Category Archives: Frutifulness

Christ Our Greatest Treasure


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Today we find ourselves in the third chapter of Paul’s letter to this church in the city of Philippi. Throughout this letter of Philippians Paul has confronted these Christians with the need to embrace right thinking! Our thinking affects our living – what we believe, what our minds are occupied with will determine how we view life, and even our relationship with God.

What we value most will become the driving priority in our life – for some of us that may be fame, for others wealth, for others acceptance by the religious insiders of the day.  There were many in Jesus day who were His disciples secretly for fear of the Jews.

Since the time of Christ there have been many heresies promoted in the church. The word Heresy may be new to you, it simply refers to a belief or teaching contrary to orthodox biblical christianity. Many of these false teachings center upon the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Let me share a few examples of what I am talking about:

On the TrinityModalism, Sabellius (3rd century). What is it?  God is only one divine being, who plays different roles at different times. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not distinct persons of the same essence, but different modes or expressions of a single person. Modalism naturally leads to Patripassianism—the belief that the Father literally suffered on the cross. Key text? Philippians 2:6: “. . . being in the form of God . . .”

Where does it show up today? Oneness Pentecostalism believes that God’s three modes of existence can act simultaneously, though God is still only one person.  Perhaps the most famous Modalist of our day is Bishop TD Jakes.

Subordinationism – Who taught it? Eusebius of Caesarea (263–339). What is it? The Son and the Spirit are divine persons, distinct from the Father but inferior to him. All three persons are truly God, but they exist in a hierarchy of power and authority. Key text? Matthew 26:39: “. . . not as I will, but as you will.”

Where does it show up today? According to a 2014 LifeWay Research study, 22 percent of evangelicals believe the Father is more divine than the Son.

On Jesus Christ – Arianism, Arius (c. 256–336). The Son as Word (Logos, in Greek) was created by God before time. He is not eternal or perfect like God, though he was God’s agent in creating everything else. Key Text? John 1:14: “The Word [is] the only Son, who came from the Father.”

Where does it show up today? Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is God’s only direct creation, and that everything else was created by Christ. Jesus died for our sins, but he is not equal with God, who is not part of a Trinity.

Paul battled a different Heresy in his day.  A group of people known as the Judaizers were on Paul’s heels corrupting the gospel by adding to salvation the requirement of circumcision. For hundreds and even thousands of years circumcision had been the cultural symbol of God’s separated people, the uncircumcised were those who were “heathen” outside the bounds of God’s gracious favor. It was unthinkable to these well-meaning Jewish people that converts to Christianity did not need to be circumcised to be accepted by Christ. So they followed Paul throughout his ministry suggesting to the Gentile converts that they needed faith in Jesus plus be circumcised according to the law of Moses. Paul blasts them in vs. 1-3.

We may be tempted to think in similar ways: I will be more accepted by God if I __________. We may feel as though we must perform or that some achievement will firm up our acceptance with Christ. We may feel that the ritual keeping of certain rules or conforming to certain criteria makes us righteous and therein we find our confidence.

In our text Paul is pointing to the fact that mature Christians realize that Christ is our greatest treasure – we love Him, we relate with Him, we live through Him, we have our all in all in Him alone!

Is Christ your greatest treasure?  Three statements to help you evaluate yourself:

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Christ is your greatest treasure when:

YOUR CONFIDENCE OF ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD IS NOT IN INHERITED POSITION, HUMAN ACHIEVEMENTS OR EXTERNAL RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES (2-7)

My confidence is not in human credentials or achievements to bring me close to God, or to make me spiritual, or to make me more accepted by Christ.

Note Paul’s list of inherited privileges (4-5)

  • Not proselyte from paganism – circumcision, he was an 8-dayer. Insider by birth.
  • Racially a pureblood – People of Israel.
  • Tribe of Benjamin – only tribe to remain faithful to David, also the tribe that returned to the land after the captivity.
  • Hebrew of Hebrews – best education, spoke Hebrew and Aramaic

Note Paul’s list of personal achievements

  • Pharisee – separated one, voluntarily committed to keeping hundreds of commands from the oral law.
  • Zeal – led a terror campaign against the church
  • Blameless – led an exemplary life according to Pharisaic traditions.

