Unity # 17: Appointed to Bear Fruit that Reveals Our Identity
Dear Father, You are the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Who are we that You are mindful of us and concern Yourself with our lives? Thank You for not sparing Your own Son but graciously giving Him up for us all so that we may live through Him. Thank You for Your forbearance with the sins of our flesh and thank You for Your promise of the bestowing of righteousness even to the character of our earthly beings. Jesus Christ, You are Lord and You have come in the Flesh. In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen
In last week’s letter I spoke of the throne of grace, which may be approached with confidence by all who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. The sins of the regenerated do not lead to death because they do not interfere with the ongoing and progressive sanctification of the soul nor lead to the irreversible hardening of the heart which hinders one from continually approaching the throne of grace. There is a sovereign pull of love on the souls of each of the true sheep back to the throne of grace so they each of them may be cleansed in their consciences time after time until they see Christ face to Face. In addition to the impossibility of a Christian continuing in a life of deliberate sin, there is a certain bearing of good fruit that occurs in every believer. These good fruits are bestowed to the saints by the Father and are gifts of grace. This letter is about this bearing of fruit. As we read through the New Testament we comprehend the fulfillment of God’s promise to send His Son to redeem all of His people from all time. What the Law of God could not do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His Son in the form of sinful flesh and thus He condemned the sin of our flesh, so that the requirements of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom 8:3-4). Many of the verses in the New Testament seem to indicate that we are saved by our good deeds, and yet we know that we are saved by grace through faith alone. For example, Jesus said, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment (John 5:28)”. Did Jesus mean that our good deeds save us from judgment? No, but rather Jesus has clearly promised us that everyone who has been saved by grace will inevitably bear and continue to bear the fruit of righteousness to the glory and praise of God. This is the effect of the work of the cross on the life of one covered by the blood of Christ. As Jesus told His disciples, “16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another. (John 15)” Yes, Christ has appointed us to bear the enduring fruit of repentance that John the Baptist commanded the people to bear because the axe is already at the root of the trees and every branch that bears no fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt 3:8-10). Christ is the true Vine and His Father is the Vinedresser. The branches which bear fruit are those of us who are saved and who abide in Him. Abiding in Him means to remain, wait, and continue in Him. He prunes us through the refining fires of persecution and discipline so that we may be even more fruitful. For all discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb 12:11). But Jesus also said that those who do not abide in Him are like branches which dry up and are eventually burned. In a parable, Jesus explained how a tree that continually bears no fruit is considered useless for the ground and is cut down (Luke 13:6-8). Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My Words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples”. His will is that our joy may be full and that we love one another by following Christ’s example to lay down our lives for one another. He no longer calls us slaves, but He calls us friends because He makes known to us everything that He has heard from His Father (John 15:1-33). When we bear fruit, we are able to acknowledge that the love of the Father is in us and that the resurrection power of Christ has been granted to us. No false humility can cloud the Christian’s realization that the Father has glorified Himself by allowing His child to bear fruit. This is the way in which a Christian can read the book of 1 John and praise God for granting him the marks of a true believer in measures that are increasing with time. By our fruit of love all men will know that we are true disciples (John 13:35). For He has given us honest and good new hearts at the time of our regeneration so that we would hear the Word, hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance (Luke 8:15). Because the bearing of fruit will surely occur in all those who have been regenerated, Jesus told us that we would know those among us by their fruit. He teaches us that a good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. In due time, the fruit of our nature will be reaped and we will be known even before the people of God for who we truly are. (Matt 7:15-20) As Paul told Timothy, “The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after. Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed (1 Tim 5:24-25)”. How can we refuse to examine the fruit of those among us when Christ clearly tells us that we will know them by their fruit? Many, including myself have used Paul’s words to the Corinthians to justify such an attitude which subconsciously thinks that others cannot be known by their fruit. Paul says, “Therefore
do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s heart; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God” (1 Cor 4:5). In context, Paul spoke here of the need for the servants and stewards of Christ to be found trustworthy. The Corinthians had been giving praise to Godly men such as Paul and Apollos and were tempted to become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. Paul was warning them that God’s servants are commended by God alone who knew the motives of their hearts. God alone would praise each one when He arrives. Paul was not contradicting Christ’s Words that we would know others by their fruit. Those who bear no fruit are hidden reefs in our love feasts, fearless, caring for themselves, clouds without water, carried along by winds, autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, and uprooted (Jude 1:12). As Jesus said, the Kingdom of God would be taken away from those who bear no fruit and given to a people who would truly produce this Kingdom’s fruit (Matt 21:43)
Dear saints, we were made to die to the Law through the Body of Christ, so that we should be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we should bear fruit for God (Rom 7:4). As Paul prayed for the Colossians, “ 3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; (Col 1)”.
What is fruit? Is fruit prophesying in Christ’s Name, casting out demons, and performing miracles? Not necessarily, because some will believe to have done these things and yet Christ does not know them and they will be commanded to depart from Him because they have practiced lawlessness (Matt 7:21-23). For the tax collectors and prostitutes who formerly lived apart from the Law have believed and obeyed Christ, yet the teachers of the Law themselves did not believe in Him or even feel remorse after seeing the repentance of sinners (Matt 2:28-32). Rather the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and Truth (Eph 5:9). The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:18). How blessed we are when we do not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers. For our delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law we meditate day and night. We will be like trees firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does he prospers. (Ps 1:1-3) May our love abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that we may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Phil 1:9-11). The
righteous flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord and flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is their rock and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (Ps 92:12-15). The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise (Prov 11:30). From the fruit of our mouth, we enjoy good, but the desire of the treacherous is violence (Prov 13:2). How blessed we are when we trust in the Lord. We will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit (Jer 17:7-8).
Christ is the grain of wheat which fell to the earth and died in order to bear much fruit (John 12:24). He is the shoot that springs from the stem of Jesse, and the branch from His roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord, of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord rests on Him. (Is 11:1-2) This Branch is beautiful and glorious and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel and all those throughout the world who trust in Jesus (Is 4:2). For the roots, blossoms, and sprouts of Jacob will fill the whole world with fruit (Is 27:6). Out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion survivors. The zeal of the Lord will perform this (2 Kings 19:30). God says, “Drip down, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down righteousness; let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, and righteousness spring up with it. I, the Lord, have created it (Is 45:8)”. There will be peace for Christ, the Seed: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce and the heavens will give their dew; and God will cause the remnant to inherit all these things (Zech 8:12). God is the One who causes us to be very fruitful, and makes us stronger than our adversaries (Ps 105:24) He tells us, “O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant cypress; from Me comes Your fruit (Hos 14:8)”.
Love in Christ, Preethi