A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples – Know Genuine Conversion

 

Matthew 12 ends with Jesus discussing the spiritual nature of the Family of God. The Family of God is not something a person is physically born into, or something that can be entered by one’s own effort, it is something one has to be born again spiritually into. At the end of Matthew 12 Jesus states:

 

  • Matthew 12:48-50 – “But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”  [1]

Entrance into the Family of God as Jesus’ “brother and sister and mother,” is accomplished by doing the will of the Father. The will of the Father is expressly stated in Jesus’ own words when He says:

 

  • John 3:5 – “Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  [2]

We should not think that doing the will of God implies that being born again is our work. Quite to the contrary, doing the will of God is His work in us. Jesus states this with the words:

  • John 6:29 – “Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”   [3]

In Matthew 13 Jesus introduces a different method of communicating the gospel in His ministry, the parable.

What Is A Parable?

Matthew 13:1-3 – “On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea.2 And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, . . .”   [4]

What is a parable? The word “parable” is translated from the Greek term PARABOLE (Strong’s #3850). The Greek prefix “para” means “near, beside; to place something  alongside” and the root word “ballo”  means “to throw.” Hence, the idea hear is, “a placing of one thing beside another” with a view to comparison.” [5] In order to teach and communicate clearly, Jesus used earthly stories to communicate heavenly meanings. Jesus used parables to illustrate spiritual truths by way of using everyday commonly known practices and situations.

The Purpose of Parables

Matthew 13:10-17 – “And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.14 “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 1 ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive;15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’16 “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;17 “for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”  [6]

Before we begin to study the parables, let’s clarify the purpose of parables. The disciples come to Jesus and ask Him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (13:10). Jesus answers the disciples making the following points.

First, understanding of the parables is provided or “given” by God (13:11). Whatever we know about God is revealed by God and particularly, by the Holy Spirit. God explains this truth through the inspired words of the apostle Paul who wrote:

  • 1 Corinthians 2:10-14 – “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.11 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.12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.14 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.”  [7]

The gist of these inspired words is that the Spirit of God reveals God’s will to whoever will receive it. The “natural man” is the man who rejects the Spirit’s overtures of salvation and as a result cannot understand the things of God. Parables are the means Jesus uses to remove any excuse before God. If you reject the clear teachings of God the Spirit communicated through such means as the parable, then your decision is clearly and definitely seen. This in effect is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, the rejection of the Spirit’s offer of salvation in Christ.

Second, parables distinguish between the spiritual haves and have-nots (13:12).  Jesus said, “For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him . Parables were clear illustrations of spiritual truths. Jesus didn’t use parables to confuse people, but to clearly explain spiritual truth so that if a person didn’t “understand,” it was not because the teaching was unclear but it was because a person did not want to understand. In Matthew 12 Jesus spoke of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Parables point out the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit in that those who refuse to respond to their clear teaching, are rejecting the overtures of the Spirit.

Third, parables clarify and confirm the willful decisions of people (13:13). Jesus said, “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” God’s truth is clearly portrayed through the illustrative nature of parables and therefore, if a person rejects the message of a parable, they can claim no excuse of ignorance later. Someone has said:

“Light carried into a dark barn makes the rats in the barn run for cover and the birds tweet and flutter. The same light that causes the birds to sing causes the rats to hide. . . .That’s why Jesus spoke in parables, to reveal who were the birds and who were the rats.”  [8]

Fourth, parables expose the willful dullness of people’s hearts (13:14-16). Jesus said this is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s inspired words. When a person rejects the overtures and message of the Spirit, it has a dulling effect on their hearts. Parables therefore, serve to either enlighten or harden a person based on their reaction to the Spirit. Read what Jeremiah said about this:

  • Jeremiah 6:10 – “To whom shall I speak and give warning, That they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, And they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the Lord is a reproach to them; They have no delight in it.”  [9]

When people view God’s word as a “reproach,” they are ashamed of it, indicates the deep hardness of their heart condition. One week after the September 11th, horrific terror attacks on the World Trade Center, I had the opportunity to go into the New York City to do some street evangelism with a team of 12 other brothers in the Lord. The Lord led us to Central Park to share the gospel. The American Bible Society, located nearby, gave us a bunch of pamphlets for us to distribute in our endeavor. As I stood by a makeshift memorial of candles at the Southwest entrance of Central Park, I offered the free material to passersby. Some welcomed the material. Some took the material only out of politeness it seemed. Some looked upon me with disdain. Others refused to even make eye contact or acknowledge my presence. As I stood their offering God’s word and a blessing to passersby, the Spirit seemed to say to my heart, “You see, this is how they rejected Jesus.” But I noticed something else too.

As people emptied off of buses and walked the area, I noticed that if the first person of a group took the material, for the most part, those who followed them took the material too. If  the first person in a passing group refused the material, usually those who followed seemed to refuse in kind. As they passed by I could see this in their eyes. I sensed some of them wanted the material, but did not want others to know they did. There was a willful dullness in many of the people who passed by that day. All I could do was pray for their souls.

The Primary Parable -  The Sower – A Parable About Genuine Salvation

The Parable of the Sower is the primary or most foundational parable according to Jesus’ words as stated in Mark’s gospel, which states:

  • Mark 4:13 – “And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?”  [10]

Jesus, with these words, tells us that disciples need to understand this parable if they are to understand any other parables. This parable is the most important parable because it addresses depicts true and false conversion.

