My wife and I love to garden, grow plants that flower and produce fruit. It takes careful planning where to plant when you consider a plant’s need for water, good soil, and sunlight. Then, the times of pruning so a plant can produce fruit the next year.
What if a plant or tree does not produce fruit? As John the Baptist looked at his own people and nation with the deep feelings of a godly prophet, he wanted to stir them up to repentance. He “proclaim(ed) a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). Israel claimed Abraham as their father, but they did not do the works of Abraham, nor did they receive the seed of Abraham who came to Israel--the Messiah.
John pronounced stunning words “to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him…bear fruit in keeping with repentance…even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (3:7-9). Strong words? YES!
Some of our team just visited Asia and found very hungry hearts for the Word of God, and they are willing to die in order that it be spread to every unreached people group. THEY ARE BEARING FRUIT! Here in the West, we need to examine our hearts. Are we bearing fruit? Or, is the axe starting to sever us from the possibility of becoming fruitful? Jesus told the church at Ephesus, “repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Revelation 2:5). Repentance stops the axe and starts new growth toward fruitfulness. Which would you prefer?
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