Matt 7:15 Living in the Fear of God 9/2/2007 ßà
· Beware of False Prophets (2Pet 1:20-21, Matt 7:13-14, Rev 14:11, Luk 6:20, Prov 14:12, 16:25)
#1. Ye Shall Know Them by Their Fruits (Matt 7:15-20, 13:8, 23)
#2. The Bride of Christ (Eph 5:22-32, 2Cor 11:2, Rev 12:1)
#3. Living in the Fear of God (2Pet 1:21, Matt 7:15-16, Rom 3:18)
Please open your Bibles to the 2nd Epistle of Peter, 2Pet 1:20 (2X). I am continuing my series in the Gospel According to Matthew, but I first wanted to firmly plant in your mind what the Bible really is. The Bible is the Word of God, which means that all the words we find in the Bible are words which God has spoken. Let us be clear on this point. I asked you to turn to 2Pet 1:20. And there we read,
2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
2Pe 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Verse 20 says that we should not approach the Bible saying, “This is what it means to me”. What it means to me or what my opinion is of the Bible does not matter. What matters is that God spoke these words through “holy men of God”, and they wrote it down, and if we want to know the meaning of each passage we should ask God, for only God can give us the correct meaning. Can we pick up the phone and ask God what this or that means? No! But we can find verses related to one another, and then by comparing Scripture with Scripture we can derive the meaning of each passage. And since God cannot lie we may not arrive at conclusions which contradict other conclusions from the Bible. Therefore we are obligated to make our understanding of the Bible one harmonious whole. This is where the subject of false prophets comes in, for false prophets do not harmonize the whole Bible. False prophets pick and choose from the Bible. The Lord Jesus had some strong words to say on this
· Beware of False Prophets (2Pet 1:20-21, Matt 7:13-14, Rev 14:11, Luk 6:20, Prov 14:12, 16:25)
Please turn now to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 7:13 (2X). False prophets always want you to feel comfortable. In principle they are saying, “Peace, peace”, when you should not be resting in peace. False prophets want you to believe that the majority of the church is on the way to heaven. But that is not at all what the Lord Jesus said, for we read in Matt 7:13-14,
Mt 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait (or narrow) is the gate, and narrow (troubled) is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
In verse 13, when we read the word “destruction”, we should not believe the lie that this means “incineration”. When we harmonize this word with what we find in other parts of the Bible, we know that “destruction” is a synonym for Hell. All the unsaved will be cast into Hell. For example God says in Rev 14:11, “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night”. And why is this prophecy of Matt 7:13-14 proclaimed against the church? Could this not refer to the church as those who are on the narrow way to salvation and the rest of mankind who are on the broad way to Hell? No! Look at the beginning of Matt 5, where clearly the Lord Jesus addressed His disciples. And glance at the Gospel According to Luke 6:20, where we have a second rendering of the Sermon on the Mount, and there also the Lord Jesus is addressing His disciples. And so, what we find is that the many and the few that the Lord Jesus speaks about are people in the church. And why is it that the majority of people in the church would remain unsaved? It is because they are following false prophets who have twisted the Gospel into something that God did not say. They twist the Gospel into something logical; something that seems right to most people, something that comes very close to the true Gospel and it is something that puts people at ease, but God did not say that. They will say that salvation is like a check that needs two signatures. Christ has already put His signature on the check. All you need to do now is put your signature on the check and then your salvation has become assured. All you need to do is accept the salvation that is offered to you on a silver platter. But God did not approve of such an adulteration of the Gospel. God says in Prov 14:12 and in Prov 16:25, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”. Twice does God state this fact in the Prophecy of Proverbs, which means that God places great emphasis on this fact. People are led astray by preachers who have designed their own gospel of salvation, where man can retain his self-respect and be saved by doing only one very little thing. It sounds so holy and it is put together so logical. It is “a way which seemeth right unto a man”. But it is a gospel where under no one is saved. The Lord Jesus characterizes these false prophets as follows,
#1. Ye Shall Know Them by Their Fruits (Matt 7:15-20, 13:8, 23)
