FRUIT IS CHANGE

FRUIT IS CHANGE Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

There can be and often is a great difference between membership in the Christian religion and personal salvation. The fundamental nature of salvation, of the Kingdom of God, of eternal life, is change in the human personality. The Bible refers to this personality change as "fruit." Apart from the bearing of "fruit" there is no salvation, no Kingdom of God, regardless of membership in one of the forms of the Christian religion.

FRUIT IS CHANGE

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23—NIV)

There can be and often is a great difference between membership in the Christian religion and personal salvation. The fundamental nature of salvation, of the Kingdom of God, of eternal life, is change in the human personality. The Bible refers to this personality change as "fruit." Apart from the bearing of "fruit" there is no salvation, no Kingdom of God, regardless of membership in one of the forms of the Christian religion.

The adamic nature is familiar with lust and with the spirit of romance, but the Divine love borne of the Spirit of God is vastly different in quality, in strength, in durability. As we bear the fruit of Divine love we are changed in personality and behavior.

The adamic nature is familiar with happiness and fun, but the Divine joy borne of the Spirit of God is different in quality, in strength, in durability. Unlike adamic joy, Divine joy can flourish in the most difficult circumstances.

Adamic peace depends on circumstances. Divine peace proceeds from the limitless, eternal peace of God.

The adamic nature often is impatient. God is infinitely patient. His Spirit in us produces enduring patience in stressful situations.

The adamic nature may be kind but will react with bitterness if provoked sufficiently. God is kind in the face of provocation.

There are charitable people. However, their goodness is not of the same quality or durability as Divine goodness.

In our day treachery abounds. Our life as a Christian depends on God’s faithfulness, and He is willing to create His faithfulness in us.

A human being may be harsh or gentle by nature. God’s gentleness transcends even the human kindness and tenderness loving parents show toward their children.

Our self-control breaks down when we are pressured by the group we are in, or by our own passions. God is always in control of what He does. He is never controlled by anything except His own determination and wisdom. He desires that this Divine fruit be borne in us.

The adamic nature is characterized by hate, misery, anxiety, impatience, cruelty, bad behavior, treachery, harshness, and lack of self-control. None of these is admitted into the Kingdom of God. None of these is part of eternal life or of our salvation.

We have been predestined to be in the image of Jesus Christ.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29—NIV)

We often use the term "saved" to mean we will go to Heaven when we die. The Bible does speaks of being delivered from wrath (referring to the Day of the Lord) but never, to my knowledge, of being saved to go to Heaven when we die.

Before we proceed, please search the New Testament. If you discover we are saved to go to Heaven, please write to me so I can correct my doctrine. Otherwise please consider what I am saying.

And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (I Thessalonians 1:10—NIV)

To be saved means to be rescued from something. From what are we to be rescued? First of all, from experiencing wrath in the Day of the Lord.

But far more significantly, we are rescued from hate, misery, anxiety, impatience, cruelty, bad behavior, treachery, harshness, and lack of self-control.

I don’t think any Christian would disagree with me on this point. All Christians subscribe to the value of the fruit of the Spirit. What they would maintain is that we are saved (go to Heaven) by faith in Christ whether or not we bear the fruit of the Spirit.

What may be new to us is the thought that apart from such change of behavior there is no Kingdom of God, no salvation, no eternal life.

The change from hate to love, from misery to joy, from anxiety to peace is what salvation is; what the Kingdom of God is; what eternal life is.

We are not changed in personality so we can go to Heaven. We are changed in personality so we can have fellowship with God.

When the Lord Jesus returns He is going to establish His Kingdom on the earth. We all understand this (I hope!). When the Lord is governing on the earth we want to be with Him, don’t we? But to be with the Lord we must be changed in personality. The Lord will not have fellowship with unrighteousness.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (II Corinthians 6:14—NIV)

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14—NIV)

We do not have fellowship with God except as we walk in the light of His Presence and will.

I guess our Christian attitude toward the fruit of the Spirit has been that it is something that should be borne by every believer and is a nice thing to have happen to us. The truth is, apart from fruit there is no salvation, no Kingdom of God.

We see Christians who are not changed in personality for many years—churches that do not change for many years. Adultery still abounds. Thievery still abounds. Lying still abounds. Gossip, envy, hatred, division continue without change.

What would we say about this? They are saved because they believe in Jesus?—because they name the Name of Jesus? They are going to Heaven by grace? They all will go up in the "rapture" and then become obedient followers of the Lamb?

