We should not be struggling to walk as moral individuals, looking and sounding like what we think Christians should be like. The fruit of righteousness should be naturally hanging from our lives.
John 15:4-6 ESV Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (5) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (6) If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
Much of the current preaching today admonishes us to obtain and hold on to our "ticket to heaven" simply by "praying this prayer." However, is this the message of the cross and salvation? Belief in the Biblical teachings of the blood atonement and the resurrection from the dead must go beyond "pray this prayer" to be what God defines as "saving faith." But what is the fruit?
There has been way too much preaching and teaching that hell is only for the demons and that none of mankind will go there, because God's love is greater than His judgment. There has been too much preaching and teaching concerning the possibility of a "second chance" for salvation if we miss the first one. This means that if we miss it here it's okay because we will have another chance to be saved either right after the "rapture," if Jesus returns in our lifetime, or during the judgment time.
There are no Scriptural evidences that God's "saving grace" operates during the judgment period. There is also NO saving grace taking place after we die. The reason I felt a need to share this is because of some of our media inputs about how God operates. In most westerns or older movies when someone dies the preacher or someone speaking over the gravesite always prays that the Lord would kindly receive them into heaven. A lot of funerals today are like this. It is like a concerned uncle (the preacher) is sending his niece or nephew (the deceased) to Grandfather's (God), house (heaven) to enjoy a long extended vacation. But what is the fruit?
Remember, the gospel message is good news/bad news. The good news is the message of salvation to all who place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. The bad news is the judgment of God for all who reject and/or walk away from the good news. The penalty for not abiding in Christ is that we will be removed, cut off from the Vine about the Jn.15:4-6 passage we read earlier.
Many go through life with the hope of being allowed admission someway into Paradise when they die, but they are not abiding carefully and consistently in Christ with a heart of continual faith. We do not have to strain to bear fruit. The fruit of godliness is the natural result of abiding consistently and continually in Christ. God is not looking for us to strain to be moral people. He is looking for the fruit of righteousness that should be naturally hanging from our lives.
Charles Morris. Founder and Senior Pastor of RSI Ministry, RSI School of Ministry, and RSI Publishing L.L.C..