Commentary on "By Their Fruit"
Day 6: Thursday, December 31, 2009
The point of this lesson is that if a tree—or a person—does not bear fruit, it will be cut down. People who do not bear fruit, likewise, will be judged. The lesson ends with the observation that bearing fruit is not part of our qualification for being saved. Rather, fruit-bearing is an expression of our salvation.
While this lesson makes some valid points, the underlying assumption does not hold up to further biblical scrutiny. A person who does not bear fruit will not necessarily lose salvation. On the other hand, the person who has professed Jesus but persistently does not bear fruit that will last is likely not actually saved, or born again.
It is possible for a person to assent mentally to the gospel without submitting one’s mind and heart to Scripture and the Lord Jesus. Such a person may profess Christ but not actually know Him. Many Adventists are confused about whether or not they "know Jesus".
We have a friend who says he was first asked if he knew Jesus by some Jesus People when he was at Newbold College in England during the 70s. Our friend, an Adventist, says that he didn't know how to answer those young people when they asked him the question. He said if he answered by saying he did not know Jesus, he felt he would be betraying Him. On the other hand, if he said he did know Him, he knew he would be lying.
Accepting Jesus is more than mentally assenting to the facts about Him. Accepting Jesus means admitting one is a hopeless sinner in need of Jesus to save one. It means giving up one's control and pride and allowing Jesus not only to be "Savior" objectively but the actual Lord over one's life. It means giving up one's tight control and allowing the Lord Jesus to take control of one's life.
Those who profess Christ but do not bear fruit have likely not truly been born again, Like our friend who had mentally accepted Him but knew deeply that he did not know Him, many people are attracted to Christianity but refuse to put roots down deeply into God's word or to allow the Holy Spirit to remove their wordily entanglements or their mental reservations. Those are the people whom the Bible warns.
A person who is born of the Spirit is safe in God's grip. He must learn to live by the Spirit, putting to death by the Spirit the deeds of the flesh, but this process looks different from the way most Adventists understand it. Instead of becoming increasingly "good", a born-again Christ-follower will become increasingly surrendered, and the Lord Jesus will literally perform His work in them.
Those who do not produce godly fruit will, indeed, be judged. But the issue is not whether or not their motives are being purified or their decisions are "right". Instead, if a person is not producing fruit, he needs to deal with the Lord Jesus.
If you have not accepted Jesus, repenting of your sin and accepting His blood as the full payment and His resurrection life as your life, do so now. Ask Him to forgive you and to be the Lord of your life.
He will produce His own fruit in your life if you have surrendered to Him. The fruit of the Spirit is never our fruit. It is entirely the work of God, not of us. We are simply the vehicle through which He glorifies Himself and accomplishes His own purposes through His power. the more we submit to Him, the more of His own fruit He will produce in our lives. He, not we, will accomplish this miracle!
Copyright 2009 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised December 29, 2009. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Glendale, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
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