#6 "Rules For The Redeemed"
"THE FRUITFUL RULE!"
TEXT: Matt. 7:15-23
INTRO: Once when I was babysitting for my Uncle Harold and Aunt Betty I found a wonderful bowl of fresh fruit on their dining room table. Being hungry and seeing such delicious looking fresh fruit I grabbed an apple and was going to bite into it when I suddenly realized that this was no real fruit ... it was wax!
It looked like the real thing ... it was the right shape, the right size, the right color, it was even the right weight, and the waxing texture was perfect like a polished apple; but there wasn't any real apple substance to it! It wasn’t fruit at all!
This is the way some professing Christians appear ... they look real, talk like the real thing, they can even be in the same building as real Christians, even the “texture” of their lives appear similar to the real thing ... but they may not have any real spiritual fruitfulness to their lives!
PROP. SENT: Christianity is much more than just believing the right things, looking like what other people think Christians should look like, it is more than just being at the church building when it is opened ... it is more than just sitting in the pew or charismatic worship, it is true fruitful character! REAL CHRISTIANS have fruit that is evident to others, fruit that is consistent with being born again, having a new nature in Christ! You cannot be a real Christian and not produce real fruit!
I. FRUIT VS FAKE MATT. 7:15-20
A. Exterior Matt. 7:15
1. Jesus' point here about prophets who come in “sheep’s clothing” is that they appear on the surface to be exactly what they say they are, shepherds who take care of sheep, they may even look like sheep!
a. Inwardly however they are ferocious wolves!
b. This news must have been unsettling for the hearers ... if this is possible, then how would they ever be sure of having the genuine thing?
c. The real thing can be identified by the FRUIT that is evident in time!
2. This is precisely why the qualifications for leaders in a church are first to be tested and should not be novices, and they are to be evaluated by some pretty tough criteria ... they are to be examined as to their FRUITFULNESS!
a. When the fruit of God's Spirit is evident, then they can serve!
b. Role playing does not produce spiritual results, only the real Spirit of God can produce real spiritual fruit in our lives!
3. You cannot always "tell a book by its cover."
ILLUS: A man was walking down the street one day, feeling empty and lonely. He was passing a book store and as he looked in the window he noticed a book entitled, “How to Hug.” He immediately went in and bought the book, anxious to get home and read how he might solve his own emptiness in life. He was really excited and anxious to find some answers. To his chagrin however he discovered that the book was just one volume of the encyclopedia; it alphabetically covered from "How" to "Hug!" It didn't have at all inside what he thought it did by its cover! How many sinners who would like to discover the real God have come to professing Christians looking for the real thing only to discover the lack of real spiritual fruit and so, disappointed with Christians, they never turn to Christ!? – Source Unknown
4. Fruit is not easy to come by, it takes time and effort, and much careful nurture, you cannot develop Christian fruit by doing nothing after you get saved!
a. My fruit trees take much care to get them to produce fruit each year!
b. Fruit does not just happen without effort or immediately!
B. Examples Matt. 7:16-20
1. God certainly does not call us to judge one another, but He does call us to be "FRUIT INSPECTORS!"
a. Notice Jesus is telling His disciples that they CAN know the real thing when it comes along because they will see real fruit
b. This principle of finding real fruit where people are really saved is an absolute principle ... if the person is real the fruit will be also!
2. Nature is consistent with its products:
a. Good trees produce good fruit.
b. Bad trees produce no fruit or bad fruit.
c. The fruit of weeds is thistles and thorns, not grapes and delicious apples!
d. What ever the product, it demonstrates the nature of the life that produced it!
3. Even fruit trees that never produce fruit are cut down!
a. This is a powerful thought, what about a real apple tree that never produces fruit? Jesus implies that it is cut down!
b. Remember the fig tree Jesus came to and He found it had no fruit on it ... He cursed it and it withered and died by the next day!
c. How does this speak to those who make an initial commitment to Jesus Christ but never go on to produce spiritual fruit? You make the connection!
d. It is not possible to become a Christian and never produce spiritual fruit ... unless you are prepared to be cut off from the tree!
