“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:33-37)

This statement by Jesus is very important in terms of discerning those who teach the Truth from those who do not. Quite simply, we can see the health of a tree by its fruits. The deeds and words of someone are not only what we can use to make decisions regarding whom we should want to be around: They also should be used to determine those we should hear as teachers.

This statement calls to mind the corrupt deeds and words to cover them up that have been done by religious leaders and teachers who pose as God's messengers. Preachers or priests who have come to be certified by an ecclesiastic establishment, for example, illustrate their real nature by their activities. The very deeds that have been exposed, including the abuse of children and other obscene activities, and the cover-ups that followed illustrates that it was not just a rotten fruit or two--the entire tree is rotten. The very system that supported these demons gaining their positions of authority and then keeping those positions while they committed those activities and others knew they were committing those acts is corrupted.

We also have seen many fanatical organizations who have or are committing acts of terror in the Name of God. The various attacks of terrorism by "fundamental" religious fanatics over thousands of years are certainly easy fruits to judge rotten trees with. A fanatical interpretation of any of God's representatives' teachings can be made by virtually anyone who has gained power. For example, how is it a religious sect can say they are acting upon the teachings of Jesus by hurting others? Is this the same Jesus who personally healed many people by his touch, and also said:

"But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matt. 5:39)

The bloody Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition and the Massacre of Mountain Meadows are fruits, once again, of rotten trees.

And fanatical religious terrorism is not limited to Christianity. Other major religions also have these rotten fruits from rotten trees, as we've seen over the past couple of decades from those fanatical groups who say they are acting up the teachings of a peaceful Mohammad.

While certainly even the best organization can have corrupted members who are pretending, the issue we should focus on is whether ecclesiastical religious organizations are equipped to authorize a religious teacher to teach about God? Can a committee of men authorize someone to represent God?

No. A committee of men can only authorize a person to represent that committee. Therefore, the membership of that committee will be represented only. A committee cannot represent God’s wishes.

Only God can authorize someone to represent God's wishes. Only God can choose who is His representative.

Throughout every authorized scripture (written by those authorized by God--which means a scripture that has been translated or steered by political committees is also not authorized) we find that God’s authorization process includes a process where before a person can teach, the person must sit at the feet of an authorized teacher and learn about God from an individual who has an intimate relationship with God. Should the person take this process seriously and learn at the feet of his teacher, and then take that process to heart, they may become pleasing to God. Should they become pleasing to God, and should they begin to develop their own intimate relationship with God, God may authorize them to teach on His behalf. Again, this is God’s authorization. It does not have to do with any degrees, titles, appointments or positions within an organization. In fact, trying to represent God based on these appointments by men is an offense to God.

This process has been taught and practiced throughout history. God’s representative is authorized by God, not a committee of men. And God's representative is not a paid professional position, and those who get paid by organizations to give sermons once a week are employees of that organization. They are not representing God.

Jesus specifically targets words as the deeds that men are to be judged upon. Therefore we can make critical judgments about our so-called religious teachers by what they say. Are they teaching love for God? Are they asking us to give our lives to God? Or are they only droning on about how Jesus died for our sins? Are they teaching about the importance of family when Jesus himself said:

“Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt 12:48-50), "

Certainly a person who is representing an ecclesiastical organization must be careful for what he or she says because if they offend the congregation they could lose their position. For this reason, we find preachers, reverends and priests talking about things that please the congregation.

The basic judgment a person should make upon whether to accept their pastor, preacher, priest or spiritual teacher is authorized by God to teach, is how that person came to their knowledge. Did that teacher accept a bona fide teacher, who in turn accepted a bona fide teacher? Is there a lineage of teachers, as we saw with Jesus and his disciples?

This is the definition of a disciplic succession. Jesus was part of a disciplic succession, as he took baptism and obviously learned from (as evidenced by Jesus’ own statements earlier) John the Baptist. John the Baptist was also a student of a teacher--his father, as we mentioned before. Jesus then took disciples, and Jesus requested that his disciples in turn each take on disciples, to continue the succession.

Why is the succession important? Because the relationship with God is passed on from person to person. It is a personal relationship. One must be introduced to God’s personal side by a person. This is the role of the teacher. Disciple-ship is not a ceremonial thing. While many might accept a ceremony like a baptism or initiation as the event required for becoming authorized, it is the actual reception of the teachings of the master that are the real baptism or initiation. It is the taking of the teachings of the master into ones heart and life, and the follow-through of those teachings that create the platform for authorization and discipleship. When a student takes their teacher’s instructions seriously and puts them into practice, that student becomes pleasing to God. This is disciple-ship. The word "disciple" comes from "discipline," not "initiation" or "baptism." Those ceremonial acts are not the actual requirements for being a disciple. It is the application of disciplining oneself in following the instructions of the teacher that makes a disciple. This of course requires humility, and this in turn opens the doorway for God to authorize that person to teach others.

There is a great contradiction today among the teachings of many Christian institutions. This contradiction is that “Jesus is the only teacher.” The irony here is that teachers other than Jesus are telling us this. If they are teaching this, they have become teachers. How can they with straight faces teach that Jesus is the only teacher? It is a contradiction.

And then we must ask, if this is true, why did Jesus himself tell his students and disciples to teach and take disciples? And why did those before Jesus like John the Baptist teach others and take disciples? Are these teachers not authorized? Certainly, this idea that Jesus is the only teacher is not supported by scripture.

The reality is that Jesus is God's messenger, one we should read about and learn from, and pray to for guidance. Still we must find a living teacher in the present day to help guide us, and help us apply those teachings to the modern world. The living teacher is also critical, because again, the personal relationship with God is passed on from teacher to student personally.

This is the process of growing a healthy tree. This is the process of fertilizing the tree so that it can bear healthy fruit. Without this foundation of authorization by God, those who pretend to be God’s representatives end up misleading people with their words. They end up teaching things or representing Jesus’ statements in ways that lead us away from the central messages of Jesus. They end up leading people into or towards fanaticism. Or they end up leading people into materialism, represented by the insane materialism being practiced by Christians on Jesus' supposed birthday. These teachers are the people Jesus is speaking of here. The words of these priests, reverends, popes and preachers--who mislead others while pretending to being God’s representatives--will be judged at the end of their physical lifetimes. The day of the death of this body is "judgment day" for each of us. For those who pretend to be teachers without God's authorization, their words of deception are an offense against God, Whose central desire is simply for us to return home to Him, and return to our original relationship of loving service.