Saturday, March 6, 2021

Sermon On The Mount - Part 7: "Thou Shalt Not Eat Of It"

Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

During our Communion Service today, the sweetness of the fruit of the vine will be on our tongues. Making wine is a time honored profession, and a time consuming process. The growth of the fruit of the vine cannot be rushed. And it cannot be rushed as it ferments in the bottle either. The sweetness will develop for the patient vintner, and our God is a patient Husbandman.

There are no short-cuts in ministry. The Word of God will produce results in us in due time. Faithful believers will present themselves at church regularly, and study the Word on their own during the week to water their faith and make it grow. Storms will come, and threaten the crop, but a bruised reed He shall not break, but strengthen it instead.

There are also some who say they believe and take a short-cut by calling on God and using the name of Jesus before the fruit of their life has matured. There are yet others who want recognition and fame who also call upon the Lord, but are not even in His orchard or vineyard. The motivation of their heart is their pride, and a need for building a broad reputation. But instead of serving others, they are there to see their name in lights. These are only ministers to themselves. The Epistle Jude identifies them. 2 Peter 2 warns us of them. 2 Timothy 3 warns us of them and describes them to us. All the Epistles have something to say about false teachers, false professors, or the doctrines that they promote. Galatians 1:6-9 gets quite specific about those that would pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and lead young believers astray.

All these things are summed up in Jesus’ teaching that we go over today in Matthew 7. There are many false prophets and professors in the world today. Even as the Apostle John tells us in 1 John 2:18-22, the spirit of antichrist was alive and well in his day. How much more do you think it might be present in our day. Pray for the gift of discernment, my brothers and sisters.

Jesus is more than a “feel good teacher.” He is more than a warm fuzzy God to snuggle up to like a child and their favorite stuffed animal. Jesus is doing more than inviting us to a universal salvation, open to all. He calls us to righteousness and will call us His friends as in John 15:14, if we obey His voice.

We are called to be fruit inspectors like the Bereans of Acts 17:11, "
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

Today's Audio Message: Matthew 7:15-29

The Sermon On The Mount - Part 7:  "Thou Shalt Not Eat Of It"

Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord has been teaching his disciples the contrasts between the life of the flesh and the life of the spirit. Last week we learned about the two contrasting paths people travel on. Today’s message contrasts Jesus’ instruction in verse 1 not to judge others, with a warning against false prophets and the call to discernment.

Jesus gives a severe warning in regards to false prophets, or literally “lying prophets”. We can find lying prophets throughout the Bible who have always plagued God’s people. They come into churches masquerading as bearers of God’s truth, yet serve up deceit, leading multitudes on a path of destruction. False prophets will even show up at your front door, preaching a perverted doctrine of salvation that leads others to utter damnation. The bible warns us over and over about false prophets. A true prophet does not contradict the word of God. A true shepherd, teacher or pastor teaches as Jesus taught.  He does not add to God's word, nor subtract from it.  He does not contradict the scriptures.  He does not instruct God's people to desire the things of the world, to compromise their faith, to embrace the culture, false doctrines or religions.  A true shepherd will always exalt Jesus, and the true gospel of salvation.

Jesus gives us a way to identify these false prophets - He tells us to look at their fruit. That is to say, what is being produced by their manner of living. Much like a diseased tree will produce rotten fruit, these deceivers will produce more deceivers.

Interestingly, this comes right after Jesus’ teaching on the wide and narrow paths. The narrow path is hard, but it leads to life; whereas the wide path is easy, but leads to destruction. Jesus is wanting us to be on guard against those who would lead us down the wide path. They might appear innocent and even godly on the outside, but on the inside are “ravenous wolves”. Their intent is to deceive you into their false ways. Their arguments may be convincing - after all, they disguise themselves to appear as sheep. A sheep appears harmless and gentle. In the Bible true followers of Jesus, those who will go to heaven (life), are described as sheep (cf. Matthew 25:33-34, John 10; Psalm 23). That means they will look and act like fellow believers. They will deceive many and even walk some right down the path leading to destruction (cf. Isaiah 19:13; Matthew 24:24).

We can avoid many of these pitfalls if we learn from Acts 17:11. These noble and wise people searched the scriptures diligently, and carefully examined what their teachers were teaching to be sure that it was true. They didn’t just take their word for it. We must have the ability to discriminate between the true gospel and a perverted reflection. Be eager to search the scriptures, and study with a deep desire to know the truth.

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