Sheep and Goats and Seeds and Weeds

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.  Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.  Then he told them many things in parables, saying:  

“A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

The  premise is simple. All of the seed was good, some of the ground was not. The rest of the story is about crop yield. In the days before supermarkets, with their ability to import fresh food from around the world, local yield was a very big deal. If crops did not properly yield locally, people could starve and potentially die.

There is more to this story however. The sower parable was just the introduction and must be read along with the following parable to be fully understood. 

In the sower parable Jesus focused on the entire world as one huge field in which seed has been scattered. In the next parable, often called “the parable of the weeds”, Jesus now speaks only about the "kingdom of heaven (or God) or "the good ground". This is the ground that will actually produce an increase or crop yield. On the rest of the ground that was not "good", everything died or was eaten. 

In the first parable Jesus speaks of a physical territory, the world, but in the second he speaks of an invisible kingdom without natural walls or borders.

 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “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?’

“‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.  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.’”

In the "parable of the weeds" all of the plants are growing in good soil. We know from the parable of the sower these plants are thriving to varying degrees, thirty, sixty or a hundredfold, yet, in the kingdom of God or heaven, an  enemy has  crept in unawares and cast weed seed into this field of good soil. This is not the path, this not the rocky place and this not the place of thorns. This is not "out there somewhere". This is the good ground, inside the kingdom of God. Weeds are growing right next to the wheat, right up until the day of harvest. The ground is good, but not all of the crop has value. The disciples, in their fervor, wanted to go pull these weeds but Jesus told them, no, just let them all grow together on that same good ground. He cautioned if they tried to uproot them, they would, for certain, uproot good seed as well.

I divert now away from this field to a pasture full of sheep and goats. 

Matthew wrote:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

Here is a quick test. Below are pictures of two animals. Which one is a sheep, and which one is a goat? 


The sheep we see roaming fields today (below) have been hybridized and domesticated for maximum wool production and bear little resemblance to the sheep of Jesus day. 

The sheep and goats of Jesus day, as shown in the A/B illustration above, looked remarkably similar. These similar looking animals would be placed together in the same pasture where the sheep would graze on the low grass and the goats would forage through the taller stuff. Combining sheep and goats in one field allowed all of the available food in a pasture to be picked clean. 
Goats can be useful when pastured with sheep, but there are over one thousand breeds of sheep and goats and it can sometimes take an expert to determine whether an animal is a sheep or a goat. Especially if the sheep has recently been shorn. Sometimes that determination can only be made by smell. Goats have a definite smell, most have hair, rather than wool but, when passing large herds through a gate,  identification must be made quickly and the goats must be diverted from the sheepfold on the spot. That takes a good eye, an expert and a specialist, a Chief Shepherd trained to know the difference. Hirelings were not trained to know the difference.
When Matthew wrote this he was speaking to people who  understood this fact, but this is lost to us in our modern supermarket world. Some confuse this statement to mean some are meek, like sheep, and some are stubborn, like goats, but that is not the point. The point of the statement was not even that sheep are good and goats are bad. Goats are just as useful as sheep. The statement is illustrating there is one who stands at the gate making the decision on who can enter as a sheep and that person is the Chief Shepherd.

We are, none of us, professionals, none of us Chief Shepherds. None of us "stand at the gate" to separate sheep and goats at the last day and we certainly don't have that job today. In fact, as I will show, there is one who stands guard at the gate, but not even this person is allowed to determine if an animal is a sheep or a goat. It is not our responsibility to separate sheep and goats, not now, not ever, because we too are just sheep...or perhaps a goat. A few may be present as hirelings, but there is only one true Chief Shepherd. All others portraying themselves as Chief Shepherds are fakes, thieves and robbers.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  To him the gatekeeper opens.

We often read these words in the gospel of John, as a "salvation" message. It is often stated Jesus is the narrow door to salvation we must enter and not try to enter by another way,  but read it again carefully here.

"he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  To him the gatekeeper opens.

The sheep are already in the sheepfold. It is the Chief Shepherd who stands at the door waiting for the gatekeeper to open.  This is not about sheep waiting to get in. The sheep are already there, waiting for the true shepherd and the  gatekeeper will only open the door to the true shepherd. Anyone else pretending to be a Chief Shepherd  will be denied entrance and if they do choose to enter, they will need to find an illegitimate way in. Undoubtedly their motive is to steal, kill and maim. 

