Fruit Loops

Whenever we are being influenced by other people, we must be cautious enough to check for fruit in their lives.

TRANSCRIPT

BAPTISM INTRODUCTION

Morning.  David Sorn.  Pastor of Renovation Church.

Before we get started this morning, I want to take a few minutes to tell you about another exciting thing we are doing. 

In just a few weeks, we are going to be having our first ever church baptism on August 17th. 

I am super excited about this.  And I think many of you ought to be thinking about getting baptized. 

We have a lot of newer believers in this church, and I think this will be important for you to consider

Baptism is an outward symbol of what has happened on the inside of your life when you accept Christ. 

The Bible describes it as a symbol of what Jesus death did on Easter weekend

We die, are buried (under water), wiped clean (by the water, our sins are left behind (under water), and we are resurrected (come up from the water) as clean and sinless. 

Now, baptism doesn’t do that.  Your faith in Christ does that.  But it’s an awesome symbol of what God has done in your life. 

And Baptism is an important thing to do after you believe

We see plenty of examples of this in the Bible.  For instance, when a jailer puts his faith in Christ, here’s what happens

(Acts 16:30-33) - NIV

30He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"   31They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.

We don’t always do such a great job of it here in the northern united states, but baptism is something that typically followed belief pretty quickly…

And we do it because for one, Jesus commanded it

(Matthew 28:18-20)

 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

It’s an integral part of being a follower of Jesus

Secondly because Jesus himself was baptized   

And thirdly because it’s an outward witness to the world of what God’s doing in your heart. 

About a year or so before I became a Christian, my wife…who was missionary dating me at the time, invited me to her baptism. 

And I heard all about that day what it really was to be a Christian

So, with that being said, I want to encourage many of you.  I know a lot of you have put your faith in Christ in the last year or so, and I want you to highly consider taking the step to get baptized. 

We’ll give more details in announcements.  And there’s plenty more we could say about it.  If you have questions, feel free to ask me. 

Let me just pray for the message today, and we’ll get started

Let’s pray. 

 

 

INTRODUCTION/THE PASSAGE

Let me start with a question this morning. 

Think of the most influential person that you know?  Someone you’ve followed somewhere?  Maybe it’s someone you know personally.  Maybe not.  You follow what they do.  You listen to them.  Maybe you follow them on Twitter.  Maybe you literally follow them around. 

They are some sort of influence on your life.

What is it about that person that influences you? 

Is it what they say? 

Is it what they do? 

Is it their position?  Who they are? 

How they act? 

Jesus today, in our second to last passage in the sermon on the mount, tells us to be cautious about who we follow and also reminds us again that there is indeed an eternal line drawn in the sand that we must know about

(Matthew 7:15-23) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. 

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

Ok, so what is this all about?  What does this passage in the Bible mean for our lives today?

Well, for one, Jesus is telling us to exercise good judgment.  Earlier in chapter seven, he told us that as long as were 1st taking the plank out of our own eye, that we too should make wise judgments about people. 

And we should certainly be discerning about who we follow in life. 

Whether that’s someone at work, or your friends that influence you, your family that influences you. 

Or even broader than that 

Because we should also be discerning when it comes to broader influences:  like pastors, or politicians, or leaders, or authors, bloggers, speakers, you name it. 

There are a lot of leaders, especially in the tech-drive world we live in, that influence us. 

So how do you know who to follow?  Who should you watch out for?  Who should you listen to with extra caution?

Because there are indeed wolves dressed up as puffy little sheep. 

They look really fluffy and like they’d be fun to pet, but they really just want to bite your face off

 

 

FRUIT LOOPS

Jesus gives us a little litmus test for identifying good leaders.  He simply says, “A good tree produces good fruit.  A bad tree produces bad fruit.” 

Meaning this:  If jesus has come into your life, HS lives w/in you, then God has changed supernaturally who you are. 

Your soul is different.  You are a different tree. 

And the result of that is you should see change in your life. 

If God is truly moving inside of you now and changing your heart, there ought to be some outward “FRUIT” of that

Because when you start following Jesus, the renovation process begins. 

And it’s like a real renovation project. 

When someone is renovating their kitchen.  Visible changes happen.  You can see changes.  They have new cabinets, or some trendy stainless steel fridge that hates magnets. 

And if God is truly moving in your life, and you are thus a good tree, you (and the people around you) should see true Godly fruit

Jesus mentions that you are not going to get grapes from thornbushes or figs (which is a fruit in case you didn’t know…perhaps you’re only familiar with fig newtons…a wonderful snack), but anyway, also doesn’t grow on thistles (which is like prickly plant).

All of these things were really common in 1st Century Palestine where Jesus lived.  Not so much in MN.  I probably could have told you that fig newtons grew on thistles and some of you might have believed me

But to Jesus’ listeners, this makes immediate sense. 

A vine or a tree will only produce fruit consistent with its nature.  Orange trees produce oranges.  Not spikey thorns.  And thornbushes, no matter how hard they try, just can not produce honeycrisp apples. 

