Tares Sown Among the Wheat
Acts 8:5-24; Matt 13:24-30
The very vibrant, driven Christian church at Jerusalem is beginning to feel the full affect of persecution. At the end of chapter 7, the faithful servant of God, Stephen, is killed by stoning for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we look into chapter 8, we see a zealot named Saul who is going into every home to find and arrest Christians. This extreme persecution caused many believers to flee Jerusalem and take the faith of Christ into new areas. Phillip is one of those driven out of his hometown by affliction, and he heads down to Samaria. He went to the right place, especially if you will recall the words of Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. God’s work is going to get done, and sometimes He must make us uncomfortable to get us to where He wants us to go. When the people are scattered, the seed gets scattered too. The seed is the Word of God. When the Gospel is preached, things happen. People get saved, churches get planted, and amazing works of God are witnessed. Saving faith and false professions will coexist. As we look at this account of Phillip preaching the gospel in Samaria, I would like for you to consider a parable that Jesus spoke to His disciples. Matt 13:24-30. This parable describes a truth that is evident in our account in Acts chapter 8. Easily stated—Things aren’t always as they seem. More pointedly stated—Not all who profess to be believers are actually believers. Simon was a well known man in Samaria. He practiced sorcery, and evidently he was so proficient at the craft that the people called him the great power of God. Well, Phillip did a little preaching in Simon’s circle, and many of Simon’s followers switched their allegiance from the Sorcerer to the Saviour. No doubt that his pride took a little shot; and Simon makes a profession of faith. As we consider the story of Simon the sorcerer, I would like to preach a message called, “Tares Sown among the Wheat.”
1. Tares and wheat have a common beginning. Both the plants start out as a seed planted in the ground. In a few days tiny green shoots poke up through the soil and the farmer is delighted to see that there is potential for a great crop. As Phillip was preaching, both the true believer and false professor had the same outward beginning. The Bible uses the words believed and baptized for both instances. Everything is pointing to the fact that Simon and many others received the gift of salvation in Samaria. This is a tricky topic to talk about. If I say there is more to salvation that belief, then I discount much of the truth of Scripture. Paul said to the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Belief in and of itself is not enough. When people tell me they are saved because they believe in God, then we have to further investigate their testimony. James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. There is a belief in God that even the demons of hell possess. Consider the verses we just talked about and compare them to verses12-13 of our text. Do you notice that there is something missing in Simon’s testimony? There is no Jesus Christ in his story. As a matter of fact, it appears that he is much more excited about the miracles that Phillip is able to perform than the message he is bringing. Bringing the person of Christ into the salvation experience and decision, adds some dimension to the equation. Sin is understood, the holiness of God is comprehended, the compassion of our Lord is seen, the power of God is displayed. Jesus even taught this truth to His own disciples.
John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. Not that we are trying to differentiate between God the Father and God the Son, we are just attempting to add some dimension and color to the belief system. So here we have Simon who has believed, been baptized, and now attempting to blend in with the crowd. Just like those tares among the wheat, both plants mature, gain a stalk, and produce a head from where the fruit of the wheat will come. But for the tare, the place where wheat should be is empty. The servant’s will go out into the fields as the grain ripens and rub the head of the plant in their hands, and blow away the chaff. The lack of Simon’s conversion is illustrated in verses 14-24. He didn’t want all that salvation in Christ had to offer, he wanted the power associated with it. I fear that so many people make a profession of faith for similar reasons. In home where there is strife, one of the couple may give in to the other’s pleadings in order to manufacture peace in the home. In a relationship, one may make a profession in order for that relationship to continue. Maybe it is to keep the preacher or other soul winner form coming back to your home. I don’t pretend to understand all of the reasons that could cause someone to do such a thing, but I do understand that when harvest time comes, and you’re not saved, you won’t fool the Lord.
Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
I want you to know that when harvest comes it will be too late to change anything. The Lord command his servants to bundle up the tares and burn them.
Jeremiah 8:20 The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. I want you to notice that Phillip gave Simon instructions as how to right his unbelief. Repent; turn away from your unbelief and turn toward God. Turn away from your sinfulness and turn to righteousness. Put off the old man, and put on the new man. But instead he asks the Apostles to pray for him. He only wanted to avoid the immediate consequences for sin. He was not interested in all that salvation had to offer. Simon went on to create an interesting legacy. The term simony comes from him, which is the practice of buying you r way into a religious office. Another fact that is associated with him is that he is one of the founders of the religion known as Gnosticism. The religion centers around knowledge, and it is important to note that it is human knowledge, not heavenly knowledge that they delight in. What a legacy! The namesake for a corrupt religious practice and the founder of false religion. A true tare among the wheat. Don’t let what was true for Simon be true for you, please make sure of your salvation this morning.
This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He's the One;
This Rock is Jesus, the only One!
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!