Monday, July 10, 2017
No fruit? You might get burned!
If you follow my Monday posts, you probably know that I'm not one to tickle the ears with messages of blessings, grace, mercy, love... etc. NOT that these things aren't the BEST part of God. Without His incredible mercy, love and grace, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be writing books, and I most certainly wouldn't be blogging. In all honesty, I'd probably be sucking on a bottle of Tequila and watching old movies. I'm serious.
However, my calling is not to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I believe my calling on this blog (and, in part, my books) is to make known the part of God that isn't often talked about in church. In fact, in some churches, it is never talked about. Why God called me to this task, I have no idea. But it has certainly become my passion in the past few years. You see, I didn't grow regularly attending church, and when I got saved in my mid-40's and started attending church, I couldn't understand why Christians weren't more excited about God! Where was the passion for Jesus, the love of His Word, the care for the sick and poor? Where was the healing I read about in God's Word, the miracles, and other manifestations of the Spirit? And when I met socially with other Christians, why didn't they talk about God? Why did they seem more excited about Sports and money and cars and jobs? So, because I thought that surely these people know more than I do and most certainly the pastor does, I settled down to be a good little church goer.
But I read my Bible.
I read and read and read my Bible, cover to cover, year after year. And instead of making me more comfortable in my faith, I only felt confused. There seemed to be gap between what was taught in church and what I saw in the Bible. Certain verses seemed to be taken out of context, misread, and misinterpreted. And even in the best churches, difficult topics were completely ignored. Was I crazy? Should I just shut up, conform, and be a good little Christian? Well, honestly, that's not me. 😉
No, I don't have a degree in theology and no, I'm not a preacher or pastor. But this is what I am. I'm a Holy-Spirit filled follower of Jesus who loves God with all my heart, who is committed to Him, soul, body, and spirit. I'm not perfect. (Far from it), and yes, I do and will make mistakes, but my greatest desire is to bring people into a saving, intimate, relationship with Jesus. My mission field is mainly the church, believe it or not, because I believe there are so many in the church who aren't truly saved. Can someone sit week after week and hear the Gospel and not be saved? Yes. Look at the Pharisees and Scribes in Jesus's day.
Which leads me to the point of this post. I was reading in Matthew 3 where John the Baptist was preaching and baptizing to the people and a group of Pharisees came to see what he was doing. Here what he said to them:
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance. Verses 7-8
The verse in Red nearly jumped off the page at me. We so often hear in church today about God's grace and mercy and if we would just receive Him, we'd be saved, but how often do we hear about repentance? I mean TRUE repentance. And what about the fruits of repentance? What are those?
Repentance isn't just saying you're sorry for your sins. Repentance is being truly sorry for all your sins AND turning away from them and not purposely committing them again.
True repentance leads to salvation, and true salvation leads to a daily walk with God, and a daily walk with God leads to fruit. What fruit are we talking about? For starters...
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control Galatians 5:22
Out of this fruit comes good deeds (yes, I mean that nasty little word, "works", that so many Christians spout we aren't saved by) such as helping the poor, saving lost souls, forgiving others when they wrong you, self-sacrifice for others, tithing etc.
If someone claims to be a follower of Jesus and over the years has no evidence of fruit growing, I'd certainly wonder.
Jesus had something to say about fruit
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 7:19
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:2
I'm not sure how more clear Jesus needs to be, do you? And yet, I've read commentaries from Biblical scholars who say that it doesn't mean you lose your salvation or go to hell, it just means Jesus is punishing you for awhile.
And lest you think I've taken these out of context, right before that verse in Matthew 7, Jesus is talking about the narrow gate and how few find it, and right after that verse he says the following:
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 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.’
In John 15, Jesus is saying that you must remain in Him and He IN you in order for you to bear fruit. If you don't,
If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. John 15:6
Thrown into the fire and burned? Gulp That sounds like more than a temporary punishment to me.
Many people will then say, "Well, that person was never saved." But how he or she have been a part of the tree then? Obviously they were branches extending from the tree, so they had to be part of the Kingdom of God, grafted into the vine of Jesus Himself.
I'm not saying this to scare anyone. Read the Bible for yourself and ask God to help you understand. If you've been complacent about your walk with God. If you love the world and the things of the world more than God. If you are stuck in purposeful sin, wake up! Time is SHORT! It's time to stop playing church, stop believing everything your pastor says (they are only human. And yes, there are many great pastors out there), question everything, go to the Author Himself, and stop being a sheep led to slaughter.
Until next week, Keep Looking Up!