“Which of the two
Will of his father?”
they answered. Jesus said to them,
“Truly I tell you,
the tax collectors and the prostitutes
Kingdom of God
aHEAD of you.
The time is fulfilled,
and the kingdom of God
is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel
Preparing the Elect
Coming Spiritual Kingdom
Repentance, the HIGHest HANGing
Fruit on the TREE
True Biblical substance of
The withering of the fig tree, then, shows us that
Jesus has taken away the promises of salvation
from those who have not shown the fruits of repentance.
'Fruits of repentance'
here means a changed way of life, a way of life
that is constantly oriented toward Christ and his Kingdom.
This theme of Repentance, Salvation, and Redemption
SUMS up the entire Biblical Scope
Faith plus Works based Doctrine puts the focus on us,
our behavior, and our works, Salvation through
Faith Alone, by Grace, Alone,
Soley Focuses on the
True and only Purpose
Jesus Christ our Savior
True Christianity Preaches, Represents, Defends, and
Lives out the True gospel,
This is the Heart of the Matter of the crucifixion and resurrection,
with suffering and redemption at the
Core of the Fruit,
setting TRUE Christianity apart from every other religion,
philosophy, ideology or belief system
The substance of the Fruit Tree is
In One Spirit United
Under the Head, which is Christ
Suffering brings perseverance and hope, directing our
faith toward Christ the Savior and not of ourselves
The entire scope of human history in Gods grand design is the love story of
separation and unity through sacrificial love
sacrificial love is the highest form of love, a loving kindness
that sacrifices itself for the good of another
It is kindness through the mind of Christ,
the lens of God
It’s exceedingly greater than our human ability to
comprehend the substance of loving kindness
all other important Fruit qualities
such as love, joy, peace, forbearance,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
But God, being RICH in MERCY,
because of the great love with which
he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses,
TOGETHER WITH CHRIST
symbolizes the consequence or
product of repentance
First and foremost,
The fruit of
repentance toward God is,
among other things,
a change of attitude
Him and His law
It represents quenching one's enmity toward Him,
as well as turning from
disobedient to His Word to
It may also indicate a
change of status and relationship
from son of Satan (John 8:44) to
son of God
Repentance, Belief, and the Gospel
Jesus' words in Mark 1:15 come in the form of an urgent command:
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God
is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel."
Not only does Christ come to announce the soon-coming Kingdom of God,
in particular to those whom God calls (John 6:44), but also
to prepare the elect for their spiritual responsibilities now and in the Kingdom.
Notice, though, that this emphasis on repentance does
not end with Christ's death. After His resurrection from the dead,
but before His ascension to the Father, He tells His disciples:
Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the
Christ to suffer and to
rise from the dead the third day,
repentance and remission
of sins-should be preached in
His name to all nations,
beginning at Jerusalem
. (Luke 24:46-47)
Notice that following repentance is the remission of sins,
which baptism signifies,
being a symbolic dying to sin and
resurrection to anew life
This is why on Pentecost, AD 31,
the assembled crowd,
"Repent, and let every one of you
be baptized in
The Name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins; and
you shall receive
The gift of the Holy Spirit"
Likewise, Paul teaches the men of Athens:
these times of ignorance
But now commands
all men everywhere to repent,
He has appointed a day on which
He will judge the world
Man whom He has ordained.
He has given assurance of this to all
raising Him from the dead
(Acts 17:30-31; emphasis ours)
Repentance is a prerequisite to belief. What is repentance?
Its basic meaning is
“to change" or "to turn."
Once a person hears the gospel
and is convicted that his way of life is
he must change his present behavior and
"bear fruits worthy of repentance"
Repentance is not merely feeling sorry or remorseful,
but being so stricken in one's heart that one seeks
the cleansing of baptism and begins to
God's standards - according to
Remorse without a
corresponding change in conduct
is not repentance!
The fruits of repentance are visible ACTions - often
called "works" -
that show that a person has indeed changed.
When John the Baptist preached repentance to
Prepare The Way
his audience asked him what they should do to repent.
Clothe the naked, feed the hungry,
do not steal,
do not use one's authority
do not lie or accuse falsely,
be content with one's wages
In general, these actions are either obeying God's laws
or showing love for one's neighbor.
"If you want to enter into [eternal] life, keep the commandments"
Later, when requested to name the greatest commandments, Jesus answers,
"'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart. . . .' And the
second is like it:
'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'"
When we put
all these things together,
worthy of repentance is
simply living as
Believing the gospel
is closely related to having
When one believes something,
faith, trust, and confidence that it is
This confidence leads him
to begin to act in accordance with what he believes,
and the result is obedience to it or following it.
Notice how the apostle Paul shows this in Romans 10:8-10:
But what does [Scripture] say?
"The word is near you,
even in your
mouth and in your heart"
(that is, the word of faith which we preach):
that if you confess with your mouth
the Lord Jesus
and believe in your heart that God
has raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved.
For with the heart one believes to righteousness,
and with the mouth
confession is made to salvation.
Verse 10 provides the balance to verse 9.
It is not enough
just to confess Jesus verbally and believe
in the resurrection
as an intellectual exercise.
Paul explains that
heartfelt belief leads to righteousness,
which is simply
right doing or godly behavior
Faith, then - living faith
(II Corinthians 5:7) - is
God's Word and practicing it,
whether in the
face of hardship, sacrifice, the
contrary opinions of
friends and family, or even death.
The author of Hebrews commends the
"Heroes of Faith"
to us for just these reasons (Hebrews 11).
Jesus' urgent command
for us to
repent and believe the gospel
with the negative and positive sides of a
single, godly ACTion.
He tells us to rid ourselves of the evil we have been doing
("repent and . . . be baptized")
and to begin doing
God expects of those
He has revealed His way of life
This will lead
to righteousness and salvation and -
God promises! - entrance into His Kingdom
(II Peter 1:2-11).
The sons' ultimate
reveal their difference.
The first son, after open refusal,
repents of his sin--
better late than never—and goes
to work for his father.
He overcomes and changes
from bad to good
This embodies the good and bad fruit
The Fig Tree Parable,
Producing Good Works is Proof of
After experiencing the negative
results of sin,
he yields to
and doing as
his father commanded him—the fruit of his repentance.
The proof of our repentance
comes to light
when we comply with the Father's will
and do good works with the
help of the Holy Spirit,
is the production of the
fruit of the Spirit.
Think of it
A teacher has a classroom
and their-community job is to
plant a garden
40 different plants to feed them
so the teacher assigned
each student a specific job out of necessity.
All students have an assigned task but
Karen doesn't like that he was
assigned the weed picking,
so she does the
purchasing of plants instead.
She spent hours researching plants and was excited for
all of the
nutrients that they would provide.
She labored and knew her contributions and effort
would be beneficial for their class, and they certainly were.
However, all of the
plant labels had plant codes that
and She ended up getting just
of the specific plants needed, while 20 plants purchased
didn't meet their specific dietary needs.
The class had HALF the plants to
feed them for the year,
and though her work indeed mattered and was useful,
The project was delayed
Resources weren’t FULLY maximized,
Consequently, the class
had only half
of the Food needed for the Year.
Why was the teacher
in a position
to have a perspective
that Karen did not?
Because Karen was allergic to grapes, Simon brought them
home to bless his family,
who loved grapes. It was a sure blessing in
more ways than one.
They looked perfect on the table, and tasted really sweet
so he thought it would be ideal
to keep the basket of grapes
on the table
for everyone to admire as a designated
centerpiece for visitors,
and eat just two a day to satisfy his cravings.
Soon life got very busy
and when an
came knocking on their door,
there was no fruit
centerpiece to show off
no grapes to feed
their hungry elected guest
Wouldn’t it have been ideal
to have the
basket of grapes, yet eat them, too?
Jesus had just finished explaining to the disciples the meaning
Parable of the Wheat and the Tares,
and these two short parables are a continuance of
His discussion of
the “kingdom of heaven.”
He expressed truths about the kingdom
in three pairs
of parables in Matthew 13:
the seed and the sower
and the weeds in the field
the mustard seed
and the leaven
and the hidden treasure
and the pearl of great price
The similarities of these two short parables
make it clear
Teach the same lesson--
The kingdom of heaven
Both parables involve a man
all he had to possess the kingdom.
The treasure and the pearl represent
Jesus Christ and
the salvation He offers.
And while we cannot pay for salvation by
selling all our worldly goods,
once we have found the prize,
we are willing
to give up everything
to possess it.
But what is attained in exchange
so much more valuable
that it is comparable
To Trading an ounce of trash
Ton of diamonds
In both parables,
the treasures are hidden,
indicating that spiritual truth
is missed by many and cannot be
by intelligence or power or
Matthew 13:11-17 and 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, 14 make it clear that the mysteries of the kingdom are hidden from some who are unable to hear, see, and comprehend these truths. The disobedient reap the natural consequences of their unbelief—spiritual blindness.
Eyes are Opened
do discern spiritual truth,
like the men in the parable,
understand its great
Notice that the merchant stopped seeking pearls when
he found the pearl of great price.
Eternal life, the incorruptible inheritance, and
the love of God through Christ
constitute the pearl which, once found,
makes further searching unnecessary.
Christ fulfills our greatest needs, satisfies our longings,
makes us whole and clean before God,
calms and quiets our hearts, and gives us hope for the future.
The “great price,”
of course, is that which
was paid by Christ for our redemption.
He emptied Himself of His glory,
came to earth in the form of a lowly man
and shed His precious blood on the cross
to pay the penalty for our sins.
The Parable of the Sower
(also known as the Parable of the Four Soils)
is found in Matthew 13:3-9; Mark 4:2-9; and Luke 8:4-8.
After presenting this parable to the multitude,
Jesus interprets it for His disciples in
Matthew 13:18-23; Mark 4:13-20; and Luke 8:11-15.
The Parable of the Sower
concerns a sower who
which falls on four different types of ground.
The hard ground
“by The Way Side”
prevents the seed from sprouting at all,
and the seed
becomes nothing more than bird food.
