FRUIT OF THE BRANCHES II
Series on John 15 pt. 11
There is a story about a man who pulled up behind a car at stop light. The man notices a bumper sticker on the back of the mans car that read “Honk if you know Jesus”. The man thought it was a cute bumper sticker so he honked his horn, expecting to get a friendly wave. Much to his surprise that man rolled down his window and yelled back to him. “What are blowing are blankety-blank horn for, can’t you see the light’s red?!”
I am sure that many of you have been in similar situations. We see someone with a fish on their car that cuts someone off, or gives an inappropriate hand gesture. Or perhaps you have been on the other side. Maybe you have the fish or something like that and you cut someone off, or do something maybe you should not have done. I know I have been in that seat.
The point is this, if someone claims to be a Christian, be it through a bumper sticker, a fish on their car, a t-shirt or what have you, we expect certain behavior from that person. I would hope that none of would expect perfection. But we do expect certain behavior. We would expect them to exhibit some sort of fruit that would demonstrate that they are indeed Christians.
Please turn with me to our passage for today. We have been looking at John 15:4, that is page 935 in your pew Bible. I want to read vs. 4 along with verses 2,3,5.
“"Every 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. "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. "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. "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.”
Last week we began to talk about fruit. And as I pointed out it is clear that unless you have an understanding of what the fruit is that is spoken of here, you cannot fully understand what God is saying in John 15.
I want to read to you once more the definition of fruit, which is the Greek word “KARPOS”, that is found in Vine Expository Dictionary of NT Words. Keep in mind that we are obviously defining this word in it’s metaphorical sense.
"fruit" being the visible expression of power working inwardly and invisibly, the character of the "fruit" being evidence of the character of the power producing it,”
As I stated last week. Fruit, that is good fruit, is a test as to whether we are true Christians. Fruit is what demonstrates what power is at work in us. Be it the power of Christ, or the power of our flesh nature.
What we need to make sure we understand is that fruit does not make us a Christians, but it shows that we one. We are not saved by our works, but our works demonstrate that we are saved.
Last week we pointed out some general things regarding fruit. This week I want to begin to get into so specifics regarding fruit that we, if we claim to be Christians, ought to have in our lives.
I want to give you some things that you can look to and say, Ok is that going in on my life? I want to give you some insights by which you can measure you life. Because it is vitally important for you to examine your life for fruits, because as we have seen, and I will continue to remind you of this, the fruit you bear, be it good our bad, determines what power is working in you.
However what we also need to see is that there is a difference between doing something the world calls good, and good fruit. Giving your money to charity is not necessarily good fruit. Building a hospital for the poor in some third world country, while it may be looked at as good work among men, it may not be good fruit before God. It may in fact be bad fruit.
You see fruit can look real good on the outside. You can have a nice apple and take a bite out of it only to discover that while that outside looked good the inside was bad.
So it is true with good works. They can look good on the outside. They can look good to our fellow man, but God sees what’s going inside. He sees the worm in the apple.
So you may ask how can I tell? How can I gauge whether my fruit measures up? We are going to begin to talk about different fruit that are mentioned in the Bible, but all the fruit that I am going to mention, all the fruit the Bible mentions, MUST and I emphasis that word MUST, fall within both the category of bringing God glory, and being derived from God’s Word.
I believe that as we look at some of the fruit mentioned in the Word of God we will see that there are actions there that can be done apart from God’s glory and His Word. And if they are done apart from those two category’s they are in fact not good fruit, but bad fruit, even though they may appear to be good fruit to the world.
Why do I say that our fruit must fall within those two categories, because that is what the Word of God states.
Let us look first at the fact that for something to be a good fruit it must bring God’s glory.
I want to point out first of all that all we do is to be done to the glory of God. Even the simplest things such as eating and drinking. We are told in 1 Cor. 10:31
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
The Greek word of glory there is “DOXA” . Vines defines it this way, “primarily signifies an opinion, estimate, and hence, the honor resulting from a good opinion.” Also “in the NT always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honour, and glory.”
In other words the things that we do ought bring about a good opinion of God by which He is praised and given honor.
So what ever fruit you bear in life, it must be done in such a way that one’s opinion of God ought to be one of praise and honor. That might be skewed because of our sinful nature, but our fruit ought to bring God glory.
Look at this way. If someone builds a hospital say in West Africa for the many folks there who are in need of health care. If that person has it build, and then proceeds to have a special on TV about what a wonderful project it was, how much money it cost them, yet never mentions anything about God, that project does not cause anyone to form good opinion concerning God, resulting in praise, honour, and glory. So guess what, it does not bring glory to God, and if it does not glorify God, it is not good fruit as far as the God is concerned.
Now you can take that same project. And say the person says I build this because I wanted to show the love of Christ to these people. I wanted to demonstrate the compassion of our Lord. That would in fact cause some to form good opinion concerning God, resulting in praise, honour. Thou God is indeed glorified, and that person has produces good fruit.
What we see is the act itself does not determine whether it is good fruit or bad fruit, it is the what motivated us, that is the power that is working in us.
We could look at other passages that strengthen this argument but for time sake I want to look at one more. It comes from John 15, verse 8. We will looking at this passage in future but I want us to see how it relates to what I am saying this morning.
“"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
From this passage we see that how it is that God is glorified. That is by us bearing fruit. It obviously goes without saying that Jesus here is speaking of good fruit.
