Posts Tagged ‘False Teachers’

Matthew 7:16-18 – CHRISTMAS TREE OR FRUIT TREE?

Christmas Tree or Fruit Tree? All is not as it seems.

Strange to chop down a tree, decorate it with fake fruit and place it in the living room as if it is growing. Smells real, but cut off at the roots and propped up. Replace the apples with brightly coloured baubles, fancy lights, garlands, ornaments, tinsel, ribbons and candy cane. Place a toy angel or star on top of the tree for religious significance and presents around the base. Then after a while, throw it out or burn it. Christmas trees are seasonally profuse and then of no use.

John Stott says “The Christian should resemble a fruit tree, not a Christmas tree.”

When Jesus speaks of false prophets in Matthew 7:16-19 I thought of John Stotts analogy with Christmas trees. They look attractive, exciting, different. They set the stage to get us emotionally involved but they don’t really have anything lasting to offer, nothing that will sustain. Matthew 7:16-23 (NLT) says “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions….”

WHAT IS BAD FRUIT? Rotten? Poisonous? Imitation? Baubles and bells – attractive alternatives? All the above. It looks good but has no life. Teaching which has dangerous consequences for my life and no correlation with what God is saying. In the context of Matthew so far, bad fruit is related to the negativity and judging attitudes of the Pharisees, their hypocrisy and reputation-driven public displays and wrongly motived “good” works, their legalistic unbending traditions (Matthew 3:10), their self-righteousness, and their unforgiving, rigid, harsh and pettyminded outlook on life, expressed in words and actions.

Sometimes it is what we say and begin to believe about ourselves which isn’t true. I can become my own false teacher. My own negative attitudes distort who I am in Christ and can be a powerful influence in my life. An over inflated view of myself is just as bad. Romans 12:3 (NLT) says “… Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” It’s always worth asking “What characterises my life? How does God see me? Am I living a fruitful life? What kind of influence do I have on others? What positive difference am I making in the world? Do I belong to a fruitful Church?”

WHAT IS GOOD FRUIT? Tasty, nutritious, useful, performs what it was designed to do, carries seeds of the same kind as the tree. Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) speaks of fruit which is actively outworked in our actions and motivated by the Holy Spirit. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

Of course I know that a Christmas tree is just a traditional decoration. So at certain times in the year I tolerate counterfeit reality. What is disturbing is that there are times when I am also tempted to accept what amounts to false teaching of false prophets because at first it is so appealing, so glamorous and promises a candy cane, sugary kind of love, joy and peace which has no substance. It gives me an emotional high and helps me justify my sins with cheap grace. But long-term I discover no sustenance from the fruit these trees bear and I am left craving for the next quick fix.

I soon find that there are no Christmas tree substitutes for the Cross and repentance (Luke 3:8). No fancy lights to substitute for the light of the world. Jesus simply says “I am the light of the world. If you follow Me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12 NLT). No brightly wrapped presents to substitute for the gift of eternal life and forgiveness of sins. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” No candy cane junk food quick fix substitutes for developing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The invitation that Christ gives is simply to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). Christmas Tree or Fruit Tree?

Pastor Ross

PS You may not have seen the face hidden on the edge of the Christmas tree? Side on. Looking down. Not all is as it seems. Sometimes what is concealed is an important part of the picture.

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Matthew 7:15-20 – FERAL OR FRUITFUL?

Feral or Fruitful?

A few days ago, I saw various bikie club members, police detectives, prosecutors, and victims of bikie gang crime interviewed on a TV programme called “INSIGHT”. Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis, NSW Gangs Squad spoke about the FALSE FRONT of outlaw motorcycle gangs. He said “Look it’s a nice marketing ploy … as if they are a bunch of social club motor cycle riders who get together on weekends, ride around and contribute to charity. My experience as the head of the gang squad shows – that’s NOT the case.” He spoke of organised crime, arrests for serious assaults (and murder), thousands of charges laid, hundreds of firearms and a whole host of drugs from heroin to anabolic steroids seized recently.

Can a Church operate like a gang of thugs on the fringe of society? Are there Church business meetings that bring out the vicious and selfish nature of it’s members, the loudest autocratic voices being raised against eachother in disharmony, a pack mentality towards other Churches and sometimes their Pastor, members hoarding money and property as if it belonged to them individually, displays of unforgiveness, fault-finding, gossiping and negative attitudes? Not to mention condoning twisted sexual practises, pride and arrogance. Do leaders boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage? Do they divide others rather than unite? Jesus warns against false prophets in Matthew 7:16 NLT. He says “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from THORNBUSHES, or figs from THISTLES?”

INTRODUCED PESTS like CANE TOADS in Australia kill native animals with their deadly toxins. Recently scientists found that CANE TOAD tadpoles are attracted to venom collected from adult cane toads. They think it is a foodsource. They are destroyed by the very poison that they would have grown to produce. Jude 1:10-19 (NIV) says that FALSE TEACHERS “… speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals – these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them! …”

Foxes, rabbits, camels, brumbys, feral goats, cats, pigs, donkeys, and water buffalo. Plague proportions, running wild, feral animals that cause tremendous damage and generally cost the Australian nation millions of dollars every year in eradication programmes that don’t work. Recently in NSW the Premier granted licenses to hunt feral animals in the National Parks. The only way to deal with feral animals is trap them, bait them, shoot them, and place bounties on them. 2 Peter 2:12 (NLT) describes false teachers as feral animals. “These false teachers are LIKE UNTHINKING ANIMALS, CREATURES OF INSTINCT, BORN TO BE CAUGHT AND DESTROYED.” These words are severe. He is saying they are LIKE animals, FERAL BUT NOT FRUITFUL, destructive to others and to themselves.

How do I recognise a false teacher? Luke 6:43-45 (NLT) “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree CAN’T PRODUCE GOOD FRUIT. A tree is IDENTIFIED BY ITS FRUIT. Figs never grow on THORNBUSHES, nor grapes on BRAMBLE BUSHES. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the TREASURY OF AN EVIL HEART. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” Matthew 3:8 (NLT) says “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” That’s how I will know.

We were not created to be like FERAL ANIMALS, but like a FRUITFUL VINE. In John 15:4-5 (NLT) Jesus says “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.”

The invitation Christ gives to me today is to come under His authority and rulership over my life. He died for my sins and will enable my life to line up with God’s Word, to bear good fruit from the treasury of good heart, to love God and love others, to know Christ and make Him known, to make a difference for Him in my actions, words and fruitfulness. FERAL OR FRUITFUL?

Pastor Ross


Matthew 7:15 – HOW TO KEEP THE WOLVES FROM YOUR DOOR

Wolf at the Door!

“The spine-tingling howl was both compellingly beautiful and terrifyingly close. My nerves sung with alarm and the sheep moved restlessly. Was this a lone wolf or would we face a pack of hungry animals.

The other shepherds, with their woollen coats, hoods pulled up over their faces to protect them from the cold, were steering the flock in the darkness, whistling and speaking in comforting tones. All of a sudden a dominant male voice was shouting out orders and I realised that they were not shepherds but thieves! A wolf pack of men! The blow to the back of my head took me completely by surprise.”

In Matthew 7:15 (NASB) Jesus says “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

John MacArthur has an interesting explanation of Wolves in “SHEEP’S CLOTHING.” He says that shepherds wore woollen clothing to keep warm when they tended their sheep, “sheep’s clothing.” That means that false prophets do not deceive the flock by IMPERSONATING SHEEP but by IMPERSONATING THE SHEPHERD!

False shepherds disguise themselves as true shepherds. They claim to teach the truth but their words deceive, mislead, and, inevitably, cause harm to God’s people. In their greed, they impersonate the shepherd. It’s the perfect disguise, but they are out for personal gain, and not the benefit of the flock. RAVENOUS WOLVES! They are in it to fill their own appetite for fame, prestige, position, recognition. They come with their OWN AGENDAS AND PURPOSES for success at the expense of others.

Pastor Brian Houston this Sunday @Hillsong Church delivered an excellent message on Highs and Lows in the Christian Life. He said how most people in Australia believe in God, but He is devalued to a lower place in their lives. When reason, science, culture, money, recognition, etc are not subservient to Christ, they dominate and distort the way we live. Self rules. There’s a bank ad on TV at the moment that proclaims “I am king. I have control”. 2 Timothy 3:5 (NLT) “They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!”

