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The Roads of Faithfulness and Fruitlessness (Matthew 7:13-23)

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“The Roads of Faithfulness and Fruitlessness”

(Matthew 7:13-23)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

February 17, 2019

The Passage

Matthew 7:13-23

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.

15 “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’

Introductory Comments:

Illustration: I have a confession to make, church. When I was a teenager, my friends and I used to try and see if we could sneak into certain places where we weren’t supposed to be. We were usually at a concert or something (for which we had a ticket) but we would try to get to the VIP section, or backstage, or to the snack room, or somewhere where we were not supposed to be. The key to this strategy was to find the weak link in the chain in terms of security guards or whatever. One of my friends actually wrote a college paper on how to do this. It was totally wrong for us to do this, so don’t try this at home. However, if we kept trying hard enough we could usually fake our way into something. 

In today’s passage, Jesus is continuing His sermon on the mountainside and He is continuing to address this idea of what it takes to be a true follower of the Father. He is basically saying you cannot fake your way into the kingdom of God. You cannot slip past security to come into God’s presence. There is no weak link in the chain who you can trick into letting you into eternal life. There is only one way, and it’s through faithfulness to God and His ways, as found in Jesus!

Today we will discover three truths regarding those who are faithful followers and those who are fakers. 

Let’s pray together as we look at God’s Word. 

(prayer)

As we look at this passage, let’s remember the context of Jesus’ sermon. He is speaking to mostly Jewish people. As they listen to Him, most would assume that they are good with God simply because of the fact that they are Jewish. 


In the same manner, many self-proclaimed Christians today think that they are good with God simply because they attend church, their names are on a church roll, or because their family has “always” been Christian.  


Jesus makes it clear in this passage that there is no automatic entrance into God’s presence.  

Let’s discover these three truths together now. 


First, . . .

I. Few take the faithfulpath (13-14) [on screen]

Look at verses 13 and 14 again. 

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.

Jesus is making it very clear here that the sheer volume of people that are headed to destruction is much greater than the volume of people that are going into life. 

Sometimes we like to think that most people in the world will go to eternal life. We like to think that the only people that will go into Hell or into destruction are those that are really bad. 

However, Jesus says the opposite. 

Jesus says the path that leads to destruction is like the stretch of I-4 between Tampa and Orlando. It’s six lanes wide full of people going 75 miles an hour in the same direction. 

Everyone thinks that this is the way to go because everyone else seems to be going this way. The road to destruction is easy to find. It looks like the right direction. All your friends are going that way. It seems easier and better. 

Then, Jesus says the path leading to eternal life is a small windy country dirt road with few people that take it. It’s off the beaten path and it only goes one direction.

The narrow path that leads to life is not as obvious. You don’t see as many people going that way. Someone has to tell you the directions in order to get there. But, oh it’s such a better road to take. 

Few people take the path that leads to faithfully following the Father; few take the path that leads to eternal life.

(pause) 

We see one of the reasons that fewer people take the narrow path to life. Jesus says the road is difficult that leads to life. 

Living the Christian life is not easy. 

Denying the ways of the world, fighting against temptation, thinking of the needs of others, and submitting all of your ways to God is not always easy. However, you can be sure of this: it is always better!

There is no greater joy found than the joy of Jesus! There is no greater love than the love of God the Father. There is no greater life than the life given to us by the Holy Spirit of God!

The narrow way leads to life to the full in this life and life eternal in the next life. 

The way to eternal life is narrow. There is only one direction to go. 

Jesus Himself said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Many people don’t want to go through Jesus to get to God. They don’t think they need the gospel for eternal life, and therefore they never receive eternal life. 

Naturally speaking, when it comes to which path to take, the easier thing to do is to go with the flow, to go downstream with everyone else. However, Jesus warns us that going with the flow leads to destruction. 

We must swim upstream, we must go against the flow, we must walk the harder and more narrow path. 

We must take the narrow road and we must point people to the narrow road. It may be narrow and hard to take, but it is open and it is open to all, and it leads to life!

This is what Jesus has been telling us all along in Matthew. The ways of God are not like the ways of this world, but they’re so much better!

The first truth we must discover is that few take the faithful path.

Second, . . .

II. Fruit reveals falseprophets (15-20) [on screen]

Jesus begins this discussion about false prophets.

There may be fakers among us and some of those fakers may be seeking to lead us astray. 

Listen to what Jesus says:

15 “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.

Jesus says to be on our guard. We are to actively look out for false prophets. 

Then, we get this clear indication that these people are dangerous. 

Jesus said these false prophets are like wolves among sheep. They are disguised in order to be among the sheep. 

I have news for you: the wolves are not wanting to cuddle with the sheep. They want to eat them! They want to devour them! They want to destroy them!

Jesus said that the false prophets are ravaging wolves. They will destroy you with their false teaching. 

So, we must look out for them. Jesus even tells us how to look out for these false prophets. 

Jesus indicates that we will know them by the evidence. 

Jesus says, “You’ll recognize them by their fruit.”

An ungodly person will eventually produce ungodly fruit in his or her life. 

Oranges come from orange trees, strawberries come from strawberry bushes, and acorns come from oak trees. We know that, right?

