“The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” [Matthew 3:10]
The Lord Jesus made it very clear in His teachings that fruitless discipleship is no discipleship. In other words, if there is no spiritual fruit there then there is no discipleship there. Real discipleship bears good fruit. It is impossible for it to not bear good fruit. A good tree always bears good fruit.
As did John the Immerser, the Lord Jesus also said:
“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” [Matthew 7:19-20]
He was talking about false prophets. He likened false prophets to ravenous wolves. He said ravenous wolves were bad trees bearing bad fruit:
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” [Matthew 7:15-16]
In comparing sheep to wolves the Lord is comparing good trees to bad trees. Wolves are ravenous. It means they are very hungry and will kill to satiate their hunger. Wolves kill sheep in order to eat sheep. False prophets do the same. They not only rip off the sheep—removing from them all their valuable externals—they will also eat up everything the sheep are composed of—everything that comprises their lives. In the best case scenario they will transform the sheep into trees bearing fruit for the sole benefit of the wolves.
We may call these zombie sheep. They obey their voodoo masters the false prophets. They do not have any critical thinking skills. Their minds are not their own. Their minds have become religionified. They have fallen into a cult, though it may be a “respectable” denomination or world wide organization. Such sheep do not bear good fruit.
Imagine creating such sheep. It sure makes life easy for the wolves. They do whatever the wolves tell them to do, especially when it comes to money, their primary fruit. Take away their primary fruit and they also become worthless to the wolves. They are already of no worth to the Lord. They have rejected Him and His pure Word. Therefore, they will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
The Lord Jesus is THE Good Tree. He bears fruit, and it is always good fruit and only good fruit. It is also always available. All real disciples also bear only good fruit since they are good trees which came from THE Good Tree.
Unreal disciples usually don’t bear any fruit, though some bear bad fruit. The Lord said any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. John said it also. This is pretty self-explanatory, but one thing remains. What, exactly, is good fruit? What is spiritually representative of grapes and figs? Here you go:
“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance…” [Matthew 3:8]
And what is the fruit, or the proof, of repentance?
“Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?”
And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.”
And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”
Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.” [Luke 3:8-14] 
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Hesiod’s story of Pandora’s Box was an obvious take on the Genesis account.
Pandora had been granted authority.
She possessed the freedom to choose.
Freedom allows for the making of evil choices.
Eve discovered evil in exactly this manner.
Evil gives clear perspective to goodness.
Before people know evil, however, they are only vaguely aware of evil in an abstract sense.
This is how God presented evil to Adam—in the abstract. He never taught Adam about evil directly, because Adam could not possibly have known what He was talking about.
There he was—fresh from creation—Adam! Bright and pure and strong, perfectly innocent, with large open eyes and a big smile. He was astounded by the beauty around him and most especially by the majesty of the Lord before him, his Creator.
The Lord and Adam were very close, a very loving Father and son. Though Adam was made of earthly elements in the physical realm, he was filled with the Spirit of God. The very life and presence of God lived within Adam. He was a true son of his Father, and as his Father, the Lord did all possible to teach Adam properly and protect him.
Regarding evil though, the only option God had was a commandment:
The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” [Genesis 2:16-17]
Commandments are just that—they are commands. The reason commands regarding evil must be presented as commands is because the recipient of the command has no understanding of the far-reaching consequences of its violation.
In this, Adam had to learn obedience, and in that He had to trust God.
And this is what faith is.
Of course, Adam had no reason whatsoever to doubt God. He did not blindly obey, either. He knew He was loved. God created him and gave him a great place to live and work.
Adam chose to obey God. He loved his Father.
He must have also understood that his Father should and must be respected, and that his Father knew a whole lot more than he did. He knew the command he received against evil was for his own benefit and protection, though he had no understanding of what those things—evil and death—were. As in the hearts of innocent children, evil and death were only abstractions to him.
In Genesis 2, God reveals Adam’s initial purpose:
Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. [Genesis 2:15] 
Adam obeyed the Lord regarding his purpose also. He took good care of the garden in which he lived. As a result of his work, the garden was very fruitful. It grew. It produced.
As Adam continued on he saw the good consequences of his choices, that good things happened as a result, and he saw good fruit come forth that he had never previously seen. It was all new—astoundingly and wonderfully new—and abundant.
But Adam also had to grow. He had to progress. And he did. He became more knowledgeable though remaining in a state of perfect innocence.
There were often times he had to do things, however, that he had never done before. He had to choose. It was always a new portal for him, one in which there was the usual trepidation. Like any of us, he had to figure things out. He put two and two together. He no doubt sometimes learned by trial and error, error being not an evil thing but simply an unfruitful thing. In academic terms, it is referred to as gaining knowledge empirically.
