Bearing Fruit

John Plunkett
October 29, 2015
Feast of Tabernacles - Day Two

For those of you who grew a vegetable garden this summer, I believe that, by now, your growing season is pretty well over, other than any winter crops that you might have planted.

God built His three Holy Day seasons around the agricultural harvest times in the land of Israel.

The main summer harvest was pretty well complete by the time the Israelite farmers left their farms to attend the Fall Feasts. 

Those who were living any distance from Jerusalem would have likely been away from their farms for the best part of a month.  For example, considering the travel distance from Nazareth, they would have left their homes and farms in time to be settled into their temporary dwellings in Jerusalem in time for evening beginning the Feast of Trumpets.  And they would not be home again until after the Last Great Day.

In what we call the Promised Land of Canaan, or Palestine, or Israel (whatever the politically correct term for it is in this day and age), back then during the temple era, there were various harvest seasons for various crops.  There were not just two – not just an early spring harvest and then a fall one.

I will list the ones that I know about in order.  The growing season starts in the early spring with almonds, then comes flax, barley, wheat, grapes, dates and then, notably, at the very end of the main summer growing season come the figs, the subject of which we will come to soon.

Here we are today, just a couple of days into the Feast of Tabernacles.  God's Fall Feast season symbolizes one of the spiritual harvests.  

Over my years in the Church of God, I have heard some differing ideas on which spiritual harvest the Feast of Tabernacles symbolizes.  Yes, there are different ideas about it and different ways of looking at it; but I'm not going to argue the point today over which  is right and which is wrong.

But just as an example, some feel that, in some respects, the Feast of Pentecost symbolizes our harvest – the harvest of spiritual firstfruits.  Some feel that the Last Great Day pictures the huge harvest that will take place after the second resurrection.  Also that the Feast of Tabernacles symbolizes the intermediate harvest of mankind that is going to take place during the Millennium.  

Although I am okay with all of these, at least to some extent, it is not my purpose today to dig into the various arguments over those symbolisms.  What I really would like to concentrate on today is the harvest aspect of the Fall Holy Days and, more specifically, the aspect of bearing fruit. 

Why?  Because Jesus commands His brothers and sisters, you and me, to bear fruit.  And in some scriptures, to bring forth fruit.

What do these terms mean?

This all started, in my studies anyway, some time ago when I received an e-mail from a lady who  asked an interesting question along these lines. 

Basically she asked if I could clarify the following verses: Mark 11:12-14 and 21.  The lady asked why, when Jesus came to search for figs on the fig tree in what she called the “un-season” for figs did He say that no one shall ever eat figs from that tree again?

I could have just given this lady the "stock answer" that would normally given to this question; but I found her question so intriguing that I expanded on my reply; and it blossomed into a deeper and much more far-reaching Bible Study.

Let’s read first the verses that she mentioned:

Mark 11:
12:  And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, He was hungry:
13:  And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, He came, if haply He might find any thing thereon: and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
14:  And Jesus answered and said unto it, "No man eat fruit of you hereafter forever."  And his disciples heard it...
20:  And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
21:  And Peter calling to remembrance said unto Him, "Master, behold, the fig tree which you cursed is withered away."

I find it interesting that, in the verses after these ones, Jesus seems to move away from the fig tree subject:

22:  And Jesus answering said unto them, "Have faith in God.
23:  For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, 'Be you removed, and be you cast into the sea'; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he said shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he said.
24:  Therefore I say unto you, what things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them

(There is a similar, related passage in Luke 13 which we will come to that later).

Was Jesus being unreasonable here?  Was He being unfair – or even cruel – to this "poor" fig tree – especially knowing (as I'm sure the Creator would) that the fig harvest time had not fully come.

