26 Nov 2013
There has been much discussion and perhaps considerable disagreement concerning what the Bible means by “fruit.” We have no illusions of settling this matter; but we do believe it is important for each of our perspectives to be anchored to a good and accurate understanding of scripture. Perhaps looking into a few passages will be helpful in re-grooming and re-tuning our perceptions on the significant aspect of our spiritual responsibility, fruit bearing.
Luke 13:5-9 (AMP)
5 I tell you, No; but unless you repent (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally.
6 And He told them this parable: A certain man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but did not find [any].
7 So he said to the vinedresser, See here! For these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and I find none. Cut it down! Why should it continue also to use up the ground [to deplete the soil, intercept the sun, and take up room]?
8 But he replied to him, Leave it alone, sir, [just] this one more year, till I dig around it and put manure [on the soil].
9 Then perhaps it will bear fruit after this; but if not, you can cut it down and out.
Looking at the context for this scripture we see what seems to be a complaint communicated to Jesus concerning the murder of several Jews apparently during a time of corporate worship. This was communicated by the words: “Pilate mixing their blood with their sacrifice.” The unspoken inference to Jesus seems to be: “please explain why God allows good people who are worshippers of God to be killed.” Jesus said that these worshippers were not greater sinners than others who also worshipped. He went on to give another example of individuals being killed by the falling of the tower of Siloam.
At least on the surface it appears that those who brought up the “mixing of their blood” subject had a perspective that these were good men and they were killed unjustly. Jesus conversely stated that they were no worse than others. Then in the Siloam tower situation He reiterated His perception that men do not have a God given right to live. Jesus seemed to assume the opposite truth that we all deserve to die and we all need to repent! Repentance is surly a prerequisite to life and fruit bearing.
If we are really alive we only have life by means of God’s grace. Our life is not in any way related to any of our works or resources. Rebirth comes to us only by means of the gift of grace from a Holy God Who gave His Son on the Cross as payment for our sins. This holy exchange moved forward by repentance and consummated by grace bestows upon each authentic recipient both life and a position of immense debt. Is it not the extent of our awareness of our indebtedness that mirrors our understanding of the extent of the love that Christ demonstrated for us while we were yet sinners?
God’s primary means of producing fruit is provided to believers as a gift in the person of the Holy Spirit. This same Spirit indwells us initially at the moment of salvation and continuously from that moment as long as we inhabit this earth. Though the Holy Spirit comes to make His home in our bodies at the time of our salvation, because of God’s self constraint to always provide His children with self determination, the Spirit can only act, only control our lives by our acquiescence.
We must choose the Spirit’s direction, His wisdom, His love, and His power. While that seems an easy choice there is further the matter of God’s holiness and purity. Since the Holy Spirit is God and God cannot work in partnership with sin we must not only desire and choose the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we must be a cleansed and forgiven vessel for the Holy Spirit to fill. The confession of sin and the complete surrender of our lives to the work of Holy Spirit are defined as dwelling in Christ. Jesus uses this word translated “dwell” in the passage below.
John 15:1-8 (AMP)
1 I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser.
2 Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.
3 You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you].
4 Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.
5 I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.
6 If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.
8 When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.
God who by His grace has adopted you desires that you bear fruit, much fruit. However He is a gracious and merciful God who is not standing with the trap door cord in His hand, counting to ten to see if you will bear fruit in time. He has a heart to lift you up and to clean you up in order that you may bear fruit. He also is willing to inflict a bit of pain in the pruning process in order that you might bear more fruit. No matter what our perspective may be regarding the pruning process, the cleaning process or the lifting us up out of the mud, God always has our best long term interest in His heart.
When it comes to our fruit bearing, God is always doing all of His part with perfection. However on our side, we often have improvements to make. We must not forget to start at the beginning, at the Cross. It is at the Cross we find our true motive for fruit bearing! At the Cross we find the depth of our debt and the immensity of His grace.
We are made in the image of God and captured in His image is His nature to give. The great lie of the world and the flesh and Satan is that we should work with all our heart and mind and soul to get! But getting, even when it is successful, brings only the intense desire to get more. Getting brings no lasting satisfaction. Conversely bearing fruit, the most effective and eternal sort of giving is the most satisfying activity to mankind known on this planet.
God clearly instructs us to bear much fruit. He gives not this instruction because He needs more fruit. A god who needs anything is not God. No, God instructs us to bear much fruit that we might fulfill fully the purpose for which we were created, to bring Glory to God. Producing much fruit is our natural and perhaps highest function, it is that for which we have been created. Producing much fruit is not only where we find our greatest fulfillment but it the place where we accrue our greatest rewards!
Are you focused on bearing fruit? Are you intentionally seeking diligently to walk in the Spirit? O how our Father desires that we become fruitful branches bearing much fruit in His vineyard.
To bear much fruit we must consistently and completely surrender our lives by faith to the fruit bearing Spirit. So then what does “fruit” look like? What is the Biblical definition of “fruit?” Could it be that “fruit” is simply the results of God’s supernatural Holy Spirit doing His work through our lives?