Reflections on John 15:1-16 (part 4)

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The Fruit

Introduction

The Husbandman planted the Vine, which in turn grew branches that were expected to produce fruit. Everything that God does is perfect and must be fruitful; otherwise there is no point of it being there. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). In this study we will look at why we must, as the branches, bare fruit.

Fruit

“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2).

Simply stated, the branch that continues to be unfruitful must be purged. The words “taketh away” indicate this and no amount of sidestepping the facts annuls the consequences of a godless life. If the branch is not removed then it becomes a hindrance to those that are developing, and it undermines the glory of the Gardener. The only branches that are cut away from the Vine are those that receive the sustenance but show no benefit from doing so. Just being connected to the Vine is insufficient grounds for existence according to Jesus.  Why is it that so many fail to see that a fruitless life is one which is void of eternal life? Do they not understand that we are born again to live a godly life? “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). Surely this is the most glorious fruit any believer can bear!

It is the fruit that everyone notices, therefore if the fruit is nonexistent or rotten, then it reflects badly on the tree and the gardener. We wonder if the sad state of the church today is largely due to its members being rotten to the core and in reality have never submitted themselves to Christ. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16) … “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

Jesus says that the branch that bears fruit will be purged, that is, cleansed and purified. The fruitless and the fruitful branches are not the same, therefore what applies to the one cannot be applied to the other; the first is pruned but the latter purged, [we will look at this in our next study]. Those who are fruitful are kept spiritually healthy, though it often includes a certain amount of suffering for being in a fallen world. Just as a plant is affected by pollution and disease, the believer becomes stained by the world by following its sin. This is where chastisement comes in. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6). God chastens His children so that they can reflect His glory rather than the world’s evil. He purges us of all that is harmful so that we can produce an even greater quantity of fruit. All that God expects of us is that we submit to His will and allow the life of Christ to flow through us. 

Much fruit

“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” (John 15:5).

We read of “more fruit” and “much fruit” in John 15, therefore we can see that “no fruit” is unacceptable to the Husbandman. If we are truly “in” Christ, then it is impossible for us to be fruitless. Does this imply that working for God is being fruitful? Absolutely not! Otherwise we are promoting a works gospel. Machines work, but only a living plant can produce fruit. Religious people might do all the moral things that the Bible promotes, but they are as lost as the sinner. The branch might extend itself and grow large, but if it has no fruit it is a waste of space.

The Fruit of the Spirit must be seen in us after we are born again. “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23), and can only be produced in them “that are Christ’s” and have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24). Such believers are “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work” (Colossians 1:10). In short, the Holy Spirit is operating in their lives instead of the desire of the flesh and the standards of the world.

Abiding fruit

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16).

The word “remain” has almost the same meaning as “abide”, which means that the fruit produced by those who abide in Christ will never grow rotten or die. Natural fruit does not keep, but spiritual fruit is eternal, therefore what we accomplish through Christ will never be forgotten by Him. The more of the self-life that is cut away, the greater will be the fruit of the spiritual life, and so God is glorified even more.

The word “remain” also involves leaving a lasting impression on those around us. Our lives ought to glorify God in every instance. The world may hate us, but it cannot avoid the good believers have accomplished. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing” (1 Peter 3:15-17).

Conclusion

Is saying we are saved evidence enough of eternal life? The Scriptures reduce such a notion to ashes. God expects the saved to be fruitful. “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:22). Instead “we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Romans 7:4), since we used to “bring forth fruit unto death” when we were without Christ (Romans 7:5). Let us not be found making excuses for our ungodliness or arguing against what the Bible plainly teaches. Let us be fruitful in Christ. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away” (Psalm 1:1-4).

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