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Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 2:7-8  Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  8 And the LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.

Genesis 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

Genesis 8:17 “Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.”

Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

Genesis 9:7 “And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”

Genesis 35:11 God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you.

Jeremiah 23:3 “Then I Myself shall gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and shall bring them back to their pasture; and they will be fruitful and multiply.

It is important to understand that the fruitfulness God desires is not just large quantities of offspring, but fruit that is choice and of the highest quality.  It is those who are choice in His sight who are chosen to be His people.  Jesus said that while many are called, few are chosen, because there are few who enter by the narrow gate to clothe themselves with the wedding clothes that are the righteous acts of the saints.  The Bride He chooses for Himself is without spot or wrinkle, or any other blemish, but is holy and blameless.  God wants us to be fruitful, but He is interested in quality, not just quantity.  Thus, obeying God’s command to be fruitful in the way He intends also requires obedience to all His commands so as to bear choice fruit.  Thus, when God established His covenant with the nation of Israel after He had led them out of the land of Egypt, He gave them commandments by which they might bear choice fruit.

Deuteronomy 7:12-14  “Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers.  13 “And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you.  14 “You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle.

The Bible has much to say about being fruitful, so it is not surprising that it also has much to say about what happens when God comes looking for good fruit and doesn’t find it.

Isaiah 5:1  Let me sing now for my well-beloved A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.  2 And He dug it all around, removed its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it, And hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones.  3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard.  4 “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?  5 “So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.  6 “And I will lay it waste; It will not be pruned or hoed, But briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”  7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.

Matthew 21:19  And seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it, and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.

Mark 11:13-14, 20  And seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. [God’s people are to be fruitful in season and out of season, bearing as a fig tree in the spring at least imperfect fruit as the promise of a greater harvest in the fall, and not just an ostentatious pretense of fruit as was the case of the Jewish nation at that time.] 14 And He answered and said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.  …  20 And as they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up.

Luke 13:6-9  And He began telling this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, and did not find any.  7 “And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’  8 “And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer;  9 and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'”

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.  3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.  6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.  7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.  8 “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

Clearly, one of the most important themes throughout Scripture is that God has commanded that people should be fruitful and multiply.  We are His vineyard planted in the earth and He shall come seeking its fruit.  That fruit may be purely physical in the most direct sense of children, or it may be material in regard to the unique abilities He gives to each individual both through their nature and their nurture to subdue the earth and make the world a better place, or it may be spiritual in regard to the spiritual giftings He has given to those born into His kingdom through His Spirit to further His kingdom, again both through their nature and their nurture.

By nature I mean the circumstances of our birth that are beyond our control and that come to us through our parents, whether it be our physical parents or our spiritual parents who gave birth to us.  For the heredity of some, whether physical or spiritual, disposes them to greater understanding, skills and opportunities than others, for which they will be held to greater account, having greater responsibility to exercise their gifts according to their ability.

By nurture I mean the different environments following one’s physical or spiritual birth, that in many cases will be a continuation of their nature inherited from their parents.  Donald Trump Jr. and Chelsea Clinton had greater worldly opportunities and are richer for it than most people because of the environments in which they grew up.  And disciples nurtured in the strongest churches with sound educational programs and a long history of practical ministry have greater opportunities and are spiritually richer for it than those born into churches more influenced by the world that are light on sound doctrine and serving others.  But there are of course times when those of high birth may be stymied by unfavorable circumstances of life, while those of low birth may find themselves blessed by more favorable circumstances.

Hence, there are a wide variety of different circumstances by which God may judge the quality of each man’s fruit, just as there are many different types of fruit that He looks for.  But what is not in question is that He is expecting and looking for good fruit, and where there is no fruit, there is great danger.  There is the danger of having God’s hedge of protection removed so that we become trampled ground and are laid waste, so that instead of good fruit we can only produce the bad fruit of thorns and thistles.  There is the terrible danger of being cursed so as to wither from the roots up, and hear from the Lord of the harvest that you were not fruitful, so be fruitful no more.  “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.”  “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!”  The just recompense for those who will not bear the fruit for which they were planted is to bear fruit no more.  It is to be cut down and no longer use up the ground that could be used for other plantings that will bring forth fruit.  It is to be cut off, cast aside, dried up, and then thrown into the fire so that the rest of the vine might be even more fruitful.

