Rev. E. Anderson
Reading John 15
Text vv2, 5
GREAT TEACHING: Just prior to His death, Christ appears to have given some in-depth teaching and instruction to his disciples that they needed to comprehend and to lay to mind, heart and life. We are indebted to the apostle John that he was able to record and leave this legacy of divine truth that was to enrich the whole of Christendom for all time. He is passing on what the Master-Teacher had communicated to them at a very important point in His life and ministry and which ought to be given premium attention and meditation. Chapters 13-16 in particular contain some of the major spiritual education for every Christian believer.
VITAL LESSON: There were many things that He sought to underline, all of note and worth. He deals with the great issues of humility, love, heaven, peace, persecution, the Holy Spirit etc. One of the prime concerns, however, was the need for each and everyone to attain a high state of productivity within their Christian faith and experience. It is apparent that there is so much to learn and know that will lead to the complete balance and influence of the individual. The Lord does not only target His people as a complete body but addresses each one on the personal front and reveals what His great expectations are as to each one. He is not simply taken up with the whole but somehow seeks to get through to every individual believer and disciple. It can be seen here that He is truly burdened and concerned about ‘each branch.’ No one is disregarded and treated as a non-entity.
NECESSARY CONSEQUENCE: It is obvious that what Christ has in mind and view is a highly productive state in relation to all. He will not settle for less than the best and that for Him means both quality and quantity. No effort will be spared on the part of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit to bring this tremendous result in every one that confesses and professes Christ. Once God is introduced into the equation of life there is the birth and hope of enormous fulfilment in terms of growth and production at each stage of spiritual existence. What is affirmed here is to become the norm for all in association with the divine calling. Clearly in revelation are the progressive and successive stages – “fruit, more fruit and much fruit.” The Lord entertains the idea that each branch will become heavily laden with luscious and delicious fruit that is of a divine order and nature, the result of the divine at work. This being the case, it is essential that everyone aspires to and moves on to the goal that the Lord has in constant consideration. There should be no settling for anything less than what He has planned and programmed for. The possibilities are great because the potentiality imparted is out of this world.
It ought to be noted that this high productivity is to be noted in a number of areas. They are to be identified and clearly portrayed so that every one knows what is to be aimed for. All the impartation of God’s Word, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the pruning work of the Father is in order that all obtain the maximum in terms of growth in every possible field.
1/. THIS HIGH PRODUCTIVITY IS TO BE WITNESSED IN DIVINE CHARACTER FORMATION
The most essential fruit of all to be created and cultivated is that of the manifestation of Christ’s own nature and life. He is the prime and personal example for all to appreciate, know and exemplify. There could not be a better or greater role model placed before each disciple to emulate. Believing and following Him is to be the priority of Christian faith and discipleship.
The principal thing that God the Father has in eternal mind is that each one shall be conformed to the image of His Son – Romans 8: 29. From an eternal perspective God has always envisioned and entertained the certain hope that He will see created and produced a divine lineage of people that will bear the marked and clear resemblance of His Son in their character and conduct. This is what is to give Him supreme pleasure when everything has been ultimately worked out and through. His efforts will not have been in vain. The reason why each branch has been placed and grafted in the Vine is in order that it will yield the same quality and quantity of life. God sees each Christian believer in Christ His Son in order that there shall spring into being His kind of belief and behaviour.
This will mean that the old nature that is the product of sin and evil must be dealt with and be gotten rid of in an effectual manner as God has made possible – Romans 6 & 7. The old self and nature can never bring into being this high ideal of God. It is so debased and degenerate that it has to be got rid of at all costs and the only way for it is to be put to death and buried out of sight. It is a new branch in a new position with a new relationship and a new source of inspiration, power and drive. Crucifixion and burial is the procedure that has to be adopted and union with Christ powerfully and permanently established.
The Holy Spirit is the dynamic regeneration presence and power that produces the divine change which ensures change in character – Romans 8. The blessed and bountiful agency and activity of the Holy Spirit is the spiritual dynamic that ensures the complete renewal of life within and also gives the inward motivation to be and live like Christ. He not only sets free from the law of sin and death, He provides the constant inspiration and force to function in a brand new way of life that conforms to Christ. He enables the believer to inherit all that is in Christ and to move in a fresh real state of faith, anointing, gift and achievement.
Illustration: Christ the Star Prize – you may have won a star prize
The nature of the character fruit achieved in and through Him is listed and standardized for all to know – Galatians 5: 22-25. No one is left in any doubt as to the quality, spiritual fruit that is possible through Christ by the Holy Spirit. He who inspired Christ to attain such a high productivity in terms of divine character is available to do the same in each branch. There is no excuse for living less than what God has made possible and available. The production of an excellent character in and through Christ is the foundation on which everything worthwhile has to be based and function from.
2/. THIS HIGH PRODUCTIVITY IS TO BE MANIFESTED IN DIVINE ANSWERS TO PRAYER
One of the choice and wonderful things to be known and enjoyed in Christian life is that of answers to prayer. The development of real growth takes into account fruitfulness in a large degree with regard to prayer.
God the Father has made Himself accessible to all those who are abiding and residing in Christ – Romans 8: 15, 16. The Christian disciple should be switched on to God as Father and know a rich and vibrant communion with Him in fellowship. Christ has come to set the believer up in a wholesome and dynamic accord with His Father so that from it tremendous things will occur through prayer. Heights of friendship and close association are to be birthed and developed that just leads on to some exciting adventures in the realm of prayer.
