The Signs Of Fruitfulness
You don’t have to stop and scrape the barrel if God has been doing something in your life.
Alright. Thank you very much and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? You’re doing all right? Oh, I’m fine. Thank you. I feel great. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah! It’s great to be alive. I’ve just been praying that God might put His love and His truth in my voice as I speak with you, certainly in my heart and in my mind, first of all. I want these broadcasts to be a source of inspiration and help and comfort and assurance and encouragement to all of you who listen. May God grant that prayer today by His grace.
Well, the last time we got together, we were just finishing a little rundown of this concept of living by faith in the love of God. Love as the very atmosphere of your life, your lifestyle. And you add all of this by faith. This is something you take by faith and then you work at it in obedience to your blessed Lord.
“Walk in love,” said Paul, “as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us.” You can will to open your life and heart to other people for Jesus’ sake. Divine love is not a romantic response to circumstances. Divine love, Calvary love, agape love, what we’re talking about here is something, the result of your commitment to the Lord Jesus and your deliberate opening of your heart to those who have need around you. Walk in love. How? Just like the Lord loved us. We were unlovely and unwilling and enemies, but he took us in anyway and He gave Himself for us. What an example. What a challenge. But there it is, and you may have it all by faith. You open your life to the Lord Jesus Christ’s indwelling Holy Spirit by faith and He does the work within you that results in things you do and say and attitudes you manifest, all of which add up to proving that there is divine Calvary love involved in your relationships in life.
Now, we go on in II Peter Chapter 1, he says, “If 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.” if these things — now, these things are what we’ve just been talking about, what you add by faith — virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and Calvary love, “If these things,” said he, “are in you and abound”, they’ll have some results.
Little words to study here, “if these things are in you…” Now, that’s an interesting verb form there in your Greek New Testament. Thayer’s Lexicon says that in this particular case, it means if these things are in you in terms of really having them and having them as your own, it means “I have it. It’s mine.” Isn’t that something? “I have it. It’s mine,” which immediately reminds us that you can be as academic as you please about the Scriptures and still be barren and unfruitful. It has to come to the place where you say, “I’ve got it. It’s mine.” By faith, I took it and God gave it and I’m living it. “It’s mine.”
There used to be a song that different ones sang. I remember Bill Karle singing this as a solo oftentimes as we traveled with him, “Oh, how well do I remember how I struggled day by day for I” — I forget the words —“ that my sins were washed away. But at last His Spirit met me and like sparks from smoothed steel just so quick, salvation reached me. Oh, praise God. I know it’s real. Yes, it real. It’s real. Oh, I know it’s real. Praise God. My doubts are settled and I know, I know it’s real.” Remember that old song? How Bill Karle used to sing it with his glorious bass voice. That’s what we’re talking about. “I got it. It’s mine.” That’s the word that Peter uses here. He says if these things be in you in the sense that you can say, “It’s mine. I got it,” then he says you’re going to be fruitful.
Where do you stand in all of this? Can you say concerning that list of things that you can I can add by faith virtue, knowledge, a real experience with God, temperance, inner strength, patience, the quality of not giving up or blowing up, godliness, the quality of God in your life, brotherly love, and Calvary love? Can you say that these things are yours? Well, they can be. You can start today. It’s not too late. You start today by faith saying, “Lord, by faith I receive all that you’ve got for me.” And then you go down the list and you think and pray about it day by day and God begins to work in your life. “It’s mine.”
Now, he says if these things are in you in the sense that you can say “they’re mine,” and if they abound, and that means if they’re spilling over. The word “abound” actually means overflow, spill over, super abound, full to the rim, and spilling over. That’s what it means. It’s the verb “pleonazo,” spilling over, full, overflowing. Now, that’s the normal Christian life. The normal Christian life is live out of the overflow not out of the scrapings. You want to embarrass most Christians, just say, “What’s the Lord been doing for you lately? What’s new from the Lord?” And there would be a small silence and the clearing of the throat, “Well…” They’ll try to dig up something. And you know because it takes a while you know that they’re scraping the bottom of the spiritual barrel. There’s nothing there. That’s a pretty good index of whether or not the individual has been close to the Lord recently.
