More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, 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, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (Joh_15:4-5)
Although these verses do not mention grace, they are a classic biblical explanation of grace bringing forth fruit in lives. The language depicts an actual vineyard, where fruit grows on branches that are properly related to a vine. Then, this physical reality is applied figuratively to spiritual fruit developing in our lives, if we are relating correctly to Jesus.
In this teaching, our Lord reminds us that literal branches are not able to produce fruit themselves. “The branch cannot bear fruit of itself.” We are spiritual branches, so we will not be able to produce fruit either. “Neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” In fact, our potential for manufacturing genuine spiritual fruit is zero. “Without Me you can do nothing.” The best we could ever hope to produce would be religious, wax fruit. Such would come from our fleshly attempts to appear godly or effective. People may be fooled by this, but God never will be. Furthermore, people cannot be edified by partaking of such, and God cannot be glorified.
True fruit results from the ongoing development of life. Life is only innate to vines, not branches. For a grape to develop on any grape branch, the life of the vine must flow into, and work within, the branch. So it is with us. “I am the vine, you are the branches.” This distinction is vital. We must never forget the difference, if we desire to bear fruit. The life we need for fruitfulness is in Him, not in us.
How do we avail ourselves of that life which is essential for fruit? “Abide in Me, and I in you.” We are to look to Jesus for life, counting on Him to live in and through us. Then, His life, working in us, brings forth Christlike fruit. How do we know if we are abiding? If we are willing to depend upon Jesus for spiritual fruit as a grape branch relies upon its vine for grapes, then we are truly abiding in Christ. Such dependency brings valid expectation for great measures of Christlikeness to be developing in and through our lives. “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.”
This is clearly grace at work, as seen in the relational realities of humility and faith. Humility is operating as we acknowledge”without Me you can do nothing.” Faith is exercised as we believe” that He who abides in Me . . . bears much fruit.”
Lord Jesus, my true vine, I humbly agree with You that I cannot produce spiritual fruit on my own. I admit that apart from You at work in me, I could never manifest any genuine godliness. So, with great expectation I look to You to provide the life I need for much fruitfulness, Amen.