Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lesson 17: Fruit Inspection – Part 1 of 2

Brief 4-to-5 Minute Teaching Lesson

Why? and What is the Purpose? in My Life SERIES

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Lesson 17 of the Discipleship Making process.

I left you last time with this question, “How do you identify false prophets and teachers?”

As Jesus begins to draw the Sermon on the Mount to a close, He continues to admonish His disciples to be discerning, to know the difference between good and evil. He cautions them to be wary of false prophets. Then He explains how to discern them and their error.

The simple definition of a prophet is a person who declares the will of a god to people. They are usually endowed with supernatural gifts, which serve as signs and wonders to people that their testimony is authentic. One of the common gifts is the extraordinary ability to foretell some future event; hence many times they are called seers. As their primary responsibility is to reveal the will of god they can be classified along with teachers. Some prophets and teachers are true and some are false. However, the Israelites were told to test the prophets to see if they were false (Deuteronomy 13 & 18).

Read: Matthew 7:15-20 & Luke 6:43-45

With the giving of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, power was given to the Church to prophesy and perform signs and wonders. However, it would provide an opportunity for false prophets and teachers to creep in unnoticed and destroy God’s people from within. Jesus foresaw this time of deception and warned the disciples that in the last days false prophets would come and mislead many. Knowing that some would be able to both speak in His name and perform signs and wonders that would come to pass, Jesus instructed His disciples to use a third method to test the prophets and teachers: the test of character. You will know them by their fruits”.

These false prophets are difficult to detect because they disguise themselves as members of Jesus’ flock but inwardly they are ravenous wolves (Acts 20:29-30). Based on the book of Jude verse 11 it appears that the false prophets and teachers have three basic traits in common. Jude says, “For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”

Cain, Balaam and Korah have several things in common with one another. Each of them intimately knew God, heard Him speak, and was placed in a position of prominence by God. They each worshipped God and made offerings to Him. However, none of them was content with God. Each was motivated by covetousness and wanted to override God authority by doing things their own way. And each of them was responsible for the death of God’s people.

These men’s primary focus was self-promotion. Their actions show they were motivated by personal gain not by the love of God and man. Cain, Balaam and Korah are used in Scripture as examples that wrong motivation can occur in the three different aspects of man: body, soul, and spirit. The way of Cain involves the body. It is satisfying the desires of the flesh and is evidenced by 1) unholy living in the midst of the people of God. The error of Balaam is satisfying the desires of the soul by greed and is evidenced by 2) teaching that causes the people of God to fall. The rebellion of Korah involves the spirit. Its basis is pride and consists of grumbling and complaining against God, His leaders and His ways. It is evidenced through 3) causing division in the people of God.

In part 2 of this lesson, we will conclude Jesus’ teaching on fruit inspection, and how we are to discern good and evil, and choose for ourselves what is good without judging others.

With that, allow me to leave you with this question to consider:

What is your favorite fruit and how do you check it for quality?

Until next time . . . Godspeed!

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