This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
Christ goes on to explain that whatever you want men to do to you, you should do also to them. God is very good to us, and we also must be very good to one another. You want to learn to love your neighbor as yourself. This is called the "golden rule." As I said last time, Jesus is actually quoting from Leviticus 19:18, which he first spoke as the Word, the Spokesman, of the Old Testament.
Greetings, friends around the world!
We are just finishing up Matthew 5, 6 and 7—the Sermon on the Mount. Last time I was able to go through a part of Matthew 7 where Jesus said "Judge not that you be not judged." It went on to show that if you cast the beam out of your eye, then you will be able to cast the splinter, the little bit of wood, out of your brother's eye. God shows this throughout the Bible. I explained that Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 was talking about judging—how Christians are going to judge the world and judge angels, so how much more should we be able to judge things of this life. The context in Matthew is talking about condemning. You are not to go around condemning people—and perhaps being a hypocrite because you have the same problem. But if you grow in grace and knowledge, you may be able to help others, not condemn them. You have to make distinctions between right and wrong and good and bad. That is not judging in the sense of condemning at all.
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
You have to keep on praying to God, trusting God, coming back to God again and again and not giving up. Let God know with all of your heart that you really know what you are asking for.
Christ goes on to explain that whatever you want men to do to you, you should do also to them. God is very good to us, and we also must be very good to one another. You want to learn to love your neighbor as yourself. This is called the "golden rule." As I said last time, Jesus is actually quoting from Leviticus 19:18, which he first spoke as the Word, the Spokesman, of the Old Testament. We can understand, far more, how to apply that today.
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it."
Most people enter in the wrong way. They are not getting into God's Kingdom or getting into God's blessing. In most cases, they think they are going to heaven, which of course they are not. They think they are getting into God's reward by going the broad way, the way everyone else is going. Jesus said: "Don't do that—that's the wrong way." Yet that is the way the vast majority of people are going.
"Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."
Be willing to go the way that God's Word directly says. Be willing to stand alone, if you have to, and obey God. Have courage and realize that there is a real God and that He will back up His Word if you obey Him. Learn to have that kind of understanding and courage.
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing…"
Now, remember, false prophets don't come with a pitchfork and horns and say, "Here I come, I'm going to deceive you." They don't come like that; they are very smooth. Often they are very educated men, with mellifluous voices—they sound very good and they talk about the Bible. They use the name Jesus Christ, but they don't say what He said.
In Matthew 24, right after Jesus gave what we call the Olivet Prophecy describing the signs of the end-times, His disciples said: "When will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? And Jesus answered and said to them: 'Take heed that no one deceives you. 'For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.'" They will deceive not a few, but "many." That is exactly what has happened. Millions of people—hundreds of millions, frankly—often use Christ's name, but they go the wrong way.
Jesus said, "If you are to enter into life, keep the commandments." But deceivers say: "Oh, no, it's all done away by the cross or the Apostle Paul" and they don't go Christ's way, they go a different way. They have a whole different concept of God, a whole different concept of the very purpose of human existence. Don't be fooled! Just read the Bible, and don't allow men to change it around. Just read it and let yourself know that God says what He means and means what He says.
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing [they look real good, they look like a sheep, like Christ], but inwardly they are ravenous wolves."
Christ doesn't mean they deliberately want to destroy you literally in every case, but false prophets want what they want. They want prestige and they are going to keep you in their flock and as their followers regardless.
"You will know them by their fruits. [A tree produces fruit, is it good fruit or bad fruit?] Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit."
Think about it! The Christian religion has been extant in Europe for nearly two thousand years. What has it produced? As many historians know, most of the great wars of this modern age, for hundreds of years, have been in Europe. Usually, it has been Christians fighting—butchering and slaughtering Christians. Sometimes Catholics would be fighting Catholics. Sometimes Protestants would be fighting Protestants. Sometimes Catholics are persecuting Protestants, and sometimes vice versa. Or look at our American Civil War, one of the most bloody wars in human history, where the Protestants would charge up the ridge, and maybe you would have good members of one Protestant church on one side and members of the same church on the other side, killing one another. Sometimes, as history shows, enemy troops were even related—maybe brothers or cousins from the same family or the same church. They did not have the understanding from the Bible, because the churches of this world don't teach you to fear God. They don't teach you to do what God said, regardless! If they would do that, these men would know God's command: "Thou shalt not kill!" And you are to love your enemy, as we saw back in Matthew 5. You are to do good to him, Pray for him! You can't have that attitude and take your bayonet and try to cut his guts out. War is awful! War is the exact opposite of everything Jesus Christ taught, everything He lived for and died for. But so-called Christians have been slaughtering each other for hundreds and hundreds of years.