Mt 7:15-18 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Mt 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Mt 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Beware of false prophets! You cannot know them by their appearance, or by their mannerisms, or by their generosity, or by their smiles. These are all on the outside. These are like sheep’s clothing. But what is inside them comes out by their fruits. Therefore the Lord Jesus teaches us with these words, “Ye shall know them by their fruits”. And so, it is essential that we understand what these fruits are. Please turn to chapter 13 of this Gospel account, Matt 13:8 (2X). We might think that good fruits are a synonym for good works. But when we search for the use of this word “fruit” in the Gospel of Matthew we come to a surprising conclusion. In Matt 13 we find 8 parables. The very first of these 8 parables deals with a farmer who went forth to sow precious seed. The seed is the Word of God that is being sown in the hearts of four groups of people. The 4th group of people was where the seed of the Gospel fell in good ground, and brought forth fruit. Here in Matt 13:8 we read about the fruit,
Mt 13:8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
What was sown into the ground? Words! The Gospel is a string of words that flows out of the mouth of the sower. The Lord Jesus explained this parable in V 23. Please drop down to Matt 13:23,
Mt 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
And so, what is the history of the seed that we see here? The Gospel is preached, and is heard by one whose ear has been opened by the Lord. He understands the Gospel message and believes it, and in time becomes himself a sower of the Gospel. And then he sows a hundred times more than he has heard. So what is the fruit? The fruit is like that which went into the ground. The words of the Gospel went into the ground, and the fruits that this man brings forth are proclamations of the true Gospel to other people. It is the true Gospel, because the Lord commended him for his good fruit. And so, the good fruit is not good works, but the true Gospel. What is the true Gospel? The true Gospel is salvation by grace alone, by Christ alone, by the Scriptures alone, through faith as a gift from God alone, and a salvation that is to the glory of God alone. And what is a false gospel? It is:
False prophets shall be known by their fruit. In other words, the false gospels which false prophets shall proclaim is rotten fruit. How can we distinguish a false gospel from just an interpretational error? Every Bible teacher makes mistakes. These are not necessarily heresies which condemn the Bible teacher as a false prophet. An error is made if the interpretation conflicts with another passage in the Bible. The Bible teacher was not aware that he made an error. But a heresy is different. When someone adds or takes away from the Word of God that is a heresy. A false prophet, or false teacher, proclaims a heresy. And when that false prophet, or false teacher, adds or takes away from the Word of God, his Authority is no longer the God of the Bible but is another god of another bible, but it is not the Bible that we know. And thus, in his mind the false teacher has created another god, and this is the god that he worships. It condemns him and everyone else who follows that false teacher, for everyone else who agrees with that false teacher subscribes to this heresy and worships this idol. And so, we must be on our guard for those teachings that add or take away from the Bible. Let us now look at a few examples, beginning with the easy and obvious ones, to the more difficult and controversial issues. For example, when Mohammed claimed that God gave him the Koran, this was an obvious violation of Rev 22:18 that God will not give any more Divine revelations. And so, this is a heresy. Secondly, when the Roman Catholic Church and the churches of the Charismatic Movement today claim that God is still speaking today through infallible utterances of the Pope, and through utterances of the saints, and God is still bringing Divine revelations today in dreams, and in visions, and in angel visitations and in tongues, these are all in the same ballpark of messages from God. These are all heresies. God said in Rev 22:18 that He will not any more give Divine messages. The Bible is complete, and God will not add to it, nor take away from it. The Bible gives us a complete image of God, and so we may not add to this image of God, nor may we take away from it. God gave us the Bible to be the Authority that we must honor and obey. This is “Living in the Fear of God”. Thirdly, When Ellen G. White, or Mary Baker Eddy, or Joseph Smith, or your Pastor, or anyone else claims to have received an additional message from God, they are lying and are teaching a heresy, for they too are violating Rev 22:18 and are adding to the Word of God. God did not give them these messages; perhaps the Devil did, for the Devil is also allowed to break through the barrier between the natural and the supernatural. Fourthly, when churches proclaim that you must be baptized in water, or with water, or else you cannot be saved, these are works that they have added to the free Gospel of salvation. We should recognize that these too are additions to the Bible. Salvation is FREE. That is what the Bible declares. How free is FREE? Don’t you know the definition of FREE? If you must do anything to obtain it, it is not free. God says in Rom 11:6, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work”. And so, gospels that proclaim additional work that we must do in order to be saved are not the true Gospel. When churches claim that we must first cry out to God, or we must say the sinner’s prayer, or we must first come forward to the “altar call”, or we must first accept the Lord Jesus as our Lord and Savior, this is all garbage that churches have added to appear holy in the eyes of people. But it is garbage in the eyes of God. Fifthly, when churches claim that we must first accept the Lord Jesus as our Lord and Savior and then we can be saved, these churches have not only added, but they have also taken away from the Word of God, in clear violation of Rev 22:19. They have invented a works gospel. They have taken away from the Bible all those passages which say that salvation is entirely an act of God, and not a combined act of God and man. There are over 100 passages in the Bible which clearly say that God has chosen, or elected, a people for Himself from before the foundation of the world, and God determined that they are the ones who must be saved. The Father selected a Bride for His Son. That is predestination, and that is clearly taught throughout the Bible, almost on every page. But to see this, that is grace. And people who follow the false teachers who peddle this works gospel are worshipping a man made idol, and are condemned together with the ones who have invented this idol. Sixthly, when churches adopt the theory of evolution, they have in fact assigned in their mind the first 11 chapters of Genesis as mythology, which is a clear violation of Rev 22:19. Seventhly, when churches adopt the theory that women may be appointed in church offices, such as deacons, and elders, and pastors, they have in fact erased from the Bible those passages which explicitly say that “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1Tim 2:12), and “A bishop must be the husband of one wife” (1Tim 3:2), and so on. These churches are in violation of Rev 22:19, and thus their theology is garbage. I could go on giving you more examples, but I think we all have now understood how we must search and select those churches that we can consider Biblically sound. We must first do our homework in the Bible, and then we see that God has given us in Rev 22:18-19 a marvelous tool to discern truth from falsehood. But there are no shortcuts. We must read and study the Bible until we completely understand all those “controversial issues”. God will follow through on all His promises. And thus when God says in Hos 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children”. This is fearful language. But when we live in the fear of God we will also pay attention to this verse, and we shall heed the warning.
This passage in Hosea brings up an important question: Most of the time, when preachers rake up the subject of false prophets, they quote mostly from the NT. But God warned us for false prophets all throughout the OT. But what was declared plainly in the NT was hidden in the OT. When we search the OT we must not just read it as history, but we must put on our spiritual glasses. We must take our information from the NT and transpose these spiritual concepts upon the OT Scriptures. Let us look at
#2. The Bride of Christ (Eph 5:22-32, 2Cor 11:2, Rev 12:1)
Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 5:23 (2X). It is a NT concept that the church is the Bride of Christ. And now we are not talking about the outwardly visible church, which can be seen throughout the world in all kinds of church buildings, but now we are talking about the eternal church, the invisible body of truly saved individuals throughout the world, called saints, the entire collection of the elect of God. This is the church we are now reading about here in Eph 5:22-32,
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (And now let us drop down to verse 27,)
Eph 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
You see, this is the church for whom Christ suffered and died. These are the individuals whose sins Christ paid in His atonement. This is the church that He calls His Bride. Drop down to verse 31,
Eph 5:31-32 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church
And so, when you are truly saved you have become a part of the Bride of Christ. God says in:
2Co 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 12:1 (2X). When we read about a woman in the Bible, and we sense that we must look for a spiritual meaning, then we identify that woman as a religious organization. It might refer to the body of believers, or it might refer to another group of individuals that claim to be the body of believers, but they are not. When read the prophecy of Revelation, we almost always look for a spiritual meaning behind the symbols that are shown to us.
Re 12:1 ¶ And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
This woman represents the church as she appeared before God in the first century AD. The church then started out glorious. The sayings of Christ and the Bible were her only guide. The church was not contaminated by utterances of saints, and cardinals, and popes. And the church was not weighed down by oppressive rules and regulations from denominational synods and all that. But the woman was clothed with the Sun, where the Sun represents Christ, and she was standing on the Bible as her foundation. The crown of twelve stars on her head represents the complete body of ministers that were ministering to the church. And so, here again is a woman who represents the Bride of Christ. Satan is a great imitator of God. Satan has his Antichrist, and thus he also created
Please drop down to Rev 17:3 (2X). Here we see the same woman from Rev 12:1, but now we have traveled into the future where the church has become so riddled with false doctrines that she has become the bride of Antichrist. This will be the situation just before Christ returns. We read in Rev
Re 17:3-4 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
Re 17:5-6 And upon her forehead was a name written, “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth”. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus:
This woman sits upon a scarlet colored beast having seven heads and ten horns. And as you can read in Rev 12:3, this beast resembles Satan. Antichrist is made in the image of Satan. And near the end of time the church shall be called “Babylon the Great”. The church shall be the great persecutor of the true believers. This woman, this bride of Antichrist, shall dominate the religious scene near the end of time, and shall dominate even over the kings of the earth. We read in Rev 17:18, “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth”. But God is our great Avenger. He will not let her sins go unpunished. Please drop down to Rev 19:2 (2X).
Re 19:2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
And so here we have a picture of a woman as the false church. She claims to be the true church, but in God’s eyes she is just a dirty harlot. Let us now take this information to the OT, and let us not read the OT as just a history book, but as a Spiritual Book. God wrote the OT with a purpose, for we read in 2Pet 1:21 that “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”. And God spoke these words for the purpose that we shall understand salvation. Please turn in your Bibles to the Proverbs of Solomon, Prov 1:1 (2X). We are now going to read about:
When we read the word “Proverbs”, we should keep in mind that this word means “Parables”. And before we turn to the “Strange woman” we want to understand why God wrote these “Proverbs”. He did not write these to give us just some historical information, but here in Prov 1:1-4 we read:
Pr 1:1 ¶ The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;
Pr 1:2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
Pr 1:3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
Pr 1:4 To give subtilty (or prudence) to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
This is the purpose of these writings: to know the wisdom that leads to knowing God and knowing salvation, and to give prudence to the simple. We must be prudent, which means we must be wise in the practical management of our life here on earth as a child of God. This is exactly what we need when we want to discern between true Gospels and false gospels, between true teachers and false teachers of the Bible. This is also what we need to know when we want to “Live in the Fear of God”. Please drop down to verse 7. And there God says, Prov 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction”. Now, we do not want to be fools, and so we pay attention when God says that this is for our good. And again God says in Prov 2:5 (2X), “Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God”. Then God says in Prov
Pr 2:10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
Pr 2:11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
Pr 2:12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;
Pr 2:13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;
Pr 2:14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;
Pr 2:15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:
Pr 2:16-17 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.
Pr 2:18 For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.
Pr 2:19 None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.
Pr 2:20 That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.
Can you see the gist of this passage? There are two things that God’s wisdom and understanding shall deliver us from: #1, the way of the evil man, and #2, the strange woman. Let us first address the evil man. And as you can see, the word “man” is in italics. It is as if this passage speaks of the evil one, meaning the Devil. But it would be more fitting to see this passage as if it refers to Antichrist, for Antichrist is the spirit of Satan in the body of man, and God talks here about “the man that speaketh froward things”. What does froward mean? It means “habitually contrary”; being contrary to God’s laws all the time. When we read verses 12-15 we get the impression that this refers to a man who is the worst offender in history. But wait! When we pray the Lord’s Prayer and we say, “deliver us from evil” are we not referring to “the evil one”, Satan? In fact the Greek text says “deliver us from the evil”, referring to “the evil one”. It is from him that we want to be delivered. For even when we have been translated out of the kingdom of Satan and into the Kingdom of Christ, Satan can still cause us great trouble by working through other human beings who are not saved. And so, verses 10-16 can be summarized in this way: By the grace of God, His wisdom enters our heart, and acquiring knowledge from the Bible is pleasant to our soul, and good judgment shall preserve us from calamities, and understanding of the Gospel shall keep us safe, and will deliver us from the evil one, and from the strange woman. Let us now turn to #2, the strange woman. Is God referring to just any harlot here? Was it not sufficient that a woman who played the harlot would be stoned to death? (Deut 22:21). Was it not sufficient that God warned in the 10 Commandments not to commit adultery? You see, when we read these Proverbs as just admonitions to stay away from harlotry, we would be reading these Proverbs like a history book, and that was not the reason why these proverbs were written. More likely, this strange woman refers to a group of people who practice a false religion, symbolizing the false church. Similarly, the perfect woman in Prov 31 is not a real woman, but is a symbol of the faithful church. And so, the name “strange woman” is appropriate, for the gospel that they have in a false church is strange to a child of God. She flatters with her words, which leads us to think of the lies they are spreading concerning the inherent goodness of man, and the fact that all mankind has a free will, and that the gospel we believe must retain our self-respect. And look at the words of verse 19, “None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life”. They are snared by the Devil. This is in harmony with Heb 10:26 where God says, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins”. We have now touched on only a few aspects of this passage in Prov 2:10-20. When we study this passage some more we can see that God warns us for Antichrist and the apostate church, much the same as the beast and the harlot of Rev 17. And when we study Prov 5, and 8, and 9 we find more warnings that speak of the false church, and of the false teachers in that church. Please drop down to Prov 22:14 (2X). And so, God has many things to say about false prophets in the OT. God says in Prov 22:14, “The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein”. They who do not live in the fear of God are apt to experiment with many false religions. They are enticed by the sweet words coming out of the mouths of the strange women, the strange gospels, and they put themselves in danger of being snared by the Devil and then being abandoned by God.
#3. Living in the Fear of God (2Pet 1:21, Matt 7:15-16, Rom 3:18)
What is the evidence of living in the fear of God? The evidence is that we take the word of God seriously. If we believe the words of 2Pet 1:21, we will study the Word of God carefully. God says in
Matt 7:15-16 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.
The topic of false prophets is not a favorite subject among preachers. Some of you are clamoring for a practical sermon. What you mean is a sermon that does not focus on salvation, but on one of the issues that may be of importance for our life on this earth. In other words, you want benefits now, instead of later. Well, I cannot be more practical than speaking about false prophets. Your eternal life is at stake. Today we have learned how to recognize false teachers. When in the near or distant future you need to shop for another church, you need to have the tools to know where truth is found. This is not something hypothetical. This is reality, for I do not live on this earth forever. And before I depart, I intend to teach you how to find a church that is faithful to the Bible. I want you to know that there are many preachers and teachers out there who do not fear God. That is why they dare to put a spin on the Gospel, so that they will entangle many into their nets. Be ye not one of them! Do not get snared in studying interesting topics, for this is what the false teachers want you to do. They want to draw your mind away from salvation issues, and keep your mind busy with less important things.
Have we learned to interpret the Proverbs of Solomon? These are not words from Solomon, even though he may have been a very wise guy. But these are words from God. And so we need to pay attention to how God introduced this series of prophecies that we now call “the Proverbs of Solomon”. And if we live in the fear of God we will look for the Gospel message in these proverbs, rather than look for wise sayings for living a good and decent moral life here on earth. This is what the false prophets want us to study, to keep our mind busy with less important things.
Have we learned that salvation is all by grace? If we live in the fear of God, then we will meditate on the righteousness of God. It was the righteousness of God that sent the Lord Jesus Christ to the cross. God’s righteousness was greater than His love for His only begotten Son. His righteousness demanded that the penalty must be paid in full. And certainly this was not a price that the Bride of Christ was able to pay. Therefore Christ had to pay for our sins the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. But the Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross about 2000 years ago. April 3, in the year AD 33, was the only day in history that the penalty for sins was paid. All our sins were still future sins. Does this not mean that God must know the end from the beginning? Does this not mean that God must have a list of names of all those whom He was going to save, for He must have known all the sins we commit all our life. And Christ would not be paying the equivalent of an eternity in Hel for all those of whom God knew that they are going to Hell to pay for their own sins. The righteousness of God demands that He must send all the unsaved to Hell. For if His only begotten Son had to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, then all those who were in the army of Satan, and who have opposed the plans of God in this life, will certainly have to pay for their sins in Hell. And so, why are there so many false prophets and false teachers out there who deny that God has chosen a people for Himself? It is because they have no fear of God. God says in Rom 3:18, “There is no fear of God before their eyes”
Let us praise God that He has given us a fear of God. AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.