Intro: The Bible and even our Lord Jesus used metaphors to illustrate Biblical truths. It could be in the animal kingdom or plant kingdom. Today we will see how Jesus used the plant kingdom to point out certain truths. In the gospel of Mark, he reported this account of the last week before Jesus went to the cross. The day after the triumphant entry…
“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree. “May no one eat fruit from you again” … In the morning as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” Mark 11:12-14, 20-21
Notice that Peter remembered and was quick to relate what happened to the fig tree cursed by Jesus. What lesson did Jesus show His disciples? Two Sundays ago we read the warning by Jesus about false prophets from Matt. 7. He said that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Jesus used this tree to represent man and his spiritual condition. But who is a good and a bad tree? This tree in question represents those who are religious but spiritually dead. They look good on the outside but the spirit inside is dead. When a baby is born it doesn’t take long before he sins and become bad. Who can make him good? Here’s what Jesus said,
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” Matt. 12:33
The Bible says no one is good because all have sinned. One sin makes us bad. The only one who is good is our Lord Jesus Christ who never sinned and He is the only one who can make anyone good. It is very important to know this truth because what we will look into today is about fruit bearing and who can bear this good fruit? The title of our message is,
“Genuine Christians Bear Good Fruit”
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:1-4
When Jesus was teaching this to his disciples, there were only eleven left. This was on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion as they were observing the Passover meal. This whole event is reported in chapters 13-17. In chapter 13, Jesus washed his disciples feet, then had the Passover meal. Then Jesus revealed to all His disciples that one of them was going to betray him.
“His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him”…. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”John 13:22-27,30
Jesus revealed and exposed the one who would betray Him. This represented the tree that He cursed. Our text shows us another metaphor that Jesus used to point to Himself. ‘I am the true vine.” When He referred to Himself as the true vine it is to compare and differentiate Him from all other religions claiming also to be the vine that they have the way to heaven. But said Jesus,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
This is the sixth “I am” and the “True vine” is the seventh and the last.
In addition to His claim, He now identifies God His Father as the gardener. In some versions it is translated as the vinedresser. So what does the gardener do? He cares and sees to it that the plant and in this case the vine that produces grapes are rid of dead branches. A dead branch cannot bear fruit. So He cuts them. The ones who bear fruit He prunes to be more fruitful. The ones He cuts like Judas are not genuine believers of Christ. Jesus warned His disciples that there are false prophets as there will also be fake Christians. Fake Christians can look like one, talk like one and even uses the same language as Christians use and goes to church. They can be religious but spiritually dead. How does the gardener know who they are? He knows because He has chosen those He gave to His Son. How do we know that the gardener has cut them off? Here’s how John explained this.
“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belong to us they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” 1 John 2:18-19
This is not to mean that when a member leaves to go to another place they are the antichrist. Grace left for Korea and Severino moved back to the Philippines by God’s purpose. We have members here who joined us from another church here in Reno. Are they the antichrist John is talking about because they left their former church? The reason they went out from another church was because of doctrinal differences. Gina and I used to go to the Catholic Church but after we got saved we saw the errors in doctrine especially in the way of salvation plus the fact that it caused us to sin by their idols. I believe the only valid reason for a believer to leave the church where he is a member of is when God moves him and combines him with another church for His purpose. A personal conflict with any member is not a reasonable and valid reason. We already looked at Scripture that it is God who combines the members of the body of Christ. Furthermore, John wrote.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but tests the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” 1 John 4:1-3
John is not referring to the antichrist in Revelation but those whose spirits are against Christ. They believe in the wrong Jesus Christ. But the ones who are from God acknowledge that Jesus is God the Son, the Word who left His throne in heaven to become a human being in order to die for our sins. This is the heart of the gospel that Christ died on that cruel cross for our sins. If He did not come in the flesh He could not die. The Muslims believe that Jesus is only a human being but not God. The Jehovah’s Witness believe that Jesus is only “a god” but not equal with God. On the other hand some do not fully accept the fact that He became 100% human but believe Jesus was able to bear the suffering he went through because he was at the same time God. They make light of His death as a human being. But those who acknowledge and believe God the Son left His throne in heaven to come down to earth in the flesh took a human name Jesus is from God. These are the ones who have been born of God and given the Spirit of God to dwell in them. And once the Holy Spirit is in them, He produces the fruit of the Spirit that changes them from the inside out. Only the Holy Spirit does this.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal. 5:22
What then is the evidence of a genuine Christian? They are made good by God and changed by the Holy Spirit. Once they are saved they are excited of being saved from hell after receiving forgiveness of all their sins and eternal life now while still alive. They cannot help but share Christ with others. They are witnesses of Jesus to loved-ones, relatives and friends telling what Jesus had done for them. The fruit is when another sinner is born again. The fruit is the harvest by God after a sinner has heard the gospel through them. The fruit is also the disciple who after having grown in Christ is making other disciple and is reproducing more and more followers of Christ.
