Intro: Tomorrow America is celebrating Independence Day. On the other hand those who have been born again are moving from being independent to being dependent on God. They have been set free to follow Jesus and dependent of God their Father.
In the physical life when a baby is born it brings joy to the parents. But does the baby know what is in store for him in the future and what he needs to do when he grows up as an adult? A baby when born is helpless and if left on his own, he will die because he cannot even feed himself. He is totally dependent on the mother specially to feed him with milk. As he starts walking and controls his hands he is trained how to eat by himself, trained to use the toilet and later he is sent to school to get education. He is fed with good food in order to grow healthy and strong. When he gets higher education, he is encouraged to work part time jobs and eventually as he matures as an adult he is released to be independent. All the years spent for his growth was to prepare him to be self-supporting, find a job and work. He is now independent and free to do as he pleases, choose the work he wants to do and eventually raise a family. Then the process is repeated but now he is the parent. Work is essential to survive. As he grows older to an age where he cannot take care of himself, he goes back to becoming dependent on someone to care for him, some even have to be fed specially if his physical function is limited. We call that handicap.
What about the spiritual life? How is it different? There are some parallels. One must first be born again because one’s spirit dies after one sin. This is a must otherwise a dead spirit has no purpose and does not belong in God’s kingdom. Jesus clearly said this,
“I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” John 3:5-7
A human being is composed of spirit, soul and body. At birth all three are present and has a spirit because he is created in the image of God. However, the moment he sins his spirit dies, meaning he is separated from God and if he remains separated, his spirit will spend eternity in hell. That is why a spiritual birth is imperative to restore the relationship with God. This is the work of the Holy Spirit to give life to our dead spirits after the gospel is planted in the heart. When one is still spiritually dead whatever religious work he does is done in the flesh and is only for this world and ends in death with no benefit for that person. However, after one is born again he enters the kingdom of God, where Jesus is the King and Lord. So in the spiritual life, after one is born again, he needs food to eat in order to live. This is the first sign of this new life in Christ. The spiritual food is the Word of God that a saved one will hunger internally and not forced. Peter encourages one who has just been born again to crave for it, like a conceiving mother. There is this internal desire to read the Bible but needs guidance like a child.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Pet. 2:2-3
Who will help feed a newborn spiritual baby? This is the work of the church to disciple them, grow them in their faith and knowledge of Jesus and build them up so they can serve the Lord. Before Jesus returned to heaven, He gave the eleven disciples He nurtured for three years this command,
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matt. 28:19
Only then will those who have been saved will do this and bear fruit.
“Saved to Bear Fruit”
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:5-9
I want us to take note of the three “ifs” in this passage. Do we really understand what does “if” mean? Here’s Webster’s definition – a conjunction used to indicate the circumstances that would have to exist in order for an event to happen. I also add that this is a choice one must make.
The first if is “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus here is referring to fruit bearing by those who are already connected branches of the vine. They may do the work of God successfully but if done in the flesh it will have no eternal value. The fruit that is eternal is when Christ is the one doing it by His Spirit. This is explained further by Paul how to do the work of God.
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13
Take away the “through him” and what we do will amount to nothing. We have to die to self that Christ by His Spirit will have full control to work through us. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who substitutes Christ who resides and ought to preside.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” Gal. 2:20a
The second “if” is the exact opposite of remaining in him. “If anyone does not remain in me.” Jesus was addressing this to His disciples who are Jews. By race they are descendants of Abraham but are not automatically saved. Those who do not remain in Him shows they have not been saved.
“If some of the branches have been broken off, and you though a wild olive, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the roots support you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I can be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.” Rom. 11:17-21
What is Paul revealing to us here? He is comparing the Jews and Gentiles. Jews were broken off because they did not believe in Jesus while Gentiles who by faith believed and received Jesus as Lord are grafted in. So how does this apply now to Gentiles? “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” I believe this applies to those who claim to be Christians but in time turn their backs on Jesus. They seem to be following Him for a while but when the going got rough and the demands of Jesus for His followers become high and hard, they give up. This is what Jesus said will happen in the last days before He returns as he said,
“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matt. 24:10-13
So then who will stand firm to the end among those who call themselves Christians? Only those, who have been born again and saved.
