God requires us to be fruitful

Today we are going to look at the famous John 15 passage and talk about what it means to bear fruit:

John 15:1-8
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

1. The most obvious thing that we recognise from this passage is that God wants us to be fruitful.

2. The second thing we see is that we need to remain in relationship with Him to produce the kind of fruit that He is looking for

3. The third thing is that God wants us in a place where we can be trusted with His favour to a degree that we can ask anything from Him and He will give it to us.

We are going to look into the 3 points that I made and try to make sense of what God wants from our lives:

One: Our job as Christians is to put skin, flesh and bones on the things that are truly spiritual.

God wants us to be inwardly pretty and outwardly pretty. God wants us to bear tangible fruit that impacts the world.

Mark 12:28-31
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

If we read the two great commandments we should see that they don’t mention anything relating to the spiritual / mystical realm. The reason I say this is because many Christians believe many things about God who is spiritual but don’t do the things that reflect what they believe.

Its important for us to see that we don’t please God by focussing on the spiritual realm or even majoring on issues beyond the material world. No, we please God by what we do in the tangible world: God wants us to serve Him with our heart, soul, mind and with our strength.

Our heart, soul, mind are all thought processing faculties that help us make decisions for how we will react or respond to life inwardly. Loving God with our strength speaks of how we carry out those decisions. If our thought processing and our actions are godly then He is pleased with us.

Whilst the spiritual world has its place in our theology we must always be careful to not to pursue the mystical at the expense of Christ’s objectives for the material world. God wants us to be His hands, feet and mouth piece on the earth. Sure we need a clear understanding of the spiritual world – but only with the view of using our knowledge to help others.

In 1 John we see the Apostle concerned about a heresy that was pulling Christians away from the truth (we know from history that this heresy was called gnosticism). This heresy deceived people into approaching Christianity purely from a mystical perspective and taught them to neglect the material world.

The gnostics saw the spiritual realm as a superior reality worthy of their investment and the natural as inferior and worthless. They became so obsessed by the spiritual world that they removed all their obligations in the material world from from their theology and reduced their lives to a mystical endeavor. They even came to the erroneous conclusion that Jesus could not have come in the flesh since He was a superior being.

You may think, ‘well how does this affect me?’ The truth is if you believe you have a strong relationship with God and have bad relationships with people, if you don’t reach out to others and show no self control with things you say and do but still come to church with little conviction about your lifestyle then you too have bought into that heresy. You have subconsciously separated the spiritual and the natural – having no conviction about what you do through the week and then come to church and celebrate Jesus. This is a deception based on an unhealthy view of Christianity.

Its because people try to separate the spiritual and the natural that they can call themselves Christians and then live in a totally different way.

1 John 4:20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

To allow hatred for people or bitterness to remain unchallenged in our lives makes us look like hypocrites before God and before people.

Jesus taught:

Luke 6: 43- 45
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

The Apostle taught about cultivating the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

If we develop in these areas our outward works will reflect what we value.
Two: What kind of fruit is God looking for? Christ had some real practical objectives for our world.

The kind of fruit that He wants from us can all be summed up in this statement:

1 John 3:8b The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

What are the Devil’s works? The primary effect of any of the Devil’s works whether they are blatantly evil or subtle is to bring humanity into some sort of control. Whether it is some form of sin, sickness or poverty whatever brings oppression is what God sees as a work of the Devil. Jesus’ assignment is to liberate humanity. He accomplished the spiritual implications of it through His death, resurrection and ascension but the effects of these victories must be seen in a literal pursuit to pull down sin, sickness and poverty in the earth.

James 2:14-24
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

You could obey this passage of Scripture if you simply keep praying that God would bring people or causes across your path that need you to reach out to them.

Three: It is God’s objective to get us to a place of being trust worthy – worthy of His trust so that we can ask Him for anything and He could trust us with it.

Hebrews 5:8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered

In this verse we learn that even Jesus learnt obedience from the things He suffered. It’s wasn’t a matter of Jesus being disobedient that He had to learn obedience, but rather God trained Him to respond to circumstances in a certain way. He learnt that way via the School of the Spirit… for example in the face of hunger after a 40 day fast He said no to the Devil who tempted Him.

The words prune and clean from the John 15 text are the same Greek words. Jesus said if we don’t show forth a certain kind of fruit in our lives – of the type that God is looking for then He prunes the branch. The analogy here is of the grape vine who if it is not pruned will continue to extend its branch without fruit on it, but if it is pruned it will produce fruit as it extends its branch.

When God challenges us through various trials that we face He works to remove the improper responses and reactions to implant new ones that reflect Him. The benefit in doing this is that if we allow God to work in us then He will produce a trust worthy son or daughter who He can trust with His power.

So there is purpose in the fire. God is checking fruit. If He doesn’t like something He works to remove it and replace it with what is pleasing to Him. He wants us to become mature and be entrusted with His power.

Overall we are called to bear fruit. Our fruit, according to Jesus, brings glory to our Father in heaven.

So one way to see the reality of our faith is to see what is measurable. Can we look back and see the changes we have made; inward and outward? There should be nothing mystical about your spirituality. Why? Because it is measured out in our behavior, our healthiness of mind and soul, our ability to serve God and humanity.