(Mt. 7:19) Do believers have to bear fruit in order to be saved?

CLAIM: Jesus does say, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Mt. 7:19). Does this mean that we need to bear fruit to be true Christians?

RESPONSE: This soteriological question may or may not be true, but this passage doesn’t prove it. Jesus isn’t speaking about the apostate Christian; the context refers to false teachers and false prophets (vv.15-18). Jesus is referring to how humans can identify true from false teachers (not true from false believers). He says, “You will know them by their fruits” (v.20). Finally, Jesus delivered this message before eternal security had been initiated. Before Pentecost, believers were not eternally secure. For more on this topic, see our earlier article “Lordship Theology” and “Eternal Security.”