Summary: Too many Christians are bearing no fruit for God. The problem is sin, and God is going to do something in their lives to bring them to fruitfulness. (2nd in series)
Oct. 19, 2003 John 15
“Getting out of the empty basket”
NOTE: All quotes unless otherwise specified come from Bruce Wilkinson’s book, Secrets of the Vine
A young boy went to the local store with his mother. The shop owner, a kind man, passed him a large jar of suckers and invited him to help himself to a handful. Uncharacteristically, the boy held back. So the shop owner pulled out a handful for him. When outside, the boy’s mother asked why he had suddenly been so shy and wouldn’t take a handful of suckers when offered. The boy replied, "Because his hand is much bigger than mine!"
I believe that many of us have not yet learned the lesson that this young man had learned. We are trying to reach into the sucker jar of life and pull out all that we can get rather than allowing God to hand us all the blessings that He has in store for us.
Last week, we began a study of John 15 which is all about how we can receive the blessings that God has for us. In this passage, John puts those blessings in terms of fruitfulness in our lives – achieving all that God has planned for us and getting to enjoy the sweet flavor of His working.
We talked about the different participants that are necessary in order for there to be a harvest of fruit:
Vine – Jesus – provides resources
Gardener – Father – prevents problems
Branches – Us – produce fruit
Gal. 5:22-23 “fruit of the Spirit” Titus 3:14 “good works...not unfruitful” (KJV)
Is it normal for a grapevine to produce grapes? Yes. Now, we all go through times in our lives when we are producing little outward fruit. But if there is no fruit over the long-term – if unfruitfulness is the pattern of your life, that means that something is wrong. Let’s think through the possibilities. Is the Vine – Jesus – doing His job? Yes. Is the Gardener – the Father – doing His job? Yes. Then the problem has got to be with the branches. The problem of why you are not bearing fruit over an extended period of time is you. You are in the empty basket because something is wrong.
Last week, many of you expressed a dissatisfaction with being in the empty basket. You said that you didn’t want to be there anymore. That’s good, because it means that you are ready to take some steps to bring about change.
1. What prevents a Christian from bearing fruit?
“Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it’s hurtful.” - Benjamin Franklin
"Most of us spend the first six days of the week sowing wild oats, then we go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure." -- Fred Allen
Peter Marshall said, “We are too Christian really to enjoy sinning, and too fond of sinning really to enjoy Christianity.”
Self-will Being unwilling to do God’s work in God’s way
“If anyone does not remain...” (vs. 6) “If you remain...” (vs. 7)
Self-reliance Being unwilling to do God’s work in God’s power
“No branch can bear fruit by itself...” (vs. 4) “apart from me, you can do nothing.” (vs. 5)
Self-love Being unwilling to do God’s work for God’s motivation
“remain in my love” (vs.9) “Love each other as I have loved you.” (vs. 12) “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” (vs. 13) “If I speak...but have not love...If I have the gift of prophecy...if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess...but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
Self-glorification Being unwilling to do God’s work for God’s glory
“This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit...” (vs. 8) “...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)
2. What actions does God take in order to get Christians to bear fruit?
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for...
Lift up “teaching”
“...don’t you think the phrase ‘every branch in Me should prove the main point here? ...salvation was never a work on our part to begin with. – p. 32-33
“How is ‘takes away’ related to ‘cleanness’? And what could ‘cleanness’ have to do with ‘no fruit’? – p. 33
“airo ... would be ‘take up’ or ‘lift up.’ ...both the Bible and in Greek literature, airo never means ‘cut off.’ ... ‘Lift up’ suggest an image of a vinedresser leaning over to lift up a branch. But why? – p. 33