What’s a tare? What’s a “Child of the Devil?” And What About “Election?”
Question: Could you please explain who the tares are in the parable of the wheat and the tares? Could you also explain how this pertains to election?
Answer: I think the tares are our lives–our old lives. So when Jesus said, “You must lose your life for my sake and the kingdom,” He really meant it.
[Actually we each are a field that contains tares and wheat. The tares are our “old man” or the decisions with which we construct our old man. And the wheat is our “new man” or the decisions which manifest our new man. We cannot judge between the two, but God will judge between the two on the Day of the Lord.]
Satan’s lie to Eve was that she could take knowledge from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (that’s the law) and make herself in God’s image. The “self” that Eve makes is the false self, as Paul calls it the “old man,” a “child of wrath,” a “vessel of wrath.” The “old man” is not Elect. He is not the creation of God’s choice (His election, His decision, His judgment). The old man is a product of my sinful decision (sin is that which God does not choose or elect). The “old man” is the “me” that I create (the me that is “the false,” as Paul puts it in Ephesians). It’s the me that I think I am. It’s my ego and my pride.
That me is the child of the devil–THE FATHER OF LIES. That me is the product of a lie that I have believed—that lie is that I can create myself in the image of God with my “free will,” my election, my choice. The TRUTH is that I can only be created by God’s election, God’s choice, God’s decision, God’s Judgment—which is His Word, which became flesh and was revealed on the cross outside of Jerusalem.
Jesus is the elect of God. I was “chosen (elected) in Christ Jesus from the foundation of the earth.” The point of election is not that some are elect and some are not elect. The point of election is that God does the electing, the choosing, the judging. We don’t do the electing (choosing); God does the electing. Another way to say that is that we are saved and sanctified entirely by God’s grace in Christ Jesus. Now, a good choice in me–faith, hope, and love in me is the Spirit of Christ in me.
Satan can’t create people, but Satan can create imitation people with a lie. He is the father of “lies.” Tares are not “bad wheat” or wheat that’s made a bad choice. Tares are an entirely different species. They look like wheat but they’re not wheat. Just as Pharisees (like Paul) looked like children of Abraham, but weren’t children of Abraham. We can’t even separate (judge) the wheat from the tares in ourselves, but God will at the judgment. The Judgment is Christ and His cross (John 12: “Now is the judgment of this world”). At the cross, my “old man”—”old adam”–”child of wrath” (remember in Ephesians Paul says that WE were “children of wrath like the REST of mankind”)–my old self is destroyed and my new self is revealed.
All must come to the cross, which is the same as saying all must be judged. He judges the tares and wheat, sheep and goats, chaff and grain, vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy, children of wrath and children of mercy. That’s why, at the cross, I literally “die with him” and “rise with him.” That’s why Paul wrote, “It’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Paul really believed he died at the cross.
What was the Saul that died? That was the Saul that believed he could justify himself by works according to the law—his own choice, his own election, his own “free will,” the tare, the imitation wheat, the seed of the Father of Lies, the Pharisee.
What was the Paul that was born? The elect of God, Jesus in Paul, Paul in Christ, Christ’s Body, Eternal Life in Paul, the little child of God—children know that they are not saved by their own free will, but by the will of their father.
This is what gives me so much hope. Those that refuse to come to the cross, which is refusing to come to the judgment really are “lost” (apollumi also translated destroyed). If their body is dead they are trapped in hades. But Jesus descends into hades and the gates of hades cannot prevail against His church. Against those people, I have no reason to boast—my salvation is a gift—NOT my choice, NOT my election. Well just because they haven’t believed God’s election in Christ doesn’t mean they can’t believe God’s election in Christ. Scripture says that ALL will bow the knee and confess. Paul quotes this verse from Isaiah in two places.
I think Satan’s lie takes on so much power through the church and the American idea of free will. When we say that our will (our choice, our election) is entirely “free,” we mean that our will (our choice, our election) is stronger than God’s. I think we do this to hang on to “human dignity” or “ego” or “control”–what Paul refers to as “boasting.” But what we really hang on to is Hell. We end up arguing that people can “out choose” or “out elect God.”
Well, this is something that Calvinists get so right. They just can’t then figure out how to keep people in Hell, so they argue for a “limited atonement,” which then implies limited Love.
Well, God’s love is not limited, which is the same as saying that God’s election, judgment or choice is not “limited.” This is where Barth is very helpful and his commentary on Romans is revolutionary.
I find it fascinating that once you see that Paul is not arguing that God chooses some men and not other men, but that He chooses His creation and rejects “our creation”–the product of the lie–well, then all of Romans makes sense. And I think “election” makes sense. It’s after Paul’s explanation on election that Paul concludes by saying, “God consigned all to disobedience (our bad choices, bad decisions, bad elections, bad judgments) that he may have mercy on all (His choice, His decision, His election, His judgment). THAT is where the “Romans Road” ENDS.
Jesus is the END.
Our judgment is NOT the END.
Jesus is THE END and Jesus is the Word of God, The Decision of God, The Word through whom all things (including me) are created.
Hope that helps!
For more about the parable of the wheat and the tares check out:
Sermon: What To Do About The Sons of The Devil
Devotional: The Inner Tare-orist