In my last blog, I tried to explain the importance of the symbols to the understanding of parables. The symbols are really clues to the mystery surrounding the period between the first and second coming of Christ. In the Ryrie Study Bible, Charles Ryrie explains parables in a footnote. Ryrie says, "A parable is a figure of speech in which a moral or spiritual truth is illustrated by an analogy drawn from everyday experiences. However, the Greek word for "parable" is a broad term and may refer to a simile (Matthew 13:33), a metaphor (Matt. 13:3-8), a proverb (Luke 4:23), a story (Luke 15:1-32), or an allegory (John 10:1-5). About one third of our Lord's teaching was in the form of parables." And in another footnote, he says, "These truths are called 'mysteries' because they were not revealed in the Old Testament." They describe the period known as the "Church Age" which was a mystery to Israel (Ephesians 3:3-10), Jesus spoke in parables so that only His followers could understand the future experiences of the Church.
In the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30), we have a clear example of our present age. There is a sower, wheat seed, a field, the sower's enemy, tare seed, the sower's servants, a harvest, and the destruction of the tares. Here, most likely the sower is the Lord Himself for He owns the field. He plants the wheat seed, which become believers, as in the parable of the sower, and the enemy (Satan) plants tares, which are merely professing believers. Both seeds are planted in the same field, and they are so intertwined that to remove one would endanger the other. Sadly, if the true Church tried to purge out those who are not genuine Christians, they would have an impossible task. We do not have the wisdom to recognize which are true believers, and which are not. It is sad, but unfortunately, it is true. This is an excellent picture of those possessing a relationship with Christ like the Church of Philadelphia and those professing to know Christ as in the Church of Laodicea co-existing. When Christ returns with His Bride, the Church, He will destroy the armies who oppose Israel, and then gather His chosen people into His Millennial Kingdom.
Because we can not know who among us is a Christian in name only, and since the Lord said to let Him sort them out when He returns, our one and only responsibly is to spread the good news that God loves His creation, and by faith in Christ's finished work through the crucifixion and resurrection, all who will, can become a child of God. We are to go and tell people about Jesus. When we spend our time, resources, and energy trying to make the church perfect, we waste those very things that are intended to be used to reach the lost for Christ. We only have one life (like Barney's bullet), so we certainly don't want to waste it on foolish pursuits. We must use it on what is truly important: reaching the lost for Christ.