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Bearing Spiritual Fruit - Part 1

Turning Point / David Jeremiah
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January 18, 2021 12:24 pm

Bearing Spiritual Fruit - Part 1

Turning Point / David Jeremiah

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January 18, 2021 12:24 pm

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Please make your donation today at The Bible says mature believers are like trees, firmly planted. But that's not the only way that we resemble trees. But Christians also produce fruit. Today on Turning Point, Dr. David Jeremiah continues his series on spiritual growth by examining that fruit, evidence to others of the difference that Jesus has made in our lives. To introduce his thought-provoking message bearing spiritual fruit, here's David.

Well, first of all, thank you for joining us, and find your place in John chapter 15, because we're going to just go through that passage word by word, verse by verse, as we talk about bearing spiritual fruit. You've probably heard people say something like this, you shouldn't judge other people, but it's okay to be a fruit inspector. And what they mean by that is we shouldn't have a judgmental attitude, but the Bible does say, by their fruit, you shall know them. In other words, don't necessarily take everything everybody says about their life. Watch their life. See what they do. What is God doing in their life? What is their fruit? Is there any evidence?

Someone once said, if you were indicted for being a Christian, is there enough evidence to convict you? Well, that's a good question, and we're going to answer that question today and tomorrow as we continue our discussion in the life that God blesses. Well, right now, I love this passage of Scripture because it gives you so much help in knowing, first of all, what is spiritual fruit? What does that word mean? What does it look like?

How do you multiply it? What does the Bible really say about it? Let's find answers to all those questions as we open our Bibles today to John chapter 15. Mike Collin is a linebacker for the Miami Dolphins and a graduate of Auburn University. After he graduated and went on for his pro career, his college coach, Shug Jordan, came to him and said, Mike, I'd like you to help me try to recruit some players for my college team.

I'd like for you to use your spare time to help me be a recruiter. Mike was pretty excited about that, and he said he'd be glad to help his alma mater. He loved Auburn University, so he signed on for duty. Mike asked Shug, what kind of player do you want me to recruit? And Shug Jordan said, well, Mike, it's like this. He says, you know, there's some players, if you knock them down, they won't get back up. And Mike said, well, coach, you don't want me to recruit anybody like that, do you? And he said, no, sir, I do not.

And Mike said, well, what do you want? He said, well, you know, there's other players, if you knock them down, they get up. And if you knock them down again, they won't get up. He said, you don't want me to recruit anybody like that, do you?

He said, no, sir. And then Shug Jordan said, Mike, he said, there are some players, you knock them down and they get up. You knock them down and they get up. You knock them down and they get up.

No matter how many times you knock them down, they get up. Mike was fairly out of his chair with excitement. He said, and that's the kind of player you want me to recruit, right? And Shug Jordan said, no. Mike, what I want you to do is find the guy who's knocking all those players down.

That's the guy I want. You know, it's interesting that someone has defined the Christian life as falling down and getting up, falling down and getting up, falling down and getting up all the way to heaven. And I suppose there is some truth in that. But is it just me or do we spend most of our time talking about falling down and not very much time about how to walk forward and be productive in our Christian life? Now the Bible has a word for being productive. The Bible is very clear about what it means to be productive. And the word that the Bible chooses to use to describe a productive person is bearing fruit. That word and that term is used in the Old Testament many times. In fact, the word itself appears 106 times in the Old Testament. And in the New Testament it appears some 70 times. And of the 27 epistles in the New Testament, the word fruit is found in 24 of them in the context of being productive.

And the only three epistles where it's not found have the concept without the word. In fact, Paul who wrote most of the New Testament as we know, there's not one book that he wrote where he doesn't talk about what it means to be fruit bearing, to be productive. Apparently in the eyes of the Holy Spirit who obviously divinely authored the Bible and in the eyes of the writers who were used of the Holy Spirit to pen the words of the Bible, this is a very important concept. And Paul speaks of fruit in the believer's life almost in every other breath.

Now I'd like to suggest to you first of all that it's a very important subject and I'm going to give you six reasons why it's important. First of all, fruitfulness is the mark of your genuineness as a believer. It is the determination as to whether or not you are truly born again. For instance, the Bible says and you've probably heard this statement before, that it is by their fruit you will know them. Now that passage is in Matthew 7 verses 15 through 20, beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire, therefore, what is the rest of it, by their fruits you will know them. In other words, the Bible teaches that by what we do as believers, how we function, whether we're productive, whether there's anything in our lives, that evidence that we're truly born again, that becomes the test outwardly of the genuineness of who we are inwardly. Matthew 12 says it again. Matthew 12, 33 says, either make the tree good and its fruit good or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad for a tree is known by its fruit.

