Calvary Road Baptist Church

God gave us wonderful services last Sunday, with a number of folks responding to the invitation. After the service, I talked to those who responded and counseled them to simply come to Jesus Christ. Before I talk to them individually, I want to bring clarity to the entire issue of sinners coming to Christ.

Let us proceed to the early days of our Lord’s earthly ministry, when He was instructing His newly called apostles about such things, with a large audience listening on. It is referred to as the Sermon on the Mount, and is found in Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7.

My purpose will be fulfilled by focusing on the end of this large passage. Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing His newly called apostles for situations they will encounter during the course of their ministries. Read Matthew 7.13-15:

 

13     Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14     Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

15     Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

 

In verse 15, our Lord warned His apostles about those who were not what they appeared to be.

In Matthew 7.16-20, we see a description of their ways:

 

16     Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17     Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18     A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19     Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20     Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

 

Notice how the Lord Jesus Christ laid this out for His apostles and those other listeners: First, He stated a general principle. This is in the first part of verse 16. Then He drew a mental picture for them, through verse 19. Then He closed with the general principle restated.

We begin with the general principle: “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Please notice that the Lord Jesus Christ did not say, “By their words ye shall know them,” or “By their flair and sophisticated ways ye shall know them,” or “By their appearance of compassion ye shall know them.”

Folks, all those things can be, and are, faked. Those things can be faked without people knowing they are faking, when they are just trying to please you. However, what cannot be faked are the results. So, look at the results.

After the general principle, the Lord moved on to two mental pictures that illustrated, graphically, His point. “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” These are two ridiculous questions, especially for men who lived in grape vineyard and fig tree country. Of course, men do not get grapes from thorns or figs from thistles.

Verses 17-18:

 

17     Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18     A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

 

Is it not an undeniable fact that good trees produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad fruit? Is not the very definition of a good tree a tree that produces good fruit? Moreover, do we not define a bad tree as a tree that produces bad fruit? To be sure. It is what is produced that is the only real indication of quality of the tree. The same is true of the spiritual leader. Because good trees cannot produce bad fruit and bad trees cannot produce good fruit.

Verse 19: “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Of what use is the tree that produces bad fruit? Remember, the Lord is still illustrating His point here. He is not specifically consigning anyone to Hellfire.

Be sure, when interpreting a passage that contains non-literal language, or the use of an illustration, that you do not take the illustration farther than was intended. The only point being made by the comment in verse 19 is that a bad tree is absolutely useless. It is good for nothing. Therefore, it is usually cut down and burned.

Does the Lord’s use of these pictures get the point across? I think so. How much more graphic an illustration could possibly thought of that would picture the absolute uselessness of a false prophet. The men, those whose lives do not result in the production of good fruit, are good for absolutely nothing. In addition, in a society such as the one Jesus lived in, where people were both practical and functional, being useless was the worst thing anyone could be thought of being.

The Lord then finishes describing the works of the false prophets and anti-Christs by restating the general principle again in verse 20: “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Folks, we know that this is a caution to His apostles regarding the danger to their ministries that will be posed by false prophets and anti-Christs, but there is a great lesson to apply to our own lives from this passage as well.

What kind of fruit are you producing? What is the consequence of your life? How are your kids turning out? Are people being saved because of your personal efforts? Do Christians grow as a result of being around you? These questions are valid ways of keeping our lives on track and lined up with the will of God, because it is the fruit you produce, the lives of others that are influenced by you, that determines whether your own life is of the right quality or the wrong quality.

Parents, what kind of fruit are your kids producing? Remember, you are accountable to God for the lives of even your grown children. As God held Eli accountable for Hophni and Phineas, so you, too, are responsible to positively influence your kids to produce fruit in their own lives. How about you parents whose kids are a year or two out of school?

How do those children of yours seek to influence those younger to serve God and lead younger kids to live lives that count for something? And their friends. Are their friends committed to Christ or are they selfishly seeking their own pleasures? The principle is “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Amen?

The warning Christ gave to His apostles about false prophets is found in Matthew 7.15: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Then we saw that the ways of the false prophets are described in Matthew 7.16-20.

Now, in Matthew 7.21-23, we come to the words of these dangerous adversaries:

 

21     Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22     Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23     And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

 

Notice, if you will, that the Lord Jesus Christ refers to the words of the false prophets in the here and now, as well as in the future at the judgment. In these three verses we see reality, we see the rehearsal of the false prophets, and we see the Lord’s response to them.

 

First, REALITY

 

There are a number of passages in God’s Word which clearly reveal to us each person’s ability to deceive himself, as well as to be deceived by Satan. So, a departure from reality by these false prophets is not something that should surprise a great many of us.

In verse 21, the Lord Jesus Christ is drawing a contrast between those who will enter the kingdom of heaven and those who will not enter the kingdom of heaven. But something that should not be overlooked is the fact that saying “Lord, Lord” now is no guarantee of what anyone’s eternal destiny is in the future.

To be precise, it needs to be pointed out that the “kingdom of heaven” is not heaven. The “kingdom of heaven” is a reference to the earthly kingdom of Jesus Christ that comes down from heaven, that originates from heaven, that represents a heavenly rule over all the earth. This is the millennial reign of Christ.

