Present Imitation - Future Separation
Present Imitation — Future Separation (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)
Everyone knows that the church contains the real thing and imitation, genuine Christians and those who are not. How did this happen? What should be our reaction?
Jesus knew there would be mixed conditions in His church. They already existed during His ministry. Christians cannot separate the imitation from the genuine in this age, but God will make that separation in the age to come.
The Reign of God in His Church Includes Both Authentic and Imitation Christianity
The Son of man (Jesus) sows only genuine Christians in His church. The field belongs to the Lord. The seed that He sows is excellent. He cannot be blamed for the mixed conditions in His church.
The Enemy (the Evil One) sows imitations in the church. He does this secretly. He also does it harmfully. The tares or darnel weed are not only useless but also poisonous. The Enemy does this intimately. The tares are sown through and through the wheat.
The difference becomes apparent at the time of expected maturity. Tares and wheat cannot now be distinguished at first. But when the grain ripens, the difference becomes apparent.
The Reign of God Prohibits a Separation Now
The servants of the Lord often want to make that separation now. This is a natural reaction of those devoted to the Lord and His church.
The Lord explains why the separation cannot be made now. The imitation cannot be removed without also harming the authentic, genuine Christian (v. 29). The Lord did not say that you cannot tell the difference. The Lord did say that you cannot now make the separation.
This does not prohibit church discipline. The pastor and leaders of the church should do all in their power to maintain a pure church. Nevertheless, with every effort made, we can never in this age totally purify the church. The Enemy works secretly, and you cannot tell the difference at first.
The Reign of God Ensures a Separation Later
That separation will be made at the end of this age. Only at the end of the present church age will the separation between the imitation and the authentic Christian be made.
The administration of that separation will be by those qualified to make it. "The angels" have always been God's administrators of judgment. They rejoice at the beginning of every Christian life (Luke 15:7) and eagerly watch the things of salvation (1 Pet. 1:12). They are qualified to make that ultimate separation.
The destination of that separation will be appropriate. There will be a destination of judgment for imitation Christians. The words speak of punishment and regret. There will be a destination of glory for authentic believers. That destination will include a protection and an illumination. "The righteous will shine like the sun" (v. 43). This suggests that they may have been overlooked in this age, but in the age to come they will appear brilliant in their genuineness.