This was a chapter taken from "Parables of Jesus" volume 2 by Clarence Sexton, Crown Christian Publications. The end question I was left with in my own heart was "Am i right with God so that I may bare MUCH fruit for His glory?"
"And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."~ Luke 13:8-9
You have been placed on this earth for a special purpose. God said to the first man, Adam, "Be fruitful and multiply." Fruit bearing gives evidence of something much deeper. Not bearing fruit, or having a barren fruit tree gives evidence of something much deeper also. In other words, there is something that produces the fruit, and the lack of it causes the barrenness.
The Word of God says in Luke 13:6-9,
"He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years i come seeking fruit of this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shall cut it down."
What does this parable mean? Parables are stories that Jesus Christ "placed alongside." The Lord gives us a story. Alongside that story, He points out something we need to know about the work of God- the way He gets things done, what He expects, and what He intends to do.
~ The Privilege of Fruit Bearing~
What does it mean to be right with God? Many people overemphasize results. They overemphasize the "fruit." The emphasis needs to be placed where God places the emphasis- being right with Him. When considering the fruit, more importantly, we must consider what produces the fruit.
In the Old Testament, in the fifth chapter of the book of Isaiah, the Lord speaks of His vineyard. God gave a distinct privilege to Israel. They are His special people, even though they have been set aside for this time. To them and through them, it is God's desire to make Himself known to the whole world. We understand from the Scripture that the fig tree in the vineyard represents the nation of Israel. The vineyard is the special privileged place that God gave to His people Israel. In that special place, God placed His special people- His fig tree.
The Bible says in Isaiah 5:1-7
"Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My welbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. Fr the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry."
God said, "What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it?" Contemplate that question. "Is there any more I could have done for you than I have already done? Could I have given you greater privilege? Could I have provided for you more than I have provided for you? Could there be anyone on the face of the earth to ever say that God has been better to him than I have been to you?" The answer is no.
God is saying, "I expect a certain thing from you; when i went to get that certain thing from you, I did not find it. I took tender care to build a fence around you, to build a tower to look out for you, to prune you, to make sure you were doing everything possible to be fruitful. Now, Israel, I am going to remove all the tender love and care that i gave and all the special attention I poured into you." God has not forgotten His people, Israel. He is not finished with the Jew. But for this time, they are set aside.
In interpretation, one must not see anything else other than the Jew; however, in application, one can see all of our lives. The principle remains true, not only for Israel, but for nations, churches, families, and individuals- for all of us. God is good to us. God has blessed us beyond measure. He has every right to expect that we be fruitful.
Notice what our lord says in the closing part of Luke chapter twelve beginning with verse forty-nine and ending with verse fifty-three,
"I am come to sending fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptize with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in- law against her daughter- in- law, and the daughter- in-law against her mother-in-law."
Who is the Great Divider? The Lord Jesus Christ is the great divider. When God saved you, Christ became the Great Divider in your life and family. Things we once loved to do, He divided from us. People that we once fellowshipped with, had things in common with, and even some of our own household, He divided us from. When we decided to live a life of righteousness for Jesus Christ, He became the Great Divider.
The Bible goes on to say in Luke 12:54, "And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is." To the west was the Mediterranean Sea. When clouds came from the sea onto the land, it was known that those clouds brought water in them and that rain would come.
In Luke 12:55 the Bible says, "And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass." To the south was the barren desert. As the winds crossed the desert, hot scorching winds would come upon them, and there would be heat. Everyone living in that area knew there would be heart if the winds blew across the south desert.
The Lord says in Luke 12:56-59,
"Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time? Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate as thou are in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite."
Christ declared, "I want you to know that you are not going to escape." They were angry. They lashed out at Him. They felt that He had spoken against them and against their sin. What happens when we are convicted of our sins? Are we willing to repent and to change the way we are living? Are we willing to say, "Lord, you are right and I am wrong." This is our time of opportunity to serve the lord Jesus.
~ The Personal Accountability of Fruit Bearing~
Notice the reason that Christ gave this parable. The Bible says in Luke 13:1, "There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices." The people blurted out saying, "You think that we are so bad, but what about those Galileans? These Galileans, in the act of sacrificing, were killed by Pilate. They must have been terrible." The people believed that any type of calamity that came to one's life was because of sin. They believed that because these people had a terrible thing happen to them, it had to be because they were such terrible sinners. These Jews in Judea were especially delighted to call attention to the Galileans who had been killed.
The people who were talking to the Lord were actually saying, "Wait a minute. Let us compare ourselves to the Galileans that Pilate killed, They were much worse than we are." We are never going to be right with God as long as we compare ourselves with others. If you want to go through life trying to find someone doing less than you are, you can do it. But you can never be right with God by comparing yourself with other people.
The Lord said in verses two and three of Luke chapter thirteen, "And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell ye, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Think of that. Christ changed the whole perspective. He told the people, "We are not going to talk about those Galileans; we are going to talk about you." He said, 'Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
In Luke 13:4 Christ said, "Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?" Evidently, when the tower of Siloam fell and eighteen people were killed, everyone knew about it. Christ was saying to them, "Are you saying that you think the eighteen that died at Siloam were the greatest sinners in Jerusalem just because they were there when the tower fell? Are you saying that the tower fell on them because God was punishing them for their great crime against Him? Is that the way you have it all figured out?"
Christ answers His own question, "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." In this short parable of just a few verses, Christ is talking to us about how to be right with God. It is not about someone else's accountability, but our accountability.
Christ tells a story about a vineyard, but in the vineyard there was a fig tree. That was not unusual. On certain parts or parcels of ground in a vineyard, other types of plants could be planted. Certain plants, in accordance with God's law in the Bible, including the fig tree, could be planted in a vineyard.
In the vineyard, which represents the sacred place that God selected for the Jew, God planted His people. They are represented by the fig tree. He put them there to be fruitful. He came seeking fruit and found none. Note again in Luke 13:6-9,
"He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. 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 cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."
The Bible says in verse six, "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none." He had every right to come and seek fruit because he expected it to bear fruit. It was suppose to bear fruit.
Verse seven says, "Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none." He said, "I've been coming for three years seeking fruit on this tree. No fruit!" Then he said, "Cut it down." This is a solemn thought.
No wonder some churches and some Christians are having such trouble. They have God's judgment on them because there is no fruit. They are doing nothing. They are just taking up space. They are doing absolutely nothing to reproduce.
He said, "Cut it down!" From God's declaration of cutting it down, notice what he said, "Why cumbereth it the ground?" When a fruit tree does not produce fruit, it is taking ground that could be given to some other fruit-bearing plant. So quite naturally, the ground that was used by the tree was nothing more than wasted space.
I believe that there was a note of tenderness in his voice when the dresser of the vineyard said in verse eight, "Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it." In other words, "I'm going to disturb the ground around the tree. Then I'm going to add nourishment to the ground. i'm going to dig around it and dung it to fertilize it. Let me do that, would you please?"
Then the Bible says in verse nine, "And if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." In other words, "Give me an opportunity to work, disturbing the ground and adding nourishment." This is a time of mercy. It is a time for digging and dunging. It is a time for things to be disturbed. The Lord is at work.
I believe we are living between od saying, "Cut it down," and His coming again. He is digging and dunging. He is disturbing our soul. Many nations, many churches, many families, and many individuals have had this opportunity. What more could be done to disturb our ground?
After God has disturbed the soil and poured in what we need for nourishment to produce fruit, he has every right to look again and expect that we are bearing fruit. After no fruit, no fruit, no fruit, what if the Lord says, "Cut it down"? Do you believe as I believe that we are living on God's mercy?
May God awaken us that we should be doing more than just taking space on the earth. "Why cumbereth it the ground?" Why is it just taking up space if it is not going to produce fruit? God gave us this time, this place, this space, so that we might produce fruit and honor Him.
Think of how many people go to our churches, read the Bible, listen to the Word of God, and get nourishment poured upon them, but never produce any fruit. Then they go through divine disturbances where God digs, but no change. I think that at any moment He might pass through again and say, "Cut it down!"
"Why cumbereth it the ground?" Why is it there? It Is there so it can reproduce and bear fruit. Christians are to reproduce other Christians. Churches are to bear other churches. We are to live our lives honoring God, exemplifying Christ.
what we find here is an example of the way God works. God tells us that this is sin; but He gives a time to repent. When the holiness of God demands, the mercy of God answers, "I will pay the price." A holy God said that men must die for their sin and go to hell forever trying to pay for their sins. God's Son, the Lord Jesus, said, "I'll die for them. I'll pay the sin debt."
How do we get right with God? It involves seeing our own accountability to the Lord. Our eyes are on everyone else and everything else. The only race we ever have to run is the race against the opportunity and ability God has given us. If we are ever to be right with God, we must say, "Lord, I will stand alone before You and I will answer to You for my ability, privilege, and opportunity." This is the way to be right with God. God brings us into the place where we see ourselves personally accountable to the Lord.
