How to Bear Fruit for Our Heavenly Father
How to Bear Fruit for Our Heavenly Father
The Gospel of John
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - August 30, 2017
(Revised March 4, 2020)
*Most of you know that for a long time we have been studying the night before Jesus died on the cross for our sins. That's because God's Word puts a great emphasis on the events of that night, all the way from John 13 to John 18:27. As we start John 15 tonight, the scene has shifted from the upper room of the Lord's last supper with His Disciples to the road that led to the Garden of Gethsemane.
*At the end of John 14:31, Jesus spoke to His disciples and said, "Arise, let us go from here." John Phillips explained that those "words implied haste. Evidently as Jesus spoke, He rose to his feet. The time for action had come. The Lord had decided to go out now and meet the enemy head-on. He was resolved to carry out the purpose of his Father for the redemption of mankind. The rest of the words in this private conversation were spoken somewhere between the house where he had kept the feast and the crossing of the brook of Kidron on the edge of Gethsemane.
*With the solitude of the upper room now over and the agony ahead, Jesus talked as he walked, first to his followers, then to his Father. His talk with his followers gave them revelations about God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Heavenly Father. (1)
*In tonight's Scripture, Jesus stressed how crucial it is for us to be fruitful followers of Christ. Thank God, He also shows us how to bear fruit for our Heavenly Father. Please think about that as we read John 15:1-8.
*Do you like fruit? Well, maybe not, but God surely does! The Lord made this truth clear in vs. 8, when He said, "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be My disciples."
*Jesus Christ certainly cares about His followers bearing fruit for God. But what kind of fruit was the Lord talking about here? As we go through the New Testament, we can see at least 4 different types of Christian fruit:
 THE FIRST KIND OF FRUIT IS HOLINESS AND GOODNESS, THE CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST.
*For example, Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT in our lives is "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance." Ephesians 5:9 tells us that "the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT" in all Christians is "goodness, righteousness and truth."
 THE SECOND KIND OF CHRISTIAN FRUIT IS OUR FINANCIAL GIVING.
*In Philippians 4:15-17, Paul said:
15. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.
16. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.
17. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the FRUIT that abounds to your account.
 A THIRD KIND OF CHRISTIAN FRUIT IS OUR HEART-FELT PRAISE TO GOD
*Hebrews 13:15 says, "Therefore by Him (i.e. by Jesus) let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the FRUIT OF OUR LIPS, giving thanks to His name."
 THE FOURTH KIND OF FRUIT IS REACHING MORE PEOPLE FOR JESUS CHRIST.
*It's seeing more people get saved by hearing and believing the good news of about Jesus, the good news of God's forgiveness and eternal life through the cross of Christ.
*That's why in John 4:35-36, Jesus asked His disciples, "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers FRUIT for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together."
*Think about the people who helped lead you to saving faith in Jesus Christ. You are part of their fruit for eternal life! And now God wants us to bear more fruit for His Kingdom.
*How can we do it? How can we bear more fruit for our Heavenly Father? Church: It can only be done by Jesus Christ working in our lives.
1. THAT'S BECAUSE JESUS IS THE ESSENTIAL CONNECTION FOR US TO BEAR FRUIT.
*No one can have a fruitful life without being truly connected to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As Jesus said in vs. 1-2:
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."
*Then in vs. 4-6, Jesus said:
4. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
6. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned."
*Jesus Christ is our essential connection to life. He is the only possible connection to eternal, abundant life! So Jesus tells His followers, "I am the vine, you are the branches."
*We know that branches die when they not connected to the plant. But 2,000 years ago, there was extra meaning to the Lord's statement. William Barclay explained that grapevine branches were basically good for nothing by themselves. Their wood was too soft for any constructive purpose.
*At certain times of the year, Jewish law required the people to bring offerings of wood to the Temple, and that wood was to be used for the altar fires. But they were not allowed to bring wood from grapevine branches. The only thing that could be done with the cut-off vine branches was to make a bonfire and destroy them. And that is a picture of life without Jesus. (2)
*In the long run, we can do nothing worth doing without Jesus. We have nothing worth having without Jesus. And there is no true life in our souls without Jesus, so Jesus Christ is our essential connection to life!