The standard response to this lady would be as follows: 

From a distance, Jesus saw this fig tree with leaves.  Being hungry, He approached it, perhapsapparentlyhoping to find some fruit on it.  Since fig trees often produce figs earlier than they produce foliage, upon reaching the tree, all Jesus found were leaves.  The tree had produced no fruit.  Mark added a comment in verse 13 that “it was not the season for figs.” But this is somewhat puzzling, at least until we understand the growth and reproductive cycle of fig trees.  To help with this, I will give you a brief quote from Adam Clark’s commentary about the fig season in Palestine:

It has been asked how our Lord could expect to find ripe figs at the end of March.  The answer is because figs were ripe in Judea as early as Passover.  Besides, a fig tree puts forth its fruit first and afterwards its leaves.  Indeed this tree, in the climate which is proper for it, has fruit on all of the year round, as I have often seen.

Fruit tree growers know that ordinarily a small amount of fig fruit will ripen prior to the main crop.  

The information that I have about the different crop seasons shows that there was an early fig crop and a late one.

The earlier crop is referred to as the first ripe fruit, or firstfruits.  When Jesus approached the tree it was a time of firstfruits of figs, but it was not yet time for the main harvest. 

The fact that the tree had no figs on it at all means that it was actually barren.  It did not fulfil its purpose as a fruit tree, so, as any diligent orchardist would do, Jesus simply eliminated this unproductive tree.  Not with an axe or a saw.  But by faith.

Jesus used this incident to teach His disciples – and Christians today – a couple of important lessons.  One of them is that outward appearance does not count with God.  Rather, what really counts with Him is our faith; but also whether or not we are producing godly fruit in our lives.  Here are just a few of many scriptures which back up these statements:

John 15:
8:  Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples...
16:  You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you.

Galatians 5:
22:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23:  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

This is, of course, all very true and all very correct; but I want to dig into this in a little more detail and in a more practical way.  I want to pick up a few more very relevant and important points for us to live by.

Jesus saw that fig tree from afar and He went to it apparently to see if there might be some fruit on it.  But did He?  Did He really need to approach it?  From a distance He saw that the tree had leaves on it; but did He have to walk across the field and right up to it to see if there were figs on it or not?  

Of course He didn’t!  This was the Son of God – the one man who was able to know the future and even to read the contents of men’s hearts. 

It is obvious that there was something else here that He wanted to do.  He wanted to teach some lessons.  In verse 22 of Mark 11, we clearly see that He wanted to teach a lesson about faith

But I believe that there is more to it than that.  I believe that this episode is symbolic, and that its symbolism appears to have a direct connection to the subject of Jesus' brothers and sisters bearing spiritual fruit. 

So, we can ask the question: Is the bearing of spiritual fruit important?

Yes it is!  Very much so!

We have already read (in John 15) that if we want to be Christ’s disciples, we have to bear fruit.

But what does it mean to bear fruit?

Let’s go all of the way back into the Old Testament and let’s start off with an inspired prophecy that He actually wrote twice word-for-word so that we might know who our example is in this regard, that He Himself – the YHVH of the Old Testament and the Jesus Christ of the New Testament – was going to be the prime example of bearing fruit:

II Kings 19:3:
And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.

Is this a prophecy about Jesus?  I believe that it is.  Did He not escape Herod's murder of the innocents (Matthew 2)?  Are there not quite a few scriptures in which Jesus is likened to a seed and a root; and where He was also prophesied to be the perfect fruit-bearing vine?

Ezekiel 17:
1:  And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2:  "Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel;
3:  And say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD; "A great eagle with great wings, long-winged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar:

I don’t really want to go into all of the symbolism here, and I won’t pretend that I understand the whole thing; but there are very relevant parts of it that jump out at us.  Continuing:

4:  He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffic; He set it in a city of merchants.
5:  He took also of the seed of the land, and planted it in a fruitful field; He placed it by great waters, and set it as a willow tree.
6:  And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature, whose branches turned toward him, and the roots thereof were under him: so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs.
7:  There was also another great eagle with great wings and many feathers: and, behold, this vine did bend her roots toward him, and shot forth her branches toward him, that he might water it by the furrows of her plantation.
8:  It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine"'"...

