So good morning everyone. You may not be familiar with the name Nikole Mitchell so allow me to tell you a little bit something about her today. So two years ago she was a mother, a wife and the pastor of a mega church in Florida USA. Today she is an ex-evangelical, a life coach and an adult content creator. Now in making the switch from minister to content creator, she left her husband, moved to another state, explored her sexuality according to her and now identifies as queer. And when she had her first photo shoot where she strip in front of a camera, Mitchell said she never felt closer to God. She considers herself spiritual but not religious. Now that’s quite an interesting turn of events for a person’s life. But the reason I share their story is that she is an example of one who we may consider a false prophet. After all whatever our disagreement about her holding previously the office of an overseer, the fact remains that she abandoned not just the pulpit but she also walked away from her marriage and also from the faith. And traversing a particular path as well as identifying false prophets from true prophets is our topic for this morning. Please open your Bibles with me to Matthew chapter 7 we’ll be reading from verses 13 to 20. As we begin to look into our message entitled The True Path And False Prophets. So once again it’s Matthew 7 13 to 20. And I’ll be reading from the English Standard Version
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognise them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognise them by their fruits.
May those who have ears listen to the words of our true and living God.
So now we are in the section on our series on The Sermon on the Mount and by this time Jesus had already dealt at length with issues relating to our inner motivations or our inner spiritual life. And now He moves from talking about proper giving or proper praying or proper fasting to now talking about how we ought to relate to other people. He shifts the discussion to how we think of and how we treat our neighbour.
And Jesus starts this section by saying judge not that you be not judged. Now of course this is probably the most popular verse in the world today and it is the most misquoted verse by unbelievers especially when they tell others ‘judge not or you will be judged’ as if the whole command of Christ is “Judge not, full stop.. nothing else follows. Now of course um that’s not right. Obviously sin needs to be called as sin. There’s no reason for us to just shut up and allow people to do it especially if we care for them. And it’s not as if by saying that command, Jesus is saying that everything is now acceptable, right. And that everything is now permissible. That’s not the reason for why Christ said that statement. Um, it doesn’t mean that no matter how sinful or how grievous or however depraved an act is, that we’re not supposed to make value judgments about it. Obviously we are still supposed to make judgments because if we’re not supposed to make judgments, period, then everything else that Christ said after judge not will be rendered useless, right. Because we would not be able then to know not to throw pearls to swine. We would then not know how to call someone false or true, right. Rather, Jesus warns us not to judge hypocritically, right. The reminder is for us to take out the log in our eye before we deal with the spec in our neighbours’ eye, right. Nakakatawaa actually yung image na pinaint ni Christ. Tanggalin mo yung troso sa mata mo bago mo pakialaman yung butil na nandun sa mata ng kapwa mo. Jesus also would like all of us not to judge the intentions of the hearts of people because we do not have the capacity to look into anyone’s heart and be able to tell what’s their inner motivation for doing something.
However in scriptures, especially in First Corinthians 4, we are told that at the proper time Christ will be the one to reveal the motives of the hearts of people. We all however called to judge fairly. Christ is saying use a standard that you hold yourself to. Use a standard that you are willing to be subjected to and make sure that you also pass that standard. Huwag tayo maging ipokrito, gumamit tayo ng pamantasan na alam natin, yun din yung ginagamit natin sa ating pansarili, okay. And of course Jesus also calls us to practice discernment. Hence, the statement about not throwing pearls to swine. And essentially, sinabi Niya lang napaka-precious nung gospel na ipinagkatiwala sa atin. And so we must have the wisdom when to engage people and when to stop engaging with them. Now this is of course not saying na ay huwag ka na lang mag—share ng gospel sa mga tao kasi hostile naman sila heh. But of course it’s having the right wisdom to know when someone’s heart has already been softened. Pag malambot na po ung puso nila, alam natin na kumikilos na yung Diyos sa buhay nila. And then we can spend more time with them, we can expend more effort, we can give more of our time, talent, treasure and even the usage of technology to reach out to them. Pero dun naman sa mga taong hindi pa bukas sa ebanghelyo, we can now probably continue to pray for them but not antagonise them anymore by continuing to preach the gospel to them.
