In what is often called the “Dominion Mandate,” the Bible tells us that God designed mankind to be fruitful from our very beginning.
“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Jesus reemphasized this commandment in the New Testament, saying: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
So, what exactly is “being fruitful?”
Cain helped us discover that being fruitful definitely does not mean we should grow things and offer them to God as a means to earn His favor! In fact, when Cain tried that approach it worked out quite poorly for him! Cain’s method is recommended!
“In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground… but for Cain and his offering [the Lord] had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.”
If we can’t merely grow fruit from the ground as a means to satisfy God’s dominion mandate, what does the Bible say we must do to bear fruit? After all, this command has been around since the passage immediately following the creation of man in Genesis 1, so surely there is more information!
As usual, the Bible, clarifies its own meaning in later passages.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. ”
In this passage, Jesus tells us that He is the vine and that we cannot bear fruit unless we “abide in Him” and “He in us.” In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus illuminates the process by which we can come to bear fruit.
“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
So, when God’s Word, like a handful of seeds, is cast into an audience, some of it falls onto “good soil,” or onto hearts ready to receive and to understand the message it contains. Thereby, that seed (God’s Word) may take root and grow up into a plant, a redeemed Christian, who bears fruit.
So we know that in order to bear fruit, God’s word must take root and grow in our hearts. We also know that our hearts must be prepared ahead of time for His Word to be received. But, what must we do to bear fruit once his Word has taken root and we are saved?
Here’s what Paul says:
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Similarly, shortly before baptizing Jesus in the Jordon river, John the Baptist exhorted the religious of his day to, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8)
We think it is very important to note that John does not say, “bear fruit, by doing good works, in order that you might be saved.” Instead, he helped people to understand the requirement for them to act like Christians once they’ve repented.
Here’s another way of expressing it:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
The Bible is clear. First, the seeds of God’s Word are cast onto dirt (hearts) that are prepared ahead of time. Second, the Word takes root in those whose prepared hearts understand the message. Finally, “by Grace, through faith – and that not by works” we are saved. BUT, and this is a big BUT, he goes on to emphasize that God saved us for a purpose, which is to do the work that He CREATED US to do! This is why we don’t hold people under when they get baptized so that they can go straight to paradise.
Saved for a Purpose
We remain here – for now. This is what Paul was describing. The conflict between wanting to be at home in the Kingdom we represent as Ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and wanting to please Him in the meantime as good reflections of Him. During our remaining stay here on Earth, the Bible tells us to remain in good courage and to serve him intently!
“Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”
Next time you see or taste some fruit, why don’t you use it as a time to remind your family or anyone else nearby of the purpose that God has for believers while they’re still here!
The Humble Ant
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