Friday, July 23, 2010

Every Healthy Tree Bears Good Fruit

“Every healthy tree bears good fruit” (Matthew 7:17)

What does the Christian life look like in a person? How can we know for sure that we are Christians? Jesus gives us such clear teaching in the Sermon on the Mount that every Christian ought to read through Matthew 5-7 to be familiar with the Christian life. Ultimately salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The cross of Christ accomplished salvation for those who repent of their sins and trust in Christ as their substitute. The Bible also teaches that those who are true followers of Jesus Christ will be transformed. Jesus plainly says, “Every healthy tree bears good fruit.”

In this context Jesus is warning believers to “beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” He wants us to be on the alert for those who claim Christ but are false prophets. He goes on to say, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16). Jesus is clear when he says false prophets will be spotted by their lack of fruit or the fact that they produce bad fruit. “The life of the prophet and the results of his influence on others are the fruits that will indicate whether or not his message is consistent with the kingdom life of righteousness” (ESV Study Bible). Now we could walk away thinking this is strictly for those who teach or are leaders in the church but Jesus is warning his disciples and we as his children are his disciples. No believer is exempt from this statement.

This warning was specifically given about the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the religious leaders at the time that lived very righteous lives outwardly but inside their hearts were wicked. The Pharisees had in mind that their own righteousness was good enough that they had no need for Christ. What looked to be like good fruit on the surface was bad fruit growing on the inside. False religion has the ability to fool other believers for a time but our sovereign Creator is never fooled because he knows the heart. I say false religion can only fool believers for a time because I believe all true Christians will reject false religion by God’s grace working through the Holy Spirit. Sin will be found out and the bad fruit will be exposed. This is why as Christians we need to be examining ourselves to see whether we are in the faith or not. If we are not trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross alone than we are the false prophets being warned. We must keep the image in mind that “every healthy tree bears good fruit.”

Christian, “every healthy tree bears good fruit” so ask yourself if you see good growth in your life for the things God desires. Remember “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Do not be fooled thinking life is all good inside when the outside is dirty but the flipside can also apply. The Pharisees were so concerned about the outward appearance but cared nothing about the heart. Heed the words of Paul and do examine yourself thoroughly under the authority of God’s Word. Matthew 5-7 is a great place to start. The book of 1 John is also a great place to see whether your life reflects that of the truth of Scripture. There is no need to fool yourself because the Judge knows. Later in the chapter Jesus talks about those who claimed to know him but they were never known by him. On the Day of Judgment Christ will say, “Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” The workers of lawlessness are those who bore bad fruit or no fruit at all. May we be those who are prepared to meet Christ on the Day of Judgment confident that he who began the work will complete because of the promise of Calvary. May we keep in mind that “every healthy tree bears good fruit.”

Grace upon grace,

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