Facing the Issues
The Fruit of the Righteous
by Dr. Dennis Corle
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)
We are talking about the fruit of the righteous. The fruit He is talking about here is not what is listed in Galatians 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. That is the fruit of the Spirit.
But this is the fruit of the righteous. The Bible is talking about those of us that are the people of God reproducing after our kind, having spiritual offspring. God has always used human instrumentation to get the job done. The Great Commission was given to the church. I don’t think I need to remind you that even in Cornelius’ case, an angel that was there did not give him the Gospel and tell him how to get saved, but told him where to find a soulwinner. The Gospel has been entrusted to believers, and we have the wonderful privilege and the awesome responsibility of taking that message to every living, breathing soul before it is too late.
In I Corinthians 4:15 when Paul was talking to those Corinthians that he had won to Christ, he said to them, “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” You remember the word begat, don’t you? You see that word when you go through the genealogies in the Old Testament, Abraham begat Isaac and Isaac begat Jacob. It’s a word that speaks of offspring, the children that they had brought into the world. Paul said, “...I have begotten you through the gospel.” Paul was not claiming to have saved them, but he said, “You may have 10,000 people instruct you about the Bible now that you are saved, but there was only one who introduced you to Christ. There was one who, in a spiritual sense, is your father, one who led you to Jesus Christ, one who was the mouth piece, the instrument of God to give you the message that caused you to be born into the family of God.” He said, “Ten thousand people didn’t lead you to Christ. One person did.” It uses that terminology, begotten. He said, “You don’t have 10,000 fathers. You may have 10,000 instructors, but one has begotten you.”
The truth is that God intended for us to assume our role and fulfill our responsibility as soulwinners. Anything that does not bear fruit after its kind will cease to exist. One generation is all it takes. One gap, one generation that does not reproduce after its kind, and it will become extinct.
God intended for Christians to be reproducing after our kind, and not just some of us. I recently read some troubling statistics. In recent years, the religion of Islam has grown by 468%. During the same time period, Christianity has grown by 318%. That number sounds pretty good until you compare it to a religion that has nothing at all for women, a religion that offers no salvation except by shedding your own blood while you shed other peoples’ blood. You are going to tell me a religion that is that empty and hopeless and flawed can out-grow Christianity if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing? We have a risen Saviour Who shed His own blood for our sins and the sins of the world. We have a Saviour that saves people by grace, not works, and not by terror and murder. Are you going to tell me that Islam should be able to out-grow Christianity? There is no logic to that, my friend, unless we are just not getting our message out. The message we have is a message of hope, not a message of despair. If we get the message of hope out in this hopeless world, it will produce converts.
The problem is that many of God’s children have spiritual lockjaw. We’ve been silenced by our fears of what people might think. There comes a time when it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks. There is too much at stake for me to worry about that. We somehow have the idea that if somebody in the church is a soulwinner, then they are Super Christian. It’s just something that a few people do.
Let me ask you a question. If a young man and a young woman got married, would you be shocked if in a few years they had a baby? “Can you believe it? This is very unusual. They are phenomenal.” No, it’s actually kind of normal. Now there are a few things that could prevent that from happening. Either they have an estranged relationship or some kind of a physical problem that prevents them from being able to have a child, or they are trying not to have a child. But it is not unusual for a married couple to have a child.
When you were born again, God likened that to marriage in Ephesians chapter five. You established a spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and God intended for those who are born again to produce spiritual offspring. It’s not just for Super Christian. Everybody who enters that relationship with Jesus Christ is to have spiritual children, converts. He didn’t just intend for that relationship to get me to Heaven when I die; He intended for it to produce spiritual offspring.
What is the problem? Is the problem that you don’t have a a close relationship with Christ? Is the problem that you are unfaithful and estranged? Because in John 15:5 He said, “...without me ye can do nothing.” “...He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit:...” He said, “If I just abide in Him and He abides in me, I’m going to bring forth much fruit.” If we have the intimate, close relationship with Christ we are supposed to have, that relationship if it is proper and healthy will produce spiritual offspring. It’s not my skill, not my ability to speak, not my talent, not my gift that will produce converts. It is the relationship I have with Christ. Is the problem that you are estranged from Christ? If there is something wrong, what is the problem? Is it with Jesus or you? Or are you working harder to explain why you are not responsible to bear fruit than you are at working at bearing fruit? Are you purposely trying not to bear fruit, and trying to convince everybody you are not supposed to? Folks, it doesn’t matter what you say. What the Bible says is the truth.
