October 24, 2010
Sermon # 28,
V. 12, seems to be a strange verse to add to this encouragement to pray for grace, but I think it must be included. V. 12 opens with Therefore. The therefore of v. 12 connects it with the previous verses.
This verse pretty well defines itself, so I will only give a few points.
First, it cannot mean that the Law and the Prophets are now void and replaced by the "Golden Rule". That is, I want sin overlooked in my life, so I will overlook sin in his life.
I heard Rushdoony on a tape say that prosecutes have a problem getting convictions because juries identify with the accused. They hope someone would have mercy on them, so they have mercy on the accused.
In other words, I cannot overlook sin in others hoping they will overlook sin in me.
Second, the Lord is simply bringing forward the sum total of the Old Testament law which was sealed with the blood of bulls and goats, into the New Testament which is sealed with his own blood.
Lev 19:18, Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.
Therefore, this verse cannot be dismissed lightly. It not only sums up the Lord's Sermon on the Mount, but it sums up the entire law and prophets.
Third, this verse is a practical application of the law and prophets. With just these very few words, the Lord told us in no uncertain terms how to apply the law into society around us.
Fourth, the Lord told us of the privilege of free and open access to the Father, and reveled God's blessings to his obedient people.
V. 12 tells us that our basic responsibility is to do good within our sphere of influence.
This verse tells us that we are to pass on the good we have received of the Father.
Ga 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (1 Ti 6:18, Heb 13:16, Jas 4:17, 1 Pe 3:11, Mt 5:44,.)
Fifth, we can expect to reap what we sow in our attitude toward others. Col 3:12
Eph 6:8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether [he be] bond or free.
If we demand perfection in others, perfection will be demanded of us. On the other hand, it is wrong to not expect righteousness in others and have that expected of us.
Sixth, it dose not say "Treat others as they have treated you." Rather, it says, "Treat others as you would have them treat you." If anything requires grace to accomplish, this law of the Kingdom does.
Seventh, the order of our Lord's command here: others first, then self. You know that I cannot get this close without hitting it: this is a clear statement against self-love and self-esteem.
Php 2:3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Eighth, finally, the "Golden Rule" not only applies to our actions toward others, but it covers our inner thoughts and attitudes: Mat 5 (27ff) dealt with the heart.
We live in a world intent upon gaining their personal rights, yet it has no regard for the rights of others. When the law of Matthew 7:21 fails to rule in the church, what can we expect from those outside the church?
There are those who demand prompt payment, yet do not pay promptly.
There are those who hate being slandered, yet slander others.
There are those who want friends to sympathize with them, yet are indifferent toward others.
There are those who expect others to treat them with kindness and respect, but fail to treat others the same.
I suppose one of the worst examples is those who demand freedom of speech and toleration, such as the sodomites and evolutionists, yet will not permit any opposition to their point of view. The education establishment demanded academic freedom to promote their ungodly agenda. But now they are in control, and will not allow any kind of academic freedom.
How can we treat others as we desire to be treated? How can we properly forgive? When is fellowship to be restored? Does all things really mean all things? The law called for restitution and many times even death against the sinner. When is what called for? Thus vv. 7-11, instruct the teachers of God's word to seek God's grace to be able to preform proper judgment and to seek God's grace to do unto others what we would have them do unto us.
The rest of the chapter, vv. 13-27, presents a couple more needs of grace: first, grace for salvation (vv. 21-23), and second, grace for obedience (vv. 24-27)
The emphasis of vv. 7-12 is on grace. The purpose of God's grace is so we can faithfully see, know and fulfill our duties to God and to our fellow man. The Lord assures His disciples in particular and Christians in general that sufficient grace will be given when needed. But grace is dependant upon heart-felt, sincere prayer.
Let me start with a few points from that message from Matthew 7:13ff.
First, the Sermon's context is the Old Testament law and prophets.
Second, the Sermon is directed to his disciples, though it applies to all of his followers.
Third, the context of the period of time in which He spoke is what caught my attention.
