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JAN

17

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Bible Study
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Recognizing God's Messengers

          “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:15-20 NKJV).

 

            God’s word warns constantly about the danger of listening to false teachers (Matthew 7:15; Colossians 2:8; II John 1:9-11). In the gospel written by Matthew, Jesus is quoted and tells the multitude that such prophets may appear to be righteous but their purpose is to destroy like ravening wolves. Paul wrote to the brethren at Corinth stating, “But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (II Corinthians 11:12-15). Following that which is contrary to God’s word will cost one his soul. Paul wrote, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

 

            Jesus compared religious teachers, false prophets to trees bearing fruit. He said that thorn bushes do not bear grapes, neither would could thistles bear figs. As a child I learned that untended fruit trees will not bear much, if any, fruit. If the tree became sickly the fruit would not be good and could be filled with things which corrupt it. The tree always bore the fruit it was created to bear and no other. Jesus states that the fruit tells the story of what the tree will bear. In a world with diverse spiritual teachers and messages one can still recognize that which comes from God. Jesus stated, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). Paul was shocked at the condition of the situation at Galatia. He wrote the brethren stating, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-9 NKJV). Later in the letter he told the brethren that such a departure would cause the death of Christ to have no effect in saving their souls and that in following such they had fallen from the saving grace of the Lord (Galatians 5:4).

 

            Having warned the multitude concerning the false teachers, Jesus told them that it was necessary that the will of God be obeyed if they wanted to go to heaven. He stated, “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).

 

            Paul told the brethren that they were carnal, worldly, in their thinking when they tried to embrace the names of men instead of what the Lord commanded (I Corinthians 3:1-8). When the pure word of God is preached there is one fruit which is added, by the Lord, to His church (Matthew 7:20; Acts 2:41-46). Paul had already told them the importance of being one in mind and voice. He stated, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Corinthians 1:10). Paul found it to be appalling when the brethren held allegiance to the men who taught them, forgetting that it was Christ who died for them. He stated, “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?” (I Corinthians 3:3-4). 

 

            At no point in the revealing of the word did God condone the use of the names and doctrines of men as a way to heaven. Paul did not want men to attach themselves to their teachers: the church of Paul; the church of Apollos; the church of Cephas; but they were to belong only to Christ (I Corinthians 1:12-13; 3:7-11). Paul told the brethren at Rome “Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16).

 

            Brethren, if one cannot get the name right, can he get anything else right in serving God (Matthew 7:15-23)? How far can one deviate from the inspired word and still have salvation? James wrote, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Paul told Timothy that man could only be approved by the Lord through His inspired word, (II Timothy 3:16-17). If the religious world is to be saved it must return to and remain true to God and His word. Jesus stated, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). Will He know us on that great judgment day (Matthew 7:21-23)?

 

                                                                                                                        - - PER