Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that God is calling His people to bear fruit for Him. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to bear fruit for God’s glory.
Read John 15:1-7
I. The True Vine. Jesus talks about being the true vine. In our Sunday School material His listeners are compared to branches. God the Father is the gardener. The branches must stay in relationship to the vine, in order to bear fruit. Failure to bear fruit leads to sever punishment.
- Fruitfulness. Notice in vss. 1-6 the mention of fruit bearing branches. First, Jesus is the vine. He connects us and the Father. With Jesus, we can do great things. Without Jesus, we can do nothing.
Second, we are the branches. We are to bear the fruit of obedient love of one another. Failure to bear fruit leads to sever consequences.
God can punish us, even though He will not take our salvation away. Our salvation comes through Christ, not through our bearing fruit.
Third, the Father is the gardener. He is looking for us to bear the maximum amount of fruit. We have not been planted just so we can have an enjoyable and comfortable life. We have been planted and cared for, so we can bear fruit.
Let’s work on bearing fruit for God. God wants us to bear the fruit of loving one another, in obedience to Him.
- Prayer. Notice in vss. 7, 17 the mention of prayer. First, there are scholars who suggest that this Sunday School material text is teaching that God will supply what we ask Him for, in relation to being fruitful for Him.
This is as opposed to God promising to give us whatever we ask for our simple comfort and other agendas.
Second, no matter how we understand the promise of the text, our experiences teaches us that God doesn’t always give us what we want, how we want it, nor when we want it. We trust that God will give us what is best, when it is best, and in the way that is best.
In the meantime, we should accept the peace of God that is available to us. We must learn to rest in knowing that as an airplane pilot can get us through turbulence, God can get us through whatever we are in. Let’s work on trusting God in our praying.
Read John 15:8-17
II. The True Friend. Jesus continues with His concern about fruitfulness in our Sunday School material. He talks about the fruit bringing glory to the Father. He talks about the importance of remaining in His love.
Jesus commands His listeners to love one another. To love Jesus is to obey His command to love one another.
- God’s glory. Notice in vss. 8, 16 that being fruitful is for the Father’s glory. This means that the fruit is for the sake of bringing glory, honor, deep respect and admiration, and the like to God. In fact, our entire purpose for our being on planet Earth is about bringing glory to God.
It is not, will not, and has never been about us and our agenda. It has been, is, and will always be about God and His agenda. Let’s live like we understand that we are saved to bring glory to God. The best way to bring glory to God is to obey Him and testify about His goodness, when He blesses us for obeying Him.
- Obedience. Notice in vss. 9-11 that obedience is required to stay in the love of Jesus and to have complete joy. First, we should not read “stay in the love of Jesus” as being saved. Our salvation is based on faith in Jesus paying it ALL, not our being obedient in bearing fruit.
Second, we miss out on so much, when we fail to live in obedience to God’s word. This point should move us to prayerfully study and obey the Bible.
Third, when we give our best to living obedient lives, one of the blessings that we receive is complete joy. This also means that we will never have complete joy outside of giving our best to obeying God’s will.
Let’s work on living obedient lives. At the core of what God is calling us to do are the issues of making sure that we are saved and that we are loving God and others, as we love ourselves.
- Godly love. Notice in vss. 12-13 the call for sacrificial love. There are a number of levels of love. At the low end is the level that causes no harm and says “good morning.” In the middle is the level of being extra nice to people you trust and enjoy.
But at the high end are the issues of loving those who are unloving to you, forgiving people who have and are mistreating you, and being so kind that it costs us things that are precious to us. Let’s work on loving as God is calling us to love one another.
Instead of trying to water down what God says, we will spend our time more wisely by asking God to give us the strength to live up to His expectations.
Think about this application and the tension and division in so many of our churches. Even if a person is wrong, the strong ought to be mature enough to forgive and work for the common good.
- Christian friendships. Notice in vs. 15 the mention of friends. The church ought to be a place where people can develop friendships that help them grow in the Lord. A characteristic of friendship is sharing information that we would not have otherwise shared.
This sharing calls for trust. Trust calls for promising and keeping our promises. Let’s work on developing Christian friendships. This application calls for all involved to give extra effort to doing what we promise to do. It calls for those who have been hurt to use wisdom in trying again.
It calls for the church to give serious effort to relationship building, instead of simply being a place of almost only religious Sunday morning inspiration (i.e., which may be another name for entertainment, when the inspired are not trying to at least study, serve, and give), “teaching” (i.e., someone talking about good content), and activities (i.e., this is ministry without Christ being at the center and circumference).
Conclusion: Let’s work on bearing fruit for God’s glory. God has much for those who obey His will.