The Principle Truths of This Parable

Matthew 13:3-9,18-23 – “Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.4 “And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.5 “Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth.6 “But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.7 “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.8 “But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.9 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” . . . . 18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower:19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.20 “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;21 “yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.22 “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.23 “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”  [11]

What are the elements of the Parable of the Sower? The elements of this parable are: the seed is God’s word (13:4,19; Mark 4:14). The “sower” therefore, is one who is spreading God’s word (13:3; Mark 4:14). The various “soils” represent various conditions of the heart (13:19; Mark 4:15). The parable of the sower is a parable about the importance of knowing genuine salvation. It’s important to know what salvation looks like in a person so that false conversion  can be exposed and false hope can be transformed into real living hope.

What principles does Jesus teach us with this parable?  First, not everyone who hears God’s word responds to it in a saving way. Based on this parable, only one fourth (1/4) of those who hear God’s word respond to it in a saving way. How many have responded in a saving way to your sowing of God’s word? 1 out of 4? 1 out of 10? 1 out of 100? 1 out of 1000? Jon Courson makes the following statement regarding this aspect of this parable:

            “Eternity magazine did a study . . . of a large crusade by a very famous evangelist. 178

churches came together for this particular crusade. In one week’s time, 4,106 decisions were made. But within three months, only 3% were going to church at all. That means 3,981 people came forward but didn’t go on. They responded to the message and sprang up quickly, but, like the seed in the parable, they were choked out by the cares of this world, leaving 3,981 inoculated backsliders, with just enough of the gospel to make them think they’re saved.”  [12]

 

This information may tempt us to be discouraged, but we should remember, that in the parable one out of four did  respond in a saving way, and those are the ones who the disciple should rejoice in.

 

Second, the problem is not with the seed (God’s word). God’s word is living, active effective. The Bible states of God’s word:

 

  • Isaiah 55:10-11 – “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”  [13]
  • Matthew 24:35 -  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”  [14]
  • Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  [15]
  • 1 Peter 1:22-25 – “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away,25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”  [16]

God’s word is the means by which God reveals Himself and His salvation to people. God tells us in His word that His word, “shall not return to Me void,” it “shall accomplish,” what God sends it to accomplish (Isaiah 55:11). God’s word is “living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s word is, “incorruptible,” it, “abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23). Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:35). The problem is not with God’s word, it is with the condition of people’s hearts.

Third, the problem is with people’s hearts (the soil), with the hard heart of people. In Jeremiah it states:

  • Jeremiah 4:3-4 – “For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, And do not sow among thorns.4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, And take away the foreskins of your hearts, You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Lest My fury come forth like fire, And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings.”  [17]

How is the hard heart broken? God’s word breaks up the fallow or hard heart of the lost. In Paul’s letter to Timothy he is inspired to write:

  • 1 Timothy 1:8-11 – “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”  [18]

Paul is inspired to say, “that the law is good is one uses it lawfully,” to if one uses the Law the way God intended it to be used (1 Timothy 1:8. How did God intend the Law to be used? First we see that “the law is not made for a righteous person” (1 Timothy 1:9). Once a person has been made righteous in Christ, (by accepting the gift of forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ who died on the cross in the sinners place – 2 Corinthians 5:21) that righteous person does not go on living in Christ by keeping the Law or a set of rules. You see when a person accepts Jesus as their Savior and is saved from their sin; the Holy Spirit comes to reside within them (John 3:5,8; Titus 3:5). When the Spirit comes into a person’s heart at regeneration the Spirit pours out God’s love into that heart (Romans 5:5). The regenerate person lives in the Spirit by that love (Galatians 5:22-24). The Bible tells us “love is the fulfillment of the Law”:

  • Romans 13:8-10 – “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”  [19]

You see the law is fulfilled in the born again person by God’s outpoured love through the Spirit. A regenerate person doesn’t walk around with a list of laws to abide by, that is legalism and that deadens the Spirit’s work in a person. No, as we will see below, the Law brings a person to the cross of Christ to be saved, and then it’s work is finished in the believer. More on this later.

There are basically four soils or heart conditions of those who hear the word of God. There are four attitudes of the heart toward the gospel seed of God’s word. Each person exposed to the gospel of God’s word falls into one of these four types of heart soils. It’s important the disciple knows these soils so that they can minister effectively and efficiently. Let’s see what they are like.

The Four Soils (Hearts)

As we have seen in this parable, not everyone is converted when they hear God’s word. However, some will seem to be converted or make some response to God’s word. It’s important to know a true from false convert so as to know how to properly minister to such people. It’s also important so that false hope can be exposed and genuine conversion unto salvation and eternal life can be realized. If a person is falsely converted, they may go through life thinking they are saved when in effect they are not and then come to a brutal and tragic knowledge of their false conversion only on the Day of Judgment when it is too late. This is so important for the disciple to know about. Disciple, you need to know genuine conversion. How do we know a true from a false convert? Let’s see.

First the Hard Heart-Soil That Is Closed to God’s Word.

Matthew 13:19 - “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.”  [20]

Jesus pointed to the paths that went from one field to another where because of the transit of people the ground had become pressed down, packed down and hardened. That’s the way some people’s hearts are toward God. Some people have hearts that are so hardened against God and His word that they shut their ears and hearts to God’s word. When a person willfully resists God’s word, Jesus says the enemy (“birds”) comes and snatches it away. These people are never converted due to the impenetrable nature of their hearts.

One may think this is the saddest of the heart-soils, but that is not the case. At least those who have hardhearted heart soils are honest in their rejection of the word of God. Those heart soils which follow are deceptive and dishonest.

Second, the Shallow Heart-Soil of Emotional Response to God’s Word.

Matthew 13:20-21 -  “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;21 “yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”  [21]

The “stony places” referred to by Jesus are those areas where there is a thin layer of earth that covers bedrock. Seed thrown on these areas would receive the seed and the seed would germinate quickly, but because of the rock immediately below the surface, roots could not anchor the plant in the soil and so it would wither away shortly. Such a heart is like the one who may be caught up in the emotion of a crusade and come forward, but they never go on with God or take in His word and so salvation is not able to germinate in them. They have no personal relationship with God. Their true unsaved condition is revealed when persecution or trial arises in their lives and they turn away from God.

Stony ground converts are those who pharisaically show a faith on the surface, but when a trial or persecution comes, they flee for their lives and forsake their faith in Christ. They may talk Christiaineze and even go to church, but there is no staying power, no character to persevere with the Lord during times of trial and hardship. They are false converts.

Third, The Fruitless Heart-Soil That Shows No Application of God’s Word.

Matthew 13:22 -  “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”  [22]

Seed sown among weeds and thorns are choked off from the nutrients necessary for growth. In the same way, there are those who hear God’s word and the weeds of riches choke off any fruitfulness in their lives. These are those who hear God’s word and may even profess to being saved, but their lives go on just the same as before their profession. There is no measurable change in this person’s life. No evidence of the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), no evidence of newness of life (Romans 6:4). No life of the Spirit (Romans 8:9-17).

The heart that is thorny also puts on a good show of conversion, but in effect their god is not Jesus, but the things of this world. Read what the Bible says about such people:

  • 1 Timothy 6:6-12 – “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”  [23]
  • 1 John 2:15-17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  [24]

That the second and third heart conditions are possible are revealed in the words of Jesus who said in the Sermon on the Mount:

  • Matthew 7:21-23 - “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.22 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  [25]

You see, there are those who have an outward, surface performance amongst God’s people, but in the end it will be revealed they, “never knew,” Jesus personally as Savior. There have been, are and will be those who pay Jesus lip-service, but their hearts are far from Him, which is exactly what Jesus is recorded to have said in Mark’s gospel account where it is written:

  • Mark 7:6 – “He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 1 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.”  [26]

Conversion involves the heart, giving God your heart. The shallow soil and thorny soil hearts never truly allow God’s word of grace to penetrate deep into their hearts so that it can take root, grow and change them. The parables in Matthew 13 which follow the parable of the Sower emphasize how the falsely converted are among the genuinely converted in the congregation of God’s people.

Fourth, The Fruitful Heart-Soil That Shows Enduring Application of God’s Word.

Matthew 13:23 - “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”   [27]

Herein is the picture of the genuinely converted and saved heart. The heart that is saved receives God’s word in a way that leads to change and fruitful productivity. This heart needs to be viewed in light of a personal abiding in Christ. In John’s gospel Jesus says:

  • John 15:2-8 - “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”  [28]

Any fruit that the good-soil-believer bears is because of their dependence upon Jesus. We are not talking about a works righteousness for no one is saved by his or her good works. The Bible says:

  • Galatians 2:16 - “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”  [29]
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” [30]

Salvation is not a matter of what I do, it is a matter of what God has done in Jesus Christ, the person seeking salvation form sin need only turn and receive salvation as a gift form God by faith. This is what Jesus meant when He used the words, “receives . . . hears . . . understands” (Matthew 13:23a). To have,“received” (SPAREIS – Strong’s #4687) the seed or word of God means that it has been implanted effectively, it has not bounced off the top like on the wayside path, it hasn’t only hit shallow surface soil, and nor has it fell in amongst the cluttered thorny soil. The word “hears” (AKOUO - Strong’s #191) means, “to give heed to, to listen to, pay attention to), it is to understand the importance of what is being said or at least show interest in what is being said. The grammatical form of this word also implies a continued hearing, perhaps a concentration on what is being said (Present Tense Greek).  To “understand” (SUNION from SUNIEMI Strong’s #4920) means, “to comprehend, perceive, understand,” it means to literally put things together, the pieces of the salvation puzzle come together for this person.

Genuine conversion is identifiable. The genuinely converted and saved person, according to Jesus,  “bears fruit and produces” (Matthew 13:23b). The phrase “bears fruit,” is one word in the original language (KARPOPHOREO – Strong’s #2592) and means, “to bring forth, bear, be fruitful.” The idea here is an ongoing condition that is a continuous action (Present tense). This condition is made emphatic by Jesus who adds, “and produces” (POIEO – Strong’s #4160; also Present/Active/Indicative), meaning, “do, make, bring forth, show, bear, fulfill,” in an ongoing and continuous basis.

But what is it that the genuinely converted produce? What does such fruit look like? What is it?

The Nine Fruit of Genuine Conversion

Do you remember what Jesus taught at the end of the Sermon on the Mount? Remember He spoke of false teachers who would be ravenous wolves seeking to devour the sheep of God. And then He states:

  • Matthew 7:16-20 - You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.18 “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”  [31]

Just as false teachers are known by their fruit, so does fruit reveal the truth or falsehood of conversion. Therefore, what does the fruit of true conversion look like?

If there’s no fruit, there’s no saving faith. The person who is genuinely saved will not need to be propped up in their faith. If a person is genuinely saved, they won’t have to be coaxed to go to church or read the Bible or pray, they will do it because they have been radically changed, they’ve received new life in Christ and seek to drinks from the living water Jesus has given (John 4:13-14; 7:37-39).

The person who is genuinely saved will bear fruit. What does this fruit look like? The Bible describes nine fruit of one who is genuinely saved. Let’s see what those fruit are like.

