What is the Fruit of Salvation? (part one)
What is The Fruit of Salvation?
Scripture is abundantly clear that there is no good work we may do to earn our way into heaven. Christ is our all in all.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Salvation is much more than the forgiveness of sins. God saves us for a purpose, and that is to glorify Jesus.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
It is wrong to say good works save us. But, it is equally wrong to say that our faith will not produce good works. When we become born again, God makes us new creatures in Christ. We are transformed and empowered to do good works. The goal of work is to produce fruit. Why work if there is no fruit of our labor?
We cannot answer the question, “What is the fruit of salvation” in one sermon. There are entire books on the subject of Christian fruit. We will take a few weeks to unpack the fruit of salvation. Our goal is to fully answer the question, “What is the fruit of salvation?” We want to know how we get fruit, what it looks like, and why it is essential to our Christian faith.
The main idea of this week’s sermon is: Abide in Christ, knowing that He enables us to go and bear fruit for our joy.
After the Last Supper ends, while they are still in the upper room, Jesus gives His disciples lengthy final teaching. John 15 is a portion of Jesus’ teaching when He uses the example of a vineyard.
Jesus speaks of four aspects of the vineyard; the vine, the branches, the fruit, and the vinedresser. Jesus is the vine. He is the one from which the water and nutrients pass along to the branches of the vine. We, the disciples of Jesus, are the branches which come off the vine. The fruit grows off the branches. The fruit grows because the vine feeds the branch. God the Father is the vinedresser. He watches over the process to make sure there is much fruit.
We will see five truths about the fruit of our faith.
- Bearing fruit is God’s aim.
- Bearing fruit requires Jesus.
- Bearing fruit is proof.
- Bearing fruit brings joy
- Bearing fruit requires going.
Bearing Fruit is God’s Aim (v. 1-2)
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2)
Our first point is bearing fruit is God’s aim.
Isaiah refers to God the Father as a vinedresser in a vineyard three times in his book (Isaiah 27:2-3; 60:21; 61:3). Jesus does so twice in His parables (Matthew 20:1; Mark 12:1). The Jews are familiar with God as the vinedresser.
Jesus tells us that God the Father has an aim to His work as vinedresser of the vineyard. Jesus will make it very clear what the Father wants to accomplish. God wants to bear fruit. His goal in working in the vineyard is to make sure that every branch attaches to the vine will bear fruit.
The world is the vineyard. Every person is a branch. When branches do not bear fruit, God the Father removes them from the vineyard. The branches God removes are unbelievers who do not put their faith in Jesus. It is not that they bear a little fruit. God removes branches that bear no fruit.
If you are in Christ, you will bear fruit. Don’t worry; if your fruit is not up to the level God desires, He will prune you so that it increases. God prunes the branches of the saints. As we abide in Christ, God the Father clips and prunes us to make us more productive.
Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand. God’s aim is that we will bear fruit.
Bearing Fruit Requires Jesus (v. 4-7)
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. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:4-7)
The second truth we see in the vineyard picture is that the only way to bear fruit is that we abide in Jesus. Bearing fruit requires Jesus. We are to abide in Him. Without Jesus, there is no fruit.
A work about abiding:
Abiding in Jesus means that we make our home with Him. When we are at home, we are very familiar. For example, a person who lives in a vineyard for twenty years will be far more knowledgeable than a person who lives there for the first week. The person who lives in the vineyard knows not to worry when storms arise because they know the vinedresser has the situation under control. The twenty-year veteran knows the lingo about vineyards. They know what to do in the change of the seasons.
We need to live in Jesus. We need to know Him, and the way we do is to be in His Word and be around His people. Read the vineyard manual, and when you have questions, ask the person who has proven their way around the vineyard. That is what it means to abide in Jesus.
In the same way, Jesus needs to abide in us. He is to be comfortable in us. We are to be compatible with Him.
Jesus gives an obvious truth about branches. Branches not connected to a vine will not bear fruit. A branch needs the vine to provide life-giving nutrients. We never see a branch-bearing fruit that is not attached to a vine.
Jesus also says that the branch that is attached to Him bears much fruit. Jesus is perfect, holy, and righteous. Jesus is good. Those who abide in Him will reap a good reward.
There are people busy working in the vineyard who are not in Christ. They feed the poor, help lepers, and do other good works. In God’s eyes, their work is of no value. God’s purpose is to glorify Jesus. Work that is not done for the glory of Jesus is of no value. The vinedresser takes the branches that do not abide in Jesus and burns them in a fire. The works are not righteous or clean.
Jesus tells us that we can bear fruit by asking Him for help (John 15:7). When we abide in Jesus, and His words abide in us, we will ask according to God’s aim to bear fruit. Prayers that are according to Jesus’s words say things like:
“Help me to glorify You.” “Take away things in my life that keep me from bearing fruit.” “Change my heart, so I focus on bearing fruit.” In other words, prayers that Jesus seeks to answer are prayers requesting help with bearing fruit for His glory.
It is God’s aim (purpose) in saving us that we will bear fruit.
