Thursday, November 7, 2013

What Is the Quality of Your Fruit?

“You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”

What a startling way to address someone, especially to those who were supposed to be your spiritual leaders, yet John the baptizer did this very thing (Matt 3:7) when he saw Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism.  Why?  They had issues.  These men had assumed that, they could come to this prophet because they were the spiritual elite: children of Abraham and learned in all the laws of Judaism.

But they were relying on the wrong things.  They did not realize that they were in great need, as great a need as any sinner coming to the Jordan River.  Their fruit was rotten, because their root was rotten.  All coming that day were in need.  What was it that John said?  “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”  John warned that the axe was going to fall: “Every tree … that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”  Every tree—no exceptions.

How does someone bear good fruit?  By being connected to a good branch connected to a good root.  The prophet Isaiah says there is such a branch called “the shoot from the stump of Jesse” (Isa 11:1).  He is properly rooted and fruitful.  The Spirit of the Lord rests on him.  That branch, the Lord Jesus, is righteous and faithful, and only in him can the nations (in other words—you and me) bear fruit keeping with repentance.

You and I bear fruit, but of what quality is it?  Without Christ, the fruit is rotten, because, we have no capacity to bear good fruit as David says in Psalm 14:1-3.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
    there is none who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
    to see if there are any who understand,
    who seek after God.
They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
    there is none who does good,
    not even one.
Right now you might be thinking, “I’m not like that.  I believe in God.  That’s talking about those other guys, the really bad ones.”  No, the apostle Paul says this is talking about you, too (Romans 3).  Left to ourselves, we are altogether corrupt and hopeless, producing nothing of real worth.

Jesus, the only branch capable of bearing good fruit, died for our sin and corruption.  What we had rejected through Adam in the garden is now presented to us as a free gift.  There is life and that abundantly.  As a result of his life flowing through us, we are able to bear good fruit.  Again, it is not produced because we now try harder or for better reasons, though both of those might be true, but as a result of being joined to the source of life by grace through faith.

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