March 20, 2010 Q & A

Producing Fruit


When the Lord speaks of believers producing fruit, some 30, some 60, some 100-fold, how do you interpret this?


Thank you for your question concerning the believing response of fruitfulness in our Lord's parable of the sower.

The parable is about the coming of God's kingdom in the coming of the Christ. That is the historical situation of the parable. The Sower is Jesus. He sows "the word of the kingdom"; that is, the way of the seed. The presence of the kingdom is seen in the very sowing of the seed. When the seed is sown Satan opposes, and fruitlessness results. ("Not even his brothers believed in him," John 7:5.) The parable is not pessimistic, however. There is the positive response to the sowing of the seed of the word of God. "Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain" (Matt. 13:8). Jesus interpreted this: "This is the one who hears the word and understands it" (Matt. 13:23). The seed has germinal power, containing the promise of future blessing in the labors of Jesus' disciples.

Now for the 30-fold, 60-fold, 100-fold. All of them heard and understood the word. They are on equal footing. The Bible does not countenance anything like 30%, 60% or 100% Christians! As one writer has said, "The only conversions that count in the kingdom are those confirmed by a life of discipleship."

None of the biblical scholars I have consulted dwell on the proportions in the parable. John Calvin wrote of those in the parable who received the truth: "the produce of faith is not always alike," "sometimes more abundant, and at other times more scanty."

Our Lord seems to have lumped together the 30/60/100. It does ring true to human nature—those who come to saving faith come from all kinds of backgrounds, personalities, talents, intellectual capacity, etc. They receive and process the truth of Christ differently, including the time element. In other words, we mature spiritually on vastly differing timetables. But we have all embraced the truth of Christ in the gospel! We are fruitful hearers of the word.



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