Jesus then teaches people to pray unceasingly, di ba? Sinasabi Niya, if kayo, masasama kayo, you can give good gifts, how much more the Father in Heaven can give good gifts to those who ask. And then He summarises the way that we treat our neighbour by talking about the Golden Rule. Now of course the statement on the golden rule is actually not something that originated from Christ and by that I mean to say as far back as Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, all the way to Judaism, there is a version of the golden rule that has been taught to people. But it’s always been a negative statement. Do not do unto others what you do not wish others to do to you. And what’s the difference? Ganito lang yan, I can be apathetic, I can choose not to care about people and by doing that, I’m already following the negative Golden Rule..di ba? I’m not harming anyone. I’m not caring for anyone and in that way by minding my own business, I’m already following the Golden Rule. But then Christ comes and then He elevates it by saying apathy is not enough. Kung wala kang paki sa kapwa mo, kahit yung ipokrito, kayang gawin yan, wala kang pinag-kaiba sa kanila. If you truly love people, then you will seek their highest good. You will extend a helping hand, tutulungan mo sila. Which brings us to our passage for today, Jesus concludes a sermon by making a gospel application and challenging His listeners with a choice and it is a binary choice.
There are two choices for each one given today. There are two gates and two paths, there are two destinations, there are two groups of people, there are two kinds of trees and two kinds of fruits. And all of these is to say to us Choose Life! Guard The Purity Of The Gospel And Exemplify Holiness In Christ. Merong plea si Kristo sa mga kausap Niya nung mga panahon na yon and maging sa atin sa araw na ito. And that is for us to Choose Life! Guard The Purity Of The Gospel And Exemplify Holiness In Christ. Sa sarili po nating wika, piliin mo ang buhay! Pangalagaan mo ang Kadalisayan Ng Magandang Balita At Maging Halimbawa Ka ng Kabanalan Kay Kristo.
And we’ll be looking at this by breaking it down into two points: the first one is that Jesus presents his listeners with a Binary Way. And we have to ask are there many roads to God? Because apparently in today’s culture, that is what is being perpetuated. Do all roads lead to heaven? And is sincerity enough? These are the questions that we’ll see to answer. And the second is this Jesus warns His hearers Beware Wolves. Mag-ingay kayo! Who are they and what do they do and what exactly do they do to people okay. And so we’ll be answering those two things today.
Before we continue, can we pause for a short word of prayer. Our gracious God and great Father, thank You so much for Your faithfulness in each of our lives. Thank You for bringing us today here in Your presence. We’re so excited for once again we’ve ascended Zion and we’ll be hearing Your preached word. I ask that You’ll be the one to allow each one of us to lay down whatever it is that may hinder us from truly focusing and listening to Your word. And I ask that Lord more than knowledge that You would be the one to cause transformation in each of our lives. Bring conviction, bring repentance, bring mortification of sin as we listen to Your word. And we give back all the glory, praise and honour. We ask for this in faith, in Jesus’ Name. Amen and amen.
So, let us begin.. the Binary Way. Christ says enter by the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the weight is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few. So in this section Jesus admonishes His hearers choose the narrow gate. He presents them with a choice but He’s very clear that He wants them to choose one over the other. It’s not as if He’s presenting the choices and then He’s saying you know what I live in up their judgment and I don’t have a preference, surprise sya. You know, find out! No, He’s saying I want you to choose this path. It may be hard, it may be small, it may be fraught with difficulty but that is what I want you to take. And that is my challenge to you. And we have to ask why the challenge from Jesus? Because after hearing all that Christ had to say, one can end up being amazed but what He said but not do anything about it. Yung tipong pagkasabi ni Christ, do unto others what you want others to do to you..and then He ends it there. Parang lahat ng makikinig di ba, parang wow! Slow clap! Galing nitong taong ito, di ba? Kakaiba siya magturo… may authority. And it is actually part of the commentary about what happened after.