Jesus said good fruit comes from good trees and bad fruit comes from bad trees. 

Illustration: some of you may not know this, but I’ve been on about ten mission trips to Jamaica. Jamaica has a lot of different fruit trees. One of my favorite fruits grows in Jamaica and one of my least favorite fruits grows in Jamaica. I love the mango fruit. It’s one of my favorite. When I’m in Jamaica, you can bring on the mango. However, there is also a fruit there called breadfruit. I like bread and I like fruit, but I do not like breadfruit. It tastes sort of like a mixture between a melon and a potato. The breadfruit tree produces breadfruit, the bad fruit. The mango tree produces mangos, the good fruit. You know that if the fruit you’re eating is a mango, it’s coming from the good tree, the mango tree.

Verse 17 says, “In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit.”

Jesus says a godly person will produce godly fruit. An ungodly person will produce ungodly fruit. 

The bad trees will produce bad fruit and will eventually be destroyed. They are on the broad road, which leads to destruction. They are good for nothing except being destroyed. Verse 19 says they are “ . . . cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Jesus says that we must recognize them by their fruits. Watch out for false teachers. Watch out for false prophets. 


Jesus warned us about false teachers. Paul warned us about false teachers. Peter warned us about false teachers. John warned us about false teachers. James warned us about false teachers. Jude warned us about false teachers. They will come and they are present today. They are not in short supply.

Here are some traits to look for in false teachers:

They exalt themselves rather than Jesus. 

They are more in love with the works of Jesus than Jesus Himself. 

They have supposedly discovered a new doctrine that was somehow missed for thousands of years of Christian history. 

They emphasize physical blessings over spiritual blessings. 

Their ministry is centered around them.

I could go on, but I think that gives you a start. 

You’ll know them by their fruit. So, become a spiritual fruit inspector. Know what the good fruit looks like and look out for the bad fruit.

Finally, . . .

III. Fakers do not enter the Father’spresence (21-23) [on screen]

In case there is any doubt after Jesus speaks of only one way to life, or when Jesus calls the false prophets wolves, or when Jesus said bad trees will be cut down and burned, He says quite clearly that fakers will not be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. 


Listen to what Jesus says in verses 21-23.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’

First of all, Jesus says it’s not merely a declaration that Jesus is Lord that will get you into heaven. 

It’s not enough to profess Jesus. There are a lot of professors out there! However, these professors are also pretenders!

He says that we must do the will of God the Father to get into the kingdom of heaven. That’s what He’s been telling us all along in the sermon on the mountainside. Now, He says it explicitly. 


We must understand this. 

He indicates that some will even be confused about not being allowed entrance into heaven. 

They will say, “Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we drive out demons in your name? Didn’t we do miracles in your name?”

They may also say, “Remember when I was baptized? Remember when I taught Sunday school? Remember when I was serving as a pastor? Remember when I gave money to the church? Remember when I had my name on a church roll?”


“Didn’t I do all the ‘churchy’ stuff? Didn’t I do all the ‘Christiany’ stuff?”

Jesus will say these three monumental words, “Depart from me.”

Concluding Thoughts:

Jesus’ strong language in this passage is meant to wake us up, church! 

Wake up from pretending!

Wake up from complacency!

Wake up from just going through the motions!

Being in church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car, being on a football field makes you Tim Tebow, being in a lake makes you an alligator, or being in a tree makes you a possum. You must give your life to Jesus and follow Him!

Do you really know Jesus? Are you really living for Jesus?

Here’s our bottom line for this week:

Bottom Line: Take the road of faithfulness, which leads straight to the Father[on screen]

(repeat)

Challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Consider which road you are taking[on screen]

Are you on the broad road or on the narrow road?

Where are you heading?

Similar to the first, . . .

  1. Consider the endpoint of the road which you are taking.  [on screen]

Does your road end in destruction?

Does your road lead to eternal life?

Make sure you’re on the right road!

  1. Watchout for those that will take you off the road of faithfulness[on screen]

Watch out for the false prophets!

Paul said to the church in Galatia, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!” (Galatians 1:8)

I say the same. Whether it’s me, or a famous preacher, or someone on TV, or one of our Bible study teachers, whoever it is: if they preach anything other than the true Word of God, throw it out! Don’t listen to it!

Know them by their fruits. Be able to recognize the good fruit and the bad fruit. 

Closing:

Do you know Jesus? Are you really following Him?


The path is narrow and hard, but it’s a better path and it’s open to all. Come join us on the path to life!

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – I Need Thee Every Hour

Benediction:

At this time, I’d like to ask everyone to have a seat. We’re going to do something a little different. I want to ask Robert and Susan Hill to come forward and share something with us.   

(Robert and Susan Hill come and share)

If you have any sort of spiritual decision that you would like to make, you can contact me or Pastor Richard and we would be glad to talk to you anytime.

Tonight, we will be back in this room at 5:30 for our study in World Religions. Tonight we are looking at Judaism. 


Also, this afternoon at 4 PM we will have a meeting for all Bible Study leaders in the multipurpose room right below us. This is for teachers, outreach coordinators, prayer coordinators, secretaries, etc.  I hope to see you then. 

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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