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Luke 6:43-45
Series:  The Sermon on The Level - Part Four

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 26, 2020

Please stand with me - if you are able - as we come together before God and His word and let us read together Luke 6 - starting at verse 43:


“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit.  For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.


The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.


We have been studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Level - which He taught on the plain - or level area - on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus’ Sermon on the Level in which He levels with His disciples about what it means - bottom line - to be His... disciple.


A disciple is someone who... seeks to learn - to be mentored - to so closely follow the teaching of the teacher that at the mind and heart level - in the manner of life - to see the student is to see the... teacher.


Which is the big picture of Jesus’ sermon that we need to hang on to as each Sunday we’re breaking down Jesus’ teaching and studying its individual parts.  The big picture being:  The heart level attitude and actions of someone who’s really following Jesus.

What it means to follow Jesus - to be His disciple.


Jesus - in helping His disciples - and us - to understand that - in His teaching Jesus has been opening up two very different ways of looking at life and how we move through life and what’s really valuable to hang on to in all that.


Life centered on God and what God blesses and what that looks like and what that leads to.  What is invaluable now and forever.


And in contrast: Life centered on what’s in the world around us and what others tell us is valuable to pursue in all that.  What can seem so hugely important and yet - as Jesus has been teaching - that value is deceptive and in reality dangerous, destructive, and what leads to eternal death.


Two perspectives - two ways of going through life - both with eternal consequences.  And so we have a choice to make.  Who or what will we follow through all of that?


What Jesus is teaching - what we’ve been studying - are the attitudes and actions that He’s calling His disciples to live out.  What does it mean to be “all in” as a disciple of Jesus.  To be someone who has chosen to follow Jesus.  Like us.


Jesus helping them - and us - to get open to God in the real time of where we live our lives.  To process what - being a disciple - looks like for ourselves.


Verse 43 records Jesus going on with that teaching.

Which is about what kind of fruit a tree produces.  A tree produces after its nature.  No good tree produces bad fruit.  No bad tree produces good fruit.  Check the fruit and you know what kind of tree you have.


Point being:  each tree is known by its own fruit. 


A few years back I planted this orange tree in our back yard.  And despite my best efforts at gardening it’s still alive.  Two years ago - 2018 -  it produced some small little oranges which weren’t really edible.  But there was hope.  Next year bigger edible oranges.


So last year, when this orange tree finally produced these large green orange looking fruits I got excited - imagining delicious juicy oranges to come.


So I waited patiently.  Because citrus takes time.  And a few months ago those large green growing oranges turned yellow.  Bright yellow.


So, I finally picked one and cut it open.  Which looked like this.  Which is decidedly not an orange.  And doesn’t taste like an orange.  Not even close.


I’ve had two of our Creekside experts offer their opinions.  And for sure that’s not an orange.  Maybe a grapefruit.  Maybe a pomelo.  Or a “grapello.”  And yet it is an orange tree.  Probably.  At least from the graft up.


As best as I understand it - the reason the fruit is messed up is because sometimes they graft orange trees onto hardier root stock.  In this case maybe a “grapello” stock.  So the orange tree actually thinks it’s some other kind of tree - because of the sap and roots and all - and it’s definitely not producing oranges.


Result being:  I have an orange tree that produces something other than oranges.  Which ultimately tells us a whole lot about what’s really going on with the tree at the unseen root level.


“Each tree is known by its own fruit.”  Despite outward appearances or what promises or expectations are given.  The fruit tells us what’s really going on with the tree.


Or the person.  Someone we might choose to follow.  Heart level at the unseen core of who they really are.


So many people we come across sound really sincere and spiritual.  They seem to have all the right vocabulary.  They say they’re talking for God.  Up front they seem to be at least reasonably in the ball park.  Sometimes it’s hard for us to see upfront where someone is really coming from.  Even in the church.


But ultimately everyone lives by what they actually believe in their heart. A person’s actions and words and attitudes - their fruit - is an unfailing indication of the state of one’s heart towards God.


Which raises some questions for us.  Doesn’t it?


First:  What does Jesus mean by fruit?


Matthew records Jesus teaching on the same theme - in Matthew 7 - Jesus warns his disciples that the religious leaders were like ravenous wolves disguised as sheep.  Wolves in sheep’s clothing.  (Matthew 7:15-20)


(cartoon)  “Things got weird when the wolf in sheep’s clothing happened across the sheep in in wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing clothing.”


The people came to the religious leaders of their day - as people have been coming and are coming even today - they came to the Pharisees and others - rabbis - they came with a desire for God.  To know God.  To be right with God.  To go through life following after God.  Being blessed by God.


What they got was obligation and regulation and condemnation for failure.  What they didn’t get was what moved them closer to God and His kingdom.


Cycling back up into what Jesus has been teaching here that we’ve been studying through - two perspectives and ways of doing life - and who to follow through all that.


The Pharisees claimed to be God’s spokesman - Godly leaders - good trees.  And yet they hated their enemies instead of loving them as God chooses to love us.  They cursed others rather than blessing them and praying for them.  They demanded justice on their terms rather than trusting God for His justice.