So understand, what determines a person’s entrance into the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ at the time of His second coming in power and great glory is not the words you may or may not say, but whether or not you do the will of His Father.

Two things to point out: First, mark in your Bible that this is the very first place in the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ where He refers to God as “my Father” in Matthew’s Gospel. Second, understand that “he that doeth the will of my father” does not mean that anyone earns a place in the millennium by obeying God. No. Salvation is by grace, through faith. It is just that those who are genuinely saved will give evidence of their conversion by doing the will of the Father.

 

Next, THE REHEARSAL OF THE FALSE PROPHETS

 

What will happen in the future to some of those who are saying “Lord, Lord” now? Understand, this is not the Great White Throne judgment, but the establishing of the millennial kingdom upon Christ’s return in power and great glory.

When standing before the great and glorious King of kings, desiring to enter into the kingdom that is being established, and which will be initially populated by only saved people, hear the testimony of the unsaved, Matthew 7.22: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?”

As do all who want to gain entrance into heaven who are not saved (and remember, this is not heaven in this passage), they rehearse to the Lord Jesus the things they have done for Him . . . in His name. That is, by His authority and on His behalf.

With each of these false prophets, there will be a rehearsal of preaching, of casting out devils, and of working miracles, all in His name. In other words, just about every imaginable kind of spiritual demonstration you could think of is going to be done by these unsaved men.

I suppose, if you go back and examine Matthew 7.21 carefully, you will notice that the only thing these false professors, these false prophets, do not do is the will of the Father. Is that not interesting? You can preach up a storm. You can cast out demons. You can demonstrate miraculous supernatural power. Yet, you can still be unsaved.

 

Finally, OUR LORD’S RESPONSE TO THEM

 

How do we know that these men are unsaved? We know these men are unsaved by what Jesus says and by what Jesus does. Matthew 7.23: “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

First, what Jesus will say to them. And what He says to them corrects them. They called Him “Lord, Lord.” But He will testify that “I never knew you.” Notice, it is not that Jesus, at that future time, will say, “I do not at this time know you,” thereby suggesting that those who were once saved were then subsequently lost. No. Particularly, He will say, “I never knew you.” This speaks strongly to those who think you can be saved at one point in time and then lost later. Not so. Though this is referring to the millennial kingdom, the application to a heavenly destiny for one who is saved during our present age is exact. If Jesus now knows you, He will always know you. If He ever says to you “I never knew you”, it will be because you had never been saved up to that point in time.

But after Jesus says this to those unsaved false prophets He will next do something to them. Oh, He will do it with spoken words. But with the authority that only the sovereign has Jesus will cast them out of His presence by saying, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Is that not amazing? What is the Lord Jesus Christ’s estimation of every single thing you do that is not really done for Him, if you are not saved? Everything the unsaved person does is described as “ye that work iniquity.”

 

We find ourselves in this passage we have looked at this evening at the very end of the Lord Jesus Christ’s famous Sermon on the Mount. While some 5000 people listened, He conducted His initial training session for His newly called apostles.

Beginning all the way back in Matthew chapter 5, the final portion of the Lord’s class session began in Matthew 7.13, where He made some remarks on the general subject of religion, or religiosity, for failure of a better term. Remember that the Lord Jesus told His twelve select men that entrance into the kingdom would be based upon some stiff prerequisites. Briefly, you can try to get in the world’s way, which has a broad entrance that will actually send you to Hell, or you can get in through the very narrow way, which is the Lord Jesus Himself, and everything will be okay.

Then, in Matthew 7.15-23, the Lord Jesus provided His Own evaluation of those future pretending prophets who will have lots of talk, but really no walk. They will say wonderful things and do wonderful things, but the truly important will be lacking; they simply will not know Jesus personally. His words to them? “I never knew you. Depart from ye that work iniquity.”

“Pastor, how does this passage relate to those who responded to the invitation Sunday morning?” Good question, requiring two answers. One answer is to you who are Christians, and the other is to those who responded, some of whom may very well be Christians.

To you who are Christians, perhaps church members. Though the Savior was warning His twelve men about the most dangerous of their future adversaries, the false prophets, what He said about them applies to anyone who professes to be a Christian. Most, who say they are, simply are not Christians.

It is not skepticism or cynicism to reserve judgment when someone claims to have been saved, it is spiritual. There is nothing wrong with taking the lessons and warnings of the Savior seriously, and He indicated that there would be many more professors than possessors.

In addition, to you who responded, listen carefully: It is likely that some of you may not have been saved . . . yet. I would be thrilled if one or two of you can give evidence of new life in Christ when I talk to you. However, if it turns out that you were not saved Sunday, that does not mean you will not be saved. It only means that you are not yet saved. Therefore, do not be discouraged. Be thankful that at least the Spirit of God is dealing with you, something others who may feel better and who may think they are better off cannot say. Blessed are you who are bothered by God, because you just might get saved.

I am so thankful, in these last two weeks before camp, that the Spirit of God has stirred a number of people. Perhaps several have already come to Christ. Let us pray that many others will come to Christ. And if you are concerned about your sins, stayed focused on your need to come to Christ.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org