And the illustration is, we're the tree and whether we bear fruit or not is a testimony to the genuineness of our faith. Every once in a while, someone comes to me and says, Pastor, I know so and so and they claim to be a Christian, but they live just like everybody else. They don't have any evidence in their life. There's nothing changed about them.

There's nothing new about them. What do you say about that? Well, I can't judge whether they're Christians or not. That's not up to me.

Somebody said, you can't be a judge, but you can be a fruit inspector. So maybe we should once in a while back up a little bit and say, you know, if a person can be a Christian and it doesn't change his life in any bit at all, then something's wrong with my understanding of the Bible. Because the Bible says when you become a Christian, all things pass away and all things become new. And there should be an evidence in your life that something is different. Now, I believe if you're a Christian, somewhere, someplace, and I'm going to give you some illustrations in a few moments, you're going to be able to see there's an evidence that something's going on in that person's life that's beyond just the natural.

It's the supernatural. That doesn't mean you're going to become preachers or world evangelists or all that. But listen to me now, Jesus Christ changes your life.

Salvation is not reformation, it's transformation. And if Jesus Christ comes to live within your life, there will be somewhere, somehow, evidence of that in your life. I wondered if I was off on a rabbit trail here, but I remember going back and looking up some of the more tested and true expositors of the Word of God in years gone by, and every one of them holds to this view that if you are a believer, you will have some fruit.

If you are a believer, there will be some evidence. Harry Ironside, one of the great old teachers said, there are a great many believers who bear very little fruit for God, but all of them bear some fruit for God. What is the test that proves whether he is really in the vine? He bears fruit. All who have life bear fruit for God.

If there is no fruit, you can be sure there is no life. Now I could multiply quotes like that from many Bible scholars who have written on John 15 a very important passage in the New Testament. The point is, the evidence of being a Christian will be seen in your life. So if you say, well yes, when I was a teenager or when I was eight years old or when I was six years old, I accepted Jesus in my heart, but your life hasn't changed at all and you just live as if there were no God. For all intents and purposes, you're a practical atheist, even though you claim to be a Christian. I want to warn you to look into your own life and see whether you'll be in the faith because the Bible says if there's no fruit, there's no root.

If there's no evidence, there's no reality. So this is an important subject because it is the mark of your genuine faith in Christ. Secondly, it is important because it is a measuring stick, in a sense, of your walk with the Lord.

It's the measure of your growth and of your maturity. If you read this passage and I hope you will take time to really study John 15 because it's a crucial passage in the New Testament, you will discover that there are different levels of productivity. For instance, the text talks about some who bear fruit, and some who bear more fruit, and some who bear much fruit. And then it goes on to talk about fruit that abides or that's permanent. So there are all kinds of levels of fruit bearing.

And that's pretty obvious, isn't it? You know Christians who are just so totally productive. It seems like they're always involved and God is doing things through their lives and you wonder how in the world they can even keep up with all that God's doing. And then you see some that are just getting started and here and there you can see some evidence of fruit. So fruit bearing is kind of like how you see where you are in your walk with the Lord. Is there any productivity in my life? Is my life making any difference? Is anybody suggesting that I might have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Is anybody seeing me in the context of my regular walk and saying, he's different.

I wonder what's different about him or about her. Fruit bearing is the measure of your walk with Christ. When you first get started you will have little fruit but if you grow and if you abide in Christ and if you spend time in the Word of God and you yield to the Holy Spirit, you will become more and more productive in your life as you walk with the Lord. Thirdly, this is an important subject because it is the motivation behind God's discipline.

Now here's an interesting thing. People ask all the time, why do Christians suffer? And there are a lot of reasons why we suffer. I've been asked hundreds of times, why do you think you got cancer? And I always tell them, there's one simple reason, because I'm human.

That's it. I mean everybody wants something far more profound than that but as far as I know that's the reason. Humans are susceptible to disease. But why does God sometimes allow that disease and use that disease in a believer's life? Now look at what it says in John chapter 15. It says in verse 2, every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he, notice it's capitalized, takes away and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes that it may bear more fruit. Now fruit bearing is the whole reason behind much of the discipline and suffering and chastisement and pruning that goes on in the life of a believer. You say, why am I going through this? Well it may be that because you have borne fruit, God wants you to bear more fruit. So he puts you through some times of testing to make you more productive. You say, pastor, how does that work? Well I'm not a grape grower, a horticulturist, I'm not any of those things.

But I know a little bit about it from having studied it. And the reason why vineyards are pruned is so that the life-giving sap that's in the vine won't be wasted on shoots where there isn't any fruit. So they clip those vines in order to make the vines that are bearing fruit even more fruitful. Now watch that and think about that in terms of your own life. Why would God prune your life? I've discovered that one of the reasons he does that is we have this inevitable tendency to get involved in things which aren't productive. And in doing that we end up sapping all of the spiritual energy that God wants to use in the productive areas of our life and they get run off into dead-end streets.

Can I get a witness? You know what I'm talking about? What I see God doing in my life often is this. He puts some kind of testing in my life and as I begin to try to figure out what it's all about, he puts his finger on some stuff that I'm doing that I don't need to be doing. It's not bad stuff, it's just not productive stuff. And he says, I want you to stop doing that and use your energy here.

And it seems to me that the Christian life is just one continual rehearsal after rehearsal of that particular play. Because as you become more productive, more opportunities come, more things are available, and if you're not careful, if you're a person who doesn't like to say no, like I don't like to say no, you say yes, yes, yes, yes. And here's what you learn. Every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else. And what God wants to do through the pruning process is he wants you to be more fruitful.

If you're already bearing fruit, he will send some tests along the way to make you even more productive. And when that happens, what you do is you back up. Maybe you take a little personal retreat and you say, Lord God, help me to evaluate what's going on in my life. And Lord, you have permission to just take the divine shears and cut off those things that are not productive so that my energy can be flowing into the areas of my life.

And I need to tell you, I have gone through that process many times in my life and so have many of you. The reason fruit-bearing is important is because it's the motivation behind God's pruning. The reason he sends discipline to our life quite often is so that we can be more productive. Sometimes he uses the difficulties in our lives to open doors so that we have a greater sense of productivity and ministry. So that's the next reason why fruit-bearing is important. It is the motivation behind God's discipline. Now notice, fourthly, fruit-bearing is the method of touching other people. Now watch carefully and think with me through the logic of this. In the Bible, we're told that we're to bear fruit. Why? So that we can pick the fruit and eat it ourselves?

No. What you will find out in studying the scripture is that fruit-bearing is totally other-centered. It's not about you, it's about others. How do you minister to other people?

In just a few moments we're going to talk about some ideas, but listen now. If you're a fruit-bearing Christian, the fruit in your life is going to touch other people. The fruit in your life is going to make a difference in the lives of other people. Just take some of the fruit of the Spirit, love. Well, you know, unless you're some kind of a weird person, you don't cause all that love to be turned inward on yourself. What is the fruit of love? It's touching other people with love.

So when you are a fruit-bearing person, you touch other people. I read about a woman who was giving a testimonial talk about a first aid class where she had received her training. And she said, there was this terrible accident in front of my house. A man was lying there with bones splintered, rolling around in pools of blood. His arteries were severed. He was in a state of shock, but I remembered my first aid instructions that if I put my head between my knees, I wouldn't faint.

I put my head between my knees and I didn't faint, and I am so grateful I took this class. That's the way a lot of people think about the Christian life, that God gives you this ability and this fruit so you can consume it on yourself. But here's what happens. If you're a productive Christian, you will not be self-centered, you will be Christ-centered and others-centered. Jesus first, others second, and you third.

J-O-Y. That's how you get joy in your Christian life. So fruit-bearing is important because it's the means you have, the methods you have of touching other people.

And then, let me give you another reason. I want you to really understand how important this is before we go through four or five ways that you are fruitful and productive according to the Word of God. It is the manifestation of Christ to the world. How does the world see Christ? Have any of you here ever seen Christ personally? I haven't. I don't think anyone has. You say, well, he appeared at the foot of my bed when I was in the hospital.

Well, thank God for that. If that's what you think, I'm not going to get in your head about that, but I'm just saying that Jesus Christ does not make personal manifestations in this particular time. How does he manifest himself?