Once a follower of Christ is becoming fruitful, the gardener is going to prune the branch to make it even more fruitful. These are characters and behaviors that are still worldly and ungodly. We have to remember that God has chosen to save us to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. The pruning can be painful because it cuts anything that comes between our love-relationship with God. Leaves in the vine have no use by the vine to produce grapes. They take away nutrients from the vine but have nothing to do with bearing fruit. Anything that distracts us from God’s purpose to reproduce God will prune. It could be works and activities that do not draw unbelievers to Christ or behavior and conduct of the old life that is a poor testimony of Christ. A rough diamond is polished to show its brilliance. A musical instrument is fine tuned to produce excellent melody.
“You are already clean”. A genuine Christian is already clean. Clean in the sense that all his sins are already forgiven. What is the word that made a Christian clean? Christ’s forgiveness and promise of eternal life by His blood. This truth was already written through the prophet Isaiah.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isa. 1:18b
Here now is Christ’s command. “Remain in me and I will remain in you.” Does this come automatically once one becomes a Christian? Remaining in Christ means remaining in fellowship with Jesus by walking and following Him daily. We can understand this by this picture of Him being the Shepherd and we His sheep. This is now what is true to His followers.
“My sheep listen to my voice, I know them and they follow me.” John 10:27
This has become the life of a branch connected to the true vine. He listens to Jesus as he reads his Bible daily and then follows by obedience every command that Jesus reveals and gives him. By doing this we can experience His presence in everything that we do that He is with us.
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:21
God has not designed us to do anything on our own. God’s work and fruit bearing needs the supernatural power of God. On our own we can convince people of the gospel and they can even believe but if it is not done through Christ there is no genuine conversion. Why? Because “No branch can bear fruit by itself.” Jesus rebuked those who did the work without Christ.
“Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” Matt. 23:15
To do God’s work of spreading the good news is a must to be connected to the vine. A life that is fully surrendered and dedicated to Christ is the life that will bear much fruit. When one is fully connected to the vine without anything that hinders the power of God, it is the life of Christ that is now at work through us. This now becomes the reality of this branch.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in this body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
But do we believe this? A belief that takes no action and commitment will not do us any good. I can believe the reality of this truth but if it stays in the head and does not go down to the heart it will not result into action. This is a decision that the branch must make to let the vine have full control that the lifeblood of the vine flows unhindered to produce the fruit and multiply the offspring of Christ. Since faith is what connects us with Christ we must decide by considering ourselves dead to sin so Christ will live His life in us. That faith is not even produced by us but by the Holy Spirit.
“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Rom. 10:17
When you read your Bible are you listening? And whatever you hear do not just let it be knowledge in the head but let it sink down to the heart and the Holy Spirit will produce the love for Christ to do what He says. Here’s the problem and the belief of Judas.
“You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” James 2:17
Who did Judas love more? He loved money and sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
“It must remain in the vine.” Remaining in Christ is a must and not an option. Either He has His way or our way to serve Him. Every one of us here is the fruit of someone who bore fruit for Christ as His instrument to bring the good news to you and me. Thank God that they were faithful to remain in Christ. And because it was Christ living and working through them the gospel we heard brought life to our dead spirits because it had the power.
The last statement from our text that Jesus said is, “Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” When Jesus called His disciples that He will make them fishers of men, what happened? They did. We are still called the same way to follow Him because that is what Jesus came to do. He was the first fisherman to fish souls for God and His disciples followed Him. At first they were weak and Jesus knew that. Peter denied Jesus three times and had no power. God knew what was lacking. They were simply humans without the power of God in them. But when the Holy Spirit came…
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Do you have this testimony? Can you say this as your testimony?
“Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his son. And this is the testimony that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:10-12
Are you testifying this to your family, friends and all acquaintances?