All human advantage that I may have achieved is a net loss in gaining acceptance with God (7)

All the above advantages equal zero on the accounting page. The only credit that I have is Christ. My all in all is Christ!

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EVERYTHING ELSE HAS THE VALUE OF RUBBISH IN COMPARISON TO HIM (8-11)

His righteousness is the only righteousness that I am concerned with obtaining. (9)

  • This righteousness is not found by keeping the law
  • This righteousness is found in Christ alone – when I get Christ I get everything!
  • This righteousness is appropriated by faith, not by inheritance or achievements like Paul listed above.
  • He is the treasure that I am willing to sell everything I have to obtain (Mt 13:44-45)!  Imagine renting a field to plant a garden and as you are turing the soil your hoe uncovers the queen’s diamond!  Quickly you cover the diamond and rush to home where you begin to sell everything you own, you house, your car, your appliances even your clothes so you can raise enough money to buy that field.  You wife thinks your are crazy, you friends can’t understand what you are doing, but you know that if you can just buy the field, the treasure is yours! Jesus is that treasure!

The road leading to the college where I work runs behind a local market.  Recently the city place a large dumpster along the road.  You can imagine the smell, flies and rotting food and garbage in that dumpster on these hot October days.  The other day as I drove past on my way home there was a man sitting on the edge of the dumpster with one leg inside leaning over and picking rotten pieces of food.   That is right where we are sometimes – sitting with one leg in the dumpster searching for for significance, acceptance and joy!  What are you doing? Why are you dumpster diving when in Christ you have it all?

My obsession is Christ (10-11)

  • That I may know Him – Christ Jesus my Lord! Speaks of personal, intimate knowledge of Christ not a casual acquaintance or knowledge about Him. (only time used this way by Paul)
  • That I may know His power – in the midst of my weakness.
  • That I may share in His sufferings – this identity carries with it opposition by those who reject Christ – what is meant by carrying the cross.

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ALL YOUR FOCUS AND ENERGIES ARE CONSUMED IN MAKING CHRIST AND HIS PURPOSES THE EXPERIENTIAL REALITY OF YOUR LIFE (12-16)

Passionate grasping after Christ – Lit. To take by force.

  • Forget the past – don’t look back, failures or successes
  • Focus on the goal – fixed eye on the finish line
  • Strain forward with all energy and effort to reach it

Why do some people fail to press on?

  • Diverted by the the world – confidence in the flesh
  • Discouraged by personal suffering – Paul’s sufferings, stresses could tempt him to quit, but instead he pressed on. (10, 2 Co. 11:18-29)
  • Deceived by misplaced confidences – (12a) I have achieved mentality. Paul affirms that after 30+ years of ministry he has not arrived. He was after all these years still straining to know Christ. (I Co 9:27)

Here is Paul’s conclusion: Mature believers think like Paul thinks! If you don’t think like this then we will trust God to reveal these truths to you. (15)

Is Christ your greatest treasure? If you have placed your confidence and hope of salvation in your family positon, your religion, law-keeping or your zealous good works – recognize this cannot produce righteousness for you. Righteousness comes only through faith in Christ alone.

If you have been striving to be accepted by God – realize that your acceptance is complete in Christ alone.

If you have been living as a Christian in pursuit of other things – pursue Christ alone for He is your greatest treasure! Don’t sift through the rubbish, embrace Christ alone as your greatest treasure.

Press on! Don’t go backward

May we all die running!

Building A Life of Stewardship


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What do you own that you did not receive?  You might respond, “But I have worked hard to gain what I now possess!”  Where did you get the ability to learn what you now know that allows you to work hard?  Where did you get the health and strength to carry out the tasks? Luck? Chance – is this whole thing one big crap-shoot like the evolutionist would have us believe?  Is is Karma – a little good a little bad just happens?

