Saturday, September 10, 2011

Possessing Worthy Fruit

Luke 3 (AMP)

7 So he said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, You offspring of vipers! Who secretly warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

8 Bear fruits that are deserving and consistent with [your] repentance [that is, conduct worthy of a heart changed, a heart abhorring sin]. And do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father; for I tell you that God is able from these stones to raise up descendants for Abraham.

9 Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees, so that every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.

10 And the multitudes asked him, Then what shall we do?

11 And he replied to them, He who has two tunics (undergarments), let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do it the same way.

12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they said to him, Teacher, what shall we do?

13 And he said to them, Exact and collect no more than the fixed amount appointed you.

14 Those serving as soldiers also asked him, And we, what shall we do? And he replied to them, Never demand or enforce by terrifying people or by accusing wrongfully, and always be satisfied with your rations (supplies) and with your allowance (wages).

15 As the people were in suspense and waiting expectantly, and everybody reasoned and questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether he perhaps might be the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

16 John answered them all by saying, I baptize you with water; but He Who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of Whose sandals I am not fit to unfasten. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

One thing is sure and has not changed with time - Actions still speak louder than words!  John the Baptist, as he is preparing for the coming of Jesus Christ, greets those who have come to be baptized with a word of correction and rebuke.  In fact, he requests of them the source of their "secret" acquisition of information concerning Christ.  John is clearly very serious about Christ and very adamantly against the false and empty religious actions of the people.

In verse 8, he demands something interesting of the people... that they bear fruit!  Oftentimes, in the Body of Christ, we are very quick to refer to ourselves and others as "saved", "born again", "believers" or even "man/woman of God."  Nevertheless, we fail to examine the FRUIT.

Jesus taught very clearly that a tree is known by its fruit.  So, why have we forsaken the judgment of the same?  John requires those who have been baptized to bear fruit that is both worthy and consistent with repentance.  In other words, they MUST DO SOMETHING!  These people understood that to follow Christ, things must change.  They clearly recognized that requirements came with the claim of salvation.

In fact, the Scripture goes on to say that many of those meeting John recognized their faults and asked him, "What shall we do?"  He responded with actions of change.  Deal honestly, give to others, love your neighbor.  We see these same teachings later echoed by Jesus Christ, Himself.

There is a huge debate in the Body of Christ about the use of titles, but I submit that we should take yet another step back.  The greatest title to wear is that of a Christian, someone who follows Christ.  Yet, this title is almost never contested.  People wear it and claim it, but often lack the fruit that comes with it.  Let us examine ourselves today.  Do we bear fruit that is worthy of and consistent with repentance?  Do we allow those that surround us to claim the name of Christ without challenging them to look like Christ?  Selah.

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