In many circles the Christian Church has a bad name and an awful reputation. I want to suggest that at times this is the Church’s fault because, although a Bible Based Church, they for some reason or the other are more dead than alive and permit their members to live lives that are counter to Jesus’ requirements contained in the Bible in general and the Sermon on the Mount is specific. On the other hand, we have Churches who profess to be Bible Based Christian Churches, yet as far removed from authentic Christianity. From the word go, Christianity has faced opposition both externally and internally. I found this statement …
“During the early first century AD there were many competing Jewish sects in the Holy Land, and those that became Rabbinic Judaism and Proto-orthodox Christianity were but two of these. Philosophical schools included Pharisees, Sadducees, and Zealots, but also other less influential sects, including the Essenes.”
Then followed the Gnostics and Docetists and many other derivatives of Christianity. Two fundamental problems arose.
(1) Un-Biblical Doctrine. There are many persuasions when it comes to Christian Doctrine, largely because some try to impress their belief upon the Bible (superimpose) to make the Bible say what they want it to say. They will look for “jots and tittles” in their attempts to “alter” what words means to achieve “authenticity” for their persuasion. Another way is to decide what phrases and words mean without taking the big message of the Bible, or the message of a Book of the Bible or the actual message of the chapter or paragraph into consideration. In this way, many have arrived at fraudulent doctrines and they impress these upon their followers as Biblical Truth.
(2) False prophets and teachers. Be it in the Old Testament (prophets) or the New Testament (apostles and pastors) continuing today, are not appointed by God to minister. Mostly they are not believers … and together with those who give glimmers of salvation teach that which is contrary to the Bible. Many do not want to admit that un-Biblical Doctrines and False Prophets and Teachers exist … but they do.
Often people accuse us who make such statements as people who have no feelings, lack love, are dictatorial and are fanatics. Be that as it may, Jesus was accused of many things too because He stood for Truth … we will as well … as we are defending the Truth of God. Jesus is wrapping up His teaching known as the Sermon on the Mount. There are four provocative applicatory issues He raises. The one we have dealt with already …
(a) The narrow and the wide gate.
(b) False teachers.
(c) True or false disciples … and …
(d) Wise and foolish builders.
The seriousness of what our Lord has being teaching and how it applies to us in 2022 is unavoidable. Today we come to the second provocative applicatory matter:
Mt 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
1) False prophets. The term means “one acting the part of a divinely inspired prophet” or “utters falsehood under the name of divine prophecies”. In other words, Jesus issues a warning that people, labeling themselves as His prophets will come but they are counterfeit, not called nor appointed by God and when they speak, what they have to say will be fake. Throughout the Old Testament and throughout the life of the Church they have existed and they will continue to exist until Jesus returns. They do have the ability to persuade people and they lead these people astray.
2) Watch out for false prophets. It is not surprising that Jesus warns against false prophets because they are poison. Their intension is to gather people around them with the express intension of leading them astray, as in away from Jesus.
2Pe 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
Without doubt, what they teach is man-made-up.
3) The disguise of false prophets. Jesus says they come to you in sheep’s clothing. Just about every false teacher or false prophet I have seen dresses well and at times too well. The saying “seeing is believing” is not true of them because Jesus says inwardly they are ferocious wolves. One of the most noticeable aspects of their deception is their position on “Christology”. Coming out of the period of the Early Church was the heretical teaching of the Arians (Arian Heresy) in the 4th Century. The Jehovah Witnesses take their Christology from the Arians. Our Bibles say:
Jn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Their Bible adds “a” before the last “God”, rendering “a god”. To them Jesus is not God. He is “a god”, whatever that means to them. Their Doctrine of Jesus Christ (Christology) is not Biblical. They say our Lord was the first created being and was known as “the Word” or “Michael, the Archangel” in His preexistent state. Thereby they deny His eternal existence and deity. They believe that Jesus Christ died for humankind’s sins, however they do not believe that He was physically resurrected after His crucifixion. They believe that He was only spiritually resurrected. Putting all this together, they do not believe God is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. In other words, God did not pay the penalty for man’s sin. You may reference what other cults believe and you will find that if their Christology is lacking, their Doctrine of God does not meet the teaching of the Bible. The very first way to identify false prophets and teachers is to understand what the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ. Get this doctrine wrong and you will easily be deceived by those pedaling man crafted doctrines about the Lord Jesus. What you do with Jesus affects your salvation!
O God, help me to understand true Biblical Christology. Amen.