Turn with me to Matthew 13. Keep it open. We’ll be covering most of the chapter.
I want to talk about being a citizen in the kingdom of heaven. Most of us here are citizens of the United States of America. You are a citizen of this country because you were either born here or you became a citizen because you wanted to be here. And with that citizenship comes privileges. You are protected by laws. If there is a crime, you have a police force that you can turn to. If there is a fire in your kitchen, you can call the local fire department. When you travel, you carry around a U.S. passport and you have certain rights and protection as a citizen of this country.
How do you become a citizen in the kingdom of heaven? Like being a citizen in this country, you are born into it or you transfer your citizenship from your country of origin to this country. Same principle applies to being a citizen in the kingdom of heaven. You enter the kingdom of heaven when you are born, rather born again into the kingdom of heaven and your citizenship is transferred from the kingdom of this world to the kingdom of heaven. Unless you are a spy or a double agent, which may be the case for some of the international students here (just kidding, I hope) there is no such thing as dual citizenship. You’re either in or you’re out. Spiritually speaking, you’re either a citizen of the kingdom of heaven or you’re not. You can’t be half in, you can’t be halfway saved, it’s an all or nothing proposition.
We see this in the Parable of the Weeds.
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
I love chapters like this because I don’t have to read too many commentaries and spend hours and hours studying the text because Jesus did all the hard work for me. I don’t have to wonder, what did Jesus mean by the enemy and the weeds? Because Jesus himself provides the interpretation and explains the meaning of this parable starting in v36.
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
That last phrase is important. Let him who has ears, let him hear. We’re all listening to the same sermon, but some of you are really getting it, it’s sinking in. And for others, it’s not, you are hearing but not really hearing. It’s in one ear and out the other. Nothing is sticking.
What is Jesus trying to communicate to us? He is saying, at the end of the age, there will be separation of the good seed, the wheat, from the weeds. One is harvested and saved. The other is burned in the fire. There are only 2 piles and we all fall into one of these.
Jesus hammers this point a second time in the Parable of the Net.
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked. “Yes,” they replied.
This is not rocket science. For those who ask and stick around for the answer, this stuff is simple enough for little children to grasp. Jesus laid this teaching out in a way that we can all understand. There are only 2 sets of fish. Good fish that are collected in baskets. And bad fish that are thrown away into a fiery furnace. And if you are thrown away, what will your reaction be? v50 – there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. It’s like, gnash, gnash, gnash, I had a chance to accept Christ, but I didn’t. What was I thinking? Why did I chase after THAT my whole life? And many people will regret it for all of eternity. This is serious stuff.
How do you know if you are a kingdom citizen? How do you know if you are saved? Anyone can say they believe in Christ, but it’s my job to warn everyone, myself included. I don’t want you to get to the end of your life and you arrive at Judgment Day, and you say, how come Ray didn’t say anything? How come no one warned me? I don’t want any of you to be gnashing your teeth for eternity. Examine yourself. There are certain signs that you are a kingdom citizen. There are visible things that testify outwardly to an invisible, inward transformation of the heart. There are signs that validate that you are saved.