"So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits."


"Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."


If you want a sign that will make the people of God who are now emerging as the church in city after city across the earth, don't look for what people normally call love. You might say to yourself, "Oh, there is so much love in that place! These people have such compassion for one another!" ....only to discover that beneath the surface there is no love at all. And don't look for "power X." There are many displays of spiritual power that do not come from God at all. Exorcists are getting to be a dime a dozen. Don't be carried away by numbers. The fact that a fellowship is crowded does not necessarily prove that God is there. If you want to see the mark of the emerging church, look for the one thing that distinguished the Son of God in the eyes of the Father.


"This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. "


Why was the Father well pleased? Because for the first time since Adam fell there was a human being on earth that God could rely on, a  man who said, "Yes," and it was yes, and "No," and it was no. Yes, Jesus opened the eyes of the blind and made the lame to walk, fed the multitudes and raised the dead. But the thing that caused the poor and the maimed and the halt and the blind to draw near with their hearts was that they knew this Jesus was on the level. You couldn't say that about the scribes or the Pharisees or the revolutionaries, or the government officials.  Sooner or later the best of them broke down and displayed something false inside. But Jesus' life and his word were a perfect match. If he said it, he did it. If he promised it, he delivered it.


"Did I not tell you that if you would believe, you would see the power of God?"


And it was so. He raised Lazarus from the dead. If Jesus said he was going up to Jerusalem to die, that's how it was. If Jesus said he would meet the disciples in Galilee, they could know that when they arrived at the appointed mountain, he would be there. If Jesus pro­mised that the Holy Spirit would come, they might as well stay in Jerusalem as they were told ... for it would be exactly as he said.


And whenever we quiet down enough to listen to his voice, we find that Jesus' words to us are attended by the exact truth of what they say. If Jesus points to his cross and says, "Your sins are forgiven," immediately the guilt which has tortured our conscience for years falls away - and we have peace. And if Jesus gives us a promise it is fulfilled. Many times we even forget the promise only to wake up months or years later and find ourselves standing right in the middle of its fulfillment.


The Contrast

But what a contrast between this meek man who does what he says and fulfills every promise and the church of this present hour! Some of the most unreliable people on earth are found in the professing Christian church. There is more exaggerating, more twisting of truth, more evading of issues, more excuse making, more sheer pretense in the professing Christian church than almost anywhere else on earth. There are people of considerable integrity who won't get near the church with a ten-foot pole, because somewhere in the past they had their fill of "Christians." We promised, but didn't deliver. We said there would be a change and nothing happened. We expressed con­cern with our mouths, but never backed it with our deeds. We said we would be there and we never showed up. We agreed to take care of it, but it never got done.


If salvation means anything at all it means that we have become like our Lord especially in this respect. How can we say we are born of God and go right on living according to our old deceitful nature.


"He who says he abides in him ought to walk

in the same way in which he walked."


"If you continue in my word, you are truly

my disciples, and you will know the truth

and the truth will make you free."


How can the truth make us free if we don't live the truth?


Servants As Their Lord          

The church which is now emerging, which Christ will soon present to himself in splendor without spot or wrinkle, is formed of a people who, like their master, are reliable. No longer children tossed to and fro and carried about with every kind of doctrine. Their "yes" is yes and their "no" is no. They are the Body of Christ, the word made flesh. They are real. The fruit they produce is good, and it endures.


"Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven,  but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."


The only ones who enter the kingdom are those whose, "Lord, Lord," is reliable, This means some specific things that we are inclined to miss. It means, first of all, that we are reliable servants of the Son of God himself. If the Master says, "Come," we come.  If he says, "Go," we go. If he says, "Do this," we do it. If he says, "Stop," we stop. When we get up in the morning we don't look out the window and see the rain and decide that we'll stay depressed today. We don't belong to ourselves. We are servants of a Master who has things for us to do today. Even if we have the sniffles. Even if every one in our household is in a surly mood.


Reliable, not just predictable. There are some people who are very predictable. You know they're going to stick to their routine even if it snows in July. But when the Master calls them to change their routine, they don't even blink an eye. They keep right on doing things their way. These people often think of themselves as reliable. But they are not. They are simply in a rut.


We're going to be reliable with our bodies by continuously presenting them to God as living sacrifices, so that day in and day out our bodies serve the glory of God instead of themselves. These appetites that God planted in our bodies will now be satisfied on God's schedule and in God's way.


"Thou openest thine hand and satisfieth the desire of every living thing."


He does. So fornication and all uncleanness, all self-indulgence, gluttony, drunkenness are buried under the blood of the Lamb.


We're going to be reliable with our money. This means, to begin with, that an assembly of believers lives by faith in the area of money. It lives by the knowledge that if it seeks first the Kingdom of God, the material things it needs to do its work will come. If our assemblies have to resort to telethons, prayer letters, bingo, pledge cards, or arm twisting to finance our grand plan, we'd better junk our plan. It isn't worth it. Before we appeal for funds we board up our churches and meeting places.


But it must also be stressed that any follower of Jesus Christ who is unfaithful to God in the way he handles his money will never get to first base in his walk with the Lord.


"If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, 

who will entrust to you the true riches?"


One of the first lessons the disciple needs to learn in his walk with the Lord is to be faithful, disciplined, diligent in the way he slices his paycheck. God will show you where to put it, when you de­cide to let go of it. But he won't pry it out of your hand against your will.


We're going to be reliable with our thoughts. No man can look into our minds and see the weird excursions we take with them. But every time we mentally walk down a path that is unreal, vain, vengeful, adulterous, we open our spirits to the Father of Lies. We weaken ourselves so that we're in no shape for the real thinking that has to be done. It's very hard to think with a sanctified brain in the afternoon when your mind has spent the whole morning rolling around in the dung heap.


We're going to be reliable with our mouths. Every time Jesus talks about the good tree bringing forth good fruit and the evil tree bringing forth evil fruit, he connects it with the mouth. Your mouth shows what is in your heart. If your mouth lies, your heart lies. If your mouth is vicious, your heart is vicious. If your mouth is vile, your heart is vile. If your mouth is sloppy, your heart is sloppy. And if your mouth is reliable, so is your heart.


"For by your words you will be justified,

and by your words you will be condemned."


We're going to be reliable toward each other.  In Joseph Bailey's book The Gospel Blimp the believers form an organization for getting out the gospel. But when sickness hits one of the wives, the Christians are too busy with their gospel blimp to see about that family's needs. It takes the heathen fun-lovers next door that everyone has been trying to evangelize to come through with a little practical help.


And friend, if you see that a certain brother or sister is being neglected, don't be coy until the crisis is over and then complain on the phone to twenty people that nobody in the fellowship did any­thing for Brother Tom. You do something! Round up the help now, while the crisis is on.  What you see, you are responsible for.  Not someone else.


We're going  to be reliable in our walk in the world.  When an employer says, "Don't send me any more of those Christians, they're unreliable,"  that's not persecution, that's judgment!  God never told us to read our Bibles on company time. God never gave us permission to evangelize when we should be pushing the broom.  Nowhere does our Lord excuse us for being late for work because "fellowship went past midnight last night."


"Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that in case they speak 

against you as wrong­doers, they may see your good deeds and glorify 

God on the day of visitation."


Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the 

sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals crying,

               "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the

 Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;

                 it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure...."

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited

 to the marriage supper of the Lamb."


God grant that we may now be clothed with fine linen, and that he may still find us so clothed when the Marriage Supper begins. For the church that will go in with him to the marriage will be the Bride who has made herself ready....she alone.


"Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb."