Contend Earnestly: Bear Fruit!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bear Fruit!

I have been doing a study on Colossians (and discussions with Tony) and came across a verse that really had/has me thinking about when our fruit should start as new Christians.

because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as {it has been doing} in you also since the day you heard {of it} and understood the grace of God in truth;

Colossians 1:5,6

Notice the verse says that the fruit from the gospel is proven and reiterated to the Colossians by referring to the fruit that was in their lives at the very moment of their conversion. As you can see in the latter part of verse 6 it says, “since the day you heard of it and understood.” So we can assume if they understood, and because we know Paul is writing to believers in Colosse, the “day” he is speaking of is the day of salvation for these saints.

We know in John 15:5 Christ says:

"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.”

Most will say that this means that at some point you will bear fruit if you are a true Christian. It doesn’t say how much or how often but it does say that you will bear fruit.

We can look not only at Colossians 1:5,6 but also 2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Both seem to point to new things and fruit happening right away and not in the future at some point. Remember Paul is trying to encourage the Colossians because of the great heresies that are amongst them so he is trying to encourage, remind and strengthen their conviction by pointing to their own conversions. How strong could that conviction be if they are believers who have yet to bear fruit? They will look and say, “I believe I am a Christian, but I haven’t born any fruit yet” So how strong can their confidence in the gospel of truth be?

This has a lot of impact for us as leaders in the church to know when to baptize someone. In the Bible people were baptized right away after their confession, just look to the centurion and the eunuch that Philip preached to and converted. Are we supposed to be fruit inspectors before we baptize or are we to allow God to bring wrath upon someone’s head that has confessed and was baptized and then shows no fruit? I honestly have a real hard time with either. The bible states and shows clearly that if you believe you are baptized…immediately. But do we baptize a 6 year old that confesses Christ? What about an 8 year old? What about a 4 year old? The biblical example seems to point to confession, baptism and then fruit (or proof that the conversion was real). If it was real the fruit seems as though it should be immediate not some far off venture. I understand that we are in the process of sanctification so I can’t expect a new Christian to be an apple orchard, but can’t I expect them to at least be an apple tree?

How lenient should we be as leaders? I have this issue right now with people I know that confess Christ but little if any fruit is shown at all. How would Paul be able to comfort them in times of trouble or show them the power of the gospel? He couldn’t say “Remember your own conversion” to point to the power of the truth, there was no or little change in that person. Should I baptize those who confess but show no fruit or hardly any fruit whatsoever? Should I point to the future and just baptize or should I wait and baptize when I see fruit? The last thing I want to do is try and judge the heart and judge whether the confession was true and deny baptism for someone who is truly saved. I am just having a real hard time with this at this point and don’t want to disappoint my Saviour who bought this dead sinner with His blood. He had and still has patience and longsuffering for me and I don’t want to deny that to others. But I also don’t want to be separated from people who are under my instruction on the Day of Judgment because they had a false hope that they were saved.

A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven {will enter.} Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? 'And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

Matthew 7:18-23


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