Pastoring The Wheat and the Tares Church

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jcrye.jpgI find all four of J. C. Ryle’s expository thoughts on the Gospels to be great devotional reading and good primers for sermon ideas! In the quote below Ryle comments on Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares as recorded in Matthew 13. I find his words to be a realistic appraisal of what pastors face with their churches. I also find that the truth he expresses offers a measure of encouragement!

Ryle writes that “this parable teaches us that good and evil will always be found together in the professing church until the end of the world. The visible church is set before us as a mixed body. It is a vast field in which wheat and weeds grow side by side. We must expect to find believers and unbelievers, converted and unconverted, the sons of the kingdom, and the sons of the evil one, all mingled together in every congregation of baptized people.

“The purest preaching of the gospel will not prevent this. In every age of the church, the same state of things has existed. It was the experience of the early church Fathers. It was the experience of the Reformers. It is the experience of the best ministers at the present hour. There has never been a visible church or a religious assembly of which the members have been all wheat. The devil, that great enemy of souls, has always taken care to sow tares. The most strict and prudent discipline will not prevent this.

“Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Independents all alike find it to be so. Do what we will to purify a church, we shall never succeed in obtaining a perfectly pure communion. Tares will be found among the wheat. Hypocrites and deceivers will creep in. And, worst of all, if we are extreme in our efforts to obtain purity, we do more harm than good. We run the risk of encouraging many a Judas Iscariot, and breaking many a bruised reed. In our zeal to gather up the tares, we are in danger of uprooting the wheat with them. Such zeal is not according to knowledge and has often done much harm. Those who care not what happens to the wheat, provided they can root up the tares, show little of the mind of Christ. And after all, there is deep truth in the charitable saying of Augustine, ‘Those who are weeds today, may be wheat tomorrow.’” Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew [Updated Edition]: A Commentary” by J. C. Ryle

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