FRUIT BEARING RESULTS FROM ABIDING IN CHRIST
INTRODUCTION: Remember the Context:
Disciples have left the upper room and are on the way to Gethsemane (14:31);
Final training of the disciples and preparation for departure of Christ;
Judas (that false professor of faith) has departed so that Christ is just speaking to the remaining genuine disciples. His betrayal is imminent.
I. (:1-8) ABIDE IN CHRIST’S LIFE AS BRANCHES IN THE VINE AND SO BEAR MUCH FRUIT
A. (:1) Identification of the Key Players
1. Christ is the True Vine – Source of Life
“I am the true vine”
genuine, perfect, without imperfection
cf. John 1:9 – the true light
cf. John 6:30-35 – the true bread
the other wasn’t false, but imperfect
Gil Rugh: (lots of good info. from his tape on this passage) — OT background that Israel is the vine of God … but always in negative sense as a degenerate vine that failed to accomplish God’s purpose and did not bear fruit; worthless; Jesus in contrast is all that God intended His vine to be; Ps. 80:8-16; Is. 5:1-7; Jer. 2:21; Ezek. 15; Hos. 10:1). If a vine fails to produce fruit it is worthless; wood not good for anything else; can’t build houses with it or even burn it for heat.
2. The Father is the Vinedresser – Cultivator of Life
“and My Father is the vinedresser”
cf. OT imagery above of God as the vinedresser
cares for the vine; the fruit belongs to Him
B. (:2-3) All Believers Bear Some Measure of Fruit – Proving their Connectivity to Christ
1. (:2) Dead or Alive – Only Two Types of Branches – Not abiding vs. Abiding
a. Dead Branches (non fruit bearing = all false professors of faith like Judas) Removed
“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away”
Key phrase: “in Me” – must take it here to mean professing believers;
not a statement that these are actual believers (if they were they would be bearing some measure of fruit). Look at other instances in the Gospels where people have some sort of external connection to the kingdom but are not truly part of it (cf. Matt. 7:15-23; wheat and tares Mat. 13). Also Romans 11:13-24.
Not looking here at some third group of “carnal believers” that somehow have genuine life but never produce any fruit.
Therefore, all true believers abide (remain) in Christ … the question is one of degree.
It is clear that the contrast is not between good Christians (who will get lots of rewards) and poor Christians (who will still get to heaven but miss out on rewards). Very misunderstood passage.
It is also not teaching that Christians can lose their salvation.
“take away” – in what sense? not loss of reward for believers like 1 Corinthians 3; but not even connected to the life of Christ.
Speaking of the eternal fire of hell and God’s condemnation.
b. Live Branches (fruit bearing = all true believers) Pruned
“and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.”
Significance of fruit: the testimony or evidence that you are a child of God (Matt. 3; Matt. 7 )
What is the nature of this Fruit?
– Christian character qualities; fruit of the Holy Spirit
– impact on the lives of others
Stedman: God came looking for justice and righteousness; instead he found oppression, cruelty, exploitation, and indifference to the needs of others. So it is evident from that parable that the fruit which God expects of the vine is moral character, or as we have it in the New Testament, the fruit of the Spirit — the fruit which the Spirit produces. The life which is in the vine produces fruit which Paul describes in Galatians 5 as: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. The fruit, in other words, is Christ-likeness. And our Lord is indicating that the very purpose of the vine is to produce such fruit.
All different levels of fruit bearing; goal is to mature and bear as much fruit as possible
Why does God prune us? to make us more productive
How does God prune us? often through difficult circumstances; the testing talked about in book of James
2. (:3) Fruit Bearing is Not a Works Oriented Approach to Salvation
“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”
cf. John 13:10 – same type of emphasis
Christ has cleansed us with His Word; The work of regeneration is solely by grace through faith; our fruit has no part in atoning for our sins;
However, if Christ has cleansed us and given us a new heart and a new nature, we will demonstrate that changed life through fruit of some sort.
Stedman: I struggled for a while with this word prunes because in the Greek it is really “cleanses.” It seemed to me a far cry from cleansing away debris to pruning back the branches — until I learned that, in the usual practice of viticulture (i.e., the care of vines), the branches are pruned back each year in order to cleanse them. That is, a vine produces certain shoots (called “sucker” shoots) which start to grow where the branch joins the stem. If allowed to continue to grow, they would dissipate the life of the vine through so many branches that the vine would produce little or no fruit but would produce leaves instead. So every vinedresser knows it is important to prune away these little sucker shoots in order that the vine may produce more fruit. And since they grow right where the branch joins the stem, creating a tight cluster where dirt, leaves, and other debris collect, the pruning is therefore a cleansing process. This is what our Lord has in view.
C. (:4-5) All Fruit Depends on Connectivity to Christ
1. (:4) No Fruit Possible Apart from Abiding
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
Concept of Abiding: idea of permanence and perseverance
Absolute dependence; “make our permanent home” – Deffinbaugh
2. (:5) Much Fruit Possible in Connectivity to Christ
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
D. (:6-7) Two Different Destinies – Depending on Connectivity to Christ
1. (:6) Negative — Judgment
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
2. (:7) Positive – Blessing of Answered Prayer
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.”
Stedman: We must never forget that prayer and promise are linked together. Prayer is not a way of getting God to do what you want him to do, rather it is asking him to do what he has promised to do. We pray according to the promises. So if you want to make your prayers effective begin to read and study the promises of God. When you do, you will pray according to the mind and will of God.
E. (:8) Ultimate Goal = Glory of God through Abundant Fruit Bearing
“By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”
II. (:9-15) ABIDE IN CHRIST’S LOVE BY LOVING ONE ANOTHER AND SO BEAR MUCH FRUIT
A. (:9) Divine Pattern for Mutual Love
“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.”
B. (:10-12) The Pathway for Love and Joy is the Pathway of Obedience and of Christ
1. (:10) Love Defined by Obedience
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”
2. (:11) Obedience and Love Always Bring Joy
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
3. (:12) Christ Always is Our Pattern
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
C. (:13-15) Love and Obedience Under gird the Intimacy of Friendship
A. (:16) Abide in Christ’s Life and so Bear Much Fruit
1. Divine Election is the Root of our Life
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you”
2. Fruit Bearing is the Purpose of our Life
“ that you should go and bear fruit”
Requires taking the initiative to “Go”
3. Divine Preservation is the Promise of our Life
“and that your fruit should remain”
4. Answered Prayer is the Blessing of our Life
“that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.”
B. (:17) Abide in Christ’s Love and so Bear Much Fruit
“This I command you, that you love one another.”
Love must essentially be an action rather than an emotion.