THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 10-9-05
LESSON TITLE: "LESSONS FROM THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT: WE ARE KNOWN BY OUR FRUIT"
A beautiful old hymn we sing says, "love one another, thus says the savior!" Let me ask us to consider this morning, do we love each other as God commands? Furthermore, do we show our love to God by keeping this and other laws which He has required of the faithful?
Good morning! Let me welcome each of you to our program this morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us to hear the Living Word of God. We are excited that you have chosen to give this time of sacrifice to our Creator. Won't you take advantage of every opportunity this morning to give your own reverence to the Lord, as we together offer this time of worship to Him. May all things be done, to God, for God and unto His glory. Let's begin our offering to God with a prayer!
Our first song of the morning reminds us of one of the most wondrous attributes of our God. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "Holy, Holy, Holy."
(SONG # 1)
As we continue our thoughts on loving one another, I am reminded of many verses that teach us this great command of God! In Matthew 22:39, Jesus said the second great commandment was to "love your neighbor as yourself!" Again in John 13:35, Jesus confirmed, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." In fact, the very golden rule itself, teaches us to treat all men as we want to be treated. No doubt this requires a love for our fellow man. And not only those who we like or those who are our friends, but even a love for our enemies.
Now I would like to focus on why we must do this! Doesn't John tell us that God is love? Not only does John proclaim this in 1 John 4, but he also teaches us that we must love as God has loved! Read verse 8 with me from that same text, there it says, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." You see that basis for our love for one another and our fellow man is that God first loved us!
Finally, let's consider to what extent God was willing to go in order to love us. Perhaps Romans 5, and verse 8 deals with this thought better than any other. Notice what Paul says there, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God loved us and made the ultimate sacrifice for us, even though we were still in sin! Now I ask you to consider just how far your love must go for your brethren, as well as your fellow man. Brethren do we really love one another as God commands?
As far as our main study of the day, we will be continuing our studies from the Great "Sermon on The Mount! Our specific lesson of the morning will deal with the fact that, "We Are Known By Our Fruit". So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will be leading us in our main thoughts of the day. But for now let's join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "How Sweet, How Heavenly."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you so much for continuing with us. Now we want to go back to the scriptures, looking there at the great Sermon on the Mount in order that we might grow together in yet another wondrous teaching of Jesus Christ, a teaching that was given to those who were followers, those who loved Him and those who now were very eager to do what He asked them to do so that they might receive salvation so that they might be known as the faithful of God.
If you'll notice there in chapter 7 of the book of Matthew where we will study today in verse 15. We are first introduced to an idea that really is not strange because He first mentions false prophets. In fact, He mentions, "Beware of such. Beware of false prophets." This is nothing new because even from the very beginning of time there were those who claimed to be of God or prophets of God, yet they were not. Even before the days of Jeremiah, we find that during the period of the early kings, even before the kings, during the period of the judges, even before the judges, even before the period of the patriarchs there were those who claimed often to be of God or followers of God and yet they were not. But there were many places that stand out specifically in the Old Testament reminding us of the great warnings of God that they should beware, they should watch out because there were false prophets among them.
We also notice during the time of the kings and during the time when Israel also split and during the time when they were carried off into captivity, there still were prophets that were coming up. There still were people who were claiming they were of God but yet it is interesting because the true prophets always would say what we say is only based on God and the false prophets always said what the leaders wanted to hear and what the people wanted to hear. Isn't it interesting how that often prophecy is not exactly what we want or what we're thinking, but sometimes more what we need and what God expects.
If you'll move then to the New Testament here, it is not strange that even Jesus, after being born and after beginning His life and living and now beginning His ministry, and actually now proclaiming the first gospel sermon, the good news to man, here at the great Sermon on the Mount. We find that one of the things that He addresses again is false prophets. Even in His day as there had been before, there are those who are false prophets. So therefore, He said, "Beware of false prophets, those who come to you," He says there, "in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they're ravenous wolves." Not only here do we want to understand the situation as Jesus now is introducing His new time period, His covenant, His law, we see there in the gospels that Jesus continued to say, "Here is what Moses said, and here is what was under the law, but I say to you, and in the words that I speak (during John 12) someday will judge you, the words that are from the Father directly." So here we find that not only from this period but even after Acts 2 when the church was established that the warning continues to be present. False prophets. Watch out for false prophets.