No longer a "vine of low stature"; but a goodly, majestic vine.

22:  Thus says the Lord GOD; "I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:
23:  In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.
24:  And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish."  I the LORD have spoken and have done it.

I don’t have the time nor the knowledge today to go into all of the symbols in this passage.  Some of it seems to be clarified later by the human Jesus Himself.

But first, before we return to the New Testament, let’s look at another Old Testament prophecy that appears to have dual meanings and fulfillments:

Joel 2:
18:  Then the LORD will be zealous for His land, and pity His people.
19:  The LORD will answer and say to His people, "Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.

Three crops are mentioned here.  Three kinds of fruit are alluded to.  Grain, grapes for the new wine and olives for oil.  The LORD promises to bless His people with lots of them.

20:  But I will remove far from you the northern army, and will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, with his face toward the eastern sea and his back toward the western sea; his stench will come up, and his foul odour will rise, because he has done monstrous things.

This is likely a prophecy of the end-times – perhaps referring to the Beast power.

21:  Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done marvellous things!

Please note that the Beast power will have done monstrous things, but the LORD will do marvelous things.

22:  Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; for the open pastures are springing up, and the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their strength.

We have two more mentions of fruit here – vine-grapes again and figs.

23:  Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; for He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you — the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
24:  The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.

So we see here a third mention: wheat, oil from olives and wine from grape-vines.

25:  So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, my great army which I sent among you.

These are curses of the end-time which at the time being referred to here will all be in the past.  But then, at the beginning of the Millennium:

26:  You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and my people shall never be put to shame.
27:  Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the LORD your God and there is no other.  My people shall never be put to shame.

Not only is this a wonderful prophecy of the beginning of the Millennium and the LORD blessing the people with physical fruit; but also, the spiritual aspects of the fruit, which are even more important in the long run.

Those last couple of scriptures we read are the prophecies.  Now we are going to look at their fulfillments.

The initial, physical fulfillments of those scriptures are still in the future – in the Millennium – in what we call the World Tomorrow. 

It is interesting, however, that much (not all; but partially) of the spiritual fulfillment can be fulfilled within the church today! 

John 15: 
1:  I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2a:  Every branch in me that bears not fruit He takes away…

This might remind us of that cursed fig tree.

2b… and every branch that bears fruit, He {the Father} purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit...
4:  Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me.
5a:  I am the vine, you are the branches… 

You are the branches!  The disciples were the branches.  Our brothers and sisters in the Church of God are the branches.  You and I are the branches as well.  We are called to be branches!

5b: … He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.
6:  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Again, like the cursed fig tree.

7:  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8:  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

I ask you individually: Do you want to be one of Jesus’ disciples?  I know that you do.  So, if you do, you must bear fruit!  

Do you want to help to glorify God the Father?  I know that you do. So, if you do, you must bear fruit!

16:  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

Jesus is hammering that same message home.  He will not let up on it.  He wants us to bear fruit!

In addition to these positive commands, we are also given the same warnings as in the Mark 11 fig-tree event (and also the Luke 13 one, which we'll come to).  God the Father will remove any branches that will not bear fruit. 

Please think for a moment about those branches which are not connected to the Vine.  This would be a very precarious situation for a Christian branch to find himself in.  

Branches that are not connected to this Vine must symbolize Christians who once were connected to Jesus; but have been disconnected.  But there is really only way that a Christian can become disconnected from Jesus.  He would have to disconnect himself from Him. 

A total  and permanent refusal to repent is really the only "unpardonable sin."  And that is the only way that we can disconnect ourselves from Jesus. 

Throughout our lives, whenever we fall down, He will give us every opportunity and encouragement to repent.

We are the ones who have to say, "It's too hard for me – this requirement to bear fruit!" or "I just can’t do it anymore!" or even worse, "I refuse to do it anymore!" 

But if we are doing our best, and we are constantly repenting, we will never be disconnected from Him.  

So, if we are the true branches "in Jesus" – in other words if we are firmly connected to the true Vine – we must bear fruit!