In his message, Christ was speaking in the context of the faith once delivered to the Old Testament saints, Jude 3. The false prophets were teaching contrary to the Old Testament faith. Though they appeared true and honest, they had laid aside that Old Testament faith for their traditions handed down by the elders. The false prophets abounded, corrupting the faith for their own use, power and profit. They were leading many sincere "seekers of God" to destruction.
Isaiah 53 is one of the clearest presentations of the Gospel of Christ in Scripture.
Fourth, Christ is teaching strong and offensive doctrine. V. 28.
Jude 3-7 fits here:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness (basically means lawlessness), and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (II Peter 2 says about the same thing.)
There are several points from Jude worth perusing, but we will only look at one.
We live in a terrible day of abandonment of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation with its eternal security had been turned into an excuse for lawlessness by many Christian leaders, as well as by individual Christians.
Consistent Biblical Christianity is hard to find today.
God's judgment is not only coming, but it is here. Sodom and Gomorrha were destroyed for want of righteousness. Regardless of what we are led to believe, God's answer for the evil was/is not to contend for the Constitution (&c., though these things may be good). Rather, the Lord's answer for the overwhelming flood of evil at the start of the 21st century is to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
The corruption has slowly taken over the places of religious authority, and the religious leaders have come in as members of God's flock, sheep. Jude tells us that they were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our lord Jesus Christ. Which is a study in itself, but not today.
Christ came both explaining that faith once delivered to the Old Testament saints, and calling people to return to it. He exposed the false prophets who looked like sheep. We will not go into it, but God is the one who raises up false prophets. 1 Corinthians 11:19.
In Deuteronomy 13, though God is the one who raised up the false prophet, the false prophet was still to be stoned for his false words.
The Word of God, as he does today, exposed them as liars, murderers and children of the devil. John 8:44. He striped them of their deception and power, creating a great conflict between himself and them.
Not only did our Lord's message create problems with the religious people of his day, but it creates problems with "religionists" today. His words were so strong against the false prophets who looked like sheep, that they killed him.
Let us look at the Lord's words here.
1) There are two paths. One path is very wide and easy to travel. The other path is quite small, narrow and difficult to follow.
2) There are two gates. Gate speaks of a means of entrance (or exit) at the end of a path. One is a large gate to accommodate the many who follow the wide, easy path. The other is a small gate to accommodate the few who find the narrow, difficult path.
3) There are two endings behind the two gates. At the end of the wide, easy path is the wide gate that has destruction behind it. At the end of the narrow, difficult path is the narrow gate that has life behind it.
4) There are two numbers of people traveling the two paths. By that, I mean that the wide path has many travelers; its width and ease of travel appeals to vast multitudes, so its gate is wide to accommodate its many travelers. On the other hand, the narrow, difficult gate must be revealed by the Spirit, and is revealed to only a few people. So this gate is narrow to accommodate its few travelers. (He probably said few because he meant few.)
To speculate on the final number in paradise vs the final number in torment is just that, speculation.
5) There are two types of prophets along the way, vv. 15-20. I can imagine these prophets standing along each path, encouraging the people toward destruction. Many of those prophets do not realize they are false.
Many of the encouraging words along the way to destruction seem to come from fellow sheep, but within they are ravening wolves. That is, they are thieves, robbers and extortioners, and they find great wealth in encouraging people along the broad way. They are extremely dangerous because they look and sound just like the Lord's sheep, as they tell the people, "Don't worry. Be happy. Enjoy life", and the Lord said, Beware of these leaders.
The broad way is easily found and traveled by people.
And probably some along the narrow way look and even act like wolves, but are sheep, as they bite and devour one another.
Galatians 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
Vv. 21-23, the broad way is not only appealing, but hard to get off of. At times, it has all the same markings as does the narrow path, including prophets long the was proclaiming "Truth" in the name of the Lord, v. 22.
There are travelers on the wrong path who are being urged on in the name of the Lord. They believe they are on a narrow and difficult path of travel, and stand for the same things as those on the proper path. They suffer the same adversities for the name of Christ as the ones on the proper path, and assume they are going toward the gate of life.
