The Sermon on the Mount Part 19

by Mike Ratliff

4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. 9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:4-14 NASB)

When I encounter those whose theology and eschatology has been colored by presuppositions, philosophies, and the teachings of some theologians that the Church’s main function is to establish and prepare God’s Kingdom here on this Earth so the Lord will return and to claim it, I wonder how seriously these people take Scripture passages such as Matthew 24:4-14 (above). These same people are all about making all secular culture conform to Christianity. I find it very difficult to line that up with what our Lord said in Matthew 24 about what things would be like before he actually did return. What is the reality? Will the Church totally take over the world in this age? From what I have studied in the New Testament, the Church is a called out “congregation” of people that are despised, persecuted, and put to death for their faith as they live for the glory of their Lord in this life. The point of that is to attain a greater resurrection in the next age. Let’s see what our Lord said about the reality of what we have to deal with in this age as the Church.

15 “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but within are ravenous wolves. 16 By their fruits you will know them. Are grapes gathered from thorns or figs from thistles? 17 So every good tree produces good fruit, but the rotten tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree is not able to produce bad fruit nor is a rotten tree able to produce good fruit.  19 Every tree not producing good fruit is cut off and is thrown into the fire. (Matthew 7:15-19 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

Who are false prophets? Why are they false prophets? Our Lord says that they come to the Church to deceive, but not disguised as a fellow sheep, but by impersonating true shepherds. They are false prophets because their “message” or “theology” or “ministry” or a combination of those things promote the wide gate and the wide way that our Lord warned us about in Matthew 7:13-14, which we looked at in The Sermon on the Mount Part 18. True prophets, true shepherds do the opposite. They care for the sheep. They evangelize and preach the Word and all of that works to direct the sheep to the narrow gate and the narrow way and away from the wide gate and the wide way. The reference to the false prophets wearing “sheep’s clothing” in v15 refers to the woolen attire that was what the shepherds of our Lord’s day wore.

Much has been speculated by what our Lord was referring to about the fruit in v16. Below is Matthew 3:5-10. Read it carefully.

5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and the region around the Jordan went to him  6 and they were baptized in the Jordan River by him confessing their sins. 7 And seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Children of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  8 Therefore, produce fruit worthy of repentance  9 and do not think to say within yourselves, ‘We have our father Abraham,’ for I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And already the axe is laid at the root of the trees, therefore, every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and is thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:5-10 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

Proper shepherding by God’s servants, not these false shepherds, leads to their sheep producing the “fruit worthy of repentance.” This is the working out of one’s salvation as he or she is transformed through the renewing of their minds by being a living sacrifice, taking up their own cross and following Jesus. This develops the mind of Christ in the Christian and leads to holy living and walking in repentance. On the other hand the ministries of the false prophets are not of God and so cannot restrain the flesh. Therefore, these false prophets manifest wickedness (2 Peter 2:12-22).

Now, carefully read Matthew 7:17-19. Our Lord is very specific here. In God’s Kingdom, the only thing these “bad tress” are good for is to be burned. Also, bad trees do not produce good fruit. They are incapable of it, but the good tree always does. Why is this true? Who is the one working in and through the ministry of the good shepherds, the servants of our Lord who preach the Word and care for the sheep? God does and he does not fail.

In this age of darkness and deception, the false prophets seem to be those with the large churches and big crowds and it is as if people just line up to be deceived by them. However, we must not become discouraged. Our Lord has never forsaken his Church and those of us who know him and serve him and see the truth of the apostasy all around us must seek peace and joy from him alone as we submit to the refining fires of sanctification knowing that we are fully justified in Christ by faith.

Soli Deo Gloria!

6 thoughts on “The Sermon on the Mount Part 19

  1. Dear Mike,

    Amen!

    Finally read Professor David J. Engelsma’s stirring defense of Amillennialism (which is largely very misunderstood). Simply put, the position maintains that when Christ came to earth by His death and resurrection Jesus conquered sin thereby binding the strong man (evil one) so that salvation was no longer limited to the Jews, but available to all whom God has predestined from the foundation of the earth.Therefore, we are currently experiencing the reign of Christ as He is establishing His eternal kingdom as each person that is born of the spirit is turned into a living stone with Christ as the chief cornerstone. Whenever the last person is brought to Christ to complete the temple, His kingdom will be established, then He will appear for judgment with the new heavens and new earth and the old will pass away and be burned up (2 Peter). The whole point being it 100% Christ centered.

    “The hope of the Reformed church and believer at the beginning of a new year is the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the body. A hope is the resurrection of the soul at the believer’s death. The hope is Christ’s return and the resurrection of the body. The Word of God makes this the hope of the church. The “glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” is our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). “We groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). The prayer of the saints is, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). ” excerpt from pg.7 “Christ’s Spiritual Kingdom” by Engelsma

    The hope of postmillennialism is not focused on the return of Christ, instead it’s eyes are squarely set on this temporal fallen world and what they can do to try and fix it.

    “The carnal kingdom of postmillennnialism, particularly as painted by Christian Reconstruction, is exactly the kind of Messianic kingdom dreamed and desired by the Jews in the days of Christ’s earthly ministry. This was what the Jews of John 6 wanted: Christ as the king of an earthly kingdom and a temporal future bright with the porspect of political power and earthly glory.” excerpt from pg.8 “Christ’s Spiritual Kingdom”

    Now does that mean that amils don’t desire the whole world to come to know Christ? Of course, we want to share Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit to those whom we are able. Also, we pray for all of the saints present and future and we are assurred that not one will be lost. But, Scripture warns of a hard ending and to not prepare the children of God for such a time is not teaching the Truth of God’s Word.

    Thank you for taking on this hard subject and I apologize ahead of time if this comes across in any way other than defending Scripture.

    Come quickly Lord Jesus!

  2. Very well written Mike and I’m so glad you’re a good shepherd..

    I’ve noticed one thing that seems to run through all false teachers,, they lack that true genuine inner peace, joy and hope. They lack the true kingdom of God in each person who has been born again by God from above. They always extrovert themselves and their “kingdom of God” is always external on this earth and their peace is always that pseudo peace that is worldly.

    They don’t know the truth of when God comes in your life and that’s the kingdom of God that is established in us that Jesus Christ rules and reigns in our hearts FIRST. Yes there will eventually be God’s literal kingdom established. But it is in HIS timing and as outlined according to God’s word and the unfolding is orderly and specific–not taken out of context and twisted… For this is the ONLY way they ever support their “kingdom now” theology.. It’s false and Jesus even said things will get worse and the love of most will grow cold..

    Keep up your love for the truth Mike

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