I want you to notice with me for instance in the book of Acts. We might recall that it was Luke who wrote the book of Acts. We're most familiar with Luke because Luke is the one who gave us also the gospel according to Luke, a physician who was usually very specific in his writings, but here Luke in recording for us some of the information that he no doubt was involved in along with Paul, he tells us something that Paul said to some elders. In fact, if you'll notice there beginning in verse 27 of chapter 20 in the book of Acts, he says this. Paul says, "I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God." Then he exhorts the elders. He says, "So take heed. Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you (what?) overseers." The Holy Spirit had put these shepherds over the church and had made them overseers of this church and he adds there in verse 28, "the church that has been purchased with the blood of Christ." But now I want you to hear verse 29. The very next verse, again after the church is established, now Paul exhorts them. He encourages them. He says, "I have preached the gospel. You stand in it. Encourage them and guide them in it." And after he says, "Stand firm in the church," he says in verse 29, "for I know this, that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you not sparing the flock." He says there is going to be the wolves, the savage wolves who are going to come into the flock and try to destroy it. Does it sound familiar? Remember what we just read back there in Matthew chapter 7, there in verse 15? Beware of what? False prophets who outwardly are looking like sheep. They seem very tame and calm and timid but inwardly are what? Ravenous wolves. Here again, Paul stating the same thing. Then in the next verse, verse 30, he says, "And beware because those wolves aren't going to be visible from outside." They're not going to come among you and say, We're here to destroy. But he says, "They're going to come from inside."
You see that's what makes the false prophet so dangerous. That's what made them so dangerous back in Israel's day because the false prophet wasn't necessarily outside because those outside were clearly seen and when they spoke things false, they would say, "Well that's not of God. That person is not of God." But when people from inside the family of God were false prophets and then they began to speak those things that were contrary to His Will. Guess what. They were far more able to cause them to fall away.
Brethren, there are so many scriptures that we could look at and time certainly is not going to permit us to look at all of them, but I would like to look at one other found in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. There in 2 Corinthians chapter 11, we do find in verse 13 the same idea, the same problem now that has come up, a problem that arises and that really shows them that these false teachers are going to be prevalent. In fact, it mentions there in relationship to it in verse 13 of chapter 11, again 2 Corinthians, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers transforming themselves even into the apostles of Christ." Here do we not only see false prophets, we see those who were claiming to be false apostles. So Paul was spending this entire context saying, "I'm not one of them. What gain did I receive from you? What did I do to get false gain from you? I am not one of the false apostles," Paul said. So here we not only learn that before the church in the day of Moses, but during the time of Christ and after the church was established, the warning has always been, "Watch out! Beware!" Beware of what? False prophets. Not necessarily from without that we're aware of, but from inside. And when they're there, beware because they again look like our brethren. They look like the sheep. They look like the one that we love and that we would want to hug and hold and believe everything that they say, but really inside they are wolves. They're dangerous and ravenous wolves who if they get a chance will tear us apart limb by limb in order that they might get us away from the truth of Jesus Christ. I hope you can see then the great power then of early on when Jesus now was talking to these disciples and He said, "Watch out." He says, "I am a prophet of God. I am from God and you've heard other men like John and those before, but do not listen to false prophets, those among you who claim to be prophets but they are unable to prove that they are prophets."
Then He gives them, I would say basically, we could say a way to tell who is a false prophet and who is not. He gives them some examples and He shows them now, I guess we could say, a bit of a story that they could consider in themselves and really determine, "Is this individual real? Is he for real? Is he from God or is this individual from Satan? Is he a fake?"
If you'll notice there in verse 16, he goes on to say this, "You will know them by their fruits." How do we know a false prophet? Their fruits. Their actions. The things that they say. The things that they teach. For instance, let's say that someone comes to me and they bid me God speed and they say, "I'm of God," and they say something, but yet when we look in the scriptures, it is contrary. Well, that's a good sign that we're dealing with a false prophet, someone who outwardly seems to be of God, who says it with their lips and their speech may even be very flowery, but what they're saying contradicts what God has said. And so here we see that it is the fruit that shows forth what an individual is. He goes on to say then, "Do men then gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?" In other words, if you want a fig, you don't head down to a thorn bush or a rose bush or..., you head to a fig tree, one that is able to produce, that does a good job. And then He gives the further example. He says, "Really because every good tree," verse 17, "bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit." Verse 18, "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear (what?) good fruit." Well it doesn't take a rocket scientist or a farmer or someone who is well-educated in what we might say agricultural things to understand what Jesus is saying here. He is saying that look, if you've got a good plant, a good tree, a good apple tree, it's going to produce good apples and you're going to want to grab one and you're going to want to eat them because they're delicious. They have produced just as they should according to the what the seed was.
But then I want you to notice a bad tree. Have you ever been to a bad orchard or a bad apple tree or a bad...? You look for that one that looks okay, but they're all infested and they've got diseases. They've got worms. Well a bad tree isn't going to bring forth a good, ripe and healthy fruit because a good tree brings forth good and a bad tree brings forth what? Bad. You see again, you know it by its fruit. It doesn't take someone again with a lot of education to look at this apple and see that this is a bad apple off of a bad tree or this is a bad orange off of a... And it doesn't take again a lot of time to figure out that this is a good, ripe banana because it is off of a good banana plant, because our eyes can clearly tell, our taste of the fruit, when we've opened it. All of these things indicate to us that it is a good fruit and it is a good tree. When there are multiple fruits on the tree, it shows again that it is a good healthy tree or a tree again that produces very little. So again, that is how we know. We know by the fruit.
