The Fruits of the Kingdom
I realize that this article may be a bit lengthy but I hope you will take the time to read it in its entirety.
We don’t live in a quasi-kingdom. The Hebrew Roots Movement goes to great lengths in backing their position by either referring to how it used to be (such as the early church or Ancient Israel), or how it will be (such as in the millennial reign of Christ). Anything in between those periods is readily dismissed of having any value by the HRM if it does not represent what they believe was, or will be the standard during those periods. Jesus commands us to be in this world but not of the world. However, this does not mean that God’s kingdom has taken a vacation until the millenium arrives (or whatever your view might be on millennialism). We are indeed, pilgrims in a strange land, but we don’t bear fruit for a kingdom which is to come. We bear fruit for the kingdom which has already come. We know there are aspects of the kingdom to come, but not the kingdom itself. What is to come, is concerning what has already come.
In this article, I want to show that our fruit is in relation to our perception and definition of the kingdom. There is a good amount of material here, so sit back and put on your thinking caps.
THE ADVENT AND MESSAGE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST AND JESUS-
John the Baptist and Jesus came preaching repentance and demanding fruits, but what sets them aside from any other prophets is that their demands were based on the claims that the kingdom of God has come right now.
The advent of John and Jesus forever altered the known concept of the kingdom of God. Israel awaited the kingdom of God to be established under the Messiah which was prophesied to come all throughout the Old Testament. John however, did not declare the kingdom was to come, but that it was already here.
Both John and Jesus declared:
“…Repent for the kingdom of heaven IS AT HAND!” (Matthew 3:2/4:17)
Jesus Himself says that all prophecies concerning what was to come, ended with John the Baptist. Please consider this very important verse:
“For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” (Matthew 11:13)
Their demand for reconciliation and identity with the kingdom of God was repentance and fruits unto repentance:
“Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.” (Matt 3:8)
THE EXECUTIVE, ADMINISTRATIVE AND JUDICIAL BRANCH OF THE KINGDOM-
John warns us to “Flee from the wrath to come.”(Matt 3:7), but He tells us that the assessment of God’s kingdom is happening now:
“And even NOW the ax is laid to the roots of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”(Matt 3:10)
Now that John and Jesus have declared the kingdom is at hand. John takes it one step further and points to Jesus as the executor and administrator of the kingdom:
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”(Matt 3:11-12)
Jesus also declares Himself in the same manner:
“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son…and has given Him authority to execute judgment also because He is the Son of Man…I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is righteous, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me.”(John 5:22-30)
“I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit…If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and withered…”(John 15:1-6)
“He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned ALREADY…”(John 3:18)
Upon Christ’s birth, Simeon also describes the role of Jesus:
“Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed’.” (Luke 2:34-35)
All that is to be known of the kingdom is revealed in Christ and the principles and judgments of that kingdom are also known through Christ and His redemption.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is what contains the whole spectrum of the nature and scope of God’s kingdom. Through the crucifixion of Jesus we understand what the wrath and judgment of God is concerning sin and its source because He crucified His own Son on account of it. We also learn many other attributes of God in the process, such as mercy and reconciliation. A man’s soul pivots upon the gospel and this is how the judgments and decrees of the kingdom are executed in one single act.
This is why the Christian world has preached:
“Repent of your sins, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ or you will die and go to hell.”
The kingdom is assed through the gospel, right now.
Unfortunately though, many people including mainstream evangelicals, are confused and caught between the idea of the gospel, the rapture, the modern nation of Israel, and the millennial reign of Christ, and they forget that the Bible says that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.(Rom 1:16) They can’t figure out which world and kingdom they are to live in so they opt out for neither. One commentator on World Net Daily has even said, the only hope for this world is the millennial reign of Christ. What a fruitless notion of despair that is! Jesus said we will receive power to be His witnesses! Anyway, this confusion is a result of misconceptions about the kingdom.
Paul never had trouble effectively conveying the kingdom to this world:
“So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.”(Acts 28:23)
THE CONCEPT AND MIS-CONCEPTS OF THE KINGDOM-
With all that said let’s backtrack a little and examine the state of Israel at the time of John and Jesus. Israel was under Roman rule or occupation. This is different from the previous Babylonian and Assyrian captivities where many of the people were exiled. Now they were in bondage to Rome in their own homeland. Before John and Jesus, all that was basically known as the kingdom of God was known as the nation or kingdom of Israel. John and Jesus did not focus on any restoration or deliverance of the nation or kingdom of Israel. They made the emphasis on the “kingdom of heaven”. All the principles and decrees of the kingdom had been previously carried out by the nation and its people.
But along comes Jesus who says:
“My kingdom is not of this world”(John 18:36)
And to the rulers of Israel, He says:
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.” (Matt 21:43)
“But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor so you allow those who are entering to go in.”(Matt 23:13)
The man who was prophesied to be the shepherd of Israel in Micah 5:2, and the same who was to possess a government upon the throne of David in Isaiah 9:6-7, has brought nothing to this world in the form of a kingdom.