The stony ground provides enough soil for the seeds
to germinate and begin to grow, but because there
is “no deepness of earth,”
the plants do not take
and are soon withered in the
The thorny ground allows the seed to grow, but the
choke the life
out of the beneficial plants.
The good ground receives
and produces much
Jesus’ explanation of the
Parable of the Sower highlights
four different responses to the gospel.
The WORD of the kingdom
The hard ground
represents someone who is
hardened by sin;
he hears but does not understand the Word,
and Satan plucks the message away,
keeping the heart dull and preventing the Word
from making an impression.
The stony ground pictures a man
who professes delight with the Word; however,
his heart is not changed,
and when trouble arises,
his so-called faith quickly disappears.
The thorny ground depicts one who seems to receive the Word,
but whose heart is full of riches, pleasures, and lusts;
the things of this world take his time and attention away from the Word,
and he ends up having no time for it.
The good ground
portrays the one who hears, understands, and
receives the Word--
and then allows the Word to accomplish
its result in his life.
The man represented by the “good ground”
is the only one of the four who is
because salvation’s proof is
(Matthew 3:7-8; 7:15-20).
To summarize the point of the Parable of the Sower: “
A man’s reception
is determined by the
condition of his heart.”
A secondary lesson would be
is more than a superficial,
hearing of the gospel.
Someone who is truly saved will
go on to prove it.”
May our faith and our lives
in the Parable of the Sower.
The Parable of the Vineyard
appears in three of the gospels
(Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19),
with Matthew’s account being the most complete.
However, there are additions in the others; hence,
it is wise to study all three accounts so as to achieve
the greatest understanding.
To get the context of what is happening, we need to
look at Matthew 21:18.
Early in the morning,
to the temple courts to teach
While He is teaching,
the chief priest
and elders confront Him,
wanting to know by
what authority He is teaching.
Not allowing them to control the conversation,
Jesus answers the question by first asking a question (21:24-26).
They do not like His question
nor His response to their answer; essentially,
He has told them that they can’t save face
from their obvious attempt to cajole Him and, therefore,
He is not obligated to answer their question
What Jesus told them is that John the Baptist and
He received their authority from
the same source.
This exchange causes the leaders
to become angry
and puts them in
opposition to Jesus
Jesus then further frustrates
the priests by
telling two parables:
the first one is the Parable of the
and the second is the Parable of the
sometimes called the Parable of the
The first parable Jesus teaches tells the priests that
they have claimed
to accept the
message from God
but they have failed to
live up to it by being obedient.
Outwardly, they are pious
and appear to be
people of God,
God knows the heart,
they have failed miserably.
The next parable (the Parable of the Vineyard)
pouring salt on a wound.
Just in case they didn’t fully understand
(which they did),
Jesus gives a much clearer picture of
what He means.
Obviously, this further infuriates the priests,
but it also gives the others who were present
an opportunity to hear Jesus fully explain
the implications of the disobedience
of the Jewish people throughout the ages.
There are 6 main characters in this parable:
1) the landowner—God,
2) the vineyard—Israel,
3) the tenants/farmers—the Jewish religious leadership,
4) the landowner’s servants—the prophets who remained obedient and preached God’s word to the people of Israel,
5) the son—Jesus, and
6) the other tenants—the Gentiles. The imagery used is similar to Isaiah’s parable of the vineyard
(it would be prudent to study this also)
found in Isaiah chapter 5.
The watchtower and
mentioned in verse 33 are means of
protecting the vineyard
The winepress is obviously for
stamping out the juice
of the grapes to make the wine.
The farmer was apparently away at
the time of harvest
and had rented the
vineyard to the tenants.
This was customary of the times, and he could expect as much as
half of the grapes
as payment by the tenants for use of his land.
Explanation: Verses 34-36
tell us the landowner
sent his servants
to collect his portion
and how they were
rejected by the tenants;
beaten, stoned, and even
Then he sent even more the second time
received the same treatment.
The servants sent
the prophets that God had sent
and then were rejected and
by the very people
claiming to be of God
obedient to Him
Jeremiah was beaten (Jeremiah 26:7-11; 38:1-28),
John the Baptist was killed (Matthew 14:1-12), and
others were stoned (2 Chronicles 24:21).
In this parable Jesus is not only
the religious establishment
what they were like,
but He was putting in their minds a question:
how could they claim
as God’s people and
We don’t know how many servants the
but that is not what is important; the theme is
God’s repeated appeal
through His prophets
In the next verses (37-39), the situation becomes even more critical.
The landowner sends his
believing that they will
But the tenants
an opportunity here;
they believe that if they
kill the son
they will then receive
The law at the time
if there were no heirs then
would pass to those in possession
(possession is nine tenths of the law).
This amounts to conspiracy
to commit murder by the Jewish
and it is prophetic in the sense
Jesus is now telling
them what they are going
to do to Him
(see Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16). After Jesus’ death, Peter would make the same charges against the religious establishment (Acts 4:8-12). The tenants probably thought that the fight for the property was over, but it wasn’t; the owner would now appear on the scene.
Jesus now (vs.40-41) asks the question,
what will the owner
do to the
What He is doing
is forcing the
their own miserable fate:
This is similar to the question that Nathan put
(2 Samuel 12:1-7).
Up to this point, Jesus has been dealing with the immediate situation of Israel and its past disobedience;
now Jesus leaves open the question of what
Israel’s leadership is going to do with
The Messiah, the Son of God,
whom He refers to as the
Cornerstones and capstones
are used symbolically in Scripture and picture
as the main piece
The foundation of the church
The head of the church,
Jesus is the beginning of
is foundational to the church,
He now stands over the church in
His rightful position
guiding the church
fulfill its divine destiny.
This verse makes clear prophetically how
Jesus will be
rejected by the religious establishment and
ultimately be crucified
(see Psalm 118:22-23)
The key to understanding this parable and what it says about the religious leaders is found in verse 43, where
Jesus makes their lack of obedience
Jesus tells the leaders that because
of their disobedience
they will be
of the kingdom of heaven
that they have let their opportunity
for the time being slip away to be given to the Gentiles
(see verse 41, “other tenants”).
This will be more than they can tolerate,
as we will see in verses 45 and 46.
He is saying that there will be
anew people of God
made up of all peoples who will temporarily
replace the Jews
So that Jesus can establish
This will change
God deals with man,
the old dispensation of the law to
anew dispensation of
It will usher in a period of time where man
will no longer understand forgiveness of sins
as man’s work
through what he does or doesn’t do
or by the sacrifices of animals on the altar,
The Work of Christ
on the Cross
It will be a time where
each individual can have
a personal and saving relationship
One and only
God of the universe
The exciting part of the verse is the phrase
“who will produce fruit”;
This gives Authority
to The Church
To Share the Gospel of Christ
Lost of the World
Up to this time, the Jews
felt that they had automatic
membership in God’s kingdom
of their relationship to Abraham;
this is why they
put so much emphasis on genealogies.
But the new people of God
would truly have what God wanted for Israel
all along: a personal and holy relationship
that would be honored through
the spreading of God’s word to all peoples
(see Exodus 19:5-6).
Jesus continues the stone metaphor in verse 44 to
show how a
stone can be used
to build something beautiful,
such as His church,
or it can be
used to crush and destroy,
depending on the situation.
This could be likened to
to some it is
To others it is foolish and disconcerting
of its ability to convict man of his sins
(2 Timothy 3:16)
Verses 45 and 46 give us three insights into the psyche of the chief priest of the religious establishment.
1) They are jealous and envious of Jesus’ popularity with the common people. This encroaches on their authority and power to govern.
2) They have come to the realization that Jesus is talking about them.
This hurts their pride
and embarrasses them in front
of the people.
3) They understood the analogy of the son and that Jesus
was referring to Himself.
This would be blasphemous to them,
and they would now seek to
From here the leaders would meet in
secrecy to plot how they would get rid of Jesus.
Why all the secrecy?
The people thought of
Jesus as a prophet from God;
could cause an uprising.
An uprising would jeopardize the leaders’
with the Roman authorities,
something that the Jews did not want
at any cost
The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds,
Is filled with spiritual significance and
But, in spite of the clear explanation of the parable that Jesus gave
this parable is very often misinterpreted.
Many commentaries and sermons have attempted
to use this story as an illustration of the
condition of the church,
noting that there are both
(the wheat) and false professors (the weeds)
in both the church at large and individual local churches.
While this may be true, Jesus distinctly explains that
Nit the church;
Even if He hadn’t specifically told us the world is the setting of the story, it would still be obvious.
The landowner tells
not to pull up
the weeds in the field,
leave them until the
end of the age
If the field were the church, this command would directly
contradict Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18,
which tells us how to deal with unrepentant sinners
in the church: they are to be put out of the fellowship
and treated as unbelievers.
Jesus never instructed us to let impenitent sinners remain
in our midst until the end of the age.
So, Jesus is teaching here about
“the kingdom of heaven “
In the world.
In the agricultural society of
many farmers depended on the
quality of their crops
An enemy sowing weeds
sabotaged a business
The tares in the parable were
darnel because that weed,
appears as wheat.
Without modern weed killers,
what would a wise
farmer do in such a dilemma?
Instead of tearing out the wheat with the tares,
The landowner in this parable
waited until the harvest
After harvesting the whole field,
the tares could be separated and burned.
The wheat would be saved in the barn.
In the explanation of parable,
Christ declares that He Himself
is the sower.
He spreads His redeemed
true believers, in the field
of the world.
Through His grace, these Christians
bear the fruit of the Spirit
Their presence on earth is the
“kingdom of heaven”
is like the field of the world.
When Jesus said,
“The kingdom of heaven is at hand”
(Matthew 3:2; 4:17),
He meant the spiritual realm which
exists on earth
side by side with the realm of the evil one
(1 John 5:19).
When the kingdom of heaven comes to its fruition, heaven will be a reality and there will be no “weeds” among the “wheat.” But for now, both good and bad seeds mature in the world.
