THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE
DAY EIGHTY-THREE JOHN FIFTEEN
Have you ever wondered why God left us here on earth after our salvation? Remember what it was like when you first came to Jesus? Remember how “clean” you felt and the excitement of your new-found salvation? Do you remember how all of that waned with time when you settled back down to planet earth?
It would have been amazing if God had taken us to heaven right after our salvation event. We would have been completely free of sin and then be in the presence of Jesus. But that’s just not the way it works. He left us here in this world to produce “fruit” for His kingdom. What was Jesus talking about when He spoke of producing fruit in John chapter fifteen?
The Bible speaks of three types of spiritual fruit. Consider these three categories:
1) In Galatians 5:22,23 (NLT) Paul wrote, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” This is a description of the fruit of the Spirit and not the “fruits” of the spirit. It is not like a Chinese restaurant menu where you choose one from column A and then something from column B and so on. It is all or nothing.
The fruit of the Spirit describes the personality of a mature, Spirit-filled believer. It is in contrast to the “works of the flesh described in Galatians 5:19-21). A Spirit-filled Christian is a powerful Christian. They are overcomers and productive workers in the Kingdom of God. Spirit-filled believers touch others and recommend the “Christ-life.” Spirit-filled Christians are always fruitful Christians who reach out to others.
2) Proverbs 11:30 speaks of a different kind of spiritual fruit. It says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” This is talking about personal evangelism. Jesus said we were to be His witnesses. We used to speak about being “soul conscious.” It meant to be sensitive to the need of others to know Jesus as Savior and to care for their souls. Believers should be proactive in witnessing to others about Jesus. Our faith is not something we bury inside us but something we share with others. We should ask ourselves if we have been part of bringing someone to the redemptive knowledge of Jesus.
3) The third type of spiritual fruit is mentioned in Luke 3:8. Jesus encouraged people “to bear fruits worthy of repentance.” This type of “fruit” is evidence of true salvation. If you are the same after you are saved as before you are saved, you have to ask the question, “Am I really saved?”
In Christ, we are new creations. Everything changes right down to our attitudes (I Corinthians 5:17). A carpenter builds buildings. An artist paints portraits. A seamstress makes dresses. What evidence in your life is there that you have truly repented of sin and live a new, spiritual life?
Jesus said, “By their fruits, you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). What kind of fruit are we producing for Jesus?
1. The True Vine (v. 1-8)
Jesus would soon finish His mission. The cross was hours away. He had told them He is going away. He is leaving them to produce.
Jesus is the Vine. The Father is the Vinedresser. We cannot produce fruit alone. We have to have the right connection. We must be connected to the true Vine. Without Jesus in our life, we can do nothing. There are things necessary to bear fruit.
1) A branch that does not bear fruit is “taken away.” Bible teacher and pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, the late James Montgomery Boice taught that the Greek verb airo, translated here as “takes away” is more accurately translated “lifts up.” This would refer to the common practice of “vinedressers who would “lift up” low branches to give them “more light” and help them to produce more fruit. This idea is more consistent with the desire of our Vinedresser (the Father), Who desires His children to bear fruit (v. 2).
2) A “productive branch” is “pruned” so that it might bring forth more fruit. As a vinedresser will tear away the dead leaves to allow the plant to be healthier and more productive, sometimes our Vinedresser must remove things from our lives that impede growth and productivity. The “pruning process” is not always comfortable but, if we are to continue to grow, it is necessary (v. 2).
3) The branch cannot produce fruit by itself. It must remain attached to the Vine (v. 4). We must “abide” in Christ. We cannot go out on our own and expect to produce anything that is lasting. We must stay close to Christ. We do this through prayer and the study of His Word.
4) If a branch does not abide in Christ, they wither and are cast out and burned in the fire. This does not suggest a loss of salvation. These branches were never really attached to Christ. It is like people who join a church and get religious but never really get saved (v. 6).
5) If we abide in Christ, our prayer life will be more effective and we will receive answers to our prayers (v. 7)
6) The Father is glorified by our fruitfulness. It affirms that are His disciples (v. 8)
2. Perfect Love, Perfect Joy (v. 9-17)
This is an intimate paragraph as Jesus declared His desire for the disciples to be in a close and intimate relationship with Him.
1) Jesus loves us as the Father loves Him. “Abide in My love” (v. 9)
2) If we keep His commandments it confirms that we abide in His love (v.10). Jesus kept the Father’s commandment because He loved the Father.
3) Jesus desired that our joy might overflow. It is the joy that only Jesus can give (v. 11).
4) We are to love one another (v. 13). Too often Christians fight Christians. The enemy is the Devil. We should fight him together. And they will know we are Christians by our love.
5) We are His friends and we should keep His commandments (v. 14). The greatest of all expressions of love is to lay down one’s life for a friend (v. 13). Jesus was headed to a cross where He would lay down His life for His enemies (Romans 6:6-10).
Jesus chose the twelve and He chooses us to be fruitful for Him. The fruit that we bear has eternal consequences. It changes eternities. It remains forever (v. 16,17)
3. The World Will Hate You (v. 18-25)
All those who propagate the idea that it is fun to be a Christian have not listened to the words of Jesus. But we must also remember that Christianity is not all doom and gloom. We cannot expect the secular world to love us. They have a different agenda. Their goals are earthly and temporal. Our goals are spiritual and eternal.
Opposition to the Gospel should not surprise us. They hated Jesus and they will hate us. The Gospel upsets the plans of a lost man whose goals are to eat drink and be merry. The Gospel demands accountability and restraint. We are to live a holy life. This does not appeal to the carnal desires of the lost.
Jesus said the reason they will hate you is that they do not know the Father. Israel rejected Jesus. He said if He had not come and warned them, they would have no sin. But they had the Word, the Law and the Prophets. Knowledge demands responsibility.
Knowing the truth can set you free if you embrace it. But if you reject it, it will stand as your judge.
4. The Helper (v. 26, 27)
The Holy Spirit was coming. He was coming to help the disciples to plant the Church and to endure persecution. He comes to us to teach us and lead us to all truth. He came from the Father in the name of the Son. He is not new. He has been with the Father and the Son for all eternity. But He will step to the forefront to lead the church and to provide power for the believer. He is real and He is here with us. Follow Him today.
Walk in the Spirit today!
Love to all,