Hedge apple trees (Maclura pomifera), in contrast with apple trees, bear fruit that’s unpalatable and useless for food by either people or animals. But consistent with apple trees, the seeds from its fruit produce more of the same kind of trees, “the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself … the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind” (Gen 1:11,12).
Christ warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Mat 7:15-16). As there were false prophets among God’s people, false teachers are the equivalent today, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you” (2Pe 2:1). And Christ wasn’t just teaching us how to identify them, but urging us to identify them. He commended the church at Ephesus for doing so, “thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars” (Rev 2:2).
Concerning the Pharisees, He said, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Mat 12:33-34). What the fruit is to the tree, the mouth is to the heart. God first created trees whose seeds are from its fruit, then created humans whose words are from their hearts. And as good fruit comes from good trees and corrupt fruit from corrupt trees, so it is with true and false teachers. The seeds from their fruit produces more trees just like them.
Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus the requirements for ordaining bishops, deacons, and elders over churches, “A bishop then must be blameless” (1Ti 3:2), “ordain elders in every city … If any be blameless … For a bishop must be blameless” (Tit 1:5,6,7). To “Lay hands suddenly on no man” (1Ti 5:22), is to give time for men to be proven first before ordaining them, “And let these also first be proved” (1Ti 3:10). All of this was to ensure that “apple trees” were in fact being planted because the same principle is true with hedge apple trees.
Hedge apple trees only plant other hedge apple trees. They’re not going to ordain and place apple trees—men truly leading people to salvation—over churches. They only plant hedge apple trees which, in turn, plant more hedge apple trees. This is why all “Christian” churches over the entire world today are simply a vast forest of hedge apple trees. And anyone within these churches sincerely seeking the truth objectively, questioning from the Scriptures what’s being taught, are kept in check or pressured to leave if not conforming. This ensures entire churches continue to be hedge apple trees on their way to destruction.
Hedge apple trees placed over churches aren’t passive either. It isn’t that they’re just not helping people get saved but that they’re preventing it. They’re not simply neglecting to gather with Christ, but working to scatter from Him, “he that gathereth not with me scattereth” (Mat 12:30; Luk 11:23).
False teachers will never agree with Christ’s claims about God and about Himself any more than a hedge apple tree can grow apples from its branches. Time and again I’ve spoken with Trinitarian “ministers” who deny Christ’s own claim that His Father is the one true God and His God. But when they become irate and contentious, it’s not against my words but against His.
When I was a Trinitarian, there was one minister in particular I was very close with. He was the utmost example of how I wanted to be one day in my walk with God. And over the years we had many, many good times together in study, prayer, small group discussions, co-teaching, home visitations, retreats, and just talking with each other. He always had time for me, and I consistently sensed warmth and care from him. There were a few times, however, when sharing with him in private the truths I was learning from the Scriptures, that I experienced conflict. It bothered me that he not only wasn’t excited about discovering the truth like I was, but was actually resisting it. But I didn’t know then what I know now.
Wolves can’t be known by their lifestyles because their “clothing” is virtually that of sheep. In fact, they’re usually better “sheep” than true sheep! They can be known only by their fruits, just as Jesus said. It’s because they’re all on the same side—in agreement, fellowship, endorsement, and support of each other—that they’re all hedge apple trees. They keep us listening to their sermons, reading their books, and using their study resources because they don’t want us understanding the Scriptures for ourselves and becoming apple trees. After all, if we become apple trees ourselves, we’ll be a threat to their agenda by planting apple trees.