The First Fruit: The Fruit of Repentance.

  • Matthew 3:8 - “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,”  [32]

Repentance is essential to salvation. Repentance is turning from your sin to God in Christ for forgiveness of your sin, to receive the indwelling Holy Spirit and eternal life. But not everyone who hears the gospel repents, why is that? Why don’t people repent?

“Why should I Repent? “

The problem with much of what is called evangelism in our day is that there is no repentance. The reason there is no repentance is that the gospel is gilded. The gospel is gilded when a sinner is presented with the gospel, (i.e. that salvation comes by God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone) before he or she is brought to a knowledge of their sinfulness. When a sinner is offered the gospel before they have been shown their need for a gospel, the logical response is for them to retort, “Why should I repent? Repent from what?”

Decisions made for Christ without the knowledge of sin are likely an emotional “decision” to accept Jesus as their Savior because they have been told He will clean up their life, heal their marriage or finances or some other thing. These things may indeed come to be, but the primary reason for salvation is to save a soul that has sinned and broken God’s Law and is destined to for hell unless they turn to God. Before a person repents they need to be shown their need of repentance.

The Preparatory Work of The Law of God – Showing the Sinner Their Sinfulness

How do we show someone his or her need to repent? God has given us given us a mirror in which to examine ourselves and see where we stand with Him. That mirror is the Law of God. The Law is the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ higher interpretation of it. The Law exposes a sinner as a sinner. A sinner is one who has broken God’s Law. Paul wrote this about the use of the Law:

  • 1 Timothy 1:8-11 – “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”  [33]

Paul mentions the “the glorious gospel of the blessed God” right after he speaks of the “lawless and insubordinate.” You see, the gospel does not appear glorious, it doesn’t appear to be good news, unless first the sinner is brought to understand the bad news of his or her state of sin.

In Romans Paul states the Law exposes the sin that is in us, it reveals the utter sinfulness of the sinner. Read what he is inspired to write:

  • Romans 7:7-14 – “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. 13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” [34]

The Law of God exposes our sinfulness, reveals our guilt before a Holy God. More on this later. 

Sin has a consequence. Paul later writes in Romans:

  • Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  [35]

The wages of sin,” or the consequences of breaking God’s Law, “is death.” Those who rebel against God, ignore and break His Law have a sentence of death hanging over their heads. Think of it, should they die in their sin without repenting and turning to God; they face an eternity in the scorching fires of hell, a place of dark smoke and aloneness. Hell is not a place where, “I’ll just party with my buddies,” Oh no, hell is a place of fiery torment (see Matthew 5:22; 13:37-42, 49-50; 18:9; Mark 9:43-47; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10; 2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13; Revelation 19:19-21; 20:14; 21:8). The Law then shuts the mouth of every sinner before God so that they are without excuses before Him (Romans 3:9-20).

The Law of God makes the predicament of the sinner clear. They are stripped naked of all excuses and laid bear before Holy God. Once this preparatory work is done, the sinner is ready to hear the good news of the gospel that God has come down in Christ and paid the penalty for sins so that through faith alone in Christ alone a person can be saved from their sin. Once the predicament of the sinner is established, they have something to be saved from. Without being convicted of one’s sin, a person has no real concept of the gravity of it, the offense they have made before God by breaking His holy Law.

Using The Ten Commandments in Evangelism

We have seen that on e of the biggest problems in evangelism in our day is that people are offered the plan of salvation in a way that does not emphasize the indispensable need for repentance for salvation to occur. We have seen that the Law makes the sinner’s guilt and resultant predicament before God clear and convicting. Practically speaking, the Ten Commandments are a vital tool in the evangelistic process in that they can be used to expose the sinner’s utter sinfulness and guilt before God. How is this accomplished? By referring to the Ten Commandments and showing the sinner how they have transgressed God’s Law, they see clearly that they would be guilty before God on Judgment Day. How should this process of witnessing proceed?

First speak to them about the fragility of life and the inevitability of their appearing before God on Judgment Day. Ask if they have ever considered what will happen after they die. The Bible says that immediately after a person dies; God judges them:

  • Acts 17:30-31 - “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,31 “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”  [36]
  • Hebrews 9:27 – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” [37]

There is no purgatory or second chances once you die, there is only judgment.

Second, ask the person if they think God would let them into heaven when they die; ask them what they think would happen if they were to come before a just God on Judgment Day. When you ask a person if they think they would be allowed into heaven should they come before God on Judgment Day, they are likely to give a host of affirmative answers based on rationalizations, ill-conceived notions, outright falsehoods and presumptive reasoning. They may say they’ve done their best or done a lot of good deeds, and God will understand. They might say they are a “good person,” or that they aren’t as bad as some other person. But to say that would lead to the acquittal of almost all people. For instance, a murderer could say, “Well, I might have killed those people, but at least I’m not as bad as Jeffrey Dalmer.” But by this reasoning Jeffrey Dalmer could say,  “Yes, I tortured and killed those people, but at least I‘m not as bad as Hitler.” And Hitler could say he’s not as bad as Stalin and so forth. We could use this reasoning with all sin to almost always find someone who is worse than us. But, God does not judge people in comparison or contrast to other people, He judges people according to His Law.

Third, point out to the sinner that God will not and cannot overlook sin because He is just and holy and will rightly assess punishment for sin. Some say God is loving and a loving God would never send them to hell.  But none of these are good enough to get a person eternal life and access into God’s heaven.  People don’t understand that while it is true that God is loving, it is just as true that God is holy and just.