But Christ doesn’t want to end His message there. He presents them with a challenge. Pinakita ko sa inyo, this is what a citizen of the kingdom is supposed to be. This is you’re supposed to be like: their intentions, their hearts, the love that they have for their neighbour, the righteousness that exceeds the Pharisees and now you have to make a choice. Do you want to enter this kingdom? Do you want to be up be a part of it? Or do you want to continue on with the way that you’ve been living your life? If Christ did not issue His challenge, then people would be amazed but not be compelled to think about what their decision is in light of what Jesus said. In fact, even though Christ already issued this challenge, most people even today do not feel the weight of the consequences of what Christ actually said. What do I say is this: a lot of people are amazed at Christ that if you ask people who are unchurched who is Christ, the most common answers you’d get would be He’s a great moral teacher, He’s an amazing good person, He taught people how to live life well, He presented himself as a model in the same mold as others like Him.. you know Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus is in that rarified air. But no one will acknowledge Christ for who He is which is the Saviour that challenges people, here is My kingdom, would you like to be a part of it? As we live in an age of tolerance and postmodernism, a lot of people believe all roads lead to heaven, di ba. It doesn’t matter which group you identify with, as long as you’re sincere in your heart, that’s enough. God will recognise your efforts and then when you die, you will be welcomed into Paradise as if the mere act of dying is enough to grant you access or entry into heaven or paradise.
But that’s not the way it is in God’s economy and that’s not of course a Christian worldview. And to drive home that fact, we are presented with two gates and two paths and they don’t end up in the same destination. Kahit sinasabi ng mundo, oh, you can try any type of spirituality that you have; at the end of it, magkikita-kita rin tayo as dulo… all roads lead to God. No Christ is essentially saying there are only two ways: My way and the world’s way. Which will you choose? We have to understand the wide gate and the wide path is our default starting point. It’s our default travel route. The moment you join the human race, dun ka na tumatahak. It’s not something that you choose to engage in at some point in your life. The moment you are born, that’s where you find yourself in. To be presented with a binary choice, may we may make a person think that prior to making a choice, they are on a neutral ground. Na para bang andyan yung mga daanan, at andito siya some kind of arbiter judge na pipili sa tamang panahon. Hindi ho ganun yun. If you don’t actually make a choice, then guess what? You’re actually following the course of the world, you’re on the wide path. The wide path is actually easy to follow. It is the course of the world. It is the wide path of inclusivity, tolerance; it is the path of acceptance and celebration. It is the wide path of love Is love, abortion is women’s health care. Gender is a construct and your truth may not be my truth, so don’t be intolerant and hateful and we can get along well. Don’t be a biggot. That’s what that road is supposed to be. It is the wide path of men can get pregnant and women can have a man’s genital. It is self-seeking, self-serving, the path of the spiritual but not religious. Being all of those things, the wide path is a very popular path. It is the path that encourages everyone to participate in.
But we are told it is a path that leads to death and destruction. It is a path of rebellion against a holy God. And a path of facing His judgment if one continues and persists in walking in it. It is the pathway of eternal ruin. If we wish to avoid this, then what gate and path must we travel? Jesus answers of course for us to enter the narrow gate. The narrow gate is the entry point of leaving behind the wide path and it is where the travel towards eternal life begins. It is the gate entered into by means of repentance and faith; of acknowledging Jesus as Lord. And it is continued on by faithfully following Jesus. In contrast to the wide gate and path, what does the narrow gate and narrow path look like? The narrow gate has to be found. Some people have access to it by virtue of the faith of their parents so they have easier access to the gate. Nevertheless, it is not as accessible as the wide gate and path. There is a promise though in scripture regarding the search for this particular path. We are told you shall seek Me and you shall find Me if you seek Me with all of your heart. This is the reason why prior to saying this, Christ was telling the people ask, seek and knock. Because if you truly wish to know this, mahahanap at mahahanap niyo Siya. Hindi ko kayo iiwan sa ere, I myself will be the one to answer you.
