Part 4 – What are we to do?
CHAPTER 5 – Living The Christian Life continued…
Our Conduct Or Behavior As Believers
The Christian life is
A WALK, A RACE, A WARFARE, FRUITFUL,
A LIFE OF PEACE, A REST, A LIFE OF PRAYER.
The Walk is One of Obedience (continued)
The Christian Life is Fruitful.
On the evening before Jesus went to the cross, He taught the disciples that they would be bearing fruit as His disciples (John 15:8). Jesus used the figure of a vine in His teaching. Although Jesus never explained what the fruit was which was to be borne, He presented the basis of fruitbearing in the relationship the disciples were to have with Him after His ascension. Jesus said, in John 15:1,2,5,8:
I Am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
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.
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.
In this is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Christ is the vine; Christ and the believers are the branches that are to bring forth fruit, which relationship is the essence and evidence of our identification with Christ; the fruit that Christ bears is through the believers.
First, there is a progression from non-fruit-bearing to bearing fruit, to more fruit, and to much fruit. The bearing of much fruit results from abiding in Christ and His abiding in the believer.
In John 15, Jesus is talking to believers, not to unbelievers. He is not talking about salvation, but about fruit-bearing. In verse two, where He states, Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit he taketh away, the one taken away was in Him first. The reason for not bearing fruit is not stated. The condition of being unfruitful is mentioned in Titus 3:14, as the result of failing to maintain good works. Good works are the result God expects from the person who is created in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10). In II Peter 1:8, it states,
For if these things (the godly characteristics of verses 5‑7) be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In a practical sense, the reason a person who is in Christ would be unfruitful would be the result of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19‑21). In a literal sense, a vine that had been fruit-bearing ceases to be so, either through blight or becoming old. Therefore, it could be understood that a person could be in the vine, but not bearing fruit, and that person would be removed from the privilege of bearing fruit because the Father takes him away either by sickness or by death (See I Cor. 11:30; I John 5:16). It must also be considered that the words, taketh away, have the meaning in the Greek of “lifteth up”, possibly referring to a branch that has been beaten to the ground by rain or by blight. Then after being lifted up, it can be cleansed as spoken of in John 15:2c‑e,
Every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth (better translated, “cleanseth”) it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Then Jesus further states in verse 3,
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
The word, purgeth, in verse 2, and the word, clean, in verse 3, are from the same root word in the Greek. This Greek word is used, as well, in James 1:27, where it is translated pure in the phrase, Pure religion and undefiled before God the Father…
Thus we see that the better way to consider the word,purgeth, in John 15:2 is in the sense of cleansing or purifying. In John 15:3, Jesus states that it is through His word that the cleansing is accomplished. When this cleansing has taken place, more fruit is the result.
As stated earlier, the ultimate stage of fruit-bearing ismuch fruit, which occurs as the believer abides in Christ and Christ abides in the believer. The word, abide, means “continue” or “remain” (See ABIDE) and carries the sense of steadfast, continuous relationship in the practical life of the believer. In John 15:8, Jesus explains that the one who is bearing much fruit is the one who is truly His disciple. The person who is bearing much fruit will realize that Jesus’ words in verse 5 are very true, that without Me ye can do nothing. Seven of Jesus’ original twelve disciples learned this lesson, that they could do nothing without Christ, when they sought to go fishing after His resurrection, as recorded in John 21:1-11. After fishing all night and catching nothing, Jesus met them by the seaside and commanded them to cast their nets on the other side of the ship, and they caught a net full of fish when they obeyed His command. So the believer’s life will bring forth much fruit as he lives in continued fellowship and obedience to Christ’s indwelling presence.
Several places in Scripture will help us to see what is meant by fruit. Undoubtedly, the primary passage for understanding what the fruit is, will be seen in Galatians 5:22,23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.
These verses demonstrate what the life of the Spirit will produce in and through the person who is living and walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25). These characteristics are not those qualities which the believer produces in and of himself, but what will be the outflow of what is produced when the Holy Spirit has freedom to produce them through the believer’s life as he is filled with the Spirit, Eph. 5:18.
It is also important to note that as the vine is not nurtured through the fruit that it bears, so the believer as abranch in the true vine is not the beneficiary of the fruit of the Spirit born in his life. God’s purpose is that those who feed on the fruit will be the ones who will benefit from it. So God’s purpose is to allow those who hunger, those who are spiritually in need, to benefit from the fruit of the Spirit in the believer’s life.
The qualities listed as the fruit of the Spirit can also be seen as the attributes of Christ. Therefore, when the fruit of the Spirit comes out from one’s life, it is truly the life of Christ that is producing the fruit by the Spirit.
Other Scriptures which speak of the fruit are likewise describing qualities or attributes of Christ:
James 3:17,18, But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by them that make peace.
Rom. 6:22, But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Rom. 7:4,5, Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
For when we were in the flesh, the sinful impulses, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
Ephesians 5:9, For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.
Philippians 1:11, Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Hebrews 12:11, Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised by it.
There is only one Scripture which speaks of fruit in the sense of “soul-winning”, people being saved, although the verse could refer, as well, to the fruit of the Spirit. In Romans 1:13, the Apostle Paul says,
Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was prevented thus far,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
Another Scripture which may have a different intent of meaning for fruit is given in Philippians 4:17,
Not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
Fruit, as it is used in this passage, seems to have dividends or benefits as its meaning. Paul desires for the Philippians to enjoy these benefits because of the Philippians’s loving concern for Paul’s well-being as they shared their goods to care for his needs. The meaning is not the same as the fruit of the Spirit.
Fruit is usually described in the Scriptures as the fruit of the Spirit, the divine attributes. Christ taught the disciples, and consequently, believers of all time, that we should bear much fruit, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit. By abiding in Christ in a steadfast continuous relationship and by Christ’s abiding in the believer, the believer is filled with the Spirit in order to minister to others physically, spiritually, and materially.
Next Week: Part Five continued: The Christian Life is a Life of Peace
Copyright © 1996 A. Ward Brandenstein
Used with permission.
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.