And you will, similarly, not produce true fruit in your life, without a fundamental change on the inside.  That is, God living within you by you accepting what he did on the cross. 

And then you should start to produce true fruit. 

Galatians lists some of that fruit as:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

And this creates what I would call the fruit loops effect.  When you are changed on the inside, that change goes out and produces fruit in your life; fruit which feels incredible to experience, which inspires you to grow even more inside, which produces even more fruit. 

But it all starts with seeking God first.  And letting HIM change you on the inside.  It’s not you going out and trying to make all the changes yourself.  That’s not how “fruit looping” works. 

 

 

TESTING LEADERS

And this is not only a helpful metaphor for our own spirituality, it’s also helpful in “testing” the people we follow. 

Which sounds kind of harsh, but there are plenty of people in this world that get caught up following the wrong sort of people. 

We see news stories about cults.  Even every once in a while a cult that commits mass suicide. 

We hear stories about fundamentalist groups that have their children marry at 14

You hear about crazy leaders leading people astray.  Like the 76 people  who died following David Koresh in his infamous Branch Davidians…

I’m all for the use of “Davidians,” j/k, but it’s like c’mon, how do people follow these leaders? 

And yet, in their own way their quite persuasive. 

And even if they’re not…we still follow people we shouldn’t

Sure, maybe you’re not part of secret group that meets in your mom’s basement to recite secret chants…but there are other ways we are susceptible to being led astray

For some people…it can even be the church they attend. 

Which I hate to say, because I’m not a church basher, but Jesus did say that the wolves come in sheep’s clothing, and sometimes they come in pastor’s clothing. 

For others, it’s the books we read, or the podcasts you listen to, it could be anything. 

So how do you tell?  How do you tell if the person you’re following is the right person to lead you spiritually?  Whether it’s some church’s podcast from China or your very own small group leader?

Ultimately, it comes down to the fruit loops test. 

Is there the cycle of growing fruit in their life?

Jesus said in verse 20

(Matthew 7:20) – NLT

 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. 

Which is important.  People can SAY all the right things, but if their lives aren’t showing it…if it’s not looping out and back, then it doesn’t matter. 

I mean listen, I can stand up here and say all the right things, but if I’m not following Jesus with my life, if you can’t see the fruit in my life, than you shouldn’t listen to a word I say. 

And that is the ultimate litmus test for a true disciple.  A true teacher. 

Is there fruit in his or her life? 

Which by the way is the added danger of our technology age. 

A lot of the people who influence us (whether through writings, or blogs, or podcasts or whatever), we can’t ever get close enough to really see if there is fruit or not. 

I’m not saying, you shouldn’t do any of those things, I’m just saying, it’s harder to tell. 

 

 

 

EXTREME FALSE PROPHETS

Jesus elaborates on this testing of leaders concept even more in the next few verses.  Let’s look at them again

(Matthew 7:21-23) – NLT

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

These are pretty crazy verses because Jesus says that some people can even claim to be Christians…(they say they “said the prayer”) or follow God or whatever, but they haven’t really done it in their heart. 

Which I suppose makes sense.  We get that some people fake it. 

But he takes it a step further and says, some people will even do miracles under my name and STILL be faking it

The Bible even gives a few examples of this. 

Look at this passage from the book of ACTS (about the early church)

(Acts 19:13-16) – NIV

13Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out."14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15(One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" 16Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

So here we see an instance of non-believers using the power of Jesus’ name.

And I think you can still see this today probably. 

TV is a great example of this. 

I remember when I first became a Christian and discovered there were Christian cable channels. 

I was SOO excited until I realized that 3 out of every 4 programs insisted that I send them 100 dollars that they would promptly pray over and turn into 1000 dollars for me. 

That’s kind and all, but no thanks. 

I think I’ll try the MN state lottery.  j/k

But it’s a great example of people doing things in Jesus’ name, but not really following his will or even following Him

And yeah, maybe sometimes God moves anyway because he wants to work in somebody’s life

I hope on the inside that these TV people are just severely misguided, but some obviously don’t truly believe. 

 

 

SUBTLE FALSE PROPHETS

These extreme kind of false prophets do of course exist…but the more dangerous version of false prophets, to our culture, anyway, are what I would call the subtle false prophets. 

The leaders who portray themselves as worshipping Jesus, yet really don’t know him

These sorts of people are everywhere in our country.  They write books, they speak, they pastor churches. 

They talk about God, and how he loves people, and cares for his children, but they avoid hard topics.  They don’t mention the word sin.  They would never tell you to repent (for that would be too offensive), and they certainly would never mention hell. 

And unfortunately, I just described a good portion of American churches.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah warned of prophets/leaders like this. 

When Jerusalem was about to be destroyed, he wrote the following about these types of leaders

(Jeremiah 6:14) – NLT

14 They offer superficial treatments
      for my people’s mortal wound.
   They give assurances of peace
      when there is no peace.

Instead of delivering the real news that judgment was coming and Jerusalem was to be destroyed, they just kept saying, “It’s okay…  Just be nice to your neighbors and everything will be fine.”

