Friday, February 8, 2013

So, Is There Fruit?

So, Is There Fruit?
John 15:1-6
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.   I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Have you ever looked at something and thought it was something else? Sometimes you think you see one thing and then you realize, you have been looking at it all wrong. I just came back from the rock chip repair place and am laughing because I thought I had a chip in my windshield. I found out it was not a chip at all but something had stuck to the inside of of my windshield. I am sure the man in charge of the store thought I was looney-tunes and probably called someone to tell them, “A lady came in the store today and asked if I could check her windshield for a chip. I felt the outside of the window... nothing, then I opened the front passenger side of the car and there it was...something stuck on the inside of the windshield.” It looked exactly like a chip but it wasn’t.  Just a little embarrassing, wouldn’t you say?

How many times have we read the same passage in the Bible and saw what we’ve always seen and then one day, the Lord opens our eyes and the Word of God comes alive with clarity and new insight? I can’t begin to tell you how many times this has happened in my life. I am truly thankful the Bible is the living Word of God and when God opens the mind and heart of a believer, it is a most exciting experience. 

In John chapter fifteen, Jesus and His disciples had just celebrated the Passover. The disciple Judas has left the group to set up the betrayal of Christ. Jesus and the eleven remaining disciples left Jerusalem, and went down into the Kidron Valley and up the slope of the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus picked up a vine cutting and turned to His disciples. "You know how Israel is pictured as a vine which is to produce refreshing fruit. Well, Israel failed. I am the authentic Vine. I am the true and genuine Vine as opposed to a mere copy or symbol. I am the fulfillment of all that this symbol suggests. I am the True Vine.’’

In the Old Testament, the vine is commonly used as a symbol for Israel but in the New Testament, the Vine or the “True Vine” is specifically identified as Jesus Himself and the Father as the “vinedresser” or “husbandman,” the caretaker of the vine. In this metaphor of the vine and the branches, there are two types of branches: 1. (branches that bear fruit) and 2. (branches that do not bear fruit). With this vine, Jesus illustrates the most fundamental and basic secret of the Christian life. "You in Me, and I in you." John 15:1–2 ~ I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

A vinedresser has two responsibilities toward a vine. 1.) Cut off the branches that are dead. 2.) Prune the suckers off the branches that are fruit bearing. The husbandman doesn’t want a fruitless branch, a dead branch, sucking off any energy when it can't produce fruit nor does he want suckers shooting off of good branches and sapping the strength that could be producing the fruit. The vinedresser has the responsibility of cutting off the branches that are fruitless and pruning the ones that are fruit-bearing.

The branches that bear fruit are easily perceived as genuine believers. All true believers bear fruit of some kind. It may be minute in size or quantity but nonetheless, all believers bear some kind of fruit in their life time. Christians are defined in these terms: Little fruit, more fruit, much fruit, but not no fruit. The branches that bear no fruit are those who profess to believe, but their lack of fruit indicates that true salvation has never taken place. (The same analogy is in Matthew 13:24-30 with the wheat and the tares and explained in Matthew 13:36-42). 

The picture of the Vinedresser getting rid of the dead wood is necessary so that the living, fruit bearing branches, may be clearly distinguished. This is not a picture of a true Christian loosing their salvation but a clear representation of a person who has made a profession. They have the appearance of branches, (profession but not possession), but are not apart of the true Vine. They have never genuinely believed and will be taken away in judgment and cast into the fire. Fruit is the outstanding evidence of life. When God prunes a true believer, He removes all things in the believer’s life that would hinder fruit-bearing. God chastens to cut away sin that would hinder and drain the spiritual life of a believer just as a farmer removes anything on the branches that keeps the branch from bearing the greatest amount of fruit. In a true believer’s life, the actual pruning is done by the Word of God. 

Could there be a good tree with no good fruit? No, it wouldn't be a good tree. Would every Christian have good fruit? Yes, that's what the Bible is saying. You can tell a true believer because he will have good fruit. Every good tree brings forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree can't bring forth bad fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. The true Christian cannot continually bear evil fruit. There must be the good fruit that comes from the life of God in him. Matthew 7:17-19 ~ Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 

Thought: Are you a fruit bearing Christian or are you one who is bearing no fruit at all? Are you playing church, professing to be a Christian, but have never possessed the good seed of the Gospel? Beware my friend–––professing is a claim or a pretense to attempt to make something that is not the case appear true. Possession is belonging to, being completely under the influence of, and being controlled by and empowered through the Holy Spirit of God. Are you professing or possessing Christ?

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