"Burning The Trees"

J. D. Conley
September 21, 2014

The sermons of John the Immerser were direct and to the point. No one in his audience ever had difficulty understanding his preaching. One of his sermons contained this cut and dried statement, "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Luke 3:9). Those assembled who heard this sermon were Jews who frankly did not believe they needed to hear such things directed toward them. After all, they were God's chosen people, they had their birthrights, their religious rituals and professions to guarantee their salvation. In their minds salvation was their right as Jews and sermons like John's (or anyone else), were not needed nor appreciated.

Yet nominal, (i.e., name only), religion won't save anyone regardless of their heritage. John drives home the point that in order to keep our trees (ourselves) out of the fire, our trees (we) must produce fruit. The Jews needed to quit bragging about their fleshly tie to Abraham and begin living as children of that great "Friend of God" (James 2:23). All their bragging only brought them barrenness because they really didn't have anything to brag about as verse eight sets forth, "...God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."

The same holds true for members of the Lord's church today. We have nothing over which to glory "...save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14).

Christians must not take ease in the kingdom just because they come from a long line of Christians, or preachers, or elders. Its wonderful to be members of a faithful congregation as well as a great blessing to have heard stalwart gospel preachers, but that in and of itself, will not get us one inch closer to eternal salvation.

Although salvation is not earned or deserved as some think, it nonetheless will fail to be ours unless we rid ourselves of the dead wood and get busy producing fruit in our lives. Just being in the church or wearing the name "Christian" is insufficient. Just warming a pew three times a week is not producing fruit. Let us cast the kindling of nominal Christianity into the fire and get to work producing fruit. If we desire or expect salvation, we have no choice.