Bible Questions?

What does it mean to bear fruit as a Christian?

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The Bible is clear, and it teaches that, as a disciple of Christ, we are to be fruitful; that is, we are to be productive. But what does it mean to ”bear fruit” as a disciple of Christ? Fruitfulness is something God purposes for all His people from the beginning to the end. John 15:16 says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

When we read through scripture, we understand that the one who bears fruit is the one who hears the Word of God and understands it. In Matthew 13:18-23, Jesus explains the parable of the sower and the seeds. In this parable, we know that the soil that produced the most fruit was the “fertile and good” soil. Matthew 13:23 says, “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands itHe indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

So, it is the good soil that can hear and understand the word of God? The Bible teaches us it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can have an understanding of God’s word and apply it to our lives. Only when God makes it known to us through His Spirit can we comprehend His word and have the good soil. John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

So, bearing fruit in our lives is expressed in several ways, and it begins with a character change. Jesus teaches throughout scripture that we can recognise people by their fruit, and our true character is seen in our words and actions. Fruit in our life can be seen in the following ways:

  • In the way we live: Ephesians 5:7-11 “Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
  • By a heart transformation and by the words we speak: Matthew 12:33-37, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
  • By acknowledging Christ and in our worship of Him for His glory: Hebrews 13:15 “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
  • By walking in a manner worthy of the gospel and by increasing in the knowledge of God: Colossians 1:10 says, “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;.”
  • By the furtherance of the gospel message and for the benefit of others to grow in Christ: Philippians 1:22-24 “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”
  • By being a witness of Christ in evangelism: Colossians 1:5-7 “Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant.”

We cannot bear much fruit when done in our strength alone. If we do it in our power, it will be in vain and be self-righteous works. Instead, Christ has given us His Holy Spirit to help us achieve what is pleasing to God in our “words” and “deeds”. That is why Galatians 3:2-3 says, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

Christian living is only possible by the power of the Spirit, and when we live by the Spirit, our “self” is continually being killed, and new things begin to grow. Galatians 5:16-21 describes all the desires of the flesh which are against the Spirit. These desires and works of the flesh are: “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” In contrast, the new fruit described in Galatians 5:22-25 is what we receive from the Spirit. Notice the passage in Galatians 5:22 says the “fruit” of the Spirit and not “fruits”. What it means is that we do not get to pick and choose which of the fruit of the Spirit we have, but when the Spirit works in our lives, it includes all of those listed in that passage: love, joy, peace,  patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Jesus also speaks of bearing fruit in John 15. John 15 teaches us that the word continually prunes us to bear much fruit. John 15:2-4 says, “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.” In Galatians 5 and John 14, we understand that the fruit produced in our lives results from the Spirit’s work within us. He does so by enabling us to do all He instructs and directs us through His word. Amen!

The way to bear fruit is to “abide” in Christ. Any fruit produced in our lives is by abiding in Christ, and the more we spend time in the word of God, in prayer, in worship and seeking Christ, and loving Him, the more fruitful and productive we become. If we do not, then there will be less fruit. The secret to “fruitfulness” is to “walk by the Spirit”. Walking by the Spirit is to be led by the Spirit, and its result is to bear the fruit of the Spirit. 

In conclusion, to bear fruit as a disciple of Christ is for the old self to die and for us to adorn the new self. It is a heart transformation, where all of our worldly ways and characteristics die, and in its place, we put on a new heart and a new mind that loves God and does all for the glory of God. Our desires are no longer of this world, not giving in to the desires of the flesh, eyes, and the pride of life. Instead, it is to do the will of God in word, deed, and our declaration of the good news of Jesus as a faithful witness. Amen!

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