If we would take the basics of the Christian faith seriously, then we must begin with what Jesus actually said.
Of His Kingdom in the World

Jesus said: "The field is the world: the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world," Matthew 13:38, 39).

With these words Jesus explains the parable of the tares of the field (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43), a parable in which He describes His church and kingdom as it becomes visibly manifested in the field of this world.

Essentially that church and kingdom is the work of His grace, good seed sown and planted in His kingdom. It is the gathering of His people, the church, "the called out," for such is the meaning of the word church in Scripture. His people are born by the power of His grace, as Jesus said, "Except a man be born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," (John 3:5). His people are His flock who enter by faith in Christ (the door of the kingdom and sheepfold) and follow Him by faith as their faithful shepherd. As Jesus said, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:9). Jesus' kingdom is a spiritual commonwealth, the "kingdom of heaven." The "children of the kingdom" are His people. They are the wheat, according to the parable, in God's wheat field.

That church and kingdom also becomes manifest or visible in the world as the church instituted by Jesus Christ, gathered under the preaching of the Word, by which Christ rules His people as King from heaven. The distinctive mark of that kingdom is the faithful preaching of God's Word. In that kingdom, in its visible manifestation, are found not only the wheat but also the tares of which Jesus speaks. Tares are weeds. They are the work of sin and the devil who plants them in Jesus' kingdom in this world, to subvert the life of that kingdom. Such were the wicked and unbelieving in Israel of Jesus' day. They claimed to be Abraham's children, but Jesus said, "If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham," (John 8:39) that is, they were not the true seed of Abraham, for they had neither Abraham's faith nor his works of faith. They claimed God was their father, but Jesus said unto them, "Ye are of your father the devil" (John 8:44). They were tares, weeds in God's wheat field. So is it always with Christ's kingdom in this world. There are outwardly included in the church's life and worship those who have no part in Christ, who do not believe in Him, and never will. Mere outward church membership does not make one a Christian, nor does it save anyone.

It is Jesus' teaching that His church in this world is not yet perfected and will not be until the harvest at the end of the world. Jesus teaches moreover that this is God's will (Matthew 13:30). The idea of a pure manifestation of the church in this world, consisting of true believers only, is contrary to the teaching of Christ. It is at the harvest that Jesus says, "then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matthew 13:43). Do you belong to the kingdom of Christ in the world? Are you God's planted wheat, or a weed?

By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary Pastor

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