“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance … The ax 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 3:8-10
Just as an apple tree yields apples, true repentance yields “fruit in keeping with repentance.” If no “good fruit” has been produced, then there has been no true repentance. John the Baptist was not preaching a “works” Gospel in the sense that we can work our way into heaven, but he was preaching the Gospel, which teaches that when salvation’s grace comes into a life, there will be “works” that will follow. If I have walked to the front of a church, said a sinner’s prayer, and perhaps even joined the church; and yet my life is otherwise unchanged – there is a big problem. The Bible says that those truly converted will “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” When I see an apple tree during harvest time, I have no difficulty identifying it as an apple tree. In the same way, those who are watching our lives should have no problem identifying us as followers of Christ. If placed before a jury and you were asked to prove that you were a Christian, what evidence would you have to present? Could you call for witnesses that could convince the jury? What change in your lifestyle, what “fruit in keeping with repentance” could you provide? You may say, “I saved by grace!” Yes, but true grace bears works. Is this really important? “The ax 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.” Sadly, Judgment Day will bring some terrible surprises for those who have been deceived into believing that they “can live like the devil and still make heaven.” This is not true repentance, and true repentance is what it takes to enter the Presence of King Jesus.
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17