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...

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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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House-2-House

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Let me begin by first putting to rest the myth that door- to-door evangelism doesn’t work! If that were true then God would not have given us the command to “Go” into the entire world and preach the gospel (Matthew 10:7; 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 9:2, 60; Acts 5:20; 2 Tim 4:2). Our responsibility is to obey our Lord’s instructions leaving the end results up to the Lord. If the objective is to see immediate mass numbers of conversions, baptisms, and increased church attendance, then I would agree that it is not effective.  In reality, most bible- based outreaches do not produce results like the one we read about  at Pentecost in chapter two of the book of Acts. However, an unbiased evaluation of scripture will lead any objective reader to conclude that preaching or teaching the gospel to lost people is the message emphasized or communicated in the Bible.

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15)

These rhetorical questions asked by the apostle Paul stress the importance of believers communicating the gospel to lost people wherever a witness is needed. A clear presentation of the gospel must occur in order for unbelievers to believe in the One True God. Darrell W. Robinson writes in his book titled Total Church Life

“Each church has adequate personnel to evangelize its community. The personnel are those in the pews every Sunday. You in Acts 1:8 is plural. Jesus is speaking to the entire membership of the church. His call to every Christian is to witness. There is no choice. We have no option. Every Christian is to witness for Jesus. The only choice is to obey or disobey. A Christian may be a disobedient witness or an obedient witness. His witness may be negative or positive, but he is a witness.”

How does the church accomplish this task in a time or epoch when scripture describes men and women rejecting the truth in the last days? Believers must continue to obey the command or instructions given to them by our Commander and Chief, Jesus Christ. That is “Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23) Jesus began His ministry by commissioning and assembling men to “Go” where the lost people were! “Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come” (Luke 10:1) and to reach them with His gospel. “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). After His ascension into heaven, His apostles, empowered by and filled with the Holy Spirit, carried the “Good News” to the surrounding cities as well as to the world.

“Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven…Now when they heard this they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren what shall we do?” (Acts 2:5, 36)

  • “And every day in the temple and from house to house they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5:42)

  • • “And Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.” (Acts 8:5)

  • • “…And were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.” (Act 8:25)

  • • “Arise and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza…And Philip opened his mouth and beginning from this Scripture he reached Jesus to him.” (Acts 8:35)

  • • “But Philip found himself at Azotus; and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities, until he came to Caesarea.” (Acts 8:40)

  • • “…Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying He is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:19-20)

  • • “…And it became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.” (Acts 9:42)

  • • “And they said, “Cornelius a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well-spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you…and he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household…” (Acts 10:22; 11:14)

  • • “…So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose…to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone…But thee were some of them men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also preaching the Lord Jesus…” (Acts 11:19-20

  • • …Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul…And when they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews…And when they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos…Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happended, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord” (Acts 13:2, 4-5, 12)

  • • “…But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch…And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to our fathers…And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region…” (Acts 13:32, 48)

  • • “…And it came about that in Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a great multitude believed both of Jews and of Greeks.” (Acts 14:1)

  • • “…they became aware of it and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra, and Derbe, and the surrounding region; and there they continued to preach the gospel.” (Acts 14:6-7)

  • • “…And the next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe. And after they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch…” (Acts 14:20-21)

  • • “…And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia…” (Acts 14:25)

  • • “And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them…to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia…” (Acts 16:10, 12)

  • • “…they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Pauls custom, he went to them and reasoned with them from the Scriptures…” (Acts 17:2)

  • • “…And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea…for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily…”(Acts 17:10-11)

  • • “…Now those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens;…So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.” (Acts 17:15,17)

  • • “…After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth…And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks…” (Acts 18:1,4)

  • • “…And they came to Ephesus and he left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jew…So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing…” (Acts 18:19, 19:20)

  • • “…how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable and teaching you publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20)

  • • “…Brethren and fathers, hear my defense…And they listened to him up to this statement…” (Acts 22:1,22)

  • • “…And Paul looking intently at the Council…And as he said this there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees…” (Acts 23:1, 7)

  • • “…And Agrippa said to Paul, You are permitted to speak for yourself. Then Paul stretched out his hand and proceeded to make his defense…but I utter words of sober truth…” (Acts 26:1, 25)

  • • “…and thus we came to Rome…And he stayed two full years…preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.” (Acts 28:14, 30-31)

The cities mentioned throughout the book of Acts are a reflection of God’s purposeful objective of reaching all people groups, nations, and tongues. Those who heard and believed the gospel were not only saved but added to new church plants in Jerusalem, Philippi, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Thessalonica, etc. The disciples of Christ were adamant about the gospel reaching the world and were willing to endure hardships (stoning, imprisonment, beatings, death, being shipwrecked, persecutions, ostracism, prosecutions, and more) so that the name of Jesus Christ might be heard. Not only must there be a willingness to preach the “Good News” to strangers but the message must be truthful and direct.

The goal is not to add notches to an evangelism belt or members to the church roll but to allow the Holy Spirit convict men of sin, righteousness and judgment. This is simply done through a presentation of the gospel. No tricks, gimmicks, entertainment, or strategic moves are necessary for men to be saved. Robinson states, “The Holy Spirit equips the witness to share Jesus Christ with others. Apart from Holy Spirit power, the presentation of the gospel is accompanied by a dreadfulness that kills. It is the Spirit who “makes alive.” The flow of Holy Spirit power through the life of a church and an individual is directly proportional to obedience in witness. Where witnessing is minimized, there is little evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit.”

“…but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulteration the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God… And even if our gospel is veiled it is veiled to those who are perishing…” (2 Corinthians 4:2-3)

The idea conveyed by the apostle Paul is the common business practice of dishonestly diluting wine with water. Paul was falsely accused by false teachers of perverting the teachings of Jesus and the Old Testament. Similar warnings must be issued against modern day evangelists about reducing the potency of God’s Word by adding block parties, rock music, food or clothing, and other enticements to lure people to faith in Jesus Christ. Not one of the above mentioned scriptures suggest the use of any ploys to appeal to the lost. The Lord makes it abundantly clear to the evangelist in chapter ten of the book of Romans “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Roman 10:17)

How to begin a door2door conversation? (Example)Brick Archway Number 51

Evangelist-My name is ________, and I am a member of ________ church. We are in our community today inquiring about where people will spend eternity at the moment of death. Considering all the death, murders, and killings reported in our newspapers and television broadcasts, death is not only common but often it is unexpected. (Boston Bombing)
Do you know where you will go if you were to die today, tomorrow, next week, etc.? If you have a moment I would like to explain to you from scripture important information about God and eternity. May I come in?
Begin by praying for the individuals involved (Believer and Unbeliever) and spend some time learning about their spiritual background, use the first five verses in chapter thirteen of Luke to initiate an eternal conversation.