"CHOSEN TO BEAR FRUIT"
(A Series on Jesus)
C.R.9/6/87p.m. John 15:1-17
PROPOSITION: Christ has chosen you, His disciple, to bear
fruit and will prune and cleanse you to that end; asks that you remain in Him to the end; warns of the disastrous results of separation from that end; and assures that the reward of joy and intimacy with Him that comes from fruit-bearing will make it worth it all.
- JESUS has a purpose for you, as a believer......and it is to do the works that Jesus did....and even greater works.
"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things that these, because I am going to My Father." (John 14:12)
- WHAT does this mean for you and me? Well, what did Jesus do....what were His works.
* He set captives free from bondage to sin....like the woman at the well in Samaria.......and Zacheaus, the tax collector....and the adulteress, caught by the pharisees.
* He opened eyes that were blind....and not just like Bartamaus'.....but those who were spiritually blind, like Nicodemus, who thought that serving God was adherence to some religious forms.....and the woman with the issue of blood, who thought that medicine was her only hope for healing.
* He released from the dungeon those who sat in darkness.......like the demonic man in Gadarrah.....and the paralytic brought to Jesus on a mat through the roof.
- ISAIAH 42:7 prophecied all this as the ministry and works of Jesus....and the gospels bear it out.
- AND here in John 14...Jesus says that we are to do the same works....and even greater than He did because He is going to the Father.
* Well, the significance of His going to the Father is that it was then He would send the Holy Spirit.
* And it is in the power of the Holy Spirit that these works would be possible in us...and even greater.
- SO we all know that the works of Jesus are possible in the lives of believers...right? If it were not true then why would Jesus have said it here in John 14.
- VERSES like this are why we can never be satisfied with mediocre churchianity......American style i.e;
* Go to church on Sundays.....listen to preacher....critique choir.....analyze sermon.....and return home believing that you have just fulfilled Jesus' plan for His church.
* No, we are commanded in John 14:12 to set our sights much higher than that....and do the works of Jesus.
- NOW, in John 15, Jesus repeats His command from 14:12 and elaborates on it even further. In fact in verse 16 He says;
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
- IN other words, you have been chosen and appointed to go and bear fruit....fruit that will last.
- JESUS seems intent that you and I bear fruit....i.e.take the life He has given us and reproduce that in others. The "method" can be as varied as there are individuals here tonight...but the command does not change.
* Tell about George Jeffries....with chronic arthritus...bed-ridden but still ministering healing.
* Tha family that lost both children in Iran....but buried them there as a seed for the work of God and saw God raise up a church in their town.
* Tell about Jeanne Nye and Marylin who come to intercessory prayer......day in and day out....with great difficulty and pain.
- WE are intended....chosen.....appointed...to bear fruit. That's why He has such a large investment in us.
- IS there anyone here tonight who believes that they are the exception to this command? Anyone exempt? Any valid excuses for not being fruitful? I don't think so.
- SO, in the first 17 verses in John 15, Jesus outlines four principles for bearing fruit.
- IN chapter 14 He gave us the command. In chapter 15 He tells us how it is going to happen.
II.PRUNING FOR FRUITFULNESS
- THE first three verses of John 15 contain the first principle for fruitfulness;
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you."
- THE way to bear fruit is to be connected to Jesus....it is His life released in us by the Holy Spirit that produces fruit.
- BUT the main principle found in these three verses has to do with the work of the gardener;
* He cuts off non-productive branches that have not responded to pruning and care.
* He prunes and trims old growth off productive branches...so they can produce even more.
* He cleans dirt off the leaves so that the sun can do its work of photosynthesis.
- THESE gardening tasks are the work of the Father. He does it. That is important to remember.
- OLD Palestinian vinedressers used to do these three things to their vineyards to promote better and bigger crops.
* First, they would cut off non-productive branches. This is so that the vitality of the vine will not be wasted on sterile branches with leaves and growth but no grapes.
* So, after much care and pruning and changing of position and tieing some of them up in a different location, and cultivation......and washing.....if it continues to be sterile it is cut off.
* Second, they would trim dead foliage off of productive branches. It is interesting to me the apparent fact that grapes grow off new growth and not old growth.
* So, the old growth has to be pruned away. The old encounters with God and the old blessings will not sustain fruitfulness. They have to be removed by the gardener, so that new growth can come up in the old branch....and the new growth will sustain fruitfulness.
* Lastly, the vinedresser would take great care to wash off the accumulated dust on the leaves. You see, leaves need the sun's rays to produce growth.
* So the vinedresser would wash of the dirt, and let the sun in.
* A side-light is that we need this process between the sun and the leaves.....if people around the plant life are going to breath. It is where we get our oxygen in the atmosphere of the world.
- CAN you see the spiritual applications of these three functions of the gardener.....and their relationship to fruitfulness;
* Dead, unproductive branches are cut off.....there is no place for them in the kingdom.
* Pruning is painful, but must take off old growth to make room for new productive branches....and fruitfulness.
* Dirt/sin hinders the whole process and must be washed off....so the Son can do His work.
- THIS is all the work of the Father in making you fruitful.
III.REMAINING FOR FRUITFULNESS
- THE next principle is found in verse 4;
" Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."
- THE secret for fruitfulness in this verse is remaining.
- REMAINING means the quality of the relationship between the branch and the vine, which is Jesus.
- THE disciples were doing great at that point. They were going out two by two and seeing demons cast out, the sick healed and many added to the kingdom of God. All this was because they were with Jesus.....leaning on His power....depending on Him.
- BUT what about a year down the road.....or the year after that........or the one after that? How would their relationship be with Jesus then?
* How would Peter do?
* How would Judas do?
- YOU see, we have no life in ourselves.......unless we draw from the Vine. That is where the only source of life is for us.
- NOURISHMENT comes only from the Vine.
- AS long as the flow of life is interrupted, there will be no fruit.....because the branch is incapable of bearing fruit on its own.
IV.SEPERATION STOPS FRUITFULNESS
- THE next principle for fruitfulness comes from verses 5-8;
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
- THE Lord takes a negative look at the matter in these verses.
- SEPARATION from God, and the fruitlessness that it produces, can eventually lead to removal from the Vine.......and from the grace of God.
- WE are talking about serious matters here. It is like the parable of the man who treated lightly His master's investment in him....and buried his talent. He was cast out into outer darkness. (Mathew 25)
- SEPARATION from the life of Jesus and unproductive living produces serious consequences.
- BUT Jesus balances this with a positive note in verse 7 and 8.
* If, in the process of producing fruit, you need something, you may ask it and it will be given to you by My Father.
* This is to His glory.
- NOT answers to prayer for our own wants and needs....but answers that are tied to fruitfulness for the kingdom.....and God gets the glory.
V.LOVE AND JOY FOLLOW FRUITFULNESS
- NOW, Jesus gets into the rewards of fruitfulness.....the blessing that comes to us;
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other."
- HERE is the principle: Joy, love and intimacy with Jesus are a result of fruitfulness.
- HOW fruitful is your life right now?
- IT is a crucial question that must be answered.
IN MY LIFE LORD, BE GLORIFIED