As an example of this truth consider what has happened over the past 50 years as the number of people experiencing problems trying to conceive children has greatly increased along with the increase of birth control by which so many have deliberately sought to make themselves unfruitful.  Many couples who have delayed having children until later in life are now finding it difficult to conceive at all.  Abortion especially is known to adversely affect a woman’s ability to conceive, but so does long-term use of birth control pills, which are also linked to breast cancer, just as vasectomies are linked to prostate cancer.  And it isn’t as if those who somehow manage to escape being directly affected by these things are safe.  Because the earth is now polluted by so many synthetic hormones that disrupt the endocrine system and corrupt God’s natural order such problems are affecting everyone.

Isaiah 24:5-6 The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant.  6 Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty.

The reasons are many and the issues complex, but the global effect of mankind’s resistance to God’s command to be fruitful and multiply is that birth rates have now fallen below replacement level in nearly every industrialized country.  And the consequences aren’t as simple as just having less babies to take care of.  In fact, there are dire economic consequences of not being fruitful and multiplying.  Thriving economies only happen in growing populations that drive demand for goods and services and cannot happen in declining populations that lack the demand that drives innovation.  Many nations, such as Russia and China, have now recognized that their declining birth rates are an existential threat that they are trying to address by incentivizing more births, but it isn’t working.  After adjusting their lives to no children and the work required to raise them, people the world over are now loathe to just flip a switch and suddenly change their attitudes.  And so to try to save their nations and their economies they are also turning to immigration—importing people from poorer nations to make up for their own lack, making those nations even poorer while creating additional problems from the influx of immigrants.  Yes, there is a lot more to the immigration crisis on our southern border than first meets the eye.

We see then that even in the most basic context of being fruitful and multiplying, there are many complex principles of fruitfulness that we may not fully understand so that in faith we must choose to obey God rather than to just do our own will.  The complex principles that affect larger populations also affect us on a more local and personal level in ways we may not perceive, and not just in terms of the physical fruitfulness of children, but also in terms of material fruitfulness that makes our lives easier and happier and fuller and richer, as well as the spiritual fruitfulness that brings peace and joy as men are reconciled to God and delivered from sin.  Especially as Christians we should understand that if we are negligent to obey God’s laws to bear spiritual fruit we may also in time find that the Spirit is gone, and with it the gifts we once had so that we wither from the roots up and are no longer even capable of bearing fruit.

1Samuel 16:14 14 Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him.

Ezekiel 10:18-19 18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.  19 When the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from the earth in my sight with the wheels beside them; and they stood still at the entrance of the east gate of the LORD’s house. And the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.

Matthew 23:37-38 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.  38 “Behold, your house (i.e., the temple) is being left to you desolate!

Ephesian 4:30 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

We should also not imagine that our spiritual fruitfulness can be separated from our physical and material fruitfulness.  They all work together, and when there is failure in one it negatively affects the others.  The Church is rooted in the home, so that if the home suffers, so does the Church.  If you have visited different churches lately, you cannot help but notice that large numbers of them are very literally dying.  If they are full at all, they are mostly full of older people and very few children and young adults.  In addition to the declining birth rates even among Christians, the allure of the world has resulted in vast numbers of them abandoning the faith.  But more than just the absence of kids who will grow up in the faith to carry the gospel forward to the next generation, without children for parents to raise, how shall there be elders who have been learned to manage their own household well so as to manage the household of God?

1Timothy 3:4-5  An overseer must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity  5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?);

As mentioned earlier, just having more babies is only a small part of the fruitfulness God is looking for, since children require nurture and care from both a mother and father who follow God’s plan for happy and healthy and prosperous homes.  That requires a real sacrifice of personal pleasures and the things of the world.  It also requires the submission of our own wills to God’s design, and the discipline of day-in, day-out, hard work while swimming upstream in a culture that opposes all of our efforts and tempts us to join it on the broad road that looks more appealing but that leads to destruction.  Being fruitful and bearing good fruit is hard work that requires much time and energy and faith to weather the setbacks that tempt us to lose heart and give up.  In addition to being faithful and diligent to make the most of the time we have, fruitfulness also requires an infrastructure of extended family and the Church for instruction on real life and support in times of trouble.  We should understand that the breakdown of the family and corruptions within the Church of both doctrine and morality are clear evidence that the curse is already being poured out: because we as a people have not been fruitful, we are in great danger of being fruitful no more.

