First, what is fruit? Or what does bearing fruit mean? In the Bible, Jesus refers to bearing fruit as something that happens after one is connected to Him. When we as Christians are dependent on Jesus, God can prune us, and good fruits – that are actually attributes of God, can come forth in us impacting the lives of those around us.
If one has not come to faith in Jesus, then one cannot experience the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in their life. Bearing fruit is something that happens after coming to the Father and believing in the power of the gospel. Non-Christians cannot bear good fruit.
I know this might sound controversial because it does seem like non-Christians do good things. But I’ll explain my reasoning so it’ll be more clear.
We cannot please God unless we are children of God.
So if one is not a child of God, meaning they reject God by not calling on Him, can they still do good deeds?
And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him.”Hebrews 11:6
If one is not running to God, they are usually running to something else – whether they are running to something that fills them up to feel good inside or simply distracting themselves from feeling anything.
Anyone is capable of doing good works. In fact, in Ephesians, it says that God created humans for good works.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10
There is a difference between doing good deeds and bearing fruit as a Christian.
Non-Christians Can Do Good Deeds
The problem is that their good deeds are not done in faith or for the glory of God.
Actions alone, no matter how virtuous they may seem, are not good enough to stand up to the holiness of God.
None have even come close to the love, holiness, or perfection of the Father. Because of our inability to reach the level of good God has, only Jesus, God’s blameless Son, could bring us to the Father.
Through faith in Jesus’ works on the cross, we can please Him.
We All Have Consciences
Christians or non-Christians from the beginning of time know right from wrong.
We were born with a conscience that tells us when we are messing up, and when it would be a good time to do something nice for someone else. The difference between doing good deeds as a non-Christian, and bearing fruit as a believer, is that bearing fruit comes from the Spirit.
For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace.Romans 8:6
The Holy Spirit is alive and active and Jesus sent Him to be our helper and comforter to help convict and direct us. Because Jesus is not on earth with us right now, the Holy Spirit is living in every believer. We are living during the Age of Grace, and until the end is near and Jesus returns, the Holy Spirit is actively working in us.
But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.John 14:26
One can not have the mind of the Spirit without first being born again by the Spirit.
Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew.John 3:5-7
What Does Bearing Fruit Mean for a Christian?
So for Christians, how can we walk by the Spirit? And do all Christians bear fruit?
There is no such thing as an absent God in the life of a believer and there is no such thing as a Christian who doesn’t bear fruit.
Bearing fruit starts with being dependent on Jesus as the vine.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing.John 15:5
How Do We Abide in Jesus?
Abiding = dependence. It is about going to the main source, being dependent on the Father, feeding on His Word, and abiding in prayer.
Even if a new believer doesn’t know much about the Christian walk, but knows the fact that he can do nothing apart from Christ, he can be a fruit-bearing individual.
That’s how the weak become strong, by fiercely relying on God. Look at the parable of the sower where there was one converted Christian, he was the weakest but bore the most fruit.
We can look to other people who may have great success when reading the Bible and praying.
What is different about those people who may seem like they are always motivated?
We have to fight to read the Bible, fight to pray, fight for joy. The only difference is the fight. The desperate person fights. A key to a fruitful life is desperate reliance on the Father. Ask and He will do it.
The thing is, too many Christians define fruit in the ministry or in the Christian walk the wrong way, or are even connected to the wrong vine.
Fruit Comes From Connection to the Vine
The focus must be on the only true vine, Jesus. It is not about being noticed by others or being seen by many, it is not even all about the action we do.
Often the most genuine Christian bears fruit without even realizing.
Look around you – at all that God is doing in your life. What would be different about your life if God wasn’t in it? If you are a Christian, God is at work and you may be impacting more people than you realize.
When you first start out as a Christian or in the ministry, a lot of times it’s not going to be about seeing all the fruit, but about God pruning you of what He feels you need to be pruned of. Every branch that does bear fruit (how much or little it may seem), He prunes so it can bear more fruit.
God is working in your life, it just may look different at times. God may take some time to prune, teach, discipline, rebuke, and encourage you, and this will never stop.
We may not always see the fruit so evidently at certain times in our life because God is working on heart issues. We are always going to be learning, and in order to bear fruit, sometimes God needs to prune you in certain areas first.
Theologians sometimes call this progressive sanctification.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.John 15:2
You are a child of God. And God has called you to good works just as he is good (Matthew 5:48).
Bearing Fruit Comes From Covenant with God
You are a branch, you are Christian, walk in that. Remember the covenant you have with God.
And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from following them, to do them good; and I will put my fear in their hearts, that they may not depart from me.Jeremiah 32:40
Maybe then you say okay that’s true for God’s people, but how do I know I’m God’s people? If you have called on the name of the Lord then you are saved. He has made an everlasting covenant with you, to not turn away from you.
The Christian walk is not about striving for perfection, but about investing in Christ-like character. It is about cultivating your life around Christ and you will bear fruit. The providence of God lovingly created you to be dependent on the Vine so you can bear fruit as a branch.
So no, non-Christians can not bear fruit. It is a gift given to believers for us to glorify God. God has given us the Holy Spirit and we can walk in the Spirit.
God compares us to trees that bear fruit. Trees are not self-serving. They bear fruit for others, not themselves.
Be dependent on Jesus to bear fruit not for yourself, or your own glory. Fruit is meant to give away. Freely it has been given, freely to give. Jesus says ask whatever you wish, in the context that the Father might be glorified.
How can you start by relying more on the Father today? Is there something He needs to prune you of?