 If Osama Ben Laden was captured and brought before a human court and it was proved beyond a shadow of doubt that he was guilty of being responsible for the World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks, and if once that was proved the judge said, “You know, I’m a loving judge and though all those innocent people died so terribly, I kind of like Osama and I can’t see putting him in jail let alone sentencing him to death, so I’m just going to let him go.” Now if an earthly judge did that the world would be appalled at the injustice of such a decision, yet that is the view many sinners have of God. A person may have broken all of God’s commandments over and over again, and yet they think He will simply overlook that. If He were to do such a thing, He would cease to be a just or holy God. Because God is just, there must be a penalty paid for sin. The Bible says,

  • Exodus 34:6-7a – “And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,7 “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, . . .”  [38]
  • Psalm 9:16 – “The Lord is known by the judgment He executes; The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Meditation. Selah”  [39]
  • Psalm 89:14 – “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.”  [40]
  • Psalm 96:10,13 – “Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.” . . .13 For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.”  [41]
  • Romans 2:4-9 – “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”:7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;”  [42]

Fourth, point out the sinner’s utter sinfulness based on breaking God’s Law (e.g.  Ten Commandments). It is only when they are brought before the Law of God that they come to realize their guilt before a holy God. This guilt is easily exposed by referring to the Ten Commandments.

The first commandment states, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). How do we know who or what is our “God”? Your God is your master passion, the thing or person you give top priority to over everything else in your life. The first commandment tells us that we are to put God first. When the sinner is asked if they have put God first, if they have been cultivating a primary relationship with God most will be exposed for not even thinking of Him. Strike one. How about you, is God first in your life? Is He the first thing you think about when you rise, the guiding Person throughout your day, and the One you commit your dreams to? Is God the one you live for? Is God indeed first in your life?

The second commandment states, “You shall not make yourself any graven image” (Exodus 20:4-6) We may not have little idols in our homes, (although some people do), but people have a penchant for making a god in their own image; they have an image of a god that they are comfortable with, but that has no basis in truth. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself and any view of Him must be based on the Bible. If they have a view of God that is loving but unjust they have a faulty view of God and have made a graven image of God. Strike two. What does your “God” look like? It your view of God based on the revelation of His word, or on your opinions or someone else’s opinions?

The third commandment is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7). So often people stoop to use the name of God like a profane four letter curse word and that is breaking the third commandment. Strike three.

The fourth commandment is, “Remember the Sabbath” (Exodus 20:8-10). While Christians are not required to keep the Sabbath, a holy day of rest is one of God’s stipulations for those outside of Christ. Few if any have kept this commandment. Do you live to work or work to live? Do you shut God out of your life and have no time for Him because all you do is work, work, and work? If that is the case, you’ve likely broken the fourth commandment. Strike four.

The fifth commandment is, “Honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12). In our day and age few children have honored their parents and none have not at least once dishonored or disagreed with them. How do you treat your parents, even if you’re married and out of the home? Strike five.

The sixth commandment is, “You shall not murder,” (Exodus 20:13). Few have murdered a person physically, but Jesus said that if you even get angry with someone it is like you have killed them in your heart (Matthew 5:21-26). Gotten angry with anyone lately? Strike six.

The seventh commandment is, “You shall not commit adultery,” (Exodus 20:14). Many might say, “Oh, I would never do that.” But what they don’t understand is that Jesus said if we even have a lustful thought, we are guilty of adultery (Matthew 5:27-30). Had any lustful thoughts lately? Your eye might catch a beautiful woman or handsome man, but did you take that observation to the point of fantasy?  Strike seven.

The eighth commandment is, “You shall not steal,” (Exodus 20:15). Many think that because they haven’t stolen anything they feel is “big,” that they are clear on this one. But stealing involves anything, a paperclip, a piece of gum, a pencil, anything. If you’ve stolen anything, you’re a thief as far as God is concerned. Working off the books? Borrowed anything indefinitely? Strike eight.

The ninth commandment states, “You shall not lie,” (Exodus 20:16). Again, it isn’t the size of the lie; it’s whether or not a person has ever lied. If a person has ever lied, He sees them as a liar. Ever told a lie about your age? Your weight? How much money you make? Strike nine.

The tenth commandment is, “You shall not covet,” (Exodus 20:17). To covet is to want more of something you already have enough of; in our society you would be hard pressed to find someone not guilty of this law. We are an envious and jealous people. Why do you want those extra pair of shoes? That new set of golf clubs? That new article of clothing? Strike ten.

Fifth, bring the person to the realistic conclusion of their guilt before God based on breaking His Law and the consequence of this sin, hell. Sin is breaking God’s law. John writes in this regard:

  • 1 John 3:4 – “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”  [43]

Now the person you are witnessing to needs to be made aware that it only takes one broken commandment to doom them. God’s word says:

  • Galatians 3:10 – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”   [44]
  • James 2:10 – “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”  [45]

The Law is like a chain of links that holds the sinner on one end with the other anchored in holy heaven. If each commandment is represented by a link it only takes breaking one link for the sinner to fall into hell. Those who break even one of the commandments of God in their lives are guilty before God and doomed to hell with a curse. Now when the sinner is asked if they came before God’s judgment seat would they be guilty or not guilty, they will have to admit, “I would be guilty.”

Guilty and on their own before God, sinners see they are destined for hell. This is what the Bible states:

  • Romans 2:8-9 – “but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;”  [46]

Once the sinner sees himself or herself as a sinner guilty before a Just God, they are now ready to hear the good news of the Gospel.

