Sermonic Title: Knowing the Truth: Marks of a True Teacher and Characteristics of a False Teacher of the Word of God
Biblical Text:Matthew 7:15-23, 28-29
Date: April 28, 2019
Speaker: Dr. Joseph
Matthew 7:15-23, 28-29
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
True and False Disciples
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 who is in heaven. 22 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, in your name, perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!
28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Introduction: This morning (Sunday, April 28), I will close the teaching series on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7). I have been preaching through the Sermon on the Mount–the greatest sermon of Jesus or as many biblical scholars believe, the Sermon on the Mount is a series of teachings Jesus delivered in various occasions, as recorded by the author of the Gospel of Matthew– since the month of August 2018. What a relief we will be done tomorrow morning, in the month of April 2019!
I certainly did not plan to stay that long in this series; yet I do not regret a minute I spent studying, exegeting this text, and explaining it and sharing my thoughts about Matthew 5-7 with the people of God at Jesus Center Community. I am very pleased that I will be teaching my last message on this important topic, an urgent message that is desperately needed for today’s churches and in our current culture of counter gospels, false teachers, and false apostles. I entitled the teaching “Knowing the Truth: Marks of a True Teacher and Characteristics of a False Teacher of the Word of God (Matthew 7:15-23, 28-29).
The remaining part of the Sermon on the Mount (7:13-27) is a call to obedience to the words of Jesus and a warning to those who disobey his words. It is a passage that discusses the two ways (vv. 13-14), the parable of the two trees (vv. 7:15-23), and the parable of the two builders (vv. 7:24-27). In this passage, Jesus suggests that there are two different types of people in the world: those who will heed to his word, and those who will turn away from his word. In verses 13 and 14, he uses the two-ways category to emphasize who will choose life and be saved, and those will choose death and be damned. “The effect of 7:13-14 in its entirety is to teach that there is a right way and a wrong way” (Allison, The Sermon on the Mount, p. 165).
In verses 24-27, he expounds on the two-foundations metaphors: those who will build their homes on solid rock, therefore, will choose the narrow gate, and by contrast, those who will build their homes on shifting sand, hence, will chose the wide gate. “In each case the first category refers to those who hear, obey, and are saved; the second, to those who only hear and so are destroyed. In each case eternal life and judgment are at stake” (Blomberg, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 131). Yet the thrust of this passage is to make an ultimate decision; the gospel is a call to decide for Christ or against Christ. Just like Moses in Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Moses challenges the people of Israel to make a choice, Jesus in Matthew 7:14-14, and 24-27, challenges his hearers to make an ultimate decision: life or death, eternal blessing or eternal damnation. The failure to respond to the words of Jesus and the Gospel comes with a catastrophic destruction (v. 13), the exclusion in the kingdom of God.
- A false prophet is like a bad fruit that bears bad fruit and lead to destructive results.
- Warning Judgment: God will judge false prophets and they will be dumped in the lake of fire (v. 19)
Sign of recognizing a false prophet: bad fruit/their ungodly character
Warning: “There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.” (2 Peter 2:1)
Claims of False teachers (vv. 22-23:
- To know God
- To speak for God
- To perform miracles and wonders by the power of God and on behalf of God
I. Characteristics of a False Teacher or Prophet
- False teachers preach a false gospel or counter gospel: Galatians 1:6-9
- They are false and inauthentic ministers: 2 Corinthians 11:12-13
- They produce unregenerate and inauthentic Christians: 2 Corinthians 11:26
- They are instruments of the devil: Matthew 13:38
- They are pride, greedy, and arrogant
*** Their goal is to please the culture and people. They preach a false gospel because they seek approval from the culture. These individuals are not true servants of Christ since they do not live under his Lordship. In addition to Peter, there will be false prophets in churches, that is in local congregation (2 Peter 2:1). False prophets are also false teachers (ibid). What makes them false prophets and false teachers:
- They preach false theologies that counter sound doctrine and biblical teachings.
- In their teaching, they will deny Jesus as Lord, which will come with a judgment: their ultimate destruction or death.
- Peter gives a warning that false teachers will have a lot of followers and their followers will follow their conduct, that is like their teachers, they will be haters of truth.
- False prophets fabricate lies in order to exploit church people. Peter warns the church not to be deceived and follow them because they will complete destroy (v.3)
- False prophets walk according to their flesh and despite divine authority (v.10)
2 Peter 2, False Teachers and Their Destruction
- 2 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
- 2 Corinthians 11:12–15, 20: How do you assess false teachers?
12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
***They are marked by pride, arrogance, greed, self-seeking, and dishonesty. In other words, their personality is marked by an ardent quest for money (v.3, 14-15), sex (vv.2, 10, 12-14, 19), and power (vv.10 12,13,18). False teachers cause division, are motivated by greed and selfish gain, do not preach divine judgment or sin, and they promote ungodly lifestyle. Their main goals are as follows:
- They pursue money and comfort ( C Cor. 11:7-13, 8-9). They promise God’s power for money. They promise God’s anointing for money. They promise divine miracles and healing for money.
- They claim absolute authority and power (authoritarian); not only false teachers are authoritarian, they claim that they are endowed with the authority of God to be who they are and act the way they do.
- Unquestionable teachings: false teachers present their teachings as that that can’t be questioned. they do not like accountability. Their teaching is not accountable to anyone, to any fellow minister, or even the Bible. They elevate their teaching above the Bible; they Bible is no longer the authoritative source of their teaching.