Our bearing fruit requires that we abide in Jesus. We cannot bear any fruit without Him
Bearing Fruit is Proof (v. 8-10)
My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:8-10)
The third truth we learn from this passage is that our bearing fruit proves that we are disciples of Jesus. When we bear fruit, we glorify God the Father. The reason is that He is the vinedresser of the vineyard. His name is on the gate. He is responsible for the success of the vineyard. God will accomplish what He sets out to do. The proof of God’s work is in our fruit.
The principalities, powers, and rulers in the heavenly places and the creatures in this world look upon the vineyard and see the beautiful fruit that God cultivates. God gets the glory.
God is never unproductive. God’s aim is to have fruit in His vineyard; it will come to pass. The proof that a branch is part of God’s work is that it bears fruit. It is impossible for God not to be fruitful. Therefore, when we bear much fruit, we prove that we abide in Christ. We prove that we are on the vine. It is evidence of God’s saving work.
Without Jesus, we cannot bear fruit. But with Jesus, we bear fruit. The fruit we bear flows from the love God the Father has for the Son. God’s love for Jesus is the nutrient that makes the vine healthy and productive. Jesus passes along that love to us. The vine feeds the branch with the love the vine gets from the vinedresser.
The vinedresser loves the vine because the vine does what the vinedresser commands. In the same way, the vine loves the branches because the branches do what the vine commands.
The essential ingredient in the soil of God’s vineyard is love. When the love of God feeds into the vine and then the branch, fruit always abounds.
We receive the love of God because of His grace. We do nothing to deserve His love. God’s grace is sufficient because God’s grace feeds me God’s love, and God’s love brings joy.
It is God’s aim that we bear fruit for His glory.
We must abide in the vine, Jesus, to bear fruit.
Bearing fruit is proof that we abide in the vine.
Because we abide in the vine, we have the fullness of joy.
Bearing Fruit Brings Joy (v. 11-15)
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:11-15)
Jesus tells us the reason He shares with us this picture of God’s vineyard is so that His joy will be in us. The joy of Jesus will be so abundant and plentiful that it will be full. There will not be room for one more drop of joy. We are full of joy to the uttermost.
Our joy comes from many things. It comes from knowing Jesus gives His life for us. Our joy comes from the abundance of love that flows from the vine into our branch. The love we receive spreads to other branches in the vine. Our joy comes from obeying our Savior.
Think of going to work where there is no productivity. Imagine our work is to shovel a pile of sand three feet to the left during the first half of the workday and shovel it back during the second half of the workday. Also, imagine there is no love among the people at work, but only fighting and complaining. There is no happiness when we have no fruit from our labor. There is no happiness when there is no love where we work.
We are creatures designed to work in a garden. God made us, so we find joy in getting fruit from the work of our hands. Part of the curse of Genesis 3 is that bearing fruit would be hard work. God made it so that with work, we would toil and sweat. Part of our salvation is to remove the curse of sin, so our work brings joy.
Our joy is made full of bearing fruit because we fulfill what we are designed to do. We enjoy the vinedresser’s commands because we know they result in much fruit, and that brings us joy.
We are not slaves in the vineyard doing work that we do not want to do. It is just the opposite. We joyfully enter into the vineyard and obey the commands of the vinedresser. We love abiding in the vine alongside other branches. Our life is complete and has meaning because we bear fruit. We enjoy bringing glory to the vinedresser.
We bear fruit because that is the vinedresser’s aim.
We bear fruit because we abide in the vine of love.
Our bearing fruit is proof that we abide in the vine.
Our bearing fruit brings us the fullness of joy.
Bearing Fruit Requires Going (v. 16-17)
You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another. (John 15:16-17)
Bearing fruit requires effort. We are workers appointed to go. The Great Commission is a command to go. We see that the early church is a church that was on the go.
The vine chooses us to go and bear fruit. Bearing fruit requires effort on our part. We are not to be idle in the vineyard. We have work to do. God expects that we will work to produce good fruit because it is a byproduct of His love.
To stay put is to be idle. Going requires effort. Our effort and work in bearing fruit do not cease to be supernatural because we cooperate in the process.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20)
for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
The good work we do is born from the love the vine gives the branch. The vinedresser equips us with the things we ask so we may be successful. And, God’s Spirit strengthens, leads, and guides us in our work.
By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. (1 John 4:13)
God saves us and puts us in union with Jesus for the glory of His name. Before we are in Christ, we are unable to do good works. As Paul tells the Romans, “There is none who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12). Without Christ, we are useless. We were workers of iniquity and not workers bearing good fruit. Our fruit is misery, destruction, and death.
God saves us when we put our faith in Jesus. Our faith binds us in a union with Jesus. We abide in Christ, and He abides in us. We become useful because of our union with Jesus. The love of God flows through us and gives us life and joy.
The rest of Creation looks and sees creatures who were formally useless enemies of God who become workers with beautiful, luscious, tasteful fruit hanging from our branches. Yes, we work to bear the fruit. We strive and labor to bear fruit. But, we know and all of Creation knows that the love of God flowing through our branch makes it all possible.
Anyone can look at our branches and see the fruit. The fruit is proof that God’s love is at work. God gets the glory, and we get the joy.
Bear the fruit of faith and prove to be Christ’s disciple.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)