The Law Brings Sinners to Christ

Now that the bad news of guilt before God has been clarified to the sinner, now that their need of a Savior is apparent, tell them the good news offered in Christ. The Law reveals the reality of the bad news of the curse to the sinner. But this is right where the sinner needs to be. John Wesley used to say:

 “Before I can preach love, mercy, and grace, I must preach sin, Law, and judgment.”[47]

Once the sinner has been led to the point where he or she realizes they are under the curse of the Law, they are ready to be led to Christ. Before a sinner can be introduced to Christ, they must see their need of a Savior. This is the role of the Law, to lead the sinner to Christ.

In Galatians it states:

  • Galatians 3:10-13 – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),”  [48]
  • Galatians 3:24 – “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”  [49]

The Place (Fruit) of Repentance - Turning From Sin to Christ

Repentance, turning from one’s sins to God in Christ, is necessary for salvation to occur and is part of saving faith. The faith that saves involves repentance. This is all a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Read how repentance is part of salvation:

  • Acts 2:37-38 – “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”38 Then Peter said to them, “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.”  [50]
  • Acts 3:19 - “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,”  [51]
  • Acts 11:18 – “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”  [52]
  • 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 – “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”  [53]
  • 2 Timothy 2:24-26 – “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”  [54]

The Good News of the Gospel

The good news is that Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross as a curse for our sins. This is Who the repentant sinner turns to, we repent when we turn to Jesus, trust Him and receive the gift of saving forgiveness of our sins. The sinner, who has been shown their need, is ready to see the love and generosity of God Who sent His Son Jesus to die for the sins of the world. Now the sinner has something to be grateful for; now they see why they need to repent. Read the following verses depicting this:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 - “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,”  [55] (See  also Romans 3:20-26; 5:1-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
  • Titus 2:11-15 – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”  [56] (See also 1 Peter 2:23-25; 1 John  2:2)
  • 2 Corinthians 9:15 – “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”  [57]

The fruit of repentance is the first fruit and indispensable of a genuinely saved person because all other fruit hinges on this fruit.

The Second Fruit: The Fruit of the Spirit - Love

The second fruit is the product of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the genuinely saved person. When a person repents putting their faith in Christ for forgiveness of sin, they are born again and the Holy Spirit comes to reside within them to give them spiritual life. We see this in the following verses:

  • John 3:5 – “Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  [58]
  • Titus 3:5 – “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,”  [59]

Now when this regenerative work occurs and the Spirit comes into the heart of a genuinely converted person, He brings with Him the fruitful evidence of God’s love. The Bible states this in Romans where it is written:

  • Romans 5:5 – “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” [60]

This love is from God and is the truest evidence of a person’s genuine salvation. It is this love working in and through us that enables us to fulfill the Law that once condemned us, (and therefore the Law is not for the righteous – 1 Timothy 1:9). As Paul wrote again:

  • Romans 13:10 – “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”  [61]

The love, which is the fruit of the Spirit, is described in the inspired letter of Paul to the Galatians where it states:

  • Galatians 5:22-24 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  [62]

Now, it is this teacher’s opinion that since the term “fruit” is in the singular form in the original language (Nominative/Singular/Masculine), that the fruit of the Spirit is therefore singularly love, and the words that follow it in Galatians 5:22-23 are adjectives that describe that love.

 Love never fails and is the most important fruit in the life of the believer. A believer is nothing without God’s love coursing through their spiritual veins.

Indeed, without God’s love working in and through us, no matter what we do, it will be worthless. Read one of the most beautiful portions of Scripture that shows the import of love:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  [63]

Love never fails, but without love we always fail. The greatest of all fruit of the genuinely saved is the fruit of love.

The Third Fruit: The Fruit of Righteousness.

We have seen already that any fruit that is born in the genuinely saved comes from an abiding saving relationship with Jesus (John 15). There is a fruit of righteousness that speaks of one’s standing before God in Christ. Paul was inspired to write:

  • Philippians 1:11 – “being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”  [64]

The one who is saved is made righteous on the basis of their standing in Christ. Paul states:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  [65]

We are not righteous based on anything we do; we are righteous based upon what Jesus has done. When a person genuinely receives such righteousness in Christ, their lives are changed; there is an effect of such righteousness in a person’s life. There is an assurance of salvation based on faith in Christ. This assurance is communicated to the genuinely saved by the Holy Spirit. This is seen in the following verses:

  • Romans 8:15-16 – “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”  [66]
  • 1 John 3:24 – “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”  [67]
  • 1 John 4:13 – “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”  [68]

The fruit we talk about in this section of the study flows from our righteous standing in Jesus. In Romans it tells us to actually clothe ourselves with the righteousness of Jesus:

  • Romans 13:12-14 – “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”  [69]

By the power of the Spirit working in us, we are to put on Christ, walk in His steps and follow Him (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6). The fruit of righteousness is that assured walk of one who knows their standing is right before God and they are forgiven for their sin and can be continuingly forgiven for sins committed after conversion.

The Fourth Fruit: The Fruit of A Holy Life.

Another fruit is the fruit of holiness in the life of the genuinely converted. In Romans it states:

  • Romans 6:22 – “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”  [70]

The person genuinely saved will demonstrate a change in their lives. To be holy is to be set apart unto God for Him to use you in His plans. The fruit of holiness is a life that is lived for God; it is a life that seeks to do nothing that would bring shame or an offense to God. The genuinely saved person sets himself or herself apart unto God to be used by Him. The true evidence of a holy life is God’s love working in and through a person:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  [71]

The holy life is a life of Christ-like love in action.

