Monday, June 5, 2023

Heb. 6:7-8: Fruit on the Tree Means Life in the Tree

There are two "doctors" who live on my country road in Virginia. One is a professor of ancient Greek. The other is the local dentist. Oddly enough, both of us own farms. One grows hay. The other recently planted a gorgeous vineyard. 

I love watching him and his kids working on their vines. It's a reminder to me of a great truth we find in Heb. 6:7-8, the "forgotten verses" of this famous warning passage in Hebrews (Heb. 6:4-8). Here we find an illustration drawn from agriculture to show that how one responds to their circumstances reflects an underlying condition. A field that produces fruit is a source of joy to the farmer. But a field that fails to be fruitful is rejected by the farmer. It is no longer worth the expenditure of his labor so he burns it to the ground. The principle is clear: fruitfulness is a sign of the condition of one's heart. I like to put it this way to my students: where there is fruit on the tree, there is life in the tree. 

And this is precisely why the author is "persuaded of better things" concerning his readers, "things pertaining to salvation" (Heb. 6:9-10). For he has seen the fruit in their lives and has concluded that they are truly saved. In other words, their works display their genuine conversion. This is especially seen in the way they had shown love by helping their fellow Christians. Note -- and note carefully! -- that this ministry is still being performed. We see this in the significant shift from the aorist participle ("you have ministered") to the present participle ("you are ministering"). Yesterday's fruit is not enough. There must be continuous fruit bearing. 

The older I get, the more aware I become of the need to bear daily fruit for Christ. Bearing abundant fruit is the calling of every believer in Christ. And it is as much our calling when we are employed as when we are retired. It is as much a requirement when we are young as when we are old. When we abide in Christ, he abides in us. Like the branches in my neighbor's vineyard, we are to abide in the vine for the purpose of bearing fruit. This is one of the greatest joys any believer can know. And it is the fruit that God produces. 

What a wonderful (and challenging) truth that is to me.