Not So Random Thoughts 42

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

“God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will)

God promises grace to the humbled, says Luther. The Scripture says that God is opposed to the proud and yet gives grace to the humble. Every soul that is born of woman into this world other than Jesus Christ has been born dead in sin which is to be proud and self-centered. A soul must be rescued out of the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of Christ. This is not something that the soul can do itself, but as in Matthew 18:1-4 it is something that must be done to the soul. In fact, this is a parallel teaching with Matthew 18:1-4. The soul must be turned from what it is and become something else. It must become like a little child and as such it was the opposite of a little child before. A very small child is not too proud to receive all from others, and in fact that is all that the little child can do. It is clear from the context (in Matthew 18) that becoming a little child is to be humbled.

The New Testament speaks of a great change that must take place by the hand of God before one can believe, but false prophets will tell people what they can do in their own power. The gate is far too narrow for a person just to be able to waltz through in his or her own power. People must be humbled to the point where they will just receive this grace without trusting in themselves to receive it. Actually, it is utterly impossible for a proud person to cast out pride as that is still pride doing the work. It is also utterly impossible for self to cast out self as that is self doing the work. It is only the grace of God who can cast out pride and self. It is only the power of God that can overpower pride and self in the heart and bring the soul to a low condition of a small child who will just receive all that is given. A deep humility is not what the world thinks, but it is something that God alone can bring and it is that soul alone that can receive grace.

False prophets operate in the sphere of human ability and power, which is also the wide gate and the broad road. Scripture and Luther speak of a great change that must take place and that great change is from a proud and self-centered person to one that is humbled and broken. The difference is huge. The one is the work of man, though men may say that they need the help of God. The other is totally the work of God because men are humbled and know that they cannot do what needs to be done. Yet the false prophets continue to focus on what men can do or perhaps what men can do with the help of God. The false prophet may be very knowledgeable and quite orthodox in many ways, but the false prophet does not realize the need for true humility and true brokenness because he has not had that worked in him. The false prophet trusts in himself in some way, so he is always trying to get people to do something based on trust in themselves.

The fruit of a false prophet can be orthodoxy and can be external morality. The fruit of a false prophet can be a large smile and niceness. The false prophet can be very sincere and quite concerned. However, the false prophet will not direct a person completely away from the false prophet or the power of the self, though it may appear that way in the externals only. The false prophet will try to get people to make a decision or perform some act, but the truth of the matter is that souls have to be delivered from their own decisions and their own acts. False prophets will not guide people in the path of humility and brokenness from their own power and abilities which are the only way a person can come to true faith in Christ. The way of the false prophet is the way of the father of the false prophet, the devil. That way is deception in many ways, but especially in false appearances. The father of lies and the deceiver uses Scripture to accomplish his ways as well. His children do the same.

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