Please note that we are not downplaying the importance of the Sovereignty of God in any way. Jesus is both Lord and Christ. Therefore, one can stand for the Sovereignty of God yet not be saved. On the other hand, one cannot be saved without standing for the Sovereignty of God. The following will emphasize the Christ part of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it is not meant to undermine the importance of the Lord (Sovereignty of God) part of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The problem is, of course, that when they get to the end of the difficult path, they find they are at the door of destruction, Matthew 7:23.
"After all," their reasoning may go, "Are we not suffering persecution for the Lord's sake just as He said we would? Are not our prophets proclaiming the name of the Lord?" Remember, the ungodly hate anything resembling the law of God, regardless of the spiritual condition of those who try to follow it. Psalms 2.
Therefore, any person who professes and lives God's truth as revealed in His law-word to any degree will suffer the wrath of the ungodly whether the sufferer is "saved" or not.
Furthermore, the ungodly "Empire Builders" despise any who will not submit to their desires, whether the "rebel" is a "Christian" or "Moslem." If we say that persecution proves that one is on the proper path, we must say that the Moslems (Iraqi) killed by the "Empire Builders" and the Mormons killed for polygamy were on the right path. The ungodly are against all who will not submit to their "Empire" schemes.
THE CALLING OF SATAN
Only a fool would think that man's enemy and Master Deceiver would not have a path imitating the narrow path, a false path leading to his gate of destruction, if he lives up to his calling at all.
The calling of Satan is interesting enough to develop. There were & are elect angels, 1 Tim 5:21. Furthermore, Christ was slain in eternity past before the foundation of the world:
1 Peter 1:19-21, But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
The saints were called in eternity past:
Eph 1:3-6, Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Re 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Re 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
And finally, just as the saints were called before the foundation of the world, Christ was slain before the foundation of the world, Satan's purpose and calling was established before the foundation of the world, so was the purpose and calling of false prophets established before the foundation of the world.
Therefore, we must conclude that Satan's purpose ("calling") was established before his creation.
Satan's calling was/is to corrupt the Truth. As he presents an imitation of the Truth, he exalts God's marvelous wisdom. God's wisdom is revealed in time and eternity for all creation to see in His protection of a people from the purpose of Satan:
Eph 3:8-12 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
Christ warned of two gates: one opens to destruction, the other opens to life, vv. 13, 14. Christ warned of false prophets disguised as sheep. Thus the purpose of false prophets is to corrupt the way of life and lead people contrary to the way of life. The proper way is very narrow, and, in our Lord's words, only a few people find it. ("Brother Need, you are sure narrow when you say there is only one way of life: faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ." And I have had folks tell me that they left my church in Indiana for that very reason.)
V. 15, beware... they sound and look like truth, so look closely. They can be recognized by their works. But their works are basically the same as the true prophets. So now what?
Jude clears up the difficulty, v. 3:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares...
The false prophets undermine the faith which was once delivered unto the Old Testament saints.
When we trace that faith back to its deliverance to the saints by the Lord, we can identify the false prophets and the faith for which we are to contend. Paul tells us of the faith as it was delivered to Abraham:
Romans 4:16 Therefore [it is] of faith, that [it might be] by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, [even] God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
John 8. (All of the chapter, but notice especially v. 39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. & v. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.)
Obviously, the basic faith to contend for is faith in the finished work of Lord Jesus Christ. Though the faith was delivered to Adam, it becomes clear with Saint Abraham.
The message of the false prophet reveals the truth about him: E.g., By their fruit ye shall know them. Or we can say, "By their message, by their own words, you can recognize the false prophets." David said, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee..., 2 Sam 1:16. The Lord can say the same to those traveling the destructive path: Thy blood be upon thy head; for the mouth of the false prophet revealed the truth about the path you were traveling.