He tells us, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” So two things we’ve learned so far. Number one, the fruit of the righteous has to do with spiritual offspring. Number two, we find out that it is connected to soulwinning. Because the entire verse says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” If I’m not involved in soulwinning and getting out the Gospel message, then I’m not doing what it takes to produce this fruit.
He tells us only one basic condition on having this fruit. He calls this the fruit of the what? Righteous. The fruit of the righteous. Now there are two kinds of righteousness mentioned in the Word of God. There is imputed righteousness that every believer receives at salvation. Romans 4:5 says, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” That same passage of Scripture a little bit later uses the word impute. It talks about God taking the righteousness of Jesus Christ and imputing it, or putting it on my account, clothing me personally in the righteousness of Christ and putting the righteousness of Christ on my account. Then He takes my sin and imputes it to Christ, puts it on Him as my sacrifice. That’s what took place at Calvary and that’s what you tapped into by faith when you got born again. Every believer has imputed righteousness.
Then the Bible talks about personal righteousness. If you remember in Deuteronomy 6:25, the children of Israel said, “And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.” They are not talking about salvation. This is about personal righteousness. “And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do...” Nobody in any age was saved by doing. They were all saved by grace through faith in the shed blood. Back then they looked forward to Calvary. You and I look back, but Calvary is the focal point of history, the centerpiece of the Bible. The Old Testament crowd looked forward to the coming Messiah and tragically the Jews missed Him, but that opened the door for us Gentiles. They are still in blindness, but now we in this era look back to the finished work at Calvary. So when they said that this shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do, they were not talking about how you get justified to get to Heaven, how you get your sins forgiven; they were talking about personal righteousness. What is personal righteousness? It is me personally doing the right thing.
Another instance where He talks about that kind of righteousness is Job 27:6 where Job said, “My righteousness I hold fast,...” He wasn’t talking about holding on to his salvation or keeping himself saved. Job said, “I’m going through the most difficult time in my life. It’s not easy for me to do the right thing. I don’t feel like doing right or want to do it. I don’t understand, but I refuse to abandon doing right. Regardless of the circumstances, I’m going to just keep on doing right. I’m going to hold fast to my righteousness.” It wasn’t talking about keeping himself saved. It wasn’t talking about redemption. It wasn’t talking about what is imputed by faith. Job was talking about him personally doing the right thing in the most difficult time in his entire life. So we have two kinds of righteousness mentioned, imputed righteousness and personal righteousness.
This fruit that we are talking about in soulwinning is the fruit of the righteous, which is personal righteousness, just doing the right thing. Somebody will say to me, “Preacher, you don’t understand. I’m just not good at talking.” Now look, it is the fruit of the righteous. Suppose I walked up to this pulpit and laid my hands on it and said, “Folks, this pulpit is the fruit of my labor.” What would you read into that? Would you get the idea that my labor produced this, or that I built it? If it’s the fruit of my labor, then my labor produced it. The Bible talks in Galatians 5:22 about the fruit of the Spirit. Would you get the idea if it was the fruit of the Spirit, that the Spirit of God is the One that produces it, that it is the product of the Spirit of God? This fruit that we are talking about in Proverbs 11:30 is the fruit of the righteous. You say, “Why do you keep saying that? Why do you keep emphasizing that?” Because I want you to get ahold of a principle here.
Somebody will say to me, “Preacher, I’m just not a real good talker.” This is not the fruit of the good talker. This is the fruit of the righteous. “But I’m not called to preach.” This is not the fruit of the preacher. This is the fruit of the righteous. “Preacher, I don’t have much education.” This is not the fruit of the educated. This is the fruit of the righteous.
You say, “I have a speech impediment.” This is not the fruit of eloquence. This is the fruit of the righteous. “Preacher, I’m just kind of an introvert.” This is not the fruit of the extrovert, the outgoing personality. This is the fruit of the righteous.
Are you going to tell me that somebody that doesn’t have much education can’t do right? Are you going to tell me somebody that is not eloquent can’t do right? Are you going to tell me that somebody that is a little introverted can’t do right. It’s out of reach for them? It’s impossible? God is expecting the unreasonable, right?
Folks, I hate to tell you this, but Jesus said, “Go ye...” That word ye is a Greek word that means you. (Excuse me. I didn’t mean to get deep like that all of a sudden. That Greek just oozes out of me.) God is talking to you personally. He is talking to me personally. He said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” He ordained us. Not some of us, every one of us.