The enemy in the parable is Satan. In opposition to Jesus Christ, the devil tries to destroy Christ’s work by placing false believers and teachers in the world who lead many astray. One has only to look at the latest televangelist scandal to know the world is filled with professing “Christians” whose ungodly actions bring reproach on the name of Christ. But we are not to pursue such people in an effort to destroy them. For one thing, we don’t know if immature and innocent believers might be injured by our efforts. Further, one has only to look at the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, and the reign of “Bloody Mary” in England to see the results of men taking upon themselves the responsibility of separating true believers from false, a task reserved for God alone. Instead of requiring these false believers to be rooted out of the world, and possibly hurting immature believers in the process, Christ allows them to remain until His return. At that time, angels will separate the true from false believers.
In addition, we are not to take it upon ourselves to uproot unbelievers because the difference between true and false believers isn’t always obvious. Tares, especially in the early stages of growth, resemble wheat. Likewise, a false believer may resemble a true believer. In Matthew 7:22, Jesus warned that many profess faith but do not know Him. Thus, each person should examine his own relationship with Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5). First John is an excellent test of salvation.
Jesus Christ will one day establish true righteousness. After He raptures the true church out of this world, God will pour out His righteous wrath on the world. During that tribulation, He will draw others to saving faith in Jesus Christ. At the end of the tribulation, all unbelievers will be judged for their sin and unbelief; then, they will be removed from God’s presence.
True followers of Christ
reign with Him.
What a glorious hope for the “wheat”!
In the natural world,
fruit is the result of a healthy plant producing what it was designed to produce (Genesis 1:11–12). In the Bible, the word fruit is often used to describe a person’s outward actions that result from the condition of the heart.
Good fruit is that which is produced by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a starting place: the fruit of His Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The more we allow
the Holy Spirit
free rein in our lives,
this fruit is evident
(Galatians 5:16, 25)
Jesus told His followers,
“I chose you and appointed you
so that you might go and
fruit that will last”
Righteous fruit has eternal benefit
Jesus told us clearly what we must do to bear good fruit. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4–5). A branch must stay firmly attached to the trunk to stay alive. As disciples of Christ, we must stay firmly connected to Him to remain spiritually productive. A branch draws strength, nourishment, protection, and energy from the vine. If it is broken off, it quickly dies and becomes unfruitful.
When we neglect our spiritual life,
ignore the Word of God,
skimp on prayer,
and withhold areas of our lives from
the scrutiny of the
we are like a
broken off the vine.
Our lives become
We need daily surrender, daily communication,
and connection with the Holy Spirit
in order to
walk in the Spirit
and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”
Staying intimately connected
to the True Vine
is the only way
to “bear fruit in old age”
to “run and not grow weary
” (Isaiah 40:31),
and to not “grow weary in well-doing”
to bearing good fruit is pretense.
We can become experts at the
the lingo, and “acting Christian,”
while experiencing no
real power and
Our hearts remain self-centered, angry, and joyless even while we go through the motions of serving God. We can easily slip into the sin of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day in judging ourselves by how we think we appear to others and neglecting that secret place of the heart where all good fruit germinates. When we love, desire, pursue, and fear the same things that the rest of the world does, we are not abiding in Christ, even though our lives may be filled with church-related activity. And, often, we don’t realize that we are living fruitless lives (1 John 2:15–17).
will be tested by fire.
Using a different metaphor than fruit, 1 Corinthians 3:12–14 says,
“If anyone builds on this foundation
using gold, silver, costly stones, wood,
hay or straw, their work will be
shown for what it is, because the
Day will bring it
It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”
God is the judge of even our thoughts and motivations. All will be brought to the light when we stand before Him (Hebrews 4:12–13). A poor widow in a one-room hut can bear as much fruit as a televangelist leading giant crusades if she is surrendered to God in everything and using all He has given her for His glory. As fruit is unique to each tree, our fruit is unique to us. God knows what He has entrusted to each of us and what He expects us to do with it (Luke 12:48). Our responsibility before God is to be “faithful with little” so that He can trust us with much (Matthew 25:21).
is to live, continue, or remain;
so, to abide in Christ
is to live in
Him or remain in Him.
When a person is saved, he or she is described as being
(Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17),
Therefore, abiding in Christ is not a special level of Christian experience, rather, it is the position of all true believers. The difference between those abiding in Christ and those not abiding in Christ is the difference between the saved and the unsaved.
Abiding in Christ is taught in 1 John 2:5–6, where it is synonymous with “knowing” Christ (verses 2 and 3). Later in the same chapter, John equates “remaining” in the Father and the Son with having the promise of eternal life (verses 24 and 25). Biblically, “abiding in,” “remaining in,” and “knowing” Christ are references to the same thing: salvation.
The phrase abiding in Christ pictures an intimate, close relationship, and not just a superficial acquaintance. In John 15:4–7, Jesus tells His disciples that drawing life from Him is essential, using the picture of branches united to a vine: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Without that vital union with Christ that salvation provides, there can be no life and no productivity. Elsewhere, the Bible likens our relationship with Christ to that of a body with a head (Colossians 1:18)—another essential union.
Some people take the warning of John 15:6 (branches that do not abide in the vine are thrown away and burned) to mean that Christians are always in danger of losing their salvation. In other words, they say it’s possible to be saved but not “abide,” in which case we would be cast away. But this could only be true if “abiding” were separate from salvation, referring to a state of intimacy with Christ we must strive to attain post-salvation. The Bible is clear that salvation comes by grace and is maintained by grace (Galatians 3:2–3). Also, if a branch could somehow fall away from the vine, resulting in the loss of salvation, then other, very clear passages of Scripture would be contradicted (see John 10:27–30).
It is best to interpret the
metaphor this way:
Jesus is the True Vine,
The branches who “abide” in Him
are the truly saved--
they have a real and vital connection
to the Savior.
The withered branches who do
not “abide” in Him
are the unsaved pretenders
who feigned an attachment to the Vine but
drew no life from Him.
In the end, the pretenders will be
seen for what they were:
hangers-on who had
no authentic attachment to Jesus.
For a while,
both Peter and Judas
in their walk with Christ.
But Peter was
attached to the Vine;
Judas was not
John restates the withered-branch principle this way: “They [people now opposed to Christ] went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19).
One of the proofs of salvation is perseverance, or sustained abiding in Christ. The saved will continue in their walk with Christ (see Revelation 2:26). That is, they will “abide” or remain in Him. God will complete His work in them (Philippians 1:6), and they will bring forth much fruit to the glory of God (John 15:5). Those who fall away, turn their backs on Christ, or fail to abide simply show their lack of saving faith. Abiding is not what saves us, but it is one of the signs of salvation.
Proofs of abiding in Christ (i.e., proofs that one is truly saved and not just pretending) include obedience to Christ’s commands (John 15:10; 1 John 3:24); following Jesus’ example (1 John 2:6); living free from habitual sin (1 John 3:6); and the awareness of a divine presence within one’s life (1 John 4:13).
The Bible often uses the metaphor of fruit to describe the produce of our lives. Fruit can be either good or bad (Matthew 7:18; Luke 6:43). Romans 7:5 says, “For when we were in the realm of the flesh . . . we bore fruit for death.” A fruitful Christian will produce better results: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life” (Proverbs 11:30).
When we have committed ourselves to Christ and live to please Him, the natural result is behavioral choices that look like His. He was clear that true followers of Christ will be recognizable by their fruit: “Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Every tree that does
not bear good fruit is cut down
thrown into the fire.
their fruit you will recognize them”
what fire is Jesus referring to here?
Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the one to come.
The seed sown among the thorns is the one who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
So will it be at the end of the age: The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous,
While Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?"
and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
1 Corinthians 10:11
Now these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
Treasury of ScriptureAs therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
Is a phrase used by many different religions to mean
the natural progression
of a person as they
in understanding of God,
the world, and himself.
It is an intentional lifestyle of growing deeper in knowledge and wisdom. But what is meant by a spiritual journey toward Christlikeness is vastly different from a journey toward some kind of “spirituality” that does not include, and is not based upon, the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Another difference is that the Bible actually talks about a spiritual journey and the steps through it. A Christian starts as a child (1 Corinthians 13:11), still seeing the world through naïve eyes, still influenced by the flesh, and in need of basic education about God and their position with God (1 Corinthians 3:1–2; 1 Peter 2:2). And new Christians are given work in the church appropriate to their position as young in the faith (1 Timothy 3:6). As Christians grow in understanding about God and the world, they learn more about how to act and how to relate to the world (Titus 2:5–8). A person further along in his spiritual journey becomes an example to the younger (Titus 2:3–4) and, sometimes, a leader in the church (1 Timothy 3).
At the heart of the spiritual journey is the understanding that it is a journey. None of us are perfect. Once we become believers, we are not expected to achieve instant spiritual maturity. Rather, the Christian life is a process involving both our attention (2 Corinthians 7:1) and God’s work in us (Philippians 1:6). And it has more to do with opportunity and intentionality than with age (1 Timothy 4:12). Author John Bunyan, in his book The Pilgrim’s Progress, pictured the spiritual journey as a road full of trials, dangers, and blessings, starting with the cross and ending at the Celestial City.
A spiritual journey filled with empty chanting will only lead to an empty heart. A journey filled with studying the Bible, obedience to what it says, and trusting God is a lifelong adventure that will bring true understanding of the world and a deep love for its Creator.
In the wilderness of Judea,
John the Baptist began his ministry of preparing Israel to receive her Messiah, Jesus Christ. Enormous crowds went to hear John (Matthew 3:5) as he traveled through the region “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). Many people received John’s message, confessed their sins, and were baptized (Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:5). These baptisms stirred up such a commotion that the Pharisees and Sadducees went out to investigate. Aware of their insincerity of heart, John said, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:7–8).
John spoke severely, challenging these religious leaders’ spiritual pride and hypocrisy head-on. They needed to know that God’s judgment for sin was coming. Baptism is an outward symbol of true heart change. John’s baptism was a “baptism of repentance.” Repentance is the act of changing one’s mind that results in a change of actions. Sincere repentance involves turning away from sin both in thought and action. When the crowds came to John for baptism, they were showing their repentance and identifying with a new life. The Phariseesand Sadducees were detached observers at John’s baptism. They claimed to have repented of their sins—sins they eagerly pointed out in others—yet they lived as sinners, all the while denying their own guilt.