They are blinded! They don't know that they are going the wrong way. And the fruit has not been good—just look at all the other things that have happened in our modern, so-called Christian civilization: divorce and remarriage, the breakdown of the family, pornography and mass murder. Yes, we have murdered about thirty-five million unborn babies—slaughtering them! You talk about the slaughter of the innocents! What's happening here in the United States? Think about it! Now we are beginning to talk about euthanasia in the western world. I believe it is in Holland that they are introducing the idea of euthanasia. We can kill the little unborn babies and now we can put the old people to death. If they are not in perfect shape or can't defend themselves, some now say: "Well, better to get rid of them!" And pretty soon they are going to get more and more toward the middle. You might be next! You need to think about that—is there value to human life? Do the religions of the world teach God's way? No, they do not! Their fruit is not good.
"Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
Eventually, all the false religions are going to be destroyed!
"Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."
You've got to do God's will! You've got to say "Father, not my will, but Your will be done," and really, truly mean that from the bottom of your heart. Even then, you will make a lot of mistakes. Your human nature will make you blat out some word or do some stupid thing once in awhile—of course! But your attitude has got to become that of truly surrendering to God.
"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied…"
My friends, a lot of you know that the word "prophesied" is often translated "preached" in the New Testament. "Have we not preached in Your name?" Jesus said that "many shall come in my name saying I am Christ." Who does do that? Preachers do! They come preaching Christ and they say: "Haven't we preached in your name, haven't we cast out demons, haven't we cast out the demons of ignorance and superstition and despair"—they call those things "demons" because most of the modern ministers don't know about real demons.
So they establish homes for the drunks and the bums down on Skid Row, and they establish homes for unwed mothers. But the trouble is, they are treating the effect; they are not treating the cause. The cause of unwed motherhood and the cause of people having no purpose in life—carrying on sinfully as a way of life—is that they don't know God and they are not taught God's Commandments. God says: "Thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not commit fornication." God has all those laws. "No drunkard shall enter the Kingdom of heaven," God says. And if those things were taught by every church, every school and every family in the land, this nation would be revolutionized and its whole way of life would change for the better. So we want to understand that. People are not being taught these things. Reformers are getting at the result, but not at the cause of problems. And the cause is disobedience to God's Law! To those who proclaim that they have done so many wonderful things to help others, Jesus said:
"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"
The Greek word here translated as "lawlessness" is anomos— "against law." That is the whole root cause which most of the so-called Christian world does not understand! They talk about law or grace as if you have to have one or the other! But that's not true! You must have both law and grace. When you disobey God's Law, you are breaking the spiritual principles of God Himself—and you are supposed to repent of that when you are converted. God will forgive you if you repent, but you can't deliberately continue violating God's law. You have to live by God's Law. But people are not taught that in the so-called Christian churches.
So Jesus says to those people: "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness"—you who practice it as a way of life, breaking God's Sabbath, taking God's name in vain. As a way of life, how many of you cheat in various ways—perhaps in school or on your income tax. As a way of life, you may be committing adultery or looking on another woman to lust after her—which Jesus said is adultery—and when you watch most of these Hollywood movies and most of these Hollywood TV shows, that is what they are filled with—illicit sex and violence, encouraging and picturing in your mind lust and war and violence and killing and illicit sex—all those things that God condemns. Think about it! This is the world and the society that calls itself a "Christian" civilization—but it is not! Jesus said, "Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" He gets very strong here in the Sermon on the Mount.
This is the teaching of the true Jesus Christ of the Bible. Most of you have not known that Christ, but you need to get acquainted with Him.
"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them [if you obey these principles], I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock."
You need to build your house on a strong foundation. Men who are building skyscrapers have to build them on strong rock and they will drill way, way down to find solid rock. Otherwise, their construction is going to start settling and turning to one side, which may ruin the building.
"And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them [if you don't obey God and don't keep His Commandments and don't listen to what Jesus said and do what HE said], will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
It is just going to collapse! And when these events speed up toward the end of this age and the Great Tribulation begins, there is going to be a great sorting-out process. Most people are going to realize that they don't have real faith in God and that God is not real to them. When Christ comes back as King of kings and Lord of lords, people are really going to understand that they have never known the real Christ of the Bible and have never let Him live His life in them through the Holy Spirit.
And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Growing up, I heard in my church what many modern ministers will say: "Saint Paul suggests this morning…" But God doesn't suggest, God tells us! Jesus said: "Do this, don't do that." He was very clear; He spoke from the authority of God. That is the way Jesus taught. So please listen, for your good—indeed for your eternal good. We have to think about this. Jesus finished the Sermon on the Mount telling us that if we do these things we will be sound and will make it into God's Kingdom. But if we don't do these things, great will be the fall of our lives and everything we have ever hoped for. He taught with authority. Let's listen!
Thank you for listening now. That's all for this time. We will continue going through Matthew in the next program.
This is Roderick C. Meredith speaking for the Living Church of God.