Abide in Christ: The Key to Bearing Spiritual Fruit

The Key to Bearing Spiritual Fruit is Abiding

Life can often feel burdened – by struggles, failures, worries. We strive in our own power to produce good spiritual fruit only to repeatedly fall short. We want to faithfully follow Jesus, but it seems that we just can’t. Yet Jesus offers us something different – a life of freedom and purpose and bearing fruit when we abide in Him.

Do you ever feel like your Christian faith is just going through the motions? Maybe you’ve prayed a prayer, been baptized, faithfully attend church, yet still feel far from truly experiencing the passionate, fruitful life Jesus promises. Well, you’re not alone! In John 15, Jesus explains what it looks like to deeply follow Him during his final moments with His disciples.

After celebrating a last, intimate Passover meal together and revealing Judas’ impending betrayal, Jesus leads his faithful 11 followers out under the starry night towards the Mount of Olives. Knowing his death is imminent, Jesus longs to leave His friends with final words of insight and encouragement. He uses this opportunity to teach His followers the duty and obligation of true disciples.

Jesus Is The True Vine

In John 15, Jesus makes the profound statement, “I am the true vine” – the 7th and final declaration revealing his divine identity as the great I AM of Exodus 3. For throughout his ministry, Jesus openly claimed equality with God the Father, provoking the Jews to persecute him unto death.

So what does Jesus mean in calling himself the “true vine”? In Scripture, Israel is symbolized as an impure, fruitless vine representing their spiritual failure and idolatry. Despite the Lord planting and tending his chosen people, they failed to produce godly fruit – righteousness and justice.

Jesus, however, delighted the Father through perfect obedience. He fulfills Israel’s purpose, exemplifying genuine fruit born from intimacy with God. This vine imagery highlights our need for complete dependence on Christ. A branch severed from the vine quickly dies and bears no spiritual fruit. We must remain deeply connected to Jesus, who supplies the spiritual life and sustenance to thrive.

The implications are clear – religion, morality and good works are powerless to connect us to God apart from total trust in Christ. Only through vital union with Jesus, the true vine, can we fulfill our created purpose to live godly lives that glorify the Father. By God’s grace, all who believe in Jesus will bear the fruit that deeply pleases Him.

So let Jesus’ words resonate in our hearts: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser… Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

Fruitless Branches Judged

Jesus makes a sobering statement that there are branches connected to Him that do not bear spiritual fruit. Jesus describes the fate of these fruitless branches—they are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned (v.6). This is not a vague metaphor; it signifies God’s judgment upon those who, despite their claim to connection with Christ, demonstrate no evidence of true life-giving union.

It’s crucial to clarify that this is not referring to someone losing their salvation. As Jesus assures in John 10, those who belong to Him receive eternal life, and “no one can snatch them out of His hand.” Rather, it points to people who appear connected to Christ through spiritual activities but never truly believed in Him. These are individuals who may identify as Christians due to external actions such as attending church, praying a prayer, or participating in religious rituals. However, they lack the essential element of saving faith in Christ. Their lack of spiritual fruit shows no life flows from Christ into them.

The account of Judas serves as a stark reminder of the coexistence of two kinds of people in the room that night—eleven who remained abiding in Christ and one who, despite outward appearances, was ultimately cut off. This narrative underscores the importance of authentic faith and the indispensable role of fruit-bearing in distinguishing true discipleship.

Fruitful Branches Pruned

So what’s the evidence of true, saving faith? According to Jesus, the genuine and exclusive proof of salvation is the presence of fruit. He declares, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” This is not a statement about earning salvation through good deeds; rather, it underscores that true faith in Christ inevitably produces visible evidence in the form of obedience to God’s commands, faithfulness, surrender to Christ, and the cultivation of righteousness in attitudes, behaviors, and desires. While none of us achieves perfection, all true Christians bear some fruit—visible signs the Holy Spirit is active within us.

While dead branches are removed from Christ’s vine, fruitful branches experience God’s loving pruning. This isn’t punishment but careful pruning by a master Gardener to make branches more vibrant and fruitful. As the writer of Hebrews articulates, “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” Rather than complain to God when we go through the pruning process, we can submit to God’s perfect work in our lives, trusting He prepares us to bear lasting spiritual fruit.

Pruning removes hindrances to our spiritual growth – God compassionately cuts away sinful habits, toxic attitudes, unnecessary distractions, and relationships dragging us from Him. Far from being punitive, this pruning is an expression of God’s loving discipline, designed to foster our spiritual health and maturity.

Pruned by the Word of God

According to John 15:3, God’s Word is the pruning instrument the Father uses. Scripture is the divine agent of our spiritual growth. Through the study of the Bible, God’s Spirit uses His Word to prune and shape our inner being. His Word cuts through surface-level faith to expose our true thoughts and desires. God uses this process to prune away all that hinders our spiritual development.

As a result, we should approach Scripture not merely to gain information but to undergo a transformation of the heart. The Word acts as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting away our sin, producing holiness, and stimulating spiritual growth. It is in the crucible of the Word that we find the necessary elements for genuine and lasting change.

Key Principle For Bearing Spiritual Fruit

In John 15:4-5, Jesus provides the key principle for bearing spiritual fruit: ABIDING IN HIM. Rather than straining to manufacture spiritual fruit on our own, Jesus says our role is to live in an intimate relationship with Him as the vine who produces fruit through us.

What does “abiding in Christ” mean? Abiding describes an intentional, active dependence – continually drawing near to Jesus, holding fast to His teachings, and relying fully on His power. To abide is to renounce self-reliance, like a branch abandoning any illusion it can bear fruit detached from the vine.

Often, we find ourselves trapped in the assumption that producing fruit is solely our responsibility. In our striving, we may experience the cycle of trying, failing, promising to do better, trying again, and repeating the process endlessly. However, Jesus redirects our focus, inviting us to focus on abiding in Him rather than pursuing fruit production. In this shift of perspective, we discover the transformative power of a life intimately connected to the True Vine. Our connection with Christ is what brings forth the fruitfulness we seek.

Bearing Spiritual Fruit

In conclusion, the key to bearing spiritual fruit is abiding in Christ. This feels counterintuitive – we often assume bearing fruit depends on our hard work. No wonder we experience frustration, failure, and burnout! However, through the transformative power of God’s Word and the pruning process of the Father, we discover that our role is not to manufacture fruit on our own but to live in a dynamic, intimate relationship with the One who produces fruit through us.

Abiding in Jesus leads to fruitfulness as His life flows through us while we remain in Him. Even amidst sin and weakness, as we surrender control to Christ, His Spirit produces the spiritual fruit we desire. As we shift our focus from striving to abiding, we embrace a life marked by the natural outpouring of spiritual fruit.

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