This is not the fruit of education, nor is it the fruit of talent, nor is it the fruit of eloquence. This is the fruit of the righteous. Do you know what produces this fruit? It’s not good talkers that produce this fruit. It’s righteousness. Me personally doing the right thing produces this fruit. I don’t have to be a good talker. I just have to do right. Because if this is the fruit of the righteous, it’s not my fruit. It’s the fruit of me doing right. It’s not the fruit of my intellect, my salesmanship, my ability, my personality. None of that. It is the fruit of the righteous.
There is only one thing that will keep me from having this fruit. If I don’t have this fruit, I’m just not doing right. You can make all the excuses you want, but this is the fruit of the righteous. If I said, “This pulpit is the fruit of my labor,” then what produced it? My labor. If this fruit that we are talking about is the fruit of the righteous, what produces this fruit? Righteousness. People personally doing the right thing regardless of education, regardless of personality, regardless of any of those things. Righteousness will produce this fruit. Is there somebody here that just can’t do right, it’s impossible for you? If it is impossible for you, then God is unreasonable. Because He expects all of us to do right, and this spiritual fruit is the fruit of the righteous.
In Matthew 4:19 He gives us another statement. “...Follow me, and...” try to be a fisher of men. Right? “...Follow me, and...” some of you will become fishers of men. Right? No, He said, “...Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Folks, we need to quit telling lies and just admit we are not following Jesus. He said, “If you follow Me, I will make you fishers of men. You don’t have to make yourself. This is not a matter of you producing. This is a matter of you following Me and if you follow Me, it’s My responsibility to make you a fisher of men.”
What is the problem? Are you not following Jesus, or did He lie and He didn’t do what He promised? What’s the problem? Are you not doing right, or did God lie when He said that righteousness, doing what’s right, would produce this fruit. Is the problem God, or with the fact that we are not doing right? We’re not following the Lord Jesus. There is only one condition mentioned in this text. This is the fruit of the righteous, and if there is righteousness, that righteousness will produce the fruit. What you are telling me is your personality won’t produce it. We already know that, but doing right will. What’s the problem, you can’t do right? This never was the product of personality. If you produced it and it was personality, not the Holy Ghost of God working through you and using you as an instrument, then you didn’t get anybody saved. The Bible tells us that this is the fruit of the righteous.
Now He describes the fruit. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life. Did He say that the fruit of the righteous is another piece of fruit? No. “What are you getting at, Preacher?” If you take an apple and bury it in the ground and that seed germinates and takes off, what pops out of the ground? Apples? No, an apple tree. So an apple doesn’t produce an apple; it produces an apple tree. That apple tree produces a whole harvest of apples. Every one of the apples in that harvest has the seed within it to reproduce after its kind. Unless man tampers with it and genetically engineers it, every piece of fruit has the seed in it to reproduce after its kind. Every piece of fruit has the seed. Isn’t it a shame that God was more concerned about apples and peaches than He was souls? Isn’t it an awful shame that God made sure that every apple could reproduce after its kind, but every Christian can’t?
Folks, Jesus didn’t die for apples and peaches. He died for sinners. I’ve got news for you. Every person that gets born again has the seed within them to bear fruit after their kind, and if they do right they will bear fruit after their kind. I’m not talking to you about how much, and I’m not talking about getting into a contest trying to impress somebody. I’m talking about you faithfully for a lifetime doing the right thing and trusting God to make it produce what He promised it will produce. I guarantee you will not be disappointed if you’ll do right. God made it so everybody could reproduce because everybody can do right. He said that righteousness will produce this. He put the seed in every Christian, the capacity.
God says, “When I place the Spirit of God in you, I put the seed in you to reproduce after your kind.” “...Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9) If the Holy Ghost doesn’t live in your heart, you are not saved. I’m not talking about what the charismatic crowd talks about as evidence. If you don’t have the indwelling Holy Ghost of God, you are not saved. If you do have the indwelling Holy Ghost of God, He is the Spirit of life. You have the seed to reproduce after your kind. All you have to do is faithfully for a lifetime do right and your righteousness, being used by the Holy Ghost of God, will produce spiritual offspring. I’m weary of all the excuses that folks make, but He gives us a description. He said that the fruit of the righteous is not another piece of fruit. It’s a tree of life. It’s another fruit-bearing tree, another life-giving tree.
Do you know what the fruit of a soulwinner is? The fruit of a soulwinner is not just a profession of faith. The fruit of a soulwinner is not just another convert. The fruit of a soulwinner is another soulwinner. That other soulwinner is going to be your convert because you have a Commission that doesn’t just have to do with getting professions of faith. It has to do with you going and preaching the Gospel, and the Lord saving them, and you getting them baptized, and then you teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. If you teach them to do everything that you are doing, what is that going to make them if you are a soulwinner?
This doesn’t have to do with dynamics. It has to do with righteousness. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life;...” He said that if I do right, it will produce not only converts. It will produce converts, but it won’t stop there. It will produce soulwinning Christians. I will reproduce after my kind.
In Matthew 13:3-9, remember the parable of the sower. “And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:” Before the seed ever germinated, before it ever took root or amounted to anything, the fowls, the emissaries of Satan came and devoured it, took it away before it did anything. What did the guy do, get discouraged and quit? No, he just kept on sowing. You say, “How do you know?” Because the Bible says that some fell on stony ground. If he had gotten discouraged and quit, none would have fallen anywhere else. He just kept on sowing. “Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.” He failed twice. What did he do, get discouraged and quit? No, he just kept on sowing. You say, “How do you know he kept on sowing?” Some seed fell among thorns. None would have fallen anywhere else if he had gotten discouraged and quit when it fell on stony ground. “And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up,...” It showed some real signs of life, but the thorns choked it, and it brought no fruit to perfection.
So what did he do, get discouraged and quit? After all, three strikes and you’re out, right? No, that’s baseball, not soulwinning. He just kept on sowing. How do you know? Because some fell on good ground, and none would have fallen anywhere else if he would have gotten discouraged and quit when it fell among thorns. He just kept on sowing. Could I remind you of the outcome when it finally fell on good ground? “But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” He failed and failed and failed, but he just wouldn’t quit, so he finally succeeded. At first he had something that sprung up, but no fruit. Again he had something that sprung up, no fruit to perfection. But now he has fruit that is bearing fruit, a tree of life, something that is reproducing after its kind. Some of these plants where the seed fell on good ground are bringing forth a hundredfold. That is fruit. He didn’t just have a plant spring up. He didn’t just have a profession of faith. He didn’t just have a positive response. He has fruit that has fruit by degree. Some of the fruit has a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
God said, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Are you listening, Christian? The key is that he never quit dropping seed. You need to be a leaky seed basket. You just need to drop seed everywhere you go. You don’t know if this will prosper, or that will prosper. Just drop seed everywhere.
Now I want to remind you of three very practical things that have to do with being righteous.
The first thing you are going to have to do is participate. Remember the verse I quoted a while ago. “...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) “...Go ye...” That’s pretty personal, isn’t it? You have got to participate. If I got on a boat and went out on a lake all day and never wet a line one time, would I be unreasonable to expect to come back with a live-well full of fish if I didn’t participate and actually wet a line? Why do so many people think that they are not expecting the unreasonable when they pray for sinners to be saved and never wet a line? They ride around in the boat all day, pass sinners, never wet a line, never drop a hook, never bait anything up. Yet they expect to have a live well full of fish. Who are you kidding? You are expecting the unreasonable.
If I went out and sat on a deer stand all day long and didn’t take a rifle or bow with me, never released an arrow, never shot a gun, would I be unreasonable to be expecting to come back with a deer? Do you think I should be expecting to put meat on the table? Would I be expecting the unreasonable if I didn’t plant any seed, but when it came time for harvest I was expecting a garden to pop up in the back yard? “That guy is nuts. He’s expecting a garden to pop up. He doesn’t think you have to plow or plant or weed or hoe. He just thinks you wait and tell it what you want and it is going to pop out of the ground.” You are not going to get what you want. You are going to get what you sow and labor for, folks. You have got to participate. “Go ye.” You are not doing right if you don’t go soulwinning. You are not doing right if you don’t obey God’s command and share the Gospel.
“Preacher, I just don’t know what to say.” Have you ever been saved? Read your Bible. In Acts 9, Acts 22, and Acts 26, three times the Apostle Paul gave his testimony. Every time the Holy Ghost of God used it. Every time folks got saved. Every time conviction fell. If you don’t have a testimony to share, just come on down tonight and get born again so you have something to tell. If you’ve been born again, I don’t care if you have a bunch of verses memorized or not. You’ve got a story to tell. There is nothing any more powerful than your testimony. I’m for you learning some verses, but I’m not for you sitting back doing nothing until you become a Bible scholar. You have something to tell. It takes participation.