ILLUS: One year when my fruit trees were starting to develop fruit I got behind in pruning ... I finally pruned them after small fruit had started. I never did get around to picking up the branches I cut off however. As the days and weeks passed I noticed the fruit on the trees growing slowly, but the fruit on the branches on the ground slowly shriveled up and finally turned brown ... those limbs had started off ok but because they were cut off they could not develop fruit anymore! This is what happens to those who cut themselves off from God and His people! – Dennis Marquardt
ILLUS: Years ago, on a trip, a man bought his wife this beautiful matchbox that was advertised to glow in the dark. She was delighted with the gift, but that night they were both so very disappointed to discover that it never glowed! She put it away and decided they would try it again the next night. That evening they brought it out and were again disappointed to discover that nothing happened! The man was angry, he felt cheated. Noticing some French writing on the box that neither of them could read, she took it to a friend who knew French and found out that it was suppose to be exposed to light prior to being placed in the dark in order for it to glow. Sure enough, they discovered a wonderful sight that night after exposing it first to the light! Before it can shine in the dark, it had to be exposed to the light!" This is also true with Christianity! One cannot be a "Christian" without Christ! – Source Unknown
II. FAITHFULNESS VS FAME MATT. 7:21-23
A. Entrance Matt. 7:21
1. Jesus makes a very serious
statement about entrance into heaven! "NOT EVERYONE WHO
SAYS 'LORD, LORD' WILL ENTER THE
a. This is a powerful statement.
b. It is not those who say they are Christians who get into heaven ... it will be those who "DOES THE WILL OF MY FATHER" Jesus says.
2. As evidence of this Jesus states that there will be people who will be able to claim ministry and miracles done in His name that won't make it!
3. There is a great difference between FAME and FAITHFULNESS!
ILLUS: A reporter once asked Walt Disney how it felt to be a famous celebrity. His responses went as follows; "It feels fine when it helps me get a choice reservation for a football game." He continued however, "yet, as far as I can remember, being famous has not helped me make a good picture, or helped my polo game. or got my daughter to obey me better, or impress my wife, or keep the fleas off our dogs ... and if being famous doesn't give me an advantage over a couple of fleas, then I guess there can't be that much in being a celebrity after all!" – Source Unknown
4. The key word in these verses may be "perform" ... how tragic to be able to "perform" like a Christian and yet perhaps have missed being one!!!
a. Jesus implies this is possible.
b. Evidence of the real thing is real fruit!
5. It is clearly God's will for us to produce spiritual fruit! Therefore, if that fruit is lacking, we are simply not in His Will!
a. You cannot do God's Will without showing evidence of fruit!
b. God's Will includes the expression of real fruit ... the fruit of God's Spirit!
B. Exposure! Matt. 7:22-23
1. Jesus promises that a day will come when all those "fakes" will be exposed!
2. The performance of MINISTRY AND MIRACLES will not get someone to heaven ... only evidence of FRUIT can do this!
ILLUS: Some so-called Christians are like counterfeit money. Counterfeit money sometimes does quite well, it may get accepted by several stores for purchases, and someone may pay for gas at a station and drive away with a full tank ... it then might go to pay an employee who buys groceries for his family. From there it will finally arrive at the bank where it is discovered and exposed for what it really is, a fake! At this point it is put out of circulation and destroyed! That fake bill might have done a lot of good while it was being circulated but at the bank it will be exposed and destroyed, it is not real! It looked real, was traded as real, felt real, did real things, but it was not real! To be real it must come from the government ... for Christians to be real they must come from God! – Source Unknown
3. In the end Jesus will plainly tell those who are counterfeits that they are rejected, they will be turned away from heaven!
4. There will be no exceptions to the "FRUITFUL RULE" ... those who are real will find heaven their home ... those who produce no fruit will find themselves cut off and thrown into the fire!
5. The point of this passage is very clear:
a. Everything will be exposed; it is not just what you believe that counts, but what you do that counts!
b. For those desiring to be THE REDEEMED, THE RULE IS TO BE FRUITFUL! ... There will be no exceptions to this rule for the Redeemed!
CONCLUSION: This final "rule for the redeemed" is the hallmark for Christianity, being fruitful, with good fruit! Real Christianity produces real fruit, the fruit of the Spirit! In time, everyone's true spiritual nature is revealed! People turn away from bad fruit, but will always be drawn to good fruit. What kind of fruit are you producing? Are you a fruitful disciple, or just a "fruity" one that no one takes seriously?