– Stephen Charnock
Last fall, we cut back on our rosebush and it looked so drastic as if it were going to kill it, but the next spring, there were more roses than the previous year and it bush thrived. If not for the pruning, the fruit of the flower would have been less noticeable and it would not have been as healthy. The Apostle John wrote, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2).
Abide in Him
How can you be nurtured to bear more fruit? We have seen the benefit of pruning, but Jesus adds, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4). In a recent trip to a vineyard, I asked the owner, “How do you know which is a dead branch and which is still living, since both branches are attached to the vine?” He said, if it breaks away, it’s not really attached to the vine, but the one that’s abiding in the vine will bend but never break, therefore we must abide in Christ or we’ll be nothing more than wood for the burn pile (John 15:6).
When we begin to bear fruit, we know that we cannot take any credit for the fruit, because it is the Spirit of God that enables us to bear fruit. If we’re not attached to the vine (Christ), then like any branch in nature, it’ll wither and die, so “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit” (John 15:5). We can’t see the root but if it bears fruit, we know it’s attached to the vine.
Jesus reminds us that “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7), but if we’re not abiding in Christ, then our prayer requests may not be answered, so if “you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples,” (John 15:8), then whatever you ask in Jesus’ name and is in accordance to God’s will, He will hear and answer.
Mr. Charnock is right in saying, “Assurance is the fruit that grows out of the root of faith,” however let us remember that pruning, while being painful, is still beneficial because it allows us to bear more fruit but only if we’re abiding in Christ. Whoever abides in Christ will bear fruit and this fruit will “prove [us] to be [Jesus’] disciples.”