I used to read the warnings of Jesus with some puzzlement. “Beware of
false prophets which come unto you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are
ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15-16). In my more naive days I often thought, as many others do, “How could someone pretend to be a sincere religious leader while all the while he is as phony as a three dollar bill?” Or, “Maybe this used to happen in ancient times but certainly it doesn’t happen anymore?” Fortunately, my naivete on that subject has long since disappeared. The history of every past age and the experiences of the present continue to warrant that caution by Jesus.
Some of you will remember the “Heaven’s Gate” mass suicide of about
seventeen years ago. Those people seemed so completely convinced of their after-death rendezvous with UFO’s filled with super-humans that they were happy to cast off their “Human shells” and even spoke contemptuously of those who didn’t share their hope. How could people be so deluded? I think the answer to that question comes in the final caution of Jesus: “By their fruit you will recognize them.” Actually, all fruit looks equally acceptable if you have nothing to compare it with. Even rotten fruit is not discernable from good fruit unless you have first tasted good fruit. And that, to me, is the whole lesson being taught.
It is important that Christians who claim to believe the Bible be aware of what it actually says. Not only so, but we must continue to put into practice what we know. That is why Jesus, a few verses later in that passage,
warns that a house not built upon adequate foundations will fall “with a great crash.” And what is it he says
constitutes an adequate foundation? Here it is: “Everyone who hears these sayings of mine and puts them into practice…” (Matthew 7:24). Are you both hearing and practicing? That is a major reason why we exist: to prepare people through bible teaching and study to become knowledgeable disciples and not just wishful thinkers. A major part of our ministry this year is to establish an adequate system of discipling so that
we will be able to recognize good fruit when we see it. I hope you are anxious to be one of those.
I have been a regular blood donor for years. Every eight weeks I show up to "get stuck." They treat me as an important "customer" and I found out long ago why they did. First of all, I am 0 Negative which makes me the universal donor. Anyone can receive my blood. The reason blood sources always have a desperate need for 0 Negative donors is because in emergency cases hospital personnel don't always have the time to type the recipient. They just grab packets of 0 Negative blood regardless of the recipient's type. Secondly, my blood is also CMV negative (CMV is a little blood problem about half of the population has. It poses no difficulty for adults but can cause problems for infants). So I am also important to infants during emergencies. I was also asked to take another step and donate blood plasma. This I found to be a little more inconvenient. It was many miles out of the way and required me to reserve about two and a half hours for the process. It also involved both arms being pierced. While there I was asked if I would be interested in taking another step and becoming a bone marrow donor. If matched to someone with your type you could indeed save his life, or at least extend his life through a one time donation.
All of this got me thinking about the One Unilversal Donor who continues to save the lives of all who come into contact wilh His blood. The squeamish among us don't often like to think or talk about things like this. In fact, many have criticized the Christian Faith as being a "bloody religion." Jesus gave His Church two "ordinances." Both of them symbolize to us His bloody ordeal on the cross (Baptism and the Lord's Supper). But the fact is that, as the Bible clearly states, "...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22). Science has only somewhat recently discovered what the Old Testament said long ago: "The life of the body is in the blood." Although it wasn't at all convenient for Him, Jesus poured out His life on the cross that we may experience new life in Him. Peter said that we were not redeemed from an empty way of life by "silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ." We can all give praise to God for Hils unfathomable love for us in that He provided His own Universal Donor to provide life for us all.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship