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