What does it really mean to bear fruit (in Evangelism)

“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…” (John 15:16)

This is not an article on predestination or election, even though I could use the words of Christ to support each, but rather a note about suffering. Those of us chosen of God were specifically selected by Jesus Christ our Lord to bear fruit that would last throughout eternity. A good tree will demonstrate spiritual fruit such as godly attitudes (Gal 5:22-23), righteous behavior (Phil 1:11), praise (Heb 13:15), and leading others to faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 1:13).

Since I am an evangelist and was ordained by God to share the gospel with lost people I would like to discuss a view of witnessing rarely mentioned in Christendom. We hear much about tens, hundreds, and even thousands of people professing faith in Jesus Christ every year as a result of outreach or evangelism events (Crusades, Blitzes, Church Services, etc). Baptism figures totaled at the end of the year by Church and Para-Church organizations are used to provide evidence that their outreach efforts were productive or successful.

Nevertheless, it is important that believers consider suffering punishment, imprisonment, rejection, hardships; etc for the gospel as a form of fruit bearing. As example that strongly supports this statement is revealed in the life of the Apostle Paul. Consider his calling as revealed in chapter nine of the book of Acts. This great evangelist was told (by Jesus) that he was not only a “chosen” instrument but would “suffer for My names sake.” Our Lord foreknew that Paul would experience beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, imprisonments, hardships, hunger, thirst, sleepless nights and the like for preaching the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. Nevertheless, Paul and other messengers of God throughout both the Old/New Testaments as well as church history experienced similar circumstances.

Cover of "Ashamed of the Gospel: When the...

Cover via Amazon

John MacArthur in his book titled, Ashamed of the Gospel” writes, “…Jeremiah, for example, preached forty years without seeing any significant positive response. On the contrary, his countrymen threatened to kill him if he did not stop prophesying (Jer 11:19-23); his own family and friends plotted against him (12;6); he was not permitted to marry and so had to suffer agonizing loneliness (16:2); plots were devised to fill him secretly (18:20-23); he was beaten and put in stocks (20:1-2); he was spied on by friends who sought revenge (v.10); he was consumed with sorrow and shame eve cursing the day he was born (vv. 14-18); and finally, falsely accused of being a traitor to the nation (37:13-14), Jeremiah was beaten, thrown into a dungeon, and starved many days (vv.15-21).” (MacArthur, 88)

John Fox records in his book Fox’s Book of Martyrs the testimonies of hundreds of men and women who throughout church history suffered to the point of death for evangelizing the world. This would include Stephen, the Apostles, Christians under Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Christians in living Persia, France, Calabria, Bohemia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, China, Japan, Spanish America, Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland, United States, India, West Indies, Inquisitions under the Papacy, etc. Men like John Wickliffe, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Charles Surgeon and the like all suffered some form of persecution for their faith and for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Would emulating the sufferings of Christ be considered bearing fruit in the eyes of God?

Scripture records that before the Bema Judgment seat of Christ, believes are rewarded for their fruitfulness. The Bible mentions at least five rewards and two of them pertain to leading people to Christ known as the ‘Crown of Rejoicing’ mentioned in Proverbs 11:30; Dan 12; and I Thessalonians 2:19-20. The ‘Crown of Life’ is given to those who successfully endure trials, persecution, or suffering (for His name) is mention in James 1:2-3 and Rev 2:10.

Even though the current climate in our culture or world opposes the teachings of Christ, believers must (like their predecessors) be bold, plus steadfast in the proclamation of the gospel. Even if it means consequences that would cause Christians to suffer some form of ridicule, rejection, or negative repercussions for His name sake.  Not only is there a reward in eternity for this sort of fruit bearing, but also an opportunity to produce fruit in this present life. Remember, God called you out of the darkness and into His marvelous light in order to produce fruit that will remain!

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Test the Spirits II

 

The Masquerader

The Masquerader

Why test the spirits?  Because Satan masquerades as an angel of light and specializes in deception. Lucifer understands that the war for the souls of mankind or human beings begins in the mind. Therefore, he diligently works to create avenues to promote teachings, philosophies, doctrines, religions, etc. that contradict God’s Word. Reading a book, listening to the radio, viewing television and movies, formal academic studies, casual conversations, theological teachings and more are all various methods used by God, Man, and Satan to influence thought patterns. The Apostle Paul writing in his second letter to the church in Corinth addresses the concept that principalities and powers war for the minds or thoughts of men.

Paul begins chapter ten by addressing the (false) accusations that he walked in the flesh or had some type of moral flaw in his character.  The term “flesh” is used by his opponents to refer to man’s creaturely weakness which is prone to sinful passions. Paul refutes his antagonists who were making this accusation by admitting that he was a mere human being of flesh and bone, but shunned the allegation that he was dominated by sin. Paul lived, and walked, in the Spirit. Evidence of this fact is that he waged war against Satan with the supernatural artillery supplied by God.

 

Paul understood that the battle is for the minds and souls of both believers and non-believers. Worldly weapons such as guns, knives, philosophies, arguments, eloquence, propaganda, organizations, etc. are powerless against principalities and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. These principalities (Satan and demons) have ensnared men, placing them in bondage to sin. This is what is meant by strongholds. He uses this word as a metaphor to put forth an imagery of a fortress. People could take refuge behind the walls of a city when attacked because they were solid, high, and impenetrable. Satan and demons develop these strongholds through the use worldly or demonic philosophies, religions, propaganda, arguments and organizations, in order to entrap or ensnare the mind.

