Fruity Christians

11008062223_e413f56cdd_zSo many Christians I have met are happy to ‘just sit in the pews’.  They want to be fed with the Gospel but “I don’t really want to do anything, I just want to be a Christian”.  The theological basis for this is argued: “We are saved by faith so why do we need to be doing anything”?  Let me answer that last question by looking at the theme of fruit in the Bible, more particularly in the New Testament [1].

We are saved by grace alone but we are people who are saved to bear fruit.  John 15:1-8 talks of the relationship between Jesus and his church being the connection of a vine and its branches.  The expectation here is that if you are a branch in the vine then you will show fruit.  While the Bible talks about the way faith leads to works, this is another way, I would say a better way, to talk of the same point.

Should we expect fruit?

Yes.  We have a new life, a life of repentance and so we should expect that this should change what we are doing (Matt 3:8, Luke 3:8).

Why is this so important?

We are saved by grace, we are not saved by bearing fruit.  However, bearing fruit shows what has happened in our heart (Luke 6:43).   There is a faith that comes from our hearts but fruit will show what is really hidden in our hearts.  While no-one can see what is in our hearts, but we can see the fruit in others.  Sometimes it will be the difference between good and bad fruit (Matt 7:16ff, 12:33) or the fruit of sanctification and sin (Rom 6:21, 7:4).

What happens with fruitfulness?

Fruitlessness is a sign that our hearts are not right with God.   Hence fruitulessness will be punished (Matt 3:10, 21:19; John 15:2).  In fact when we see fruitlessness in others we should stay away from it (Eph 5:11).  False teachers can be marked, if their teaching is too confusing for us to discern, by their lack of fruitlessness (1 Tim 1:6, Jude 12).

What is the fruit?

Often I see it expressed as one of the two following questions:  Is it the changes to our personal character?  Is it more converts?  This is a false polemic.  It is both.  Paul clearly shows the fruit of the Spirit is the change in character (Gal 5:22-29, Eph 5:9-10).  On the other hand we see the fruit of the Gospel in seeing people become Christian (Col 1:6, 10, Phil 1:22).  Fruit of the Gospel, fruit of the Spirit, they are not the same thing, but they are both fruit.

Where does fruit come from? 

It comes from being connected to the vine (John 15:4).  Sometimes this will involve pruning and discipline (John 15:2, Hebrews 13:15).  We cannot produce good fruit of ourselves, this is why we are not judged on our fruit, but on what the fruit reflects.

How do I become fruitful? 

Prayer, connecting with the vine and the soil.  There are times when we need to stop doing and start being.  When we are doing so much we have disconnected from the vine we have done nothing in terms of fruitfulness.  Only being connected to the vine, do we bear fruit.  There are times we need to pray for fruit (Rom 1:13) to make sure we are the right soil of the Word of God (Luke 8:14, Matt 13:23).

So, the question is, are you a fruity Christian?

 

 

[1] There is a much larger theme of what fruit means if we stood back and looked at the theme of fruit and harvest in the whole of the Bible, but that is another post!

 

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