Listen to what God says:

To the Israelites God says, “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth…” (Deut 8:18)

To those who where trying to find some some leg-up advantage over other people based upon their identification with a prominent preacher God says,

For who makes you to differ from one another? And what do you have that you did not receive?… (1 Cor. 4:7)

Ever wonder why there are those who serve God who prosper, but there are also those who despise God who also prosper in this life?  Listen to Jesus:

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who cures you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecutor you, that you may be sons of your Father in heave; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matt. 5:44-45)

All of life is entrusted to us as a stewardship:  Our time, our world (creation), our bodies, our families, gifts & talents, knowledge, possessions and money, and the gospel. There is nothing that we have that was not given to us by God

CLARIFYING OUR TERMS:

  • A steward is a servant entrusted with the responsibility of managing someone else’s property. He is expected to discharge his duties in the owners best interest.
  • He has been given the resources and authority to discharge his duties.

CONTEXT:

The gospel of Luke was written so we would know what Jesus was really like.  It is a historical orderly account of Jesus life and ministry. (Lk1:1-4)

Jesus is telling a parable (11). A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. There are two reasons that Christ told this story:

  1. He was going up to he was going up to Jerusalem – triumphal entry.
  2. Jews thought the kingdom would immediately be established

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO THIS PARABLE:

There is an important bit of history behind this parable that would have been fresh in the minds of the people listening to Jesus. Herod the Great was king when Jesus was born. Archelaus the son of Herod the Great was appointed by his father to be King over Judea four days before his death in 4BC.

Archelaus was a sensual vain man notorious for not keeping his word.  Once when the Pharisees demanded the removal of the Saduccean High Priest, Archelaus agreed but said only after his kingship had been confirmed by Augustus.  The Pharisees pushed the issue and the day before Passover troops were sent into the court of the temple and 3000 Jews were massacred.

Soon after the massacre Archelaus traveled to Rome to be confirmed by Caesar.  A delegation of 50 Jews from Judea followed him to Rome to petition for the exclusion of the Herodians from government.  These men were joined by 8,000 Jews living in Rome at the time.  Cesar Augustus confirmed Archelaus anyway. When Archelaus returned to Jerusalem he killed all those who had complained against him.

You can see why this parable would have grabbed the attention of the Jews listening to Jesus.

THE COMMAND IS CLEAR (12-13)

The command was given by the proper authority. (12)

Nobleman was going away to get a kingdom.  He had the right to give his servants instructions about what He wanted them to do!  As King, he had the absolute right to rule over his subjects.  the King gave them a job to do before his return.

The command was given to the right people (13)

They are identified as “his” servants.  They belonged to him, and they had pledged their allegiance to him to serve him.  These servants in v13 were different from the “citizens” in v 14.

The word servants is the Greek word doulos.  This was a servant whose life was completely at the disposal of the master.  He owned them.  It speaks of a person who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will altogether consumed in the will of the master.  He has no rights, no will of his own, he is completely given over to the will of another. this is not referring to a hired servant.

In the New Testament there are two Greek words translated Servant:

  • Diakonos – A hired servant, not a slave. The main emphasis of this word is on the service.
  • Doulos – A bondservant, one who is a slave.  The main reference in the use of this word is the relationship to the master and a state of servitude.

NOTE:  The difference in focus of the two words:  service vs. standing.  WHAT we are doing vs. WHO we are doing it for.

For the Jews hearing Jesus refer to a doulos, they would have naturally thought of the law of the Bond-slave found in Exodus 21:5-6.

In the OT there was a common practice of self-sale into slavery.  If the bond-slave was a Hebrew he was to serve six years and then be released.  All slaves were to be released with their families every 50th year – the year of Liberty  (Deut. 15:16).  If however, when the time came to grant the bond-slave his freedom he willingly requested to serve his master for life; he would submit to having a hole bored through the cartilage in his ear.  This was a permanent mark of identification as a slave.  Older people with holes in the ear to identify tribe.

The command was very specific

  1. They each were given the same amount. Received one Mina = 3 months wages.
  2. They were each given the same command – “Do business on my behalf until I get back.”
  3. They each were under the same obligation – This was not optional, if they felt like it or not, if it was convenient or not – he expected complete compliance

Lesson 1 – God is the owner of all assets (13)

Lesson 2 – God entrust us to accomplish His purposes on His behalf. (13)

THE CONTEXT IS CHALLENGING (14)

The Citizens Hate The King 

The citizens absolutely detested the king. In a similar way the world deeply hates Christ.  Jesus said to his disciples:

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

The Citizens Rebel Against The King’s rule

“We will not have” they rebelled, completely refused his rule.  This speaks of an act of violence or open resistance to an established government or ruler. Hatred and rebellion go together!