 

An anonymous author wrote:  “The mind is the taproot of the soul”

 

I once again met with the two Saudi Arabian students, and one of their friends in order to discuss the topic of science as presented in the Bible and the Quran. According to these Muslim men, Mohammad had supernatural revelation given to him by Allah which revealed such ‘science’ as pre-born humans in the womb as “clots” and “sperm” being stored in the backs of men. These are both addressed in the Quran:

 

“So let the man look to what he was created from. He was created from gushing water. It comes out from backbones (of the male) and breast (of the female). (Surah 86:5-7)

 

“The We made the nutfah (male and female sexual discharges) a clot of blood, the We made the clotted blood into a piece of flesh, the We clothed the bones with flesh, then We made it another creature. Blessed therefore be God, the most excellent of Creators.” (Surah 23:14)

 

Modern science proves that each of Muhammad’s above mentioned attempts to explain the reproduction process is incorrect. Yet, these men view these inconsistencies as proof that Muhammad received this revelation directly from Allah. The Bible’s claims of supernatural elements can in fact be supported by empirical science (reproducible). According to Dr. Harold Wilmington in his book titled Willmington’s Guide to Complete Bible Knowledge “It claims far more specific scientific statements than one might realize.”

  • The fact that the earth is spherical (Isa 40:22)
  • The fact that the earth is suspended in space (Job 26:7)
  • The fact that the stars are innumerable (Gen 13:16; 15:5)
  • The fact that there are mountains and canyons in the sea (Jon 2:6)
  • The fact that there are springs and fountains in the sea 9gen 7:11;8:2; Prov 8:28)
  • The fact that there are water paths (ocean currents) in the sea (Psalms 8:8)
  • The fact of the invisible atom structure of matter (Col 1:17)
  • The fact that all living things are reproduced after their own kind (Gen 1:21;6:19)
  • The facts involved concerning the human bloodstream (Lev 17:11)
  • The fact involved in the two laws of thermodynamics (Gen 2:1-3; PSA 33:6-9;102:25) Second law (Psa 102:26; Rom 8:18-23)

 

I presented this evidence to these men regarding the Bible’s accuracy in order to disprove the lie that the Bible is corrupt. Only the One True God, who made the heavens and the earth, could reveal these scientific supported truths to the various writers in both the Old and New Testaments. Many other Biblical concepts were presented or addressed (Grace, Hell, Jesus the Creator, Sin, etc)

The concept that consumed the most time of discussion was the idea of love. The Quran does not mention love other than the fact that Allah does not love the infidel (unbeliever).  This is found in Surah 30:45. Nowhere in the Quran does Allah demonstrate or express his love for the Muslim. Allah is unapproachable as well as unknowable. However, God’s love for mankind is demonstrated from Genesis to Revelation in the scriptures. His greatest gift or expression of His love is found in the writings of the Apostle John.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life…He who believes in the Son has eternal life…” (3:16,36)

“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world…IN this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (I John 4:9,10)

 

Paul writing to a young pastor warns him that people sitting in the church will be led away from truth by deceitful spirits promoting doctrines of demons. (I Tim 4:1) Apostasy will escalate as the church age draws to a close and the coming of Christ draws near. Demonic influence will reach its peak during the tribulation period under the dominion of the anti-Christ.  Demonically inspired teaching will lead people away from their original position in the Christian faith. (Unbelievers) Satan uses deception to make people believe that they are saved; on their way to heaven; have a relationship with God; doing the will of God; serving God; Good enough to please God, etc. The only way to expose his lies is to wage war with the truth of God’s Word!

 

“The men who …

“The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day.” – E. M. Bounds

Never underestimate the role of prayer in the work of evangelism.

Foundational Characteristics Of Missional Leaders

By Gary Rohrmayer

One of my favorite leadership books is “Be, Know, Do: Leadership the Army Way” by Frances Hesselbein and General Eric K. Shinski (USA Ret.) This book takes a close look at the official Army Leadership Manual and applies its principles to the corporate and civic leadership realms. Here is the Army’s definition of leadership, “Leadership is influencing people, by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization”. (pg 5) This definition has three words that stand out to me: influencing, operating and improving. Influencing: motivating and loving others in the mission for the mission. Operating: creating plans, developing systems and managing their execution so that the mission is achieved. Improving: adding value to those around you and to the organization for the betterment of the mission.

So what does a missional leader look like in a local church? Here are eight qualities of those leaders who are seeking to align themselves and their churches with God‘s mission.

1. They are passionate followers of Christ.

Their leadership flows out of their relationship with Jesus and his missional call on their lives. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”. (John 15:5 NIV) Cultivating spiritual intimacy is essential for leaders to live a vibrant missional lifestyle. For the leader to hear and obey God they must first love God.

As a new believer I read a lengthy biography of George Mueller written by A.T. Peirson. George Mueller lived during the 19th century. He was a rebellious young man who came to faith in Christ at the age of 20 and shook up the world with his humble faith and his passionate devotion for God. Four things that motivated me out of that biography were:  Read more of this post