Asking, seeking, knocking persistently in prayer, that is a good way to discover the narrow gate. Now this narrow gate in contrast of course with the wide gate and path is unpopular. It requires a great sacrifice on someone to enter and walk in it. It is unpopular because it can sometimes mean turning away from family and friends to be able to cross it. It requires a great sacrifice because one has to humble himself, acknowledge that he has sinned against a thrice holy God. And that only Jesus’s death on the cross can satisfy God’s wrath and reconcile that person to the Father. The narrow path is difficult because being a disciple of Christ means denying oneself and daily taking up our cross for Jesus’ sake. It is about taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. It is a life of continuous repentance, of mortifying sin, of declaring war against your own fleshly desires and it is a messy life. Because it is about journeying together with others who are also traveling the narrow path. And it’s about watching each other’s back, calling out each other’s sin and forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven us. It is caring about your neighbour’s mess even as you deal with your own and your family’s mess. And it’s about extending grace as we also receive grace day by day. It is to speak out against a decaying and declining moral fibre in society of being the one to fight for the rights of the unborn to live, of calling abortion evil, of seeing that there are only two genders, that men can’t get pregnant and that women can’t have men’s parts. And it is difficult because scripture tells us that all who wish to live Godly lives in Jesus Christ will be persecuted.
However, the narrow path is so worth it! Because even though you may at times get lonely, you surely are never alone. God is always with you and this narrow path will surely lead to eternal life in Christ. So brothers and sisters, the challenge for us is this: we must cling to the gospel of Christ as the only and sure way to life eternal with God. As disciples of Jesus, there will never be a time that we will outgrow the gospel or start to care less about it. Or start to need it less, but rather, as we continually get conformed to the image of Christ, as we grow in humility, all the more our awareness of our need of grace grows. And so with each passing day, we preach the gospel more to ourselves. And we remind ourselves that it is an aid in combating temptations that we face every day. And that it also remains as a continual source of hope. That because we are in Christ, our striving is never in vain because there will come a day when we will experience final victory over our sin. And we won’t ever fall into temptations again. Napakaganda nun.
And if the narrow gate and path is not as easy to navigate and find as the wide gate and path, I want to ask what are we doing to help our family find it? There may be some of you who have family members who are not in the faith yet. We have to ask ourselves are we faithful in doing and participating in the personal means of grace that are available to us. At home, do we study our Bible? Do we take time to pray? For the parents here who have kids that you are catechising, do we make it a point to show our children that we read our Bibles and that we pray for them? Do we take time to proclaim the gospel to them when we can especially when we need to discipline them? How about our other loved ones? Maybe not our immediate family but our relatives and those who are near and dear to us. Uhm, if you’ve been watching the news, uh you may know that there were a couple of statesmen and politicians, also um popular celebrities or personalities who recently passed away. So for example, dalawang Ople. Di ba si Toots Ople and then yung kapatid niya nauna, weeks namatay and then yung uh, impersonator, di ba, namatay din. I forgot his name, Willy something. In those instances when we hear of deaths and we are reminded of the brevity of life, do we take those moments to talk to others about where they think their life will end up? Kasi, everytime na may nakaka experience ng kamatayan, yun yung mga moments na mas naaalala natin kahit gaano kahaba yung buhay natin dito sa mundo, maiksi pa rin siya; para pa rin siyang alikabok namadaling mawala. Do we take time to open conversations about the gospel during those moments? Because if we cling to the gospel of Christ, we will be conformed to Him and we will also grow in our desire to preach His gospel to others. And when that happens, and when those opportunities open up, brothers and sisters, I pray that we would not hesitate but let us do all that we can especially since we trust that whenever we do it, it is God Himself who will be faithful to call people to Himself. Hindi natin trabaho yun. Trabaho lang natin maghayag ng ebanghelyo kung sinuman yung tatawagin ng Diyos upang maging kaisa Niya, Siya, ang Espiritu Santo at si Hesukristo ang may trabaho nun.
