Fruit trees have always been important to Israel, both ancient and contemporary. We read of their importance to the early Israelites in Deuteronomy 20, when Moses teachers his people, When, in making war against a town in order to capture it, you lay siege to it for a long time, you are not to destroy its trees, cutting them down with an axe. Today, of course, Israel is dotted with fig, pomegranate, orange and banana orchards, in a land which was once thought to be barren and arid.
For believers, fruit has always been a metaphor for obeying God’s Word, doing the good deeds he has commanded us. We read of this in John 15, where Adonai Yeshua tells us: I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Often, though, many Christians believe fruit comes only from the Holy Spirit and, if we engage in any work following our receiving God’s Grace, we are engaged in works-righteousness. This my friends is antinomianism, the belief that following the commands of God outlined in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, and reinforced in the Apostolic Scriptures, the New Testament, is lawless behaviour. Fortunately, this belief is not supported by Scripture. Let’s return to John 15, where Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, tells us, Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away. Now the question is, what is fruit?
In the book of James we find the brother of Adonai Yeshua enghorting believers to engage in good works, after receiving the gift of salvation, but what are those good works? These good works are found at the heart of Torah, God’s Life Instructions – Love God with all your heart, mind and soul (Deuteronomy 6:5) and Love your neighbour as yourself (Leviticus 19).
What does it mean to love God with all our hearts, mind and soul? Adonai Yeshua clearly told us, in John 14:15 – If you love me, you will keep my commands: these commands, as we read throughout the Apostolic Scriptures, come from Torah. Thus the good fruits of a believer are to be found in the following of our Lord’s Life Instructions – such things as worshiping only God and nothing else, like money, power, prestige, human love, etc., and showing wisdom, fairness and respect in our dealings with others.
Then the command to love each other, friend and foe, may be found in Matthew 25, wherein Adonai Yeshua shares with us, I tell you that whenever you did these things for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did them for me. Thus, the good fruits of a believer are to be found in taking care of those less fortunate than ourselves, the poor, the immigrant who is trying to make a good life for self and family and those who are starting over and need a helping hand to pull them out of the pit, often self-dug.
Beloved, are each of us willing to do those things our Master and Messiah has asked of us? Are we willing to risk giving away our one opportunity to gain righteousness because of foolish and deadly pride, which denies we are to work out our righteousness with fear and trembling? (Philippians 2:12)
Consider: Are you caught by the belief of following God’s Commands, after being saved, is lawlessness? Do you hold onto the belief, once saved always saved and there is nothing you can do that will cause you to lose your salvation? If you do, I urge you to reconsider these positions, as your salvation depends on it.
Action: Take a first step – do one thing for someone else. Give of yourself, not only money – your time and effort to help someone else. Then examine the feelings you have, as a result. Does this ‘work’ have any meaning for you?
Prayer: Abba B’Shamayim, Father in Heaven. We need you now more than ever. In these trying times when right seems to be wrong and up seems to be down, we need help in combatting the forces of deceit, denial and conflict, that would have us move away from Your principles and life instructions, to those of lawlessness and selfishness. Help us please, to keep steady in your love, in your promises. We pray this in Your Beloved Name. Amen