I want you to turn to another verse with me because I think it really helps us to understand even further what is being said here, again Jesus in John chapter 15 spoke in similar terms. In fact, here in verse 1 He says, "I am the vine." That's what Jesus said. "I am the vine." For instance then, if there is a grape vine... Many of us might like grapes and you have a thick grape vine and off of that vine, there are many branches. Well there in verse 1 he says, "I am the vine. My Father is the vinedresser. He is caring for me as the vine and those branches even." Notice verse 2 though. "Every branch," He says, all those disciples whom He is speaking to, all of us who are followers, "every branch in me that does not bear fruit is good for (what?) nothing. It is to be taken away." You know I have a small garden and when I have a tomato plant and there's one maybe branch that is getting infested or it is looking bad or like it is dying what I'll do is I'll pluck it off because I don't want to affect the rest of the plant. That's what it is talking about here. If I've got a branch that is bad, I'm going to get rid of it because I don't want it to destroy all the fruit. But then if you'll go further in the same verse, He says, "And every branch that bears fruit," notice, "He prunes that it may bear more fruit." Well, what about that branch that maybe is doing well on this side but maybe on the other side... Well, you might need to prune it a bit. What about that rose bush? Sometimes we've got to prune those flowers a bit so they might produce even more. So certainly here again we find that a bad or infested or diseased branch we want to get rid of, one that is not producing, one that maybe is producing but maybe needs some help, that needs help, then we prune it. Why? Because the objective is to bring forth more fruit.
Now apply that. Jesus is the vine. We're the branches. If we're infested, if we're not bringing forth good fruit, we're bad branches and we need to be what? Plucked. If we're trying to bring forth some, but yet we maybe are not doing the best we can, maybe we need to be pruned a little bit. But if we're a good healthy branch, praise be to God. You see, that's the example and that's what we should be striving for. He not only states it there, but go on down to verse 5. Again in John 15, He states in verse 5 that "It must and we must bear much fruit." There again in verse 8, He says, "The way we glorify the Father is when we bear (what?) much fruit." You see, then if we back up to Matthew 7 and we read there, "Beware of false prophets that will be among you, who come among you and they look like sheep, but inwardly they're wolves and they're trying to deceive." He says to check them out. Check them out by looking at their fruit. Be fruit inspectors. See if that fruit is good. You know what's going to happen sometimes, we're not going to see it because we're not going to be checking them out. How do we check them out? Do we ask questions? Are we finding out what our brethren believe? Are we allowing people to get up before us or teach us who we don't really know? Or are we asking them to show us in the scripture? Are we asking them what their fruit is to show forth what they truly bear according to what God's Will has said.
Verse 19 there again in our text, Matthew 7, is a very telling verse once again because in verse 19, the scripture says in the words of Jesus, "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." What does that sound like? What we read over in John. The bad branches have to be pruned off, taken off because they will affect others. It states here that the bad ones should be cut down and thrown into the fire. The concept of the parallel as we find in other places like Matthew 25 of the reward for the faithful and the everlasting punishment for those who are unfaithful, who do not do what God has said, the fire, the hell fire, the concept of eternal destruction. Well, that's what He says, "those who are not bearing fruit are good for nothing except being cast into the fire."
But then finally in verse 20, He reconfirms the most beautiful and probably the most comprehensive statement of the entire section here that we are discussing. "And therefore," He says, "according to," in the nutshell, "by their fruits you will know them." Why? Because a good follower of God, who loves and puts Him first and who really has their heart set on God and the best interest of serving God will not do, teach or strive to help us or encourage us to know something that is not from God.
On the other hand, I can know that if someone is good that I can trust them because a good tree is going to bear good, good and good, and even better fruit because they are of God and the love God and they put Him first. Brethren, that is what we must strive for, to be those good fruit and at the same time to inspect the fruit and to be those who in all areas who bear fruit and show ourselves to be productive.
I finally might mention a way that we do bear fruit. One way is the idea that is found there in Galatians, "In the fruit of the Spirit." There are many characteristics that we can show forth, God-like, Christ-like characteristics that will show we are bearing the fruit of Christ. You see, when we do what God has asked, when we show forth God, when we're doing that which is righteous, we bear fruit. And finally, bearing the fruit unto salvation.
God encourages you today if you have not placed yourself in a relationship that is a part of His family, to obey Him. Confess His name. Repent and turn from the sin in your life and be baptized in a watery grave of baptism. Why? That you might wash away your sins, that you might be added to the church and so that you might be a part of the fruit of God, the fruit that is bearing much fruit and more fruit, so that in all things you might praise Him and show yourself not as a false teacher, but as a righteous individual. But then as a righteous one, strive every moment to make sure that everyone you come in contact with is of God because false teachers will destroy the family of God.
Are you willing to inspect the fruit that God has placed before you?
(SONG # 3 - "Let The Beauty Of Jesus be Seen!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this worship to God!
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May we all realize the importance of bearing fruit as Children of God, because only a tree which is truly good and profitable will bring forth as produce as God desires! What type of fruit bearer are you?