Again, if we fail to do so, then Jesus clearly says that His Father will take us away, He will disconnect us from the Vine and, perhaps at the time of the Third Resurrection, He will gather us together with other wayward ex-branches – ex-true Christians who have fallen away from their God-given vocation – and we will be tossed with them into the Lake of Fire.

That was the bad news!  But there’s lots of good news to come!

Another question:  How is spiritual fruit produced? 

We talk about the Galatians 5 "fruit of the Spirit" a lot.  We allude to its listings and say "yes" to all of those things; but here are some clear answers to this question and its symbolism, as clearly given to us by Jesus Himself:

Luke 8:11:
Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God.

The word for “word” here is "logos" – the Spokesman. 

Matthew 13:23:
But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word
{logos} and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

So the symbolism in this parable is quite clear.  The Seed is the Word of God – the Logos. 

Is it the written Word of God, the oral Word of God or the personal Word of God?  I believe that it is probably all three.

The ground – the soil – on which the Seed/Word is scattered is you and me – human beings.

Is this part of the bad news too?  That we are soil – dirt?  It shouldn't be.  It shouldn't come as a surprise.  Nor should it cause us offence when I say this.  We are told so right from Creation: 

Genesis 3:19:
In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground
{Hebrew: adamah}; for out of it were you taken: for dust {Hebrew: aphar} you are, and unto dust shall you return.

From the words of YHVH-Elohim of Adam's day back to those of Jesus during His human lifetime:

John 15:1:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

God the Father is "the Boss" – the overseer over the whole process; and He ensures that the seed is sown where He wants it to be sown:

John 6:44:
No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

The Father knows exactly where His Seed is being sown.  The Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 indicates that, for His own good purposes, God the Father uses the "broadcast" method of sowing.  He doesn’t use the fancy seeding machines that our farmers use today. 

For His perfect purposes, God the Father knows that some of that spiritual seed falls in spiritual soil that is by the spiritual wayside, that some of it falls on spiritually stony ground, and that some of it falls among spiritual thorns.  

But that is okay!  He knows that!  Even the "good" spiritual soil that His spiritual seed falls on (which soil hopefully we are) is not inherently good!  Rather, it is made good and made fertile – by God:

Luke 13:
6:  He spoke also this parable; "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
7:  Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, 'Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none.  Cut it down.  Why cumbers it the ground?'
8:  And he
(the vinedresser} answering said unto him {the vineyard owner}, 'Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung
{Greek: ballo: fertilize} it...

How do you feel about being "dunged," if it were to become necessary?  It would be much better than the alternative:

9:  And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that you shall cut it down.

That soil had to be prepared – fertilized – cultivated.

Another question regarding the Parable of the Sower, and still thinking about the seed falling by the wayside, on the stony ground, and among thorns, does the casting of seed on these poorer soils mean that some of God’s precious spiritual seed – His Word – is wasted? 

I don’t believe that it is.  Why not?  Because God knows exactly what He is doing!  God knows exactly where His precious seed is being sown.  This is God that we are talking about here!  He doesn’t make mistakes!  His Word can never be wasted:

Isaiah 55:11:
So shall my Word be that goes forth from my mouth.  It shall not return to me void
{Hebrew: reyqam: empty or without effect}; but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Once God the Father has sent out His Word, eventually, for the most part (other than for a very few exceptions}, it is going to bear fruit, and it is going to do the job that it was created to do.

It is interesting and comforting to remember, however, that our loving Father – the Husbandman – is very, very patient.  He does not demand that all of His seed produce fruit right away. 

Because of the inferior soil it fell upon, some of the seed that He has sowed will not produce good fruit right away.  But one day it will produce fruit.  He is not demanding that it produce fruit right away:

James 5:7:
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.  Behold, the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and has long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

I have heard different opinions as to what the early and latter rains symbolize.  Personally, I feel that, because water is a common symbol of the Holy Spirit, this could symbolize the pouring out of the Spirit at different times.  The first pouring out would be in our age now (mainly, but not exclusively, in the New Testament era), and the second pouring out would be in future ones; i.e. during the Millennium and Great White Throne Judgment periods.

