Intro: Very early in my Christian life and was very excited to share my faith, I got hold of this tract that showed what faith does in the salvation plan of God. The picture was about the head of a train and rows of cars behind. But unless there is a connection, the head can move but the trains of cars remains. Faith is what connects the head with the rows of cars behind. Only then will the trains of cars move as the head moves. The engine is in the head. This became very clear to me the place of faith in my life.
Last Sunday we read that Jesus is the true vine and the branches that were genuinely connected with Him will bear fruit. It should because that’s the purpose God has chosen them for that very purpose. Many Christians think that they are saved only to populate heaven and be blessed with wealth and good health while here on earth. After I got saved I was joyful beyond description that my sins are all forgiven and I have eternal life. That’s the start of ones spiritual growth. But are we to remain there? No, because that is not all the will of God for us. One does not mature one week after getting saved. That’s why there is discipleship and nurturing that is done through the church. That’s why God combines them with a church family to be cared for and nurtured. Usually God connects them with the church body that brought the gospel to them. This is also the pattern copied by religions that is not the “true vine.” If one gets converted to become a Mormon it is normal that he will be invited to attend and join a Mormon church and taught their doctrines
But for those who have been saved by the true vine, they need to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am sure that the eleven disciples Jesus was addressing from last Sunday’s message already have grown in knowledge of who Jesus was. He was with them three years and taught them everything that they needed to know. We can safely say that they are young men about to become fathers. But one thing was still lacking the Holy Spirit was not yet in them. No wonder Peter denied Jesus when confronted if he was one of His followers. He did not have the courage and the power of God. At this point I will conclude that they lacked the faith to connect with the Head of the train in everything, but they were already on the right track. They already belonged to the vine. So the message continues.
“The Key to Fruit Bearing”
“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 notremain 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 15:5-8
I have already used this passage in the past but I believe the Lord wants us to hear this again to remind us what we are saved for. But will we all be fruitful as God expects us to be? From our text there are three “ifs”. It is there because God gives everyone who claims to be a Christian a choice. We are to will, either to respond to God’s commands to obey or disobey, to remain in Christ or go our own way. This is every believers struggle, obedience to God’s every command. The struggle comes from lack of trust, giving up what we want and enjoy, giving up our independence and love for God that has not grown to love Him with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. Children have a relationship with their earthly fathers but are they always obedient? The sinful nature in them wants to disobey just as adults who are spiritually young and still controlled by their sinful nature.
Perhaps here is one issue that is still confusing and giving doubts to genuine believers of Christ. The evil one is always making Christians doubt his faith.
Even the message last Sunday and today will make one’s faith doubt whether he or she is a Christian. Especially if you have not been fruitful, not having led anyone to Christ. Some Christians may not have experienced leading anyone to Christ, but just plant the seed. I have seen at airports young men standing in the middle of the walkway as passengers come out from a flight passing out tracts. I have witnessed some take and others don’t. That’s sowing the seed to prepare hearts that one day someone will harvest. What about teachers in Sunday school telling children about Jesus? Perhaps too young to respond but their hearts are being prepared for the harvest when they grow older. Leading a youth and adult Bible study. What about gossiping Jesus for what he has done in ones life among his peers or in the workplace of his changed life produced by the Holy Spirit. This makes unbelievers aware that they too can have the joy and peace of being forgiven. Who knows God may be gracious to them in His time. Inviting unbelievers to church especially at our Anniversary. That’s already bearing fruit when working with God preparing hearts for salvation. On our first worship service five years ago, Richel who got saved earlier in one of our Bible studies, invited Marcy to come to worship. During the week she invited us to her house on that Saturday to meet her husband to share the gospel. They also invited another couple and the Lord opened the hearts of Orly and Macrina and both prayed to receive Christ. If Richel did not invite her co-worker Marcy, we would have not met Orly and Macrina. And thank God they are still here. Our brother Severino wrote his friend Willie to testify what God has done through him and I quote, “I organized a Bible study (3 hours) for 7 Saturdays at our school – Rosario Institute with forty friends and relatives. They all accepted the Lord as their Savior and repented of all their sins” end of quote. Now the Lord is opening a door for Grace to minister to Korean children in a school on Saturdays, her day off. Let’s pray that many of these children will be saved through her sharing the gospel. Peter would not have been saved if his brother Andrew did not tell him about the Messiah.
