Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Messiah Lutheran Church
Trinity 8 (August 2, 2009)
For an audio MP3 of this sermon, CLICK HERE
TITLE: “The Fruits of the Gospel”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for this morning is the Gospel lesson just read, “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
When Paul made his farewell address to the pastors in Ephesus, he did so with a warning. The warning was that they were to pay hear to the whole counsel of God, and that they were to pay attention to their flock, the blood bought souls whom Jesus had commended to them. Paul warned that after he left ravenous wolves would come, that would seek to scatter the flock, devour them, and try to rob them of the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins. Even worse, Paul said, these wolves who come in won’t be outsiders, they will arise from their own flock, from in their own midst.
Jeremiah said much the same thing with the people of Israel, as they were about to be led into captivity in Babylon. God didn’t send these false prophets, but they came. They came, they spoke, the lied in the name of the Lord of Hosts, and they did it all trying to destroy the gifts of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation which God won for them with a mighty hand. The false prophets wanted to paint a picture for the Israelites that there could never be disaster, that things will not go bad because of their false belief, and that Baal would serve them as well as the true God.
So what are we to make of this? What are we to make of Jesus words that only those who do the will of His Father will enter the kingdom of heaven? How are we to understand Jesus’ warning about good fruit and bad fruit?
One thing is clear from these texts. We should never presume that just because there is a label, that things are what they seem. Just because David Koresh claimed to be Jesus in the flesh didn’t make him so. Just because you see the name “Christian” in front of a building does not mean they are Christians. By your fruits you shall know them.
So how are you to tell the difference? Jesus says that only those who do the will of His Father in heaven will enter the kingdom of heaven? But what is God’s will? God’s will is two-fold. His will is that you keep all His commandments first of all. That will is unbending, firm and true. That will of God is for your good, even though you may not always see it as such. That perfect will of God also shows you how regularly and consistently you fail at keeping His will and desire for you. By all accounts, you and I have listened to the lying voices of the night, which seek to keep us away from the forgiveness of sins, and which want to drive us to despair.
But God’s will ultimately is that you be saved. God’s will is that you live, and that you be free of sin and every evil of body and soul. That’s what God wants for you. If you want to know whether a preacher or teacher or church is from God, find out what kind of Jesus they present to you. Is it the Jesus of the cross? Is it the Jesus that died so that you might live forever in Him? Is it the Jesus that forgives, that comforts, that consoles, that gives hope and healing in the midst of sorrow and pain? Or is it another Jesus?
Jesus says that only those who do the will of His Father will enter into heaven. But don’t be afraid at this news. This is good news for you, not bad. God’s will is that you live and have life in His holy name. You are baptized. That is God’s work and will for you. Doing God’s will doesn’t mean mighty acts and great deeds that impress the world. Doing God’s will first of all means receiving what He has to give to you in His Son. It’s free. It’s a gift. It is life in His name.
Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.