The truth is, they have no eternal life. They have not inherited the Kingdom of God. They are not saved because they have not been delivered from the adamic nature.

But won’t they go to Heaven? Heaven is not the issue. Fellowship with the Lord is the issue.

The Scripture says the Lord will not have fellowship with the wicked. "Depart from Me, you who work wickedness!" He exclaims. "Whether or not you have worked miracles in My Name does not matter in the slightest. I will have no wicked people around me."

Can you picture the Lord saying this to members of the Christian churches—the gossipers, the slanderers, the covetous, the spiteful?

We were called by the Lord for the purpose of bearing fruit, the fruit that is change from ungodliness to godliness. We were not called by the Lord to go to Heaven but to be changed.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (John 15:16—NIV)

We did not choose the Lord Jesus. He chose us and appointed us to go and bear fruit. When the Lord sees His image coming forth in us He is very pleased. When there is no evidence of a change in our personality He becomes concerned.

Notice the following:

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2—NIV)

"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit." What do you make of this statement?

"He" is God the Father. "Every branch" means every Christian. "Me" refers to Jesus Christ. "No fruit" is speaking of an absence of signs of the new creation in the believer’s personality. I can’t believe anyone would object to this interpretation.

Consider: if there is no change in our personality after having been a believer for a while, we stand in scriptural danger of being cut off from Christ. Is there any manner in which the verse can be interpreted so it does not mean this?

It is not enough to believe in Christ. (What is belief anyway?) We must live in Christ to the point that we are changed. If not our belief is vain and brings no salvation.

I have wondered how the officials of the Catholic Church, supposedly Christians, could murder those who did not agree with them.

I have wondered how the Irish Catholic and Protestants could murder each other.

I have wondered how the leaders of Yugoslavia, reportedly believers in Jesus Christ, could slaughter Muslims.

I understand now how this can be. They are Christians in name only. There is no eternal life in them, only the death of the untransformed carnal nature. They are not part of the Kingdom of God. They have not become new creations in Jesus Christ.

After observing Christians for over fifty years I have come to the conclusion that there is hardly any relationship between membership in a Christian church and salvation. In fact, sometimes people become worse after they become members of the Christian religion.

How many times have Christians tormented Jews? Numerous members of the German armed forces were Lutheran Christians. Yet they tried to annihilate the Jewish race. That their government ordered them to kill Jews is no excuse whatever. They could have refused at the cost of their lives. The truth is, their membership in the Lutheran Church profited them nothing. They were not saved, not members of the Kingdom of God. They had no eternal life. With their mouth they confessed the Lord Jesus but with their actions they revealed the nature of Satan. The voice was Jacob’s but the hands were Esau’s.

Notice the following:

We know we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know no murderer has eternal life in him. (I John 3:14,15—NIV)

"Oh but I am saved because I believe in Jesus." The Scripture says you are not saved if you are not being changed into His image. You can trust in your traditions or in the Scripture. The choice is yours.

Consider this:

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 around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’" (Luke 13:6-9—NIV)

How are we to interpret this parable? Our traditions have made such parables invalid as far as Christians are concerned. We say we are saved and on our way to Heaven. But Jesus informed us if we do not bear fruit we are liable to be cut down, to removed from His Kingdom.

And notice what Paul stated:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21—NIV)

"Will not inherit the Kingdom of God"!

We are not teaching the Word of God but the traditions of man. The modern Protestant teaching of faith without works prevents the bearing of fruit. There is no need for fruit. Just believe and you will go to Heaven.

The desired fruit has not always been seen in the Catholic people either, because they are taught to interact with the Church and with the Virgin Mary rather than with the Lord Jesus. We do not bear fruit by abiding in the Virgin Mary or in the Catholic Church but in Jesus. In spite of this, some marvelous saints have been part of the Catholic religion, as well as of the Lutheran belief.

A priest may pronounce absolution over you, but if you are not bearing the fruit of the image of Jesus Christ you shall be removed from the Vine. The priest has no authority to set aside the Words of Jesus Christ.

The Protestant philosophy of Dispensationalism is destructive of moral strength, of moral change, because it overemphasizes belief in Christ and virtually ignores the requirement that fruit be borne.

The basic parable of the Kingdom of God is that of the sower.

"Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times." (Mark 4:3-8—NIV)

If we do not understand the parable of the sower we will not understand the other parables. The parable of the sower explains to us the nature of the Kingdom of God. Let us see what we can learn from this parable.

The Seed is Christ Himself, the Word of God made flesh.

In some instances the ground on which the Seed was scattered was so hard no germination occurred.

In another situation the Seed actually germinated but bore no lasting fruit. Christ had begun to grow but the individual turned away from Christ when trouble came.

In yet another case the Seed germinated but the cares of life succeeded in preventing fruit.

What are we saying? We are saying the Kingdom of God is not a set of beliefs that bring us to Heaven. The Kingdom of God is a transformation of the individual as the Nature of Jesus Christ is formed in him or her.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18—NIV)

Transformation into the likeness of Jesus Christ is the very nature of the new covenant. When there is no transformation the new covenant is not operating.

In a fourth kind of ground, lasting fruit came forth. Christ was reaped in the individual. Some of the believers reaped more of the image of Christ than was true of others. There are greatest and least in the Kingdom of God.

We have been commanded to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33—NIV)

We are to seek the Kingdom of God, not Heaven, but the Kingdom of God.

We are to seek God’s righteousness, not our own righteousness but God’s righteousness.

God's righteousness is assigned to us when we place our faith in Jesus Christ. From the moment we receive Christ we are to read our Bible, pray, gather with fervent believers, and obey the Holy Spirit each day. As we live in the Spirit, think in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, we begin to change into the image of Christ. God speaks to us from His Word. We grow in Christ. This is God’s righteousness, not our own.

One of the greatest misunderstandings in the history of the world is that concerning the role of the commandments given by Christ and His Apostles.

Are Christians to obey them or not? Modern Christian theology says it is not necessary, not essential to our salvation that we obey the commandments given by Christ and His Apostles.

The Christians of today are unaware there are any commandments contained in the New Testament. They have been blinded by tradition.

If you have a great deal of time to spend, start at Romans and go through the New Testament. Write down each commandment as you come to it. You will be amazed at the number of them.

Are the commandments found in the New Testament to be obeyed? Of course they are to be obeyed! Why are they included in the New Testament if they are not to be obeyed?

We Christians say the New Testament is the very Word of God. Why then do we not do what it says to do?

It is only as these commandments are obeyed that Christ is formed in us.

But we can’t obey the New Testament commandments in our own strength. Exactly! We have to come boldly before the Throne of God and ask for help in doing what the New Testament commands.

Many of the Lord’s commandments are in the form of cause and effect. If we are a peacemaker we shall be called a son of God. If we are pure in heart we shall see God. Can you see that these actually are commandments even though they are such by inference?

If we are not a peacemaker (and numerous Christians are troublemakers) we never shall be called a son of God. We can receive Christ every week but we never shall be called a son of God until we are a peacemaker.

If we are not pure in heart we never shall see God. We can claim mercy and grace all we want to but we cannot set aside the Words of Jesus Christ.

The way we show our love for Christ is by keeping His Word. Can you say Amen?

The Apostles were more direct in their commandments.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; That each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, Not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; And that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (I Thessalonians 4:3-7—NIV)

Is Paul to be obeyed? Is he speaking in the Name of Christ? Are we to obey Paul or not? Does it really matter as far as our salvation is concerned?

Christ will not be formed in us except as we, with the help of the Spirit, do what Paul has commanded. If Christ is not formed in us the fruit of His moral Character will not be borne in our personality. If the fruit of Christ’s moral Character is not borne in us we have no part in the Kingdom of God.

Saying we can be saved apart from becoming a new creation in Christ’s image is like claiming we can be healed and yet remain sick. It is just like that!

There is no salvation apart from moral transformation. Moral salvation is what the Kingdom is; what salvation is; what eternal life is.

What is the Kingdom of God?

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, (Romans 14:17—NIV)

The Kingdom of God is not a place, such as Heaven, it is a state of being.

The Kingdom is always righteousness. Apart from righteousness we have no part in Jesus Christ. Imputed righteousness is to serve until actual righteousness is created in us as Christ is formed in us.

The Kingdom of God is always peace—a deep, lasting peace that the adamic nature never can know.

The Kingdom of God is always joy—joy that remains in us during the most difficult situation.

The human race can never experience such righteousness, such peace, such joy. Only in Christ are there lasting righteousness, peace, and joy. These are the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of the believer. Such a nature does not come from us but from Christ who is being formed in us.

