Fruit for God This teaching is available on video
Every human being must bear spiritual and moral fruit, either “fruit for God” or “fruit for death” (Rom 7:4-5). Those who are “slaves to righteousness” discover “the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” (Rom 6:19, 22). This is a marvellous prospect, but since few of us could honestly claim to be “slaves of righteousness” the profound fruitfulness of which scripture speaks is rarely experienced (Rom 15:29). Many Christians believe they should be bearing much more fruit for God and even feel guilty they aren’t but have no idea how to change this (Luke 8:8). The goal of this teaching is to cast light on the nature of fruit bearing so that we might bring forth greater fruitfulness in Christ to the glory of God.
The natural state of created humanity was great fruitfulness through divine blessing, “And God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion”” (Gen 1:28). There was a deep inner connection between humans sprung from the dust of the ground and the two trees growing from the soil in the midst of Eden (Gen 2:7-9). So it was intuitively obvious to Adam and Eve that eating of “the tree of life” would reproduce life while, as God said, eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would multiply death (Gen 2:17; Rom 5:12). Both trees were essential to developing a righteous conscience in humanity. The ultimate purpose for the creation of the tree of knowledge was that through resisting satanic temptation the human conscience would share God’s own holy understanding of good-and-evil (Gen 3:22). Obedience to God’s Word would have brought with it a clear revelation of the true source of righteousness being in the Lord alone. Why then did Eve side with Satan? Apparently she thought she could go above her creaturehood.
The most humbling thing about being a creature is to acknowledge that the fruit of our lives ultimately comes from being united to “another tree”. We either bear forth fruit for God or for the devil. Biblically there are only two types of plants (people), those of “good seed” who are “the sons of the kingdom”, and those sowed by the devil who are “sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:37-39). Eve was deceived into believing that since God hadn’t (so far) shared his knowledge of good-and-evil she was better off sharing the wisdom of the devil (Gen 3:5). In her confusion she thought she could become “like God” by choosing another creature’s knowledge of good and evil (James 3:13ff.). In fact she inherited the serpent’s fallen condition. Immediately they sinned Adam and Eve experienced painful moral conditions they knew (from prior experience) couldn’t come from a life rooted in God. Shame, guilt and a fear of judgement and death were fruit from a bad tree that separated them from the Lord and testified they could no longer bear fruit for eternal life (Luke 6:43; Rom 6:23). They knew they had substituted the glory of God for self-glorification and deserved to die (Rom 1:32; 3:23; 6:21). God in his mercy cast us out of Eden, lest through eating of the tree of life we live forever with a fallen conscience constantly condemning us for our evil acts and applauding us for our good deeds (Gen 3:22). This is how sinners live now but they rarely feel convicted of being guilty before God, for the place of God as Judge has been taken by the judgements of our own consciences (Rom 2:15). In a myriad of ways we say repeatedly to ourselves and others, “I am/am not a bad/good person.” Jesus delivers us from the sin of seeing ourselves as the origin of our own fruitfulness.
John the Baptist’s attack on the Pharisees, ““You brood of vipers! … Bear fruit in keeping with repentance…do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father… Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”, is an assault not so much on pharisaic actions but on the origin of their actions (Matt 3:7-10). They were self-righteous and self-glorying rather than those whose “works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:21). In contrast Jesus only ever ascribed his works and words to his Father; “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” (John 14:10). Before many mighty deeds Jesus “looked up to heaven” as a sign that the sole source of his fruitfulness was the Father (Matt 14:19; Mark 6:41; 7:34; John 11:41; 17:2). The fish and the loaves, for instance, necessarily multiplied because through Christ they shared in the original divine blessing given to the dominion of mankind (Gen 1:28). The crisis of the cross comes when Christ feels he is cut off from his point of origin in the Father, there is no tree from which he can bear fruit for righteousness (Mark 15:34). The resurrection reverses all this; the tree of life and the tree of knowledge have come together in the glorified Jesus, whose fruit for our eternal life is drawn from a point of origin equally in God and his perfect humanity (John 14:26; Gal 5:22-23). The gap between creature and Creator has been taken away.
My Tree is Better than your Tree
If the Pharisees had repented of their self-righteousness they would have ceased to be Pharisees, similarly whoever ceases to glorify in ancient tradition (RC; Orthodox), Bible knowledge (Evangelical), spiritual gifts (Pentecostal) or the Sabbath (SDA) etc. will find their identity in the fruit of the life of Christ alone. This would result in the Church returning to her original oneness in God (John 17:22; Acts 17:26). Unfortunately, instead of bearing fruit for Christ many ministries abuse and steal the fruit that comes in the name of Jesus. Prophecy, mighty works and exorcisms in themselves do not indicate that a tree is good (Matt 7:15-23). There are “peddlers of God’s word” and “false apostles”, as well as ordinary earnest churchgoers, whose works are fine looking but whose fruit is actually rotting because God is not given all the glory (Matt 6:5; 2 Cor 2:17; 11:13). Only the mature with “powers to discern” can sort good from evil fruit at the heart level ; even our own (Heb 5:14)!
The old saying about family likeness, “The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.”, is perfectly illustrated in the confession of the Roman centurion at the point of Jesus’ death; ““Truly this man was the Son of God!/was righteous!”” (Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47). This pagan sees the death of Jesus as a fruit absolutely directed to God the Father. In every place you have died in your own eyesto yourself as the source of good and evil you too will look and act like the plant which nourished you, you will look like Jesus in a way even hard-bitten pagans can understand (John 15). In my ecological studies I learned, “two species competing for the same resource cannot coexist”, likewise two egos cannot share the same place of pre-eminence (Gal 2:20). There is only space for one fruit bearing source (tree) in our lives. The way to dying to self-fruiting is the way of the tree of Christ’s cross. No-one wants to steal the cross’s way of glory for it’s pain, shame and humiliation is too great to bear. Let us resolve to live by the wisdom and knowledge of another, of Christ who alone is our source of “wisdom, righteousness, holiness and redemption…“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”” (1 Cor 1:30-31). ““I am like an evergreen tree, all your fruit comes from me.”” (Hos 14:8)