January 5, 2014
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Just as physical fruit (anything with seeds in the middle?) are difficult to define, so is spiritual fruit a challenge to define.
Narrow definitions for spiritual fruit in John 15:1-8 might be:
- Spiritual fruit are the fruit of the Spirit, the relational gifts described in Galatians 5.
- Fruit is producing other believers, as described in John 15:16.
Discipling believers is important but more fruit exists.
In John 15:1-8, Jesus is more broadly connecting fruitfulness with obeying God. In these verses, fruit is your unique visible outworking of the life Christ has put in you.
Four clarifying observations:
1. Fruit is visible. Fruit enables us to discern what is invisible.
2. Fruit is an outworking coming from the inside, produced according to its kind. What is on the inside will determine the fruit on the outside. We cannot force it. Fruit is spontaneously produced by inner growth, not by the human striving of our flesh. If fruitfulness comes from inside, our fruitfulness is with us in any circumstance or environment.
3. Fruit is inevitable. God the Father (the ultimate Gardener) works for us to bear fruit. We need to ask, “What unique fruit does God want me to bear in my life?”
a. “By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matt. 7:16) The fruit may be good or it may be bad.
b. Everyone bears fruit after their own kind. “Can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”(James 3:12) If bad things come out of the mouth, then bad things are probably in the heart. (James 3)
4. Fruit is unique. We need to see our own unique personality, experiences, and environment — our gifts of the spirit.