Not So Random Thoughts 44

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)

It seems as if we have to look at the fruits of a man to see if he is a false prophet or not, but if we are not clear on what true fruit is we will not be able to discern in truth. If we think true fruit is the numerical growth of a church, then we are settling on something that may not be a biblical sign at all. Since the broad way to destruction has many people on it, then there can be many people going to a professing church who are on the broad road and are following a false prophet. If we are part of a group that is following a false prophet and are using numerical growth as a sign of true fruit, then we are deceived. Numerical growth is not a good measure to determine true fruit.

We can look at this in another way as well. The fallen man is a man that loves others only for the sake of self. As Scripture points out, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). Sinners only love those who love themselves (which is not true biblical love) and they will only love a god that is set forth as loving them and giving them what they want. The false prophet will set out a god in such a way that people think it is the true God and set out that god as one who loves the people and gives them things. In other words, the people will think that they have been converted and are following the true God because they love the false god that they have heard about. But these people are not converted from their sinful natures and love of self because they are doing nothing but what unconverted people do. They love those who love themselves and they love the god they hear about because that god is also about self. A false prophet can gather many followers if he will simply preach a god that loves the people as they are in their sinful state (this also fits with many legalistic groups as well where people are moral with rules they can do) since that promotes a people who follow the love of self.

The corrupt heart of man is guided and directed by a worldly system (Eph 2:-3) that works on his selfish heart. The selfish heart (heart that does all out of love for self) is easily deceived because it believes on the basis of love for self as well. We can easily see how the selfish heart will follow the way of the world when self is fueled by love of self, but what is not as easy to see is how love of self can be fueled by false religion. Self-love will follow false religion to the degree it focuses on self and self-love. As long as a false prophet can focus on things that promote self-love in the religion, then sinners will follow that. The sinful heart that is full of self-love will follow that path as long as it appears best for self. The heart of self will not rest in Christ alone; it will always want something it can do. The heart of self cannot despair of self by the love of self, but it must be humbled by God. The heart of self 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.” In other words, the false prophet will not preach in such a way as to drive men to an utter end of self in order to look to God alone.

The false prophet will not go after and chase the self-reliance of a heart of self to drive that heart to look to God alone. The false prophet is also deceived about what the nature of true fruit is and so is content with the fruits of religious self in others. How the words of Luther pound at this: “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.” The false prophet will not teach men in a true way that they must be humbled, though he will teach them humility in a way that fosters more of self. The false prophet will not try to get to the real heart of the issue and persuade men that they cannot make the smallest contribution to salvation as this will make men angry. Men will accept that on the intellectual level, but they will not accept it when it cuts to their very dependence on self and self-love. The false prophet can preach self-denial, but it is always a self-denial that self can do. It is a self-denial in appearance and not that which cuts to the deepest part of self. The fruit of self comes from a tree of self and regardless of all the great appearances it can produce, a bad tree will always produce the fruit of self regardless of all the religious appearances of it which is just more bad fruit. All that the false  prophet preaches and does is really the fruit of self. That is not good fruit.

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