He manifests himself through Christians. I remember reading a book one time that talked about the church, is Christ body number two? His body number one is what he walked around in when he was on this earth. When he went back to heaven, he said, now the church is my body. This is body number two. And it's through body number two that we manifest the presence of Christ in the world.

I was on a talk show in Dallas. I was a little nervous about it because I wasn't sure what was going to happen. But I've gotten to the place where I just pray this prayer, and Don and I pray this prayer. Oh, Lord God, help us to bring the presence of Christ into this situation.

Isn't that what we're called to do? And when you bear fruit, that's what you do. You take the presence of Christ, and what is fruit? It is everything that's Christ-like. If you're fruit-bearing Christian, you're becoming more and more like Christ, so whatever you do and whatever situation you walk into, whatever environment you find yourself in, you are viewed as Christ by those people. Whatever Christ they know, they will know through you.

It is through your fruitfulness that you bring Christ into the situations of people's lives. Woodrow Wilson, former President of the United States, had a favorite limerick that went like this. He was not a very attractive person according to history. He used to recite this little poem.

It went like this, I know how ugly I are. I know my face ain't no star, but I don't mind it because I'm behind it. It's the fellow in front who gets the jar, you know? And that's kind of the way it is for a lot of Christians, isn't it?

It's the fellow in front who gets the jar. And I'm afraid that the many Christians who have never gone into the Word of God to find out what it says and to live what God says we're to live in terms of fruitfulness, I think sometimes to the watching world it's quite ajar. They hear us talk about being Christians, but sometimes they don't see much of Christ in us. And I say that humbly because it's true of me, and I know it's true of all of us at one time or another, amen?

Don't we all have to say that? That oftentimes in situations we don't exemplify the Spirit of Christ. Well, one last reason why this is important, and you might think, well, He's given the whole message on why it's important when He's going to talk about what it is. The last reason it's important is because it is the means of glorifying the Father. Notice what it says in John chapter 15 and verse 8, and this is so powerful in my mind. By this my Father is glorified, now watch this, that you bear much fruit so you will be my disciples. The Westminster Catechism, which many of you studied in churches, says that the first priority of man is to glorify God. But how many sermons have you ever heard about how to glorify God? I've read a couple of books and I've heard a few sermons, but it's not talked about very much, and a lot of people just say, well, glorify God, but they don't tell you how. But here's a verse that tells you one thing you can do to glorify God. It says, by this my Father is glorified. How? That you bear much fruit.

What does that mean? That you become a productive Christian. When you are a productive Christian, you bring glory to the Father. Now, if being a productive Christian is being Christlike, can't you see how that would bring glory to the Father? When you become like Christ, who is God the Father's Son, you bring glory to the Father. Just think about it, parents.

Just think about it yourself. When was the last time somebody came up to you and said something good about one of your kids? You go someplace and your children are on display and someone comes up and says to you, boy, he's a fine young man.

She's a fine young woman. Are you glorified in that process? Amen. Because they're your product. They're the product of your parenting.

Now watch. When we bear fruit, which is the Christlikeness in our lives, we bring glory to the Father because people see in us that which he has imputed to us through his righteousness. And they see in us the evidence of our relationship to the Father.

That's what fruit-bearing does. It makes Christ in you the hope of glory come alive. So people see the Lord Jesus in you. You're literally carrying out the DNA of the Lord and reflecting his attributes in your life. We'll have much more about this tomorrow from John 15, 1-8. This message is called Bearing Spiritual Fruit, and it's part of the series The Life God Blesses, and we have one more session tomorrow as we finish up this discussion. On Thursday and Friday, we're going to talk about committing to growth, making a decision not just to be a Christian, but a growing Christian.

We'll talk about that on Thursday and Friday. God bless you. We'll see you right here tomorrow. I'm David Jeremiah. For more information on Dr. Jeremiah's current series, The Life God Blesses, please visit our website, where you'll also find two free ways to help you stay connected, our monthly magazine Turning Points, and our daily email devotional. Sign up today at When you do, please ask for your copy of Jack Countryman's new book, God's Blessings Just for You. It features 100 inspirational readings and reflections, and it's yours for a gift of any amount. And if you still haven't requested David's new daily devotional for 2021 called Strength for Today, there are still copies available. It's a great way to get a dose of biblical truth every day. Ask for your copy when you visit us at I'm Gary Hoopfleet. Join us tomorrow as we continue the series, The Life God Blesses. Here on Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-02 14:05:28 / 2024-01-02 14:15:41 / 10

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