Summary: What kind of fruit lasts? (Material adapted from Bob Tinsky's book, A Christian Is..., Chapter 13, pgs. 183- 194)
What would we think if we planted a fruit tree but it never bore any fruit? At best we would be disappointed. At worst we would probably be thinking, “Now where is that axe?!” Fruit trees are supposed to bear fruit, and those that don’t fail to fulfill their intended purpose!
A Christian Is... Fruity; no, a Christian Is... A Fruit Bearer
God desires for Christians to produce colorful, sweet, delicious fruit!
If a Christian fails to produce fruit the results are gloomy. “Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig-tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”” Luke 13:6-9, NIV. Puzzling little parable but this is clear, God wants us to produce fruit. God wants those of us who are Christians to be “fruit bearers.”
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. ” John 15:8, 16, NIV. What kind of fruit? Fruit that will last, fruit that has no expiration date, never spoil or rot
Thesis: What kind of fruit lasts?
The fruit of righteousness (Philippians 1:11)
“filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:11, NIV.
When we become Christians we are regarded as righteous in the sense that the righteousness of Christ is imputed (credited, counted) to us. When we accept Christ as our savior we are counted as righteous in God’s sight because of what Christ has done for us.
“As it is written: “There is no-one righteous, not even one;” Romans 3:10, NIV. “Therefore no-one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:20-24, NIV. We are saved by grace (through the redemption of Christ Jesus), through faith (more than just belief even though belief is mentioned here), at baptism (belief, repentance, confession, baptism- Romans 6)
As Christians God looks on us as righteous. Even so we are still commanded to seek after righteousness. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33, NIV.
W.A. Vine in his book Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines righteousness this way: “whatever conforms to the revealed will of God.” The simplest way of explaining what is meant by the word “righteousness” is that it is doing what is right; doing anything and everything in a way that is pleasing to God. I like what Mark Twain said: “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
“Live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,” Colossians 1:10, NIV. “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:14, NIV. “Those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” Titus 3:8, NIV.
Studies show how that those who are “religious” are more likely to be involved in their communities doing good works. Individuals who regularly attend religious services are more likely to volunteer for community causes than peers who seldom or never attend. Individuals who frequently attend religious services and consider religion to be important in their lives are more likely to give money to the poor. Those who engage in private prayer are more likely to be involved in service activities. Senior citizens who place a greater importance on religion tend to be more likely to volunteer in their communities. High school seniors who frequently attend religious services are more likely to volunteer every week in their communities than peers who attend less frequently. (From familyfacts.org)