Known by Their Fruits by Tony Nester

Known by Their Fruits
Tony Nester
Matthew 7:15-20
(Matthew 7:15-20 NRSV) ""Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. {16} You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? {17} In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. {18} A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. {19} Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. {20} Thus you will know them by their fruits."

We're close to the conclusion of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. We've heard amazing teaching from Jesus: "Blessed are the meek; you are the salt of the earth; if you look with lust you have already committed adultery in your heart; forgive your enemies; worry about nothing; ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened."

Now what if people were to actually believe what Jesus has preached? What if people believe in Jesus? What if a community of faith forms around him? What if a church emerges by the power of the Holy Spirit and makes Jesus the center of their faith and life? Then what?

Then, says Jesus, these who become his followers, that is — his Church, need to know that they are vulnerable to a particular form of deception and attack. "Beware of false prophets," Jesus tells us, "who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves."

Wolves prey on sheep. Without protection a pack of wolves will destroy a flock of sheep. This isn't just something from Bible days; it's happening in our own country as the Federal Government's Wolf Recovery Program tries to reintroduce wolves in wilderness areas from which they had disappeared. A few years ago a rancher near Emmett, Idaho began camping out on his ranch after two gray wolves attached his flock and injured 13 sheep, five of which died.

"The sheep are so jumpy they're not gaining weigh ...


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