The Sermon on the Mount (VI)
Comments for Study 12
Memory Verse: 24
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS.
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BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE A CHART COMPARING JESUS' PARABLES.
Four different parables are told here. However, they are related from the standpoint that they are clear definitions of God's way. From God's point of view there is two ways a person can go in his life, in general and in his day to day decisions. Deut. 30:19 points out these two ways. It says, "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." God told the people of Israel these words after he gave them the ten commandments.
I. The Narrow and Wide Gates (13,14)
>1. What is the narrow gate? (John 10:9, John 14:6) Where does the narrow gate lead to? Why do you think Jesus used the word "narrow"? How can one go through the narrow gate? (21b, Luke 13:24)
>2. What do the wide gate and broad road mean? Where do they lead to? Why do you think many people try to enter the kingdom of God through them and yet cannot enter? (21a, Luke 13:25)
Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
* "gate" -Jesus is the narrow gate: John 10:9 says, "'I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.'" And John 14: 6 says, "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" And Acts 4:12 says, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." The world says there are many ways. But Jesus says he is the only one.
* "narrow" -Jesus used the word "narrow" because the means by which a person enters the gate has a specific outline and definition. Also, "narrow" symbolized that it is not an easy way. Luke 13:24 says, "'Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will no be able to.'" To go through this gate one needs repentance and self denial. To enter the narrow gate we need to go through agony of soul. Apostle Paul expressed this agony in Philip. 3:14. He said, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
* "Enter" -What does it mean to enter this gate? This is a good question to answer. Acts 16:31 says, "'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household.'" And John 5:24 says, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." One needs to "enter" Jesus, not just look at him; in other words, one needs to accept Jesus in his heart, not only acknowledge him in his mind. James wrote, "You believe there is a God? Good, even the demons believe that and shudder."
* "leads to life" -This is life everlasting and more. This is also life to the full. Matthew 25:46 says, "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." And John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
* "wide" -The wide way is rejecting Jesus and choosing another philosophy to save oneself. The most common wide way is to save oneself by his her own work. This is the easy way. It is the way of the world. It is the principles of the world. It is the sinful life of disobedience to God. It is opposite of the narrow way. It's living by feelings and moods rather than God's word and way. It's not struggling against the sinful way; instead its living under the influence of the sinful way.
* "destruction" -The end to the broad way is very clear even though on the way to destruction a person can have fun from time to time.
* "many enter through it" -Why do many (most could also be used) go the broad way? This is a good question to answer. John 3:20 says, "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." Those who go the broad way refuse the Holy Spirits work of conviction of truth. They can not accept their complete sinfulness and need for judgement; and thus need for a Savior and their repentance.
II. A Tree and Its Fruit (15-23)
>3. What makes it difficult for the false prophets to be distinguished from true prophets at a glance? How can we watch out for the false prophets? Why should we? (2 Timothy 2:18; 1 Timothy 6:4,5)
Matthew 7:15 "'Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.'"
* "watch out" -A Christian needs to be on his guard for false prophets. This indicates that they are not easily seen or distinguished from true prophets.
* "false prophets" -The first obvious point is that they are false. The second, less obvious point, is that they are "prophets"; not that they are God's prophets. Rather, they are ungodly prophets. But they may appear to be God's true prophets. A false prophet may not necessarily be an evil person, or even an immoral person, nor destructive outwardly.
* "prophets" -In Greek "pseudoprophetes" from Greek (pseudes) and Greek (prophetes). Meaning, "a spurious prophet, i.e. pretended foreteller or religious impostor :- false prophet."
* "prophets" -In general it is one who teaches about God and future events. From a Christian perspective it is one who teaches the Bible.
* "sheep's clothing" -That is they look like Jesus' sheep, they look innocent, they are deceptive, and they appear to be gentle. At first one might think, "Well, if they are too gracious, then they are false prophets." Then another might think, "Well, if they are too legalistic, then they are false prophets." But by these a prophet is not false or true. How then are they false? Jesus says, "inwardly" is what counts.
* "inwardly" -This is in the heart.
* "ferocious wolves" -They kill Jesus' sheep and tear them up.
>4. What is the principle in recognizing the true men of God and the false prophets? What do "thorns bushes and thistles" refer to? (John 15:6; Philippians 3:19) What do "grapes and figs" refer to? (John 15:2,4) What is the dreadful consequence of not bearing fruit? (19) In what respect is fruit bearing essential in Christian life? (20, 12:35; John 15:5,8)
Matthew 7:16 "'By their fruit you will recognize them.'"