The religious leaders of John’s day had refused to submit themselves to God. They thought they were good enough by way of association with Abraham through their Jewish heritage (see Matthew 3:9; John 8:39). But their religious rituals and spiritual “pedigree” were not enough to please God. The only way for sinners to enter a relationship with God is through genuine repentance and faith. These religious leaders should have been setting an example and taking the lead. Instead, they lived in self-righteous, hypocritical denial of their spiritual condition.
John the Baptist warned, “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:10). The tree represents Israel. If Israel did not repent, it would be cut down and destroyed (see Luke 13:6–10). Only those who genuinely repented and began to produce good fruit would be prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ.
Luke’s gospel gives further insight into what it means to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. John told the people, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones’” (Luke 3:8, NLT). John’s baptism of repentance was meant to be the start of a brand new, continuous life of producing fruit in keeping with righteousness. Our family tree won’t earn us a place in heaven or give us an automatic claim to God’s promises. John told the Sadducees and Pharisees who took pride in their lineage to take a more humble view: just as God had made Adam from the dust of the ground, God could raise up children of Abraham from the stones of the wilderness.
At John’s preaching, the people began to ask, “What should we do?” (Luke 3:10). In other words, “What is the fruit in keeping with repentance?” “John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same’” (Luke 3:11). He told the tax collectors in the crowd, “Don’t collect any more than you are required to” (verse 13). He told the soldiers, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay” (verse 14). Such actions were the “fruit” of repentance in that they showed the genuineness of the change of heart.
When the apostle Paul began his preaching ministry, he, too, spoke of good deeds as proof of genuine repentance: “I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do” (Acts 26:20, NLT).
The believer’s spiritual life and growth are often compared to a fruit-bearing tree in Scripture. Just as fruit production is proof of life and health in a tree, so are good actions the evidence of spiritual life in Jesus Christ and the presence of God’s Spirit dwelling within a person. Jesus said, “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (Matthew 7:17–20, NLT).
Fruit in keeping with repentance represents the good deeds and
changed behaviors that
from a truly repentant and
In James 2:14–26, James teaches extensively on the subject, explaining that “faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless” (verse 17, NLT). James concludes, “Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works (verse 26, NLT).
Paul prays for the Philippians to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:11). He gives examples of good spiritual fruit: “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23, NLT; see also Ephesians 5:9; Colossians 1:10; James 3:17).
The believer’s ability to
in keeping with repentance depends
wholly on our intimate fellowship
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.
For a branch cannot produce fruit
if it is severed from the vine,
cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
I AM the vine;
are the branches.
Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4–5, NLT). The root will naturally produce fruit. Fruit in keeping with repentance is the evidence (as well as a result) of a changed mind, transformed life,
and ongoing communion with Jesus.
(from the Greek word baptize, which means “to immerse”) was a way for a person to identify with another person or group. It signified that the person being baptized was connected to the baptizer. When Jesus said it was time to fulfill all righteousness, it seemed that He understood there needed to be a formal, public connection of Jesus to John and vice versa. John had come proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and repentance (Matthew 3:2). Matthew acknowledged that
John was the one whom Isaiah had prophesied
would come to
prepare the way for the Messiah
Malachi had also recorded important
and the one who would precede His coming.
In one of those prophecies,
God announced that
His messenger would
clear the path for Him,
He would come to His temple
When Jesus was baptized
it was a confirmation
that John was that messenger,
the forerunner to the
John’s baptism of Jesus was an affirmation that
John’s ministry was
God’s revealed plan.
If John’s ministry was authentic, then the
people should not ignore
whom John was proclaiming:
Jesus the Messiah. Jesus sought out John’s baptism because
John was proclaiming
coming Messiah, and
was that Messiah
By associating Himself with John and John’s message,
Jesus affirmed both.
He also showed the world that He, Jesus, was the prophesied Messiah. When the Holy Spirit and the Father made themselves known at this event, it showed that Jesus was the Messiah, and it affirmed the truth of John’s message.
Jesus later explained that John was one of the witnesses to His Messiahship (John 5:33–35). When Jesus said it was time to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15), He understood it was time for John’s ministry to be stamped as authentic and for the Messiahship of Jesus to be affirmed by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father.
How important is it for a Christian to be
And what does ‘born again’ really mean anyway? Obviously, every person is born into this world, also called by Jesus the ‘kingdom of the world’
(AKA the kingdom of self or the kingdom of satan).
We enter life
through the birth canal of our mother,
as the result
of her egg being fertilized
by our father’s sperm or ‘seed’.
To be ‘born again’
being born from another ‘
Seed’ into anew Life
The Kingdom of God
Jesus tells us in John 3: 6,
(our earthly father’s ‘seed’)
gives birth to flesh
(our life in the kingdom of the world),
but the Spirit
(the Seed, who is Jesus)
Gives Birth to Spirit
(our spiritual life in the Kingdom of God, which is our real life).
I have written extensively about the ‘Seed’ in this blog. Look in Articles to read my sermon on the Parable of the Sower. Or, you can look up all the posts in this blog that deal with the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8. As I demonstrate in these posts using Scripture, Jesus is the Seed (see Galatians 3: 16 for one place in Scripture where Jesus is identified as the Seed).
In this parable,
Jesus is sowing Himself
metaphorically referred to by Jesus, as soil.
Only in the “noble and good heart”
(Luke 8: 15) or “good soil”
does the Seed germinate, sprout, and grow
into a plant or tree signifying
this parable refers to is
The fruit of the Spirit:
“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”
(Galatians 5: 22, 23).
This is a heart
that has been ‘born again’ by
So, how important is it to be born again from the Seed, Jesus? Jesus plainly answers this question. “I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3: 3); and, “No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born again of water and the Spirit” (John 3: 5).
OK. So why do I want to live in the Kingdom of God?
Do you want to be saved?
The whole point and purpose of the Christian walk is to:
1) Worship and praise the King of kings
2) Enter into and intimately live with Jesus in the Kingdom of God, here, now, on earth, not just when we die and go (hopefully) to heaven, and for eternity. This is the life lived in Christ, with Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit dwelling within the believer!
3) To release and advance the Kingdom of God on earth, pushing back the darkness by being and releasing light, taking back the territory satan claims, and defeating the power of evil, all by partnering with the Holy Spirit.
This state of being or life in the Kingdom of God is also known as ‘salvation’. All Christians want (or should want) to be saved – that is one of the principal blessings of the gospel.
We see the connection between salvation and the Kingdom of God in the story of the Rich Young Man (Ruler) in Mark 10. In His encounter with this rich young man, he asks Jesus, “What must I do to be saved?” Jesus tells him to sell everything he owns, give it to the poor, and “Come, follow Me”. That was too much for the young man. He walked away from Jesus.
Jesus turned to His disciples and said, “
it is for the
RICH MAN to ENTER
Kingdom of God”
(Mark 10: 23). Then the disciples say, “Who then can be saved”
(Sozo in Greek)?” (Mark 10: 26).
Salvation is equivalent to entering the Kingdom of God!
How do we enter the Kingdom of God?
The answer to this question has several parts.
We begin the process of entering the Kingdom of God when the Seed is planted in our heart. As I mentioned above, this is also called ‘being born again’. How do we know this? Peter tells us, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God” (1 Peter 1: 23 NIV). I like the Message translation: “Your new life (Kingdom life) is not like your old life (life in the kingdom of the world). Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth (born again) comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God Himself” (1 Peter 1: 23 MSG).
We are ‘born again’ from the Seed, who is the living and enduring Word of God – not referring to Scripture, but to Jesus! J.B Phillips captures this meaning in his translation of 1 Peter 1: 23, “For you the sons of God now; the live, permanent Word of the living God has given you His own indestructible heredity”. Jesus Christ, living in us, transforming us into a new creation. Not a better, improved ‘you’. Not ‘you' 2.0. “You were dead in your sins and transgressions” before Christ. A dead 2.0 is still dead. No. Christ makes you a new creation. A new person. No longer dead; but alive in Him. That is good news. That is the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
To be born again by the Seed
means that the DNA of Jesus is now in us, as He grows in us into a Tree of Life or an “Oak of righteousness, a planting for the display of His glory” (Isaiah 61: 3). He is in us, we in Him. “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1: 27). This profound truth means that we now contain in these earthen vessels Jesus and His hope, joy, peace, faith, love, and power. We have within us the same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1: 19).
That is amazing and almost unbelievable, but true!
To thrive and produce fruit, the Seed needs to be planted in the soil of a noble and good heart. In other words, the heart needs to be noble and good before the Seed is planted. Think of your heart as the spiritual womb prepared to receive the Seed. But Paul tells us that, “There is no one righteous, not even one . . . There is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3: 11, 12 NIV). “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17: 9).
If there is no one good, then there are no good hearts – all are deceitful. How can there be noble and good soil in human’s hearts for the Seed to be planted into if no heart is good?
Paul is describing the fallen human race. Jesus came to redeem men and women, to rescue hearts from the dominion of darkness, bringing them into the Kingdom of the Son He loves. How does this happen? How does a person go from a no-good heart to a noble and good heart?
Enter John the Baptist, who came to prepare the way for Jesus. John the Baptist, who descended from the priestly lineage of Aaron, was a prophet (Matthew 11: 9 – 11).
John came before Jesus preaching in the Judean wilderness/desert of Judea. The setting is significant. Why not in the green Galilean hills or outside the Temple? Because the desert is a metaphor for a life in the kingdom of the world. Jeremiah writes:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man (self), who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives”
(Jeremiah 17: 5 – 6 NIV).
