Summary: Jesus tells us how to bear fruit that will last.
B. Apply the Scripture - v.7
Two application questions:
1) So what?
2) Now what?
C. Obey the Savior - v. 10
“Our Lord told His disciples that love and obedience were organically united. The final test of love is obedience.” - A.W. Tozer
3. What kind of branch am I?
A. The branch that bears no fruit - vs. 2a; 6
It is important to understand that while a branch on a grape vine doesn’t have free will, we do. Therefore, we need to understand that as believers whose lives are unfruitful, we have a choice. We can choose:
1) To remain in Christ - v. 2a
A vine puts out new shoots which grow into branches. However, these new branches often grow along the ground; they get covered with dirt and are shaded from the light of the sun. Although they are alive, they can’t produce fruit. The gardener will wash the dirt from the leaves and lift these branches up onto the trellis to get the needed light from the sun. The branch is cleansed, lifted up and trained to grow in a place where it can produce fruit.
The Greek word “airei” translated “cuts off” also means “lift up.”
Some believers are unfruitful because they are laying in the dirt of this world. But if they will choose to surrender, apply the Scripture, and obey the Savior, they can begin to bear fruit for God’s glory.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”- James 4:10 (NIV)
2) To not remain in Christ - v. 6
We can choose to let this world influence us and stay in the “dirt.” This can refer not just to falling into the error of “license” where we think we live as we please because we belong to Christ, it can also refer to our falling into the error of “legalism” too.
“Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’?” - Colossians 2:20-21 (NIV)
Some believe this is a passage that teaches a believer can lose his salvation. But we must interpret confusing passages in light of clear passages. The Bible clearly teaches that one who is saved is secure:
“The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages. [To all eternity they shall never by any means be destroyed.] And no one is able to snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater and mightier than all [else]; and no one is able to snatch [them] out of the Father’s hand.” - John 10:27-29 (Amplified)
The focus here is on how believers can live a life of lasting significance by remaining dependent on Christ. Jesus teaches us that believers that do not remain focused on cultivating their love relationship with Christ will be discarded. Their life is a waste.
B. The branch that bears some fruit - v. 2b
This is the believer who is not yet reaching our full potential, because he wavers between dependence on self and dependence on the Savior.
When we discipline ourselves to surrender, applying the Scripture, and obeying the Savior, we will be fruitful. But when we don’t practice these cooperative disciplines, God brings about corrective discipline.