CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

On Separating the Wheat and the Weeds

Nov 13, 2012

Scripture speaks of the final separation of the sheep and the goats, or the wheat and the tares. This is an eschatological judgment taking place when Christ returns (see eg., Matt 25:31-46). Those who are truly his will be separated from those who are not. While this event is yet to take place, there is another sense in which God is often doing this weeding today.

That is, he often allows difficult times – even persecution – to weed out all the fake believers from those who are really his. Whenever such hardcore crackdowns on the faith take place, we quickly discover just who are the real deal. Those who were never genuine disciples will quickly scatter and disown Jesus when crunch time comes.

We have seen this throughout church history, and still see it in places like China today. I believe it is also occurring in the West. The recent US elections are a part of this I believe. There we can see in political and ideological terms an ever-widening polarisation taking place.

The two camps are getting further and further apart. On the one hand are those who adhere to the Judeo-Christian worldview, and on the other are those who adhere to the secular humanist worldview.  While the two main political parties do not line up exactly here, there is a rough congruence nonetheless.

Thus God, family, life and freedom are still highly valued among many Republicans, while the opposite seems to be the case with the Democrats. Indeed, more than one commentator has spoken of how the modern Democratic Party has basically taken on board Romans 1 as its platform.

By Romans 1 I mean specifically vv 18:32 of course. The list of sins – preeminent of which is homosexuality – seems to nicely describe where much of the secular left in general, and the Democratic Party in particular, is at. And part of Paul’s lengthy list of where the ungodly are at includes the “God-haters” (v. 30).

Given that the Democratic Party actually sought to vote God out of its ranks, this is most fitting. I mention all this because I believe that God is also doing a sifting job in America and elsewhere. He is separating the men from the boys – the sheep from the goats. That is, he is allowing all the evil and the anti-Christian crusades to take place to separate the real believers from the false.

And given that Jesus told us we will know where people are at based on their fruit (Matt. 7:16), we can already see the differentiation taking place. People who call themselves Christians yet wilfully and knowingly vote for the pro-death Democrats, and vote for a President who is not only pro-abortion but pro-infanticide, are already declaring their hands and letting us know where they are really at.

As more and more religious freedom is stolen away from us by the anti-Christian policies of Obama, we will see who the true believers are even further. Many will be fined, lose their jobs, and go to jail. Yet other so-called Christians will stand by and applaud this crackdown.

This of course has happened often in the past. Back here in Melbourne when two Christian pastors were found guilty of “vilifying” Muslims, there were actually some people claiming to be Christian leaders who backed the Muslims and applauded the decision!

What this is all about is really the separation of the sheep from the (fake) sheep which Ezekiel 34 speaks about. I have written about this elsewhere: billmuehlenberg.com/2010/09/09/separating-the-sheep-from-the-sheep/

This division between God’s true saints and the sham saints will keep happening. Just as the American election is showing us more and more clearly who is a real Bible-believing Christian and who is not, we will see this played out even further in days to come.

Matt Barber speaks to this in a recent column about the election results. He writes, “‘Millions of Americans looked evil in the eye and adopted it,’ wrote Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver the day after the election. ‘Abortion, same-sex marriage and immorality carried the day.’ Indeed, evil carried the day. America has willfully chosen a Democratic platform – a Romans 1 platform – upon which to stand. We have chosen a party that thrice denied God, and then returned his name in vain – amid deafening boos – to its platform. God will not be mocked.”

He continues, “I grieve for my children. I grieve for America’s children. Evil won on Tuesday. An arrogant and rebellious nation has chosen, for her leader, an arrogant and rebellious man, whose arrogant and rebellious party has, as Pastor John MacArthur put it, ‘adopted the sins of Romans 1 as their platform. This is a new day in our country,’ he lamented. ‘Parties that used to differ on economics, now differ dramatically on issues that invade the realm of God’s law and morality.’ We have mocked God. God will not be mocked.”

He concludes, “We excuse sin. We call that which God calls an abomination, ‘equality.’ We call that which God calls murder, ‘reproductive choice.’ We call that which God calls theft, ‘fundamental fairness.’ We ‘call evil good and good evil.’ America is divided and her president the divider. The scales have tipped. The 51 percent – the takers, the God-deniers and the subversive, now outnumber the makers, the seekers of righteousness and the patriotic….

“Have we reached the point of no return? Perhaps – perhaps not. God is faithful. He has promised: ‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’ (2 Chronicles 7:14)

“Christ is faithful. He has promised: ‘Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.’ (Matthew 7:24-25) The rain is descending. The floods have come and the winds beat down on our great nation. I am thankful that our forefathers, wise men indeed, built America’s house upon Christ, the Rock.”

This election is part of God’s testing time, his sifting process. Peter informs us that judgment must first begin with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17). We need to get our act together and our house in order. We need to allow God to purify our ranks and expose evil in our midst. We need to get serious about our faith, in other words.

Let me finish with some commentary by James Montgomery Boice on another major wheat and weeds passage, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. He reminds us that “the devil is mixing his people in among true Christians”.  Thus we “should be on our guard not to be taken in by those who pretend to be Christians but are not”.

He continues, “As Christians, we must be on guard against Satan’s tactics. . . . What has hit me like a thunderbolt in recent years is the discovery that what I had been saying about the liberal churches at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s now needs to be said about evangelical churches too….

