GOOD FRUITS by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC
Introduction: Through the years, when Nicole and I must be away and she didn’t have time to prepare a meal, we leave money on the kitchen counter for the kids to buy their dinner. It’s usually with the instructions, “There’s enough money for everybody’s meal.” Occasionally, there’s also, “You can get a milkshake or something to go with it.” One of our kids loves to joke – “It’s all for me. I’m not sharing.” Let’s imagine for a moment if that were to be true. What if we were to come home and one of them had spent all the money on their own selves and bought tons of candy and junk? What if the rest of them were all hungry because of this one? I know you parents are thinking the same thing I am thinking – someone is in big trouble. Unfortunately, many Christians have a similar misunderstanding regarding fruits in the Christian life. They think that spiritual fruits are for their own benefit. Main point: God wants the life of Jesus the vine to flow through us the branches and bear fruits that will be a blessing to others. The branch doesn’t consume its own fruits. One more thing: All we must do is abide in Jesus, and he promises to bring forth the fruits. The branch doesn’t stress about bearing fruits either.
John 15 1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 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.”
Context: In our last message, we learned that the typical approaches are not sufficient to the proper interpretation of John 15. Some people read the vine and branches imagery only from a farming – viticulture/horticulture – perspective, and it has benefits, but it’s not what Jesus had in mind. Others read it only from a theological perspective due to the “ego eimi” or “I am” sayings, and they immediately see the name of God and the deity of Christ. Although that is also important, and Jesus is definitely God in flesh, that’s not the main reason for it here. We learned last week that a correct understanding of John 15 is through the perspective of Israel’s journey as God’s chosen people. As they experienced various needs in their lives, God became their supplier, provider, protector, and Savior. They were also given the promise that one day all their essential needs will be met in the Coming One. That’s why Jesus gave those 7 “I am” statements recorded by John – “I am the Bread of life,” “I am the Light of the world,” “I am the Door for the sheep,” “I am the Good Shepherd,” I am the Resurrection and the Life,” “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and “I am the True Vine.” In other words, Israel was God’s object lesson for all of us, and Jesus is God’s answers to all our deep, essential, and universal needs.
Application: Do you believe that Jesus is the only true, promised, and ultimate source of all-sufficiency for all our deep, essential, and universal needs? Are you looking to him? Are you connected to him? Are you looking to other sources for your needs? Do you know Christ? Are you saved?
In this message, our focus is on the meaning of the “fruits.” Again, people have typically misunderstood this passage. They immediately turn to the fruits of the Spirit passages in the New Testament:
- Romans 6:22 “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”
- Ephesians 5 8 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth).”
- Philippians 1 10 “that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
- Galatians 5 22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.”
According to this way of reading, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. As long as we stay connected to him, we bear the fruits “of the Spirit.” In other words, we are more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, on and on to being more self-controlled. In other words, we are the beneficiaries of the fruits. Some interpreters go a step further and they even look at the context of John 15 and emphasize the importance of effective prayer, joy in personal life and love for one another because John 15:7 says “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you,” John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full,” and John 15:12 says, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” So, it is suggested that as we abide in Christ, the Holy Spirit helps us to pray effectively so we can have joy, peace, love, and a good witness. Again, the main beneficiary is self.
Question: Why does the branch bear fruit? For itself or others? Have you ever seen a branch eating its own fruit? While it is true that once we are saved and we begin to walk with Christ and submit to the Holy Spirit that he brings forth the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, this passage is not about that. To correctly understand this passage, we must return to the Old Testament imagery of Israel being the vine of God. Remember the passages from the last sermon. Here’s one Jeremiah 5 1 “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; See now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes judgment, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her. 2 Though they say, “As the LORD lives,’ Surely they swear falsely.” 3 O LORD, are not Your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; you have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return. 4 Therefore I said, “Surely these are poor. They are foolish; For they do not know the way of the LORD, The judgment of their God. 5 I will go to the great men and speak to them, for they have known the way of the LORD, the judgment of their God.” But these have altogether broken the yoke and burst the bonds. 6 Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, a wolf of the deserts shall destroy them; a leopard will watch over their cities. Everyone who goes out from there shall be torn in pieces, because their transgressions are many; their backslidings have increased. 7 “How shall I pardon you for this? Your children have forsaken Me and sworn by those that are not gods. When I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. 8They were like well-fed lusty stallions; every one neighed after his neighbor’s wife. 9 Shall I not punish them for these things?” says the LORD. “And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? 10 “Go up on her walls and destroy, but do not make a complete end. Take away her branches, For they are not the LORD’S. 11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously with Me,” says the LORD. 12 They have lied about the LORD, and said, “It is not He. Neither will evil come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. 13 And the prophets become wind, for the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them.”
Ezekiel 18 30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord GOD. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!” Ezekiel 19 10 “Your mother was like a vine in your bloodline, planted by the waters, fruitful and full of branches because of many waters. 11 She had strong branches for scepters of rulers. She towered in stature above the thick branches, and was seen in her height amid the dense foliage. 12 But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried her fruit. Her strong branches were broken and withered; the fire consumed them. 13 And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty land. 14 Fire has come out from a rod of her branches and devoured her fruit, so that she has no strong branch— a scepter for ruling.’ ”
I can also read from Psalm 80, Hosea 10, Jeremiah 2, Isaiah 5, and others, but the point is this – the vine imagery highlighted the failure of Israel to be a fruitful vine for God. The fruitfulness was not only to produce branches that would bear good fruit before God, but also to graft other branches of other peoples who would also become righteous and fruitful before God.
Is this what Jesus had in mind?
- John 1 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
- John 4:21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
- John 10 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
- John 12 20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. 23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
The more fruit is the tremendous harvest of souls that will come from all over, Jews and Gentiles, through the true vine. Love and prayer are not the fruit. They are the means to the fruit, souls.
This is why our mission at Clearview is “to lead all peoples into a life-changing ever-growing relationship with Jesus Christ.” The command is not to win souls. The command is to abide, and he will do the rest. Love and Obey. Trust and Follow. Do what the branch does with the Vine.
Invitation: How are your fruits? Do you know what Clearview stands for? Are you saved?