*It reminded a Christian friend of people in the hospital on life support, and she said, "Jesus is our life support." That's true! Jesus Christ is our ultimate life support! He is our only source for eternal, abundant life. And godly fruitfulness flows out of our connection with Jesus.
2. BUT THE LORD ALSO GIVES US MUCH-NEEDED CLEANSING.
*Everybody needs the kind of spiritual cleansing we see in tonight's Scripture. God's Word tells us that it involves both purifying and pruning. Jesus talked about these things in vs. 2-3, where He told His disciples:
2. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He (the Heavenly Father) takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3. Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you."
*There is a whole lot we can understand about salvation in these verses.
 WE KNOW THAT SALVATION COMES THROUGH A PERSON: JESUS CHRIST, AND IT IS PROVIDED THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD.
*As Jesus said in vs. 3, "Now you (i.e. You who are My followers. You who know Me and trust in Me) are clean through the word which I have spoken to you."
*God's Word tells us the truth about our sins and salvation: The truth that we must be saved. The truth at we must be born again spiritually. The truth that our sins must be forgiven and washed away, and that we will be saved by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ.
 SALVATION IS PROVIDED THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD, BUT IT HAD TO BE PAID FOR BY THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
*Jesus spoke these words just hours before He died on the cross. The cross was supremely on His mind as He spoke here. And down in vs. 13, Jesus said: "Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends."
*God loves us more than we can imagine, and He always has loved us, because "GOD IS LOVE" (1 John 4:8, 16).
*Romans 4:5 also tells us this amazing thing: God "justifies the ungodly." This means that no matter what you and I have done, God loves us and will forgive us, if we will put our trust in Him. And we should trust Jesus Christ, because He loved us enough to die on the cross for our sins! When we hear this truth, and receive the Risen Lord as our Savior, our sins are forgiven and washed away forever.
 THAT'S THE PURIFYING PART OF SALVATION, BUT WE STILL NEED THE PRUNING.
*Christians: As long as we are in this world, we are branches that need to be pruned. That's why in vs. 2, Jesus said our Heavenly Father prunes every branch that bears fruit, so it will bear more fruit.
*Greg Buchner explained: "Growing up we had a grapevine that belonged to a neighbor right along our property line. And watching him, I learned some things about grapes and grapevines.
*First, grapevines would rather produce shoots and leaves than grapes. They end up looking lush and green, but ultimately, they're only good for making decorations. Grapevines must be pruned radically. The gardener must cut them back each year as far as he possibly can. Branches with no fruit must be removed so they don't draw nutrients away from the grapes. And fruitful branches must be pruned back to produce even more in the following year." (3)
*Steven Pace said: "Fruitful branches are pruned. All bad spots are removed. And even the strongest Christians have spots in their life that have to be removed. All of us have areas in our lives that we struggle with, things that God needs to prune away. Some struggle with their thoughts, some with attitude, some with commitment, some with relationships, some with behavior, some with service.
*The purpose of pruning is to prepare the branch to bear more fruit. The purpose is not to punish, not to hurt, not to damage the branch. God wants to use us to our full potential, and that is why he prunes the branches." (4)
*We all need pruning, and it hurts, because it cuts. It reminds me of something I heard a preacher say over 40 years ago, when we were living in Georgia. He said, "The most miserable people in this world are not the lost people. The most miserable people in the world are the Christians living like lost people."
*But God can use that misery to help prune away the sinful, hurtful, useless parts of our lives. And God cleanses us to help produce more spiritual fruit in our lives.
3. HE ALSO GIVES US A CRUCIAL COMMAND.
*This key command from the Lord is in vs. 4, where Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me."
*Abiding in the Lord is absolutely essential for us to be fruitful. But what does it mean to abide in the Lord? It simply means "to stay, dwell, continue, or remain."
*The Lord is telling us here that we need to stay close to Him. He wants us to pursue closer fellowship with Him every day. Then we will naturally be more fruitful because the more we abide in Jesus, the more we will be like Him. The Lord's character will be formed in us as we abide in Him.
*And Paul Fritz said, "The best way to allow Jesus to abide in you is by allowing His word to fill your mind, heart, soul and emotions with His perspective." That's why in vs. 7 the Lord tells us that we need to let His words "abide in us." (5)
*Great things happen when we abide in the Lord, and let His words abide in us. But how hungry are we for God's Word? How much are we feeding on God's Word?
