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Summary: The Holy Spirit is not interested in producing a bunch of grapes with one big, fat grape and eight little, tiny grapes; but He wants us to grow in all nine characteristics simultaneously.

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We noticed when we first started this study that these qualities are called the FRUIT of the Spirit, not the FRUITS of the Spirit. So, "Conformity to Christ" is not symbolized by a "fruit salad," but by one multifaceted fruit. What do you think that fruit would be?

A Bunch of GRAPES.

The Holy Spirit is not interested in producing a bunch of grapes with one big, fat grape and eight little, tiny grapes; but He wants us to grow in all nine characteristics simultaneously. How can we grow in our likeness to Christ? How can we develop greater love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control?

What is necessary for an ABUNDANT harvest? Jesus answered that question just before His crucifixion in John 15. Notice that Jesus is indeed talking about the "cultivation of grapes" in this passage. (Have someone read John 15:1-8).

The illustration is self-explanatory. God the Father is the Vinedresser, the One who cultivates the vineyard in order to produce an abundant harvest. Jesus is the VINE, the thick trunk that runs along the arbor. We are the Branches - those smaller vines growing out of the main vine.

Where is the Holy Spirit in this illustration? His presence is implied because of what Jesus had already said in John 14:16&17 "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you."

In the vineyard illustration, what comes through the vine and is IN the branches which produces the fruit? The sap. It is the power and energy of the Holy Spirit which enables us to bear much fruit to the glory of the Father as we abide in the Son!

Notice, however, that different branches produce different amounts of fruit (John15:2&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....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."

Some produce SOME fruit,

Some produce MORE fruit,

Some produce MUCH fruit!

Which kind of branch are you? Which kind of branch do you want to be? Are our lives nothing like Christ? Somewhat like Christ? Pretty-much like Christ? Or a mirror-image of Christ? Let’s see how the Vinedresser works in each of these situations:

1. If we are bearing NO FRUIT, what does that mean?

One of two things:

Either we are not attached to the Vine at all, or our attachment to the Vine has in some way been blocked, so that the sap isn’t flowing into us. It may be that there is someone here this morning who has no attachment to Christ - you have never received Him into your life as your personal Savior and Lord. I would urge you to get attached to Him this morning by faith (Jn. 1:12) Because the branches that remain unattached, the Gardener takes away, or as Jesus said in vs. 6, "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire and they are burned."

But it may be that you ARE attached to Christ, but you have been going through a period of "fruitlessness," because something has blocked your flow of God’s Spirit.

What blocks our fellowship with Christ?

SIN.

When we continue in flagrant sin and refuse to repent, the Gardener has to pick us up off the ground, clean us off, remove the blockage, and put us back on the trellis.

Bruce Wilkenson in his book, "Secrets of the Vine," reveals that the word, "take away" (airo) can also be translated, "take up or lift up." So, when we fall into sin, as children of God, the Father doesn’t take us away, instead He lovingly lifts us up and cleans us off, so we can get back into the sunlight and become fruitful again. How does He do that?

Through DISCIPLINE (Heb. 12:5-11 - have someone read).

It may be that you are under the chastening hand of God right now. Remember, God loves you, He is only disciplining you because He wants you to be fruitful; when you repent, the chastening will end and you will start growing again. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you of something which has broken your fellowship with Jesus, repent (change!) confess it, forsake it, replace it by His enabling power!

2. If we are bearing SOME fruit, God wants us to bear MORE fruit.

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