Mike Ruffin

Mike Ruffin

Parable explains truth about salvation

By Mike Ruffin
Religion Columnist

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“The 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, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:41-43).

Everyone might appear saved in your church, but the Bible says it just ain’t so. That’s what the parable of the wheat and the tares is all about.

In fact, Jesus had no sooner told the parable when his disciples asked him to explain what he meant. “He who sows the good seed,” he told them, “is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore, as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age” (Matthew 13:37-40).

Parables always compare something we understand to something we don’t. In this case, Jesus emphasizes a spiritual truth his followers – then and now – continue to overlook.

For example, today’s churches might have many tares. They are the people who look just like us, and they think they’re going to heaven. The truth is when you take a closer look, they never have followed the scriptural practices the Bible says lead to salvation.

I learned that spiritual truth several years ago when my wife and I were living in another town.

Our church had an alternative to Halloween. It was a drama that highlighted everyday situations in which people were making decisions that could lead someone to hell. Groups of 20 people were taken on a tour where they followed the lives of several individuals all the way to Judgment Day. The lives the guests saw all looked the same, but some led to heaven while others were condemned to hell.

When the tour was completed, I was able to spend a little time with each group. I reminded the guests that all of us one day would face the same judgment, and our good works or warm smiles would not be what would save us from eternal condemnation. I then told them what salvation really meant: “The Bible says to be saved, you must confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.”

At that point, I asked them to bow their heads with me and repeat a very simple prayer. “If you’re already saved,” I said, “then you are about to re-live the greatest moment of your life. But if you’re not saved, then you are about to experience the greatest moment of your life.”

We prayed: “Father, I am sorry for my sins. I ask you to come into my heart and cleanse me from all my unrighteousness. I accept Jesus as my savior and my lord and promise to live my life for him.”

When we finished that prayer, I looked around the room.

“You all look like you’re saved,” I said, “but I wonder if that might have been the first time that any of you have ever said that prayer?”

One young woman timidly raised her hand and said, “I always thought I was saved, but I’ve never said that prayer in my life.”

That’s one of the spiritual truths from this parable. We live in an age of grace and not one of judgment. It might seem as if God is doing nothing about the lawlessness we see, but the day will come when he will sort out the wheat from the tares.

Until then, our mission is to make sure that we don’t take someone else’s salvation for granted. As Paul said, “Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Write to Mike Ruffin at mike.ruffin@devotions.com. His website is devotions.com.