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43. For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
44. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, no of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
46. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
47. Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
48. He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
49. But he that heareth and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built and house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
Last time we talked about how to show mercy to people. Not judging or condemning other people and showing mercy to them in different ways and leaving the judging into the hands of God, this passage is the flip side to the portion of scripture we talked about last week. This has to do with being able to recognize what goodness really is, it is the test for goodness. Keeping in mind it is not our place to judge or condemn but it is God’s responsibility as the husbandman of the vine to examine unfruitful branches and remove them. Jesus goes on to say that there are certain characteristics in the lives of people that he refers to as being good. He uses at least four different illustrations to help us understand what goodness is all about.
First of all he talks about the test of a good tree. The real test of a good tree is that it bears good fruit, because a corrupt or bad tree does not bear good fruit. And here is the way you know a good tree, put in very simple terms, it bears good fruit, you do not gather figs from thorn bushes and you do not get grapes from brambles or briars. It seems the kinds of things that Jesus is talking about here are the kinds of things that grow spontaneously that you must fight them and a special tool to combat these things that would take over your vines. You get figs from fig trees; you get grapes from good vines. A person who is in the word of God and abides in Christ is attached to the vine. Sometimes the husbandman must prune the fruit bearing limb of a tree or a vine so that it may bring forth more fruit in its next season. I think that in times past in the Church of God we have not helped people to understand the fullness and the richness of being in Christ. We have taught that you can come to church and get re-filled and it will last you through the week, and we have left the impression that you have to get renewed every week and failed to project the idea of the divine life and force of the power of God’s grace that can come to you every moment of the day and night and supply your life with grace and power while you abide in Jesus Christ. A good person who is attached to the vine and abides in the word and the power of the spirit and he produces good fruit and he goes on to talk about verse forty five, there is something about this good person that is attached to Lord Jesus. Here is the test of a good man or woman, he or she has a good heart and out of that heart flows rich treasure, they are the treasures of God’s grace. Our greatest blessings come to us individually as we give the greatest blessing we give to others. A good man has a good heart and out of it comes the good things to bless others. A bad person has a bad or corrupt heart and all that comes from their heart is evil and it hurts others and damage to those around him. A true disciple is anyone who will come to me and hear what he says and does them. Living and walking with Jesus walking step by step with him. I have lost count of the times the bible uses the term in Christ and being in Christ, a good disciple is one who comes to Christ and listen and hears what is being said and teachings and doctrines, he hears Jesus words. A lot of people would like to get a vision of Jesus and the angels and such, but the Lord has made it possible to receive communication from him daily. Moment by moment, hour by hour, he has written us letters. He has written us messages and he wants to talk to us through his word and the Holy Spirit. We have a tremendous advantage we have it may be filled with corruption, darkness and evil, but at the same time, we can receive communication and divine direction from heaven. A good disciple hears and listens to what the Lord has to say. Then when he has heard he practices it and does it. Ezra in the Old Testament was a ready scribe, he was ready to do God’s work and will, because he had sought the law of the Lord his God to do and teach it. You seek God and his word, then you put it practice, then you teach it. If a person does this he is like a good builder that when he starts to build a structure he digs down deep to solid rock, foundation is the key to supporting the building from all the outer forces of nature. It will stand because it is built upon the rock. A good person builds his life upon the word of God, the foundation and the rock to withstand the storms. No wonder then they are able to stand the test, they don’t lose their grip on the word no matter what comes against them. These are troubled and shaky times, but our foundation is strong and we may tremble on the rock, but the rock will never move under our feet and we can stand safe and secure for all time. It doesn’t matter how many people try to discredit the word and do not have any of its teachings to govern their lives. People spend too much time trying to figure out what is wrong in their lives psychologically and it seems everyone is trying to look within. The best way for us to look within is to first look to Jesus, and let the word reflect what God wants in our lives. That is where purification comes from and the cleansing of the word of God. There are times when we don’t know what to do and we turn to the Lord and we are turned to the word and we find immediately the divine will of the Lord. There is nothing strange or unusual kind of an occurrence to a real Christian, that is the everyday lifestyle of a disciple who has built there life upon the word of God. There are times when something may have slipped in upon us that we are unaware of and the word of God comes very clear in divine revelation and exposure, to condemn our own hearts and immediately we cry out for the purging and to be sanctified before our High and Holy God. The test of goodness is to receive life flowing from Jesus Christ that produces the life of a Christian a good tree bearing good fruit, a good person out of his own heart bringing treasures of the richness of God’s grace and sharing it with others. A disciple who comes to Jesus and follows closely and hears his words and does them, a person who builds his life on the rock Lord Jesus Christ, that is how you determine what goodness really is.
Dr. May explores the test for goodness.
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