Without making correct decisions, there is no possibility of progress.
He discovered that as long as he kept choosing correctly, good stuff kept happening. In time, he became somewhat less concerned about walking through such new portals, and even began to approach apparent risk with much fervor. He was, after all, obeying God.
Through obedience, faithfulness, personal experience, hard work, dedication, and seeing the fruitful results of planting good seed, he learned that life kept producing good fruit as long as he stayed true to the Lord in his heart and in his work. He saw how fruitful the garden was, and was thankful that every tree was acceptable and good, except one.
And because he trusted his Father, he refused to go down that path.
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
The Lord sometimes sets a door before us through which we must pass. It often arrives as a result of much prayer and searching. Upon arrival, we sometimes do not recognize the door as the answer we seek because it doesn’t necessarily appear as an opportunity, but something to avoid.
Walking through such a portal begins a journey into the unknown.
It portends a Door of Discipleship—an Avenue of Advancement—a Portal of Progress.
Going through such a door will cause one to surrender one’s supposed security. It will demand the leaving of one’s safe and guarded sanctuary composed of the known, where all is seemingly predictable and routine, and head into uncharted territory.
This moment will demand great faith. Though one must receive clear confirmation that such a move is God’s will and though one may feel a great tug in the spirit and the Lord’s leading, the much greater tug must actually be a push, in that even though we feel something drawing us forward, it is never enough to force us or carry us along.
We must act. We must choose. We must compel ourselves. We must obey. We must step through.
I wrote a post two years ago entitled He Steadfastly Set His Face To Go To Jerusalem. The Lord knew all along the cross was His fate. It was a portal through which He had to pass. None of His loved ones agreed with His choice, though the choice was made eons before.
We know that God had already integrated the cross into His master plan before He began creating anything.
Regarding the fate of humanity, long before He created Adam, God planned His own crucifixion.
…Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. [1Peter 1:18-21]
The Lord knew in advance of His creation that a sacrifice would be called for. He knew as soon as He began planning to create free-willed beings like Himself that such beings must be allowed to choose, even to the point of choosing against Him, or they would have no such thing as a free will. In this—choosing against God—choice allows for the opposite of what God intends.
We know what Adam and Eve eventually did. We know that at some point they both violated the command against choosing evil. But we also know that prior to their spiritual fall, Adam and Eve spent an undetermined age in perfect purity and union with the Lord, a time in which they continually chose correctly. It was their time of obedience, and thus, innocence.
The Word of God says that Adam and Eve were made in His image. God had created two people who were like He was, with the ability to choose as He did, and thus with a completely free will. He had granted them the ability to make their own choices.
They were thus not robots. Robots, no matter the level of sophistication, are programmed. They are built and programmed by a higher intelligence. Human beings, as the creators of robots, continue to make them as “intelligent” as possible. But regardless of appearances, robots will forever be the result of programming—robots cannot possess free will.
Even so, people who think deeply about such things have long speculated about the possibility of robots eventually gaining the upper hand and becoming so intelligent and pervasive they will somehow take over. After a century or so of such speculation, of predicting the future, and of science-fiction writers coming up with all manner of end results regarding the subject, we can now fully appreciate just how far-thinking many of them were. Most people back then never believed our present was possible and had very little to do with its arrival.
And this is the problem with humanity. People in general have a strong tendency to remain with the tried and true and traditional, to remain in their zones of comfort, to lasso life to their liking and drive it into a small and crude corral. In this they can control their lives, as rudimentary and small as they are.
Now, in their defense, there are certainly good traditional things to establish and limits one knows will cause great problems if transgressed. There is a reason the ancient Greek writer Hesiod penned the tale of Pandora’s Box (actually a jar), in which all the evils of the world were contained. As long as the large jar remained unopened all would be okay. For those who have not heard of the story, it’s not hard to figure out the ending.
This is why some people insist on a low level of progress or none at all. They fear the bad consequences of wrong choices. They see the terrible results of sin in the world and some human beings becoming total idiots as a result of stupid choices. They know well that stupid is as stupid does and would rather do nothing regarding progress for fear of doing something wrong.
They’ve also seen much “progress” that was not progress at all, but the opposite. Thus, they’re content with less instead of risking an advance toward better things and possibly upsetting their small gains. Fear of failure has shanghaied their necessary discipleship, progress, and advancement.
In their effort to stay a million miles away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they also stay a million miles away from the Tree of Life.
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]