Jesus warned us about tares within the church during this time before He returns.
24Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares? 28“He said, to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29“But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” Matthew 13:24-30
At the request of His disciples, Jesus gives us the explanation of this parable in the following verses of Matthew chapter 13.
36Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Matthew 13:37-43
The last line of this parable in Matthew 13:43 indicates how important it is for us to know the truth Jesus has taught us in the parable of the tares.
We will always have false brethren and false teachers within the church until Jesus Christ returns and sets up His visible kingdom upon this earth. Knowing this truth, what should our response be to those who are false? First we must recognize that false brethren are dangerous to our well-being. Paul included false brethren in the list of perils that he constantly faced in 2 Corinthians 11:26…in perils among false brethren. Since they are dangerous, Paul also tells us how to deal with false brethren throughout his epistles. In Romans chapter 16 he writes:
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned and avoid them. Romans 16:17
Paul gives us more counsel for dealing with false brethren in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3.
But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 2 Thessalonians 3:6
He exhorts Timothy in 1 Timothy chapter 6.
3If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. 1 Timothy 6:3-5
Paul gives further instructions in 2 Timothy regarding false brethren:
1But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such turn away! 2 Timothy 3:1-5
2Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:2-5
We should carefully watch the doctrine and behavior of those who claim to know Jesus Christ, especially those who are in leadership. If they are propagating error then we must turn away from them! If a whole assembly is engaged in following error then we must reject them. We must know the Word of God and as led by the Holy Spirit share the truth with those who are false, but not count them as brethren, but those who need to be converted to the truth! Sometimes it will be very painful for us to come out from among them and touch not the unclean thing!
But our heavenly Father speaking through His chosen vessel Paul not only warns us to avoid these false brethren and false teachers, He also commands us to expose and refute their error not only by the example he gives through exposing and refuting error in his epistles but also in the following verses:
7For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent not greedy for money, 8but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. 10For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. Titus 1:7-11
5For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7Therefore do not be partakers with them. 8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light for whatever makes manifest is light. Ephesians 5:5-13
As we warn against and expose those who are false through the light of God’s Word, we make manifest their wicked lies and lives, and point their victims of falsehood to the truth, God’s Word, which is able to make them wise for salvation. We must point out the error by holding it up to the light of God’s Word showing what the truth says, which then exposes and corrects the untruth. We must always keep in mind that Jesus Christ told us in His parable these false brethren are planted by the devil and are busy doing his bidding.
As taught to us in Titus 1;7-11, it is a special charge given to the leadership in the church to know the Word of God and to expose error, silencing those who spread falsehood, upsetting the faith of many. I used to wonder why so many within church leadership were careless about exposing error, and did not set about that work evenly, but showed favoritism towards many false teachers. Then it became clear to me that they have their own pet doctrines that they uphold which they have received from others who listened to and taught what their favorite false teacher had to say. There is one false teacher in particular who has done much damage to the church and has been responsible for the divisions that we see extant throughout the visible church. This false teacher’s followers are virulent and ready at all costs to silence those who hold fast to the truth. History attests to the fact that this false teacher’s adherents have murdered many who were faithful followers of Jesus Christ. This heretic has taught the following false doctrines in the name of Jesus Christ: persecution of believers, a-millennialism through spiritualizing prophecy, sacraments as a means of saving grace, infant baptism, that Mary did not sin, promoted her worship and that she played a vital role in salvation, purgatory, celibacy for priests, exalted the authority of the church over the revealed Word of God, believed church councils gave the true interpretation of Scripture, interpreted the first few chapters of Genesis figuratively, taught apostolic succession from Peter, was the progenitor of limited atonement and irresistible grace. Protestants should be shaking their heads at all of the false doctrine this divisive doctor taught, seeing that many of these errors lie as the foundation of the Catholic Church, but many will wonder that limited atonement and irresistible grace are false.
1Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, 4and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 1 Corinthians 15:1-5
There are preachers who confound the simple message of the gospel with the sovereign work of God in the salvation of sinners so that they overthrow the faith of some because they have believed the gospel but are not sure they are chosen. What does Paul say above? It is belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ that saves the sinner. How that is worked out by the sovereign election of God we don’t know, but sinners saved by grace are saved through faith in Jesus Christ Who died on the cross that their sins should be forgiven and rose again from the dead so that they should have eternal life. The gospel is simple and yet profound. By simple, God-given faith we believe the gospel so that our sins are forgiven and we are children of God; by God’s sovereign grace we are saved and kept for eternity. Calling the sovereign work of God in the salvation of sinners the gospel is confusing, confounding, and impedes the work of Christ in the salvation of sinners. We are saved through belief in the gospel, through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ.
1My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2
15This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief…3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time…1 Timothy 1:15 & 2:3-6
16“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17For God did not sent His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18
Those who shriek that Christ’s atonement is limited and condemn those who do not hold to this false doctrine as unbelievers, and who say that the call is not freely and genuinely offered to all are denying the Scriptures. They are making a mockery of the free gift of eternal life that God has promised to all who heed the commandment to repent and believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
God’s judgment is against all, so the gift of eternal life is offered to all who will believe. We are called to believe that God’s work in the life of a sinner is sovereign and yet His grace through the gospel is also freely offered to all. Are we commanded to explain how they work together? No!
1And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2“The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3and sent out his servant to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.’” 5“But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10“So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11”But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12“So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13“Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:1-14
What is the name of the false teacher who placed such a grid over the Scriptures as to be claimed by the Catholic Church as their father, and who also led astray John Calvin through his errant doctrine? That person is Augustine (there are innumerable quotes of Augustine in Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and he constantly confessed his debt to Augustine in his tome). He is the father of much error within the visible church. If a leader in the church will not hold Augustine accountable for his error, and refute him, then he will approvingly quote and promote any manner of falsehood and any false teacher. Beloved brethren we are called to live by one Book only, and that Book is the Bible, the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. Reject what is false, hold fast to the truth.
21Test all things: hold fast what is good. 22Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22
To read more about the negative impact the early “church fathers” have had on biblical Christianity click the following link: