May God grant us honesty this day as we stand before God again and his word and here our lord and King speaking to us. May he grant each of these men who will be ordained to the offices of elder and deacon the courage to always stand the to the truth, the love and patience to guide the flock, and the strength to stand under all attack as they follow Jesus Christ. He stands central in this section. It is spoken with the authority of one who is self-aware and know himself to be the one before whom all men will have to give an account from Adam to today.
And the first word in our section today is a command in the form of a warning! Beware! The first contrast that we saw in this section is what road we would get on. The narrow or broad road, here we deal with who we will follow, and who we give permission to direct the traffic on that road. If we are not careful guidance will be offered by those who look like they are knowledgeable about spiritual things but direct the traffic for their own best interests. And we ourselves as leaders must start and end with the gospel so that we are not led astray.
For wolves in Sheep clothing
For a Christless Christianity.
Wolves Dressed as Christians.
Beware of false prophets. Watch out says Jesus! This means we listen carefully. Know your scriptures. Know Jesus, and be in constant communion with him. If you are not it is impossible to beware for false prophets. Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
How can you tell they are false prophets? Not first by what they say, but by how they live their lives. That is how verse 16 begins and 20 ends. “You will recognize them by there fruits.”
It is not like false prophet is walking around with a big sticker on his forehead that says false prophet. A pastor or elder does not walk around and say I am a hypocrite don’t vote for men. A false prophet is the guy that comes to church every Sunday. That speaks nice, that looks like he is saying all the right things. He is dressed up like a nice middle class, suburban person.
Satan rarely does a frontal attack on the church he would much rather tear the church apart from within. The pharisees were the religious elite of society the people who were righteous. These are the people that are the most dangerous that Jesus reserved his harshest words for.
They look good outside but do not bear any fruit. Look at the words with which he addresses these so called holy men of old in Chapter 23, “… do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works that they do. For they preach but do not practice.” Or “Woe to you, scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourself.” And in verse 28, “so you outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
These are the prophets of the Old Testament who prophecy peace when there is no peace. Those who are more concerned about peace then about the glory of Christ and service to him – the only place where true peace is found. These are the prophets that will look very carefully at making sure no one is upset rather before making a decision rather then looking carefully at what God wants from his word.
These men that you have chosen, are men who have committed and submitted themselves to the word of God above all. They desire to follow him, and show you the way in word and life to him. The opposite of false prophets
False prophets are leaders or members of the church that know nothing of the righteousness of the heart that you have been hearing about over the last year. A righteousness that comes only from Christ. They knew nothing of giving up their lives, prestige, and honor for God. They wanted to trust in their own righteousness however flawed instead of going through the narrow gate and confessing Jesus and resting in him. They look like us, smell like us. But are not from us. Works righteousness. I will get there on my own. That is the broad way. I don’t need anyone.
Even someone with the best intentions can be led astray if they are not careful to keep their eyes on Christ. Prophets can easily be pressured by people into a series of harmless, and almost imperceptible compromises so that they may well be self-deceived by their own sheep’s clothing. The prophet must avoid all temptation to compromise the surpassing righteousness, compromises will lead to “holding an outward form of godliness by denying its power.” Dear church pray for us, that we ourselves may grow in Christ. that we would love him and show him to you.
We are called to identify them and be able to recognize them. Fruit is a great metaphor for what the Christian produces. It shows that the Christian life is a result of her union with God. The life we live is not just something that we do for God, but that God does in us and through us.
Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? You do not need to be a botanist to figure that one out. So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.” You see if you are a thistle, no matter what you are going to bear bad fruit. If you are in Christ the vine, then no matter what you are going to bear good fruit. What is the fruit that you are consistently bearing? If you are not in Christ you cannot bear good fruit. All the good that you are doing is not good, it is godless. It is works done outside of God.
What is the good fruit. It is the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit that shows that Christ is in you. This section ends with a strong warning. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Fire is the judgment of God. What you believe will change how you live. If you do not live it out, then you never really believed, and your faith is empty! This brings us to our Second point
For a Christless Christianity
Jesus makes here one of the most disconcerting statements in all of Scripture in verse 21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven.”
Who are these people who say, “Lord, Lord”? That is the first question. And the next question is who are those who do the will of the Father?
As to the people who say ‘Lord, Lord’. Let’s look at what Jesus tells about them in verse 22. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many might works in your name?”
First, just notice there are many. And many means many. There will be many that say this. Now my deepest prayer is that there is none here among those many. These words should bring us to prayer. Should drive us to God. Should cause us to kneel before God and plead upon his mercy and grace. And plead upon his grace. For we are weak, but he is strong. When we think we are strong then we should be careful lest we fall.
Second, they use the messianic title for Jesus. They call him Lord! Not just once, but twice they confess their so-called allegiance to Jesus. They are people that are speaking about Jesus and say that they believe in Jesus!
Third, some of these people have great ministries! Successful ministries! They prophesy and Jesus name, they cast out demons in Jesus name, they do many mighty works in Jesus name. They are throwing around the name of Jesus. They do what they do in Jesus name. It is not that these claims are false. But they insufficient. But notice, their argument for entering the kingdom is their work. Lord we did this! Even in their work for Jesus, they want to receive the glory and not give Jesus the glory. They have the argument all lined. Jesus, we did this and this and this and this for you!? What do you mean we are not allowed to come into the kingdom? We really helped you! I was an elder my whole life! I was a pastor my life! O how careful we must be to make these things the ticket to heaven. No we do these things because of his life in us.
Look at what Jesus says, “And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Jesus says I never knew you?! Why? Because they were not doing it for him but for themselves. It was not Christ in them. Notice the contrast with the people that actually enter the kingdom. They do not realize that they are even servicing the king. They are doing from their heart. It is who they are.
They know about him. and use him, but do not worship him. And so alas He does not know them. For he says, “I never you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” The question is are you using Jesus, or worshipping him. Is he your master in all of life. Or just in the areas where you want him to be.
This should cause all of us to do some reflection. It can be so easy to compare oneself to a cultural broad road Christianity and think we are ok. You are not getting into heaven because you say and talk about Jesus a lot. Or say that you do everything in his name and for him. You can say that all day long, and not be nearer to the kingdom then the neighbor who knows nothing of Christ. Just mentioning Jesus name, or doing great works in his name will not get you into the kingdom of heaven. Remember Jesus is not interested in what you do but who you are. He is not interested in your works but your relationships. It is not about whether you know God, but does he know you! Does he recognize himself in you!
In the program called evangelism explosion, one of the questions that is asked is, “If you were to die right now and stand before God, why do you think God should allow you into heaven?” And many people will say, “I have been a pretty good guy.” I have not stolen, cheated, murdered anyone. I try to respect everyone. I give a lot to the poor.” This is similar to the argument that these people make, they look at the exterior. They remember all the good they have done. And when someone asks them, they have a list twelve pages long. But what has this whole sermon been about your heart before God, and your utter need for the death and life of Jesus Christ to be at work in you.
So who are the people who do the will of the Father. They are people who have true faith. A faith that bears fruit.
In John 6 Jesus is asked, “what must we do, to be doing the works of God.” Jesus answers them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him who he has sent.” The first and foremost questions is do you believe in Jesus. Not what do you do for Jesus, but what do you believe he has done for you? Do you have a real and living personal relationship with him? if so then the will of the Father will be done. You see it is not about a great many works, this takes us back to the beatitudes. That is where you see true Christian Character.
For this work of faith – which shows that it is all of God - then leads to a growth in holiness. Real Christ shaped holiness. Listen to the words of 1 John, “The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.... No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.”
None who lives in Christ keeps on sinning. This means living under the slavery of sin. Dear church these are real words of warning to all of us. And should make us all run to Jesus!
Notice how much Jesus focuses on himself and his own role here in judgement and salvation. “Not everyone who says to me…”, “On that day many will say to me…”, then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from me…” This is the application of the sermon on the mount. It is not whether you know Jesus but does Jesus know you. If he does your live will be forever changed. You will begin to live a kingdom sort of life in your daily live. You will live out the beatitudes. You will realize your poverty, not how great you are, you will mourn, you will live in humility, you will hunger and thirst for righteousness! These are the people that belong the kingdom. This is what true faith works in us!
The biggest and deepest question anyone can ask is do you have a true faith. You can not rely on your confession, on your good works. They only thing, the last thing that you can rely on is Jesus work. And if you have that, you will be saved.