If you study into the rainy seasons of Israel, you'll find that there are actually three; not two.  There may be lots of symbolism that we could think about that fact too.

But the main point from James 5:7 is that God the Father and Jesus Christ have long patience for their seed to take effect, to grow and to bear fruit.

This does not mean, of course, that a person who is being called should take improper advantage of their long patience by putting off his conversion.  N or does it mean that any of us should put off our ongoing striving to repent, to do better and to bear more fruit. 

During the Millennium, which we are symbolizing this week, and at the time of the Second Resurrection, which we will be be symbolizing on the Last Great Day, God will cultivate what was formally poor spiritual soil.  (But let's not look down upon at those represented by poor soil, because, at one point in our past, we too were poor spiritual soil).

In our time, God’s Word is going out from many Church of God sources, it is reaching people; but for the most part it does not seem to be doing anything.  It is not having any effect on them.  It is almost like the Word is falling on deaf ears.

But during the Millennium and at the time of the Second Resurrection, just as He did with us, God will "dig and dung" the formally poor spiritual soil – on the wayside, the stony ground, the thorn infested ground – and He will cultivate it so that it becomes good soil. 

When He has done that, the spiritual seed that was planted, in many cases in this lifetime now, will then put down good spiritual roots, and it will send up good, strong spiritual plants bearing good, healthy spiritual fruit.

If you have friends and relatives, as I do, who were never called into God’s true church, this is the great hope of the Last Great Day that, if they were not called and converted in this life, their time and opportunity are still to come.

Let me give and illustration by talking about physical fruit for a few moments.  What does it actually consist of?  What does the actual fruit and the plants that bear that fruit consist of?  Remember the law of biogenesis which tells us that something cannot come from nothing. 

For those of you that do have gardens, is the growing process not a wonderful thing to behold?

I will use the tomato plant as my example.  Through the miracle of God’s creation, the life-giving water from the rain or irrigation, plus the warmth of the sun, helps to transform some of the atoms and molecules of the humble fertile soil, and those of the tiny seed which miraculously contains all the detailed "information" of what the resultant plant is going to be like. 

The water and the sun react with the dirt and the little seed that is in it, and together their atoms and molecules are miraculously transformed into those of a lovely green plant. 

The little seed doesn’t look like much!  And the soil certainly doesn’t look like much!  But together they come up into a beautiful green plant which is soon embellished with pretty yellow flowers, and eventually clusters of lovely plump tomatoes. 

The miraculously transformed atoms and molecules of the fertile soil and water actually constitute the main part of the plant. 

Before the process began, it was just dirt, water and a little seemingly insignificant seed.  Then, all of a sudden, it becomes this lovely plant. 

But that transformation would be impossible without the transforming power that God created into the tiny seed.  What a miracle a seed is!

Likewise with the spiritual fruit that God commands His children to bear.  It is very much the same.  

As we have already seen, we are the dirt – the soil.  The Seed is the Logos – the Word of God. 

Let’s look at a few scriptures to hammer that fact home – that Jesus Christ, the Logos, is both the Seed and the Word of God:

Galatians 3:16:
Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made.  He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.

Yes.  Jesus Christ is the Seed.

John 1:
1:  In the beginning was the Word
{Greek: Logos}, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...
14:  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Again, Jesus Christ is the Word of God and Jesus Christ is the Seed.  One and the same!

Now, let’s talk about the growth process a bit more.  The physical seed sinks into the fertile soil, just as Jesus, the Word are within us:

I John 3:9:
Whoever has been born
{Greek "gennao"} of God does not sin, for His Seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

This Seed is Jesus.

I Peter 1:23:
Having been born again
{Greek: "anagennao"}, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever,

This verse brings the Word of God and the Seed of God together in one verse and applies them both to Jesus Christ.