This is a picture, a metaphor, of the life lived in the kingdom of the world, where self is the focus of one’s existence. John came preaching in the wastelands of the kingdom of the world, or the emptiness of the human heart. This is the heart Paul wrote about in Romans 3;
that cannot produce
But John came to prepare dead hearts to receive life;
clear obstacles out of the way so that Jesus can enter the hearts of those who will accept and follow Him. What was the principal obstacle? A hard, evil heart focused on self.
‘In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
A voice calling in the desert, ‘
Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him’ . . .
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance”
(Matthew 3: 1 – 3; 8).
In Mark we read similar words about John, “
I will send my messenger ahead of You,
who will prepare Your way –
a voice of one calling in the desert
(speaking or calling into the dry, lifeless human heart), prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him” (Mark 1: 3) and “So John came, baptizing in the desert region an preaching a baptism of repentance and the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1: 4).
“Prepare the way”. The Greek word for ‘prepare’ is Kataskeuazo. It means, “to furnish, equip, prepare, make ready”. It describes one who, “makes anything ready for a person or thing” (from Thayer’s Greek Concordance) –
like your heart.
“People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River” (Matthew 3: 5, 6).
John’s purposes were to point to the coming Messiah and to prepare their hearts to receive Jesus – the Seed. “John’s baptism represented a change of heart, which includes sorrow for sin and a determination to lead a holy life . . . Preparation for the Messiah was made in a moral and spiritual way by the ministry of John, which focused on repentance, the forgiveness of sin, and need for a savior” (notes in NIV study Bible).
John’s ministry was to prepare the hearts of the people to receive the Seed. The hearts that Paul described in Romans – hearts that were bad, not one of them good – were turned into ‘noble and good hearts’ or ‘good soil’ if they accepted the baptism of John and repented. When the Seed was sowed into these hearts along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, they could, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3: 8).
The central idea in John’s ministry was, “
John cries out, “
Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven in near
(Matthew 3: 2). After He was baptized by John, Jesus repeats this command, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” Matthew 4: 17).
The first word of the Gospel is “Kingdom”. The first command of the Gospel is “Repent” (Mark 1: 15).
Tying this all together, Jesus sows a seed into the hearts of men and women. But it is only in the heart that is prepared to receive the seed – the good and noble heart, the heart with good soil – does the seed sprout, grow, and produce fruit. In other words, Jesus only grows and lives in the repentant heart. This is what it means to be ‘born again’ – a new life in Christ beginning with the Seed planted in the good soil and a noble and good heart. Where Jesus the King is present, His Kingdom is there also.
The noble and good heart forms in the person who confesses their sins and repents of those sins. For the followers of Jesus, this is not a one-time thing; we repent and we are repentant.
In this way, their heart is prepared to receive the seed. This is how John the Baptist showed us how to “prepare the way for the King’.
Repentance is the key. But what does it mean to repent?
Repentance in Greek is metanoia, which translates as “change your mind”, involves turning from sin and evil and turning toward God with a contrite heart. Paul describes this in Acts as he is witnessing to King Agrippa, describing Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus:
“I am Jesus whom you are persecuting . . . I am rescuing you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26: 13, 17, 18 NIV).
A few verses later we read in Acts, “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26: 20 NIV).
Repentance is turning from darkness to light, from satan to God. The act of repentance involves turning from an action or way of thinking that is opposed to God’s plan for your life and turning to God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The act of repentance involves your decision, but it is accomplished through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
Repentance is the way a no-good heart is made noble and good, is made into ‘good soil’ so that when the Seed is sown into this heart, it germinates, takes root, grows, and produces good fruit. As Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1: 23 this is synonymous with being born again from imperishable seed – entering and living with Jesus in the Kingdom of God – this is what it means to be ‘born again’; this is what salvation looks like.
Apart from repentance you
born again, you cannot enter the
Kingdom of God,
cannot be saved.
is necessary and sufficient
How do I repent? Do I pray and confess a sin, tell Jesus I repent, and then believe it is done? Perhaps, depending upon your heart and the sorrow you experience because of that sin. In my ministry I call Healing and Repentance Prayer (H.A.R.P,), repentance looks like this:
If I am repenting of anger, frustration, or hatred toward another person I renounce the negative emotion, I forgive and bless the person, then I tell Jesus, “I choose today to give this anger to You”. I close my eyes and imagine myself giving the anger to Him. I have seen this done thousands of times and in the great majority of these times the person has an encounter with Jesus and the anger is gone.
If I am repenting of sins like fear, sexual sin or other sins like jealousy, addictions, suicidal thoughts or attempts, or occult practices or participation I tell Jesus, “I renounce (name the sin), Lord, forgive me and I forgive myself”. Then I tell Jesus, “Lord I choose today to give this sin to you. Please set me free from this sin and its effects in my life”. Most of the time Jesus shows up and sets the person free from this sin.
Abuse and trauma are a separate category. Abuse and trauma are not generally what you have done but what has been done to you. You don’t repent of abuse, but you need to repent of the negative emotions you have toward the abuser. This repentance involves forgiving and blessing the person who abused you. For some this is difficult or even impossible. I always ask the Holy Spirit to help. Even then the hurt and the pain can be so overwhelming that forgiveness is not possible. In that case, I will try spiritual deliverance. But that is a topic for another post.
The Parable of the Sower is the first revelational parable taught by Jesus. Jesus, the Sower, sows Seed. Jesus compares the hearts of human beings to different types of soils. Only the good soil – the noble and good heart – provides the environment for the Seed to grow into a plant, tree, or bush that produces fruit. Jesus is the Seed. He sows Himself into this soil. We prepare our hearts to receive the Seed by repenting and being repentant. When the repentant heart receives the Seed, that heart is born again, enters the Kingdom of God, and is saved.
How important is it to be born again? It is everything. There is no justification apart from this new birth. The journey of sanctification cannot begin until we are born again. The Christian life is Kingdom life – a life of power, joy, confidence, love, and peace. “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14: 17 NIV). At least it is supposed to be. All of this flows out of our new life in Christ when we are born again. We cannot be born again apart from repentance. I have heard it said by some preachers that salvation depends on Jesus, His atoning death, and nothing more. In other words, you have no role to play in your salvation. It is true, we are saved by grace through faith or trust. But as the Bible points out, the catalyst for this transformation is repentance. I have a role to play in repentance. Once I make the decision to repent, I need the Holy Spirit to complete the process. God is merciful. He will meet that need, but only when I am ready to turn from my sin to Jesus.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following
the prince of the power of the air,
the spirit that is
now at work
in the sons of disobedience”
(Ephesians 2:1–2, emphasis added). In this text the apostle Paul describes Satan first as a “prince” with power, because he has authentic power in the world (1 John 5:19). This power has been given him by God (Luke 4:6). Satan has power over some illnesses (Luke 13:16; see also 2 Corinthians 12:7—it’s unknown if Paul’s “thorn” was an illness or something else). In some sense, Satan has power over death (Hebrews 2:14). The reason Satan is called a prince rather than a king is that there is only one King—Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:15).
Satan also has power over some people. The “sons of disobedience” referred to in Ephesians 2:2 are those who have not trusted Christ as Lord and Savior (cf. Acts 26:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 13:12). The demons are also under the rule of Satan (Matthew 12:24), and one of his titles is “prince of demons” (Matthew 9:34). Satan has a kingdom (Matthew 12:26) and a throne (Revelation 2:13). Satan is called a prince because he is a ruler and possesses power to manifest evil in the world through influencing people and commanding demons.
“The air” in Ephesians 2:2 may refer to the invisible realm above the earth where Satan and his demons move and exist. This space, of course, is the location of the earth’s atmosphere or “air.” In Ephesians 6:12, Paul writes, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” This evil realm called the “air” could be an actual locality, but it could also be synonymous with the “world” of John 12:31. This whole world is Satan’s domain (Matthew 4:8–9).
Although Satan has power and authority in the current world system in which we exist, his power is limited, always under the sovereign control of God (Job 1:12), and it is temporary (Romans 16:20). God has not revealed all of the whys and whens concerning Satan’s rule, but He has made it clear that there is only one way to escape the power of Satan’s dominion, and that is through His Son, Jesus (Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:13–14). It is Jesus who, speaking of the impending cross, declared victory: “Now the prince of this world will be driven out” (John 12:31).
Paul calls all of us “children of wrath” in Ephesians 2:3 because, prior to knowing Christ, everyone was under the judgment of God. Because of Adam’s original sin and the way we continued to sin against one another and against God, we all deserved God’s wrath. God is just, and the just response to our sins is condemnation. Thankfully, God is also merciful, and He did not leave us in our pitiful condition. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins, so that anyone who accepts His gift of grace will never have to pay the wages of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23a). We will circle back to that, but first, let’s explore Paul’s intriguing statement that we “were by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3, ESV).
In Ephesians 2:1–3, Paul is recounting the desperate state of his readers prior to their salvation. We were all, regardless of creed, race, nationality, wealth, or status, “dead in [our] offenses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1, NASB). Following this grim diagnosis of the human condition, Paul writes, “Among them we too all previously lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the rest” (Ephesians 2:3, NASB). Some scholars believe that the we in this passage is a reference to Paul’s people, the Jews, in contrast to his Gentile readers. Others believe that he was simply including himself and his coworkers or fellow believers in the picture. Either way, the words all and just as the rest make Paul’s main point clear: every Christian was once a “child of wrath.”
In Paul’s culture, referring to someone as the “child of” something in a metaphorical sense meant that particular something thoroughly characterized that person. The thing a person was the “child of” defined him and his destiny. For example, in the Old Testament, David literally proclaims someone to be a “child of death”; in other words, David proclaimed that person to be destined for death—he deserved to die (2 Samuel 12:5). Another example comes when Paul urges Christians to live as “children of light,” or as people defined by their association with the truth and holiness of Christ (Ephesians 5:8). As unbelievers, we were “children of wrath”; the thing that characterized us was God’s wrath. Our destiny was separation from God, and we deserved it. The phrase by nature in Ephesians 2:3 emphasizes the sorry state we were in from birth.
Thanks be to God,
He did not leave us in a hopeless state!
He stepped in and saved us, rescuing us from the great trouble we created.
