Bearing Fruit (John 15:1-8, Part 3)
BEARING FRUIT (JOHN 15:1-8) I. These verses emphasize the need for saints to be characterized by the bearing of (spiritual) fruit. A. The ordinance FOR the first Adam (and his seed) was one of natural fruitfulness to subdue the earth. GEN 1:28; GEN 9:1; GEN 9:7. B. The ordinance FROM the Last Adam (to His seed) is one of spiritual fruitfulness to subdue the flesh. ROM 6:22. C. The fruit of the Spirit are such things as mentioned in GAL 5:22-24. D. NOTE: Root precedes fruit! MAT 7:17-19. II. JOH 15:1. Christ identifies Himself as the true vine. A. It is Him to Whom men must be attached to have life, not natural Israel. JOH 5:26 c/w JOH 14:6; GAL 3:28-29. B. The church is a vine. PSA 80:8. C. Thus, Christ identifies with His church as being of one stock. HEB 2:11. See also HOS 11:1 c/w MAT 2:15. 1. The church is His body, of which He is the Head. COL 1:18. 2. We are members of Him. EPH 5:30. D. God is the Husbandman of the church; it is His husbandry (1CO 3:9), not Abraham's, Moses', Peter's, the Pope's or Billy Graham's. III. JOH 15:2-6. Christ warns of the Father's will in dealing with the branches of His vine. A. Consider the sorry end of discarded fruitless branches. 1. The idea is that if a person produces no fruit, he has no part in the church/vine. This was represented in the O.T. exclusion of eunuchs and such like. DEU 23:1; ISA 56:3. 2. It is true that there are some who get into the church who are fruitless because they have NO part in Christ. MAT 15:12-13; JUDE 1:12-13. 3. But Christ here affirms "Every branch IN ME that beareth not fruit He taketh away..." a. This is problematic for Calvinism, which generally denies the possibility of non-fruit-bearing elect children of God. b. Scripture makes allowance for people who are IN Christ eternally, but not in Him practically or temporally. The blinded elect portion of natural Israel is such an example. ROM 11:26-29. c. This taking away and discarding does not mean that a person loses his eternal redemption which he has by covenant promise. Christ will not thus deny Himself. 2TI 2:12-13 c/w NUM 23:19. d. Rather, he is severed from the spiritual comforts, guides and blessings which God bestows upon FAITHFUL saints, and so puts his spiritual condition into question. HEB 6:7-8. 4. When a chosen vessel ceases to be productive or useful, it is liable to be discarded, and God suffers no damage as a result. JER 18:1-4; LUK 14:34-35. a. No person or group is indispensable to God or His goals. ROM 11:19-22. b. Thus, even saints of the highest station should strive to subdue the flesh. 1CO 9:27. 5. The discarding of unfruitful branches may apply to saints as: a. Individuals, in that spiritual support and blessings may be withdrawn from them through quenching the Spirit. JDG 16:20; 1SA 16:14; 1TH 5:19. b. Church members, in that they may be turned out of the church for ungodliness, and are thus severed from the Spirit of God in His ministration of graces and blessings peculiar to the church. 1CO 5:5-7. c. Churches (as entities), in that they may through sin lose their status as being a true church of Jesus Christ. REV 2:5-7. 6. We ought to be thankful that God is also patient and merciful. REV 2:21; JAM 5:7; LUK 13:6-9. B. Consider God's dealings with fruit-bearing branches. 1. Those who do bear fruit are not cast away, but they are purged. 2. God suffers the righteous to undergo afflictions to refine them. PSA 119:71, 75. 3. When He chastens us thus, it is not for our destruction, but for our improvement. HEB 12:11. 4. NOTE: If the figure of pruning is followed through here, it implies that there may be an over-emphasis in our Christian walk on certain "fruits" that need to be pruned back so other fruit may develop. a. Perhaps we have been big on outward Christianity, but not on inward spiritual values. MAT 23:23-24. b. Perhaps we have been big on judgment to the disregard of mercy. JAM 2:13. c. Perhaps we have emphasized practical righteousness to such a degree that we have forgotten "the LORD our righteousness" (JER 33:16), a condition which can be destructive. ECC 7:16. d. Perhaps we have embraced peace and love to the neglect of holy striving and contention. LUK 12:51 c/w JUDE 1:3; 1PE 3:15. e. Perhaps we have exalted faith to the neglect of obvious duty. JAM 2:14-17. f. Perhaps we have emphasized inferior temporary gifts to the neglect of more excellent durable virtues. 1CO 13:8. 5. We do well to purge ourselves of unprofitable baggage which only hampers our Christian walk. 1CO 3:11-15; 2TI 2:20-21. C. In JOH 15:3, Jesus says, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." There is cleansing power in the word of Christ. 1. In regeneration, the elect are cleansed inwardly by the effectual creative power of the spoken voice of Christ. a. Christ's voice has the power to quicken the dead by calling. JOH 5:28-29 c/w JOH 11:43-44 c/w JOH 12:17. b. The inward change from spiritual death unto life is described as a cleansing. EPH 2:1 c/w TIT 3:5. c. This cleansing, quickening call is unto eternal glory and is exclusive of human works, according to predestination. 1PE 5:10 c/w 2TI 1:9-10; ROM 8:30. d. This cleansing change by the word is by Christ's voice (not the preacher's); it is irresistible. JOH 5:25. e. This cleansing by the word surely fits the family of God for glory. They are certainly and fully cleansed. EPH 5:25-27. f. This cleansing change is Christ working salvation into men. g. Those who have this cleansing need only to cleanse their walk. JOH 13:10. 