“15Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
21″Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
I really wanted to run quickly through these four passages and go directly to the present reality of the monoculture however I feel it will be more beneficial to take a detailed look at these four passages before looking at the current world situation (please read “A Biblical Response to the Ecumenical Monoculture” for more information).
v.15 Christ warns the multitude to be alert, on their guard, always looking for those who would falsely claim to speak for God. By sheep’s clothing Christ is not speaking of one who sneaks into the flock dressed as a sheep; He is speaking of a false shepherd. Shepherds often wore wool clothing made from their sheep’s wool. This is also consistent with His calling them false prophets; prophets were not mere members of the Church, they are leaders who spoke for God. Christ is warning the multitudes of being led astray by false leadership who would seek to destroy them as a ravenous wolves would tear a sheep, which strayed from the flock, to pieces.
v.16 We can know who the false teachers are; this is so important that in verse 20 He reminds/encourages the multitudes that they can know who the false teachers are. Proponents of ecumenism would quote Matthew 7:1 saying, “We cannot call others out as false prophets because we are forbidden to judge” this; however, is an incorrect interpretation, Matthew 7:1 only forbids hypocritical judgment. We can know who false teachers are and we will know them by their fruits, the practical effects of their teachings and doctrines.
v.17-18 The previous verse dealt specifically with the fruits of ones teachings and doctrines these verses deal more specifically with the tree, which is the teachings and doctrines themselves. In the same way that good trees produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad fruit; the teaching of sound doctrine produces lives that are lived according to Scripture. It is important to note the Christ is concerned with both the teaching and its result. Supporters of the seeker and emergent church movements justify teaching unbiblical doctrines because of the results of their ministry; however, the tree must be good if it is to yield good fruit. This is precisely why Paul tells Timothy, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (I Timothy 4:16).
v.19 This verse is self-explanatory; the mark of a real Christian is good fruit and failure to produce fruit results in damnation.
v.21-23 This is a continuation of the thought in verse 19 and focuses on the result of false prophets and their own self-deception. Teaching, prophesying, and casting out demons in God’s name are not qualifiers to enter the kingdom of heaven. This reemphasizes the false prophets of verse 15 who outwardly appear to be true prophets. The one who enters the kingdom of heaven is the one who does God’s will. Those who promote ecumenism and use their own cleverness and ingenuity to build the church are in rebellion against God. God has set fourth in His Word specific methodologies and doctrines that must be followed if Christ is to build His church through what is taught (I Corinthians 3:7). Scripture alone must be the foundation for everything you do a foundation of anything else is outside of God’s will and subsequently false. Pastors, teachers, prophets, etcetera who’s methodologies and doctrines are not founded upon Scripture are false; regardless of what element of truth there may be in their teaching. The church must defend itself against these false shepherds, wherever they are found.