“Rule” speaks of structure, laws, authority.  They did not want him telling them what to do!

We are commissioned to make disciples by “Teaching them to obey all things that I have commanded you.” (Mt. 28.18-20).  You see we are happy to bow to a host of gods other than the Lord!

“What other gods could we have besides the Lord? Plenty. For Israel there were the Canaanite Baals, those jolly nature gods whose worship was a rampage of gluttony, drunkenness, and ritual prostitution. For us there are still the great gods Sex, Shekels, and Stomach (an unholy trinity constituting one god: self), and the other enslaving trio, Pleasure, Possessions, and Position, whose worship is described as “The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). Football, the Firm, and Family are also gods for some. Indeed the list of other gods is endless, for anything that anyone allows to run his life becomes his god and the claimants for this prerogative are legion. In the matter of life’s basic loyalty, temptation is a many-headed monster.” – JI Packer

Principle 3: Principle of Perseverance – God must be obeyed in spite of circumstances, obstacles or distractions.

HIS RETURN IS CERTAIN (15-21)

Evaluation of the Faithful Servants (15-19)

The hatred of the world has no power over the return of the king… He is coming back! (15a) When he comes there will be a reckoning. Servants will be called to give account of their stewardship.  These servants presented what they had done for the King.  The first 1,000% return the second 500% return (15b-16,18).

Each servant received the same commendation by the King.  “Well done good and faithful servant” (17,19).  They each were reward for their faithfulness (17,19).

Application: Faithful service results in greater opportunity and responsibility in the service of the King!

Lesson 4 – God expects us to be resourceful with what He has given us.

Lesson 5 – God will require that we give an account.

Lesson 6 – God will give greater responsibilities to those who have been faithful in smaller matters.

Evaluation of the Wicked Servant (20-21)

“Another kind of servant” (20)(Estes – another of a different kind.)  He refused to do business for the King  and returned the Mina.

Reasons: Because I feared you. This is from the word we get phobia.  This is a severe fear that is not in keeping with reality.  This servant had a wrong view of God, a wrong attitude toward God which led him to wrong conclusions about God and wrong actions toward God’s commands.

He accused the Master of greed: “you collect what you did not deposit” (21).  Charged him with taking what he did not work for.

THE JUDGE IS SOVEREIGN (22-27)

Wicked servants suffer loss (22-26)

The judge rules with sovereign authority.

The mouth reveals the heart (22). This servant did not live up to what he knew about the Master.  Jesus said, “Out of your mouth I will judge you.” (22)

It is out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Lk. 6.45).  If God were to judge you according to what has come out of your mouth this past week how would you fare?  What do you talk about?  What you talk about reveals what you think about!

God called him a wicked servant (22b) Why?  Something is expected of servants they are expected to obey what they have been told!

  • He knew the command – understood
  • He had the resources for the task
  • He had the ability to perform the task

King takes away his Mina and gives it to the one with ten. (24-26)

Lesson 7 – Use God’s resources rightly or loose everything!

Rebellious citizens will be destroyed (27)

  • Complete destruction of those who would not have Him rule over them.
  • Don’t live your life for Material goods that will perish – live your life for the Master!

 

What is required of God’s servants?

1Co.4:1-2 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.)

If Christ returns today will He find you faithful?  How are you using your talents, time and money?

The Church is a Field: The Goal is Quantity


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We have all seen the signs along the road saying, “Have you eaten today? Thank a farmer.” There is a lot of truth to that sign. We all need food to survive, to stay healthy, and to grow. As a boy, I grew up on a family farm. I remember the year my Dad told me to clear out an overgrown plot of land in order for us to plant a family garden. There was a lot of work to accomplish this. First we cleared the thick undergrowth. We then cut down some large trees to open up the land to the light of the sun. We had to dig out the roots and stumps. Next we had my uncle plow the ground, which revealed all the rocks we had to remove. Finally, the day arrived when we could plant the seeds in the ground. Before long we saw the desired plants grow, but along with them came weeds that needed to be removed on a regular basis. Just about the time we started to see produce reaching maturity the raccoons would come and eat it. They were as destructive and aggressive and Monkey’s can be here. So, I had to catch these animals to keep the vegetables safe. After all, the goal of a garden is produce – fruitfulness.