Word's reveal truth: False prophets teach that one can enter the gate of life through baptism, even by the Roman baptism of infants, through prayer ("Ask Jesus into your heart" ["I'm saved because I prayed and asked Jesus into my hearth," or "I asked the Lord to save me"] &c), through church attendance, through good works, through obedience to the proper set of laws and/or through numerous other methods (pathways).
The false prophets teach that it is not necessary to know and understand that the way of life is only through faith in the finished work of Christ; rather, one can enter the gate of life through other means. They continually pervert the right ways of the Lord, troubling the church as they adulterate the proper message of salvation. Acts 13:10, Galatians 1:6, 7.
There is another important point in the faith once delivered to the saint worth mentioning: Galatians 3:29 And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Though not essential for salvation, Paul points out that the proper faith delivered to Saint Abraham involves the truth about Abraham's seed. All who are in Christ by faith in His finished work are Abraham's seed.
Our conclusion then is this:
The answer for the problems we face is given to us by the Lord through Jude, viz., that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the Old Testament saints. That faith which was once delivered is basically hearing, understanding and obeying the gospel of the substitutionary, redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ for the guilty sinner, as revealed in the sacrificial laws given by Moses.
There are certainly other areas of the faith which must be contended for (e.g., Sovereignty, the inspirited Word of God, virgin birth, &c.), but the basic contending must be over salvation. For without salvation all else is useless.
It sure appears to the natural understanding that contending for the faith once delivered to the saints is not sufficient to confront the overwhelming flood of evil at the end of the 20th century, but that is the command given us by the Word of God Himself through Jude.
Certainly, we should contend for the Constitution, but that will not solve the problems we face. It is only by contending for the faith once delivered to the saints.
We must contend against the certain men crept in unawares those false prophets who have very effectively perverted the gospel away from hearing, understanding and faith in the redemptive work of Christ. Ephesians 1:12, 13.
The false prophets have made the Word of God of none effect with their effective use of men's wisdom and traditions. ("This is the way it seems it should be.")
Their true sounding, sincere message has leaves vast multitude of mankind on its way to the wide gate of destruction.
Is this not the problem Christ faced in Matthew 7:13-23?
We looked at this passage a few weeks ago, so we will not spend much time on it now. I just want to mention a couple points as we quickly pass over it. Let's look at the opening and closing of this thought, but in doing so, let's not overlook the context [which actually runs from v. 7-27].
The Lord as a true prophet of God, offers man a choice,
Jer 21:8 And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.
This passage offers man a choice: a choice between life and death. The wise man urged us to Ponder the path of thy feet, Pro 4:26. Christ continues the choice and the injunction.
The Lord teaches that there are two things that will prevent one from traveling the narrow path: A) trust in riches, Mark 10:24, and B) love of honour, Jn 5:44.
Far from teaching that the attainment of heaven is a simple matter, the Lord insisted that such attainment was very difficult. Mat 5:29, 30: cherished lust must be cast away (pluck out the eye), and beloved idols destroyed (right hand cut off). Christ does not promise His followers a smooth voyage and easy living; rather, He promises great turbulence, storms and winds. The narrow path which leads to life is not one of ease and pleasantries; it is not one of roses, but of thorns and briars which cut and tear the flesh. The path toward life is one away from self-confidence and self-sufficiency. The Lord warns those who would seek heaven to count the cost, Luke 14:28.
By life is meant that glorious state of unclouded fellowship with God, the heart's being satisfied with Him. Life realizes His unspeakable excellency and the fullness of joy there is in His immediate presence. (Pink, 335)
1) The Lord opens the thought with the command,Enter ye in... The implication is that man is to search for the proper gate.
2) Then the Lord closes this thought with and few there be that find it. The word find overwhelmingly speaks of finding something after searching diligently for it:
FIND Thayer, "1. prop, to come upon, hit upon, to meet with; a.after searching, to find a thing sought..."
Mt 7:14; xiii. 46; xviii. 13 [both passages speak of the Saviour seeking and finding man]
Lk xxiv. 3; Jn x. 9 [man seeking and finding the Saviour]
The same basic word is used in Mat 7:7, 8 of the person who does not give up in his search.