If anyone here is not sure that they are threading the narrow path, friend I want you to be sure. There are no accidents with God, this moment Christ is calling you to repent of your sins and to turn to Him. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, the only Saviour who can reconcile you to God, the only one who can save you from your sin. Jesus is the narrow gate. We are also told Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life. And if on this moment you trust and believe in Jesus Christ, you will not be put to shame. He is mighty to save you from your sins. Believe in the true gospel of Christ and you will be saved.
Now speaking of the true gospel, we know it is the power of God for the salvation of sinners. But it is a message that does not lend itself well to being syncretised or mixed with other philosophies, world views and beliefs. And so in light of that, we have to ask can a diluted, syncretised gospel also grant salvation to sinners? And that brings us to our next point Beware Wolves.
Jesus warns against false teachers will come and lead many astray. And we know that whenever Christ says beware, or take heed, or watch out, it is of utmost importance. We must take note of what Christ is saying. Because whatever it is that He is warning against, there are serious implications and consequences that are a part of that warning. The fact that there is a path that leads to life, and a path that leads to death and destruction means that in navigating that path, there will be those who will profess faith in Jesus but lead others to a different Christ and on the wrong path. And if there are true followers of Jesus, then for sure there are also fake or false followers. When Jesus says to beware or to watch out, He’s actually giving a command for believers to actively look out for false prophets.
Again we’ve talked about being passive and being active. Christ doesn’t want us to be passive. We have to be active. If we find that there are false teachings that are being shared, then we must be quick to correct in love. False prophets are dangerous people. They should not be welcome with open arms in the church. Rather they should be marked and avoided. When a false teacher or prophet is identified, they must be responded to firmly and the brethren should be warned against them. And they can be in the church. They can rise up from the church, they can all be sitting with the other sheep that have a different agenda in their minds. They can destroy us with their teaching if we are not careful and if we are not watchful and vigilant. But Christ gave us a way to identify them. Evidence will come out that will enable us to know if one is a false prophet or not. And Christ says you’ll recognise them by their fruit. Ungodly people will ultimately produce ungodly fruit in their life. The false believer himself or herself will trip up and expose themselves by their actions. If not now, then in the future. And we must understand that falsehood will never remain hidden indefinitely. But they will be brought to light, they will be exposed by the fruit of the ministry and the fruit of their life.
Now recently there was a gathering of leaders from different evangelical groups. In certain photos stirred up discussion in social media. Because of a photo between a pastor and a known prosperity teacher. Now of course when the photo blew up, the mega church pastor was asked about what happened and this is how he responded. So the person judging the man in the photo with him as a false teacher. How can they say that, right. The man referring to the false teacher believes salvation is by grace through faith alone in Christ. His life was dramatically changed even though it wasn’t explained how. And that he actually learned to multiply churches from the mega church years ago. So I guess that makes him okay. Biblically, a false teacher is one who denies Jesus as the Son of God. That is what was said, so since the man believes in the Trinity, you know the father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, he’s okay. In fact he’s a brother why because he’s been training seven thousand pastors and he actually gathered his network of about 350 000 people. In fact, if we look at this ministry we can stand to learn about the love that he has for others. Then he said: “don’t judge that’s just a photo, you don’t know the full context.” I’d like to share with you what actually happened with the first heresy. So if you guys were familiar with history, you may know the name Arius, okay. Arius was responsible for something called Arianism. He was the reason why the Council of Nicaea was convened and their teaching was that Jesus as the only begotten Son of God was the firstborn in all creation which meant that Christ is not co-equal with the Father. Christ is only a created being and so is therefore not deity, okay. And so what happened, there was a council that was called and every time they confronted Arius and his followers, Arius and his followers vehemently denied the heresy. And in fact when presented with scripture after scripture after scripture after scripture, they were quick to affirm the authority of the Bible. And so the church fathers were at an impasse. We know else from what we believe. But how can we show that his beliefs are not the same as ours? And that’s why the Creed was formulated, right. That Jesus Christ was God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made. And when they presented that document to Arius and his followers, of course they in good faith cannot sign and affirm the document because even though they said they affirmed the scripture, they were twisting its meaning and they were misusing it . What’s my point? Someone can say: “ I profess the same things as the evangelicals do.” However, if he preaches about money, if he’s concerned about money, if it’s all about money, and and he’s concerned about the physical rather than the spiritual well-being of the people, no matter how much he professes, he’s a follower of Christ then by the standards of scripture, we can say that man is a prosperity teacher. That man is preaching a different Christ. He is promising to his people the very promises that Satan promised Jesus if Jesus would but bow to him.