Jesus died on the cross, taking our sins upon Himself,
and then rose again, defeating death.
Anyone who comes to Him will be saved
Because of God’s gift, we are no longer children of wrath,
but children of God,
adopted into His family and given eternal life with Him
(Galatians 3:26–29; 1 John 3:1–3).
In His grace,
“God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to
receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ”
(1 Thessalonians 5:9).
Paul marvels at the magnitude of what God has done for us former children of wrath: “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4–7).
Do you know Jesus Christ?
There is no reason for you to stay in the desperate place described in Ephesians 2:1–3, when the blessings of Ephesians 2:4–10
are waiting for you.
God invites you to come to
Him and accept
His free gift
of grace through faith
in His Son.
Ephesians 2:8–9 is a familiar passage dealing with God’s grace in the matter of salvation: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Before looking at the meaning of an individual verse (or two), it is important to get a feel for the context. Ephesians was written by Paul to the Christians in the city of Ephesus, which had a significant population of Gentile believers.
Paul spends Ephesians chapter 1 telling them of the incredible blessings they have in Christ. He tells them how they have been chosen and sealed with the Holy Spirit.
He also prays that they
will fully understand all of the
spiritual blessings they have in Christ.
Chapter 2 begins by contrasting the believers’ current position in Christ with their condition outside of Christ—they had been dead in their sins. In Christ they have been reconciled to God, and Jewish and Gentile
believers have been
reconciled to each other.
Chapter 3 further elaborates on God’s plan to include Gentiles and Jews together in Christ. This unity is something that most people did not expect. Paul then thanks God for all the Ephesian believers, whether Jew or Gentile.
Chapters 4–6 encourage the believers in Ephesus to live up to their position in Christ. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1). These three chapters contain some of the most pointed and practical behavioral guidelines for Christians. Importantly, people do not obey these guidelines in order to become Christians or to become acceptable to God. Rather, they follow these guidelines as a natural part of living out their position in Christ.
This brings us back to Ephesians 2:8–9. The popular notion is that God accepts good people and rejects bad people. Most people, whether in Christianized countries or those steeped in other religions, usually operate under the idea that God accepts or rejects people based on some level of goodness and/or religious performance. The whole book of Ephesians rejects this premise, and Ephesians 2:8–9 specifically refutes it: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2:7 says that God has given incredible blessings to those who are in Christ “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” In other words, God has chosen to save sinners, not based on their goodness but on His kindness. He does this to demonstrate His grace—that is to say His undeserved favor. By definition, grace is a blessing that is undeserved and unwarranted—grace is a gift freely given based on the kind intentions of the giver to a recipient who has no claim to it.
What God has done for believers in Christ is going to bring Him glory, and Ephesians 2:8–9 further explains how He gets all the glory. First, “it is by grace you have been saved.” If we are saved by grace, this means that it is not because we are good or deserving; rather, it is because God is good and gracious.
Second, we are saved “through faith.” In order to be saved, there is a necessary human response to God’s grace. The response is not trying to be “good enough” to be saved. The response is simply trusting (having faith in) God to save on the basis of Christ’s goodness. Furthermore, we must understand that faith is not a good work in itself that God rewards. Faith is simply casting our unworthy selves on the mercy of a kind and forgiving and gracious God.
The next clause in Ephesians 2:8–9 is a little more difficult to understand: “And this is not from yourselves.” The interpretive issue is what the word this is referring to. Some interpreters think that it refers to faith. Thus, the verse could be paraphrased, “You have been saved by grace through faith, and even this faith is not from within you.” Those who accept this interpretation emphasize that, without the work of God in our lives, we could not even believe the gospel in order to be saved. Undoubtedly, this is true, but it may not be the best interpretation of this particular verse. The reason is that the gender of the word this (in Greek) does not match the gender of the word faith, which would normally be the case if this was a pronoun referring to faith.
Some will take this to refer to grace. Undoubtedly, the meaning is true as well. Grace, by definition, is from God and not from within ourselves; however, grammatically, there is the same problem with making the pronoun thisrefer to grace as to faith—the genders do not match. The same is true if this refers back to the phrase have been saved.
The best explanation is that this refers to the whole plan and process of “salvation by grace through faith,” rather than any specific element of it—although, admittedly, the bottom line is hardly any different. Salvation-by-grace-through-faith is not from ourselves but is “a gift of God, not of works.” Once again, the nature of grace is reiterated. This whole plan and process of salvation comes from God as a gift, not from ourselves as the result of works or good things that we have done.
The result of the process is “so that no one can boast.” In Ephesians 1:14, we are told that the salvation explained in verses 3–14 is “to the praise of His [God’s] glory.” If the plan and process of salvation were from ourselves, based on our good works, then, when we achieved the necessary level of goodness to warrant salvation, we could boast. “I did it!” we might say, or, “I gave it my all and overcame tremendous obstacles, but I finally ascended to the highest levels of goodness and holiness, and God gave me what I deserved!” And we could look down on those who did not make it: “Those others failed because they lacked the fortitude, insight, and piety that I cultivated.” Boasting would abound. If the plan and process of salvation were based on human works, then we would elevate ourselves over other people and even in some sense over God Himself, because our salvation was our own doing, not His. Ephesians 2:8–9 says an emphatic NO. The plan and process of salvation is from God as a gift, it is by grace, and it is accessed through faith in God’s promises in Christ. Nothing about salvation is worked up from within ourselves, and it is not based on good things we do. Boasting in our own achievements is out of place, but, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:17, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Many people memorize Ephesians 2:8–9, and it is an excellent synopsis of the gospel, but the passage does not end at verse 9. Verse 10 is necessary to complete the thought. Someone might wonder what place good works have in the life of a Christian. We have already seen that chapters 4–6 are all about good works and right behavior. Just as chapters 4–6 come after chapters 1–3, so Ephesians 2:10 comes after Ephesians 2:8–9, not only sequentially but also conceptually and chronologically. We are not saved by doing good works, but we are saved for the purpose of doing good works: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Good works are a vital part of the Christian life because doing good is one of the reasons God saves us—He has things for us to do. But the sequence is all-important—good works are not the cause of salvation but the purpose of it. God saves us so that we can go into the world, doing good works in His name, and this brings Him all the more glory (cf. Matthew 5:16).
Given the truth of Ephesians 2:8–9, it is crucial to ask oneself, “What do I rely on for my salvation?” Are you relying upon good things you have done, or do you recognize that you have nothing to contribute and simply cast yourself upon the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ?
The phrase rich in mercy is found in Ephesians 2:4 as part of a passage contrasting the condition of believers before they came to Christ and their state after responding to His call. In order to understand what it means that God is rich in mercy, we need to consider the context of the passage:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air . . . carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:1–7, ESV, emphasis added).
In this passage, Paul first describes humanity’s deplorable condition in rebellion against God’s rich mercy. We were not only sinful, but we were “dead” in our sins. In other words, because of the sin nature that controls us, we were doomed to an eternity without God and without life (Romans 6:23). We deserved God’s wrath, and we could do nothing to save ourselves.
Then comes the “but,” and the focus of the passage shifts to
God’s mercy, love, grace, and kindness.
The phrase rich in mercy is a counterbalance to the description of humanity being rich in sin. Only a God rich in mercy would conceive a plan to save and redeem such wicked creatures. Mercy is compassion or forgiveness extended to someone who deserves punishment or harm.
Mercy is undeserved pardon.
Mercy is the only explanation for
Christ’s great sacrifice on our behalf
(2 Corinthians 5:21).
People can show mercy to one another on a limited, human basis. But our offenses against God were so heinous, so unforgivable, that His forgiveness shows Him to be more than merciful—He is rich in mercy. A God rich in mercy “demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Before we cared or knew Him, God had already extended mercy toward us. First Peter 1:3 counters any tendency to believe that our salvation is due to some merit within ourselves: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
God’s mercies continue after salvation as He offers His redeemed children forgiveness when we sin (1 John 1:9). Because He is rich in mercy, His mercies never end. They are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). We never have to fear that one day God will get fed up and stop His patient working in our lives (2 Peter 3:9). We never need to worry that we have “used up” our
portion of grace and kindness because our
God is rich in mercy.
The last critical issue that we must address in this brief study on repentance relates to our ability to repent.
We have seen repeatedly that God calls us to live a life of repentance,
but how can we obey Him if we are born
unable to fulfill
the command to repent?
The doctrine of moral inability — that we are unable to repent prior to regeneration — is, of course, not embraced by all Christians. No believer would ever want to say that he can merit his salvation or is able, somehow, to appropriate it by himself. But ultimately, the way many believers understand the new birth actually assumes that repentance is a result of something we do, apart from God’s prior loving choice. Most Christians affirm that being born again happens after we have faith and repentance, that whether or not we are saved is ultimately due to our choosing of Christ. What is assumed here is that all human beings are born with a will that, while it might be inclined toward evil, has enough freedom left (by grace given to all) so that it can choose to repent and follow Jesus.
Certainly, we must affirm that human choice is real and that our decision to submit to Jesus — to repent and trust in Him — is integral to our salvation. But Scripture is clear that no person can make this decision without the special work of God the Holy Spirit, which is not given to all. As Paul tells us in today’s passage, we who have believed were dead in our sin before our Creator made us alive (Eph. 2:1–5). Dead people cannot do anything, and those who are spiritually dead can never decide to put their faith in Christ when they are left to themselves. God must first renew our hearts and grant us the ability to believe. This is the work of regeneration, and it happens before faith and repentance. First the Spirit gives us a new heart and then we exercise faith. Unless we are born again (the condition) we will not see the kingdom of heaven (the result, John 3:3). Regeneration precedes faith and repentance — not the other way around.
The Lord’s command to repent and follow Him is impossible unless God changes our hearts. Thus, even repentance is a gift of the Almighty and not something for which we can ever take credit.
Coram DeoHow do we know if we have been regenerated? By the presence of repentance in our lives. All those whom God renews by His Spirit come to faith in Jesus Christ and are saved. But while we choose to repent, we can only make this choice because the Lord has graciously granted us the ability. This means that we cannot be proud even of our repentance, for it is the gift of God. Thank Him today for His gift of repentance.