*Evangelist Robert L. Summer wrote a book titled THE WONDER OF THE WORD OF GOD. And in this book, he told the amazing story of a man from Kansas who was severely injured in an explosion. The victim's face was badly disfigured, and he lost his eyesight, as well as both hands.
*This man was a new Christian, and one of his greatest sorrows was that he could no longer read the Bible. Then he heard about a lady in England who read Braille with her lips. Hoping to do the same, he sent for some books of the Bible in Braille.
*He sadly discovered that the nerve endings in his lips had been destroyed by the explosion. But one day, as he brought a Braille page to his lips, his tongue happened to touch a few of the raised letters, and he could feel them with his tongue!
*He thought, "I can read the Bible using my tongue." And by the time his story was written, that man had read the whole Bible four times with his tongue! He lost his eyes, but he never lost sight of the importance of God's Word. (6)
*God's Word is one of the essential keys for us to abide in the Lord. And we cannot bear fruit for our Heavenly Father unless we abide in Jesus.
*But Jesus will do great things in our lives when we do abide in Him. So, again in vs. 4 He said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." Obeying this command is crucial for us to be more fruitful for God.
4. BUT JESUS ALSO GIVES US AN EXTRAORDINARY COMMITMENT.
*We see it in vs. 7, where Jesus said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you."
*This is another amazing promise of answered prayer. But notice the conditions for this answered prayer. Again, we must abide or remain in the Lord. We must stay close to the Lord, seeking closer fellowship with Jesus every day. And we must let His words abide in us.
*If we will do these things then we will see more and more amazing answers to our prayers. We will even see more miraculous answers to our prayers.
*More miracles! That made me think about a testimony I heard years ago. On December 10th, 2008, I was waiting at St. Francis Hospital while Mrs. Jesse Williams was having back surgery. Her husband Tom and daughter Sue began to talk about their years in Ruston, where they went to Southside Baptist Church.
*The conversation turned to a terrible wreck involving the pastor and his wife. A delivery truck had run a stop sign and smashed into the side of the pastor's car. It killed a friend riding with them, and seriously injured both the preacher and his wife.
*Her pelvic area was completely crushed, but the people of the church began to pray, and God worked a miracle. In one x-ray the ball of her hip-joint was shattered. But in the very next x-ray, it had all come together whole.
*Of course, God doesn't always heal people. If He did, Heaven would be a pretty empty place. And Christians, this world is not our home. But God did work a miracle for that pastor's wife.
*Sue said, "It was the first miracle I had ever seen." And that thought blessed my heart, because it reminded me that more miracles are on the way: Physical miracles, and infinitely more important spiritual miracles. Miracles of salvation and lives being changed. The Lord is still in the miracle working business today, because all good things are possible with Him!
*Now, you may have never seen prayers answered like they were for that pastor's wife. But if you are a Christian, you have already received the greatest answer of all! God has forgiven your sins, and given you an everlasting home with Him in Heaven!
*God has answered your greatest prayer. And He wants to answer more prayers for His glory! In fact, Jesus wants to give us lives that are full of fruit for the glory of God. As Jesus said in vs. 8, "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."
*Church: By God's grace, we can bear all kinds of spiritual fruit. And the more we abide in Christ, the more fruit we will produce for God. But He gets all the glory, because He deserves all the glory!
*Let's give glory to the Lord right now, as we go back to God in prayer.
(1) Adapted from EXPLORING THE GOSPELS: JOHN by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids - "The Person of the Comforter" - John 14:17-31 - "The Walk on the Gethsemane Road" - John 15:1-17:26
(2) Adapted from "Barclay's Daily Bible Study Series - NT" by William Barclay - Revised Edition - Copyright 1975 - First published by the Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - "The Vine and the Branches" - John 15:1-10
(3) SermonCentral sermon "The True Vine" by Greg Buchner - John 15:1-8 - 02232003
(4) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Jesus said I am" by Steven Pace - John 15:1-5 - 03222003
(5) SermonCentral sermon "Abide in Me" by Paul Fritz - John 15:7
(6) "The Wonder of the Word of God" by Robert L. Summer - Found in KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 14705 - SOURCE: Fredericksburg Bible Illustrator Supplements - TITLE: "He Read It with His Tongue"