It’s not enough to profess scripture. Pansinin ninyo ako, yung mga kulto, sila ho yung unang magsasabi naniniwala sila sa awtoridad ng salita ng Diyos. Pero pansinin po ninyo, may sarili silang version ng bible. At dun sa sarili nilang translation or paraphrase, their preferred doctrine is reflected. How can we know that a prophet or a teacher is false? A couple of things that we can employ to check if someone preaches the true gospel or not. False teachers have a tendency to exalt themselves rather than Jesus. This is present in modern day prophets and apostles. Bakit? Itong modern day prophets and apostles na ito, magagaling sila, bakit? They can change the spiritual atmosphere in a given place just by declaring it. So isn’t that about them and not anymore about God? They can speak things into existence. They can change the destiny of the spiritual realm just by declaring it with their lips. Meron ding iba, Narcigesis; they read themselves into the passage. Hindi naman sila yun pero ‘I am David.; I am Daniel’ Sila na lang yung palaging bida. That’s a false teacher. They love the blessings of Christ more than Christ Himself. If Christ is just a means to an end, that’s a false teacher. They supposedly discover a new doctrine that has been forgotten by the church for thousands of years. The funny thing is that the supposed new doctrine that they have is actually an old heresy that’s already been declared as such by the church. If only they knew the history! They emphasize physical blessings now rather than all the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ. Their ministry is of course centred around them. I’ve mentioned this already, they have their preferred translation and sometimes they have another source like the writings of their prophet or another writing that they put on the same pedestal as the Bible. They twist the scriptures. I’m sure you guys are familiar about the verse that says “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Do you know how a prosperity teacher twists that message? “The lack of money is the root of all evil.” Which is obviously something that scripture does not say. Woe to the person who adds or subtracts from the words of scripture.
We must be like the Bereans. How do we know if someone is from the Lord? If the fruit of the spirit is in them, right. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Then we can reasonably say by scripture standards that person is someone who truly loves the Lord. That person is someone who truly knows what it means to be saved and loved by Christ. We must call out the wrong teachings and beliefs of these teachers and we must warn the brethren about them. But ultimately, we must understand that the warning against them is not a sinful attack born out of hate, or out of spiritual pride. It is rather a biblical critique. If we say that scripture is our final arbiter in life and practice, then scripture must be able to call us out if we stray away from its teachings. And it also comes from a place of love because we know that love does not rejoice with evil, but it rejoices with the truth. And beyond that, love always protects. You don’t protect people by exposing them to falsehood. We have a duty to lovingly warn others against having fellowship with false teachers or false brethren. And our desire in doing this is to safeguard the purity of the gospel. Sabi ni Paul: “if me or an angel preaches a different gospel, let him be accursed.” And if we understand, if we think the gospel is not sufficient, if we think the gospel is not enough, and then we marry it with our own philosophies, we we marry it with our own wisdom, with our own worldview, and with our own biases, then we lessen its power because it’s as if we’re saying what Christ did, this precious message that has been entrusted to me by God Himself, hindi Siya sapat para makaligtas sa mga tao. Your faithlessness and your unbelief will be shown if you choose to mix or syncretise scripture with something else that it’s not supposed to be. A different gospel that does not save, a different gospel condemns. Hindi ibig sabihin nun anathema, accursed. Hindi siya makakapagligtas. It will bring greater condemnation, bakit? Tinwist mo na nga yung word ni God eh! That’s the very message of God that’s supposed to bring to light people’s need of a saviour. Tapos ginawa mo siyang Frankenstein’s monster.
