December 15, 2007
The Straits Times
By Roland Chia
IN RECENT years, there has been a spate of anti-religion literature authored by atheists who are either crusading for religion to be privatised or abolished.
The titles of their books openly declare their basic agendas: The God Delusion (Richard Dawkins), God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Christopher Hitchens), The End Of Faith (Sam Harris) and Breaking The Spell (Daniel Dennett). These authors champion atheism and the ideology that it has spawned, namely, secularism.
They argue that religion is responsible for some of the worst atrocities in history and that society’s future lies in a secularism that would keep religion out of the public square.
These authors often quote stark examples in history of the chaos and bloodshed for which religion was allegedly responsible. And one of their favourites is…. (cont’d)
Read the full article here
One thought on “Christianity’s Forgotten Impact”
The Parable of The Wheat and the Weeds
Matt 13:24-30; 36-43
He set another parable before them, saying,
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field,
but while people slept, his enemy came and sowed darnel also among the wheat, and went away. But when the blade sprang up and brought forth fruit, then the darnel appeared also.
The servants of the householder came and said to him,
‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field?
Where did this darnel come from?’
“He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them up?’
“But he said, ‘No, lest perhaps while you gather up the darnel,
you root up the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest,
and in the harvest time I will tell the reapers,
“First, gather up the darnel, and bind them in bundles to burn them;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”
Then Jesus sent the multitudes away, and went into the house.
His disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the darnel of the field.” He answered them,
“He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world;
and the good seed, these are the children of the kingdom; and the darnel are the children of the evil one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.
As therefore the darnel is gathered up and burned with fire; so will it be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out his angels,
and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that cause stumbling,
and those who do iniquity, and will cast them into the furnace of fire.
There will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (web)
Is it easy to distinguish between children of God and children of the devil?
How did the owner’s servant recognize the weeds?
At what stage does it become easier to distinguish between the wheat and the tares? (see Matt 7:16)
If it’s not so easy to distinguish, then how do you know whether you are a child of God?
How do you know whether other so-called “Christians” around you are?
What should be the basis of our assurance of salvation?
Even if one recognizes the weeds, what is the danger in trying to pull them out?
What is the application of the concept of not pulling them up but letting them grow together?
Four parables in Matthew Chapter 13 deal with “Nominalism” in the visible church. Christ is not the only one sowing seed, the devil is also. But while Christ sows the Word of God, the devil sows lies. If one responds properly to the Word of God, he becomes a son of God. But if one responds to the devil instead, he becomes a son of the devil. There are only these two kinds and these are distinct. There are no “half weed, half wheat” hybrids. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1John 5:12 You are either one or the other.
HOWEVER, this is not to say that it is necessarily easy to distinguish between the two. “Jesus was referring to a weed called a “darnel”, which looks exactly like wheat in its young stages and, in fact, only the expert can distinguish some species of this darnel from true wheat. Later on, the differences are remarkable. The darnel has far smaller seeds than wheat, and it is claimed that these seeds, when ground to flour, are poisonous, due perhaps to a particular fungus which develops in the seed itself!” [from Zondervan’s Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible.] An appropriate description of the devil’s seed!
Don’t be so gullible to presume that all the members of your church are children of God; nor even presume that all the members of particular churches in the New Testament were all children of God. It is to be understood that it is not so easy to identify or distinguish between children of God and children of the devil when they are still in infancy. Jesus is discouraging people from inferring that if one is a member of church, such a person must be a child of God. Nor can you simply go back and infer from a single event, of “praying to receive Christ” or getting baptized, must mean that the person is a child of God. Yes salvation occurs at a point in time and continues to eternity. But whether it actually occurred at the particular point in time when the person says it did, is debatable.
“Assurance of Salvation” is different than “Eternal Security”. Yes, Once saved, always saved, and the object of faith for justification is the atoning work of Christ. But what is the object of faith for the assurance of one’s salvation? Should our assurance that we are saved be based on a single thing that we did at a single point in time? Not according to the Bible!
It becomes easier to distinguish them when they grow to maturity and produce fruits. “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”Mt 7:20. Paul, disturbed at their behavior, even questioned the Corinthians:
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you– unless, of course, you fail the test?” 2Cor 13:5 And how do you test yourself? By examining the outworkings of your faith.
“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”1John 3:9,10
But though the distinctions may be subtle now, they will be clear in the judgment. A weed may be growing next to a stalk of wheat and think it has a common destiny with the wheat. But its end is destruction. The weed is also harmful to the wheat, its roots trying to starve the wheat from its source. False brethren can even become institutional leaders and bring much harm to the maturity of the believers. In his final farewell, Paul speaks to the elders of the church at Ephesus.
“I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”Acts 20:29,30
So let us not be too gullible about assuming who is saved. But then again let us neither make judgments when there is little basis to do so. Let us not be too skeptical about others, especially about young immature Christians. In 1Corinthians 5 and 6, Paul does speak of judgment of other Christians and was very harsh on a particular individual (contrary to the philosophy of much of modern evangelicalism). But it was only because the sin was overt and was being accepted in a lifestyle sense. Such cases demand judgment. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”1Cor 5:13 (But only if it’s obvious who they are!)
The kingdom is like a man who had sown
Wheat in his field to reap after it’s grown
But while still seed an enemy came
To sow weeds in the field that looked quite the same
The man’s servant offered to pull the weeds out
But he might pull the wheat just as it sprout
No, safer to let the two grow together
And in harvest to reap in just the right weather
Put the wheat in the barn, tie the weeds to be burned.
Now let us consider what lesson we learned.
Jesus is sowing his seed on the earth
But the weeds are the ones whom the devil gave birth.
Difficult at times to distinguish the two,
Between a false Christian and one who is true.
When they are young they have only roots.
But you shall know them by their fruits.
The weeds will not last, they will be thrown out
Into a furnace in anguish no doubt.
But the righteous will shine just like the Son.
But of these two seeds, you are which one?