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BEARING FRUIT

By William R. Cunningham
Sunday November 16, 2003

 

INTRODUCTION

The Bible says in Matthew 6:33 to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness as the number one priority in life.  However, this is not the final destination.  Once we seek, we then find according to Matthew 7:7.  There is another step in the process of our Christian walk after we have begun to discover the truths of the Kingdom of God that God has revealed to us.  We must bear fruit.

What is this fruit and how do we bear it?  What does it mean to bear fruit anyway?  Well, today’s lesson will deal with the process of bearing fruit in the Christian life.  We are going to use John 15:1-8 as the foundation of this lesson.  We will analyze each scripture and then put the results of that analysis together along with the revelation that the Spirit of God gives us regarding this topic.

SCRIPTURE LESSON

First read John 15:1-8 just to get a general familiarity with what we will discuss in this lesson.  Now let us look at each scripture individually for the information and revelation that they provide.

John 15:1 (NKJV) 1“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

Jesus first identifies himself as the true vine.  The phrase “true vine” simply highlights the fact that Jesus is the genuine vine.  Jesus could have done this to make a distinction between his allegory here and that of the common teaching of the day, which identifies Israel as the vine. 

Jesus also says that His Father is the vinedresser or gardener or farmer (of the vineyard).  The King James Version of the Bible uses the word husbandman, which means a land worker or farmer.

John 15:2 (NKJV) 2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Let’s consider some key words here.  Some key words are: “in Me,” bear, “takes away,” prunes, and fruit. 

The phrase, “in Me” refers to the intimate relationship one would have with Jesus.  It denotes a fellowship with Christ.  Paul uses the phrase “in Him” quite often. Consider Romans 8:1; Romans 6:23; and Philippians 4:13.

Bear:  The word, bear, simply is another way of saying, produce.

Takes away:  The phrase, “takes away” comes from the Greek word airo, which means to lift, to take up or away.

Prunes:  The word prune comes from the Greek word kathairoô, which means to cleanse.  The process of pruning in gardening is to clean by cutting back so that more growth would occur.

Fruit:  Next is the word, fruit.  The word “fruit” has several meanings or usages in the Bible.  Let’s review them now.

  1. Descendants – Fruit of the womb
  2. It is used in a way similar to our word “results” – Fruit of the Spirit, which denotes the results of the Spirit’s workings in a Christian’s life (Galatians 5:22-23).
  3. It is used to denote the manifestations or expressions of something.
    1. Fruits of righteousness (Philippians 1:11; James 3:18)
    2. Fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:8)
    3. Fruits of the light (Ephesians 5:9)
    4. Their (or your) fruits (Matthew 7:15-20).  This denotes the qualities manifested in one’s life.
    5. Fruits of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 21:43)
  4. It sometimes denotes a reward – Isaiah 3:10; John 4:36; Philippians 4:17
  5. It sometimes refers to new Christian converts – Romans 1:13; 1 Corinthians 16:15

We see here that those who are in Christ that do not produce fruit are taken away to give room for growth.  Those who are in Christ that bear fruit are cleansed (pruned) so that they would bear even more fruit.  The focus here is on bearing fruit and not so much the vine.

Other references to the usage of the term fruits are John 15:16 and Romans 7:4

Apostasy

We must be careful here how we interpret verse two.  Notice that Jesus said that those who are IN HIM and don’t produce fruit will be taken away.  This raises the question whether or not a Christian can willingly reject Jesus and His teachings.  Can a Christian lose his or her salvation?  This is sometimes referred to as apostasy or falling away from the faith.  However apostasy is the falling away from the faith after hearing the truth and then rejecting it.  It is one who knows the truth but rejects it anyway for whatever reason.

So when Jesus said “In Him” that meant a fellowship and intimate relationship with Him as His disciples had.  However, this does not necessarily mean that they were saved or believed in Jesus Christ.  It only denotes the fact that they heard and knew the truth of Jesus Christ and what He taught.  Even the 12 disciples didn’t understand or believe that Jesus was the Christ until after the resurrection.  Surely we can conjecture that the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ were not chosen because of their faith in Him.  Their faith came as a result of hearing and knowing the truth and then embracing and accepting it.

King Saul is an example of an apostate.  See also Hebrews 10:26-29. This last reference describes a person who has come to know the truth of the Gospel, but rejects that Gospel.  There is nothing that could be done for that person because they have rejected the very thing and the only thing that could effect salvation for them.  Jesus can’t die again to give that person something else.

Therefore, we can see how someone could be In Christ and yet be unfruitful.  They would have been those disciples or followers of Christ that heard and therefore knew the teachings of Jesus, but did not allow it to produce the corresponding fruit in their lives.  The foremost apostate in this regard was Judas Iscariot.  There were other disciples of Jesus that fell away as well.  See John 6:36, 64, 66.

John 15:3 (NKJV) You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

Now Jesus tells his disciples that they were already clean by the word that He had spoken to them previously.  They have been pruned so to speak.  The Greek word here is katheros, which means to clean.  This word and the word Kathairoo in verse two (pruned, purged) are related as you can see.