There are several implications from vv. 13, 14:
A) The vast majority of people are on their way to destruction. I am reminded of a fast-flowing, very broad river [maybe like the Nigra River rushing toward the falls] sweeping everything that is in its path in its swift current. In the early stages of the river, the current is not so swift and it is easily broken away from. But the closer to the falls, the swifter the current and the harder it is to break loose from.
This is very much like life. The younger a person is, the easer it is for them to depart from the way that leads to destruction. But the older the person becomes, the more difficult it is to make that break.
The vast portion of humanity is rushing swiftly towards destruction, and it is sweeping everyone in its path with it.
B) It is possible to escape from the swift current that is headed for destruction, but it is not easy. In fact, it is impossible to escape unless there is divine intervention.
C) It requires diligent work, or searching, to avoid the destruction. Again, the thought would be like a swimmer seeking to break free of the current.
D) Then our Lord tells us that along the way there are many false prophets which offer hope for escaping destruction. There are many who are caught up in the swift current who see the destruction and who want out.
E) There are many false prophets along the way who offer hope, but that hope is not based in trusting Christ. Sad to say, the major false hope that is offered today by the false prophets is psychology. The false prophets are easily recognized by their message. Their hope is based in human experience, not in the Word of God.
I could not count the times that people have expressed an interest in the Lord of the Bible and almost immediately a false teacher appears on their doorstep or on their TV tube.
This leaves us with some conclusions:
1) not everyone that searches and thinks they have found the right way, have found the truth, vv. 21-23.
2) The Lord gives us 4 seeds in Mat 13:18-23. I believe the evidence is that only one of the four was saved. The Greatest Preacher Who every walked on earth among men only had one in four respond properly to the gospel. How many fewer do we have today?
3) the Lord commands to search for the proper gate. If one has the desire to search for the proper gate, the Spirit of Grace has given that desire.
4) the Lord tells all who have a desire to seek salvation to keep seeking until they find it. The way is open to those who seek. Today, if you have any desire at all toward the Lord, then you need to do everything within your power to pursue that desire.
The number who have enough determination to seek until they find the way is very small: The Lord says, Few there be that find it. The door is impossible to find without the illuminating light of God's Spirit.
For detailed study, See True or False document.
The warning against false prophets
V. 15, Beware of false prophets...
This 6 verse section refers to the false prophets, wolves in sheep's clothing. The Lord spent enough time on the subject in His short message (of 109 verses) to show us the seriousness of the subject. Our Lord's words here, directed to His disciples, are not something to be passed over lightly. His words present us with a problem, viz., identification. These prophets look, act, smell and sound exactly like the true prophets, but inside they are ravening wolves. Zech 13:4 tells us that the false prophets dress as a true prophet in order to deceive.
It is important to note that false prophets throughout Scripture propertied to speak for the Lord God. Thus someone just speaking from observation, &c. would not be considered a false prophet. Basically, the false prophet has two messages: salvation by works and salvation without works. Of course, the Romanists offer salvation apart from total dependance upon the work of Christ. They offer salvation through church rites and rituals. On the other hand, the salvation-without-works group offers salvation to all who will pray this prayer. They offer salvation without genuine repentance from dead works and turning to the word of God for their every rule of action.
The work of Christ in my heart makes me a new creature in Him, 2 Cor 5:17. That new creature despises sin, which is a violation of the law. That new creature flees from the love of the world, 1 Jn 2:15. That new creature adores lawlessness; it fully surrenders to the Lordship of Christ, Mat 11:29; it endures tot he end in sound doctrine, 1 Tim 4:16; it loves God, Mat 24:12, 13; it seeks the way of holiness and all good works, Heb 3:15. The new creation joyfully follows the steps, 1 Pe 2:21. The way to heaven is the path of holiness.
false <5578> prophets <5578>... the two words are used together:
Mt 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Mt 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Mr 13:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect.