Jesus called out the Pharisees as legalists - living their version of Mosaic law.  They hypocritically took on the on the role of God and judge and condemned others rather than being generous with love and grace and mercy as God is so generous with His love and grace and mercy towards us.


Jesus called them blind leaders.  Blind to their own sin and hypocrisy.  Choose to follow them if you like falling into pits.  Not good.  Really bad fruit.


The fruit the Pharisees produced - in their teaching - their actions and words and attitudes - they produced fruit that demonstrated that they themselves were messed up spiritually.


People came to the Pharisees looking for good spiritual fruit only to discover that the fruit was bad.  The people were starving for good fruit in an orchard of bad trees.


Cycling back up into what Jesus has been teaching - the contrast - what good fruit looks like - it’s seen in someone who loves their enemies.  Who proactively does good to those who hate them.  Who blesses those who curse them.  Who prays for their abusers.  When they’re shamed or ripped off they trust God to deal with it.


Good fruit is seen in someone who doesn’t demand others live up to their standard of righteousness and condemn people when they fall short.  But is loving and being gracious and merciful and forgiving and gracious as God is so abundantly overflowing in His love and grace and mercy towards us.

Second question:  What kind of heart produces good fruit?


Chad Walsh - who was a pastor - writer - teacher - self-described recovering agnostic - in his book “Early Christians of the 21st Century” - Chad Walsh writes:  “Millions of Christians live in a sentimental haze of vague piety, with soft organ music trembling in the lovely light from stained-glass windows.  Their religion is a pleasant thing of emotional quivers, divorced from the will, divorced from the intellect, and demanding little except lip service to a few harmless platitudes.  I suspect that Satan has called off his attempt to convert people to agnosticism.  After all, if a man travels far enough away from Christianity, he is liable to see it in perspective and decide that it is true.  It is much safer, from Satan’s point of view, to vaccinate a man with a mild case of Christianity so as to protect him from the real disease.” (1)


The fruit of the Pharisees - of anyone that places their faith in what we do for God coming out of our standards of what God requires of us.  Religion based on us - focused on us.  What produces really bad fruit.


The New Testament - from Matthew to Revelation - God - in the New Testament flat out tells us that salvation comes only through God’s grace which we receive by faith.


Ephesians 2:8 - let’s say it together:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”


Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.


That receiving by faith is not saying some kind of formula prayer.  It’s not doing all kinds of service and Christian stuff in the name of Jesus.  It’s not even having correct doctrine and theology.  By faith receiving what God has done for us means - at the heart level - making a choice to trust all that we are to what God says that He’s done for us in Jesus.


Even fruit is secondary.  Effect not cause.  Significant.  Rewarded.  But the basis of it all is... faith.  Faith that God uses to produce good fruit.


Jesus teaches:  The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.


Point being that if we want good fruit we got to first deal with our... heart.  What a person says that’s worth following is coming out of good treasure in his or her heart.


The word “treasure” translates a Greek word that not only describes what we treasure - what is hugely valuable to us.  But also the place where we keep our treasure.  Our treasury.


Image being that our heart - our treasury - is where we guard and protect - at the heart level what we hoard - what we cling to and cannot imagine living without.


Out of the abundance of that - a Greek word that means… abundance - out of the wealth of what we treasure at the heart level - we speak. 


Meaning what’s in the heart comes out in our actions and attitudes - good or bad… fruit.


God speaks to His people through His prophet Jeremiah:  “Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come.  He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 


Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.’”  (Jeremiah 17:5-8)


The man - or woman - who’s heart level living trusting in God - rooted in God - stretching out towards God - drawing the very essence and sustenance of life - from God - that man or women is blessed by God - and is consistently going to produce good fruit regardless of what’s going on around us.  The drama and distractions of what’s in the world.


We get this.  Right?


What fills the treasury of our heart.  The crucial importance of what we’re tapped into.  Where what goes into our heart comes from.  God and what God blesses or someplace or from someone else.


Paul wrote to the Galatians:  “The works of the flesh are evident:  sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these… [really bad fruit] 


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  (Galatians 5:19-24)


That’s a significant contrast.  Isn’t it?


It’s a heart level contrast of someone living for themselves - following after the philosophies and morals of man. 


Contrasted with someone who’s died to themselves - died to the passions and desires of our flesh - who’s living by the work of the Holy Spirit within them.


Good fruit.  Who’s fruit?  Fruit of the Spirit.  Produced by the Spirit in those who belong to… Christ Jesus.  Those who have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.


On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus told His remaining 11 disciples:  “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.”  (John 15:5)


To abide means more than Jesus is some kind of spiritual gas station.  Where we go once a week or so to get filled up spiritually and then we go on through our week however that works out.


To abide means more than just hanging out with Jesus.  Doing all the things of being a Christian that are good.  But can be more about doing those things and about us and not actually abiding in Jesus.


To abide is about relationship - being connected - inseparably connected - remaining connected - to Jesus.


In a parched land - like today in Merced - our roots longing for the life He gives and sustains.  His sap - His life blood flowing into us - filling our treasury - and flowing out of us - in words - in actions - in attitudes - producing fruit - spiritual fruit produced by the Spirit’


Not “grapellos.”  But Jesus fruit.  Because the roots of our lives remain in Him.


