I am preparing to teach lesson 3 from “Counting the real cost of discipleship” this Friday night at our church youth group. This is a great study and I would like to share it with you here.
LI – The Call to follow Jesus
LII – The Cost of following Jesus
These are the two lessons that precede the one that I am teaching this Friday night. This lesson teaches what a true disciple looks like and how he compares to a false disciple. The lesson begins with a provocative question:
Is it possible to be deceived, calling yourself a Christian, yet not really be one?
Let’s look at the words of Jesus Christ.
The first thing that we do is read and study Matthew 7:13-14
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.
- We are told to enter through it (conscious choice)
- It is small
- It leads to the narrow path
- It leads to life
- There are few who will find it
- It leads to the broad way
- It leads to destruction
- Many will enter this path
- If is not hard to find
- You do not really have to seek for it
There are two different gates that lead to two different ways of life which ultimately lead to two different destinations. One leads to life and the other leads to destruction. One is easy to find (the wide gate) and does not require much effort and that is why many will find it. The other is not easy because we are told to enter it (look for it and consciously enter it). One gate is popular (walking down that path does not go against the grain of society) while the other path is not so popular (you will go counter culture). On a side note, Jesus is not speaking to religious people and pagans in this message. He is speaking to a group of religious people, most, if not all of whom believed that they were going down the path that led to heaven. Those who enter the wide gate here are religious people yet they live like the rest of the world that does not know God. Are you a religious person? Do you think that is enough to get you to heaven? Do you live counter culture or are you instep with the culture around you? We will examine what it means to live in step with the culture or live counter culture in just a few paragraphs.
Now let’s continue with Jesus’ teaching as we examine Matthew 7:15-23
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.’
A prophet is a person sent by God to proclaim the message that God has for His people. In the Old Testament, the prophet was delivering the Word of God to the people. Today, a prophet would be a person who explains the Word of God to the people. The Bible is complete and there is no need for a “fresh Word” from God. People need to understand what is already written. Just like there are 2 gates and 2 paths in life, there are also two types of prophets; the false and the true. False prophets are described in this passage.
- They are to be watched out for (be careful of them)
- They come in sheep’s clothing (they appear as being legit)
- They are ravenous wolves on the inside (their actions will prove what is on the inside)
- They are known by their actions (and message)
- They will call Jesus “Lord” (again, they seem legit, like Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses)
- They will not enter into the kingdom of heaven (because their faith is wrong and their actions are evil)
- They will claim to know the way to heaven
- They will claim to be going to heaven
- They did not do the will of the Father
- They supposedly served Jesus
- Cast out demons
- Perform miracles
- Jesus never knew them
- They practiced lawlessness (lived a lifestyle of sin)
How can a person recognize a false prophet?
- They are known by their fruits (actions and teachings)
- They may call Jesus Lord (in name they consider themselves “Christians”)
- They live in sin
- They may “serve” the Lord yet they do it while living in sin
- their fruit is bad
- they produce sin instead of obedience to God
- They do not do the will of the Father
- They do not know Jesus Christ
There is a comparison of 2’s in these passages.
- 2 gates
- 2 trees
- 2 kinds of prophets
- 2 kinds of people
What is the connection between them all? There are basically two types of people in this world (from God’s point of view). There are those who have listened to false teachers and find themselves on the broad path. Their teachers could have been religious or nonreligious teachers, if they teach the false message (anything other than salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and correct living) and you follow it, then you end up on the broad path (from Mormons to JW’s to Muslims, to Darwinian evolution etc.). They all lead to the same path. The proof that you are on this path is in the fact that you are a slave to sin. You live a lifestyle of sin. It will be manifested in different ways among different people but the bottom line is that you do not know or obey God. You do not do the will of the Father. The one who is on the narrow path is the one who does the will of the Father. He does not practice sin. He is no longer a slave to sin. He has been set free because he found the narrow gate which leads to the narrow path. He is one of the few. Where do you find yourself? What is you relationship to sin and obedience to God? When you talk about your “salvation” experience did that lead you to become “religious” or did it set you on the narrow path, free from slavery to sin while giving you a hunger for God and being obedient to Him? Just being “religious” is not enough. In fact, Jesus tells “religious” people “depart from Me for I never knew you”. Why? “you who practice sin” or in other words, you who were never set free from your slavery to sin. Jesus makes all this very practical in the next section so let’s examine it together.
Let’s read Matthew 7:24-29 together.
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house ; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house ; and it fell -and great was its fall.” 28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching ; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Again, we see a comparison of 2’s. There is a wise man and a foolish man. They both hear the Words of Jesus Christ. The fact that they hear the Word does not separate them. What they do with the Word is the separating factor. Here is where we find out what the “will of the Father” is that Jesus mentioned earlier. The wise man hears the Words of Christ and acts upon them, he does them, he lives by them. The foolish man also hears the Words of Christ but he does not act upon them, he does not live by them. One falls and the other stands. Again, we see that both of these people are in a position to hear the Word. They have some sort of “religion” yet the difference between the two is what they do with the Word of God. The foolish man is foolish because he chooses the broad path that leads to destruction (even though he is very religious). He accepts the false instead of the true, or, he hears the true and does not put it into practice. Either way, he is in the same situation, a slave to sin and he does not know God and God does not know him (God knows all about him but he does not know him intimately like the way He knows those who have a personal relationship with Him)
So, again, where do you find yourself? Do you hear the Words of Christ on a weekly basis at a church service? What do you do with those Words? Do you say “amen” and then go about the rest of the week as if God does not exist? Do you live the way that you want to the rest of the week and then show up to hear the Words of Christ again on Sunday, just to go out and not apply them once again the next week? What kind of person would God call you, wise or foolish? What changes need to take place in your life so that you will not be one of the ones shocked when Jesus says “depart from me for I never knew you”? What sins are you a slave to? Today is the day of salvation as the Bible says. Make the decision to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ so that you will enter the kingdom of heaven.