Fruitfulness Explained: Abiding Satisfied
Part 2 continued from September 21st
FRUIT IS YOUR ONLY PERMANENT DEPOSIT IN HEAVEN
Real fruit is precious to God! Fruit is the main earthly reason you were saved. Paul told Christians they were “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10). In practical terms, fruit represents good works – time, treasure, attitude, or action of ours that God values because it glorifies Him. The fruit of my earthly life is how God is glorified on Earth; and the basis of my capacity to glorify Him in Heaven someday. That’s why Jesus declares, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit” (John 15:8)
v. 2d “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.
ALL BELIEVERS BEAR FRUIT
A true branch, united with the vine, will always bear fruit. Not every branch bears a bumper crop, just as not every field has a bumper harvest (Matt. 13:8, 23), but there is always fruit where there is life. But the question still remains about what “takes away” means.
The answer comes in two parts. First, a clearer translation of the Greek word airo, rendered in John 15:2 as “take away,” would be “take up” or “lift up.” Remember the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible, so look at how God's Word uses this word.
Jesus explains the process that God the Father uses with fruitless areas of our lives. This is the area of greatest blessing if we understand, and greatest confusion if we don’t. The translators of this verse have almost added to the confusion by the words “takes away”. It sounds like get rid of, or cast out, or something terrible. Actually this word translated here “takes away” is the Greek word airo and it means simply “lifts up”.
We find accurate renderings of airo, for example, when the disciples “took up” twelve baskets of food after the feeding of the five thousand: Matthew 14:20 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.
This word is used again when Simon was forced to “bear” Christ’s cross: Matthew 27:32 Now as they came out, they found a man of
In fact, in both the Bible and in Greek literature, airo never means “cut off.” Therefore, when some Bibles render the word as “takes away” or “cut off” in John 15, it is an unfortunate interpretation rather than a clear translation. “Lifts up,” suggest an image of a vinedresser leaning over to lift up a branch.
What a comforting thought to see in this passage our loving Heavenly Father coming down the rows of His Son’s vineyard and finding a cast down branch.
What would that be in the context of a vineyard? It could be a branch that has gotten so far under the rest that it is not getting sunlight, and that has weakened it and stopped its growth.
It could be a branch that has gotten covered with dirt or caked with mud by the traffic around it or a storm that passed through.
It could be a branch that has fallen and is down on the road getting trampled. All of these are genuine conditions that First Century vineyards faced. All of these also parallel life on planet earth 2004!
The branches out of the sunlight are like believers out of touch with God, prayerless, with no daily habit of finding God in His Word. They are not close to other believers and do not feel the warmth of God’s love or the encouragement of saints around them who love and care for them. God reaches down and starts to pull them back by whatever means it takes to get them back to the Bible, back to the church, and back into authentic fellowship and accountability.
The branches caked with mud and dirt are believers who get lured into sin. It may be slowly, like the dust that slowly built up on the leaves of the plants near the roads back then. A tiny bit over a long time has a deadening effect. Some believers trifle with sin, never plunging in, just sneaking in a sin here and there. The net effect is a growing loss of life giving exposure to the Son of God. Spiritual paleness and limpness overtake them slowly but surely and they begin to waste away, their vibrancy fades, their families and marriages suffer – all because of the little sins they allow into their daily lives. Others plunge into sin, and quickly are so caked with it they feel despair, they feel hopelessness, and they feel far from God. Again, a loving Savior comes to the scene of the disaster and begins the process of lifting the fallen branch out of the mud.
The branches that are trampled are those who are weak, frail, and in need of much help. They get trampled by life, trampled by work, trampled by health concerns, and trampled by finances. Each of these areas is a lack of faith on their part, so they suffer the consequences of fearfulness, anxiety, joylessness, and many other ills – until the Heavenly Gardener again comes along through a timely visit, a phone call, a letter, or a message of hope that sparks their hearts to again trust the One who loves them and gave Himself for them. Even in the area they are cast down about, they are lifted again into the sunlight of His love, joy, and peace.
v. 2e “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruitHe takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
These beautiful and life-sustaining trees are mentioned in Psalm 92, the psalm for the sabbath day. "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree..." (v. 12)
· The palm tree grows in good clean soil . When you find these beautiful fruit-bearing trees in
· The palm tree grows from the inside out . An oak tree can be rotten and dead in the inside, but it will still be very much alive on the outside. We all remember our childhood days, when we would play and hide in an old oak tree. But it is not so with the palm tree. If it is rotten on the inside, it will die. The life of the righteous is not determined or conditioned by outward appearances, ritual or circumstance. It all comes from within. Solomon gave sterling advice with his words, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23 KJV) The Lord's words to the prophet Samuel are still profitable to us today: "...for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."(l Samuel 16:7 KJV) The believer's life is not made up of a lot of externalities, of rules and regulations by men and religions. The Lord Jesus said, " A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." (Matthew 12:35 KJV)
· The palm tree grows no branches . To be sure, there are the fronds at the top but no branches. In other words, it spends no time on side issues. A friend told me of a conversation which he had with the manager of one of the best-known entertainers in the world. After my friend had listened as the man told him of his main responsibility in his job, namely, to keep the entertainer sober until he appeared on the platform, my friend gave his personal testimony of his commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. The manager listened courteously and intently. Then he said, 'You are right. We, in the entertainment world, are simply trying to paint a sinking ship." And so, for the palm tree, the word found on the seal of the state of
· All of the fruit of the palm tree is at the top. In other words, everything for God! This is the ambition of the righteous. Personal endeavor and achievement, social activity and serving mankind, will have the underlying motive of glorifying the God adored by the righteous. The "single eye" is a rare item, but when it is found among the Lord's people, it is a gem of highest value and price. Desert nomads would be the first to inform us that the palm tree grows where it is needed. When the children of
Psalm 92 “bear fruit”
· Beware of sins of old age
· Senior Citizens Challenges
· Seniors by the time they reach Psalm 92 life should have learned:
How useless self pity is; how dangerous selfishness becomes; how worthless greed ends up; how hopeless independence can be; how restless discontentment can be; how empty pleasures become empty so quickly.
On the positive side senior saints have learned how priceless real friends truly become; how endless Christ's joys can be; how numerous ministry opportunities are all around us; how satisfying Christ's presence becomes the more we are alone; how comforting prayer grows to be in our lives.
v. 2f “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruitHe takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Our Father the Vinedresser is here. He is looking at us.
· If we are cast down in the mud of sin He chastens us and spiritually lifts us back up into the sunlight of fellowship.
· If we are flourishing with external growth but not producing much fruit (by giving, sowing and reaping, spirit walking, flesh denying and so on…as we saw last time) He prunes us by cutting away at our rambling growth until we bear more fruit.
· And finally if we are fruitful and bearing more fruit, at special times He invites us to allow Him to even more prune in our lives until we bear MUCH FRUIT!
· It is the wise farmer who knows the correct times of the year to cultivate and prune his vines to insure maximum yield. In the
“Does God have a grudge against His children? Is He trying to “get even” with us? Is God’s chastening and pruning a kind of parental revenge for childish wrongdoing? Often we may think so, but this is far from the truth. God disciplines us for our own profit so we can share in His holiness. God’s one supreme purpose in disciplining us is purification. He wants to take away from us all that mars the likeness of Jesus Christ within us. It is His own holiness that He wants to perfect in us”.
This sermon will continue tomorrow September 23rd as we look at “Profiles in Pruning”.
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