Jesus said, “A good tree isn’t capable of bearing bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear edible fruit.”
— Matthew 7:18 (USC)
Assurances are nice in life, particularly when we have turned a significant corner in our faith walk. This verse is such an assurance — we won’t bear bad fruit if we are connected, as if a tree, with our roots into the soil of Christ.
Nobody having tasted the goodness of God by his Word, and having shared in the Presence of God by the Holy Spirit, will give up their salvation. Would they? My argument is they never quite had the Spirit in the first place if they did. But their crucifixion may be about to occur. And praise God if that is so, for there can be no resurrection without a crucifixion beforehand.
The person bearing good fruit — a flourishing tree, bearing its fruit in season — has had some form of personal crucifixion occur. Such a horrendous event is the only way we are compelled to surrender all before Christ. The rescinding of our own pathetic power of ego takes place in the tomb of one’s grief — the death to and of the old self. And though we may descend to the crevasse of hell, we are destined to rise from death to life — resurrection into service for the Lord through the empowering and sustaining Holy Spirit. That divine calling manifests fruitfulness in and of itself. Such a calling revolves around the primacy of good fruit, for being called is the first fruits of God’s wonderful work. That is, to facilitate the end of what is unsustainable in order to bring that which is eternally secure.
The end must come before the beginning can proceed.
So if we have died to the old self and have put on the new self, we are vouchsafed in the Spirit. We will produce good fruit. But all this is conditional on one overriding premise: once a surrender is necessarily always a surrender.
The salvation lifestyle is one of a continuance of the original deed that brought us into fellowship with God in the first place.
Nobody who follows God stops following God, ever.
We are impelled and compelled forward — in humility, in works of repentance, in thankfulness for grace, in gratitude for life in Jesus’ name. We are impelled by the Spirit and we are compelled by our consciences. Both working in unison, a powerful force within us drives us to produce good fruit; for the opportunities of blessing are nigh. We would have an averse reaction to the compulsion to produce bad fruit.
God sees to it we do not easily change what we have become. Only death to the old life gives us passage into the new. And if we are new, we do not need to worry about backsliding — especially if, day by day, we continue in our ardency of discipleship under Christ. This is a life that never wishes, ever, to look back. We know what happened to Lot’s wife. We never entertain such a perilous folly.
Good fruit comes from a good tree,
But from a bad tree there’s no goodness to bear,
That’s the order of life, can you not see?
Only from the good tree is there life to share.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. How much and how often do you worry about backsliding?
2. Do you think it’s a classic irony that the more we are aware of our sin the more God grows us in the propagation of good fruit?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.