****Paul states false prophets are false messengers of God. They are deceptive in character and action. They seduce people like the Satan ( I Corinthians 11:14). They steal the truth from people therefore people do not have the discernment of truth and error.
- “If you look at the pride of false teachers in the Scripture you see it in a number of ways. If you go back to Jeremiah 5:31 – you don’t need to do that, you can write it down if you want to look it up. If you were to go back to Jeremiah 5:31 you would see that false teachers are characterized by authoritarianism. They tend to be domineering, dominating, over-bearing personalities, always right. And if you don’t agree with them, you are really in some serious trouble. You will receive their curse.
- They are authoritarian. They don’t want to be questioned. They are right. They come from God. They have the final word. That’s typical of false teachers, and that’s a manifestation of their pride. Whereas the true teacher is always humbling himself under the Word of God, and seeing himself as merely a servant of that truth.
- Secondly, if you study the Bible you will find that false teachers are identified as to their pride by presumption. They tend to be presumptuous as well as self-willed. Peter writes about it as well. They tread into sacred things, just bliss-fully making havoc out of truth and things like that for their own ends” (John MacArthur, Marks of a False Apostle, https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/47-77/marks-of-a-false-apostle
- Let’s look closely at Jeremiah 31:26-31
26 “Among my people are the wicked
who lie in wait like men who snare birds
and like those who set traps to catch people.
27 Like cages full of birds,
their houses are full of deceit;
they have become rich and powerful
28 and have grown fat and sleek.
Their evil deeds have no limit;
they do not seek justice.
They do not promote the case of the fatherless;
they do not defend the just cause of the poor.
29 Should I not punish them for this?”
declares the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself
on such a nation as this?
30 “A horrible and shocking thing
has happened in the land:
31 The prophets prophesy lies,
the priests rule by their own authority,
and my people love it this way.
But what will you do in the end?
· 1 John 4:1-6: False teachers deny the incarnation;
1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.
6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
****In fact, some of false teachers will pretend or even claim (as a way of deception) that they have embraced the core beliefs of Christianity so they could woo people to themselves.
Additional Verses about False Teachers
- They make false predictions and do not tell the truth: Ezekiel 13:9: My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.
- God warns people to flee from these individuals. Do not associate with them. They are corrupt. They disguise themselves as good apostles (wearing sheep’s clothing) Do not give them an opportunity: “ Jeremiah 23:16, “16 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.
- Jesus pronounces judgment toward those who praise false teachers in public: Luke 6:26, 26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
- Jesus in Matthew predicts that in the church there will rise false messiahs and teachers who will claim that they have divine power, are appointed and anointed by God, and will even perform miracles and signs. Many people will fall for them: Matthew 24:24. “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
- The pharisees and Scribes who thought they were inside the Kingdom of God are deceivers. Jesus warns the people against them. He assesses them, disapproves their work, exposes their deceptive personality, and warns the people against their actions: Matthew 16:11-12, “ 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
- In fact, in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Paul speaks exactly why people are attracted to false teachers and why false teachers preach why they preach, “3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
- False teachers are instruments and agents of Satan.
II. Marks of a True Prophet or True Teacher of the Word of God
****2 Timothy 4, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. “
What true teachers of the Word of God should do
- Protect the flock of God. Protect them from errors. How do you do that? By preaching sound doctrine! By sanctifying in the Word of God (Sanctify them by your truth, your word is true: Acts 20:28-30, “28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
- 1 Timothy 6:11-16: Final Charge to Timothy
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
III. The Role of a good teacher of the Bible
- The Lead pastor is a spiritual leader of Jesus Center Community Church, and he is entrusted primarily with the spiritual well-being of the members of this church. The primary duty of the lead pastor is to teach and preach the Word of God faithfully and consistently in order that, through the power of God’s Word and influence of the Holy Spirit, he will contribute to the spiritual maturity of the members of the body of Christ (He. 3:17). The pastor is commanded to shepherd God’s people and watch over the souls of those under his care (Eph. 4:11; 1 Tim. 3:2; 5:17; Titus 1:9).
- Section 3. Spiritual Qualifications for Pastors and Elders
- In the book of Titus, God provides a comprehensive and precise guidelines about the character of a pastor and the individual whom he has called or chosen to shepherd his people.
In Titus 1:6-9,
- the character of the pastor is assessed in terms of his attitude toward sexual morality, family leadership, public relations, and personal attitude or conduct. In this same passage, the qualifications of the pastor are articulated in terms of a list of comparison and contrast, and negative and positive traits.
- “6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
- The Positive traits: the overseer or pastor must be
- a) “Above reproach;”
- b) “the husband of one wife;”
- c) “his children are believers;”
- d) “hospitable;”
- e) “ a lover of good;”
- f) “self-controlled;”
- g) “upright;”
- h) “holy;”
- i) “disciplined;”
- The Negative traits: the overseer or pastor must not be
- j) “arrogant;”
- k) “quick-tempered;”
- l) “a drunkard;”
- m) “violent;”
- n) “greedy for gain;”
- o) “his children must not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination”
- Overall, the overseer or pastor “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may
- be able to given instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke who contradict it” (v.9). A
- similar list could be found in 1 Timothy 3:2-7.