Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God for the 'gifts' he has given to the Church. Men called, commissioned, and ordained by Christ to pray for his Bride, and declare his Word of Light and Truth, so that the whole body might grow and build itself up in love. Ephesians 4:11-16.
Confess the sin of not always being diligent in the hearing of God's Word in a way that leads you to dwell, mull on it. Ask God for his help that you would be focused and determined to get all that you can from his Word, whether read or preached.
Let's read Luke 6:43-45 – The Fruit tells you!
Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you in your understanding of his Word.
I finished the ‘Daily Encouragement’ yesterday with a quote from James chapter three, which ended at the twelfth verse and the words, "Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water." I was not seeking to be subtle in my preparation for today's study in Luke. In fact, I hadn't realized that it would lead us perfectly into today, not having read ahead. So again, we see the Lord's providential hand in leading us in these things. God does this when we come to his Word and open ourselves to it. It is part of the 'leading by still waters', and 'in paths of righteousness' that the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 does this for us. What an encouragement to know that the Lord's hand is intimately involved in this study with us.
In Matthew's gospel (Matthew 7:15-20), this passage is directly linked to the false prophets, men who present themselves as one thing but, in reality, are another. Here, in Luke, it follows Jesus' instruction on those who teach and on those who would closely assess the lives of others. So, while this is primarily about those who teach and minister, it is also applicable to every Christian.
V43, 44. The Trees.
Jesus speaks of trees. Two types of trees, not in terms of their condition, i.e., healthy or rotting, but species or kinds. There is a good tree that produces fruit, which is literally 'excellent fruit', and there is the bad tree that produces that which is 'worthless fruit'. You can't get it much simpler than that. It is crystal clear; so obvious that a child can understand it. There are no hybrids here, no mixed species, no half good and half bad trees, or trees of any other percentage of good and bad. It is one or the other. But how can you tell the difference? As we shall see in a moment, it is of essential importance to our lives that we can do so. You tell the difference by looking at what is produced. The quality and the nature of the tree is seen in the fruit the tree produces.
Jesus uses four pictures in a few sentences to drive this point home. The symmetry and balance are perfect. The pictures combine to leave us in no doubt that it is all about the fruit.
What can the good tree not produce?
What can the bad tree not produce?
Can you pick figs from a bush?
Can grapes be picked from a bramble bush?
As we come to consider what this means, let's first note that there is a separation. Why is that important? It is important because if Jesus had not raised this issue, then the authority of all those who teach/minister would come under suspicion. Say there is reason to suspect whether what a man is doing is correct. Questions are raised about his teaching, the biblical content of his material; his demeanour or attitude; the integrity of his work, i.e., whether it is his own material or plagiarized from someone else. Had Jesus not given an accepted way of identifying 'bad' men, then all ministers and teachers would constantly be under threat of challenge. It is because Jesus tells us that discerning judgements can and must be made, that we have a way of testing all men, and so trust those who prove themselves genuine – the 'good' ministers and teachers. That is why this is so important. It is to protect the Church so that she can trust what she is hearing as truth, delivered from a godly heart, following honest labour, in a way that is marked by integrity. John Calvin writes, "So Christ, not to rob His Church and honest ministers and teachers of their due respect, tells them that they must judge false prophets, by their fruits." (A Harmony of Commentaries, Vol 1, p. 237).
V45. The fruit.
What does the good person/minister produce? Where does this good produce come from? What does the evil, wicked, person/minister produce? Where does that evil produce come from? Remember that anyone who does not do the will of the Father, as it is revealed in his Word, is considered wicked. The term 'wicked' is not reserved for those who are grotesquely heinous in what they do. So-called 'decent', 'good' men, if they persistently act in a manner that is inconsistent with God's will and do so unrepentantly, are not to be considered 'good' in the way that Jesus speaks of here.
We are not to be performers of the Christian life. The Word of God is to dwell in us richly, and the overflow of that into our lives will bear much good, genuine fruit to the Father's glory. As we abide in Jesus, many good things will come from our hearts, John 15:1-17, Proverbs 4:23. It truly is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
It is the same for the minister of God's Word. What flows out of his life will tell where he is abiding in his life. If he is in Christ, then the fruit of his life will be tangibly good. His careful work in applying himself to rightly handling the Word of truth will be evident, 2 Timothy 2:15. His love for, and diligent presence with, the flock will be clear to all, Acts 20:18-27. Christ will build his Church through such a man, and come the day of judgement his labours will not be burnt up as hay and stubble, 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. When a 'performer' enters the ministry, the fruit he produces will ultimately give him away. Calvin again – "In the long run, their hypocrisy is exposed, for there is nothing more difficult than the pretence of virtue." (A Harmony of Commentaries, Vol 1, p. 238). We need to be on the watch for such men. It is not sufficient to say there are bad men out there; the people of God need to be careful and discerning in respect of who they listen to and take their instruction from. I would counsel you not to watch such 'performers' on the TV. They are not good men. The fruit they produce is not good fruit. Do not be fooled by seeing large auditoriums full of people listening to them. "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. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” Matthew 7:21-23.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 27D. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
'Hiding' the Word of God in your heart will bless you in ways you will never expect.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, "
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 42 - What is the sum of the Ten Commandments?
Answer - The sum of the Ten Commandments is to love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you find proof texts.
Thank God for godly honest men of integrity, who take the gifts of mind and speech that God has given them, who work honestly and diligently to bring blessing to God's people from God's Word. Pray that we would have the spiritual discernment to test the fruit of those teaching us, to see if it is good fruit, fruit consistent with God's Laws, fruit that leads us to depend on God's grace.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley