the tares

The Parable of the Tares – Matt 13:24-30; 36-43.
Preached at the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony  monthly meeting in London, 22nd  June 2018
By Rev Ivan Foster.
There is a need for us to seek the Lord for a right understanding of His Word. As He says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8.
It would be wrong to simply place our own interpretation upon His Word.
The Lord is most willing to explain His truth to us as we seek out the prophetic teaching of the 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,” Matthew 13:36. The word ‘declare’ means ‘make plain or explain’.
1. This contradicts the views of those who teach ‘Post Millennialism’. Postmillennialism is the belief that Christ returns after a period of time, but not necessarily a literal 1000 years.
Those who hold this view do not interpret unfulfilled prophecy literally. They believe that Rev 20:4-6 should not be taken literally.  – “a 1000 years” simply means “a long period of time.” Furthermore, the prefix “post-” in “postmillennialism” denotes the view that Christ will return after Christians, not Christ, have established the kingdom on this earth.
Those who hold to this view believe that this world will become better and better, despite the evidence of our eyes and ears and, above all, of Holy Scripture. The world is not becoming “Christianized” as the holders of this notion would teach. If we are to wait on that happening before Christ returns then He will never return. The trend evidenced in the old world is clearly manifested today. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. . . . . . The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth,” Genesis 6:5, 11-12.
2. It also contradicts the views of a ’secret rapture’. Note verse 30. “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.” Here they both grow TOGETHER until the harvest and then it is the tares which are first cut down. This is the very opposite to what JN Darby and his disciples taught.
a. Satan is active through his ‘children’. Just as the children of God serve Him in His vineyard so it is the children of the ‘wicked one’ serve him in seeking to destroy God’s vineyard. The relationship between the devil and the unsaved is that of ‘father and child’! This speaks of likeness 
and love. “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil,” John 3:19. As the Saviour said to the Jews: “Ye do the deeds of your father, . . . . Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it,” John 8:41, 44. Again, being the children of the devil they engage in his labours.  “Ye do the deeds of your father,” John 8:41. The word  ‘deeds’ means ‘labour or work’.
b. He has his children everywhere. “The field is the world,” verse 38. Everywhere the gospel is preached and the Kingdom of God is advanced, the devil plants his seed within its ranks.
c. They bear an outward likeness to God’s people. Even as tares bear some outward resemblance to wheat.
d. Note the enmity that exists toward the tares amongst God’s servants. “He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?” Matthew 13:28. Such a spirit is very proper. “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.
There is a God-planted spirit of enmity toward the devil and his works in the heart of every believer. But the servants were wrong is seeking to remove them. “But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them,” verse 29. We are called upon to suffer the presence and many of the activities of the ungodly. “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also,” Matthew 5:39. We are not to resist with violence the acts off the devil upon God’s work. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord,” Romans 12:19.
We have considered how this parable refutes the teaching of those who hold to Post-Millennialism and also those who teach a “secret rapture” the redeemed before the cutting off of the wicked.
The parable also refutes the teaching of A-Millennialists. They state that we are in the period described in Revelation 20:1-6, when specifically we are told that an angel “laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season,” Revelation 20:2-3.
Thus they claim that:
Satan is presently bound with a chain, cast into the bottomless pit, shut him up, sealed,  unable to deceive the nations no more and that the saints reign with Christ and the world is at peace.
This parable sets forth a very different scenario.
1. The tares are not cut down, even though God’s servants would dearly love to see that happen.
2. The tares continue to flourish and dominate as weeds tend to do.
3. Their true character becomes ever more evident. “But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also,” Matthew 13:26. The meaning of the word ‘appeared’ may be seen by its use in Matthew 1:20. “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” What an plain unmistakeable manifestation of the person of the angel this was! Even so will the wicked amongst the people of God become as we draw nearer the harvest, the end of this age and the return of Christ.
Like Judas, they will come out in their true colours toward the end. He deceived the rest of the disciples until he appeared with the mob. “Lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and greeted Him Hail, master; and kissed him,” Matthew 26:47-49. He who kissed the Saviour joyfully, for that is the meaning of ‘hail’. See the same word translated as rejoice in Matthew 2:10. “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” And also in Matthew 5:12. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” How deceitful was Judas but he merely pictures the general spirit of the unconverted. Judas called the Lord Jesus ‘Master’ but he was in fact “the son of perdition”, John 17:12.
So it is seen today. The ‘professing church’ has become more worldly, more devil-like in its ways and words as the ‘harvest’ draws nearer.. From its ranks may be heard the voice of those to whom Jude refers. “To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him,” Jude 1:15. Make no mistake about this matter. These are those who mingle with the people of God pretending to be of them. “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever,” Jude 1:12-13.
They are pretenders who profess to be what they are not, to possess what they have not!
Such is the teaching of this parable.
Is this not what Scriptures says of the last days!
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come,” 2 Tim 3:1. The word ‘perilous’ appears in only one other place. “And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way,” Matthew 8:28.
I think that we can say this man and his companion were the worst cases of devil-possession that Christ encountered.
Remember what we read in Revelation 13:11-12. “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth . . . . . . And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”
Here are “two possessed with devils . . . .  exceeding fierce.” In these two men of Gadara we have a picture of the fulness the tares will reach at the end of time. The Antichrist and the False Prophet will be but the fulness of the general spirit amongst the ungodly.
“As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world,” verse 40. That is the end of the “age” for such is the meaning of the word “aion”, here translated by the word ‘world’.
Such then is the end of the wicked.
1. Let this encourage us. “For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors,” Psalm 73:14-19.
The desire to be rid of the “tares” will one day be satisfied as God deals with them.
2. Let this stir us to evangelise. We all realise surely that we were once as the tares. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God,” 1 Corinthians 6:11. We were wonderfully changed by the mercy and grace of God in the day we were rescued and made new. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
This we desire for the poor sinners around us. We hold the message of deliverance in our hands. “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Acts 2:21. Let us sound it out loud and clear!
Abraham strove with God in prayer when he heard of the judgment that was to fall upon Sodom.  Christ wept at the prospect of Jerusalem’s destruction. “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,” Luke 19:41.
Recall the reaction of Paul to the troubles of the unbelieving Jews. “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,” Romans 9:1-3.
So should we desire and pray and act.
Let that be so with us as well.

