Editorial – The Wheat and the Tares, part 1

Before Jesus comes again we will have many situations that will have to be met which will be more perplexing than anything we have previously experienced. In order to be ready to meet these emergencies, we must now be developing a character that only comes as we are growing daily in a knowledge and practice of the truth. Last month in this editorial we considered a number of statements from the Spirit of Prophecy which indicated that we do not have a moment to lose in this character development. This month we will continue to study the preparation that is so necessary for each of us to obtain.

“We are nearing the close of this earth’s history, and we need to place ourselves in right relation to our dear Saviour, who gave His life for us. We have not a moment to lose. We are fitting our characters for eternity, preparing for habitation in that city that Christ has gone to prepare for those who love Him….All who will form characters after the divine similitude will receive a welcome to that holy place.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 266

“Christians will have new scenes and new trials to pass through, where their past experience cannot be a sufficient guide. We need to learn of the divine Teacher as much now as at any period or our lives, and even more. And the more experience we gain, the nearer we draw toward the pure light of heaven, the more shall we discern in ourselves that needs reforming….The path of the just is a progressive one, from strength to strength, from grace to grace, and from glory to glory. The divine illumination will increase more and more, corresponding with our onward movements, qualifying us to meet the responsibilities and emergencies before us.” God’s Amazing Grace, 311

If we are to be ready for these emergencies, which we must soon meet, we must be continually growing in our knowledge and practice of the truth. What we know today will not be sufficient for tomorrow. If we are daily drawing nearer to Jesus, submitting our will to Him, He will, by His providences lead us through just the experiences we need to prepare us for what we will soon have to face. This is not, however, an experience that can be gained in a moment, but is something we must grow into.

“If we would become like Christ and receive His fashion of character, we must in little things train the soul to daily progressive sanctification. We have no time to lose.” In Heavenly Places, 66

“In our knowledge of truth, there is first a beginning in our understanding of it, then a progression, then completion; first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear. Much has been lost because our ministers and people have concluded that we have had all the truth essential for us as a people; but such a conclusion is erroneous and in harmony with the deceptions of Satan; for truth will be constantly unfolding.” Signs of the Times, May 26, 1890

If we do not progress in our knowledge of the truth, we will be left behind. See Testimonies, vol. 5, 80, 81. New truth, however, will never contradict old truth but will be an unfolding of it. An example of advancing truth and how knowledge of the truth unfolds may be seen in our present understanding of the parable of the wheat and the tares. Years ago Adventists correctly believed and taught from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy that the wheat and tares would grow together until the harvest which was the end of the world (see Christ’s Object Lessons, 75). You will find this in essentially all Adventist literature on this subject published years ago.

During that time we did not countenance open sin in our churches. Today there have been many changes. Things are now tolerated that would never have been sanctioned a short time ago. Today there are those who are sanctioned who teach that you can be a Christian while still sinning. These are not the tares Jesus was talking about in the parable—they are part of the synagogue of Satan and should be disfellowshipped.

With this change in standards, has come a distortion of understanding regarding the wheat and the tares. While historic Seventh-day Adventists have never believed that the tares were open sinners (see Christ’s Object Lessons, 71)the distortion that open sinners are the tares and must be tolerated in the church until the Second Coming (or until the National Sunday Law weeds them out) has developed. This opens the way to many dangerous theories. The Lord is willing, next month we will look more closely at the progression of understanding on the wheat and the tares.