The Fifth Fruit: The Fruit of Soul-Winning.

The sixth fruit is the fruit of soul winning or a burden for the lost. We see this in Romans where it states:

  • Romans 1:13-17 – “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.14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise.15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”   [72]

The context of these above verses indicate that Paul saw fruitfulness associated with preaching and sharing the gospel.  The person who is genuinely saved is so grateful for their salvation that they want to share the good news with others who have yet to be saved. It has been said of the flock of God, healthy sheep reproduce. The person who is genuinely saved will desire for the lost to be saved just like he or she has been. They will avail themselves and surrender to God to be used to this end in any way. It may be through prayer, witness, service, or giving, but the genuinely saved person has a burden for the lost souls of humankind.

As far as God is concerned, if there is a “star” on His team, it apparently are those who make themselves available to save lost souls. In the book of Daniel it states:

  • Daniel 12:3 – “Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.”  [73]

Jesus emphasized soul winning as a primary purpose of the disciple when He said:

  • Matthew 4:19 – “Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  [74]

Soul winning is of utmost importance because the eternal destiny of people hangs in the balance in regards to whether or not their souls are won or lost to eternal life in Christ. IN James it states:

  • James 5:20 – “let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”  [75]

That “death” James speaks of is eternal death and refers to hell, a place of fire, blackness, darkness, torment (Matthew 5:22; 18:8-9; 25:46; Mark 9:43-47; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10; 2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13; Revelation 19:19-21; 20:14; 21:8).

The Sixth Fruit: The Fruit of Giving

One of the most telling fruit of the genuinely saved is the fruit of giving mentioned by Paul in the book of Romans where it states:

  • Romans 15:26-28 – “For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain.”  [76]

Paul is speaking of a monetary contribution made by the church in Macedonia and Achaia to the church in Jerusalem. He mentions this to spur on the Corinthians to do likewise. How you spend your money is very often an indicator of where you stand with God. If you are genuinely saved and you realize you have been bought at a very high price, the blood of Jesus. The Bible says:

  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  [77]

When God bought you, He bought the entire package, that includes the right to direct where and how you would spend the money He blesses you with. A genuinely saved person who has a fertile heart for the seed of God’s word, is a person who always thanks God for his or her income and asks, “Lord, how would you have me spend this money You have blessed me with?”

Tithing

Some believe that the Christian is not bound by the “tithe” (literally “a tenth”). Some believe that because the Law is meant to lead a person to Christ that once a person becomes a Christian they are no longer bound to give a tenth because they are no longer under the Law. But such reasoning is faulty because the tithe as a measure of giving to God predates the Law by some 400 years! Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek (who was likely a Christophany or preincarnate appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament – see Hebrews 7 and 8).

In Genesis we see that after Abraham had successfully delivered his nephew Lot from a confederacy of kings, upon his return he encounters the king-priest of Salem (literally “king of Peace”). King Melchizedek, priest of “God Most High” pronounces a blessing on Abraham and Abraham gives Melchizedek a tenth:

  • Genesis 14:18-20 – “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.19 And he blessed him and said: 1 “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.”  [78]

If Abraham tithed before the Law, why do we think that we who are not under the Law are free from tithing? What did Jesus teach about the tithe?

When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees about their greedy extortion tactics with people He pointed out that the tithe should not be neglected:

  • Matthew 23:23 - “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”  [79]

A Giving Attitude

Now if we take these verses to heart and do give a tenth of our income to God, understand that is only the beginning. If we give a tenth of our income and do not give it cheerfully, it profits us nothing. And giving a tithe does not imply that God only cares about the first tenth of our income and then gives us license to use the other 90% as we please, He wants us to be good stewards of all that He blesses us with. Read what Paul is inspired to say about this:

  • 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 – “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.9 As it is written: 1 “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God,13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men,14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” [80]

We need to give “cheerfully” understanding that God will supply for our needs. It is a blessed privilege to be used by God in our giving to spread the gospel of His glory. Giving is a great fruit of the genuinely saved.

The Seventh Fruit: The Fruit of Good Works.

There is a general fruit, which characterizes the genuinely saved, and it is mentioned in the letter to the Colossians where it is written:

  • Colossians 1:10 – “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;”  [81]

Good works are like fresh summer fruit on the kitchen table of the world. You walk into the room and you can’t ignore the tasty aroma. You just have to check it out. When we do good works, it raises the interest of the unsaved who seek to know why we do what we do and how we do what we do. The fruit of good works paves the way to sharing the gospel.

Remember what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:

  • Matthew 5:13-16 - “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  [82]

Our good works, done in the Spirit’s power, bring glory to God. Therefore, we see that elsewhere in the New Testament Peter stated:

  • 1 Peter 3:15-16 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”  [83]

Good works legitimize disciples in the unsaved world and serve to open doors of ministry to the lost. But best of all, good works bring glory to God.

The Eight Fruit: The Fruit of Worship

The person who is genuinely saved will be so thankful for the gift of salvation that they will overflow with worship. The eighth fruit is the fruit of worship. In Hebrews it states:

 

  • Hebrews 13:15 – “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”  [84]

When a person is genuinely saved, they just can’t help but praise and worship God in Spirit and truth. In the gospel of John it states:

  • John 4:23-24 - “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”   [85]

Based on what Jesus said in John’s gospel we see that this is a particularly delicious fruit for the Lord to find in the genuinely saved. To a great extent the life of the genuinely saved is a life of worship. Think about this, we will be spending the better part of eternity worshipping God in heaven. It would be good to start practicing now! The genuinely saved will do so.