The question then is this: what are you doing with the gifts that God has given you both by nature and nurture to be fruitful?  In youth, the most important thing you can do is make the most of the opportunity you have to get whatever education you need to support yourself and a family.  There is a lot to learn in today’s world and I can assure you that keeping up with the Kardashians or obtaining a certain level on a video game are closer to the bottom than the top of things you need to know.  Having taught 25 years at the community college I can’t tell you how many people I ran into who found out too late that they squandered the opportunity they had when they were young to learn things that they now wish they had, but now realize that it is a lot more difficult, if not impossible, to try to get them with all of their other responsibilities.  And I’m not talking about just sitting in a classroom since our educational systems have also been corrupted.  I’m talking about real life skills that are valuable to you and to others, whether that involves higher education or a specialized trade or just simple life skills serving others, but that all require getting up in the morning and being diligent to develop skills that are valuable to you and to others.  And most importantly, it includes becoming grounded in the faith so that you can teach your own children and others and aspire to one whom the Church can call upon as an anchor to hold it fast in the storms that are guaranteed to assail God’s people.

The opposite side of that coin is for those who are older to assist those who are younger in successfully growing up in the midst of this crooked and depraved generation.  It has never been easy to grow up unscathed by the world, but with the proliferation of media porn and violence with which the world is now awash, not to mention an epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse and the narcotic of computer addictions that people have turned to in order to escape the torments of our age, there has perhaps never been as difficult a time as now.  With all of the pressures they face it isn’t easy being a kid these days, as the explosion of suicide makes clear.  As elders, what are we doing to protect and support our children and youth from adding to the statistics of those who have abandoned the faith, or their lives?

Whether we are physically young, or even physically old but spiritually young, it is essential that we develop our gifts for works of service and make the most of our opportunities to learn how to use what God has given us to serve Him, both by formal education and by practical experience.  All of us have gifts—physical, material, and spiritual—and all of us are at different levels of ability in the use of those gifts.  But the question remains: what are we doing with them.  God is coming looking for the fruit from what He has entrusted to us.  Will He find it?  He has planted us as a vineyard on a fertile hill and left for us a good deposit; are we guarding the treasure entrusted to us, and passing it along to those who are faithful, and who will be able to teach others also?  However great or however humble they might be, are we exercising the gifts God has given us to bring forth fruit according to our ability?

All of God’s work—physical, material, spiritual—is a blessing, and God put man in the garden of His delight to tend it in order that it might be a joy to both of them.  Are we diligent about going to work in God’s field, or are we slothful?  He has lit for us a lamp; are we hiding it under a container where it will go out, or under a bed where it could burn down our house?  What gift has He given you that you haven’t put on a lampstand so that others may see the light?  Can I tell you that if He hasn’t already, God will certainly come looking for its fruit, and if He doesn’t find it, you are in danger not just of missed opportunities in the past, but of having your gifts taken away so that cannot be fruitful in the future.  Perhaps Jesus has even already interceded for you to the Father and dug around and put in fertilizer and said, “Let it alone for one more year.  If it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.”

Let us then give heed, that we may never hear such terrible words from the vineyard keeper, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.  May no one ever eat fruit from you again!”  Do not curse yourselves.  Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.  If you are still a youth, remember that “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his actions are pure and right” (Pro 20:11).  You need to shut off your cell phone and video games and make the most of the opportunity you have to get a good education to provide for yourself and be of service to God and others. If you are a young man putting off marriage to pursue the passing pleasures of the world, you need to man-up and settle down to a disciplined, simple, quiet life of work to provide for a wife and children.  If you are a young lady going about from house to house on social media, talking about things not proper to mention, you need to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach.  If you are young and married and putting off having children to avoid responsibility and accumulate more of the world’s goods, you need to put away your birth control and pursue the only treasures of this world that are eternal and believe God when He says that children are a gift of the Lord and the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Would you build Christ’s Church?  Would you prepare yourself to manage God’s household?  The Bible teaches that the primary way to do that is to learn to manage your own.  But you can’t manage what you don’t have.  And if you are older and have raised a family, what are you doing to help organize and manage the church, especially in setting an example and helping those who are younger to navigate the many stumbling blocks they face in today’s world?

Titus 2:1 But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. 6 Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; 7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. 9 Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,  12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,  13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;  14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.  15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

The Scripture is clear that God has commanded every one of us to be fruitful and multiply.  And you may suppose your one little talent is so small that God won’t expect anything from you.  But the talent isn’t yours, it is His, and He will certainly come looking for the choice fruit of His own labor for which you were planted and He entrusted it to you.

Matthew 25:14-30 14 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them.  15 “And to one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.  16 “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.  17 “In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.  18 “But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the ground, and hid his master’s money.  19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.  20 “And the one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I have gained five more talents.’  21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.’  22 “The one also who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted to me two talents; see, I have gained two more talents.’  23 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’  24 “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed.  25 ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground; see, you have what is yours.’  26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed.  27 ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.  28 ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’  29 “For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.  30 “And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

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