Of course, these two verses refer to a different kind of physical seed.  Rather than the seed of a fruit plant, they refer to the human seed which initiates human begettal and birth.  However, the idea and symbolism are similar.

The spiritual seed and the soil it is in are regularly and frequently watered by the Holy Spirit.  That is very important.  Let’s go back to the Old Testament again:

Isaiah 44:
3:  For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon your Seed, and my blessing upon your offspring:
4:  And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.

So here we have the "water" of the Holy Spirit being poured on that ground and that Seed to make it start growing. 

These are great Feast of Tabernacles, World Tomorrow, Millennium scriptures!  They are prophesied to come to pass physically and spiritually.

Isaiah 32:
15:  Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, And the fruitful field is counted as a forest...

This is fantastic!  This going to happen!  When it says "a forest," it means that the whole world is going to be full of huge, healthy spiritual fruit trees!  The whole world is going to be full of people who will then be becoming converted; but many of whom are having the Seed planted within them now!  Yes.  We are going to have many new brothers and sisters in the World Tomorrow!

16a:  Then justice will dwell in the wilderness…

Formally it was a wilderness – a barren desert.

16b: … And righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

Righteousness certainly is something that is very much associated with the bearing of God’s spiritual fruit.

John 3:5:
Jesus answered, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born
{gennao} of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

Here we are reading about both the physical and the spiritual versions – the physical and spiritual "water."  Once the watering begins, the real miracle begins.  It is the biggest miracle!  The truly huge miracle begins to occur.

Let's go through this again.    Once the watering begins, the atoms and the molecules of the fertilized soil, seed and water are modified and a tiny greenish white appears from the seed.  That sprout soon breaks through the surface of the soil and rapidly grows into a lovely verdant plant which is strong enough to bear clusters of ripe tomatoes. 

In the spiritual plant, we are the spiritual soil; so with the Seed (the Word) of Jesus implanted and dwelling in us and watered by the Holy Spirit, we, the dirt, are then transformed, initially into tiny insignificant spiritual sprouts.

With the continued watering of the Holy Spirit and with the warmth of the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), we grow spiritually bigger and stronger each day, and eventually, we become strong enough to bear big clusters of spiritual fruit, just as commanded by God Himself. 

The accent here is on the word “grow”:

II Peter 3:18:
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Ephesians 4:15:
But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head — Christ. 

I have been talking here about individual plants.  But we know that, in reality, we are all multiple branches off the one Vine. And that Vine is Jesus Christ.

True Christians are symbolized by two things: The dirt/soil and the fruit-bearing plant which the soil is transformed into.  What a miracle!  

The physical plant and the fruit both consist of the transformed atoms and molecule of the seed, the soil and the water.  In the spiritual fulfillment of these symbols it appears that because God commands us to bear and to bring forth fruit, we are presently the spiritual fruit-bearing plants in various levels of maturity; but we are not the fruit itself!

So then, what is the fruit? 

We know what the fruit of the Holy Spirit is, of course; and that we must emulate Jesus in all of those things.  But there is more to this; so let’s continue our word picture of this lovely physical tomato plant:

There it stands – with lovely red tomatoes.  But what are those tomatoes for?  What is their purpose? 

Surely not just to look pretty and to smell nice, as tomatoes really do!  The use and purpose of the tomato fruit itself is two-fold at least:

Our first use and purpose of a tomato is to provide nutrition.  The spiritual aspect of this is, because the spiritual fruit contains the seed of Jesus and He is also the Bread of Life (John 6:35-58), the spiritual fruit provides "spiritual nutrition."

The second use and purpose of a piece of fruit is that it is a seed-pod. 

Some modern consumers might prefer fruit without seeds – fruit with just 100% tasty, enjoyable nutrition – seedless grapes, tomatoes, raspberries and blackberries; pip-less oranges, apples and pears; stone-less peaches, plums and apricots.  But I find the stones, pips and seeds to part of a fruit's "character."  But more importantly, they are also very necessary for the continuation of the species. 