* "fruit" -"Fruit" in the Bible represents what a person does, what he/she teaches, and what those who listen to him/her do. In short fruit is what "grows" from a person. Ephesians 5:9 says, "(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)" And Galatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
Thus by seeing what prophets do, what they teach, and by watching what those they teach do we will recognize false prophets. Thus it takes time to see who are false prophets. But to be able to discern a false prophet or not one needs to know and understand the Bible. This can only come from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in the end believers are the only ones who can discern a false prophet or not.
* Paul dealt with false prophets in his day. About them he wrote in 2 Timothy 2:18, "Who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some." He also wrote in 1 Timothy 6:4-5 about a false prophet, "He is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicious, and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to finical gain."
Matthew 7:17-18 "Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.'"
* "thorn bushes" -John 15:6 says, "'If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.'" And Philippians 3:19 says, "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and theirs glory is in their shame. There mind is on earth things.'"
* "grapes and figs" - John 15:2,4 says, "'He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every brand that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be ever more fruitful... Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain n the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.'"
Matthew 7:19 "'Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.'"
* "bear good fruit" -Whether or not we bear fruit is not what is in question. Rather, its that we bear good fruit.
* "cut down and thrown into the fire" -A person's fruit is only an indication of the heart condition. People with bad fruit are only false prophets. And false prophets are not of Christ. They are anti-Christ. Thus they will be destroyed on judgement day.
Matthew 7:20 "'Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.'"
* This is a concluding statement to Jesus' teaching on that subject.
>5. How would some people who call Jesus "Lord, Lord" and work in his name assume that they would enter the kingdom of heaven? Why would some not be able to enter it?
Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'  Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' "
* Jesus taught this to a religious crowd. Thus he intended religious people to search their hearts to see if they were true or not. One should not think that this passage refers to another person. We each should examine our own hearts before this word of God. In the end, this passage should make one turn to Jesus for salvation and trust of eternal life.
* People who work in Jesus name and assume that they would enter the kingdom of heaven do so because they do "Christian" things and/or because their parents are Christian. Yet they do truly transfer their trust to Jesus for salvation and lordship. They have the wrong confession and wrong heart attitude in a confession. They say one thing, but do another all together because in their hearts they never meant to do the right thing.
People confuse saving faith for several things; such as intellectual knowledge of Jesus, and temporal faith. Intellectual knowledge of Jesus would be believing Jesus lived, like they believe George Washington and Napoleon lived, which is good, but cannot save a person. James 2:19, says, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder."
Temporal faith is trusting in Jesus for temporary things such as finical needs or health needs, which is good, but cannot save a person.
>6. What does "on that day" refer to? When will the true identity of false Christians be recognized? Why would our Lord say to them "'I never knew you, you evil doers,'" inspit of their doing many things in his name? How does this stress the meaning of true religion? (1 Corinthians 4:20; Mark 12:33) How does this give a strong warning to cultural Christians?
* "on that day" -The day of judgment is when all will find out who truely was God's sheep and who were not. Why only on that day? Because only God can truely judge the heart of a man Why? Because only he knows our hearts.
* "'I never knew you, you evil doers,'" -They never had a personal relationship with Jesus. They never transfered their trust in eternal life (getting to heaven) in Jesus. They may even have what seems to be good fruit, but they had the wrong heart attitude, or wrong motive to gain that fruit.
III. The Wise and Foolish Builders (24-28)
>7. Who is wise in house building? Who is foolish? In what respect is the life of faith like house building? What is the difficulty in putting God's word into practice? What is the only way to build the solid foundation of our faith?
Matthew 7:24-25 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."
* "hears....puts" -Thus the word of God needs to be personalized. However, because of man's sinful nature personallizing the word of God is not easy. It takes effort and God's strength.
* "house on the rock" -A life of faith in Jesus is like building a house. Thus one's actions and beliefs are the stones and mortar of the building. As in house building we plan and prepare, and it requires time and great effort, and it requires a good foundation, that is what it is built on. Both are costly. Both have to endure storms and earthquakes. Both can be built carelessly or seriously.
Matthew 7:26-27 "But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
* To avoid such disaster ones needs to build on Jesus, the firm foundation. To build on Jesus, Jesus tells us to not only listen to his word, but also put them into practice.
Matthew 7:28-29 "When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law."
* Jesus had authority because he was God incarnate.
>8. When will one's building the life of faith on the rock be revealed? How can we avoid such a disaster as illustrated in verse 27? Discuss with each other how we can practically make the Sermon on the Mount and God's word into the principle of our life.