Though the Lord's warnings refer primarily to the false prophets that would arise during the siege before the final destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, 67-70 AD, His warning applies for all time. The Lord attributes to the false prophets power to show great signs and do great wonders. Everything about their person said they were genuine, sincere prophets of God. (In fact, note Mat 7:22: the false prophets themselves were convinced of their genuineness based upon their ability to do great signs and wonders.)
We will note here and develop latter that false prophets in Scripture seem to arise in their greatest number and influence just before a time God's judgment against the sins of His people. (we will find in the OT account that the purpose of the false prophets was to keep God's sinful people happy in their sin so He could judge the sin.) The false prophet offers salvation on cheeper terms, to make the gate wider and the way to heaven broader than did Christ and His apostles. Furthermore, false prophets spoke primarily to the Lord's people.
Let us mention a few more points about false prophets:
1) There is a very close connection between sorcery and false prophets (the connection is because every other NT use of the term false prophet is in the context of perverting Word of God in the name of "God" for the advantage of the prophet). The context of Acts 13:6 (...a certain sorcerer, a false prophet...), vv. 6-11, defines sorcery in that case as demonic. The sorcerer sought to pervert the right ways of the Lord. Thus as false prophets, who speak pleasant words to the people when they should be speaking "turn or burn" ("peace peace when there is no peace," &c.), rise to prominence, so does sorcery. Sorcery and perversion of the right ways of the Lord go hand in hand, even though the perversion takes place under the guise of preaching the Bible. Thus because the right ways of the Lord are being perverted in the pulpit, we see the modern rise of open demonic activity: e.g., "We preach the Bible," but how many are practicing sorcery by perverting the right ways of the Lord?
2) The false prophets will not do their dastardly work openly. Furthermore, they will vehemently deny their actual leaning. (Mt 7:22, many are good, sincere men; they are totally convinced they are right, but their goodness does not spear them from destruction.) 2 Pe 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
3) They are so effective, convincing and true appearing that only the Divine Word and supernatural Spirit of God can separate their lies from the truth, Heb 4:12. Furthermore, their effectiveness is seen in the fact that only the "elect" are spared by God from their doctrine, Mat 24:24. 1 Jo 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
4) Of course, we should mention the final abode of the false prophets: Mat 7:23; Re 16:13; 19:20; 20:10.
5) The motives of the false prophets is to obtain for themselves something under false pretence. In the case before us, they pretend to be from God because of the power, prestige and/or money that is obtainable. But again, they may well be sincere, but deceived, men doing their best. We will see from the OT that they are raised up by God for a purpose. ravening... the word refers to a robber; it is translated extortioner elsewhere:
1 Co 5:10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 1 Co 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 1 Co 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
6) Though the "Church Age" will be characterized by the rise and prominence of false prophets, they really are no more prevalent than they were in OT Israel. wolves... is a term used for cruel, greedy, rapacious, destructive men.
Mt 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Lu 10:3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Joh 10:12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. Ac 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
7) The Lord identifies the NT false prophets with the OT false prophets. Lu 6:26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. In other words, when the Gospel of Christ, the Prince of Peace, is unoffensive to all, it is a sign that the speaker is a false prophet. (Note the context of Luke 6:24 is almost identical to Matthew's record of the Sermon on the Mount.)
The Lord Jesus says Beware of false prophets... Though the Word of God expands a little on His statement, vv. 15-20, we obtain the true weight and significance of His statement from the OT.
Our Lord's warning is based upon the Law as He gave it to Moses, Deut 13:1-5.
This is an extremely strong passage which we do not really want to admit is present.
1) the Lord is the one who raises up this false prophet.
2) the Lord is the one who causes this false prophet to prosper.
3) the Lord's purpose in allowing the false prophet to prosper is to see if His people will follow the word of God over experience &/or the nice sounding message of the false prophet.
Thus we can be assured that those who profess to love the world of God and who profess to exalt the word of God over everything else will be tested. They profess to have faith in the word of God, so the Lord tries that faith.