People, uh there’s plenty of people in scriptures that warned against false brothers and false prophets. Jesus warned against them, um, Paul warned against them, the brothers of Christ, James and Jude once weren’t against them, even John the Beloved warned against them. And so we can also not choose to do the same. Kung yung mga tinitingala natin mula sa Banal na Kasulatan, they were zealous in guarding the purity of the Gospel, in safeguarding this precious message that has been entrusted by God, how can we do any less today?
False prophets, false teachers, they are real, they are present even unto today. And they seek to devour and deceive even those of the elect if they can. So do all that you can to be vigilant and to guard a true gospel message against falsehoods. And as we do so, let us seek to cultivate the graces of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need to understand for us to be able to spot right away what is true from what is false, we must immerse ourselves in the word of God. We will know what is true not by studying the counterfeit, but by dwelling in the word of God. Pag hawak ng Salita ng Diyos yung puso natin, yung kaisipan natin, yung buhay natin, marinig pa lang natin kung ano’ng sinasabi, alam na natin kung galing sa Diyos o galing lamang sa sariling kaisipan ng tao.
And the challenge for us brethren is for us to Contend For The Faith And Cultivate The Purity Of The Gospel And We Do This By Exemplifying Godly Character. And again it goes back to our personal disciplines. Kung wala na tayo sa chapel, nagpapasalamat tayo sa Panginoon, God is faithful, we are being fed by the word of God week in and week out. But when we are outside of the chapel, when we are not together as a local body of Christ, do we participate in the personal means of grace? Do we practice the ordinary means of grace in our homes? Are we setting aside time to learn and study the word of God? Are we practicing and learning how to let our speech always be gracious seasoned with salt, so that we may know how to respond to people? Ginagawa ba natin yun? Do we even care enough about people to warn them against listening, watching, reading or supporting false ministries in the music they listen to? In the sermons they watch? In the books and the media that they read and consume? Or iniisip ba natin sa sarili natin, I’m not doing harm to my brother.? You know sometimes the challenge for us Filipinos, we are averse to confrontations. Takot ho tayong mag-cause po ng gulo. Or mag-cause ng offense sa ibang tao. Kaya nga imbes na sabihin ho nating diretso yung isang bagay, meron ho tayong tendency na sabihin na lahat except yun until ma-gets nung tao. Are we practicing a negative version of The Golden Rule not bothering others because to do so, is to invite possible conflict and that’s stressful for us kasi ayaw natin yung confrontation heh. Kaya nga imbes na magalit, aalis na lang tayo, walk out na lang, imbes na pag-usapan kung may hindi pagkakaintindihan.