“How has that happened? Like the liberals before us, evangelicals use the Bible’s words but give them new meaning, pouring bad secular content into spiritual terminology. Sin becomes dysfunctional behaviour. Salvation becomes self-esteem or wholeness. Jesus becomes more of an example for right living than a Savior from sin….

“Far be it from us to preach a gospel that would expose people’s sins, make them uncomfortable, and drive them to the Savior. When you put these contemporary evangelical characteristics together, it is difficult to escape the feeling that Jesus’ parable of the yeast has been fulfilled in us, and all too visibly.”

Yes quite so. I for one welcome any major shaking God may do on planet earth. And may it begin in the churches. He is, after all, seeking to present to his son a bride without blemish or spot. We have a long way to go in this regard – a very long way.

townhall.com/columnists/mattbarber/2012/11/12/god_will_not_be_mocked

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12 Responses to On Separating the Wheat and the Weeds

  • A very timely warning. I have just finished listening to David Wilkerson’s sermon called, The Coming of Jesus. It ties in very well with your article.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSV6Amfmy9g

    Annette Nestor

  • Thanks for that Annette. Another short but powerful video featuring Wilkerson, Ravenhill, and others is here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzyGrcCv-fk

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Very frightening stuff actually, I am thinking how I can broach this subject with people close to me, I have already broached it with my youngest and he gets the picture thank God (pardon the pun!). We need to pray for not only others around us but also for ourselves knowing that although we are Christians we are still of the world in the flesh and as such susceptible to the deception of the world. Keep your eyes on Christ, watch your life and doctrine closely and be prepared to give a reason for the hope you have.

    Steve Davis

  • How will God judge those who profess to be Christians but are in fact every bit as bad as the secular humanists?

    Ann Delaney

  • Amen, Bill. Preach it brother! I am reminded of a statement by Art Katz in his book, Apostolic Foundations, in which he states words to the effect of “the mark of the beast will not just come suddenly. It comes indelibly, as we make choices each day, choices that compromise the truth. So much so, that when the marking begins, even if we know the Scripture that warn us, from Revelation 14:9-11 that we are taking the irrevocable brand of hell, we will find excuses, justifying ourselves, as we confirm our eternal damnation. In fact, I remember pointing this out in a sermon, to which a dean of a Bible College, cried out, “but what about eternal security?” to which I replied “I believe in that, but I also believe in this crystal clear irrefutable warning from revelation.” (Some years later, the dean was sacked for repeated unrepentant misappropiation of funds.)
    Lastly, I wanted to say that I want to encourage true believers in the the American Church, that whatever they may go through in terms of sharing in the physical catastrophes and judgements which will repeatedly continue coming upon the US, that they can know in their heart, that the all important thing is that they have chosen to follow the Lord, regardless of the loss of things in this life, that they themselves may also suffer.

    I have said to the Lord some years ago, if He sees fit to bring judgement upon Sydney e.g. in the form of an earthquake and I lose our home, then if that’s the kind of wake up call it takes, then I am willing for that, even if my family is affected. I’m not praying for Divine judgement, but if it comes to Sydney and includes me, or if the government takes away my home because of my unwillingness to compromise the truth, then so be it.
    Peter Magee

  • WE better take note that the context of the separation in Mathew is on the basis of how both individuals and nations treat Jesus “Jewish” brothers during the last days. It is the ultimate test for the church when many will give their lives for them.
    Our treatment of them is considered our treatment of Jesus and like in Lutheran Germany many “professing” believers turned the other way and were found out not to be in the genuine faith only religious, Christian or otherwise. This is the ultimate test that will cause multitudes to fall away.
    Rob Withall

  • To Peter Magee

    Well Peter, I would only pray and hope like mad that when it ultimately comes to the state of affairs you describe, that I will be joining you! In the meantime, we all need to be praying that we will be strong in Christ Jesus because we had better not try this relying on our own strength.

    Steve Davis

  • I also get a bit overwhelmed at times at the thought what might be required of us in order to “overcome” and persevere. Many many Christians are facing this every day in the world. But Jesus really doesn’t expect anything of us that we aren’t able to give, especially considering we are resourced by the Holy Spirit. and having the attitude of Paul ACTS 20:24 “I do not consider my life of any value to me, except that I might finish the charge given to me.” All he asks us to do is to receive the truth 2 Thess 2 and to endure till the end, remembering we have been given access to the grace by which we stand, Rom 5 and having done all to stand, Gal 6, trusting He will do the rest, which is by far the greater portion of the job. Jesus said “do not fear, I have overcome the world.”. Lets trust Him, he hasn’t lied anywhere else.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • Bill, thanks for ‘standing strong’. We often take counsel from your writings and appreciate your dedication to biblical truth. We invite you to learn more about us and to assist us to reach toward God’s will for us men and subsequently for our communities. I am reminded of this quote, “One man with courage, is a majority!” We hold you in our hearts, with love and respect.
    Thomas Davenport
    Dads In Families Foundation.

  • Ursula, thank you for your post, it is very encouraging and it warms my heart, well done!

    Steve Davis

  • “One man with courage is a majority.” This is a great quote TD. Anyone know who said it? Thanks for the article Bill. A good example of this is the Catholic Church with a faithful remnant being obliged to split off from the ranks of the Lamb of Rev 13:11ff.
    B T Walters

  • Truly, Rodney King’s, “Can’t we all just along?” remark has become the motto and mantra of our society and the ‘visible’ church. Gosh, who knew he was such a wise man and a prophet? NOT!

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