Fruit Tree Theology - A Meditation on Matthew 7:21-23

By Rev. Eric Brown

“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 I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me you workers of lawlessness.'” --Matthew 7:21-23

A tree is known by its fruit. If the tree has a bunch of apples on it, it's an apple tree. If there's a bunch of cherries, it's a cherry tree. And when Jesus tells us that a false prophet will be known by our fruits, He gives this example. Jesus speaks of those who boast in their works – WE have prophesied, WE have cast out demons, WE have done mighty works. Sure, they were in Jesus' name, but WE have done them.

So type of tree is that? Well, if the fruit is “me, me, me, look at me” I guess it's a me tree. All about me. Contrast this to Paul who is determined to know nothing among us but Christ and Him Crucified. Because that is the point – you tell the tree by its fruit; you tell the preacher by what is preached. Are they preaching me or is everything driving to Christ?

Christians do judge preachers. We learn to hear the voice of the shepherd but to flee the voice of the wolves. And the thing we listen for is this: Are they preaching Christ and Him Crucified for you, or are they preaching themselves? Are they preaching all about what Christ has done for you or what you need to do for God? If it's not Christ, then they are a false preacher, they are workers of lawlessness – preaching some false, watered down salvation by works junk that ignores the fact that the Law always shows us our sin.

It can be tempting to listen to the folks who give mighty tales of what they have done and what you too can do, but none of that is better than what Jesus has already done for you by dying and rising for you, by baptizing you and giving you eternal life. Listen for Jesus when they preach; that's what you need. We all always need the preaching to be Christ Crucified for us.

Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois and the co-host of the HT Gospeled Boldly Podcast.

Created: August 2nd, 2017