Are some of our prominent Church leaders False Teachers today? The evidence would say yes! And they are anything but harmless. 2 Timothy 3:13-17 (NLT) says “…. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.” In Galatians 1:6-9 (NLT) Paul says “I am shocked that you … are being fooled by those who deliberately TWIST THE TRUTH concerning Christ …”

Unfortunately, the reason they succeed is because they also fulfil the selfish needs of those who follow them. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NLT) says “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”

With a worldview which doesn’t include Christ, false teachers neglect to preach about Jesus dying for our sins. 1 John 4 goes on to say “… But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God … You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them.”

Working in a High Care Facility for the elderly, I am often asked by a family to officiate in a funeral service. Occasionally a family will say, “We don’t want anything religious.” My reply is that I am a follower of Christ and that the service will reflect who I am, and that I would not be offended if they wanted someone else to take the service. I cannot be false to who I am and my message will clearly be from a Christian perspective.

The invitation Christ gives comes through His warning. Don’t be pressured to live according to a culture that doesn’t include Christ or His claims on our lives. The invitation is to acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that He died for our sins and offers us eternal life. Keep the wolves from the door by not feeding them.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 7:15 – HOW TO STOP OTHERS SHIPWRECKING YOUR LIFE!

Shipwrecked!

They must have seen the cyclone winding its way down the coast of Queensland. But seeing the storm on television and not doing anything about it led to devastating consequences. Being moored outside the harbour left their vessels vulnerable to the punishing winds and wayward currents and tides. It’s no use just watching out for a storm!

I walked along the shore afterwards and the wasted pieces of debris were scattered for as far as the eye could see. Large vessels lay beached in sad shapes of upheaval as if summoned and thrown about by huge cruel fingers and left crumpled and injured upon the mud and rocks. One couple suffered the loss of a million dollar yacht now strewn in pieces of wreckage along the coastline. The warnings went unheeded with disastrous consequences.

In Matthew 7:15 (NLT) Jesus says “BEWARE of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.” False Prophets can obviously cause harm or Jesus wouldn’t have said “BEWARE”. The word is emphatic so this warning is strong and direct. In the original language of the New Testament, it means “hold toward or before” It has the idea of holding your mind to something, taking heed, paying close attention, to continually watch out for and be on your guard against the danger of their deception. It’s not just noticing the possibility of danger but actively guarding against it.

The wide expanses of water look very attractive and easy to navigate when it comes to truth. False teachers do not think they will need any navigational equipment. But such a course leads nowhere except destruction on the reefs of false beliefs that lurk beneath the still waters. Isaiah 9:15-16 (NLT) speaks about false teachers. He says “… They have led them down the path of destruction.”

False prophets lead people into dangerous waters and teach something quite different to what the Bible proclaims. They say, “Heaven and hell is a myth.” They say, “God is a God of love and so won’t permit anyone to be punished for eternity,” They say, “Satan is a myth.” They say “Jesus didn’t die for our sin.” They say “We are not responsible for our sins. The blame lies with our parents or our environment.” (Kistemaker)

1 Corinthians 15:3 (NLT) makes it clear that “Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.” God is a God of love, but because He is, He makes it clear that there is only one way to be saved (John 3:16-17). John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus makes it clear when He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” Acts 16:31 makes it clear when it says “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…” 

Truth is a narrow way that leads to life and is not necessarily an easy channel. The unpredictable depths of the narrow passage requires a Captain to take precautions as he sails through, taking soundings from his navigational equipment and consulting the charts. It takes effort, determination and perseverance to take that path and a Captain who knows what He is doing. We have such a Captain.

How do I safeguard myself against false teaching? One way is to read and study the navigational charts of the Word of God, praying that the Holy Spirit will fill me and lead me into His Truth. The Bible will always be the DEPTH SOUNDER for the truth, the NAVIGATIONAL STANDARD by which we can measure our lives. Psalms 119:105 (NLT) says “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” John 16:13-15 (NLT) says “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. …”

2 Timothy 3:13-17 (NLT) says “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.”

The invitation God gives is to take heed, guard, watch carefully and take adequate precautions when it comes to who you allow to speak into your life. Am I more interested in being entertained while rocks are ripping a gash in my life because of a faulty belief system? Or am I willing to chart a course under the direction of a Captain who knows the passage that will achieve His purposes and put my life on a true course for the future? Acts 16:31 says “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…”  

Pastor Ross