Not So Random Thoughts 45

 

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)

The Scriptures declare with a strong and relentless teaching that sinners are justified quite apart from any works or goodness of their own. The Scriptures declare that sinners are justified apart from any moral goodness or actions that they can do. Now this is not to say that sinners should not seek the Lord using various biblical methods that the Lord has granted, but that nothing they do has any merit or anything in them to move the Lord to save them. In a doctrinal sense people can understand this easier than they can experientially arrive at the point that Luther speaks of: “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.”

The false prophet, however, does not like that for himself and will not teach that to others as others will run from that as well. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. The false prophet (some of them) thinks of humility as within the power of the sinner and so instructs the sinner how to attain a humility (not that many think real humility is needed) so as to obtain grace. But that is to earn grace which is to make grace no longer grace. The false prophet, at least in terms of experience, will not leave salvation in the hands of God and will not try to teach people that they must be thoroughly humbled and broken before God. Salvation completely and totally depends upon the pleasure and works of God. Before man can truly rest in Christ alone he must be broken and humbled to the point where he does not look to himself for one thing.

False prophets are far more plentiful than true ones in our day. We have Scripture and Luther on one side and false prophets on the other. Scripture is quite clear that a person must be turned to become like a child and that it is not up to the one who wills or runs, but it is up to the pleasure of God. Luther is so clear of the depths that a person must be humbled in order to be converted. A person must be delivered from the power of self, the trust in self, and the love of self in order to become one that rests in the power of God, to trust in Christ, and to love God in Christ. This is the work of God in the soul and is also quite beyond the power of human ability. However, there are many false prophets out there who teach how easy salvation is. They will teach that it is nothing more than a human choice, a human decision, or perhaps an act of the free-will. This sounds so attractive, but it is precisely opposite of the Gospel of grace alone.

The false prophet walks around in the garb of a sheep’s clothing and is smooth and helpful (in appearance). The false prophet is not there to ruffle the feelings of others, though some false prophets rule over churches with an iron fist. The false prophet (regardless of whether iron or soft of hand) will always leave things in his own hands or in the hands of the sinner. He may say that we should leave things in the hands of God, but that is not where they are really left. The false prophet will not strive to see the people broken and humbled before the living God. The false prophet will not strive with God to break his own heart in a real sense. The fruit of the false prophet is not a real humility of himself, though there may be the external appearance of it; and the fruit of the false prophet is not a real brokenness and humility in the people. In other words, the fruit of the false prophet is self, self, and nothing but self. That is the bad fruit that comes from a very bad tree.

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