2. In conversion, the elect undergo practical cleansing and sanctification via reform of thoughts and actions through obedience to the published word of Christ (the gospel). JOH 17:17-20. a. This cleansing is impossible for the unregenerate. JOH 8:43-44 c/w 1CO 2:14. b. This cleansing by the word is something which the regenerate elect are responsible to do themselves. It pertains to the outward man. 2CO 7:1 c/w JAM 4:8. c. The truth of the word is thus the element of the purging away of the elects' committed sins in a temporal sense, withholding God's chastening. PRO 16:6 c/w ACT 26:18; 1CO 11:31-32. d. By continuing in the word of truth, the elect experience continual cleansing. 1JO 1:7; PSA 119:9 c/w JOH 8:31-32. e. This cleansing by the published word is the working out of the salvation which Christ worked into the elect by His spoken word. PHIL 2:12-13. f. This cleansing by the word is very resistible. ACT 7:51; 2TI 3:8; ISA 1:16-20. 3. In resurrection, the word that Christ personally speaks effectually cleanses away any trace of the old man. The whole man is cleansed. 1CO 15:51-52 c/w JOB 14:14-15 c/w PHIL 3:20-21; 1JO 3:2. a. This cleansing by the word of Christ was demonstrated in the healing of the flesh at His first advent. MAR 1:40-42. b. At the resurrection, all of our vileness and infirmity shall be cleansed away. c. Then shall we fully know, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." 4. In reformation, the word of Christ sanctifies elements that were once unclean. a. Christ by His cross and His decree pronounces clean what animals were once deemed unclean to eat. 1TI 4:3-5 c/w ACT 10:15. b. Christ by His cross and His decree pronounces Gentiles clean. ACT 10:28. (1) Before the cross, Gentiles were deemed "....aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (EPH 2:12). (2) God has now pronounced "no difference" between (believing) Jew and Gentile. ACT 15:7-9. (3) This is not so much "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken UNTO you" as it is "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken CONCERNING you." c. The word of Christ through the ministry of the gospel sanctifies Gentile worship. 1CO 10:20 c/w ROM 15:16. D. Jesus is making it plain that the bearing of fruit is directly relative to abiding IN Him. JOH 15:2-7. 1. The person who abides in Him "bringeth forth much fruit" (JOH 15:5). 2. The person who abides NOT in Him "cannot bear fruit" (JOH 15:4). 3. Abide: "To wait, stay, remain;....To remain or continue in some state or action, to continue to do something." 4. Jesus is here exhorting saints to actively remain or continue in some state where they obviously play a role in deriving benefits. 5. There is a sense in which saints are responsible to remain or continue IN Christ. E. There are various ways in which a person may be IN Christ. 1. A person may be IN Christ electively, according to God's will without consideration of human works or resolve. EPH 1:3-4; ROM 9:11-16; 1CO 1:30. 2. A person may be IN Christ legally, being considered judged in Christ Who represents His elect before the law and has entered heaven on their behalf. GAL 3:13 c/w HEB 9:12. 3. A person may be IN Christ vitally, in the new birth, being made a partaker of Him through the quickening power of Spirit. EPH 2:10 c/w 2CO 5:17. 4. A person may be IN Christ practically, by conforming to His will and being baptized into His body, the local church. GAL 3:27; ACT 2:47 c/w ACT 5:14; 1CO 12:13; 1TH 1:1. a. Upon hearing and obeying the gospel, saints should then strive to be IN Christ by putting ON His attributes (one is IN what one puts ON). ROM 13:14; COL 3:5-14. b. It is in this practical sense that Christ is instructing disciples to ABIDE IN HIM: by sacrificing their interests to His and thus becoming fruitful. JOH 12:24-25; LUK 9:23-25; ROM 8:36 c/w 2CO 4:11. c. One abides in Christ by abiding in His word which declares and defines godly practice. vs.7, 10; 1JO 2:24; GAL 5:16 ct/w MAT 13:22. d. One abides in Christ by not turning away from the faith and being severed from His body, the church. HEB 10:23-25; PSA 92:13-14. 5. Clearly, one cannot bear fruit outside of Christ, the Root and Vine. v.4. a. This argues against human traditions (poison fruit). MAR 7:13. b. This argues against the notion that a person can grow and bear fruit by following emotion and instinct rather than Scripture (plastic fruit). 1PE 2:2; 2PE 3:18; COL 1:9-10 c/w HOS 4:6; JER 17:5-9. c. This argues against the idea that a person can be a mature fruitful saint by willfully avoiding membership in the ministry of a godly church (detached fruit). EPH 4:11-16. 6. The person who abides in Christ may boldly anticipate the day of judgment and/or His coming. 1JO 4:16-17; 1JO 2:28. IV. JOH 15:7. Christ advises that abiding in Him (and vice-versa through His words) has a bearing upon successful prayer. A. The person who abides in Christ has the assurance that, as his life is fruitful, so his prayers are not fruitless. v.7 c/w 1JO 3:22; HEB 11:6; JAM 5:16. B. By contrast, the person who abides NOT in God's words may expect a futile prayer life. PRO 28:9; JER 14:12; 1PE 3:12. 1. Husbands have an extra measure of accountability here. 1PE 3:7. 2. How important is it to abide one with another in Christ's words! V. JOH 15:8. God is glorified in saints bearing MUCH fruit. A. Some shall bring forth more fruit than others. MAT 13:23. B. But we have not the luxury of being selective about which fruit we would bear/manifest. The goal is conformity to Christ in ALL fruit. 2PE 1:5-8; COL 1:9-10. C. God does not expect mature fruit to develop overnight. Patience is required. MAR 4:26-29; LUK 8:15. D. The best kind of fruit is durable fruit. JOH 15:16; 1 Co.15:58. E. "So" (in this manner) shall we be true disciples. VI. PHIL 1:9-11. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.