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Summary: First Sermon of the Radiation Series

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Radiation: Emitting Light

Matthew 7:15-20

Sermon by Keith J. Andrews

All scriptures marked NKJV are: The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

In the TV series 24, the United States is always on the brink of disaster, and Jack Bauer is the only one that can save the country. When CTU (the Counter Terrorist Unit) discovers that a nuclear weapon, or several nuclear weapons, will be detonated, they begin to do damage assessments. Most of the time, they show the big cities of America with big circles around them. These circles represent ho much impact will occur from the detonations.

Tonight we are going to begin a series of messages called “Radiation”. I want you to begin to think how much impact you have on those around you. Then I want you to think about how much of this impact is related to spiritual things. How many people around you know that you are a Christian? How many people see it backed up in the actions you take and the words you say? How big is your radiation circle?

So these next several messages are about improving what the world thinks about you and ultimately what they think of Christ and his saving grace.

The first quote that came to me while considering this topic was from Matthew 7: “by their fruits you shall know them”. Matthew 7 is found on page 854 in the Red Bibles under your chairs. And by reading this passage, I noticed that this passage is speaking about false prophets, primarily.

However, I was reminded of several items from Murphy’s Law of Combat:

5. Friendly fire - isn’t.

4. Incoming fire has the right of way.

3. If the enemy is within range, so are you.

2. When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not your friend.

And this is the one that really got my attention.

1. Tracers work both ways.

So as we look at this passage, I don’t want to make the mistake of point our fingers at the other guys, and forget that we too are representing to the world our authenticity.

Look with me at Matthew 7: 15-20;

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Mt. 7:15-20, NKJV)

The first thing we see here is to “Beware of false prophets”. False prophets are real. We don’t like to talk about them too much because first, I believe, that we are not sure about our own beliefs, and second, in a pluralistic society—where the culture—not the Bible—teaches us that all roads lead to God—when clearly the Bible says different. We want to think that if people just believe in God they’re good. Well, James 2:9 says that the demons believe in God too—simply believing in God is not enough.

Jesus here is making it clear to us that there are false prophets that we need to watch out for. And he knows our reservations about claiming that we know more that the next guy, he know that we are easily led astray—he calls us sheep! So he makes it very simple on us. He says; “Watch what they do. See how they act. Are the producing good fruit?”

Verse 16 says; “You will know them by their fruits.”

Back in South Carolina, my family had a beautiful home and even more beautiful lawn. My Daddy has spent the last 30 years developing a nice garden and lawn. Visiting there is like a retreat for me.

One thing Daddy has never been able to get rid of are the tall sweet gum trees. On the property there are mainly two types of trees—sweet gum and oak. It was always hard for me to tell them apart, except by their fruit. The sweet gum balls are entirely different from acorns. Sweet gum balls have spines all over them, and they all painful to touch. They are even more painful when they wind up in your bed or down your shirt or in you shoes. Sweet Gum balls are bad fruit.

But, you can spot the sweet gum from a mile away. You can identify the spines, you can identify the shape.

In the same way, you may not know everything there is to know about theology. You may not know everything there is to know about religion…but you know a lot about fruit. You know when things don’t look quite right. Everybody sins, and slips from time to time. But is there a consistency of bad fruit? Jesus says “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” He teaches us to look for the fruit.

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