John 15:4 (NKJV) Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

The word “abide” means to remain stable or fixed in a state, to continue in a place. It means to stay in a place, relationship, state, or expectancy.  Therefore, we can only bear fruit if we remain in Christ Jesus and He is in us (His Spirit).  We cannot bear fruit by our own strength and therefore disconnected fro the vine.  We must be connected to the vine (Jesus) in order to bear fruit.

John 15:5 (NKJV) “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

So Jesus is the vine that we, the branches, come from.  Unless we continue in our relationship with Christ (salvation) and He remains in us then we will bear much fruit.  Without Jesus Christ there is nothing that we can do.

John 15:6 (NKJV) If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

Again we see the apostate here.  Anyone who does not abide or remain in Christ is cast out like a dead branch that withers away.  The gathering and burning with fire seems to only serve as added detail to the allegory and not a suggestion of a spiritual matter or the interpretation of the allegory.

John 15:7 (NKJV) If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

Note that the most reliable text does not include “you will” in this verse.

Now consider that the person that abides in Jesus and Jesus abides in that person is destined to bear fruit.  Therefore, the overall focus here is that of bearing fruit.  With that in mind, we can deduce that the desire of this individual would be conducive or consistent with bearing fruit.

This verse is phenomenal in the truth that it reveals to us in God’s ultimate purpose for us.  We are to bear fruit and anything that we ask the Father to that regard will be granted.  Since we abide in Jesus, then our desires will be more consistent with the mind of Christ so to speak.  Consider 1 John 5:14-15.

Also note the apparent change in context between verses six and seven.  In verse six Jesus says “if anyone.”  In verse seven He starts by saying, “If you.”

John 15:8 (NKJV) By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Bearing fruit is not the end in itself.  The ultimate goal is to glorify the Father.  The word “glorify” means to make glorious by bestowing honor, praise, or admiration [1] .  God is to be glorified and the results of our lives would bring Him that.

This also sheds some light on verse seven as well.  If we ask something to ultimately bring God glory then we can count on God granting us the request.  Of course this too has to be within the will of God.  It is conceivable to think that something we deduce would bring God glory might very well do so.  However, it might not be God’s plan for us to do.

LESSON APPLICATION

Now let’s go over what we have learned so far and see what questions arise so that we can apply these truths learned to our own lives.

Abiding In Him

We have learned that those who remain in Christ (abide in Christ) bear fruit and glorify the Father.  However, you might as, “how do I abide in Jesus Christ?”  That would be a logical and expected question.  The Bible does tell us how to do just that.  Consider the following scriptures.

1 John 3:24 (NKJV) 24Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.


John 14:21 (NKJV) 21He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

1 John 4:12-16 (NKJV) 12No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

We abide in Christ and the Father (since they abide in each other) when we love Him and keep His commandments.  To abide in Christ means to do what He says, i.e., live according to His teachings and to love Him.  We know that Christ dwells in us by the Holy Spirit that God has given to us.  We also see that the very nature of being saved implies that we abide in Him and He abides in us.  Only those who are saved would confess that Jesus is the Son of God.

We also see that those who continue in love abide in God since God is love.  So a person who lives a life of love gives indication that he or she abides in God and God in him or her.

What Fruit?

What fruit are we to bear?  We said that fruit in this context seems to refer to the results of abiding in Jesus.  What could these results be?  They could be a number of things.  Galatians 5:22-23 gives us some things that the Spirit of God produces and therefore would produce in us if the Spirit indeed dwell in us.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

These fruit are those things that spring from the life of a believer.  These are those things that are manifested by the lifestyle of a Christian.  The word of God produces these fruits in our lives.  I will call these primary fruit.  Some more examples of primary fruits are compassion, forgiving attitude, helpful, loyal, and much more.

Secondary Fruit

There is another type of fruit that I would like to briefly mention.  These are the things that are produced by what we do.  Consider the following scripture.

Psalm 1:1-3 (NKJV) Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

We all have various talents and abilities that God has given us.  We can use those talents and abilities to accomplish great things according to God’s will.  Some will form churches, businesses, foundations, ministries, and a plethora of other entities.  Some of us have great ideas and visions for a number of different things such as community service or Christian education for example.

These are some of the things that could be formed by our efforts.  These aren’t always in the form of institutions or business entities.  Sometimes it is simply a gift that God has given you to do something specific.  Consider the gift that John the Baptist had in preparing the way for Jesus Christ.  Some of us prepare the way or the environment for others to operate in.  None of us can do all things so we need each other to make the whole effective. 

Your vision could be instrumental in the production of fruit for the Kingdom of God and for the sake of others.  Paul produced many churches for example.  Martin Luther produced the Protestants.  We could go on and on of how many men and women did what God called them to do and produced great and effective things.

You too can produce fruit that will produce more and more fruit for God.  You can do great things in the Kingdom of God and on behalf of the Kingdom of God.  However, it is important that you realize that you can do nothing without Christ.  Your success is assured if you abide in the vine and avoid running out to do your own thing.

Abide in Jesus by loving and doing what He taught.  The triad is love, trust, and obedience.  Those produce success when implemented in our lives.  We bear fruit when we are with Christ and Christ is with us.  We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).  Amen.



[1] Merriam-Webster, I. (1996, c1993). Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. Includes index. (10th ed.). Springfield, Mass., U.S.A.: Merriam-Webster.

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