Sermon on the Mount
Tonight we’re going to continue down the road of the Sermon on the Mount series. Over the past several months we have been studying what Jesus taught in His most famous sermon and questioning ourselves about whether or not we could live out what Jesus was asking us to do in today’s culture. Our passage today comes from Matthew 7:15-20, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
I know where Jesus was going with this passage. I know what He was trying to say. I know that He is reaching the end of His sermon and that He is making His plea for His audience to make a response. Last week, we discussed the narrow road and the wide road. Jesus reached the climax of His sermon. If we were in the audience we would have heard over the past hour or so about how our view of prayer is wrong, our view of money is wrong, our view of our selves is wrong, our view of the world is wrong—basically everything we have been taught about everything is wrong—and Jesus is saying, “Now you have a choice: You can take the easy road which leads to destruction, or the hard road which leads to heaven.”
Today’s passage falls after that plea and is a warning to new believers not to be snatched away by false teachers. Paul, the greatest missionary and teacher of the New Testament time, wrote from prison to the church in
that he could not believe that they were already turning away from the gospel he had preached to them and they so eagerly accepted. Imagine that--Paul! You may or may not know this but many people believe Paul was nearly blind for most of his ministry. Paul reminds them that they were willing to pluck out their own eyes to give to him if that would be possible. Now they have rejected him and his message. In Galatians 4:16 he said he feels that he has gone so far that he has become their enemy because he speaks the truth to them. Galatia
So is there a problem with false teachers, false doctrines, and false religions? Yes, absolutely. There has always been and always will be false teachers looking to mislead people for their own personal gain. Think about it—every false religion began with one person who knew that he was making the whole thing up. That is astonishing to me. The Mormon Church was founded by Joseph Smith, a man who claimed to receive a golden plate from aliens. It had a foreign language written on it. Joseph Smith then translated that language by himself, behind closed doors. The translation he came up with was the original doctrine of the Mormon Church. As of October 2010, there were 13,840,000 mormons in the world.
But as I look at our youth group am I worried about false teachers coming in? Not as much as I’m worried about your fruit. Jesus said, “every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.” As Jesus entered
Jerusalem for the last week of His life we find this story, “The next morning as they were leaving , Jesus was hungry. 13 He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit. 14 Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!” And the disciples heard him say it. The next morning as they passed by the fig tree he had cursed, the disciples noticed it had withered from the roots up. 21 Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, “Look, Rabbi! The fig tree you cursed has withered and died!” (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21) Bethany
So what is your story? Do you claim Christ as your Lord and Savior? If so, are you bearing fruit? If you’re not bearing what consequence are you facing? You are facing being chopped down and thrown into the fire, but that hasn’t happened yet so you still have some time to do something. In this story, it was right before Passover which would not have been fig season yet, but there still should have been some flowers, and maybe some small unripe figs. There was nothing. It was a worthless tree so Jesus cursed it. A day later the tree was withered from the roots up.
You can say, “I have been sharing my faith over and over again, but no one has accepted it.” You are doing the work but haven’t seen the harvest yet. That’s ok. The fig tree was not doing the work. There were no flowers or buds—nothing. But if I had to guess I would say that most of us are not doing the work. We haven’t been sharing our faith, or reaching out to the lost. So the question is “why?” If you are in this room and have been a Christian for over a month, you should be able to clearly present the gospel to a friend.
If you are feeling like that fig tree that isn’t doing what it was created to do, and for humans that is to worship God and tell others about Him, and you would like to change that we are going to do a few different things in the next couple of weeks that will allow anyone who wants to, to be able to clearly present the gospel to friends and strangers alike. But until then I suggest to start small: pray and ask God to give you a passion for sharing your faith to the lost; pray and ask God to place lost people in your path; when you go out to eat, or to a grocery store ask the waiter or clerk if there is anything you can pray for them; send a letter presenting the gospel to a lost friend; or practice on your saved friends. These are just beginning steps. There are so many excuses we can make. And we can stall out on practicing on our saved friends and never move on. Just picture that fig tree. If Jesus walked by, what would He do?