The Fruit of the Spiritby John W. Ritenbaugh
Forerunner, "Personal," February 1998The Bible's peculiar elegance in its writing has helped make it the world's best seller decade after decade. The divine Author, who possesses beauty of expression far beyond even the best of human authors, has given us tiny glimpses of His genius in the soaring literary majesties of Psalms, Isaiah and Hebrews. He also shows us another side of His literary abilities in the simply stated but discerning, penetrating and practical insights of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
The value of Scripture, though, does not lie in its elegance of style. It lies in the fact that the great God, the sovereign Governor of all creation, has chosen to write His law, His instruction to men revealing Himself and His purpose, in the common tongues of people worldwide. The more plain the Word and law of the Almighty, the more becoming the divine Author and Lawgiver—and the more profitable for mankind. His Word becomes like bread that can nourish every palate (Matthew 4:4).
God gives much of His instruction in similes, parables, allegories, metaphors, types, figures and symbols, providing illustrations that virtually everyone, no matter what their background or station, can grasp. To this He adds true, real life examples drawn from the whole spectrum of human and spirit life over vast expanses of time. We have access to the very wisdom of the ages! The Bible is a fund of knowledge especially useful concerning relationships, applicable and practical to anyone who believes at any
time in human history.
A great deal of biblical instruction reflects the agricultural realm. God makes use of familiar aspects of agriculture like grapes, olives, apples, figs, oxen, mustard, pomegranates, wheat, corn, barley, flowers, farmers, plowing, sowing, planting, harvesting, fertilizing, rain in due season, weeds and seeds. He uses these ideas to illustrate practical moral and spiritual instruction for those who believe.
As a teaching vehicle, the general term "fruit" may be used more frequently than all other farming terms. In the physical realm, fruit is generally considered to be the seed-bearing product of a plant. Many of these are edible and very enjoyable and nourishing to eat. While the Bible agrees with this, it also frequently presents fruit as the product of effort or to provide a symbolical meaning.
Thus, we find phrases such as, "fruit of the trees of the garden" (Genesis 3:2), "fruit of the ground" (Genesis 4:3), and "fruit of the womb" (Genesis 30:2). In the New Testament more than the Old, fruit is often understood symbolically as the product of either a good or evil life, or an obedient or disobedient life.
Fruit as a Symbol
John the Baptist's teaching to the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 3:8 is an example of this: "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance." Fruit symbolizes the consequence or product of repentance. The fruit of repentance toward God is, among other things, a change of attitude toward Him and His law. It represents quenching one's enmity toward Him, as well as turning from disobedient to His Word to obedient. It may also indicate a change of status and relationship from son of Satan (John 8:44) to son of God (Romans 8:14).
Jeremiah 6:19 is a clear example from the Old Testament:
Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded
My words, nor My law, but rejected it.
Calamity is the effect, the fruit, of evil thoughts. The lesson is clear: Calamity of this sort begins with evil thoughts, proceeds to evil actions, producing bitter and painful experiences for the self and others. Why not strive to avoid the bitter fruit evil thoughts produce by changing our thoughts to the good?
Romans 6:21-22 shows fruit as a product in both a bad and good sense:
What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
But now having been set free from sin,
and having become slaves of God,
you have your fruit to holiness, and the end,
The context answers what the fruit in each verse symbolizes. In verse 21, the product of actions of which we are now ashamed would have been death. But because of God's calling and our subsequent repentance, our status and relationship with Him have changed—and so has what we are producing with our lives. We are now His slaves rather than sin's, producing fruit to holiness rather than shame and death. In the end God will give us everlasting life. The choice is ours. Which fruit would we rather have, shame and death or holiness and life?
Producing Good Fruit
The Bible shows that producing good fruit has other, more specific causes than God's calling and repentance. Romans 7:4-6 is a good place to begin:
Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sins which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
We will add to this Romans 1:13, 15, where we need to remember that Paul addresses the congregation in Rome, one he had neither founded nor yet visited:
Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. . . . So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
The fruit he wanted to see produced was not new conversions. Philippians 4:17, where Paul instructs a congregation to which he felt especially close, helps to explain what the apostle meant: "Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account." In writing to an existing congregation of converted people, he wanted them to exhibit the fruit of righteousness by making use of faith in God's Word (the gospel). They could do this by yielding in obedience to God's instruction through the power and guidance of His Spirit in them.
As a shepherd or pastor, he claims the fruit would also be his, since it would accrue in them as a result of his teaching them the gospel in greater detail. The teaching in Romans exemplifies the detail of the messages he would have given orally had he been there. The good works that they produced by making use of God's Word would also accrue to him as the fruits of his labors for them. When students do well, their success is the fruit of a teacher's labors.
Conversely, Philippians 4:17 explains that Paul is not being self-centered in this. He yearns that they produce fruit through good works so they can receive the benefits. The fruit accrues to their accounts. Thus, producing good fruit requires sound instruction from a qualified teacher (Acts 8:30-31), the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, a believing and receptive mind and applying the instruction.
Bearing Much Fruit
In John 15:1, Jesus begins a message using the grapevine as His illustration. He concludes by stating in verse 8, "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." In verse 16, He again mentions fruit in relation to His instruction:
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
In this context, the bearing of fruit is generalized. It includes everything produced as a result of their labors of publicly preaching the gospel, their service to the church in pastoring, and their personal overcoming and growing in the image of God. They all bring honor to God by declaring the dramatic change for good that takes place as a result of being connected to the Vine and thus able to draw upon Him and His power to produce fruit.
Verse 16 briefly touches on the quality of fruit God desires. It implies that the disciples should be rich in good works and be striving to produce fruit that endures. God wants the fruit to endure both within themselves (by taking on God's character) and in others (in conversions so that the church grows and continues).
The remainder of the verse ties answered prayer directly to the production of fruit. We are all called to participate in the work of the church, if only to pray for it. God has not called everyone to work on the front lines of evangelizing as apostles. But because God has called and chosen all of us,
upon us falls
the responsibility of producing fruit
within the scope
of our place in the body that
we all glorify God.
The Fruit of the Spirit
The fruits we are most concerned about are those listed in Galatians 5:22-23, where Paul writes: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Against such there is no law."
These qualities or virtues are produced by the action of the Holy Spirit in us. They grow in a person who, by faith, obeys God's Word through the guidance and power of God's Spirit. Clearly, elements of this equation must be used so that the right fruit is produced--
God's Word, His Spirit, faith and obedience to God's Word. These, along with some others, produce the major fruits of righteousness.
Led by the Spirit
Paul writes in Romans 8:14, "For as many as are led by the Sprit of God, these are the sons of God." Galatians 5:18 is especially helpful in understanding the fruit of the Spirit because it directly precedes Paul's naming them: "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." Being led by the Spirit is a necessary precursor to producing the fruit of the Spirit in us.
Notice that the verse says "led," not dragged, forced, imposed upon or imputed to. This supplements what Jesus says in John 16:13:
However, when It, the Spirit of truth, has come, It will guide you into all truth; for It will not speak on Its own authority, but whatever it hears it will speak; and it will tell you things to come.
Some of the verbs in this sentence are telling. "Guide," "speak" and "tell" show that God has chosen to persuade rather than force us. In addition, they give the distinct impression that the followers and hearers will need to do something on their own.
They will have to make choices, pay attention to what is said or written, and set their wills and follow through on their choices in order to accompany and learn from the Guide. Without these, they will not produce fruit because they are doing insufficient or the wrong activities.
A teacher cannot impose knowledge, understanding and wisdom upon a student. The student must cooperate in the process. Without this, little or no fruit is produced. The Bible shows the Spirit of God as influencing, suggesting and, if we choose to permit it, dominating—perhaps even controlling—our lives. This is good because God is good, and if we will yield, the fruit of His Spirit will be produced in our lives.
Are we aware that a divine influence is drawing us away from the corrupting passions and vanities of this world? Are we conscious of a desire to yield to that influence and be conducted along the path of holiness and life? Do we resist, or do we follow cheerfully and energetically, mortifying pride, subduing passion, destroying lust, stifling talebearing, humbling ambition and annihilating the love of the wealth and fashions of this world?
God will not lead us astray. Our real love, joy and peace consist only in yielding ourselves entirely to Him and being willing to be guided and influenced by His unseen hand. To be led by the Spirit is to choose voluntarily and consciously to submit to the Word of God.
The Power of God
The Holy Spirit
is described generally as the power of God,
which is certainly correct,
but power comes in a number of forms.
There is a flowing power caused by the movement of an object. Thus God uses water to illustrate an aspect of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). There is healing and nourishing power, so God uses oil to symbolize His Spirit. Words, symbols we use to represent ideas, the raw material of our thoughts, have awesome power to influence. Thus God says through Jesus that His words "are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).
Words give us the power to communicate ideas from one mind to another or to many minds. They carry the power to instruct, encourage, discourage, mollify, anger, vilify, inspire, exhilarate, create or destroy. They can make a person change his mind, motivate him to stop or move, do, undo or redo. The power of words is almost limitless.
If we examine the fruit of the Spirit, we find that they all have something to do with our minds. Words are a large portion of the mind's working material and therefore play a huge role in what the person produces with his life. It is no coincidence that Jesus is the Word of God, and the Bible, the written revelation of God and His purpose, is also the Word of God! God is trying to tell us something. He is concerned about our minds because what goes into them will determine what we produce with our lives. Will it be fruit leading to eternal life or fruit leading to death?
We cannot think with what we do not have. If we do not have the right material upon which to base our thoughts, how can we possibly produce the right things? We are always, whether pauper or king, limited by what is in our mind. Paul shows this in Ephesians 2:1-3:
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
This reveals to us that every human being who has ever lived (except Jesus) has been enslaved to a way of thinking generated by the prince of the power of the air, Satan. Because of this, we fulfilled the desires of our flesh and mind. Indeed, because our minds had little else with which to work, we could not produce anything else! We produced the fruits of a spirit but not the Spirit of God.
