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Lessons from the Garden II

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Lessons from the Garden II
Lessons from the Garden II
John 15:1–17 NIV
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 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. “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. 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. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.
- “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 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.
One of the main points of this passage is that the disciple of Jesus Christ will bear much fruit. So we must ask the question “who is the disciple of Jesus.”
“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. 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. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
One of the main points of this passage is that the disciple of Jesus Christ will bear much fruit. So we must ask the question “who is the disciple of Jesus.”
The answer of course is the person who loves Jesus and obeys Jesus.
John 14:23–24 NIV
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Jesus says this repeatedly throughout chapters 14-17 and it’s a biblical principle that we find throughout Scripture. It is a biblical truth that -
Jesus says this repeatedly throughout chapters 14-17 and it’s a biblical principle that we find throughout Scripture. It is a biblical truth that - Love for Christ and obedience to Christ are inseparable. We cannot profess that “we love Jesus,” while living in sin and disobedience. Holy, moral and righteous living and are incompatible with willful disobedience.
Love for Christ and obedience to Christ are inseparable.
We cannot profess that “we love Jesus,” while living in sin and disobedience. Holy, moral and righteous living and are incompatible with willful disobedience.
Now, the serious Bible student (which should be all of us) and the serious disciple (which should be all of us), will stop here and ask a serious question –
Is obedience to the teachings of Christ a regular part of my daily life?
That is a question we must answer because it will reveal if we genuinely love Christ. And
And Love and obedience are key to living an effective life (i.e. fruitful life) and a fulfilled life.
Love and obedience are key to living an effective life (i.e. fruitful life) and a fulfilled life.
I’ll let you ponder all that on your own, but we must take the implication into serious consideration and here’s why – according to Jesus, there are two categories of disciples - those who bear fruit and those who don’t. There are those whose Christian Faith extends beyond them, and then there are those whose faith goes no further than themselves.
I believe it is absolutely vital for each person to know what category they fall into. There are eternal implications here that we must pay attention to. So how do we determine which category we are in? Hopefully, that will become apparent by the time we’re finished this morning.
Now, Jesus makes it very clear that true disciples, those who have trusted in Christ as the Messiah and obey Him, are the branches. God is the gardener, Jesus is the vine and the disciples are the branches. And there is a great expectation upon every branch to do what?
1) Every branch (i.e. disciple) is expected to bear fruit.
Bearing fruit is not optional. Producing fruit is not something you do when you feel like it. Producing fruit is not something you do when you finally get your life together. No - bearing fruit should be the natural outflow of a real relationship with a real God.
If bearing fruit is expected of the disciple, then we must define “What is fruit.”
Well, I’m here to help answer that. According to botany, the scientific study of plants,
“a fruit is an entity that develops from the fertilized ovary of a flower.”
So is a tomato a fruit or vegetable? Fruit! So are squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants etc., along with apples, melons and mangoes. End of argument.
But that’s not what Jesus is talking about. So what is He talking about? Well, I have always been taught that this passage means that Christians will produce converts. In other words, if you’re a good branch (i.e. good Christian), you will lead many people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. So, if I were to ask you, how many of you have personally led someone to Christ, all the good branches would raise their hands and the bad branches would sit in guilt and shame. And so, if you’re not leading people to salvation, then you are a bad branch and you’re in danger of being be cut off from Christ and thrown into the fires of Hell.
That’s what I’ve been taught. So, for many years, I’ve been left with somewhat of a love/hate relationship with love this passage, but man it can leave me feeling guilty and fearful.
So what do we do with this? Again, we need to define fruit?
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I asked God to teach me about Him through my garden. So one morning, I was sitting on my deck reading, praying, drinking coffee and I looked at my garden and began to ponder. It dawned on me that I planted each plant with the expectation that each plant would be fruitful and fulfil its purpose. I expect my Yellow Peppers to produce Yellow Peppers, and my Rosemary to produce Rosemary and my Tomatoes to produce Tomatoes and so on. I have no expectation for my Peppers to produce Corn or my Tomatoes to produce Cucumber etc. etc.
A whole new understanding opened up to me concerning and fruit! Now, we know that every branch is expected to produce fruit, but is each branch expected to produce the same fruit? I don’t think so.
I think It is God’s design that …
2) Every branch (i.e. disciple) produce the fruit it was created to produce.
And I don’t think it’s the same for everybody.
And I don’t think it’s the same for everybody.
So what is Fruit? Let me give you two thoughts. The first is more theological, the second is more practical.
Sow what is Fruit? Let me give you two thoughts. The first is more theological, the second is more practical.
Sow what is Fruit? Let me give you two thoughts. The first is more theological, the second is more practical.
A) Fruit is the result of obedience.
Whenever we obey God, fruit is produced. We may not know what is, we may never see it, we may feel like we’re not producing anything (which is often the case), but rest assured, with obedience comes blessing - fruit. Sometimes that blessing - that fruit is for us, sometimes for others. But there is always fruit when we obey and the fruit is God’s responsibility, not ours. The fruit is on His shoulders, not ours.
Look, fruit is not necessarily the goal - love and obedience is the goal.
Look, fruit is not necessarily the goal - love and obedience is the goal.
Fruit goes way beyond just obedience, though. So, let’s ask this question - what is the purpose of our obedience? As God works His will and purposes into our world, ultimately, I think obedience has three purposes:
The purpose of our obedience is to glorify God, to make disciples, and to conform us to Christ.
The purpose of obedience is to glorify God, to make disciples, and to conform to Christ.
As we obey Christ, fruit is produced in one or more of those three areas.
