Dr. Jeremiah started the sermon sharing a football coach story. A head college football coach was instructing his assistant coach on how to recruit players for the team. The coach said, "Some players get knocked down and they don't get up. Some players get knocked down once, get up, but when they get knocked down a second time, they don't get up. Then, there are some, that no matter how many times they get knocked down, they get up each and every time."
The assistant coach asked, "So, you want me to find and recruit that third type of guy; the ones that always get back up again?"
The head coach said, "No. I want you to find the guy whose knocking down all those players!"
Obviously, this story indicates that the coach was looking for productive players.
Dr. Jeremiah likened this story to Christian believers. Some just don't always know how to be productive. So, what constitutes a productive Christian believer?
I. Fruitfulness is a Very Important Subject
The Bible tells us to bear fruit. "Bearing fruit" is mentioned 106 times in the Old Testament. It is also mentioned 70 times in the New Testament. Of the 27 epistles, "bearing fruit" can be found in 24 of them. The remaining three have the concept of bearing fruit within the message, too.
Through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, the Bible's divine Author, we see that bearing fruit is an important subject. The people that the Holy Spirit chose to pen the Bible, wrote down this important subject. So how are we, as Christians, supposed to bear fruit? And why?
A. Fruitfulness is the Mark of our Genuineness as a Believer
Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Mat 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Mat 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Mat 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Mat 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Mat 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Jesus himself tells us that we will know them by their fruit.
Mat 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by [his] fruit.
We're the tree and whether we bear good fruit or not demonstrates the genuineness of our faith.
Those who say that they are Christians, yet act just like the world; engaging in willful sin and disobedience to God's Law we must ask are they genuinely Christians?
Now we know that the Bible tells us "not to judge," but as believers, we can be "fruit inspectors!"
There is a book out on the market which has become popular that gives the impression that you can be a believer and not have to bear fruit at all! That's certainly not scriptural!
Jesus Christ changes your life! Salvation is not a reformation, it is transformation! The tested and true expositor will bear some fruit. What is an obvious test of being in the vine? No fruit? You can be sure there is no light.
If your life hasn't changed at all, I must warn you - see if you are truly in the faith. There is a popular saying that's very true. No fruit? No root!
B. Fruitfulness is the Measure of Your Walk With the Lord.
Is there any evidence of fruit in your life? Is there any pro-activity in your life? Does anyone see you as different?
Of course, when we start out as new believers, we may only bear little fruit. But as we grow, more fruit should become evident in our lives.
C. Fruitfulness is the Motivation Behind God's Pruning for Discipleship
Someone may ask, "why do Christians get cancer?" Because human are susceptible to disease.
Jhn 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Fruit bearing is the reason for times of testing.
Vineyards are pruned so as not to waste water on shoots that are not bearing fruit. When pruned, the vines bearing fruit are much more productive than if the shoots were to remain, taking up space and water while yielding nothing of value.
If we are honest, sometimes many Christians get involved in things which are not productive. We run off into dead end streets.
God puts testing into our lives...even when we may not be involved in anything so bad...but because we many not be productive for His kingdom.
The more productive we are, the more opportunities God leads us into in order to become even more fruitful.
A prayer that you might like to pray about this area in your life might be similar to this: "Lord, help me to evaluate areas in my life so that I can be more productive for You and Your kingdom!"
D. Fruitfulness is the Method of Touching Other People With God's Love
It's not about you...it's about others! The fruit that is evident in your life is going to touch other people with love...God's love!
Think about this. Is your fruit consumed only by you? If so, recall that we need to show JOY in our lives!
J = Jesus first.
O= Others second.
Y= You third.
E. Fruitfulness is the Manifestation of Christ Before the World
After Jesus' resurrection to the Father, he no longer makes personal manifestations of himself at these times. He has chosen believers, His church, to be His "body" and we manifest Him to the world.
Help us to bring the presence of Christ into this world! They will know Christ through you.
Unfortunately, sometimes the public doesn't see much of Christ in us. This needs to change in order to accomplish the next sign of fruitfulness in our lives.
F. Fruitfulness is the Means of Glorifying the Father
Jhn 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Jesus directly tells us why we are to bear fruit! It is one of the commands of God that we glorify Him through doing so!
When we bear fruit, we bring glory to the Father. They see evidence of it in our relationship to God.