The Ninth Fruit: The Fruit That Lasts

The fruit of the genuinely converted is lasting. Those who are genuinely saved and converted persevere in their saving relationship with God in Christ. If a person does not persevere, it is doubtful they were ever genuinely converted to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said earlier in Matthew:

  • Matthew 10:22 - “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”  [86]

If you are genuinely saved, you will persevere to the end, no matter what. Perseverance is the proof of genuine conversion.

The Lasting Fruit In The Genuinely Saved

Jesus spoke of this when He said:

  • John 8:31 – “ Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” [87]

The term “abide” (MENO – Strong’s #3306) means, “abide, remain, dwell, continue, tarry, and endure.” [88] There is a lasting and enduring quality to the life of the genuinely saved. The genuinely saved has a faith that will not whither in times of trial (Matthew 13:21), nor will it be choked off by the cares of this world (Matthew 13:22), it will endure, steadfast to the end,   (Matthew 10:22). This truth is further supported by the inspired words of the following verses:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:58 – “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  [89]
  • Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  [90]
  • 2 Timothy 1:12 – “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”  [91]

Notice that perseverance is not a work of the saint but a work of God in the saint. The truly and genuinely converted person will persevere for God is at work in them.

The Lasting Fruit By The Genuinely Saved

This enduring fruit is not only seen in the life of the genuinely saved, but the work done by the genuinely saved has an eternal quality to it. Jesus said:

  • John 15:16 - “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.”  [92]

The reason for the eternal nature of the fruitful work of the genuinely saved is because the genuinely saved person has eternity in view as a priority. We see this in the inspired words of Paul who stated:

  • 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 – “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”  [93]

The genuinely converted have enduring fruit in them and the work done by them endures as well.

Primary and Secondary Fruit

When we look at this fruit of the genuinely saved we may become a bit overwhelmed thinking, “Wow, that fruit is not in me, am I genuinely saved?” I would respond to that question by saying that some of the nine fruit are primary in that they are indispensable to salvation. Some of the fruit are secondary in that they are not essential to salvation, but the lack of them nevertheless indicates a serious spiritual illness.

Those fruit which are primary and essential for salvation would be as follows. The fruit of  repentance is essential for salvation for one cannot be saved unless they turn to God in Christ for forgiveness of their sins. The fruit of the Spirit, love, is primary and essential in the sense that without the Spirit of God in you, you do not belong to Him (Romans 8:9-11). If the Spirit is in you, the Spirit’s love will be in you too (Romans 5:5). The fruit of righteousness is essential in that one must rely on Jesus for righteousness (not one’s own works – Ephesians 2:8-9). The fruit of righteousness is an assurance of one’s righteous standing before God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 5:11-13). Finally, fruit that is lasting is primary and essential to salvation in that it is the one who endures to the end that is saved (Matthew 10:22). If you don’t endure to the end, you won’t be saved. These four fruit are necessary for salvation.

Those fruit which are secondary and not essential for salvation are the fruit of holiness in that some believers are carnal and will make it to heaven by the skin of their teeth or as Paul put it, as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:1-17). The fruit of soul winning, giving, good works, and worship while if absent in a believer indicate a serious spiritual ailment, are not essential to salvation. The healthy believer will be budding and flowering with the secondary fruit. The sick and spiritually weak will be lacking in these five secondary fruit.

The idea is not to neglect any of the fruit but to seek the Spirit’s work in you to see that you bear all the fruit in abundance. May we all be a fruitful garden for the Lord (see Song of Solomon 4:12-16).

Conclusion

Not everyone who hears God’s word responds to it in a saving way. Based on this parable, it is likely that one out of four will be genuinely saved who hear God’s word.  WE can determine the genuinely saved from the artificially saved by the fruit they bear:

 

·         The First Fruit: The Fruit of Repentance
  • The Second Fruit: The Fruit of the Spirit – Love
  • The Third Fruit: The Fruit of Righteousness
  • The Fourth Fruit: The Fruit of a Holy Life
  • The Fifth Fruit: The Fruit of Soul Winning
  • The Sixth Fruit: The Fruit of Giving
  • The Seventh Fruit: The Fruit of Good Works
  • The Eighth Fruit: The Fruit of Worship
  • The Ninth Fruit:  The Fruit That Lasts

 

Maybe you have been struck by this teaching of Jesus. What kind of soil is your heart? Have you been proceeding under a false assumption of your conversion? If so, waste no time in getting right with God. Read the inspired words of Paul and take them to heart:

 

  • 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 – “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.”  [94]

 If we are genuinely saved, let us be sowers of God’s word and pray that the seed of the word that is sown will find good hearted soil that will lead to people who grow up to be fruitful in Christ. My prayer for you is that Paul’s inspired words in Colossians 2 come true for you where he wrote:

 

  • Colossians 2:6-7 – “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”  [95]

May you abide in Christ and may your spiritual roots go down deep, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 



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[5]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

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[8] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Bible Commentary – Matthew Vol. One (Jacksonville, OR: Tree of Life Bible Commentary, 1993) p. 342.

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[12] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Bible Commentary – Matthew Vol. One (Jacksonville, OR: Tree of Life Bible Commentary, 1993) p. 333.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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[47] Ray Comfort, The Evidence Bible, (Gainesville. FL: Bridge Logos Pub., 2001) p. 635.

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[82]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[83]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[84]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[85]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[86]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[87]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[88]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[89]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[90]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[91]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[92]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[93]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[94]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[95]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.