If we eat a piece of fruit and throw its seeds back onto the soil, or if a piece of fruit is not picked off its tree or plant; but falls onto the soil and decomposes, in either case the seeds interact with the soil, water and sun, and the whole wonderful growing cycle repeats itself, and new plants are produced. 

That, I believe, is what God wants from us!  The spiritual fruit itself appears to be somewhat secondary.  It appears to be more spiritual plants that He wants!

Again, what about the spiritual fruit that we Christian plants are commanded to bear?  The fruit that is borne by us spiritual plants should be attractive.  If you see a tomato that is discoloured or pockmarked, you wouldn’t want to eat it.  But how marvelous is the look and fragrance of the fruit of a healthy tomato plant. 

God the Father sometimes uses the attractiveness of His children’s good examples and the fruits of the Holy Spirit working within us to attract and draw others He wants to call and convert.  In fact, probably the very best way for a new person to come into contact with God’s church is by our good example.  

Jesus did not avoid the people of "the world."  He sat down with sinners and all kinds of people – apparently even with prostitutes – and He let His light shine on them.

I'm not suggesting that you should go out and frequent the places where such people are.  I'm just saying that, whoever we come into contact with on a daily basis, let’s do our best to let God's light shine, to be attractive to them, and to show God’s way of life as being something attractive to them.

Secondly, once again, our fruit should be spiritually nutritious. 

If Jesus Christ, who was the Bread of Life, is in us and working within us, then we should be doing our part to serve in this way – in providing spiritual nutrition to others. 

We often talk amongst ourselves about the spiritual food that we have during our services, and afterwards as we fellowship.  But if God appears to be calling somebody else we come in contact with, then we can extend this to them as well. 

Thirdly, God wants to use the spiritual seed-pods that we spiritual plants are bearing to reproduce spiritual seed in order to repeat the life-cycle and to produce more new spiritual plants.  Again, the fruit itself appears to be expendable.  And again, it appears that what God wants is more plants!  He wants the world one day to be filled with these plants!

A few final scriptures and points:

Romans 7:
4:  Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
5:  For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.

Bearing fruit to death in comparison with bearing fruit to God!

What we learn here is that, as well as good "fruit to God" – spiritual fruit that can only brought forth by God in and through His true people – there is also such a thing as "fruit to death." 

I don’t know what your former life was like before you were called into God's church; but perhaps we all brought forth some of that "fruit to death" prior to our calling. 

This "fruit to death" can also be brought forth through the preaching of "other gospels" that are not the true gospel.  I don’t have the time to go into the Parable of the Tares in detail today; but in that parable, Jesus teaches us that Satan, who is the great counterfeiter propagates counterfeit “good fruit” – which is really dangerously bad fruit – another kind of "fruit to death":

Matthew 13:26:
But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

We know that, for much of the growing season, to all but the most trained and expert eye, tares are almost undistinguishable from true wheat plants.  In the spiritual versions, God wants us to develop trained, expert eyes, to learn to be able to righteously judge, and to know one from the other.  We need to recognize the resultant plants and fruits of a tare seed in comparison with those of a truly good seed:

Matthew 7:
15:  Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16:  You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17:  Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18:  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19:  Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20:  Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.

So that is a dire warning and we must all be doing our part in this regard.  I don’t want to finish on a "downer"; but on a more positive vain:

Colossians 1: 
3:  We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
4:  since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints;
5:  because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,
6:  which has come to you, (that was the seed and the truth of the gospel) as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;

The apostle Paul was writing wonderful words of encouragement here to the members of God’s true church in Colossae.  The Word and Seed of the truth of the gospel is the Good News of the Kingdom of God.  It had come to them, and it was bringing forth good fruit among them.  So they, in turn, were heeding Jesus’ admonitions and they were bringing forth good fruit, just as He had repeatedly commanded.

So, we must also be emulating those Colossians.  We must also be doing the same as them in this regard.  

We all must be bearing good fruit!