That word “glorified” is “DOXAZO” it is the verb form of the Greek word “DOXA” . One definition I read of this word stated, “to cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged.” So our good fruit brings about the honoring and praising of God.
Remember we looking at the fact that for something to be a good fruit it must bring God’s glory. Here we see it stated in opposite form. That is that God is glorified by our good fruit. So any fruit that does not in fact bring God glory, is not good because that is what good fruit is. And God is only glorified by good fruit, that is, according to verse 8, fruit that demonstrates that we are Christ’s disciples.
So in testing and examination of our fruit to see if it is good, it must fall in that first category of “does it bring God glory?” But it also as I states must fall into the second category, and that is, is it derived from the Word of God? Well what do I mean by that?
Let us look to the Scripture.
The first passage comes from the gospel of Luke 8, this parable is also found in Matt. 13 and Mark 4. It is the parable of the sower. I just want to point out verse 15; “"But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”
Here is Jesus is speaking hearing and receiving the Word of God. This is clear from verse 11. We Jesus is telling us here is that there are those who hear the word of God. They hear it with a noble and good heart, that is a heart of flesh that God has placed in them, and they keep it that is they retain it, the prevent it from going away, and they bring forth fruit. Again it is quite obvious from the context that what is spoken of here is good fruit.
It is quite clear then we have a connection from Jesus our Lord between hearing the Word of God, retaining the Word of God, and bring forth good fruit. I believe that Jesus is indicating that those who keep the Word of God will bring forth good fruit.
Let us look at another passage. This one from Col. 1:5-6. I believe this is made even clearer here.
“because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;”
Again notice what is being stated. These folks heard the Word of truth, which is the Gospel, which is the Word of God, now notice what the word of the gospel does, this word of truth, it brings forth fruit. Once more it is clear from the context that what is spoken of here is good fruit.
So what we can gleam from these passages is that good fruit is brought forth from the Word of God. It is brought froth from obedience to God’s word. It is brought forth for holding fast or retaining God’s Word.
And I would put forth to you that apart from the Word of God in our lives, you cannot bear good fruit. Why? Because apart from the Word of God, you would not know what good fruit is.
I believe that our statement at the beginning of the sermon that all the fruit the Bible mentions, must fall within both the categories of bringing God glory, and being derived from God’s Word is seen from the Word of God to be true.
So it is within those two categories we must examine our fruit, so see if in fact it is good fruit.
I want to look at a account from the Bible to illustrate this truth. I comes from 2 Sam. 6:3-7.
A little background. The Ark of the covenant which is very important to Israel has been in the hands of the Philistines. Israel as just beaten them and are bringing the Ark back to Israel.
We pick up the story in verse 3;
“So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio (uh-hi’-oh), the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, accompanying the ark of God; and Ahio went before the ark. Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals. And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.”
We read that and we think, hey! Wait a minute. Uzzah is just trying to help out. He is just protecting the ark from hitting the ground. By the world’s standard Uzzah just did a good work, that was good fruit! But God sees the worm.
To the world we have an act of heroism. What we expect is the voice of God to come down and say, "Good job, Uzzah, thank you for protecting the ark for falling to the ground." But God doesn’t do that, instead he strikes him down on the spot. God kills him.
As I said this illustrates what I have said regarding good fruit and our two categories. That act of Uzzah does not fit into either one. First Uzzah did not do this because he knew God’s Word. God’s Word did not tell him to touch the ark, in fact God’s Word told him just the opposite. He was not to touch the ark under any condition.
Listen to what the law states in Numbers 4:15; "And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is set to go, then the sons of Kohath (ca-hath) shall come to carry them; but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die.”
You see Uzzah was a Kohathite. (ca-ha-thite) He had been warned in God’s word not to touch anything Holy. Because if you did you would die. And that is what he did, and he died.
So we see that this fruit of Uzzah does not fall into the category of being derived from God’s word.
As far as the second category It did not bring God glory, (it may have brought Uzzah glory had he lived, all those people patting him on the back say “good job man!).
Was this an act of goodness, no, it was an act of arrogance. Uzzah figured that his hand was some how less polluted then the ground. He figured that his hand was somehow more holy the then the ground was, well he was wrong. Uzzah also presumed that God couldn’t take care of the Ark himself, that He needed Uzzah help.
Uzzah showed no reverence for what God had declared Holy. This act would not bring God glory. As I stated earlier good fruit ought to bring about a good opinion of God by which He is praised and given honor. Uzzah’s action would not have done that. It would have brought about an opinion that God was not serious about what He declares to be holy.
So we can see that this little story illustrates for us quite clearly what we mean when we say that in order for our fruit to be good they must glorify God and be derived in some way from God’s word. It illustrates for us how what may look like good fruit to us, is in fact bad fruit to God. My pray is that this has helped you in examining your own life, your own fruit as to whether it is good fruit or bad fruit.
Next week we will start to look at some specific fruit mentioned in the Bible.
In closing may I say this. You cannot bear good fruit in your life until you have responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ. To again quote God’s Word in Col. 1:5 “the word of the truth of the gospel,”. You must believe the gospel of Christ before you can perform any good fruit before God. You must believe that Christ died for your sins, that He was buried, and the He rose again on the third. Believe you are a sinner in need of salvation. Confess that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Saviour. LET US PRAY