Saturday, May 04, 2024

2024.05.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 7:15–29

Read Matthew 7:15–29

Questions from the Scripture text: With what command does Matthew 7:15 begin? Of whom must they beware? To whom do these false prophets come? What do they look like on the outside? But what are they, actually, on the inside? How will we know them (Matthew 7:16)? What rhetorical question illustrates this? What does a good tree produce (Matthew 7:17)? And a bad tree? What can’t a good tree produce (Matthew 7:18)? And a bad tree? What happens to a tree that does not bear good fruit? What else happens in accord with their fruits (Matthew 7:20)? Who will say what to Whom (Matthew 7:21)? What won’t everyone who says that do? Which ones will enter? 

Of what must we beware? Matthew 7:15–29 prepares us for the morning sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these fifteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that we must beware of false prophets and false hope of salvation.

Two sorts of Prophets, Matthew 7:15Matthew 7:28-29. False prophets are attractive. On the outside, they look (and sound!) gentle and friendly. Their words open a wide gate. Their words present a wide path. They might easily gather large churches. We might easily want to listen to them. But what is inside false prophets, and what comes out of their pleasant-sounding mouths, will actually destroy you—will actually lead you to the destruction of Matthew 7:13, the banishment of Matthew 7:23, and the disaster of Matthew 7:27.

The true prophet is not surprised or moved off of the narrow gate or confined/difficult way, when the whole world or church are against him. He bears the fruit of clinging to Christ, no matter what, and his words will proclaim that gate, and that way, to the few who are willing to hear him. He is a true prophet, not only because his words are true, but because his words are Christ’s (Matthew 7:24). He is genuinely sent. He is not his own, and he says things not because he wishes it but because his master says them.

The Lord Jesus was not like their scribes (Matthew 7:29b). He taught with the authority of the One Who gave the Scriptures (verse 29a), so that His hearers were astonished (Matthew 7:28). A true and false prophet may both seem to have this authority, so true prophets must be detected in another way: their fruit. Those who are called and ordained according to Scripture, and whose authoritative preaching comes from a submission to Christ’s authority in the Scripture—the Lord, Who gives the increase, will show what sort of tree they are by giving them fruit.

Two types of Produce, Matthew 7:16-20. A true prophet will be bearing the produce—the fruit—of the true path. He will have gotten there by entering by the true portal, the true gate. His own heart, and therefore his mouth, will be full of Christ’s glory, Christ’s exclusively divine claims, Christ’s exclusively atoning and justifying and saving claims. Because his own feet are on the path, his mouth also will be full of the path of genuine (not scribal/pharisaical/hypocritical) holiness. And this is the fruit that can be “gathered” from him (Matthew 7:16). Not only is the Word producing fruit in his own life, but as a preacher truly sent by Christ, Christ blesses that Word to bear the same fruit in those who are willing to hear him. We trust the God Who sends him, and the God Whose word he preaches, that this God will make his preaching bear good fruit (Matthew 7:18a).

On the other hand, the hearer must not be deceived by the best appearances, intentions, or feelings in hearing a false preacher. That bad tree cannot bear good fruit (Matthew 7:18b). He and those who hear him will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 7:19), so it is of the utmost importance to discern whether his life and ministry are bearing the fruit of holiness.

Two Plights, Matthew 7:21-27. Discerning the true nature of a preacher, or of yourself as a hearer, may be difficult, but it is extremely important that you do so now. For the Lord Jesus warns that many (Matthew 7:22) who are still saying “Lord, Lord” (Matthew 7:21) “in that day” (Matthew 7:22) will be banished from the favorable presence of Christ the enjoyment of God in the kingdom (Matthew 7:23). It is especially those who know to say “in Your Name”—emphatic in the word order of the original all three (!) times—who must pay attention to this warning. If the house of their life is not built upon the foundation (Matthew 7:24) of being known (!) by Christ (Matthew 7:23a), then it will not be built up in holiness but in lawlessness (verse 23b). The false prophet and his hearers are joined by one last group in Matthew 7:26—those who hear a true prophet but do not enter the narrow gate or walk in the confined way. Like the others, these do not keep God’s law from the heart the way that Christ has taught (Matthew 7:23b, cf. Matthew 5:17–48). 

Dear reader, do not suffer eternal disaster. Beware false prophets. Enter by the narrow gate. Hope entirely in Christ’s knowing you (Matthew 5:1–16). And from Him, and by His means, bear the fruit of keeping His law from the heart (Matthew 5:17–48). Having Him as your reward (Matthew 6:1–24). Trusting Father to provide whatever you need (Matthew 6:25–7:12). He sends you preachers to teach you this, and using them, He produces His fruit in your life.

What are some examples of false prophets in our day? What are some things someone who is not growing in holiness might plead “in Your Name” to the Lord? What hope do you have of not ending up like them?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving Yourself to be our righteousness, our forgiveness, our life, and our holiness. Grant that we would receive and heed only those whom You have sent, and use Your Word to build us upon Yourself and fit us for glory, we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP6 “Be Gracious, LORD” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

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