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Summary: A look at the challenging fact that God expects fruitfulness.

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AN IMPORTANT QUESTION: Is fruitfulness necessary or a nice bonus?

- Let’s start by briefly defining “fruitfulness” for those who may not be familiar with the term.

- A tree bears fruit – let’s say apples. It’s the produce of having an apple tree.

- In the spiritual realm, we’re talking about a life bearing fruit. There is a result from that life being there.

- We usually talk about two kinds of fruit: internal and external. (I realize the two are interconnected and ultimately inseparable, but we’ll talk this way for simplicity’s sake.)

- Internal fruit is becoming more like Christ in our own lives.

- External fruit is touching the lives of those around you, helping them to move closer to God.

THE ANSWER: Fruitfulness is not optional – it’s a defining characteristic of genuine faith.

- Luke 13:6.

- The man came looking for fruit.

- Luke 13:6.

- This is a crucial but easily-overlooked truth. He comes looking for fruit. It’s what he expects to find.

- God is looking for fruit from your life.

SOME EXAMPLES OF THAT:

1. HAVING NO FRUIT LEADS TO BEING "CUT OFF" AND "THROWN IN THE FIRE."

- Matthew 3:10; Matthew 7:19; Luke 3:9; Luke 13:7; John 15:2; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

- Let’s look at three passages:

a. Luke 13:7.

- “Cut it down!”

b. Matthew 3:10.

- This is John the Baptist.

c. Matthew 7:19.

- Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

- These are obviously are all images of hell.

- The point that is being made is that fruit is a defining characteristic of a genuine Christian life.

- We’re going to get more into this in a later sermon in the series, but it’s important to mention the truth now: this is not saying that we’ve got to go out and manufacture some kind of results or God is going to cut us off. It’s not a “produce or I’m going to kick you out” situation.

- Rather, it’s what real faith looks like. If I have truly accepted the life-changing truth of Christ into my life, there will be a change. There will be results. It’s a (this is important) natural result of having made that choice.

- We’re going to talk at length later in the series about how fruitfulness actually happens and it’s not by us manufacturing results.

- Let me take a second to preemptively answer a question that I know is coming.

- In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, it speaks of the Bema Judgment, which is where Christians are judged. That judgment is not for salvation, but for rewards.

- In that passage, it speaks of those whose believers who end up empty-handed but are saved “as through fire.” Doesn’t that go against the point I just made? If they’re empty-handed, then that means they weren’t fruitful, right?

- Actually, it doesn’t.

- The important thing to consider about the 1 Corinthians 3 passage is that they had work to be judged. It speaks of seeing whether what they’d done was like gold and silver or like wood and hay – whether what they’d done would stand up to the test of judgment. Notice: they had something to be tested. They had produced something. They were not empty-handed as they came into the judgment.

- That Bema Judgment will judge the quality of our work; not whether we have any work. Again, the fruitfulness is presumed.

2. JESUS GAVE THE KINGDOM TO SOMEONE NEW WHO WOULD PRODUCE ITS FRUIT.

- Matthew 21:34, 43.

- The parable of the tenants in Matthew 21 also speaks to the need for fruitfulness.

- In v. 34, again we see the master coming (or in this case, sending someone on his behalf) to look for fruit.

- Verse 43 is what I really want to concentrate on.

- Jesus notes that the Kingdom has been taken away from those who used to have it. (In this case, that would be the Jewish leaders.)

- And who is God giving it to? To “a people who will produce its fruit.”

- That’s significant. God is making the change because He wants someone who will produce the fruit of the Kingdom. That indicates that it’s really important.

- He could have said, “to a people who will revel in grace.”

- He could have said, “to a people who will be more thankful.”

- He could have said, “to a people who are more deserving.”

- We could discuss the relative merits of each of those potential statements, but the point to be made right now is this: that’s not what He said. He said, “to a people who will produce its fruit.” That tells us just how important, how essential, how crucial this is to what God is doing.

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