1. THE WORK OF GOD
a. Where was the good seed sown? Matthew 13:24.
“‘The field,’ Christ said, ‘is the world’ (Matthew 13:38). But we must understand this as signifying the church of Christ in the world. The parable is a description of that which pertains to the kingdom of God, His work of salvation of men; and this work is accomplished through the church. True, the Holy Spirit has gone out into all the world; everywhere it is moving upon the hearts of men; but it is in the church that we are to grow and ripen for the garner of God.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 70.
b. What is the object of God’s highest regard in this world? Zechariah 2:8 (last part); Ephesians 5:25.
“I testify to my brethren and sisters that the church of Christ, enfeebled and defective as it may be, is the only object on earth on which He bestows His supreme regard. While He extends to all the world His invitation to come to Him and be saved, He commissions His angels to render divine help to every soul that cometh to Him in repentance and contrition, and He comes personally by His Holy Spirit into the midst of His church.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 15.
2. HINDERING THE WORK OF THE ENEMY
a. Who else is engaged in sowing, and what does he sow? Matthew 13:38, 39.
“The tares represent a class who are the fruit or embodiment of error, of false principles. ‘The enemy that sowed them is the devil’ (Matthew 13:39). Neither God nor His angels ever sowed a seed that would produce a tare. The tares are always sown by Satan, the enemy of God and man.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 71.
“While the Lord brings into the church those who are truly converted, Satan at the same time brings persons who are not converted into its fellowship. While Christ is sowing the good seed, Satan is sowing the tares. There are two opposing influences continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working for the purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 46.
b. In the parable, when did the enemy work? Matthew 13:25. What can we learn from this?
“When the word is spoken, you should remember, brethren, that you are listening to the voice of God through His delegated servant. Listen attentively. Sleep not for one instant, because by this slumber you may lose the very words that you need most—the very words which, if heeded, would save your feet from straying into wrong paths. Sometimes young men and women have so little reverence for the house and worship of God that they keep up a continual communication with each other during the sermon. Could these see the angels of God looking upon them and marking their doings, they would be filled with shame, with abhorrence of themselves. God wants attentive hearers. It was while men slept that Satan sowed his tares.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 493.
c. How could his work have been prevented? 1 Thessalonians 5:5–8.
“If faithfulness and vigilance had been preserved, if there had been no sleeping or negligence upon the part of any, the enemy would not have had so favorable an opportunity to sow tares among the wheat. Satan never sleeps. He is watching, and he improves every opportunity to set his agents to scatter error, which finds good soil in many unsanctified hearts.”—Ibid., vol. 3, p. 113.
3. WHEAT AND TARES COMMINGLED
a. What did the servants discern when the blade appeared? Matthew 13:26. What did they propose to do in order to preserve the purity of the crop? Verses 27, 28.
“Christ’s servants are grieved as they see true and false believers mingled in the church. They long to do something to cleanse the church. Like the servants of the householder, they are ready to uproot the tares.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 71.
b. What was the directive of the Master concerning the tares? Why? Matthew 13:29, 30.
“As the tares have their roots closely intertwined with those of the good grain, so false brethren in the church may be closely linked with true disciples. The real character of these pretended believers is not fully manifested. Were they to be separated from the church, others might be caused to stumble, who but for this would have remained steadfast.”—Ibid., p. 72.
“In His mercy and long-suffering, God bears patiently with the perverse and even the falsehearted. Among Christ’s chosen apostles was Judas the traitor. Should it then be a cause of surprise or discouragement that there are falsehearted ones among His workers today? If He who reads the heart could bear with him who He knew was to be His betrayer, with what patience should we bear with those at fault.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 493.
c. Why cannot the Master’s instruction be used to justify leaving open sinners in the church? Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:6, 11, 13.
“As a people professing to be reformers, treasuring the most solemn, purifying truths of God’s word, we must elevate the standard far higher than it is at the present time. Sin and sinners in the church must be promptly dealt with, that others may not be contaminated. Truth and purity require that we make more thorough work to cleanse the camp from Achans. Let those in responsible positions not suffer sin in a brother. Show him that he must either put away his sins or be separated from the church.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 147.
4. IN THE CHURCH
a. How is the work of separating the wheat from the tares symbolized? Ezekiel 9:2–4. When does this work begin? Revelation 14:9–13.
“I then saw the third angel. Said my accompanying angel, ‘Fearful is his work. Awful is his mission. He is the angel that is to select the wheat from the tares, and seal, or bind, the wheat for the heavenly garner. These things should engross the whole mind, the whole attention.’”—Early Writings, p. 118.
“The time of the judgment is a most solemn period, when the Lord gathers His own from among the tares. Those who have been members of the same family are separated. A mark is placed upon the righteous.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 234.
“The angel is to place a mark upon the forehead of all who are separated from sin and sinners, and the destroying angel will follow, to slay utterly both old and young.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 505.
b. Why is God the only one capable of judging those who are not open sinners? Psalm 7:9 (second part); 44:21; Proverbs 21:2.
“Should we try to uproot from the church those whom we suppose to be spurious Christians, we should be sure to make mistakes. Often we regard as hopeless subjects the very ones whom Christ is drawing to Himself. Were we to deal with these souls according to our imperfect judgment, it would perhaps extinguish their last hope. Many who think themselves Christians will at last be found wanting.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 71, 72.
c. What evidence shows that the destiny of each class is fixed before the close of probation? Revelation 22:11.
“There is no time when all the wicked will turn to God. The wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest. . . .
“When the work of the gospel is completed, there immediately follows the separation between the good and the evil, and the destiny of each class is forever fixed.”—Ibid., p. 123.
5. IN THE WORLD
a. For what purpose will the wheat be in contact with the tares in the world until the very end? 1 Peter 2:9 (second part).
“The day is just upon us when the righteous shall be bound like precious grain in bundles for the heavenly garner, while the wicked are, like the tares, gathered for the fires of the last great day. But the wheat and tares ‘grow together until the harvest’ (Mathew 13:30). In the discharge of life’s duties the righteous will to the last be brought in contact with the ungodly. The children of light are scattered among the children of darkness, that the contrast may be seen by all. Thus are the children of God to ‘show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2:9).”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 100.
b. What great separation will take place in the very end? Matthew 13:40–43; 15:13; 24:31. What Old Testament feast pointed to that time? Leviticus 23:34.
“The Feast of Tabernacles was not only commemorative but typical. It not only pointed back to the wilderness sojourn, but, as the feast of harvest, it celebrated the ingathering of the fruits of the earth, and pointed forward to the great day of final ingathering, when the Lord of the harvest shall send forth His reapers to gather the tares together in bundles for the fire, and to gather the wheat into His garner. At that time the wicked will all be destroyed.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 541.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Where are we to grow in our faith, and how does God send help for us?
2. How can you prevent Satan from sowing tares in your heart while you are at church?
3. Why should we be long-suffering with our brethren and sisters?
4. Why can’t we uproot from the church those who we think are tares?
5. What is the purpose of the children of light being scattered among the children of darkness? Do I blend in with the light or the darkness?