Today’s Reading: Matthew 7:15-23
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15–16a)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Why can’t we all just get along? Why is the Church so fractured, divided, and engaged in endless doctrinal arguments? Wouldn’t it be better to set aside our differences and try to work together for the sake of the Church? You know, people who believe the Bible is God’s Word and those who don’t; those who celebrate homosexuality and those who call it sin; those who teach that Baptism saves and those who say it’s only a symbol. Are these issues (and so many others) really worth dividing the Church? Can’t we all just get along? It certainly would make for more peaceful lives and a more peaceful church. But there’s just one little problem: Jesus won’t have it!
He’s dead serious about the dangers of false teaching. He calls the false prophets “wolves”—a demonic name. They are rotten trees with bad fruit which shall be cut down and thrown into the “fire”—a designation for hell. It sounds harsh, but Jesus is trying to impress upon us the seriousness of false doctrine. Our God is a God of truth. The truth He reveals in His Word is for our good and for our salvation. Any teaching that contradicts the truth is an attack on our salvation.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). All the false religions of men teach that the will of the Father is salvation by works. But in truth, this is the will of the Father: that the Son drink the cup of His wrath, and spill His blood on the Cross. The will of the Father is that you take and drink the lifeblood of His Son in Holy Communion, for the remission of your sins. The saving truth is that Christ has paid your debt. Your sins are forgiven. You are blessed and loved by Him. And if Jesus needs to get a little harsh with the false teachers to protect that truth, so be it. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Grant to us, Lord, the Spirit to think and do always such things as are right, that we, who cannot do anything that is good without You, may be enabled by You to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity)
-Rev. Jeffrey Ware is pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Christians need to aspire to being people of THE faith. Not just any will do. In Faith Misused, Dr. Alvin Schmidt shares his case for a Christian reclaiming of the word “faith” from its ambiguous modern uses. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.