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Eighth Sunday after Trinity

Matthew 7:15-23 Christ's warning against false prophets has often gone unheeded in Christianity. Hence the major schisms within her. Hence the indisputable fact according to God's Word, that of the millions who call themselves Christians, the greatest part in the delusion to obtain salvation faces damnation. Whoever will be saved can and must follow the admonition of Christ: "Take heed" etc. What Does Christ's Warning: "Beware of False Prophets" Ask of Us? 1. we should believe Christ, that there are wolves in sheep's clothing in Christianity that could destroy us. This teaching is a matter of faith and therefore reason seems foolish. The Lord teaches: a. that there are false prophets1, i.e., teachers and preachers of the Christian Church who boast of the same Office, of the same Holy Scriptures, of the same God and Savior, of the same Christian life, of the same Christian works that should be found in orthodox teachers and nevertheless are false prophets, b. that false prophets are ravening wolves2, i.e., teachers and preachers who rob sheep from Christ's flock, who destroy God's kingdom in the heart of many Christians, c. that false prophets are inwardly ravening wolves while outwardly wearing sheep's clothing3, i.e., their destruction of souls of God's kingdom happens in a hidden way before men's eyes, their secret, terrible work tears away hearts from the grace of God in Christ, it happens under the outward semblance of office and vocation as teachers of Christians, interpreters of Holy Scripture, of zeal for God's glory, truth, love, unity, godliness, and Christian virtue. Whoever does not believe this teaching of Christ, but disregards the loss of the grace of God in the heart in reliance on those in sheep's clothing, has already become prey for the wolves. Whoever does not distinguish false prophets from the orthodox, crashes into ruin. 2. We should recognize these wolves as such, in order to depart from them, a. we should recognize false prophets by their fruits4; since an orthodox prophet is only he who alone preaches the pure Word of God as such, in order to raise up righteousness in faith in the hearts of men given to us in Christ and to make subservient the will of men in all things to the Word of God; whoever brings forth different fruits is a false prophet;

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Matthew 7:15. ibid. 3 ibid. 4 Matthew 7:16a.

b. we should seek salvation of our souls not from false prophets5; since they could give us through their false doctrine the divine gift of salvation any more as thorns from grapes and thistles figs; c. we should not be deceived through the seemingly good things of the false prophets6; since they cover up only the dangerous souls that they carry with them. The external and seemingly good things in action and the sheep's clothing of the false prophets make it difficult for us to condemn them according to this teaching of Christ. But God asks for faith and obedience in all things. 3. we also should take the imminent condemnation of such wolves to heart, that we do not fall into the same condemnation; the Lord predicts for our warning that a. whoever does not bring the fruit of the preaching of grace is condemned7; b. whoever offered honor only with their lips without obedience toward the revealed will of God does not lead to heaven8; for only the good tree itself makes first the fruit for good; c. also the external appearance to have worked in word and deed for God's kingdom does not save from damnation9; for only those who really do God's will are the ones who Christ recognizes as His own. Therefore everything depends on Christ and holding on to his teaching as the only ground of our salvation in knowledge, intentions, and actions. R.L.

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Matthew 7:16b. Matthew 7:17-18. 7 Matthew 7:19-20. 8 Matthew 7:21. 9 Matthew 7:22-23.