There isn’t one stitch of physical tangibility to this kingdom of which Jesus is speaking. Nowhere in the ministry of Jesus do we see Him referring to the kingdom as it pertains to the physical, but quite the opposite. The kingdom is no longer confined to the parameters and function of Israel. It has become invisible and our entrance into it falls along the same lines:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot SEE the kingdom of God…The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”(John 3:3-8)
Jesus even explains that the kingdom is not sourced or manifested in the physical:
“Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’, or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you’.”(Luke 17-21)
Until Pentecost, even those that believed and followed Christ retained the idea that the kingdom was confined to the immediate and the physical concerning Israel:
“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him saying, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom of Israel?'”(Acts 1:6)
Jesus and John emphasized the kingdom of heaven and Jesus gives us an example in the Lord’s prayer that what is to take place on earth according to God’s will, is a shadow of heaven, not Israel:
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven…for Thine is the kingdom..”(Matt 6:9-13)
There are at least 11 parables in Matthew and one in Mark that begin with the phrase “The kingdom of heaven is like…”. Two more parables in Matthew indicate to us they are in reference to the kingdom. Although the parables in Luke do not begin with a reference to the kingdom of heaven, Jesus summarizes that the purpose of the parables are in relation to the kingdom of heaven:
“And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, but to them it has not been given’.”(Matthew 13:10-11)
Grab a concordance because there are plenty more verses that describe the kingdom as not of this world.
So I ask this question, If the kingdom of God was to be taken and given to someone else bearing the fruits of it, what are the fruits that we bear unto an invisible kingdom? If that kingdom does not operate in the physical, what is the purpose of that kingdom? What is that kingdom trying to accomplish?
Don’t separate the fruits from the kingdom! Jesus said the kingdom will be given to a nation bearing the fruits OF IT.
If you don’t have and know this invisible kingdom, how do you expect to be able to bear fruits according to it, and its purposes?
“You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”( Matthew 7:16-19)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal 5:22-23)
When John and Jesus present the demands of fruit, they also include the illustration and examples of roots, trees, branches and vines. They also give the illustrations of cutting, pruning, breaking and burning.
The symbolism of a plants gives us an example of the inter-connectedness and system of a plant. When John demands fruit, the people ask “What shall we do?” John goes on to list some specific actions that can be directly related to the commandments or the nature of the commandments. (See Luke 3:11-14)
However, Jesus takes it to a whole new level and demands fruits in relation to Himself. Jesus tells us:
“I am the true vine…I am the vine you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.(John 15:1-5)
The litmus test of the HRM for determining a good tree or good fruit, is factored upon whether someone keeps the commandments, and specifically Saturday Sabbath. Others may include the feasts and/or dietary laws.
The question I have concerning this litmus test is, how do you reconcile the idea that we are to bear MUCH fruit?
“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear MUCH fruit…” (John 15:8)
How about MORE fruit? “…every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear MORE fruit.”(John 15:2)
How about GREATER? “…the works that I do he will do also; and GREATER works than these he will do…”(John 14:12)
So here we have Jesus telling us that we are/or will bear:
How do these adjectives measure up to the commandments?
How does one keep the Sabbath, much? or more? or greater?
How does one keep the feasts, much? or more? or greater?
How does one keep the dietary laws, much? or more? or greater?
I know that these questions may seem facetious or sarcastic, but I am trying to show that the HRM never really presents any connectedness to the person of Christ and the purpose of the kingdom.
I don’t intend to divide fruits from commandments. The passages in John 14-15 both speak of commandments and fruits simultaneously BUT not necessarily, synonymously.
The fruit of the kingdom is a result of being connected to Christ and His perception or interpretation of the kingdom. After all, it is His kingdom which shall have no end.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of trying to interpret what the kingdom should be using the physical characteristics of either the Old Testament, or the Millenium. They have all the aspects and similarities of an earthly kingdom. The judgments and decrees and laws and functions all seem to have a more tangible power and effectiveness.
We are accountable to live in this present situation where the kingdom is carried out under the gospel. Our fruits range from the visible to the invisible depending on what methods of the kingdom we are using for its purposes.
There is a difference between being a fruit inspector, and a lumberjack.
Many in the HRM make no apologies when cutting down every tree within their path over one single commandment, but they are pulling up the wheat while attempting to pull up what they think are tares.
The HRM is hard pressed to give an answer about all the people in history who have lived chaste and upright lives and who have devoted themselves to the purposes of the kingdom and the gospel with much success and much fruit, yet they did not keep one of the commandments that the HRM believes is mandatory.
When John questioned whether Jesus was the One, or should they expect another, listen to how Jesus replies:
“Go tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”(Matt 11:4-6)
The fruit that we bear is all in relation to the righteousness of God and His plan of redemption for mankind that is summed up in Christ. There is a great deal of things that play into this kingdom priority, but when we become overly conscious to how people should conform to every detail of our line of thinking on obedience or any other type of doctrine, then we end up shutting up the kingdom from men rather than revealing it.
The HRM prides themselves on accusing people of being lawless over one commandment, but lawlessness can also be defined as not conforming to the purpose and will of the kingdom in general.
Jesus told the Pharisees that the harlots and tax collectors would enter the kingdom before they would. Why? It’s because they were willing to get on board with the purposes of the kingdom despite their deficiencies. The Pharisees were conscious of their own self-contrived purposes and not the purpose of the kingdom.
As I said to begin with, our fruit is based upon what our definition of the kingdom is. I have laid out a great deal of facts about the kingdom in this article and there is more where they came from.
In conclusion, here are some other scriptures that give us an indication from what basis Jesus Christ operates.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the the kingdom of heaven.”