Calling to remembrance the former times

Scripture: Hebrews 10:32-39

Stream or download Calling to remembrance the former times

Looking back upon former days in our lives is a divine injunction. While it behoves us to be ever “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” 2 Peter 3:12. (Matt 25:5.) We are also called upon to look back. It is something that God constantly calls His people to do. Of course, we have need of such calls for we are so forgetful. This is especially true of the good and the blessed things we have experienced. Matt 16:5-10.

What is it God would have us remember? “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no,” Deuteronomy 8:2. All of God’s dealings with us are worthy of recall.

Here in the passage before us, it is a call to remember the days at the beginning of the pilgrimage of the Hebrew Christians.

Remembering the former days will serve to:—


Often we are puzzled by the opposition of sinners. If we recall what we were like we will not.

1. Remember your own darkness and ignorance.  The eyes of our soul dwelt under the blackest curtain of ignorance. “For ye were sometimes darkness,” Eph 5:8. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son,” Colossians 1:13.

2. Illumination was the first grace bestowed.  Verse 16 lists the blessings of the covenant. Illumination is first.

3. It was an illumination in the knowledge of Christ. The word means to light up, Rev 18:1. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, II Corinthians 4:6. In the light of Christ’s glory, like Saul, we saw our own sins clearly.
Remembering the former days will serve to:—

We had no trouble from the world before we were saved. But that changed very swiftly upon our conversion. Affliction and trouble are an integral part of the Christian’s journey. “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:22.  “That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto,” 1 Thessalonians 3:3. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” 2 Timothy 3:12.

1. The character of their affliction. “A great fight of afflictions.”  The word fight comes from athleo, a Greek word meaning  participation in public games.

2. The precise nature of their affliction.  “Gazing stock,” (brought upon a stage). “Spoiling of their goods.” These are two very heavy burdens to bear.

3. The reason why they were made to suffer.  They became companions of the despised servants of God who were the companions of the despised Jesus, verse 33. It is His reproach the child of God is required to bear. Hebs 13:13. No reproach — no affliction. Something modern Christianity is most anxious to avoid!!
Remembering the former days will serve to:

Those who lived in victory in the past may not be doing so now. People who achieved much for Christ in the past may not be doing so now. Looking back may mean the recovery of that victory which has been lost. Look at verse 32. They had endured a great fight. Look at verse 34. There was a “joyful acceptance” of the “spoiling of their goods.” This joyful endurance of affliction sprang from a “knowing in themselves “that they had “in heaven a better and an enduring substance,”  v 34.

1. The secret was the abiding and real sense of heaven’s glory. From day to day they lived with a greater sense of heaven than of the earth. Do you remember days like that?

2. To them heaven’s glory was enduring  while earth’s was passing away.  Heaven was “an enduring, lasting substance.”

3. To them heaven was substantial. The word means wealth, goods, property.  The only other place this word occurs is in Acts 2:45. “And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” They had no real attachment to them anyway. This is what enabled them to rejoice as they had their earthly goods taken from them. They had that which none could ever take from them.
Remembering what we once were like arouses desire for a return to that spirit.
May God be pleased to send an awakening against to us like there was in former times amongst God’s people.