A plot of ground is full of potential. God created it with the capacity to grow an abundance of plants that we can eat. However, to turn a vacant field into a lush garden requires man to work at two things: (1) removing hindrances to fruitful production and (2) cultivating the ground to provide the best environment for production to occur. Well, this picture of a fruitful field is what the Apostle Paul uses to teach truths about what God intends for His church.

Two weeks ago Phil started a new series entitled “Pictures of the Church.” The first message was from 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 which shared the picture that “The Church is a Family.” In that message we saw that the goal is maturity. Today we continue this series and we will pick up where we left off in 1 Corinthians 3.

Big Idea: As a result of today’s message we will see that the church is a field and the goal is quantity. The goal is fruitfulness.

As we examine this picture of the church we must remember some things that Phil shared with us in our two-week introduction to defining what a church is. We must remember what the word church means. It comes from the Greek word, Ekklesia – which means called out ones. We still use it in our English language. The word eclectic comes from this Greek word. The church is an eclectic group of people that God has called out of the darkness of this sinful world to be separated for His special use. If you have turned to Jesus Christ in repentance of sin and faith in His work on the cross then you are part of the church. When you become a Christian you are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. To be a Christian is to be part of the church.

With that information in mind, let’s now think of today’s big idea again. The church is a field and the goal is quantity. As God’s field he wants to produce fruitful faith in each of us. So, by the end of today I hope each of us will leave here with specific things in mind that we can do to bear more spiritual fruit in our lives.

Let’s now turn to 1 Corinthians 3 and we will start by reading the passage that Phil preached on 2 weeks ago and then move on into the next section. As we read through these verses we see three things about this picture of the church as a field. Let me say up front, that the first point will consume most of our time together this morning. The last two points go by fairly quickly as our text does not have as much to say about them.

There are many roles involved with farming the field v. 5-6

We each have various roles when farming this field called the church. This image should come naturally from the typical farming methods in Zambia. I have a friend in Choma named Mike Beckett who owns Muumba Farms. He helped me see that in Zambia, the key to a productive farm is a large workforce that is broken into teams to accomplish different purposes. This is very different from farming in America where large farms can be worked by only a few men with lots of machinery. In the day Paul wrote to the Corinthians farming would have been very similar to what we still do in Zambia. There is one “farmer” with many employees. Each one has a job to do and their jobs differ from one another.

Some Plant

There is a lot of work involved in the planting (clearing, plowing, putting seed in ground). The human heart is the soil for spiritual growth. Think of Jesus’ Parable of the Sower from Matthew 13:3-9. There were many kinds of soil (hard soil, rocky soil, thorny soil, good soil). To get the first three soils to be productive there is work to be done. The hard soil could represent those of us who have become hardened to spiritual things because of how those who should be tending the soil are actually trampling it under foot. Some of you may have hard hearts in response to the hypocrisy you have seen from so-called Christians. Some of you may have hearts of rocky soil. There are stones of stubbornness that must be removed. When you hear the truth of God’s Word and it clashes with your worldview you don’t want to remove those boulders. You want to try to produce spiritual fruit, but your heart is too stony for the things of God to really take root. Some of you may be like the thorny soil. You genuinely want to grow, but there are worldly ideas that are choking out your growth. You are trying to cultivate spiritual things and worldly things at the same time. You are compromising to accommodate both views, but this will never lead to fruitfulness because the worldly weeds are stealing nutrients from the spiritual fruit. What needs to be done is some serious plowing, removing of stones, and plucking out of weeds by the very roots. This is work – hard work!