At the National Religious Broadcasters Convention where I had some small responsibility in leadership, I was privileged then to meet with numbers of people who have a significant ministry in radio and television. One of them was going to be a speaker at a major session. I approached him. Well, I might just well tell you who it was. It was our Brother Stanley who has the In Touch Ministry from Atlanta. Many of you either look in by way of television or listen on the radio. A great man of God. A good friend. So we were standing and talking. I looked at him and I said, “Hey, tell me, what is God doing in your own life these days?” Without any hesitation, he looked back at me and he said, “He’s emphasizing the importance of personal holiness, my brother.” Just like that. The man had had some contact with God. He was spilling over. You understand me?
You don’t have to stop and scrape the barrel if God has been doing something in your life, if these things are in you and if they’re spilling over, you’re going to be fruitful. Now, this is something you can’t fake and the only answer to it if you’re hungry for the reality of what we’re talking about here is get on your knees and seek God and let His Holy Spirit who indwells the believer speak to you through the word and do a work in your own heart, and you’ll find there’s plenty that’s going on there and you’ll find also as a result. This is not something that you try to achieve. You don’t try to achieve the overflowing life. It’s a result. You’ll find as a result of seeking God and leveling with Him and letting Him work in your heart and mind and conscience and will. You’ll find there’s plenty of spilling over. Involuntarily, your life will be showing that Jesus our blessed Lord has been doing a work in your life by his Holy Spirit. If things are in you in the sense that you can say “They’re mine” and if they abound in the sense of really overflowing, your cup so full that it runs over. The Psalm has said in Psalm 23, “My cup runneth over.” An overflowing life is normal to the Christian. You don’t have to dredge it up. It just spills out if you’ve been with your blessed Lord and He’s filled you up. It’s a good truth, isn’t it?
Now, he said if these things are in you in the sense that you can say it’s mine and if they abound in the sense that it’s spilling over, they make you neither barren nor unfruitful. And here’s a double negative but we’ll look at it just the way he says it, neither barren. Now, that’s a word that Thayer, my Greek Lexicon friend here, says means lazy and shunning the labor one ought to perform. That is what Thayer says is the basic meaning of II Peter 1:8. He also says it’s also used of fields non-productive. Non-productive. Lazy, shunning the labor one ought to perform, and thus non-productive. That’s the package. Now, that is the condition of ever so many people who, although they have a form of godliness, don’t seem really to be achieving anything. Nothing is going on, as we say, but the rent. Lazy, shunning the labor one ought to perform, and thus non-productive.
He said here’s a cure for that condition. It isn’t found in lecturing. It isn’t found in exhortation. It isn’t found in discipline. It isn’t found in punishment. It isn’t found in threats. What is it found in? It’s found in taking by faith these qualities that spill over out of your life. And as a result, there’s blessed God-given action and fruitfulness. So out of that negative word which means lazy, shunning the labor one ought to perform and thus non-productive. You get the positive message that you can by faith reverse that condition which is typical of so many and you can become fruitful. Then the second negative in that verse, that 8th verse, is unfruitful. The literal meaning is exactly that. The word “karpos” is the word for “fruit” and the little alpha negative particle in front of it “akarpos” means “no fruit.” No fruit.
Our Lord Jesus spoke about that condition. “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit,” isn’t that right? “A branch that doesn’t bear fruit,” it says, “men gather them and cast them into the fire and they’re burned.” Oblivion, the loss of your ministry is the result of fruitlessness. “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away. If a man abideth not in me, he is cast forth,” verse 6 of John 15, “as a branch and is withered and men gather them and cast them into the fire and they’re burned. Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit. Ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you and ordained you that ye should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain.” Fruitfulness. Fruitfulness. “Unfruitful” means “no fruit” and that means the loss of your ministry and your opportunity. Oh, specialize, beloved, in being in the presence of your Savior so that He can give you the spilling over of a fruitful life.
Dear Father, today, oh, make us fruitful by Thy presence within us, by Word working through us. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Until I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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