In my prior post on Matthew 3:2 I shared that God’s will for us is to let our hearts be turned from sin, and now he tells us why:
Let your change of heart be seen in your works; And even now the axe is put to the root of the trees; every tree then which does not give good fruit is cut down, and put into the fire.
We see in these verses that God made a promise to us that when we believe in Jesus as savior and turn from our sin, our hearts begin to change and make us WANT to do good works. We begin to see truth and hear in our hearts what we must do, even if it’s not the popular decision and even when no one else understands why we do what we do. It doesn’t matter, because God knows.
There are many people who believe that what we care about as Christians is doing good works in order to please God and earn our way into heaven, which they don’t believe exists. In fact it’s the opposite; we become saved, our sins are forgiven, our hearts change and lead us to want to do good works in God’s name. They don’t understand that we can’t earn our way into heaven by the works of our hands. Salvation is a gift freely given by God that we don’t have to earn.
Even people who are on their death bed and have never done one single good thing in God’s name can give their life to God in their last breaths and go to heaven. What they miss out on, however, are treasures that are earned along the way of a life well-lived walking with God…learning to trust him, to have faith that he’s real and that he loves us, as well as, miss out on seeing so many blessings in their lives and ability to impact other lives.
The Bible often makes reference to people as being like plants. In the passage given, God said that if a “tree” doesn’t bear good fruit he will cut it down as dead and throw it in the fire. There is another story that compares people to fig trees, which expands upon this concept.
As Jesus was on his way back to the city [Bethany], he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. Jesus replied, Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, Go, throw yourself into the sea, and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
If we do not bear good fruit, then God sees us as a dead thing. The “fruit” here is our faith. If you learn to have faith, you can accomplish greater things than you can imagine. When you face a “mountain” of great difficulty that you must climb, in faith you can ask God to remove this great mountain from your path and throw it far from you, as if throwing it into the sea. And he promises he will do it for you because you believe.
There is a lot of confusion around what this passage means when it says that anything we ask for we will receive. What this means is nothing that is in God’s will be impossible for you, if you pray and ask for it in faith. How do we know then if what we want is in his will? Follow my page on Facebook or email subscribe to this blog; I will be sharing every passage that speaks about his will (green framed images) as well as his promises *blue framed images). God can also speak his will into your heart.
In another passage, it says that in order to tell the difference between people with God in their lives and those who don’t, you can look at their “fruit.” And once again God warns us that those who have no good fruit will be thrown into the fire as if a dead tree.
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them (Matthew 7:16-20).
In addition to being called trees, we are also referred to as wheat and weeds. Jesus said that the weeds aren’t pulled up from around the wheat before “harvest,” because doing so would also pull up the wheat as their roots are entangled. Harvest here refersto whenJesus is going to come back to this earth to judge the people who remain and take his people (the wheat) with him.
Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather together the [weeds] and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn (Matthew 13:29-30).
His winnowing fork is in his hand…[Jesus] will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12).
In addition to being called trees and wheat, we are also referred to as branches. Jesus said that he is the vine and we are the branches connected to the vine.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:1-4).
And yet again, he says that if we don’t bear good “fruit” we will be cut off from the vine. Those that do bear fruit, he prunes the evil parts of ourselves. If pruning sounds painful, it certainly can be, but it allows us to grow better and stronger. Weshould rather be pruned and stay attached to the “vine” so that we can bear good fruit, than be a cut off branch left to die.
All of these passages have spoken a lot about “good fruit” and “bad fruit”. We already learned that one good fruit is faith. The rest are “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
The bad fruit are “sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, murderer, lying, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, being conceited, cowardly, unbelieving, provoking and envying others” (Galatians 5:19-20, 26 & Revelation 21:8).
We have been warned repeatedly of the impending “fire” for those who bear bad fruit, who live separated from God throughJesus, which is spoken of in Revelation:
They will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. Anyone whose name [is] not found written in the book of life [will be] thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15, 21:8).