Feb 242017
 

I-Never-Knew-You.001On 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 mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. (Matthew 7:22-23)

This has to be, for me, one of the scariest passages in the whole bible. The people that Jesus is describing sound very much like Christians. They certainly think they are doing OK and on the right side of Jesus.

This passage raises at least a couple of questions. Firstly, if these people can do ‘mighty works’ and yet Jesus still rejects them, what hope do I have? Secondly, is Jesus opening up the possibility of somebody ‘losing’ their salvation?

Let’s examine the passage in greater detail.

Jesus starts with the phrase ‘on that day’. It seems clear that He is referring to the final judgement also called ‘the day of the Lord’. This is mentioned many times in the bible. It was alluded to on many occasions in the Old Testament:

Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! (Isaiah 13:6)

Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes. (Joel 1:15)

And then in the New Testament

because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)

And it is clear that Jesus will be the one sitting on the judgement seat

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom (2 Timothy 4:1)

It is also clear that every person that has ever lived will receive judgement

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement (Hebrews 9:27)

The book of Revelation has the description of what this judgement will be like;

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)

So why is Jesus speaking against these people so strongly and warning them of this impending judgement?

Jesus has just finished speaking about false prophets (those who preach a different and distorted gospel) and last week we looked at His insistence that true believers are those who do the father’s will.

And do you remember what doing the father’s will is? Was it doing great works and proving how ‘holy’ we can be? No! It was simply trusting in the finished work of Christ. His death burial and resurrection and how it is all sufficient for salvation. Repentance and faith with nothing added to it.

This reveals to us what Jesus is talking about in today’s passage. The people who came to Him are calling Him Lord but they have not actually made Him Lord of their lives. They are not doing the father’s will. They are hoping to get into heaven on their own good works. All of their pleading is based on what they have done. Sure, they have ‘sugar coated’ it all up with the veneer of doing it all for Jesus but actually what they are saying is “look at all the good things we have done, surely that’s got to be worth something” and the sad thing is, they are saying it to Jesus. No wonder He is so angry.

Jesus paid the ultimate price by going to the cross and doing everything for us, because there was nothing that we could do. Our own righteousness (for salvation) is described in the book of Isaiah as being like ‘filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:6)

So what these people are actually saying to Jesus is that His sacrifice wasn’t quite enough. They needed to ‘top it up’ a little bit. How hideous! No wonder Jesus gives such a sober warning.

I don’t believe these people were actually Christians, because they never understood salvation and where it comes from. Jesus clarifies this when he says “I never knew you” He didn’t say “I used to know you and then you got too proud” No, they were never saved in the first place.

True Christians will only have one plea when they stand before the judgement seat of Christ and that is to humbly acknowledge that Jesus did it all.

I’ll leave you today with a couple of lines from that great hymn ‘rock of ages’ which sums it all up very nicely.

Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling. Naked come to thee for dress, helpless, look to thee for grace. Vile I to the fountain fly, wash me saviour, or I die

 February 24, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm The sermon on the mount 2 Responses »
Feb 172017
 

Repentance and faithNot everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

Jesus is now very close to the end of His most famous of sermons, ‘The sermon on the mount’ and He has been summarising what a true believer is like.

We looked recently at false prophets and how they can appear to be true believers but are actually described as ‘wolves in sheep’s’ clothing. I’m not sure if they truly believe they are Christians or not, but they are obviously preaching a different gospel to the one that Jesus taught.

Today, we start to look at people who probably think they are Christians, but the focus of who they are trusting in is wrong.

We know that they think they are Christians because they come to Jesus saying “Lord, Lord.” They think that they have made Him the Lord of their lives.

This can be quite troubling to us because on the surface it could suggest we could somehow lose our salvation or not do enough to warrant getting into heaven, but as you will see, the opposite is true.

The key point to understanding what Jesus is talking about is understanding what He means by ‘doing the father’s will.’

So what is the father’s will?

In John 6:28 the people ask Jesus “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” He replies in the very next verse. Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29) and then He explains further in verse 40 of the same chapter:

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:40)

This is the simple gospel of repentance and faith, We bring nothing to the contract, we simply acknowledge what Jesus has done and trust in Him for our salvation. That is what the father wills for us and by believing and trusting in Jesus we are doing the father’s will. So simple that even a small child can understand.

Next week we will look at the sobering second part of this paragraph where Jesus condemns those who somehow think they can earn this salvation through their good works.

 February 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm The sermon on the mount No Responses »
Feb 102017
 

False prophets and their fruitBeware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognise them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognise them by their fruits. (Matthew 7: 15-20)

Last week we started looking at the subject of ‘false prophets’ that Jesus is warning us about in this passage. We looked at what a false prophet is – someone who alters or distorts the truth of God’s word.

This week, as promised, I’m going to look at their ‘fruit’ and I’m not talking about oranges, apples and bananas, although He did mention grapes and figs!

It can be very difficult, from a distance, to know whether the fruit of a tree is bad or not. So also, in the church and from a distance, a false prophet can appear as a true prophet.

