I missed cell group last week because I fell sick and so I missed the first portion of the studying of Matthew 17:13-20.
When we got to verse 17-19, it got a few of us a bit worried.
"So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
None of us if any, would ever meet these criteria, we thought, and what about it not being a gospel of works but grace? The verses are clear in that good trees will only bear good fruits, not bad fruits and we know that we sometimes do bear imperfect fruits. We are then destined to the fire?
In the midst of the discussion, I opened up my TNT commentary on Matthew by RT France in my iPad (this is the very reason going ebook make sense!) and France addressed v.16-18 together, which made me realize a very important point and with that I shared it with the group.
We must read these verses in context. Matt 7:15-20 is about false prophets and Jesus gave the criteria to recognise false prophets, in that they are the ones who bear bad fruits, never good ones.
"Thus you will recognise them by their fruits." (v.20)
This brought understanding to all of us as we can now reconcile these verses to the gospel as we know it.
The lesson here is to always read Scripture in context.