Sabbath, February 6, 2010

“Our words, our actions, are the fruit we bear.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 416.

Abiding in Christ

1. What alone makes it possible to bear the heavenly fruit?
John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

“As the branch must abide in the vine to obtain the vital sap which causes it to flourish, so those who love God and keep all His sayings must abide in His love. Without Christ we cannot subdue a single sin or overcome the smallest temptation.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 355.

“‘Herein is My Father glorified,’ said Jesus, ‘that ye bear much fruit.’ God desires to manifest through you the holiness, the benevolence, the compassion, of His own character. Yet the Saviour does not bid the disciples labor to bear fruit. He tells them to abide in Him…. The life of Christ in you produces the same fruits as in Him. Living in Christ, adhering to Christ, supported by Christ, drawing nourishment from Christ, you bear fruit after the similitude of Christ.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 677.

Producing fruit

2. What does it mean to produce fruit?
Matthew 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.
Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

“What is it to bear fruit? It is not all comprised in coming to meeting once a week, and bearing our testimony in prayer or social meeting. We are to be found day by day abiding in the Vine, and bringing forth fruit, with patience, at our home, in our business; and in every relation in life manifesting the Spirit of Christ. There are many who act as though they thought an occasional connection with Christ was all that was necessary, and that they can be accounted living branches because at times they make confession of Christ. But this is a fallacy. The branch is to be grafted into the Vine, and to abide there, uniting itself to the Vine fiber by fiber, drawing its daily supply of sap and nourishment from the root and fatness of the Vine, until it becomes one with the parent stock. The sap that nourishes the Vine must nourish the branch and this will be evident in the life of him who is abiding in Christ; for the joy of Christ will be fulfilled in him who walks not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1144.

3. What fruit does the Christian tree produce?
Galatians 5:22, 23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

“I speak to our people. If you draw close to Jesus and seek to adorn your profession by a well-ordered life and godly conversation, your feet will be kept from straying into forbidden paths. If you will only watch, continually watch unto prayer, if you will do everything as if you were in the immediate presence of God, you will be saved from yielding to temptation and may hope to be kept pure, spotless, and undefiled till the last. If you hold the beginning of your confidence firm unto the end, your ways will be established in God; and what grace has begun, glory will crown in the kingdom of our God. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. If Christ be within us, we shall crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts.” –The Adventist Home, pp. 338, 339.

Glorifying God by producing much fruit

4. By whom and for whose glory is all fruit produced?
John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Philippians 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

“There is work for you to do in the church and out of the church. ‘Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.’ The fruit we bear is the only test of the character of the tree before the world. This is the proof of our discipleship. If our works are of such a character that as branches of the living Vine we bear rich clusters of precious fruit, then we wear before the world God’s own badge as His sons and daughters. We are living epistles, known and read of all men.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 348.

“All the true followers of Christ bear fruit to His glory. Their lives testify that a good work has been wrought in them by the Spirit of God, and their fruit is unto holiness. Their lives are elevated and pure. Right actions are the unmistakable fruit of true godliness….” –Messages to Young People, p. 377.

5. What is necessary so the branch can bear even more fruit?
John 15:2, second part … Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Malachi 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

“Jesus with solemn tenderness explained the purpose of the husbandman. The pruning will cause pain, but it is the Father who applies the knife. He works with no wanton hand or indifferent heart. There are branches trailing upon the ground; these must be cut loose from the earthly supports to which their tendrils are fastening. They are to reach heavenward, and find their support in God. The excessive foliage that draws away the life current from the fruit must be pruned off. The overgrowth must be cut out, to give room for the healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness. The husbandman prunes away the harmful growth, that the fruit may be richer and more abundant.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 677.

A witness for others

6. What is obvious when one bears heavenly fruit?
Matthew 7:16-20 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

“There must be no defects in our character, not one. Every spot and wrinkle must be effaced by the blood of the Lamb. Our own peculiar traits of character will disappear when the transforming power of the grace of God is felt upon our hearts. The fruits we bear in patience, kindness, forbearance, and self-denial will testify of us that we have learned of Jesus.

“The fruit of the tree testifies if it is a good or corrupt tree. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. By their fruits ye shall know them. Let us so speak and so labor that our fruit may be unto righteousness and we letting our light shine forth in good works. Profession is nothing. A godly life alone will God approve….

“The great desire in this age of the world is for more power. I want more grace, more love,

[a] more deep and earnest living experience.” –The Upward Look, p. 154.

7. What happens when one is separated from Christ?
John 15:2, first part, 6  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:… If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

“While the graft is outwardly united with the vine, there may be no vital connection. Then there will be no growth or fruitfulness. So there may be an apparent connection with Christ without a real union with Him by faith. A profession of religion places men in the church, but the character and conduct show whether they are in connection with Christ. If they bear no fruit, they are false branches. Their separation from Christ involves a ruin as complete as that represented by the dead branch.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 676.

“If we do not bear any fruit, the powers of darkness take possession of our minds, our affections, our service, and we are of the world, though we profess to be children of God. This is neither a safe nor a pleasant position, because we lose all the beauty and the glory and the satisfaction that it is our privilege to have.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1143.

For meditation

“… But to all who believe, he is as the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God. His branches reach to this world, that the blessings which He has purchased for us may be brought within our reach.… He has given us a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, which will present to us the precious fruit from the Tree of Life. From this tree we may pluck and eat, and we may then guide others to it, that they also may eat.” –The Signs of the Times, October 22, 1896.

“The man who loves God meditates on the law of God day and night. He is instant in season and out of season. He bears the fruit of a branch vitally connected with the Vine. As he has opportunity, he does good; and everywhere, at all times and in all places, he finds opportunity to work for God. He is one of the Lord’s evergreen trees, and he carries fragrance with him wherever he goes. A wholesome atmosphere surrounds his soul. The beauty of his well-ordered life and godly conversation inspires faith and hope and courage in others. This is Christianity in practice. Seek to be an ever-green-tree. Wear the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. Cherish the grace of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness. This is the fruit of the Christian tree. Planted by the rivers of water, it always brings forth its fruit in due season.” –The Review and Herald, August 24, 1897.