II. Fruitfulness: What It Is
A. Fruitfulness Is Character - What You Are
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Is there such evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit in your life?
B. Fruitfulness is Conduct - What You Do
Rom 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
Rom 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things [is] death.
The things we do is evidenced through our conduct, behavior, and lifestyle. Should Christian believers be different from the world? What do you think?
C. Fruitfulness is Contributions - What You Give
Rom 15:25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
Rom 15:26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
Rom 15:27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.
Rom 15:28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
God owns it all anyway! He has graciously given us so much! Tithing a portion back to him via the church reflects evidence of our charity. Christ is the epitome of giving. He gave His life for us! There is really nothing that we could give that would trump, no less even come anywhere near what Christ has already given us!
If you can be in love with Christ and not give, then we need to remember Matthew 6:21
The heart is evidence of where your treasure truly is!
[Time out from the lesson. Dr. Jeremiah made a comment that reiterates an important truth. People who aren't Christians don't like to worship. I thought about the current "War on Christmas" that is going on in this nation. Of course, the ACLU isn't against the secular celebration of "Happy Holidays," but there is something about that word "Christmas" that bothers them. What is it? It's the worship of Jesus Christ. The ACLU doesn't want any displays of the Nativity on public land. They don't want the Ten Commandments displayed anywhere near a courthouse (despite the fact that our laws in this land were originally derived from such commandments). Atheists are now actively suing to get "In God We Trust" off of our money and "Under God" out of the pledge of allegiance. Why? It is exactly because of what Dr. Jeremiah astutely pointed out in his sermon. People who aren't Christians don't like to worship. They don't like to worship God, in general; and they don't like to worship Jesus Christ, in particular. Their hatred for Christ is very evident in the fact that they allow Kwanzaa, the Jewish menorah and star, the Muslim crescent etc. But any symbol of religious belief in Christ is banned from the public square. Now we know why.]
F. Fruitfulness is Converts - Who You Win
The fruit of the righteous [is] a tree of life; and he that winneth souls [is] wise.
Have you won anyone to Jesus? Have you tried? If you haven't tried, how can you be successful?
This is the fifth way in a series of five ways to show fruitfulness in your life. If you do A. - D., somewhere along the way, E. will happen.
By the same token, you can't do E. either if you don't do A. - D.!
It is our duty to be Christlike!
A. Fruitfulness Is the Mark of Your Genuineness as a Believer
2 Corinthians 5:17
2 Corinthians 13:5
B. Fruitfulness Is the Measure of Your Walk with the Lord
C. Fruitfulness Is the Motivation Behind God's Discipline
D. Fruitfulness Is the Method of Touching Other People
E. Fruitfulness Is the Manifestation of Christ to the World
F. Fruitfulness Is the Means of Glorifying the Father
II. Fruitfulness – What It Is
A. Fruitfulness Is Character – What You Are
B. Fruitfulness Is Conduct – What You Do
C. Fruitfulness Is Contributions – What You Give
D. Fruitfulness Is Communication – What You Say
E. Fruitfulness Is Converts – Who You Win
Do A through D, and the door will be wide open for achieving E.
Have you been a Christian for a long time and can only think of maybe one person whom you have led to Christ? Remember, in that one "fruit"there are seeds to more fruit! You have no idea what God might be up to in that one converted life to Christ and how much fruit they will bear!
George Smith was a missionary. In all of his journeys, he only knew for sure that he had one convert. It was an 80 year old woman whose conversion led to an entire explosion of converts to Christianity in her village. It 's not about tabulating how many converts. You never know how many seeds you have planted, either!
Have you ever thought about who led two great evangelists; Billy Graham and D.L. Moody to Christ? Look at the fruit they have produced. It's not about taking records and keeping score. The angels in heaven celebrate over each and every convert to Christ... one convert at a time!
But God has called us to do this!
Do people see the imprint of Christ on your life?
Ask yourself, if you were to be indicted as a Christian; how much evidence would be found against you?
You cannot be a Christian without bearing fruit!
Nobody's perfect. It's not about being a "holier than thou" person, either.
The key is this. We must demonstrate the characteristics of Christ through bearing fruit.
We must be born-again (See John 3:1-21) first, then become fruit bearers for Christ.