The Two Way Teaching

Scripture: Jesus said: "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."

"Watch out for false prophets", said Jesus. How can we do that? What do they look like? They look like the real thing because they are in sheep's clothing. But inside they are not the real thing. (Think carbonated beverages . . lots of people could not tell from the outside with no labels but when you took a drink you surely could tell.). So now what?

What is their teaching?

1. Do they only speak of the love of God when the Bible clearly speaks of judgement also?

2. Do they only speak of externals . . outside visible actions and say nothing about the heart and soul of a man / woman?

3. Do they speak of the cross of Christ and His blood which cleanses us from sin?

4. Maybe they speak of all of the above, but their lives are wrong and they are not conscious that they are hypocrites?

5. Do they speak of an easy Christianity where God's grace covers everything no matter what you do, so it's ok to go ahead and sin as long as you repent?

I have a story about #5.

I was a pastor of a small church and retired in June of 2013. Midway during that decade, I received a phone call from a young woman and she stated this:

"You have 5 minutes to talk me out of having an abortion."

She asked "If I go through with this, will I go to hell?"

I was stunned. I stumbled and fumbled to find the right words but she was watching the clock. I was in the middle of a sentence when the line went dead.

I tried to do a call back but it didn't work.

I called a local facility with which I was familiar and spoke with the woman in charge. This facility housed people in need and fed them. I told her the conversation and asked if she knew who it could be. She didn't.

I agonized over my lack of ability to handle the situation. The information she gave me about her home life was scant. I didn't know if she claimed to be a born again christian or not. I did understand underneath it all, she had substantial fear. She was very afraid. She was afraid of NOT going through with it even while knowing it was wrong.

I do have something to say now in the hope that she might read this post.

If I could talk to her I would tell her she can be forgiven by God.

(God call David in the OT "a man after his own heart". He forgave David for having sex with a married woman (although their child died) and God forgave David for being responsible for the death of her husband. David sent Uriah into the heat of the battle but pulled back the soldiers that were his protection".)

David did not 'own up' to this sin until the prophet Nathan told him a story which made David mad. Then Nathan told him he, David, was the man in the story. Then he repented and wrote Psalm 51.

She must be born again as per John 3:16.

"God knows those who are His." 2 Timothy 2:19. (He knows!)

She must sincerely repent. 1 John 1:9 states "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".

Then she must walk the narrow path that was the subject of last week's blog.

Jesus is using two way teaching in this chapter. Last week was 2 ways. This week is 2 trees. Next comes 2 professions and 2 builders.

The 2 trees, per William Barclay* represent more than meets the eye.

"There was a certain thorn, the buckthorn, which had little black berries. Those berries closely resembled little grapes. Then there was a certain thistle which had a flower, which, at least at a distance, might well be taken for a fig." His point was real and relevant to the people to whom Jesus was preaching.

He was giving an example that the false prophet may wear the right clothes and use the right language but you cannot sustain life with the berries of a buckthorn or the flowers of a thistle. The life of a soul can never be sustained with the food which a false prophet offers.

*The Daily Study Bible, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1

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