Good fruit, bad fruit

Discussion in 'The Gospels & Acts' started by riceman, Oct 1, 2009.

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  1. riceman

    riceman Puritan Board Freshman

    I searched a couple different ways to find something, couldn't though.

    Mat 12:33 "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.

    Mat 7:18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.

    What constitutes good and bad fruit? Believers sin, so obviously bad fruit doesn't mean sin. I think. Or this some sort of analogy or something like that and doesn't really mean how it initially reads? I'm not too sure. Any ideas?
  2. riceman

    riceman Puritan Board Freshman

    can someone help pretty please with some good fruity cherry on top? and chocolate syrup? :(
  3. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    It refers to the fact that a new creation will bear good fruit, have good works, etc. as an expression of his/her faith and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. According to Jesus, if you see someone bearing bad fruit, it's a good sign of unregeneracy. N.b. Bearing bad fruit doesn't mean just struggling with sin sometimes - all Christians do. It is when you are obviously a thorn bush and not a fig tree.

    Does that help a little?
  4. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Moderator Staff Member

    Thomas Boston covers this subject quite well in his masterwork Human Nature In Its Fourfold State. But essentially, as Austin pointed out, it is an evidence of conversion. Apple trees do not produce chestnuts. Good fruit is what the Holy Spirit produces in the life of the believer.

    [esv]Galatians 5:22-23[/esv]
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2009
  5. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I also think the quote from James in my signature is relevant to Jesus' point here. Jesus is talking primarily about identifying false teachers, I think, in context. The Pharisees were probably who he had in mind in particular, although we must all daily examine ourselves to "make [our] calling and election sure" (2 Pet. 1:10, ESV).

    "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."
    -Gal. 5:16 (ESV)
  6. riceman

    riceman Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you both very much, I see that Jesus is speaking of conversion and how fruit is evidence of that.

    My main hangup is that he says a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad cannot bear good fruit. Given what both of you said, there are things that an unbeliever cannot do, which I agree with.

    But for some reason I'm stuck when it speaks of good trees. It's not talking about sin, but there are things that I have done in my life that for all intents and purposes look like rotten fruit. Decisions that have caused great damage to other people.

    He must mean bad fruit in another sense, or I don't understand fruit. Idk.
  7. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The book of 1 John is a good one on this subject. John says in 1 John 1 that believers will sin, and we are liars if we say we don't, but he says later in the epistle that believers cannot sin. So I think Jesus' statement, in context, means that overall a believer will progress in bearing fruit in keeping with repentance. Your sorrow and repentance over your bad fruit that is being purged are evidence of good fruit in you. That is a good sign. He is the vine, we are the branches, so abide in him and you will definitely bear good fruit.

    Bottom line: I think the bad fruit Jesus talks about is continual, unrepentant sin. It means you are living like a thornbush and you don't even care. The good tree bears good fruit, meaning the Christian will persevere in righteousness, AKA sanctification.

    Sorry if this doesn't really answer the question. It is my best understanding of the passage. Ultimately I think the key point is that we must examine ourselves to see whether we are being made into Christ's likeness. John 15, the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, and James 2 would be good follow-up passages.

    -----Added 10/2/2009 at 08:04:58 EST-----

    In my opinion, fruit is anything that comes out of us - deeds, attitudes, etc. So the decisions you refer to are fruit. As a disciple of Christ, you will be conformed into his image over time.

    I think Jesus is telling us how to identify false teachers with this passage (e.g. The Pharisees whom he later calls "white-washed tombs").
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2009
  8. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I also believe it means that a true believer sins but doesn't practice sin but instead practices righteousness.
  9. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Bad fruit would be a continuous and progressive pattern of sin.
    Good fruit would be a continuous and progressive struggle against sin.
  10. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Herein lies your answer. I used to think this meant good vs bad works until I realized who Christ was rebuking. The pharisees did 'good works' of Law. In fact, Christ Himself said unless ones righteousness exceeds theirs, they cannot enter the kingdom. What I am now convinced of is this has little if anything to do with outward works, but specifically about confession of believing the truth. Hence a bad tree, a reprobate or unregenerate, cannot confess any truth. Yet a good tree, elect/regenerate of God, will produce this good fruit. Think of how many non believers or false believers are morally superior to Christians at times. I worked with a Mormon who did so many good works, that I began to doubt my conversion. Then I know the difference. What is the only fruit that separates a believer from a non believer? Belief in the truth.

    Matthew 7:13-23 is often cited to support the false doctrine that one must evidence one's salvation by works in order to prove that one is saved or even to do such works as part of what one must do to be saved; otherwise one is not truly saved at all. But is this what Christ is really saying? The gospel's enemies usually conceal their hostility and try to pass themselves off as fellow believers. At first glance they use orthodox language, show biblical piety, and are indistinguishable from true prophets. "them" = the false prophets, the subject of this passage, (v. 15), who could be unbelievers or believers who teach false doctrine.

    John RObbins said:

    They will not acknowledge the Satisfaction and Atonement of Jesus, because they do not believe it. Their prayer will not be, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner,' but, 'Jesus, I did many wonderful works in your name, and now you ought to reward me with Heaven.' Whatever these churchgoers and church leaders may believe about themselves and about Jesus, they do not believe in their own depravity, nor in the imputed righteousness of Christ. They do not believe that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ. In short, they do not believe the Gospel, and that is why they are damned.

    The vivid warning that Jesus gives us in this passage is not merely about the futility of working for salvation. It is also a warning about believing some things about God and Jesus, but not believing the Gospel. James tells us that demons believe in one God—and they are lost. That means that monotheism per se will not save anyone. Mark tells us that one demon recognized Jesus as the Holy One of God, and that demon was lost. That means that acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah per se will not save anyone. (And if anyone suggests that it is obedience that makes faith saving, it seems that no one obeys Jesus Christ more quickly in the New Testament than the demons to whom he speaks.)

    Paul picks up on this point in Galatians, where he damns everyone, man or angel, who brings a message other than justification by faith alone. Presumably the false teachers in Galatia who were urging the Christians there to supplement their faith with works not only believed in God and in Jesus as the Son of God, but in the infallibility of the Scriptures (the Old Testament) and in Jesus’ miracles as well. Perhaps they even believed in his resurrection. But a belief in Jesus’ resurrection per se will save no one.
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