And The Branches Will Be Burned

Robert T. Oliver

As a Christian, must I convert someone that is lost in order to be saved myself? Some years back I spoke with an elderly Christian lady that was terrified of dying. She did not know if she had converted anyone to Christ, and she had been taught that she would be lost if she had not done so. Every time the congregation sang I am the Vine and ye are the branches, she would become sick with worry.

I, too, have heard it preached that, as Christians, we must bear fruit or we will be lost. They use as their proof text the parable of the vine and branches.

John 15:5-8 reads: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

These brethren teach that our job as Christians is to bear fruit, and, what is the fruit of the Christian but other Christians? Therefore, if we do not bear fruit, or convert others, we will be “cast into the fire and burned.”

If this interpretation were true, it would place our salvation in the hands of others. According to this teaching, you could teach the gospel every day of your life, and, if someone is not converted, you would be lost! Is the Bible really teaching this? Consider 1 Corinthians 3:6: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”

Our job is to plant the seed, or teach the word. It is God that gives the increase. If this is so, what does it mean when the Bible tells us to “bear fruit”?

The Bible does speak of the fruit the Christian must bear. Notice what Paul says in Galatians 5:22-25. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Yes, the Christian must bear fruit, but fruit that we control. Our salvation depends on how we live and serve our Lord, not on how others react. -585 Winding Ridge Road, Rock Spring, GA 30739.

(Editor’s note: Brother Bob Oliver is the son of our beloved brother R. C. Oliver, whose articles once appeared so often in our paper. Bob’s father died December 23, 1998, in Winter Haven, FL. His mother, Virginia, died July 8, 2005 in Chattanooga, TN. She, too, wrote for the paper. Bob spent several years of his youth in Parkersburg. We are honored to print this article from him. Please read his letter on page 7.)

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