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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
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clear.gif - 808 Bytes Question:

clear.gif - 808 Bytes In our church we have been told that the only fruit a Christian can have is that of winning souls to Christ. Is this true?
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clear.gif - 808 Bytes Thanks for writing.

clear.gif - 808 BytesI believe that there are many different types of fruit that a believer is to produce. One of these would certainly include the salvation of the lost. Proverbs 11:30 states

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise."
This seems to equate soul-winning and fruitfulness. However, it should be added that the verse says that the fruit is a "tree of life". While this could refer to the souls of men, it doesn't have to. Proverbs 3:18 states that Wisdom is a "tree of life" (from verse 13). Proverbs 13:12 refers to Fulfilled Desire as being a "tree of life". Finally, Proverbs 15:4 refers to a Wholesome Tongue as a "tree of life".

clear.gif - 808 BytesPhilippians 4:17 seems to use "fruit" in reference to the souls of men when Paul writes,

"Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.".
Of course, if Pastors really believed this, they would go overboard on Missions giving, because this passage teaches that souls won on the mission field are fruit for those who give to missions. Unfortunately, many pastors seem far more concerned about the "fruit" that builds their own church attendance instead of the "fruit" that Paul mentions. It should probably also be mentioned that I Corinthians 3:6-7 says,
"I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."
We are certainly responsible to give the message of salvation to all that will hear. However, God always gives the increase. I can not control who responds to the Gospel. I can, however, control how I respond to the teachings of the Word of God.

clear.gif - 808 BytesIn a nutshell, in the Scriptures, Fruit refers to that which is produced in the Christian life across the board. Jeremiah 6:19 refers to the "fruit of their thought". Jeremiah 17:10 refers to the "fruit of his doing." Proverbs 13:2 and 18:21 speak of the "fruit of his mouth" and the fruit of the tongue. Therefore, thoughts, actions, and speech all produce fruit. Some glorifies God, some does not.

clear.gif - 808 Bytes Matt. 7:20 states,

"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
In the context, he is contrasting believers and false teachers. Is the only difference between the saved and the unsaved their efforts in soul-winning? I don't think so. In fact, the Bible teaches us that the Pharisees were very "evangelistic" for in Matt. 23:15, Christ said,
" Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."
In Matt 12:33, Christ says,
"For the tree is known by his fruit."
In this context, he is referring to the blasphemous and idle speaking of the Pharisees (vs 31-37).

clear.gif - 808 BytesJohn 15 is a famous passage on "fruit-bearing". Often this is used to show our responsibility to win the lost. However, verse 16 states,

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain."
If the only kind of fruit that exists is the salvation of the lost, how are we to interpret this verse? We would be forced to say that if the fruit doesn't remain, than our "convert" lost his salvation! He was fruit, then ceased to be fruit! Obviously, this can not be correct.

clear.gif - 808 BytesThe book of Romans also addresses this issue. Rom. 1:13 states,

"Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles."
Here Paul says that he was hoping to have fruit among the believers in Rome. Again, this would be impossible if the only fruit that can be produced is salvation. I believe that verses 15-16 indicate that Paul had a desire to evangelize in Rome. But evangelism was not the only fruit that he sought. Romans 6:22 speaks of a "fruit unto holiness" Also, Romans 7: 4 -6 reads,
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter."
It seems clear to me that the "fruit" of verse 4 coincides with the "serve" in verse 6, and the contrasting between the spirit and the letter of the law has nothing to do with evangelism, but rather with the complete life of the believer.

clear.gif - 808 BytesGalatians 5:22-23 and Ephesians 5:9 also show that there is more to Fruit than simply souls won to Christ. Galatians 5:22-23 states,

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
The Holy Spirit produces these "fruits" in the spiritual man. Ephesians 5:8-10 adds,
"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord."
Again, the context shows that walking as children of light, and proving what is acceptable to the Lord equals goodness and righteousness and truth, and all are Fruit that is produced in the life of the believer when he is under the control of the Holy Spirit.

clear.gif - 808 BytesTwo final verses that could be added are Heb. 13:15 and James 3:18. Hebrews states,

"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."
This teaches that thankfulness to God is fruit. James 3:18 says,
" And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace".
Obviously, this teaches that righteousness is a fruit, also.

clear.gif - 808 BytesSo, while souls won to Christ can be "a" fruit, they are certainly not "the" fruit. The Bible spells out much more.

clear.gif - 808 BytesI hope this helps. May the Lord bless you.
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Pastor Dr. Mark Montgomery
Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209

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