Some think exceeding their authority is a way to protect the sheep and they are doing God service. The truth is they are actually thieves, robbers, and potentially even murderers. When the scriptures reference "false Christs" in the last days, it is speaking of these false shepherds, these inward ravening wolves who put on sheep's clothing to appear righteous, then enter the sheepfold by way of deceit and subterfuge to steal, maim and kill sheep.

We are not to weed out that which we think is bad seed because we will destroy the good in the process. We are not harvesters and have no authority to bundle and burn what we think are weeds. We are not the Chief Shepherd with the authority to determine who is a sheep and who is a goat. At our very best, we can be a hireling, but a hireling merely stands watch over the sheep and waits for the return of the chief shepherd. The hireling may even run the other way, and abandon the sheep, should wolves appear. The hireling has no stake in the life of the sheep. When danger appears they may respect their own life over that of the sheep. A hireling is hired to assure the safety of the sheep. They will be held accountable for any loss.

Some leaders in the ABC, and similar churches, believe they have the power to separate sheep and goats present day. They believe they have the power to remove weeds from the wheat before the harvest in the present day. They believe they have the power to pass "eternal judgments" on anyone they choose at any time.  We have been warned against this. 

“Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”  

We are not to pass a judgment, and especially not an eternal judgement, on anyone. Peter wrote to those who were hirelings to tell them the best we can accomplish is to shepherd the sheep by example and never by lording over the sheep. One could add here, we should not be beating sheep with the rod or the staff. David got it right in the twenty-third Psalm. "...thy rod and staff comfort me." The rod and the staff are for comfort, not punishment. If we wish to be fervent in a belief, we should have fervent charity...for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. If we are going to provoke one another we should provoke one another to love and good works.

In the universal sense, we are all simply nobodies. All of us. None is elevated above another. Salvation is without effort. If we seek a reward, that comes from our labors but, if we do not labor, salvation is assured but with no reward. More on that later.

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
I have already written about "God's building" many times so I won't belabor that point here again except to say God's fields, God's sheep and God's building are  all equivalents. Just different metaphors for the same idea.

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth. Miss that point and you miss it all. All those weeds the disciples wanted to pluck up and burn, who is to say they were not just a stalk of wheat producing at thirty-fold instead of one-hundred fold? It still has value and the loss is still  great.

We must never forget the foundation of God has this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His... We don't know who are his. Only the Lord knows who are his. If we decide, we may be wrong because we are not experts.

If we take on the role of removing bad seed we run the risk of destroying wheat. For that, we will incur a debt to God, the landholder. The earth is the Lord's and everything in it. It does not belong to us. We are only residents for a time. If we attempt  to enter the sheepfold, as a false shepherd, and cull or beat the sheep, we are thieves and robbers, potentially murderers. None of us has the authority to stand at the gate and decide who is a sheep and who is a goat. It is not our job now and it never will be since we are not qualified. If we take on this role, we are a false Christ, a false Chief Shepherd and we are working in the spirit of the antichrist.
"B" is a Jacob sheep. An ancient breed.
"A" is a Cashmere Goat which has a wool coat,
 rather than hair, but is still a goat. 

Did you get it right? 
When Jesus repeated this parable a second time, he now began to call himself "the door". All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be kept safe and will go in and out and find pasture.  
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe. Pr. 18
While they are not specifically mentioned here, Jesus is referring to the Scribes and the Pharisee, the religious leaders of his day, as the ones who are thieves and robbers. These are those who steal, kill and maim. 
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 
A wolf in sheep's clothing, is not referring to a canine wolf that has somehow skinned a sheep and cloaked itself in the skin. Wolves in nature do not do this, ever. Jesus is referring to those who dressed themselves in the expensive finery of wool clothing then attempted to appear pious when really they were preying upon people's curiosities and fears. These were the religious leaders of Jesus day. These were the ones who through pride and ego, or by pursuit of sordid gain, enticed sheep away from the  safety of the sheepfold then captured them in their own enclosure. Here the sheep are held captive, unable to leave and find green pasture. Unable to enjoy the freedom in Christ Jesus. 
The freedom we have allows us to enter and exit the sheepfold and go out into green pastures. The sheepfold of the Pharisees is an enclosure with a locked door where sheep are held captive while heavy burdens are inflicted. The Pharisees had one standard for themselves and another standard for "the laity" they captured. One only need read all of Matthew 23 to get a good picture of who the Pharisees were.