In interpretation, this parable is about the nation of Israel; but in application, it is about all we should be as a church, all we should be as a blessed nation, all we should be in our Christian homes, and all we should be as individuals. God has done so much for us. He has blessed us. he said, "if it bear fruit." There is evidence of the right kind of life when fruit is borne. I want to be a fruit-bearing Christian. The Lord has every right to expect me to be a fruit- bearing Christian. I have life in me; not my life, but His life in me. I am partaker of the divine nature. The Lord lives in me.
if there is no fruit in your life, one of two things is evident. Either you are not abiding in the Lord, or you have never been born again. As Christians, we are all to bear fruit. We place the emphasis sometimes on the fruit; let us place the emphasis first on the root. If we are right, we will bear fruit.
In too many places, we have equated activity with spirituality. Too many times we have talked to people and given them the idea that if they simply do more, they are going to be more of what they should be. I do not have to convince you that i believe in the urgency of the hour. I do not have to convince you that we are living with the fact of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. I want to love His appearing.
Let us turn our attention to 2 Peter chapter one. one of the ways we understand scripture is by comparing Scripture with Scripture. i appreciate every good thing we can read that God has given other authors to pen in books that we can buy, borrow, and read, but the greatest commentary on the Bible is the Bible.
The Bible says in 2 Peter 1:1-5,
"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ: grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add unto your faith..."
Notice the language here,"'Add to your faith." The Bible does not say add faith; it says add to your faith. Some people have the idea that if a person finally gets enough information about Christ, he is a Christian. No! Salvation is immediate. Just as physical life begins with conception, salvation is also instantaneous. Once there is conception, that human being is going to live forever as long as God lives. Once there is regeneration, we are born into God's family. The moment we "faith" the finished work of Jesus Christ, the Lord comes to live in us. We live forever as children of God, with God. We are born into God's family.
Once we have faith, we should add to our faith. God says in 2 Peter 1:5, "Add to your faith, virtue..." Virtue has to do with character. Character has to do with what we are, not what we do. We may live virtuously; but if we live virtuously, it is because we have virtue. We may "do" right things; but the emphasis is on "being" right, so we we will do right things. We may bear fruit; but if we bear fruit, it is because we are right with God.
Let us continue with 2 Peter 1:5-9,
"... and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness charity. For these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."
In this passage, the Lord is talking to Christians. He says that they have not been living as Christians. God tells us in 2 Peter 1:9-10 what we need to do if we are going to be fruitful.
"But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall."
We should bear fruit. Someone once said that the fruit of a Christian is another Christian. This is true. But there is also the fruit of the Spirit.
In Galatians 5:22 the Bible says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. The word 'fruit" is singular.
This "fruit" is like a cluster of grapes. There are nine grapes on this individual, singular fruit. This "fruit' is produced in our lives by the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit produces love. The Holy Spirit produces joy. The Holy Spirit produces gentleness. The Holy Spirit produces goodness. The Holy Spirit produces faith. The Holy Spirit produces meekness. The Holy Spirit produces temperance.
What is evident when this "fruit of the Spirit" is not in our lives? It is evident that we are not being the Christians we should be. We are not abiding in Him. We are not living obedient lives.
Do you desire to be this kind of fruit-bearing Christian? Remember, the parable is regarding Israel. The Lord is inspecting them, and there is no fruit. In application, we must bear fruit.
Let us look again in John chapter fifteen. The Bible says in John 15:1-5,
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
The word "fruit" is found in verse two; "more fruit" is found at the conclusion of verse two; and in verse five is "much fruit." I want to be a "much fruit" Christian. Not simply "fruit" and "more fruit," I want to be a "much fruit" Christian. John 15:6-7 tells us why.
"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. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
How do we bear fruit? By being right. How are we right with God? By abiding in Christ and recognizing our own individual accountability to God.
~The Purpose of Fruit Bearing~
Our purpose in fruit bearing is to bring glory to the Lord. What is the parable about? The vineyard was the Lord's; the fig tree was the Lord's. The parable was about the Lord getting glory from His vineyard and His fig tree. He gave the vineyard; He gave the fig tree. It was all His.
What is it all about? It is not about applauding men. It is not about praising men. We should say, "Lord, I want to bear fruit." But why bear fruit? We should want to bear much fruit. Why bear much fruit?
The Bible says in John 15:7-8, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." If we bear much fruit, God is glorified.
We must hunger and thirst after the Lord. The fruit is not the goal; glorifying the Lord is the goal. As long as we desire to glorify the Lord, the Lord will smile on us, bless us, and provide us with what we need. Let us ask God to help us to bear much fruit for His glory.
" In my opinion, the great single need of the moment is that light-hearted superficial religionists be struck down with a vision of God high and lifted up, with His train filling the temple. The holy art of worship seems to have passed away like the Shekinah glory from the tabernacle. As a result, we are left to our own devices and forced to make up the lack of spontaneous worship by ...bringing in countless cheap and tawdry activities to hold the attention of the church people." ~ A.W. Tozer