The right is conferred to be able to address God and to bring everything to Him in prayer – Hebrews 4: 16. It is well to be known and understood that God is interested in every aspect and facet of life and that prayer can be involved on all occasions and with every issue. No uncertainty is to prevail as to the privilege and prerogative to talk over everything over with Him and to hand all into His care and working.
There is nothing outside the opportunity and possibility of prayer – Mark 11 20-24; Jeremiah 33: 3. Christ taught by way of example and statement that prayer could influence enormously and produce tremendous things. What He revealed makes it apparent that there are boundless things to be brought to pass through this means and ministry so that there should be no holding back whatsoever with regard to it. This incentive alone should motivate to a persistent commitment to its exercise.
The believer should be so disciplined in prayer that it grows and sees an increased harvest in relation to it – Luke 18: 1-8; 1 Thessalonians 5: 17. When it is truly and properly considered prayer is not really an option, it is an imperative if Christian life is to prosper. There can be no fulfilment to any real degree without this is engaged upon and that there are untold consequences of a divine character in evidence. The benchmark of our success in Christian life can be assessed and ascertained in the measure by results of prayer.
“I would rather be the Master of the Art of Prayer than MA of both Oxford and
Cambridge. He who knows how to pray has his hand on the leverage that moves
the universe.” Spurgeon
3/. THIS HIGH PRODUCTIVITY TO BE DEMONSTRATED IN THE RATE OF DIVINE SERVICE
The branch does not exist for itself but is manifest in order to serve and bring blessing especially to others. The fruit tree yields its harvest in order to feed and satisfy the taste and need of human beings. It lives in order to produce to the satisfaction and well being of God’s creatures – see v13. There has to be fruitfulness in service and this has to be always on the increase.
Note the principle operative in the life of Christ – Matthew 20: 27, 28. Who can add up the enormous amount of time and labour that He put in during those three and half years? He willingly and continually put himself at the disposal of others, going out of His way to bring resource and relief to countless numbers. His mission was to utterly and gladly give all that He had to benefit and bless people so that they would come to experience untold goodness from above. The anointing that was bestowed on Him from His Father was to achieve this beautiful purpose – Acts 10: 38. The Master loved being a servant and His rate of labour was vast and constant. He knew how to renew His spiritual batteries so that every day could be used to utmost pleasure and profit.
“No one is useless in this world that lightens the burden of it for any one else.” Dickens
“It is high time that the ideal of success should be replaced by the ideal of service.” Einstein
“The measure of a man is not the number of his servants, but the number of people he serves.” Moody
It was a thing was taught and expected by Christ in all those who would be an integral part of His kingdom life and enterprise – Matthew 5: 16. All those who profess to be His followers are expected to demonstrate their faith in loving deeds and kindness to others from a divine motivation of being and thus impact others in this way. People may resist a preacher and sermon but they are greatly affected by an act of great love and kindness. The main thrust of the letter of James is directed at seeking to inspire Christians to express their faith in generous and gracious deeds to those in need. The test to applied to Christian life is in this area – Matthew &16- 23.
It is exemplified in some of the New Testament characters – Barnabas – Acts 36, 37; Dorcas – Acts 9: 36; Cornelius – Acts 10: 2; Onesiphorus – 2 Timothy 1: 16-18. One cannot fail to be impressed by the people who adorned the infant Christian Church. They were people who unobtrusively served others not seeking adulation or promotion but saw it is as a natural outflow of their renewed beings in Christ.
“The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident.” Lamb
4/. THIS HIGH PRODUCTIVITY TO BE EVIDENCED IN THE DIVINE GROWTH OF CHRISTENDOM
Because of the immense fruitfulness that has been created and cultivated in Christian character, prayer and service there will be immense fruitfulness and high productivity on a wider front in the world. It is not to stop short until it has made inroads and made tremendous impact upon society around. This is what the Lord has in mind and is concerned about.
It is illustrated in the case of Israel as a people and nation as He wanted them to become a fruitful vine that would influence the world at large – Psalm 80: 8-15. The psalmist laments the fact that Israel had not fulfilled her purpose and destiny in spite of the tremendous working of the Lord. He had brought her out of being a nobody and non-entity and made her a vine in Canaan to fill the land so as to affect nations. She had miserably failed and instead of being highly productive to God’s glory and good, she had missed and finished up in the state she was – a reject among the nations.
Christ’s own life and ministry was with this in view that it should touch the four corners of the planet – Matthew 28: 18-20; Acts 1: 8 and his prayer was to this end – John 17: 20, 21. None can under-estimate the enormous contribution that Christ made on Israel and the world. None have been the same since His arrival and ministry. He rocked His day with His extraordinary life but His will was that it should not end there: it should become a dynamic witness and power for all time throughout all nations. He came to create a Gospel for a world of people and that all should come to a living faith in Him. His life, death and resurrection is applicable to every individual and possesses the power to revolutionise every life. Growth is to be on-going in terms of Christ the King and His kingdom.
The infant Church gave some strong indications how it is possible to grow at a phenomenal rate – Acts 13 onwards. He was not to be let down by His immediate, initial followers and believers. It may have seemed an impossible task but they expected to see fruit for their labours in the conversion of countless numbers to Christ and they were not to be disappointed as communities became switched on – see Acts 2: 41; 4: 4; 8: 1-8; 17: 6; 28: 7-10. The Lord was ever lifting the limitations and revealing the boundless possibilities of His grace and power when loosed amongst mankind.
Illustration Evan Roberts – October 1904 – over 100,000 souls were asked for at the start and so it occurred
A great sense of divine calling and relationship should exist in all believers; knowing who they are, where they have been placed and what they should be producing. It is imperative that you abide in Christ so that you may produce a wholesome character, effectual prayer, dynamic service and a fruitful witness.