Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
According to Jesus, only a few will find life. Compared to the total number of people who have lived on earth since Adam, the number will be small. Immediately following this thought-provoking pronouncement, Jesus issues a stern warning to us.
15 “Watch out for false prophets.
What might be the significance of this warning in light of the fact that few will be saved? Let’s look at the entire passage.
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Jesus commands us to “watch out for false prophets” and provides for us a detailed explanation of how to recognize them. Why? It must be because they can lead us away from the small gate and narrow road that leads to life. And we can recognize them by their fruit. Does “fruit” here signify the fruit of their public ministries? Let’s see what the Lord teaches next.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
The “fruit” of the false prophets does not refer to their public ministries—for example, how effectively they can prophesy in meetings, how many demons they have driven out in their deliverance ministries, or how powerfully they have healed the sick in their evangelistic meetings bringing many lost souls to Jesus Christ. False prophets can do these things, but—shockingly—in the Lord’s sight these ministers are actually evildoers. Who are these false prophets in the Church?
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Who can be saved therefore—if not servants of God with fruitful public ministries? According to verse 24, only those who hear the words of Jesus and then put them into practice will be saved. Which specific words of Jesus are being referred to here?
For the specific words, let’s turn our attention back to verse 15 in the King James Version.
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Could false prophets cause us to stumble and veer from the small gate and narrow road?
They come to us in sheep’s clothing, meaning outwardly they appear to be of the Christian faith. But in their hearts they are “ravening” wolves intent on preying on the sheep—believers. The Greek word translated “ravening” means literally rapacious, which in the English language means “aggressively greedy or grasping.”
Are there any servants of God in the Church who have outwardly powerful and effective ministries—and who fit that description? In verse 22, Jesus assures us that there will in fact be many such false prophets on that day. Could “that day” in fact have arrived?
22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and… 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
There will be many “servants of God” on that day who are actually false prophets and who are evildoers in God’s sight. They are ravenous, greedy wolves who are aggressively grasping from the sheep—and possibly leading them astray from the small gate and narrow road.
Luke 13:22-27 repeats and reinforces what Jesus taught in Matthew 7.
Luke 13:22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter [through the narrow door] and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
We are to make every effort to enter through the narrow door. Making every effort means far more than just having a well-known and fruitful public ministry. It means far more than just saying a sinner’s prayer and then following such a minister and his teachings. It would behoove the Church to recognize the rapacious, aggressively greedy and grasping false prophets in her midst.
Who are they? Do you know servants of God who fit this description?