Our friend Preston Greene has a new book entitled “Religion vs Jesus Do vs Done.” The subtitle is “Explanation of scripture the “religious” use to deny salvation by grace alone.”
There is much confusion, among believers and religious non-believers alike, on the various meanings of the terms “fruit” and “fruits” in scripture.
Preston’s book has a chapter called “Fruit Inspectors” that does a great job in clearing up a lot of this confusion. The chapter is presented in its entirety below:
Fruit inspector is a term used to describe the religious. What is fruit inspecting? Well, it is what the religious use to see if a person is saved or not. The fruits of the Spirit are listed in Galatians 5 and they are: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. The religious inspect you to see if you are bearing these fruits. If you do not, they tell you, “You must not be saved.” They might also proclaim, “Fruits are the evidence of salvation; they prove you are saved.” They use Matthew 7:15-20 and John 15:6 to show one is going to hell for not producing these fruits. Are the religious correct in their thoughts? Of course not. We will review both the fruits of the Spirit as well as Matthew 7 and John 15:6. First, let us put on our thinking caps and ask ourselves a few questions.
1. Can an unsaved person show love?
2. Can an unsaved person show joy?
3. Can an unsaved person show longsuffering towards humanity (through charity)?
4. Can unsaved people promote peace (Gandhi)?
If you are honest, the obvious answer is yes to all the questions. Let’s take this a step further, shall we?
1. Do Jehovah’s Witnesses show these fruits? (If you didn’t know, they don’t believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and think you have to earn salvation).
2. How about Mormons? Do they show fruits of the Spirit?
3. Do peace loving Muslims show any of these fruits?
Again, the answers to these questions are an astounding YES. Are these groups saved? No. If unsaved people show these fruits, and many in abundance, why does the religious use “fruits” as a gauge to determine salvation? Hmmmmmmm. Do you know who else shows these “fruits” according to the Bible? You may be surprised to learn not only unsaved people show these attributes, but also those who minister to Satan. Matthew 7, in reference to false prophets, reads:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt 7:15). Notice, they are outwardly sheep, thus showing “fruits of the Spirit”.
We also read in 2 Corinthians 11:13 and 14:
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
Do you see it? False apostles transform themselves into the apostles of Christ, thus showing fruits of the Spirit. This is also true of Satan, who transforms himself into an angel of light, thus showing fruits of the Spirit.
Let’s take a look at fruits from a saved perspective. The church at Corinth was carnal, but were babes in Christ (1 Cor 3:1-3). They were a saved church; sanctified (1:2). However, they were sinning all over the place. Some of their sins were envying, strife, and divisions (3:3). A believer has relations with his stepmother (1 Cor 5:5), there were lawsuits among the believers (1 Cor 6:7) there was fornication (1 Cor 7:2), there was drunkenness at the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:21). How many fruits of the Spirit were they showing? Not many, but they were saved.
With reason and scripture we can conclude that fruits of the Spirit are not evidence of salvation. If the unsaved can do them without the Holy Spirit and saved people can all but ignore them, why do the religious insist it is mandatory that they should be exhibited? Because that’s what the “religious” do. Their mantra of “do” for salvation exceeds Jesus’s “done”. What about Matthew 7:15-20 and John 15:6?
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down,and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15-20).
From a first look at this passage, it appears that if one does not produce fruit, he or she is going to hell. First, this passage is about false prophets (verse 15), not the born again believer. Verse 16 reads, “You will know them (false prophets) by their fruits.” Well, this is not referring to fruits of the Spirit, as Satan presents himself as an angel of light. Notice verse 18: “a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit”. Do you sin? Then guess what, you are not a good tree. The only good tree is Jesus. Jesus said, “Why callest me thou good? There is none good but God” (Luke 18:19). Then we get to verse 20, which reads, “Wherefore by their fruits you will know them.” Well, if false apostles transform themselves into apostles of Christ and Satan presents himself as an angel of light, what does “fruit” mean? The answer is in Luke, which talks about the SAME thing.
For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart HIS MOUTH SPEAKETH. (Luke 6:43-45)
This is what fruit means in this passage. It is doctrine and what that doctrine produces (fruit). There are only two ways to see false prophets. One, if they prophesy something and it does not come to pass then they are not from God (Duet 18:22). The second area is “what is coming out of their mouths”. If you study your Bible and learn, you can tell someone is false by the words they speak. Bad doctrine, or false doctrine, will not produce for the kingdom. For example, what type of fruit were the Pharisees producing? What does Scripture teach us?
