Friday, May 15, 2015

The richness of fruitfulness - persevering in our salvation

John 15:1-3 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 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. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

A couple of weeks ago we considered the fruitful Christian life and the richness that is found in God's preservation of our salvation. In that particular post, the underlying assumption was that God desires the Christian to be fruitful, and guarantees such fruitfulness by virtue of His preservation of the believer in their salvation. If it were possible to lose one's salvation, there could be room for the nagging question regarding whether or not bearing fruit for God is worth it. God's guarantee of salvation was explored in that last post by the following three thoughts taken from John 14 & 15: 

1. God preserves you to be a home for His presence.

2. God preserves you by the Helper - the Holy Spirit.

3. God preserves you to bear fruit to the end. 

It could be said that in that last post, we viewed the truth of God's preservation of salvation from His vantage point. In today's post, we want to consider this same truth from the believer's vantage point of being a recipient of all that Christ is and has done. Jesus saves all who believe on Him not only for the sake to saving them from something (God's wrath their sin) but also unto something - fruitfulness. Thus we want to consider briefly once again from John 15 the richness of fruitfulness in the believer's perseverance in salvation. 

Notice John 15:8 "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." God desires Christians to bear much fruit. He has guaranteed to both persevere with them in their salvation and that they will persevere to the end. Such perseverence is for the sake of bearing fruit. God never commands us to do anything without gracious provisions. The richness of fruitfulness from the believer's vantage point is seen in what has been given by God for persevering in salvation. What enables us to be fruitful as we strive to persevere in His preserving grace? Notice the four provisions mentioned by Jesus in John 15:7-11...

1. You have the Word to feed fruitfulness. John 15:7
Jeremiah 15:16 states - "Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts." How else can spiritual fruit be nourished lest we are feeding on the Word. Jeremiah's ministry was both the longest and hardest field of ministry recorded in the Old Testament. Despite his difficult assignment, he found refuge and strength in God's words. He bore fruit. Proverbs 4:4 states - "Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live." Jesus is identifying what must abide if we want to have the desire to persevere and bear fruit - namely His words. His words enable us to fight sin (Psalm 119:11) and equip us to discern (Hebrews 4:12).

2. You have prayer to ask for fruitfulness. John 15:7-8
If taking time to be in our Bibles is necessary for persevering in fruitfulness, so is prayer. The ability to see God's will in prayer is proportionate to how well and how much we apply His word to our lives. Praying in the will of God is how we see fruit and results. Confidence in prayer is given as a fruit of the prayer warrior seeking God at His throne of mercy (Hebrews 4:14-16). The reader can note that in the Hebrews passage, the ministry of God's word is intertwined with the ministry of prayer. Jude 1:20-23 commands us to build ourselves up in the most holy faith by praying in the Spirit. Prayer is a must if we expect to be fruitful people for God.

3. You have God's love to encourage fruitfulness. John 15:9
God has given us His word, prayer and His love to encourage fruitfulness. Abiding in love means staying in love. Love in this context must not be viewed as a some type of sappy sentimentalism that evaporates at the first sign of difficulty or dissapointment. This kind of love is the love of God delivered by Him to our hearts. The Spirit is the one Who works forth love and joy in the Christian. (John 7:37-38; Romans 5:5) We as Christians are dry river beds that channel God's love and grace. It is His love that enables us to persevere in fruitfulness.

4. You have joy to enjoy fruitfulness. John 15:10-11
In addition to giving us His, word, prayer and love; God has given us joy to persevere in fruitfulness. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) Moreover, Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Fruitfulness has as its goal the enjoyment of harvest. Why do we labor and plant the seeds of God's word and water them in prayer with the love God? So that we can enjoy the fruit of God's labor. No wonder the Father desires us to be fruitful. He has guaranteed that we will richly bear fruit for Him by giving us all we need to persevere in our salvation by means of His word, prayer, His love and joy. 

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