Luke 3:7-9 ESV
He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
John the Baptist was a burning and a shining lamp, a fiery prophet in the spirit of Elijah. He knew what the natural state of humans was, and he was not afraid to tell the people what they were.
We are all conceived in iniquity (Psalm 51:5) and are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). We are totally depraved and spiritually dead, unable to do or be good apart from Jesus Christ.
He called the crowd a brood of vipers, and told them to bear fruits in keeping with repentance. He warned them of an imminent, fiery judgment. He would probably not be a popular preacher today, but that is one reason why the present-day Church is so weak.
We do not realize the depth of our own depravity, and so we do not realize the depth of our need for Christ.
We do not preach true repentance any longer, which is a turning away from sin toward God.
We have preached God is love, but we have failed to preach that God hates sin. We no longer hate sin.
We have preached God is love, but we have failed to preach God is just and righteous. He does, and will, judge sin.
Like the crowd before John the Baptist, we to must bear fruits in keeping with repentance. We must realize that even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
The Apostle Paul also preached about bearing fruit. He said:
Galatians 5:19-24 ESV
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
When we find ourselves bearing the fruit of the flesh rather than the fruit of the Spirit, we need to return to the cross.