Summary: Exposition of Fruitfulness
Text: John 15:2, Title: Bumper Crop, Date/Place: NRBC, 8.19.12, AMc
Opening illustration: the graph at the Olympics that shows all the winners of the 100 m dash in the last 116 years. The winner in 1896 would have finished almost 20 meters behind Usain Bolt. Contrast the rose bush in front of our house--continuing to survive, and keeping the same number of blooms from year to year no matter what we do to it.
Background to passage: This series that I intend to preach this fall, called Job Descriptions, assumes that you want to be a good follower of Christ. It assumes that you are willing to put forth considerable effort to accomplish that goal. Therefore it is not only going to speak about the descriptions and principles of genuine followership of Christ, but it is also going to attempt to help you evaluate how you are doing in these areas of faith. Additionally, it will give you some practical ideas of dealing with areas of concern from a reactive and a proactive standpoint.
Jesus commissioned the church to make disciples (Matt 28:19); not converts, church members, moral participants in religious exercises, blind enactors of hollow rules, ceremonies, and meetings, but passionate followers of Him. When He issued the first call for disciples in Matt 4:19, His invitation is this: “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Examine it. We are assuming that you have come and are attempting to follow Christ. What I truly want to look at during the series, including this message, is to what degree Christ is “making” you. So we will examine the characteristics of a disciple. Today’s message will look at the bearing of fruit.
Main thought: A disciple should bear much fruit that remains, and should increase in his/her productivity.
Jesus uses the metaphor of a vineyard as many OT prophets did to illustrate the disciple’s relationship to Himself and also related to the fruitfulness that will come from that relationship. Just a couple of things to note: EVERY branch that only has a superficial attachment to the church or Jesus is removed. False believers will always be a part of the church. We are talking about people who leave the church not to get into another, rather than those who for some reason cannot stay in a church, and move to another. The removing of unfruitful branches is sometimes hard. EVERY branch that is in Christ produces fruit. Speeds may vary, amount may vary, visibility may vary, but bearing fruit is not for some and not for others. Later in this passage He says that we were appointed (placed and established for a specific purpose) to bear fruit, and God is glorified by that production. Jesus also says that God is the one who does the “pruning.” This word means to painfully break or cut things off the productive branches that will make them less fruitful. God looked into your life and sees the things that are holding you back. Unfortunately sometimes those are the most dear to you. And He takes the necessary steps to wean you from their hindrance to your spiritual growth. So one of the purpose of suffering in part is to purify for greater fruit production. Sometimes the most painful times of life are the most spiritually productive. OK, so here is the PRINCIPLE: disciples should be increasing in their fruit bearing.
Heb 12:4-11, Ps 1:3,
Illustration: got a letter of request of transfer from an out of state church last week for an individual that joined here 11 years ago, and has not be seen or heard from in at least 7 years, maybe more. Glad they are joining a church (if you ever leave here, you should unite with another body, that’s in the covenant), but we can’t send a letter because they are no longer a member, nor can we vouch for their genuiness of their relationship to Christ with no fruit. I could point to 2 or 3 watershed moments in my life, and all of them out of times of great pain.
We should be able to see in our lives an increasing amount of spiritual fruit from day to day, year to year in our lives. If there is no fruit, we should be worried as to whether or not our relationship to Christ is superficial, or our commitment to the church is only to maintain a good conscience. But as believers we must not be content with stagnation. We should never think (or act like) we don’t need to grow anymore. We should warn those (in a loving fashion) who claim to know Christ, but have no fruit. The context of Galatians 5 is to demonstrate genuine belief.
Now evaluating the presence of or the amount of spiritual fruit is tricky. So let’s do a couple of things. First, let’s look at the biblical list of spiritual fruit in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Go down through the list explaining some of the terms. There are other biblical texts that describe spiritual fruits, but this one is the best know, and without the aid of the Spirit it would be impossible and overwhelming without going to other texts. Important to remember that one of the often overlooked fruit is passion. There may not be lots of other fruit yet, but passion, desire for Christ should be there.