“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus…Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” John 1:35-37, 40-41
There are three ifs in our text. No doubt the first if is for those who will faithfully follow Christ, connected and remaining with Him by faith. “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” When this truth is believed and acted upon by faith, this now is the key to fruit bearing
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
Just like the train we connect the train car to the head by faith. This is how we remain in him. This is a daily decision of commitment.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Cross means death. I first deny my rights to myself and then identify with the death of Christ and consider myself dead to sin and self. Then we bear fruit because it is now Jesus who works in us and through us. Those that will be drawn to Him by the Father He will save through us. This is the same way God worked out His redemptive plan through His Son.
“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:10-14
This is what will happen to us when we are dead to self so that Christ has full control of us. I am in Christ and He is in me, just as Jesus was in the Father and the Father was in him. Can you imagine what Jesus can do through us if we remain in Him. He will bear much fruit through us.
But “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are thrown into the fire and burned.” These are those who claim to be Christians but are not. They follow for a while but then stop and return to where they were.
“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them. “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” John 6:60-65
“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” John 6:66
The Jews who believed they belong to God because they are Abraham’s children, Jesus threw this question about the Galileans killed by Pilate.
“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them – do you think they were “more guilty” than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:2-5
How many people are dying today that are innocently killed by terrorist, casualties of calamities, innocent victims of drunken drivers, casualties of war and many other causes. As Jesus said, are they worse sinners and more guilty than others? Unbelievers and believers are dying everyday. But the issue is not when one dies he or she is worse sinner than the rest. I don’t know how many Christians died in the tower on 9/11 and how many were not. But here’s what matters, one of the seals that died in Afghanistan was a Christian and his testimony to his grandmother was that he was ready to die anytime because he belongs to Jesus. I don’t know about the rest but God knows who are His. Then Jesus told them this parable
“A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.” Luke 13:6-9
What is the object lesson of this parable? I believe the main truth that we see here is God withholding judgment by the pleading of his servant, that’s mercy. Did the tree deserve to stay alive? No. But God withheld His judgment and was gracious to give him another year. If you are not yet a Christian how should this parable affect you? What about if you claim to be a Christian? Are you bearing fruit as you should?
The third if is for “you” who remain connected with Christ and obedient to His word. You have the privilege of asking whatever you wish with a promise that it will given to you. Does this mean I can ask anything? When Christ is the one living in you, you will have His mind, His desires and by His Spirit you will ask what the Spirit will reveal to you as the will of God.
“And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with the will of God.” Rom. 8:27
What you pray for is the will of God and because it is the will of God, He certainly will answer them. Here’s a sample of what to pray for,
“Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matt. 9:38
The prophet Isaiah in his encounter with God, heard from God.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell the people.” Isa. 6:8-9
The result of all these is, “This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” God is glorified and we grow more and more confident in the assurance of our salvation that we are His.
Jesus had this as His purpose when He was sent down to us.
“I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” John 17:4-5
Jesus was hours before His death yet He said He completed His work.
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believe that you sent me.” John 17:6-8
You would not have known Christ if someone did not reveal Christ and the gospel to you? Those whom God gave to His Son got saved after Jesus revealed Himself and the gospel to them. At that time Christ Jesus did the revealing. Who will now carry the message to those whom God will give to His Son? This is how Paul understood his purpose and God’s will for his life by special revelation from Christ.
“I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ…But when God, who set me apart from birth and called my by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.” Gal. 1:11-12, 15-17
What was the gospel revealed to him by Christ that he was to preach?
“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that 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. 15:2-4