Which - as Jesus is teaching - it’s the bottom line to being His disciple.


Jesus has been teaching that to be His disciple means that we stop coming to God with our expectations of God and our definition of what it means to be “all in” with God - and we simply come.  Agreeing with God that we’ve got nothing - nothing but our sin and our brokenness - to come to God with.  That we are spiritual impoverished and desperate for what God offers to us in Christ Jesus.


Which requires a level of vulnerability and openness that most of us struggle with.  But that’s the beginning point - the heart level openness to God - of being a disciple of Jesus as Jesus is calling on us to be His disciples.


It’s the beginning point of abiding in Jesus.  The beginning point of a heart that bears good fruit.


Processing all that… There are significant implications in that for us. 


First:  We need to be fruit testers - to Test Their Fruit.


Three suggestions of how we might evaluate the fruit.


First - Scripture.  Is what they’re saying true?  Compare what someone is saying - what’s coming out of their mouth - comparing what they’re saying to God’s word - to the Bible.


Someone may have the slickest presentation and the most amazing insights.  Have all kinds of marvelous and interesting perspectives to share at a Bible study.  But is what they say in the Bible?  Does is square with God’s word.  Is what they’re teaching in line with what we’ve already been taught and know to be true - to be what God’s word is really teaching. 


Second - Lifestyle.  Do they walk the talk?


Are they one kind of person at church and another kind on Facebook?  What are they posting and snapping and tweeting?  Are they really good at putting together the image thing here at church and out there they’re known as something different? 


Do they mistreat their family?  Are they taking advantage of people?  Stealing money and stuff?  Is their vocabulary consistent?  Is their standard of morality consistent - consistently Godly?


Third - Followers.  Take a look at what happens in the lives of those who follow their teaching.  Their disciples.  Where are they going in life?  What does that look like?


As a result of following them are others growing spiritually?  Are their followers loving Jesus more deeply - growing closer to Him - leading others to Him?  Are they living lives that glorify God.  Or, are they moving away from God and His word.  Becoming lukewarm in their faith.  Becoming more dependent on their teacher - more reclusive.


Use Scripture.  Evaluate their lifestyle.  Look at where their teaching is leading others.  Pay attention to their fruit.  According to Jesus, that all should give us a really good idea of where they’re at with God.


The second significant implication for us is to Test Our Heart.


Our treasure and treasury - what we value and what spiritually is flowing into that and out of that producing fruit.

Maybe you’ve heard this?


A young man and his wife had just said goodbye to his grandfather late one night.  They went inside and turned on the news and heard that there was a reckless driver heading the wrong way on the freeway that his grandfather would be taking.


So the young man called his grandfather’s cell phone to warn his grandfather.  Not a great move.  But they were really concerned.


“Grandfather, be careful!  I just heard on the news that someone is going the wrong way on the freeway!”


His grandfather replied:  “Yes and I’m scared to death!  It’s not just one car going the wrong way, but all of them!”


Self-diagnosis of our heart can be helpful but potentially dangerous.


We can look at our lives and easily evaluate if we’re regularly reading and marinating in God’s word - or not.  What our times of prayer with God are like - or not.  Whether gathering for worship and being with God’s people is a priority - or not.  What does our stewardship and service look like.  We can look at the people we’re mentoring and seeing how God is using us in their lives.  What that looks like.


Which is fruit that can help us diagnosis where our heart is at with God.


But let’s be careful - testing our heart doesn’t mean relying on our own self-diagnosis.  We can easily think we’re doing good - humming along with God - moving in the right direction - and we can be in serious trouble.


God spoke through Jeremiah:  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick, who can understand it?  I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”  (Jeremiah 17:9,10)


We need God to do the searching and diagnosis of our heart.


Listen to David - crying out to God.  His laying out an example for us - how to go there with God.


David cried out to God:  “Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  (Psalm 139:23,24)


David - Psalm 51: “Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  (Psalm 51:9,10)


Psalm 119:10:  “With my whole heart I seek you; let me know wander from your commandments!  I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”  (Psalm 119:10,11)


Are we tracking with David?


God, I’m coming with nothing but brokenness and sin.  God do what you will with me.  Don’t leave it up to me.  Just do it.  Seize control of my life.  Clean me out and clean me up.  Produce your fruit in me.  May my life be all yours for you and for your glory alone. 


Which is the beginning point of being an “all in” heart-level disciple of Jesus.  The beginning point of His fruit being produced through us.  To see the student is to see the… teacher.


Last - really brief thought - don’t blink.


God wants to shape our character to produce in us the fruit of His power love and grace and mercy and forgiveness - that will transform our homes and work places and community and schools.  His desire is to flow through us as Godly men and women to produce the most valuable fruit - to eternally impact the lives of men and women - leading them to salvation in Jesus Christ.


Bottom line:  Who are you following?  What fruit is being produced?





1. Chad Walsh, Early Christians of the 21st Century, Harper 1950 - quoted by Gary Vanderet, ”How to Stand in a Storm” - sermon on Matthew 7:21-29


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®  (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.