The Lord will send along good men with good stories and experiences. The Lord will allow these men to prosper. These false prophets recognize and address the problems of the day. But there will be something sadly lacking in their message of hope. It will be void of the word of God. These fine sounding men will present human experience for encouragement rather than the word of God, and they will lead vast numbers of people astray.
Jer 23:16, the false prophets here assured the people that everything was OKay, and the people had nothing to worry about.
Rom 16:17, the false prophets taught a doctrine contrary to what Paul taught.
Eph 5:6, the false prophets presented a salvation that required no repentance and turning from sin.
Col 2:8, Paul gave one of his strongest warnings against the message of the false prophets: worldly philosophy.
2 Pe 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
1 Jo 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Try the spirits... How do we know whether they are of God? The answer is clearly given through Moses, viz., do they base their message in the word of God or in human experience and wisdom? Does their message center in the word of God? Do they confront the individual with the total of God's Word and man's responsibility to His Word for the answer to his ills, or do they confront the individual with human experiences?
The most dangerous false prophets are found within the church; they are wolves in sheep's clothing. Their message is one that destroys the very basic premise of Christianity, viz., that all men are sinners and the only hope is repentance and turning from sin. These wolves exalt human experience to encourage their hears to continue on in their (the hearers') situations and to solve man's ills. The human experience emphasized may be in a "Christian" context, but the false prophet fails to emphasize the word of God. Thus he is secular humanists to the core.
the following is not in the false prophet document as such.
1) They look like the genuine "sheep" of His pasture. Wolves, I believe, would refer to "teachers" who are in the ministry for the funds that they can raise. There would be many degrees of wolves: all the way from the "Robert Tiltons" to the "James Dobsons." The "Tiltons" are openly pressing for money while the "Dobsons" are far more subtle about the money.
2) By their fruits... Though He tells us that we can know the false teachers by their fruit, He deals with the basic plant that bears the fruit: thorn, thistle, good tree, corrupt tree. Thus their fruit may appear good, but if the tree is corrupt, the fruit must therefore be corrupt.
3) cast into the fire... The Lord is the one that must do the casting, not man. We can only judge the fruit or the obvious, outward appearance. The Lord sees the heart.
4) we should keep in mind that just as the truths of the word of God have been developed over the past 2000 years, so have the lies of the false prophets. From what I can gather (e.g., Marcion, Darby, Freud and his psychoanalysis, &c.), when many of the initial premises of the false prophets about the Scriptures were presented, they were immediately dismissed by the church as heresies. But as the false doctrines were presented over and over, the church grew to accept them. Now the wolves are so well hidden and entrenched that it is impossible root them out.
The wolves are among the sheep in varying degrees of sheep's clothing. They may be openly ravening wolves, or they may be very subtle wolves. Their false doctrine may be obvious from their outward words and works (fruit), or it may be very well concealed.
Mat 13:30 the Lord tells His servants to let the false and true mix together because most of the time their difference cannot be discerned to the human eye. Heb 4:12 tells us that the word of God, though, can make the discernment. Therefore, we must be very careful: 1) in naming false prophets. Their departure from God's word must be very clear, or we may be found on the wrong side of the fence, and 2) to teach the whole of God's word. It is the word of God that marks the wolves and sheep, not man.
5) The Lord's message flows together so well that it is difficult to tell where the breaks are. The warning about wolves in sheep's clothing probably starts in v. 13, although it could be v. 15. The end of the warning could be v. 20, 23 or even v. 27. Regardless of where the end of His warning is, the warning is quite lengthy. If we only take vv. 13-23, that gives 11 warning verses out of a total of 109. The Lord's warning concerning the danger of earthly treasure covered 16 verses. Therefore, we can conclude that the danger of the false prophets to the church is second only to the danger of an inordinate love for money and worldly wealth.
As the wolves increase, the need for serious study and development
of the Word of God increases. Though our modern age of "Christianity"
is the time for increased vigilance from God's Word, the vast
majority of Christians have not the time to study so they can
recognize the wolves in sheep's clothing.
[Sermon Master Page]