So what is fruit? Fruit is the result of obedience - that’s the theological. The practical is this -
So Fruit is the result of obedience - that’s the theological. The practical is this -
B) Fruit is the result of embracing all that we were created to be.
B) Fruit is the result of embracing or becoming all that we were designed to be.
We were designed to worship God, to proclaim God and we were designed to reflect or resemble His image - and fruit is produced when we embrace our design! And the more we embrace God’s design and will for our lives, the more fruitful we will become.
We were created to worship God, to proclaim God and we were created in His image - and fruit is produced when we embrace our design!
To be fruitful means to obey God, but in the big picture means it to fulfill God’s purpose for your life – to become all that He designed you to be, to do all that He designed you to do. To be fruitful means to reach your full human and spiritual potential in Christ. To be fruitful, means to become the best that God desires for you to be.
I don’t expect my plants to produce anything other than what I planted them for.
To be fruitful means to obey God, but in the big picture means it to fulfill God’s purpose for your life – to become all that He designed you to become, to do all that He designed you to do. To be fruitful means to reach your full potential in Christ. To be fruitful, means to become the best that you can be within your context.
It means that God has a different expectation for each person. That each person has a purpose and reason for existence (that’s why we are pro-life); each person has potential; each person has his or her fruit to produce. It means that God has planted each person for a specific reason with specific fruit in mind.
It means that God has a different expectation for each person. That each person has a purpose; each person has potential; each person has his or her fruit to produce. It means that God has planted you for a specific reason with specific fruit in mind. God has given you the ability to be fruitful ….
If that’s true, let me ask this - has God given each person the capability to be fruitful? Has God given each person the ability to accomplish His expectations? Yes! If God expects us to be fruitful, then He will provide the means to be fruitful.
Now here’s a problem. What is the result when someone, by their own initiative or negligence, fails to become all that they were designed to be? Now, I’ll leave that question for us to ponder on our own. But here’s another problem -
Was Moses fruitful? Absolutely - he was designed to lead Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Was David fruitful? Absolutely - he was designed to write poetry and to lead a nation as king. Was Elijah fruitful? Absolutely - he was designed to be a prophet. I could go on, but the truth is that God empowered each one of these men to become what God designed them to become - and He will do the same with you.
There is a lack of fruit when a disciple fails to use the abilities and the skills and the spiritual gifts that God has provided them.
We could go in several directions on this, but I want focus on one area just for a moment. Being busy is not necessarily the same thing as bearing fruit - even if we’re busy doing good things. We’re all busy - so the question is what are we busy doing? Am I busy doing what God has called me to do? Am I utilizing the abilities, skills and spiritual gifts ….
Now here’s a problem we must consider - When do we fail to produce fruit? According to Jesus, we’re not going to produce fruit if you’re not in Him - that’s number one. If you don’t have a relationship with Christ or abiding in Christ (which we’ll cover that next week), there is no fruit. You can do a lot of good things, but that’s not necessarily being fruitful.
I say all that, not as a negative, but rather to encourage you to evaluate your time, your talents, your passions etc. Are you using those to glorify God, make disciples, and is it helping you conform to Christ?
Secondly, we fail to produce fruit if - let’s go back to being a disciple - if we fail to love and obey. Obviously, disobedience - lack of fruit. There is a casualness among Christians when it comes to obedience - lack of fruit.
You know one of the greatest ways to produce fruit is to pursue your passions - but when you do, involve non-Christians.
But I think there is another reason, perhaps the main reason for lack of fruit among Christians. Remember, Fruit is the result of embracing or becoming all that we were designed to be. And so I think
My passion is _____________________. Am I engaging non-Christians in that passion?
There is a lack of fruit when a disciple fails to use the abilities, skills and the spiritual gifts God has provided for accomplishing His will.
For example, Hank has a passion for Legos.
You could argue that this would be disobedience, and in some cases it probably is. But, I think more times than naught, it comes down to being preoccupied, distracted, too busy in general or sometimes we’re too busy doing too many good things versus the right things.
Now there’s something in this passage we cannot avoid. Remember, there are two categories - branches that produce fruit and branch that do not. And Jesus said, God, the gardener, cuts off every branch that does not bear fruit. The branch must remain in the vine, otherwise, it is a dead and unproductive branch and dead unproductive branches are cut off.
God has provided you with talents, skills, abilities, spiritual gifts - all for accomplishing His will, to build up the church. Are you using them? I didn’t ask if you are busy in the church. I asked if you are using what God has given you.
Now, what does it mean to be cut off? There are two predominant interpretations. To be “cut off” could mean to be cut off from salvation or cut off from God’s blessing. Is it one, the other or both? I don’t know. But I do know this - both are plausible, and that is why I said it is vital to know which category we are in.
Let’s get away from the garden for a moment and think of baseball. If you are a talented pitcher, what position should you play? It would be a waste of time and talent to make you a catcher. Now, you may need to fill in once in a while, but if that’s your primary position, you’re not going to be fruitful - and neither is the team.
I also know this - that not every person who professes to be a disciple of Jesus is a disciple of Jesus. A branch that bears no fruit is dead. Therefore, like Judas, it is cut off.
Some of you have abilities,
Being cut off is a reality that one must consider, but the emphasis of this passage is bearing fruit, and how does one bear fruit? Loving Christ, obeying Christ, and abiding in Christ, which we didn’t discuss this morning.
It all begins with a relationship with Christ.
Conclusion:
Spend time this week with Jesus - ask, “Am I embracing all that I was designed to be? Am I loving you? Obedient?
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