When we turn the Christian salvation into a ticket to Heaven we miss the whole point. The Gospel is the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy that soon is to come to the earth.

Many of God’s people of today are not bearing the fruit of the Kingdom, the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Kingdom. They want to serve Christ but do not know how. They want to grow in Christ, in the Kingdom of God, but they do not know how. They are not being taught the Bible. They are being taught our Christian traditions.

The next time you listen to someone preach, see how much of the message is an exposition of the Bible text and how much is a repetition of our traditions. Then you will know why the churches are so weak spiritually and morally.

I believe we have come to a new day, a period during which the Lord’s wheat will come to maturity. Do you know what it means for the Lord’s wheat to come to maturity? It means to grow in the fruit of the Spirit; to grow in the image of Jesus Christ.

Micah tells us she who travails will bring forth offspring. Isaiah announces the nation that will be born at once. Revelation portrays a woman travailing in birth.

For two thousand years the members of the Christian churches have served God to the best of their knowledge and ability. Numerous outstanding saints have glorified Christ by their lives.

Yet the overall picture is not as splendid as one could wish. We see today a thousand competing denominations. The people of the world have grown cynical. They point to the church people as hypocrites. The church people are not hypocrites. They are bound and depressed because of their sins, in many instances.

It is true there is much smugness and arrogance in the Christian churches. There is more of an emphasis on bringing in new members than there is on bringing the members already present to the stature of the fullness of Christ. We judge the worth of a church by the number of people present rather than by the growth of Christ in the members. This is true at least in America.

When we use the term "church growth" we mean only numbers of people. The members may be filled with gossip, slander, meanness, harshness, bitterness, self-seeking, covetousness, lying, immorality. But as long as there are thousands of them we are pleased with our "church growth."

We all know this is true but we do not know what to do about it.

As I said, we are in a new day. The world outlook is not good. More wars are on the horizon. Nations are arming themselves to the teeth.

But Jesus Christ is greater than all. He is warning us, especially in America, to begin to keep His commandments. It is time to cease the church foolishness, to repent, to turn to God and away from sin, to humble ourselves, to recognize that the reason more sinners are not drawn to the churches is because we are not letting the light of good works shine through our personalities.

We are preaching an unscriptural "rapture." We want to leave the planet and go to Paradise. But it is here that the witness is to shine. It is here on the earth that people are waiting to see the image of Christ in the Christians.

What are we to do? We are to go back to the Lord and listen for His voice. We are to open the doors of our personality to the Lord so He may enter and dine with us. He dines on our worship and obedience. We dine on His body and blood.

Christ is ready to do a marvelous work in the midst of the moral and spiritual darkness. He has the power to open any door; to work miracles; to demonstrate His Glory. But He will not show Himself through an unclean church, a self-seeking ministry. We must return to true righteousness, a true attitude of mercy, a true humility. The world is waiting to see this.

Our reputation is not good in the present hour. Christian people often are not distinguished by their righteous behavior. Sometimes we are safer dealing with an unsaved person than with a Christian.

You are one person. What can you do? You can spend time with the Lord each day. You can meditate in His Word, listening carefully for Him to speak to you. You can ask God to help you find and have fellowship with fervent believers who also are resolved to seek the Lord with a pure heart.

Most importantly, you must tell God that you will do His will whatever it may be. God is looking for those who will obey Him. If you will obey the Lord implicitly, without regard for your personal likes or dislikes, you will cause change to occur in your generation. Things will be made possible that never will happen if you do not give yourself wholly to the Lord’s will.

Can you hear me? I challenge you to abandon yourself to the will of Jesus Christ. If you will give up your life that His will may be done, you will change what otherwise would have been true of the history of the world. Just you! Just one totally obedient individual! You can make the world a better place.

But don’t make any deals with God. Love Him and serve Him with all your might simply because He is your Creator, your Father. He is worthy of your unlimited obedience.

This is the path of life and there is no other.

Membership in a Christian church is a good thing. But salvation comes only as we interact continually, night and day, with the living Lord Jesus Christ. He and He alone is the Resurrection and the Life. He and He alone is salvation. He and He alone is the Kingdom of God.

The Lord would have you and me continue to be conscientious, faithful workers in the assembly where He has placed us. In addition, it is time now to come to know the God of the house of God.

Does this sound like anything you want?