“Therefore, bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘we have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the tress. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’” ~John 3:8-9
Do we esteem repentance as worthy of bearing good fruit?
Sometimes I think that we don’t see this precious gift as the fertile soil in which the Holy Spirit bears His fruit. Today I was reminded how precious the gift of repentance is when I read this passage. The Spirit showed me how repentance is like soil that a sower plants into, and just like a sower expects the soil to yield the good fruit that he planted, so should we expect repentance to bear fruit. But all too often we do not esteem repentance as worthy of bearing fruit, but like a valuable field neglected by its lazy tender, we give it over to bear thorns and briers. We do not water it nor labor the field of repentance because we so often do not expect anything from this field.
Maybe it is because when we heard repentance preached (if we heard repentance preached), perhaps we were told that it did not need tending. We were told, perhaps, that there was no fruit to bear, but that it was sufficient enough to simply have the field.
I greatly fear that today, even as I grieve that I began to discover this in my own heart, that we have no expectation of any fruit from repentance. We do not expect to sweat or bleed in this field, just as we do not expect to harvest from this field.
Perhaps this is why so few preach repentance today, because so few expect this fertile field to bear fruit anymore! We have turned away from the natural fields to labor in green-houses, where we are safe from the elements and believe that we can better control our bio-genetically re-engineered seed (unaware of the cancer this foreign seed brings). Thinking the cross to be a defect in the seed, and believing that no one would want to bear such a thing, we have re-engineered the seed so that the cross is no longer central to it, nor even present. Having removed the cross, we thought it best to re-engineer the seed to alter and modify Holy Spirit with the precision of academics hoping for a more appealing fruit. Now we sit, waiting with anticipation for a harvest that will never come because of the mutilated seeds that we have planted. Soon we will watch with tears as the precious fields lie neglected and covered in briers and thorns. In horror we will watch as the dust-bowl sweeps across the land!
Brethren, hear the warning of John! There is a harvest of good fruit worthy of repentance, only you must not despise its fruits! As a servant labors in the field with sweat and blood, you must tend the fields!
For such a long time we have been lied to and have accepted rocks, thorns, and briers for fruit in place of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But we accepted this because we desired the trade!
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness (KJV- “through covetousness) they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” ~2 Peter 2:1-3
Listen to what is being said: false teachers have crept in among us covertly and introduced destructive opinions (αἵρεσις [hairesis]- means “choice” or “opinion” as well as “factions”, and “sect”1), after such teachers many will follow and cause “the way” to be spoken evil of (βλασφημέω [blasphēmeō] to “slander” or “speak lightly” or “profanely of sacred things”:—be spoken of as evil 1). Because of these false teachers, who will be many, and who will bring many divisions, the way of Truth will be slandered and spoken of as evil; holy and sacred things will be profaned and treated lightly.
But how? “3 Through covetousness shall they with feigned words (“false” or “counterfeit” words) make merchandise of you…” (KJV)! Being happy to escape the cross, these false teachers used covetousness to make many their possession!
I pray that this will sink in.
There is more that we need to perceive about repentance: true repentance is hindered in our hearts, and fruits worthy of it are chocked by thick thorns and briers, when we are seduced by the deceitfulness of sin so that we no longer see sin as utterly sinful and, therefore, accept doctrines that do not lead to true godliness and holiness. If we find our hearts beginning to excuse sin, or worse, becoming a little bit fond of it, then our hearts become fertile sowing-ground for deceptive doctrines to pervert the way of truth through our covetousness for the things of this world (whether that be for money, or any other “love” of this world).
Consider this testimony of repentance:
“18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.” ~Acts 19:18-20
Immediately their repentance bore worthy fruit; they came confessing their deeds and open came out from sin! See what change, what Godly zeal it produced in them so that the scripture says “the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed”! Yes, in repentance the word of the Lord does grow mightily and prevails against all the strongholds that would seek to stand against it, and is even able to subdue our enemies that would seek to subdue us!
But look at the difference between the worthy fruit of their repentance and ours today; they openly confessed and burned the things that weighed them down, but we recite vague and pretty mantras and continue on with our lives in tact! We leave nothing behind, we cut nothing off, nothing is burned or purified from our life.
You cannot gain the harvest worthy of repentance if you will not repent!
My most beloved brethren, I want you all to know that the precious gift of repentance is offered this day in Christ Jesus’ name, if you will not love your life, and if you are willing that your pride shall be trampled on by those who hate Him, and your body shall suffer loss, you will endure loneliness as others count the cost too high and your family, friends, and loved ones abandon you in fear of the cross, then by such faith as this you shall indeed know your Savior Jesus Christ and taste of the most precious and worthy fruits of repentance!
Remember our prayers:
1 Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.