“Now it is God who makes us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is yet to come.” 2 Cor. 1:21-22
This affirms the eternal security of the believer. By ourselves without the Holy Spirit in us we will not remain faithful to Christ, and today there are false teachers being exposed and are falling away in sins, not standing firm.
Don’t be surprise that pastors, miracle workers and teachers are falling away
“Not everyone who calls me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matt. 7:21-23
The last “if” is for those who will remain in Jesus and faithful to obey His words that comes with a promise, “ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.” If you compare the wishes of a child and an adult, what would be the difference? For a child most probably they will ask for a toy and adults will ask something they can use for the good of the family. However, this promise is conditioned when you are remaining in an intimate love relationship, following closely our Lord Jesus and knowing the will of God from His Word. This is not a blanket promise to ask for anything we want. If there is one sure thing we can ask that God will certainly give is this. Here’s what Jesus said we are to ask,
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.” Matt. 9:37
Who are the workers? It starts with me. Going back to our last Sunday’s message, from one kernel that dies how many seeds will it produce? Many seeds. The seeds here are obviously disciples of Jesus Christ. So what do the workers do? Sow seeds (the gospel), disciple someone, nurture them to maturity, serve God’s people, be active in worship and reproduce more seeds. Paul clearly understood his purpose why God saved him.
“What, after all is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each one will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Cor. 3:6-9
In spring till summer when you go to the garden section of Wal-Mart and other Supermarkets you will find racks of different seeds to plant for the season. Of course they don’t expect any sales in fall and winter. But the seed of the gospel is good for all seasons. Jesus came for the very purpose of telling the good news to everyone. That is what we are to do to follow in His steps. We are to seek his lost ones and He does the saving. Do we know who they are? No. God knows whom He will save. We are simply to go and tell. We sow and God makes the seed grow. We are supplying you with tracts today and like the seeds packed in envelopes we have envelopes with your name containing the seed of the gospel. We are now on our third purpose of the church. “To make Him known,” while simultaneously growing everyone to “Know Christ and to become like Him.”
Lastly, isn’t it that God saves sinners for His glory? This is not man’s will and idea but God has revealed this purpose through His prophet Isaiah.
“Do not be afraid for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isa. 43:5-7
How is God who chose you and called you through the gospel of Christ glorified? According to Jesus, “This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves that you are my disciples.” Since the time you confessed that Jesus is your Lord, have you told anyone what has happened to you and what Christ has done in your life? By telling that, you are witnessing to Jesus as you tell others that He saved you and changed you into a new person. I’m sure they will ask what has changed in your life? This is Christ’s story of His work in saving you, not what you have done for Him. Making Him known is not simply saying you are a Christian. Anyone can do that. What Christ has done to save you from hell and from sin is what makes a Christian and that they too can become one.
Jesus said, “we show ourselves to be His disciples” when we are bearing fruit, much fruit. You can either be sowing seeds, making disciples, nurturing by teaching in Sunday school or conducting home Bible study. Many think that going to church is fruit bearing. We come to church to worship out of our love for the Lord showing our gratitude and thankfulness for saving us. Worship is to honor and lift up the name of Jesus that honors the Father because He seeks worshipers for His Son. Fruit bearing is to do the work of advancing God’s kingdom to continue the work of the Lord Jesus in seeking and saving those the Father gives Him. For whose benefit is it when we are bearing much fruit? For God’s glory. What does it do for the one who is bearing much fruit? It affirms that you are truly a disciple of Christ and will receive a reward for your efforts.
You may be here today but are not yet born again, God has a purpose in drawing you to come in order for you to hear the gospel. You may have heard this before but today the Holy Spirit is giving you life to respond in repentance and by faith receive Christ as your Lord. Let me share the gospel truth that will save you,
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. That he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4
Repentance is your first decision to hate sin and your self. Ask Jesus to forgive you of all your sins and give them all up to Him to pay. Then surrender your life to Him as the Lord of your life. Receive Him into your heart so He will give you His Spirit to live in you as Lord. Then do this,
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Rom. 10:9
Come forward and confess Jesus publicly as your Lord.
You are saved but you are not bearing fruit. Ask Jesus to use you to advance His kingdom. He is just waiting for you to ask.
God may be calling you to be a part of this body of Christ and join as member. Come and respond to His call.
You are already a believer and have not yet followed Christ in “Believer’s Baptism”, obey His command and let us know.
However, God may be speaking to your heart, respond to His call.