So, we have seen that in both a physical field and a spiritual field much work is necessary to increase productivity. A field is full of potential; but for that potential to be realized – to be actualized there is much work to be done. Yet, we must remember that despite all there is to be done; we do not accomplish the production. Our work in planting is to remove the obstacles and barriers to production and apply the truth of God’s Word – the seed. By removing the barriers it allows space and nutrients for the spiritual fruit to grow.

Some Water

Some other workers have a different focus than cultivating the soil, removing the weeds, and other barriers. Rather, they add the nutrients needed that were lacking in order to produce fruit, speed up production, and increase the yield. In a physical field these would be things like water and fertilizer. In the spiritual field we water by applying prayer and the Word of God for continued spiritual growth. This doesn’t always mean preaching a sermon or teaching a Bible Study. It can be much more informal than that. Adding the water of God’s Word could be speaking words of encouragement and accountability in our everyday conversations with those in the church and those that we are trying to bring to the Lord for salvation. So, we have seen that some plant and some water. Then, once we do that, it seems that nature takes its course. In a physical field, it is at this point that the natural process of germination and growth takes over. In the spiritual field, the Holy Spirit of God takes over to produce spiritual growth. We can be confident that once we do our part of applying the truth of God’s Word that the Holy Spirit will make good use of it. In Isaiah 55:11 God says, “My word will not return void, but will accomplish that which I sent it.”

Now, here is an important truth we cannot miss from this passage. If the church is a field and every Christian is part of the church then we are all both the soil and the laborers. We plant and water into the lives of others and let them do the same to us. Once the obstacles to spiritual growth are removed and the essential nutrients applied we get out of the way because God Himself produces the spiritual fruit.

God Produces the Growth

The Process We don’t do the production; God does. If someone puts his faith in Jesus after I share the gospel with that person I am not that one that saved him. Jesus saved him; I just cultivated the soil. Our work, our role is to optimize and maximize the fruitfulness by applying the nutrients that speed of growth and production. Yet, none of that work would accomplish anything if God had not already built in the mechanism for productivity. God has placed eternity in man’s hearts Ecclesiastes 3:11. Everyone knows that there is something more out there than just this life. God has placed eternity in man’s heart so we will know that after death there is something more. The question is, where will we spend eternity. To help man see the need for righteousness and forgiveness of sin God has given us a conscience (Romans 2:15). This is place of the knowledge of right and wrong. This is the natural contact point God has given to us all. Now, if we will just apply the truth of God’s Word and prayers of intercession to the conscience we will see a wondrous thing take place. We will see spiritual fruit sprout from what was once the dry, infertile soil of man’s heart. We will see the Holy Spirit bring to life what was once barren and useless soil overrun with the weeds and bush of sin. So, we have seen the process. Now let’s look at the products.

The Products – Fruitfulness First, let’s examine the fruit in our own lives. The Bible refers to this as the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-24). If God is really on the throne of our lives then the Holy Spirit will be free to control us and produce in us these 9 spiritual fruits. 1. Love 2. Joy 3. Peace 4. Patience 5. Kindness 6. Goodness 7. Faithfulness 8. Gentleness 9. Self-control Now, we know that the opposite of these 9 fruit are addressed in Galatians 5 also where a list of sins are recorded as the works of the flesh. We obviously know that we should avoid these and that if they are present in our lives that it is evidence of a serious problem. However, Satan is so clever that he has deceived many of us into thinking we have the fruit of the spirit when we really only have counterfeit fruit. It looks like real fruit but without the substance. Rather than a bowl of assorted fruit it is a bowl of wax fruit. It looks good, but tastes bad. These offer no real nourishment.

Sadly, many of us have settled for counterfeit spiritual fruit in our lives.

  • Authentic Fruit – Counterfeit Fruit:
  • Love – Selfish affection
  • Joy – Selfish elation – “I get blessed”
  • Peace – Indifference
  • Patience – Cynicism – “This is too small to be bothered about.”
  • Kindness – Selfish manipulation
  • Goodness (integrity) – Truth without love (I’m just being myself)
  • Faithfulness – Love without truth (being loyal when you should confront)
  • Gentleness (humility) – Inferiority
  • Self-Control – Will power from pride

We must be just as alert regarding the counterfeit fruit as we are the works of the flesh. Second, God will produce from our labors fruit in the lives of others. When we serve him, we will be the sowers planting the seed in others that brings about the salvation of more souls (Matthew 28:18-20; Proverbs 11:30). Of course, once there are new believers God uses our labors to help these young Christians experience spiritual Growth/Discipleship (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Peter 3:18).

So, we have examined the produce God intends to develop in our lives. Now we must examine our lives to see if the fruit is there. Do you see these fruits being produced from your life? What is lacking? Have you identified it on your list? Great!

Then what do you do to see more fruit? It depends on your condition:

If you are not a born again Christian then you can’t become a productive field. You are not part of the field until you have repented of your sin and put your faith in Christ. Perhaps that is what some of you need to do today. Perhaps some of you need to become the property of the Ultimate Farmer – Jesus Christ. He can turn your life into a highly productive field, but he won’t do that until you belong to him.

Second, if you have already put your faith in Christ for salvation then what you need to go through is the process called sanctification. Salvation is an event that happens in a moment in time.

Sanctification is a process that continues throughout the lifetime of a Christian. Sanctification is being set apart for special use to God. This is the process every believer goes through. Some go through it more quickly than others depending on the cultivation that they allow in their lives.

  • Cultivate the soil by repenting of known sin in your life. Pull it out like you would pull a weed out of the garden. Pull it out by the roots or it will grow right back.
  • Enhance the soil of your soul by adding nutrients that are lacking. Develop the habit of spending time with God every day. Apply the water of God’s Word to your life. Add fertilizer by coming to every Bible study you can make it to. Add sunshine by spending time in prayer every day all throughout the day.
  • Lastly, every day you must die to your selfish sin nature. Submit your will to God’s will. That truth brings me to our second point.

There is only one reputation that really matters v. 7

On my friends farms there are many workers – usually 300 or more. None of them own the farm, but all of them work on the farm. Mike Beckett treats his employees well. He is firm, but fair. His employees respect him and want the reputation of the farm to be good, not for their own glory, but for the good of the farm owner and the good of the farm. They view working on Muumba Farm as a privilege.

There is a lot we can learn from that example. Too many of us are wanting to make a name for ourselves. Too many of us want to be seen as being essential to the farmer as if he could not succeed without us. Too many of us are concerned about our own reputations when we are nobodies. We tell people how great our God is and then quickly draw attention to ourselves for serving him well and when we do that we are saying, “See how great I am.” This will not lead to a healthy productive field. You will never convince people that God is great when you are spending so much time trying to convince others that you are great. Forget your reputation. It’s not about you. It is about God. It is about Jesus Christ. He isn’t fortunate to have us as workers. We are blessed to be working in his field! We are privileged. Our lives and our labors must be consumed with spreading the fame of His name!

There is a reward for faithful laborers in God’s field – the Church v. 8

This passage does not specify what the rewards are for faithful laborers, but I would like to close by providing you with a list of rewards based on other passages of scripture.

  • Reward of Personal Spiritual Growth • Reward of praise – “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21,23)
  • Reward of Crowns in Heaven But, these rewards are proportional to the labor you invest. Remember, we are a field. Do not expect to reap where you did not sow. Do not expect to reap where sin has overgrown and choked the life out of the spiritual fruit. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let us be motivated to cultivate our spiritual lives to maximize our fruitfulness.

Conclusion: v. 9 We are God’s fellow laborers. You are God’s field!

The very purpose of a field is to produce crops. Every farmer wants a fruitful field. Every farmer wants an abundant field – a high quantity of fruit. As the master farmer, that is what God desires to see in his church. That is what He desires to see at Kitwe Church.

Each one of you is like a zone within a large field. How productive do you want your zone to be? Are you willing to do the work of cultivating godliness in your life so you can see the fruit of the spirit growing more and more?

Imagine what would happen if each of us dedicated ourselves to being a fruitful Christian. If we worked together we would see the field expand to more and more people. As elders Phil, Nathan, and I are excited to see the attendance grow because each person is a soul with the potential of bearing fruit. As we move into the future as Kitwe Church will this picture that Paul presented in 1 Cor. 3:5-9 be true of us? Will we be a field whose goal is fruitfulness?

Download: The Church as a Field