 "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.  I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.  For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Persons acting like these Pharisees have ambushed members of the ABC for decades. I write these words here on my site today, but I am not saying anything different than I did nearly fifty years ago. I had many conversations with Ramon A Haas, the founder of the ABC, and my father, about this subject. When I was asked to the IHOP by the "evangelist" Andy Atwell under the premise they planned to "talk" to a man named Wayne and accuse him of "blasphemy", I made it clear then I had seen a lot of damage done to many people, over many decades, by these unjust judgments followed by disciplines based on the "shepherding movement" precedents and I would not support the discipline, I would only support the truth. I have had this conversation with numerous "leaders" in the ABC over many years.  The "shepherding movement" has been proven false by many all across the globe. Yet this scenario will still play itself out in the ABC, and in many other religious organizations across the globe. It is wrong.
When I was personally ambushed, by men acting  like Pharisees, it was over one simple sentence in reply to a question. For this I was then burdened eternally with the label of "blasphemer" and everyone I knew in my life was told I was evil and to never speak to me again. There have been others before me that have been labeled in the same manner. As you will see, these men, having taken undue power and control, feel their enclosure is the kingdom of God. It is not. These men do not inflict themselves with this same burden, just like the Pharisees did not.
The chief person at this ambush told me I had "nearly blasphemed the Holy Spirit, thus, there was a justification for passing an "eternal judgement" on my soul. It was "part of our foundation", he stated, therefore every judgment he made was "eternal". I assume this justification was based on this piece of Hebrews, just after listing the foundation blocks. I can't account for this man's thinking other than to say it is falsehood.

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

The person making this accusation had previously given a teaching, not once, but many times, that God's forgiveness, the blood of Christ, was of no effect unless a "brother" first acted as intermediary to pray and request God to give us forgiveness for a sin. This would be equivalent to shoving aside our mediator, Jesus, and would make  his death and resurrection of no value.  In effect, this was a "trampling" of the blood of Christ, a disavowing of the propitiation available to us by our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. It was an untruth that tore at the very heart of Jesus purpose on earth.

I went to this person privately, in an attempt to show him the error of his words, but was angrily shut down. The response I got back fell just short of being called a fool. I was told I could not possibly know and understand so, I just let it go and waited. 

Weeks later, this same person was confronted in a meeting by a number of people when trying to teach this same doctrine again. This time it was more than one voice speaking and he was willing to repent of his wrong position. No one ever once accused this man of blasphemy, or called him to an ambush to accuse. No one made phone calls to separate him from his friends. No one condemned his soul for all of eternity.  Even though, in essence, this was a "trampling" of the blood of Christ and was indeed "blasphemy" if one wants to attach a label to it.

After the ambush I sent a letter to this person to remind him of the grace he had once been given when he had essentially nullified the propitiation of Christ with this piece of false doctrine. (Part of my letter is shown below.)  I felt it my duty to remind him of how effective the grace of God can be since grace, meekness, mercy and truth had obviously escaped him. 

Click to Enlarge

We know, from later in the letter to the Hebrews, this could be a serious offense.

Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”

It was stated at the ambush, I had, by one single sentence, almost blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Even though, when truly evaluating my statement in context, it was fully true. It is those who deny Christ came in the flesh who are of the spirit of the antichrist, not those who state he needed to learn obedience as a child, just like any other child. 

So, if one were to get literal, and very technical, this man's teaching could be considered to be a trampling of the Son of God underfoot, counting the blood of the covenant to be common and the propitiation and priesthood of Jesus to be of no effect. This entire teaching could have been considered blasphemy. But this man was not treated in the same manner as me because in the Pharisaical system his "ministry" exists in a double standard. This man had an elevated and favored position by the apostle, Gilbert Larson, so he was not ever challenged. The Corinthians found themselves in a similar state where they had become divided into the "approved" and the "disapproved".  

What happens to this man's soul is not my decision to make. I am not the one who judges this man's soul for the eternal. I cannot bundle this person up as refuse then cast him into the fire. I am not a Chief Shepherd that can decide if this man is a sheep or a goat. I am a nobody and, in that, I find a great deal of peace.“The Lord will judge His people.” 

I do however warn people to stay away from this, and any other, system that allows men such power and privilege that they can kill, maim, destroy and establish a double standard through abusive Pharisaical behavior. This double standard exists in many church organizations and movements throughout the world. 

The ABC has developed it's virtual sheepfold. They have no brick and mortar, but they demand membership inside their virtual walls. They stand along the way calling the unwary in, giving the sense  salvation can only be found through them alone. Once captured they will then bind many burdens on that person and not allow those who have entered to leave and find green pastures. The writer of Acts spoke of this very thing. 

“And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.  Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.



"For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."




Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;  nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”



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