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matt 23:15).
Their fruit was to proclaim salvation by the works of the law to their disciples, to root their disciples in that doctrine that they became more a child of hell then their teachers! This was the “fruit” of the Pharisees (ClearGospel.org). As a result, we need to abide in Jesus (correct doctrine) to produce fruit (converts) for the kingdom.
This leads us to John 15:6, “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.” First, what did Jesus say to do for salvation from hell? Go back to the chapter, What Does It Mean to Believe?. Jesus said to believe (trust) in Him for salvation. IF you have done this, you have abided in Jesus to do what was needed to have everlasting life. Remember, Jesus promised not to cast you out; He will never lose you and nothing will pluck you out of His hand (John 6:39 and John 10:28). Jesus CANNOT contradict Himself. Second, Jesus is talking to believers (disciples). Look what he says starting in verse 3.
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; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am 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. 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. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15:3-8)
Notice verse 3: “ye are clean”. These were already saved people—Jesus’s disciples. Jesus then tells them that He is the vine and that they can produce nothing without Him. However, there is that word “fire” again… but do you remember Jesus’s promises? He promised to not cast you out and to never lose you. As a result, the already saved disciples could NOT go to hell. What, then, is this “fire” spoken about? A word may have different meanings based on context.
1. Baptism can refer to water, fire, Holy Spirit
2. Judgment can refer to hell, God’s discipline or the judgment seat of Christ
3. Saved (delivered) can refer to hell, God’s wrath, temporal death
4. Dead can mean unsaved or useless.
We cannot assume the meaning of this verse means being cast into hell just because the word “fire” is used. We clearly see that salvation is FREE (Rom 5:15-20; Eph 2:8,9; Rom 3:24-28, Rom 6:23). IF it’s free, then it can’t be a “trade” for fruit bearing. Another question—how much fruit did the thief on the cross bear? None.
Jesus uses this as an “idiom” or metaphor. IF one does not abide in him, he or she is “useless”. Useless branches are tossed away. This does not mean saved people can go to hell. That would contradict so many passages of scripture. Jesus is just saying that if you don’t abide in him (to bear fruit), then you are as useless as a branch bearing no fruit and will be set aside. In other words “God won’t use you”. Can a believer produce no fruit and go to heaven? YES. The Bible is clear. Salvation is by grace through faith in the gospel of Jesus. In 1 Cor 3:11-15 we read how we, as born again believers, will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, where our works will be tested for reward. Some will have all their works burnt up, but they themselves will be saved. If they had “borne fruit”, that fruit would not have been burnt up, but rewarded. We conclude with verse 8, which tells us the context of the passage. Salvation is NOT in view here. Discipleship is in view here: “so shall ye be my disciples”. Salvation and discipleship— always keep them separate.
For salvation, Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30). For discipleship (service) Jesus said “pick up your cross and follow me”. Discipleship is NOT easy with a light burden. They are talking about two different things. The religious confuse salvation and discipleship; please don’t make the same mistake. Salvation is FREE. Discipleship is costly, BUT will be rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ. If you abide in Him, you can bear much fruit! Are you in the doctrine of Jesus or the doctrine of the Pharisees (religion)? The parable of the publican and the Pharisee is a great illustration for this chapter.
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
What should we take away from THIS parable?
1. The Pharisee “trusted in himself”, that he was righteous. (verse 9)
2. The Pharisee actually gave credit to God. (verse 11)
3. He had good works. He fasted and tithed. (verse 12)
4. Was the Pharisee showing “fruit” by his works? According to religion’s definition, YES he was.
5. The publican simply asked for mercy, admitting he was a sinner.
6. The Pharisee was NOT justified (see the word rather in verse 14), but the publican was justified.
With regards to FRUIT, of the two (Pharisee and publican), who was showing more fruit?
RELIGION would say, “the Pharisee”. However, the Pharisee left UNJUSTIFIED.
As a result of the passages shown in this chapter, we can conclude…
1. Fruit is not needed for salvation.
2. Fruit is not always fruits of the Spirit, as the unsaved can show these fruits.
3. Fruit can be bad, as the fruit of the Pharisees sent people to hell.
4. Fruit is NOT the evidence of salvation, as Satan presents himself as an angel of light.
5. Fruit is not produced by EVERY Christian (see 1 Cor 3:11-15).