The Distressed Soul’s desire for deeper fellowship with Christ

Scripture: “Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!”  Job 23:3

Download or stream The Distressed Soul’s desire for deeper fellowship with Christ

For the child of God, our religion centres upon the person of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the person referred to by Job as the object of his search. Have you come looking for Jesus this morning? “Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?” Song of Sol 3:3. This is the cry the child of God in a time of shadow utters. “By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not,” Song of Solomon 3:1.
The world knows nothing of this desire, this passion. For this reason it believes those possessed of it are quite mad. “Thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad,” Acts 26:24.

Indeed, it is not unknown for earnest, seeking believers to be looked upon askance by other believers who do not share their anxiety of soul!

We recall the view taken of Mary’s devotions in John 12:1-8.
In times of affliction our desire for Christ intensifies. The more we require Him the more we desire Him. The hypocrite denounces God when he feels troubled. The believer seeks unto God all the more in trouble.


The Lord has promised never to leave His people. “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Hebrews 13:5. However, we may lose the consciousness of His presence. Rev 3:20 demonstrates that!

1. It is sin which deprives us of the consciousness of Christ. “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear, Isaiah 59:2. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me,” Psalm 66:18 “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early,” Hosea 5:15.

2. His presence, if it be withdrawn, is for our good. We would not use the means of grace as we ought if we never felt a longing after Christ. We will not drink until thirst prompts us. We would not read the Bible, we would not pray, we would not attend upon the preaching of the Word. It is to excite our spiritual desires and appetites that the Lord takes from us the comforts of His presence.

3. His presence is withdrawn in order to remind us of our dependence upon Him. It is a bitter thing to Christ when He is taken for granted by His people. Yet we do slip into such a mindset! “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked,” Revelation 3:17.
We soon learn our own emptiness and our ignorance when we feel the absence of Christ. Nothing can make up that loss.

Yet we can find comfort in this distress. Does it not denote that:—

1. He is our all. “For to me to live is Christ,” Philippians 1:21. He is our companion and our comfort. We would feel less pain were we to lose an arm or a leg. We can recover somewhat from the loss of our nearest and dearest but there is no recovery from this loss.

2. Grace is at work in our hearts. This is no natural desire. Did not Adam hide from the Lord, Gen 3:8. Man’s natural inclination is described by Isaiah. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not,” Isaiah 53:3.

We shall find Him when we shall search for Him with all our heart, Jer 29:13.
We must search where we may expect to find Him.

1. In the Word of God. “Search the scriptures; for . . .  they are they which testify of me,” John 5:39.

2. In the place of prayer. “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me,” Psalms 86:7.

3. In the place of public worship. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” Matthew 18:20.
We shall find Him for bear this in mind, He is searching for you with a greater desire and diligence than that in your heart. Let our thoughts be filled with Him and our hearts with love for Him and we shall find Him for He has said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him,” John 14:21.

The Parables #63

The Parable of the two sons – Part 13

The Saviour’s application of the Parable, Part 2.

Stream or download The Parables #63

“Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him,” Matt 21:31-32. (Read Luke 13:22-29)

We have noted how inexcusable has been the rejection of the gospel by the chief priests and the elders. While they had heard the gospel preached by John the Baptist and had seen others obeying, they obstinately refused to heed God’s call.

1. Oftentimes it is the most unlikely persons who obey the gospel. The privileged miss out! “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.  . . . . . . but the publicans and the harlots believed him,” 31-32.
These are notorious sinners yet they believed John the Baptist and went “into the kingdom of God.”

2. Please notice what happens to you when you get saved. How wonderful is little phrase: “go into the kingdom of God.” That is what happens when you get saved! You enter a new world! “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

3. God notes the rejection of the gospel and takes action. Further down the chapter, the Saviour is speaking to the same rejectors and says: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof,” Matthew 21:43. “Shall be taken” means to lift up and away. “And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full,” Matthew 14:20. That which is not used is taken away. Please, boys and girls, take note of this.

4. Such rejection of the gospel makes hell worse for such men. “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them,” 2 Pet 2:21. “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee,” Matt 11:23-24.

I leave you with this solemn warning against rejection of the gospel. Please take heed today.

Open air meeting, June10th, 2018

Stream or download Open-air mtg June10th 2018

Some of the congregation who supported the open-air witness on our village green on Lord’s Day evening June 10th,  when Rev Ivan Foster preached. Others were sitting in cars.


The Kilskeery houses near to the green. Many other homes lie within the range of the loudspeakers we use for the open-air meeting.