I Corinthians 2:7-8 clarifies this:
But we speak the wisdom of God
in a mystery,
the hidden wisdom which God
ordained before the ages for our glory,
of the rulers of this age knew;
for had they known, they would
The Lord of glory.
By using those who killed Christ as an illustration, Paul shows that everyone has been held captive to ignorance of God and His way. God's wisdom was hidden from "the rulers of this age." Had they had it, their minds would have had the material to reach a far different conclusion about what to do about Christ. They would have produced a different result.
The wisdom of God was hidden from us too until God began to lead us by His Spirit. I Corinthians 2:10-12informs us of the change this has wrought in our lives:
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
God had the gospel preached to us through the medium of words. We believed them, and having been freed from enslavement to deception and spiritual ignorance by God's calling and forgiveness through Christ's blood, we now have access to a new and infinitely larger dimension of life. Beyond that, we now possess the raw material for our minds to produce the fruit of Spirit of God.
I Corinthians 2:13-14 adds:
These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Without God's Spirit, we were limited to producing only things within the capabilities of the spirit in man coupled with the influences of Satan. Though we could produce wonderful material things, the spiritual and moral fruit was overwhelmingly bad. What else can Satan's spirit produce? But now, as the saying goes, "the sky is the limit" because access to the Spirit of God empowers us (with His help, of course) to produce the life God Himself lives—eternal life.
Produce Fruit by Wishful Thinking?
However, doing this will not be easy because the Christian becomes a man with two natures. The old nature, ingrained with the thinking patterns and habits learned in this world, which lies under the sway of the evil one (I John 5:19), and the new divine nature, received as a new birth from God (II Peter 1:3-4), exist together. These two are irreconcilable antagonists—with the Christian in the middle, forced to make choices between them.
In Galatians 5:16-17, Paul says:
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
Again, the context in which these verses appear is important to understanding the production of the fruit of the Spirit. This immediately precedes the listing of the fruit of the Spirit, showing that Paul means that they will be produced through much internal conflict.
This is true because obedience to God's Word is required to produce the Spirit's fruit, and the Christian is being pulled or led in two directions. The one tries to make us satisfy the desires of our old nature, and the other leads us toward producing the fruit of the new. Paul expresses his experience with this in Romans 7:15-19:
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells;
for to will is present with me,
but how to perform what is good I do not find.
For the good that I will to do, I do not do;
but the evil
I will not to do, that I practice.
Christians, as Martin Luther stated, "are not stocks and stones." As humans, we are creatures of desires, drives and emotions. Certainly, as we learn to walk in the Spirit, we increasingly subdue our flesh. But flesh and Spirit remain, and the conflict between them is fierce and unremitting.
We need not become discouraged over this conflict, though, because Paul also gives us a very hopeful solution. In Romans 7:24-25, he exclaims: "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."
Every Christian striving to produce the fruit of God will experience this combination of lamentation over sinfulness and joyous expression of gratitude over the certainty of deliverance. The unconverted do not feel the agonizing struggle against sin with the same intensity as the converted. The converted have their peace disturbed and can feel wretched in their conscience.
But this has a good side to it as well. We know it is degrading to the divine nature, and it humbles us to know full well that we have succumbed to evil passions. We then realize more fully that the law cannot come to our aid, neither can other men, and our strength has already betrayed us. Therefore, if we really desire to glorify God and produce spiritual fruit, this conflict will drive us to God in heartfelt prayer for the strength only He can give. God's Word and eventually our experience prove that without Christ, we can do nothing!
A Singular Fruit
It might be helpful to note that Paul wrote "fruit" in the singular, indicating that we should understand that the fruit has a number of components, but at the same time, all of them will be produced within each person the Spirit leads. This does not mean that each component will be in exactly equal proportions like so many segments of an orange. Nor does it give any indication of its quantity or quality in each person. However, it ought to encourage us to know that some part of each of them will be produced.
Paul pointedly drew attention to the source of the fruit as
being "of the Spirit"
to make us fully aware that these qualities do not flow from our natures.
The vices or "works of the flesh"
listed in Galatians 5:19-21 are the product of our human heart.
But the spiritual fruit is produced by means of
a "foreign" influence, the agency of the
Even after conversion our heart
is not the source
of this spiritual fruit.
A final factor to consider is that Paul names nine qualities. This divides neatly into three general groups, each consisting of three qualities. Of course, we can expect some overlapping of application between the groups, but generally the first group—love, joy and peace—portrays a Christian's mind in its most general aspect with special emphasis on one's relationship with God. The second group—longsuffering (patience), kindness and goodness—contains social virtues relating to our thoughts and actions toward fellow man. The final group—faithfulness (fidelity), gentleness and self-control—reveals how a Christian should be in himself with overtones of his spiritual and moral reliability.
Each of these virtues is a quality we should greatly desire, for without them, we cannot rightly reflect the mind and way of God. The fruit of the Spirit reflects the virtues God would manifest before mankind. Indeed, when Jesus became a man, it was by his life He glorified our Father in heaven.
God, of course, is far more than this brief listing describes.
But seeking first the Kingdom of God
and His righteousness
through yielding to
will produce these characteristics of God
Then, as we become
we will, like Him,
The simple answer is that salvation by works seems right in the eyes of man. One of man’s basic desires is to be in control of his own destiny, and that includes his eternal destiny. Salvation by works appeals to man’s pride and his desire to be in control. Being saved by works appeals to that desire far more than the idea of being saved by faith alone. Also, man has an inherent sense of justice. Even the most ardent atheist believes in some type of justice and has a sense of right and wrong, even if he has no moral basis for making such judgments. Our inherent sense of right and wrong demands that if we are to be saved, our “good works” must outweigh our “bad works.” Therefore, it is natural that when man creates a religion it would involve some type of salvation by works.
Because salvation by works appeals to man’s sinful nature, it forms the basis of almost every religion except for biblical Christianity. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Salvation by works seems right to men, which is why it is the predominantly held viewpoint. That is exactly why biblical Christianity is so different from all other religions—it is the only religion that teaches salvation is a gift of God and not of works. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Another reason why salvation by works is the predominantly held viewpoint is that natural or unregenerate man does not fully understand the extent of his own sinfulness or of God’s holiness. Man’s heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), and God is infinitely holy (Isaiah 6:3). The deceit of our hearts is the very thing that colors our perception of the extent of that deceit and is what prevents us from seeing our true state before a God whose holiness we are also unable to fully comprehend. But the truth remains that our sinfulness and God’s holiness combine to make our best efforts as “filthy rags” before a holy God (Isaiah 64:6; cf. 6:1–5).
The thought that man’s good works could ever balance out his bad works is a totally unbiblical concept. Not only that, but the Bible also teaches that God’s standard is nothing less than 100 percent perfection. If we stumble in keeping just one part of God’s righteous law, we are as guilty as if we had broken all of it (James 2:10). Therefore, there is no way we could ever be saved if salvation truly were dependent on works.
Another reason that salvation by works can creep into denominations that claim to be Christian or say they believe in the Bible is that they misunderstand passages like James 2:24: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” Taken in the context of the entire passage (James 2:14–26), it becomes evident that James is not saying our works make us righteous before God; instead, he is making it clear that real saving faith is demonstrated by good works. The person who claims to be a Christian but lives in willful disobedience to Christ has a false or “dead” faith and is not saved. James is making a contrast between two different types of faith—truth faith that saves and false faith that is dead.
There are simply too many verses that teach that one is not saved by works for any Christian to believe otherwise. Titus 3:4–5 is one of many such passages: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Good works do not contribute to salvation, but they will always be characteristic of one who has been born again. Good works are not the cause of salvation; they are the evidence of it.
While salvation by works might be the predominantly held viewpoint, it is not an accurate one biblically.
The Bible contains abundant evidence
of salvation by grace alone,
faith alone, in Christ alone
Part of growing up
We start as infants with no personal responsibility whatsoever—everything that we need done is done for us. As we progress through the various stages of childhood, we take on more and more responsibility. We learn to tie our own shoes, clean our own rooms, and turn in our own homework. We learn that responsibility has its rewards—and irresponsibility has other, less-than-desirable effects. In many ways, the difference between a child and a man is his willingness to take personal responsibility for his actions. As Paul says, “When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11).
The Bible teaches the concept of personal responsibility: “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them” (Ezekiel 18:20). Personal responsibility is closely related to the law of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7–8). “Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done” (Isaiah 3:10–11).
The commands of the Old Testament were attached to blessings for obedience and penalties for disobedience; in other words, the Law emphasized the responsibility of individuals to respond in morally appropriate ways to God’s revealed truth. God clearly defined right and wrong, and His people were expected to do what was right. This has been the case ever since the Garden of Eden, when Adam was given a specific command and expected to obey it. Later, Adam’s son Cain was warned by God that he would be held personally responsible for his actions (Genesis 4:7).
Achan was held responsible for his sin at Jericho (Joshua 7:14–15). Jonah was held responsible for his choice to run from the Lord (Jonah 1:7–8). The Levites were held responsible for the care of the tabernacle (Numbers 18:5). The deacons of the early church took personal responsibility for meeting some practical needs of the church (Acts 6:3). Paul was given the responsibility to blaze a gospel trail to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:2).
The Bible expects us to take personal responsibility in all areas of life. Able-bodied people should work for their food. “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Men are to take responsibility for providing for their households (1 Timothy 5:8).
At times, people try to avoid personal responsibility, usually through blame-shifting. Adam tried to blame Eve for his sin (Genesis 3:12). Cain tried to dodge responsibility (Genesis 4:9). Pilate attempted to absolve his guilt in the matter of the crucifixion of Christ: “‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’” (Matthew 27:24). Ultimately, attempts to pass the buck are futile. “You may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
Each one of us has the-personal
“repent and believe the good news”
and then to glorify
with good works
(Ephesians 2:10). “
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have
the Son of God does not have life”
(1 John 5:12).
Those who choose to reject the truth of God “are without excuse”
We cannot evade
exercise faith in Christ.