Exploring the Wisdom Embedded in Biblical Parables: The Wheat and the Tares

Matthew 7:14: “…the gate is narrow and the way is constricted that leads to [eternal] life, and there are few who find it.”



This article contrasts the biblical teaching that the path to eternal life is narrow and few find it with the general belief that even up to 70% of Americans are Christian. The Bible show that the many who claim to be Christians deceive themselves and are not of true faith. Genuine Christians are characterized by a transformed life through grace, faith, repentance and obedience to Scripture that will always result in eternal reward. The author urges self-examination to ensure one’s faith is genuine, warning that many who view themselves as Christians are deceived and unknowingly face eternal punishment.


Polling the Christians

Society is obsessed with polling. We run polls for everything from political elections to approval ratings on social issues such as climate change and vaccinations or specific social movements such as BLM and Free Palestine, public health concerns, movie, music, and book preferences, celebrity popularity, travel destination preferences, and even user experiences on our tech devices.

It’s as if we’re looking for confirmation on how to think.

But polling can also be wrong. Classic examples include the 1948 Presidential prediction of Dewey defeating Truman, which Truman won in an upset; the 2016 Brexit Referendum, where the “remain” camp was predicted to win when, in fact, England voted to leave the United Nations; and even the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, where Donald Trump surprisingly upset the polling favorite, Hillary Clinton.

Several factors can contribute to polling inaccuracy, such as nonresponse bias, where certain groups are less likely to respond; sampling errors, where some groups are over or underrepresented; and even last-minute changes in opinions due to unusual or unexpected circumstances.

Polling can also be erroneous because of classification errors. For example, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2021 poll, 63% of the U.S. population are reportedly Christian. Gallup’s 2021 survey records 69% as Christians, while the Public Religion Research Institute 2020 Census states 70% are Christians.

Really? That many Christians?

According to Matthew 7:13, “The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to [eternal] life, and those who find it are few.” How, then, can up to 70% be considered “few?”

Both can’t be right. Since God is all-knowing, as Psalm 147:5 claims, “His understanding is beyond measure,” and can’t lie, as Hebrews 6:18 records, “…it is impossible for God to lie,” it is only reasonable to conclude that the polls must be inaccurate; they must be incorrectly defining the category of Christian.

Acts 11:26 states, “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” But what is a Christian?

Although the Bible does not contain a single verse that provides a formal definition, it does offer characteristics of what it means to be a follower of Christ and, therefore, a Christian. For example, Romans 10:9 states, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” John 8:31 states, If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” Finally, Romans 12:2 records, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

With just these three verses, we can conclude that a Christian believes that Jesus is God, is obedient to His word, the Bible, has a transformed life, and, ultimately, is redeemed. My article on the Five Solas defines what a Christian believes as follows: “[Christians are those who] believe in salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, and for the glory of God alone.

However, that is not the definition of “Christian” in any poll. They  would define “Christian” as “anyone who claims to be a Christian.”


The Wheat and the Tares

Many do claim to be “Christian.” That, in fact, is what Christ addresses in His parable of the Wheat and the Tares.

Matthew 13:24-30 and Matthew 13:36-43: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the Wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the Master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the Wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

“Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

Although the parable refers to Wheat and tares, in reality, it speaks of true believers or Christians, and false believers or those who are even called Christians but are deceived. In Matthew 7:21-23, Christ Himself explains the reality of this issue when He says, Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

We have then “few” true Christians and “many” who the polls would classify as Christians but who are not.

So all of those who the polls identify as Christians but who are not true Christians and have even deluded themselves will face the final judgment of Christ Himself, who will say, “I never knew you; depart from me.”


Examine yourself!

In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul admonishes all who claim to be believers, Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

Are you part of the few who believe “in salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, and for the glory of God alone?”

Or are you one of the many who will say “Lord, Lord” and be told, “‘I never knew you; depart from me.”

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