When there are opportunities to speak the truth in love, do we stop ourselves, because we don’t want to risk offending other people especially if we like them or they’re nice enough, di ba. Lalo na, kung tayo, we are reforming and then and then yung iba nating kapamilya, hindi. And then meron na silang pre- conceived notions of how we are and who we are and how we view things. Ngumingiti po yung asawa ko, bakit mo ako nginingitian? Our love for truth should cause us not to shy away from Biblical critics and from speaking the truth in love because again, our goal is to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. And we take captives every thought to make it obedience to Christ. Now, this does not mean, kailangan nating maghanap ng kaaway sa social media araw-araw. Hindi naman ho ganun yung gustong mangyari ni Lord sa atin. God doesn’t want us to be contentious or to nitpick. However, we must be sober minded to be able to know when to engage and when to disengage in a conversation and how to do so. We must also be careful that the current cultural mindset that we have. Remember we live in an age of tolerance so because we do, there are Christians now who think oh, if we embrace the LGBT people as they are, welcome them as they identify themselves, not saying anything about their choices in life, that’s the best way to love them. Hindi po yun ganun. I know this may be harder for some than others. I realised as I was making this we have brethren who work in government and in private companies and those companies may have GAD, di ba, Gender and Development which is essentially a policy for them to accept LGBTQ lifestyles. And it may be hard for you as a Christian. How do I navigate this? How can I speak truth in love? How can I show myself not as a bigot but someone who cares deeply for people? To be honest brethren friends, wala rin akong sagot sa inyo.. but I what I can tell you is you can pray and ask God for wisdom on how you can approach those circumstances and situations sa trabaho ninyo whether it’s in government or private. But one thing we need to understand is that we need to learn how to respectfully disagree on the basis of our faith even as we respect the dignity of the persons involved. Mahal natin sila, we respect them, we understand them, we understand they’re made in the image of God kahit na hindi tayo agree sa choice of lifestyle na meron sila. But there’s a balance that we must strike and even though I don’t have the answers for that, I know if you ask God for wisdom, ibibigay Niya yung sagot sa inyo.
If in the course of listening to this, you realise that you profess to have faith in God but again, the fruit of the spirit is lacking in life, then examine yourself if you are truly in faith. And if you’re not, God is gracious. Narito ka ngayon or napapakinggan mo itong mensahe na ito. God is calling you to repentance. Repent of your sins, turn to Christ ask Him to give you a new heart, a heart that loves Him, hates sin, a heart of flesh and not a heart of stone. And then ask God Lord teach me to be led by your Spirit that I may cultivate your graces in my life. And again, if you ask that with, with wholehearted, devotion of Christ, hindi ka Niya Itatatwa; tatanggapin ka Niya. I’m reminded of Costi Hinn, earlier we talked about a preacher who went from being in the faith to outside of the faith Costi Hinn was started with Benny Hinn’s Ministry but in the course of his study in scriptures especially in John 5, in the healing at the pool of Bethesda, he was surprised by the fact that Christ only healed one person. And when he read the commentary, the commentary said this is an example of Jesus a sovereign and one of the cruelest lies of faith healers today is that the people who fail to get healed aren’t guilty of negative confession or a lack of faith. And when he read that, his mind was blown, his eyes were open that what they were teaching was actually contrary to the gospel and contrary to the word of God. He repented and of course now he’s abandoned his uncle’s ministry and he pastors in a different church and he is now a follower of God. And he calls others to practice discernment as well. Friends, as we end, Christ is beseeching each one of us: choose life. The narrow path may be hard, but it is infinitely more rewarding because we travel not with the world but with Jesus Himself. Through Him, we can navigate life’s journey with wisdom condemning for the purity of the gospel and bearing fruit that brings honour and glory to God alone. And in this, may Jesus cause each one of us to be faithful.
Let us pray. Lord thank You so much once again for Your reminder to each one of us that there is a choice that is before us similar to what happened when Moses spoke with the assembly of the Israelites or when Joshua made his farewell speech they each made similar challenges for people to choose life and to choose life with You. Lord I pray for those people who are wrestling uh with where they are in relation to you. Lord, if they’re not yet sure about how they stand before you, I pray that you will be the one to grant them humility, give them faith and repentance for them to repent of their sins and turn to you. And Lord for those of us who who’ve been walking with you for quite some time, I pray that you’ll cause us to examine ourselves, to see if there’s anything in us that will still need mortifying and would need to be conformed to your image and likeness. And I pray that we would humbly submit to the leading of Your Holy Spirit and joyfully uh walk with You so that we may be conformed all the more in the image and likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Continue to sustain us for the rest of the day. We thank You because we know that You are here with us today. We give You back all the glory, praise and honour. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.