For such men are false prophets, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

A deceitful person can only hide their true character for so long, eventually their standards and attitude will show through in their actions and this is the fruit that Jesus is talking about.

John the Baptist recognised the fruit of pride in the religious leaders and Pharisees when he said “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” (Luke 3:8) Their words and actions did not match up to their assertion that they loved God.

As I said last week, there are various warnings in the Old & New Testaments about false prophets especially in 1 & 2 Peter. There are two main ways you can recognise a false prophet; by their doctrine and by their character:

False prophet’s doctrine

True teaching is of course based firmly on the bible. False teachers might refer to bible passages but only so they can twist their message and wrap it with an air of truth.

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:16)

And in their greed they will exploit with false words (2 Peter 2:3)

They do not defend or proclaim God’s word but deny it

Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord….. For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? (Jeremiah 23:16, 18)

They tell people what they want to hear as opposed to true prophets who speak only what God says no matter how unpopular that may be (The narrow gate!). King Jehoshaphat wanted the prophet Micaiah to be like all the other false prophets who only spoke favourably…. But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak.” (1 Kings 22:14)

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

That’s why false prophets are so popular.

Another aspect of false teachers is they refuse to keep Jesus central. They either hardly mention Him or keep him right on the periphery.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the master who bought them. (2 Peter 2:1)

False prophets will not present a gospel of grace but increasing bondage to anyone who follow their ways. We must learn to discern between conviction and condemnation. Conviction is from the Holy Spirit and He leads a clear way out which will lead to joy and freedom. A false prophet will leave you feeling trapped, burdened and the feeling that there is no escape. In other words ‘in bondage’.

They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved (2 Peter 2:19)

False prophet’s character

The fruit of the true believer is the fruit of the Holy Spirit

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

2 Peter paints a different picture of what a false prophet exhibits;

Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones (v10)

But these like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant (v12)

They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children (v14)

They are scoffers and follow their own sinful desires (2 Peter 3:3)

I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers so that no-one turns from evil (Jeremiah 23:14)

Give it time and a false prophet will always expose himself as false. The rotten fruit will always rise to the surface. The more time you spend in God’s presence and soaking yourself in His word, the easier it will be to spot the false prophet. If you are then not quite sure, ask a godly older brother or sister who you trust. Discernment like that should really be for the body of Christ as a whole as we defend the truth together.

 February 10, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm The sermon on the mount No Responses »
Feb 032017
 

False prophetsBeware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15)

There are a lot of advantages to the easy access we have these days to all sorts of preaching, ministries and teaching material on the internet. The verb ‘to google’ is in everyday vocabulary and if we want to know something about the bible we just type our question into Google (or search engine of choice) and hit the enter key.

That’s where the trouble starts!

The internet is littered with people who will have all sorts of opinions on every subject under the sun. As you can imagine, many of these would come under the category of ‘false prophet’. We have to be very careful.

I don’t believe that we are just talking about ‘prophecy’ specifically, but anyone who would try to change or manipulate the word of God.

False prophets, of course, are not a modern invention that didn’t appear before the World Wide Web. They have been around from the beginning and will always appear when truth is being proclaimed and people are serious about spreading God’s word. The bible has many warnings (Old & New Testaments) about people who would seek to deceive God’s people.

For the rest of this blog I just want to help you understand what a false prophet is and how to avoid them. Next week we will look at the ‘fruit’ they produce.

· False prophets will often say what you want to hear

For the time is coming when people will not endure soundteaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

They will play upon people’s fears or pander to their greed. They are certainly not interested in the narrow way we talked about last week. Their teaching is directed squarely at the broad, comfortable way.

· False prophets are not always easy to spot. This passage describes them as a “Wolf in Sheep’s clothing” They look like cuddly Sheep! The infamous false prophets and cult leaders such as; Jim Jones, David Koresh etc are easy to spot. It is the subtle ones that can be the most dangerous. We will discuss the ‘fruit’ they produce next week, which helps make them easier to detect.

· They can often wrap their lies in a veneer of truth. I heard it described as ‘lying meat wrapped up in a skin of truth. The hardest ones to spot are the ones with a fair amount of truth mixed in. It can all sound very spiritual.

· This all suggests that the more we understand the truth, the more we search the scriptures like the Bereans did (Acts 17:11), the more we examine the word of God, the better equipped we will be to uncover the counterfeit.

· Sometimes good people get things wrong and false prophets now and again get things right. All the more reason to judge in a humble and gracious way as we looked at a few weeks ago http://adrianpursglove.com/judged-by-your-own-standards/

· Jesus said “beware” or “be on your guard”. We should expect false prophets to move among us, because the devil hates the truth and if that is what is being preached he will send his agents to try and distort it so that it becomes ineffective.

· If someone is on the internet, it is very difficult to see what they are really like. We can’t see how they behave to their wife, when the cameras are off them, or how they deal with other people. God gave the local church as the expression of His body on earth. Our Church leaders should be the main ones providing us with spiritual nourishment. We can see much closer into their lives and examine the fruit.

Next week I will talk some more about the sort of fruit that false prophets will exhibit.

 February 3, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm The sermon on the mount No Responses »