It takes persistence. John 15:16 says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain:...” God said, “I’ve ordained every single one of you, not just the preachers. There is something that I have ordained every believer to do.” What’s that? Go and keep on going. That GO is a durative or a linear verb. “What does that mean?” It means it’s a go without a stop. It’s an unending go. You just go and keep on going and keep on going and keep on going until you meet Jesus. God said, “I have ordained that you just go and keep on going. Don’t ever quit. When you’re done, I’ll call you home to your reward. You keep going until then.” So He has ordained for every one of us to just go and keep on going with this Gospel seed.
He has ordained that we should bring forth fruit. We already know what that is. It’s spiritual offspring. He has also ordained that our fruit should remain. As a young Christian, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I have very limited control over how many folks get saved when I go soulwinning. I can’t make anybody get saved. I also learned that you can’t make anybody live for God after they get saved that doesn’t want to. I can’t make them remain and continue to come. I have very limited control over that. So two of the three things that God ordained, I have very limited control over. But you know, there is one thing that God ordained that I have complete control over. I don’t get to decide how many folks get saved when I go. I don’t get to decide how many of them live long term for God, but I do get to decide whether or not I go and keep on going and keep on going and keep on going.
Of the three things that God has ordained, there is only one of them I have control over. Do you know what happens to most people? They get so discouraged over what they can’t control, they quit doing what they can control. They get so discouraged over the fact that they can’t make people get saved and they can’t make them live for God, that they quit going. Let me ask you a question. If I faithfully for a lifetime do what God has ordained for me to do, will I ultimately accomplish what God has ordained for me to accomplish? Absolutely, I can’t fail.
The devil knows that, too. The devil knows that if you just go and keep on going and keep on going and keep on going, he can’t keep you from having fruit that does remain. Do you know what the devil does? He tries to keep you from going. Do you know what else he does? He’ll try to keep your relationship with Jesus Christ so disrupted, that you don’t have any power when you do go. You don’t have a relationship when you do go. So the Bible tells us that God has a plan and a program, but it includes me being persistent and faithful for a lifetime, for me to go and keep on going and keep on going until I meet Jesus. So it not only takes participation; it takes persistence.
It takes the power of God. Acts 1:8 says, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” He said, “Ye shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you...” Do you recall what He told them in Luke 24:49? He said, “...but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem,...” How long? “...until ye be endued with power from on high.” Do you know what He was saying? “Don’t leave home without Me. Don’t go soulwinning without Me. Don’t go to the pulpit without Me. Don’t stand in front of that class without Me. Don’t sing that special without Me. Don’t knock on that door without me. Get on your face and secure My presence. Get plugged into the power source and then we will go together.” He’s talking about persistence, participation, and then we need to be plugged into the power source.
Suppose that after the service tonight, one of the ladies gets a vacuum cleaner out of the closet and she comes in here and covers every inch of the carpet. I mean under the pews, on the platform, the steps, back in the choir area. She really works hard for an hour and a half, two hours. Just one problem, she never did plug the vacuum cleaner in. Do you understand that when she gets done, the floor is as dirty as it was when she started? What’s the problem? Is she lazy? No, she’s worked hard. Did she use the wrong tool? No, she used the right tool. Did she take a shortcut and not cover everything? No, she covered every inch. Then what is the problem? The problem is that vacuum cleaner has an infirmity, or an inability to produce results. That woman has an infirmity. Unless she is plugged into the power source, she ain’t getting nothing done. She is working hard, using the right tool, going through the right motions, taking the right amount of time, but there is nothing to show for it at the end because she is not plugged into the power source. Folks, you and I need to be plugged into the power source.
I’m saying to you, the fruit of the righteous is not the fruit of education. This is not the fruit of personality. This is not the fruit of the preacher. This is the fruit of the righteous. Anybody and everybody in this room can do right. There is only one thing that will keep you from having this fruit. That’s not doing right.
But when it comes to doing right, it has to do with you participating. If you don’t go soulwinning, if you don’t sow any seed, you cannot reap a harvest. It has to do with persistence because this is not a five minute job. It is a life long job. It has to do with power, you keeping a virtuous connection, you having your life clean enough so you can have an intimate closeness in your relationship with Jesus Christ and have the power to produce this fruit.
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life;...” Let me ask you this question. The fruit of the righteous is not just another piece of fruit; it’s another soulwinning Christian. Do you have any of this fruit? If not, what is the problem? Is the problem that you are not doing right, or is the problem that God didn’t do what He promised? What’s the problem? You know the answer, don’t you? “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”