And what fruit? Why, fruit of three kinds: fruit in the heart, fruit in the lip and fruit in the life.
I Let us see what these fruits are that he brings forth in the heart, or rather, that the Lord brings forth in him.
There is, first, the fruit of faith. This is the only man who really believes in Jesus; who believes the Gospel to be glad tidings to perishing sinners; and who believes in and accepts the doctrines of grace as sweet and suitable to his soul. This is the only man who really believes in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, in His blood, in His glorious righteousness, in His dying love, as sweet and suitable. And why does he believe it? Because it has been revealed in a measure to his soul. Another may have heard it and received it gladly; but there has been no special discovery or manifestation of the gospel to his heart with Divine power. His head may be stuffed with doctrines; but there is no faith in his heart; no real coming unto, trusting in, or hanging upon the Lord Jesus Christ. There may be abundance of false confidence and presumption, but no real looking unto the Lord Jesus Christ out of the depths of a broken heart; no calling upon His Name; no seeing Him by the eye of faith; nor casting all his soul upon Him as able to save to the uttermost.
Again, He will bring forth the fruit of hope; or rather, God will bring it forth in him. The light shining into his soul making his evidences clear, bringing sweet manifestations of the love of God into his heart, applying His precious promises, and shedding abroad His favour – all these things, experimentally felt within, give him Gospel hope, “an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, and entering into that within the veil.” Others have no such hope. Their hope is the hope of the hypocrite that shall perish, the spider’s web spun out of his own fleshly bowels and vain hope; not a good hope through grace, anchoring in the blood, love and obedience of Jesus.
And he brings forth the fruits of love. There are times and seasons when he can say, “Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee.” He loves the Lord Jesus Christ; he loves the truth as it is in Jesus; he loves the people of God; he loves the work of grace wherever he sees that work manifest; and he feels a sweet union with the tried and tempted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He brings forth also true humility. He has had a sight of himself; he knows what is in man and abhors himself. His heart is humbled by and before God.
He brings forth, or rather the Lord brings forth in him, the fruit of repentance. He sees what he is as a sinner and truly repents. He brings forth the fruit of godly sorrow; for seeing what his sins have cost the Lord Jesus Christ, he mourns over them with a repentance not to be repented of.
He brings forth spiritual-mindedness. In the place of a carnal embracing of mere doctrines, his affections are fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and simplicity of heart. And this produces that spiritual-mindedness which is life and peace and delights in Heavenly things.
II He not only brings forth these things in his heart, or rather, God brings them forth in him; but he brings them forth in his lip. When he speaks of the things of God, he speaks of them with real feeling, with real love in his soul and real grace in his breast; his heart teaching his mouth. If he be a Minister, he will speak with power; he will not deliver truth in a hardened, presumptuous, unfeeling manner; but having life and feeling in his soul, and an inward experience of the things of God, what he speaks will be uttered with unction, dew, savour and power. It will reach the heart, melt the spirit and bring forth life and feeling in the hearers.
And if he be a hearer, a private character, he will also bring forth fruit with his lips. His speech will be seasoned with salt. There will be a life and power in his conversation when he comes into the company of the people of God; the hearts of others will unite and melt as it were into his and find sweet union and mutual communion.
III Nay more, he brings forth fruit in his life. He is not a drunkard nor an adulterer. When hidden and covered by darkness, he knows that when no human eye sees him, God sees him. He will not be a slave to sin; God will deliver him. Sin shall not have dominion over him; he may be entangled from time to time in secret lusts that work in him, but he will beseech God to subdue them and bring him out of every snare.
He will sigh and cry to be delivered from sin in all its shapes and forms. He will not be a covetous, a proud, a worldly-minded, an oppressive man. If a master, he will not oppress his servant; if a servant, he will be sincere and upright towards his master. He will not be an unkind, cruel husband at home. Before his friends, his wife, his children, he will be the same – a Christian at home, as well as a Christian abroad. Thus he will bring forth fruit in his life as well as in his lip.
If there be no fruit in his life, depend upon it, there is no fruit in his heart; if there be no fruit in his heart, depend upon it, there will be no fruit in his life. Very few professors will bear following home; very few whose lives and conversation will bear looking into; very few who are not slaves, more or less, to some sin – drunkenness, pride, uncleanness, covetousness, worldly-mindedness, tricks in business, or some deceitful practices. The children of God will indeed be tempted, entangled and hampered, yea, fearfully hampered by sin in their soul’s feelings.
But He, who has made their hearts inwardly honest, will make their lives outwardly honest. God, who has implanted His precious grace in their soul, causes the Word to take root in the heart and makes them to bring forth fruit, some a hundred fold (these indeed are rare), some sixty fold and some thirty fold. But if they bring forth no fruit whatever; if there be no fruit in their heart, lip or life, where shall we place them? If the preacher stand in God’s counsel, he will be as God’s mouth. I might have amused, entertained or deceived you and said, “If you believe the doctrines of grace you are Christians.” But I dare not say so; I should not be standing up in God’s name, nor be doing the work of a Minister uprightly, if I were to do so; my conscience, I hope, would not let me thus flatter and deceive you.
Then, where are the fruits? We profess to be Christians, profess to be children of God; but where are the fruits? Where are the fruits inwardly? Where are the fruits outwardly? If we have no fruits inwardly, no fruits outwardly, we may call ourselves what we please, but we shall not be what the Lord calls fruitful children, “trees of His right hand planting.”
From: Sin and Salvation – Selections from J. C. Philpot
Edited by B. A. Ramsbottom