And I get that we call the people who start cults “false prophets,” and I get why we call the people who try and sell you blessed hankies for $1,000 “false prophets,” but shouldn’t we also call the people who falsely tell us that everyone gets to go heaven “false prophets.” 

If I’m driving on a road that ends in a sudden cliff that I could easily drive off of if I didn’t know it was coming, and my passengers in my car know about it but don’t want to admit it to me for fear of offending me with bad news…how terrible is that?

And honestly, I get angry, and I pray it’s righteous anger, when I think about the fact that I sat in a church for 18 years of my life and didn’t once hear about the reality of heaven and hell.  And only heard things about how to be kind to others.

And honestly, I’m so thankful that other people stepped into my life, so I didn’t end up finding out at the end of my life that, “Sorry, no one had the guts to tell you that it’s not enough to just say his name in church on Sundays, you actually have to know Him.”

And there are maybe even millions of people in our country that go to “church” every week but have no idea who Jesus is and what’s coming when they die because their leaders are too afraid of making anyone mad

And that oughta make YOU a little bit mad that someone is willing to stand up in front of people every Sunday and NOT tell them the reality of what’s at stake in their eternal destiny.

If that isn’t a false prophet leading people astray, what is?

And, like Jesus said, you can see the results of false teaching, or in this case “Half-truth” teaching by the fruit loop method. 

Is there fruit, and are people hungry for it?

I was having a conversation with my dad the other week, and he asked me why I thought so many churches in his town were dying. 

And I said, well, you can usually narrow it down to 2 things

1)  Did they update style (not the message) with the culture?

2)  Are they teaching the truth of God’s word

Because if you don’t, if church doesn’t have much to do with the topic of eternity, and they’re not talking about how in love Jesus is with you and how he’s renovating your life and changing the world around you….  Then honestly, why come? 

Life gets INFUSED into churches when people realize that they’ve been rescued from something

When people think they have nothing to be saved from, they stop coming to church because it’s irrelevant. 

And fruit (or in this case, non-fruit) of the teaching is thus revealed.   

IN that the church is dead

 

 

MAKING A CHOICE

And Jesus tells us a dividing line.  That “only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter”  (heaven that is)

By the way, don’t confuse doing his will with being a good person.  He didn’t say those who “do good” will enter.  It’s those who do His will.  They’re not the same thing necessarily.  There’s some small overlap,  Like a Venn diagram. 

But it’s ultimately about following Him not “doing good things.”

In fact, the original language is helpful for us here.  The NT was written in Greek. 

And the same Greek word that is translated as “produce” in 17-19, is actually the same verb that is used for “doing” the will of the father. 

This is actually really helpful in understanding the verse. 

It doesn’t read as elegantly this way, but it should read as, “only those who actually can bring forth/produce the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” 

Because it’s the people who CAN (from an internally renovated heart) produce the will of the Father are the ones that are actually saved. 

Or another way to say it, the ones who enter heaven, are the ones who have God inside of them…thus can do his will.

Not the ones who just do good things. 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

Listen, there are a lot of competing voices out there trying to influence us in different directions.  But God’s word straight up offers us a choice of two options.  Jesus says this in the Bible

(John 5:24) – NIV

24"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.

The reality is this:  2,000 years ago Jesus Christ came to earth to die on a cross for us. 

Why?  Because he was so in love with us and he came to rescue us. 

Yes, rescue us. 

See, because, we fall so short of perfection, which is God’s standard…and because He is just, he demands justice be done for any sin. 

But in his mercy, he couldn’t bear to see us punished, so he offered his own son, who is also God, in our place. 

And he came, and took the punishment for us. 

Even before we asked him to

And if we would believe in that, the Bible tells us (as I just read), we will NOT be condemned.  We will be set free.  We will have eternal life. 

And he will come live in us.  Start producing real fruit in us.  And give us real life.  Here and also in eternity. 

And that is the offer set before you today.  A chance to be saved.  A chance to experience grace and forgiveness from a God that is so in love with you, yes you, that he sent his own son to die in your place. 

I want to give some of you the opportunity to accept that offer this morning.  We are going to pray together, and I’m going to pray a prayer…and if you want to accept that offer this morning…(maybe your life has been leading up to this decision, maybe you feel God on your heart now, maybe you’ve been going to church for a LONG time, maybe you’ve been a part of Alpha this summer and have heard it explained many times, whatever the case, if you’re ready to accept it, let him in…and pray this w/ me

God, I know that I have sinned against you

            and that I deserve

            the punishment for my sin.

            But I am truly sorry

            and want to turn away from that life

            and turn towards you.

 

            I believe that your son Jesus Christ

            died for my sins

            was resurrected from the dead

            and wants to come live in me.

 

            Jesus I now invite you

            to be my Savior

            to become the Lord of my life

            and to reign in my heart

            from this day forward. 

 

            Thank you God

            for saving me

            and for forgiving me. 

            In Jesus’ name,

Amen. 


Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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