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This parable is talking about
four different kinds of Christians: The
ones who hear the word of the Kingdom of the heavens, but they do not understand
the message of the Kingdom, so the wicked one snatched it away; the ones who
received the Word of the Kingdom with joy, but did not endure when tribulations
popped up; the ones who hear the message of the Kingdom, but are more concerned
with this world; jobs, cars, bigger houses, women:
whatever, the Kingdom did not come first (in the parable, he was fruitful
at one time, because he became unfruitful).
That’s 75% of Christians, at least by type, if not by numbers.
[Matthew 13:23] Right
now, I want us to concentrate on the 25% of Christians who are bearing fruit.
They hear the word of the Kingdom, and understand it.
[Epignosis] [Matthew 13:23]
Verse 23 tells us that “he is indeed bearing fruit”; it’s emphatic!
He is bearing the fruit and producing it.
is “producing”.] He’s
excited about the Kingdom of the Heavens. He
is faithful. He is doing what it
takes to be bearing fruit. He’s
working! Some bring forth 100 fold,
some 60 and some 30. But what is
the vine? What are the branches?
What is fruit bearing and what is fruit producing?
Verse 1 tells us in a few words, what the vine is.
Jesus is speaking and says, “I am the true vine”.
Literally, it says, “I am the vine, the true”.
This is very emphatic that Jesus is telling them that he is the genuine
vine; He’s not a substitute. It
also says that His Father, God, Yahweh is the husbandman; God is the one who
cultivates. This could not be any
simpler: Jesus the Christ is the
Psalm 80:8-11 says, “Thou hast brought a vine out of
Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room
before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The
hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were
like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her
branches unto the river.” A vine
grows over the walls and goes everywhere!
But, in John 15, Jesus says, “I am the
true vine”. Jehovah had planted a
vine brought out of Egypt. This is
Israel after the flesh, but Israel was not the true vine.
The true vine was Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed Son of God.
The true vine was God’s Son, whom he also brought up out of Egypt.
Jesus presents himself as such to His disciples.
This is distinctively talking about His role here on Earth.
The disciples would have
considered Him as the greatest branch of the vine, but as such, He would have
only been a member of Israel. He
was not simply a member of Israel; He was the vessel, the source
of blessing, according to the promises of God.
The true Vine, therefore is not Israel; quite the contrary; the true Vine is Christ in contrast with Israel, but
Christ planted on earth, taking Israel's place, as the true Vine.
The Father cultivates this plant on the earth.
There is no need of a husbandman in heaven.
Those who are attached to Christ, as the remnant of Israel, the
disciples, need this culture. It is on the earth that fruit-bearing is looked
for. The Lord therefore says to them, "Ye are clean already, through the
word which I have spoken unto you"; "Ye are the branches." Judas,
perhaps, was taken away, and so also were the disciples who walked no more with
Him. The others should be proved and cleansed, that they might bear more fruit
or produce more good works.
Look with me here in verse 2 [John 15:2]:
We know who the vine is, and we know who the husbandman is, but what
about the branches? Like everything
else in the Bible, the Bible will answer itself.
You just have to look. We
don’t have to look very far sometimes. Verse
5 tells us the answer: “I am the
vine, you are the branches.” Who
is Jesus referring to?
The “you” is plural, or as
it’s said by those who speak proper English, “ya’ll”. He’s talking to disciples; He’s talking to Christians.
Everyone who is a Christian is a branch.
We’re the branches. God
the Father is the husbandman or the farmer; the one who is cultivating.
Jesus is the vine, the true vine. We’re
Verse 2 tells us that we are to
be fruitful. What is the fruit of a
Christian? Is it another Christian?
Is the fruit of a vine branches? I’ve
heard it taught that the fruit of a Christian is another Christian.
As branches, if all we produce are more branches, we will not have been
profitable branches. I’ve
actually heard it taught that we will produce seeds.
But what does a seed produce? Another
vine. I don’t think we’re to
produce more Christs. If we’re
not to produce branches, and we’re most certainly not to produce vines, what
are we to produce?
The fruit of a child of God is not another child of God, but fruit that
will cheer the hearts of both God and man.
If I am producing the kind of fruit that glorifies the Father, I am being
a blessing to you. If you are producing the kind of fruit that pleases the Lord
you are blessing me. We are to be a
blessing to each other and to the saints.
These verses deal with blessing the saints and the ministers; fruit
bearing. The earth bears fruit, God
bears fruit, and we bear fruit; we are to bear good fruit and not thorns and
This passage doesn’t quite
convey the true meaning of the Greek. The
way this is translated, it puts the contrast between two kinds of soil; one is
well watered and fertile and the other is not watered and is sterile.
This sort of contrast would illustrate the difference between those who
have enjoyed hearing the gospel and those who have not.
To the contrary, this passage puts the contrast between two classes of
Christians under equally favorable conditions, out of which they develop into
opposite results. A little
expounding would better render it, “but if it (the ground that receives the
rain) bear thorns or thistles,” it’s rejected or disqualified or near unto a
This enhances the idea of
“rejected”. This land that has
benefited from the rain, if it continues producing thorns and thistles, is
exposed to the possibility of abandonment to perpetual barrenness.
[Overhead file] The Greek word translated as
“thistle” (briars), is “tribolos”.
It comes from the Greek words for “three” and “dart”; having
three darts or points. It’s
talking about a star thistle. It’s
a word that describes a ball that rested on three iron spikes with a forth one
that projected upward. They were
scattered over the ground by Roman soldiers in order to impede the enemy’s
cavalry. A “tribulus” is a kind of thistle. It’s referring to the exact opposite of fruit-bearing;
it’s talking about hindering the saints.
If we are ministering to the
saints, by bearing fruit, we are doing it by a work and labor of love.
Now, remember, not all
Christians are saints. Saints are
those Christians that obey the commandments of God.
They’re being holy in their practical, day-to-day living.
That doesn’t mean that you’re perfect; it means that you love God and
you love His commandments. And when
you do fail; when the temptation, the monster gets in the armor because you put
down the shield of faith for a moment and that dart comes in and hits you and
your garments are spotted like it says in Jude 23, you go to Jesus Christ, your
high priest and you confess your sins. And
He is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and to cleanse you from all
unrighteousness. If you do this,
you’ll be set apart as a sanctified one for an inheritance in the coming
millennial kingdom. These are
If we are ministering to the
saints, that ministry will not be forgotten by God. We bear fruit by labor.
Just as the fruit of God is not
another God and the fruit of the Holy Spirit is not another Holy Spirit and the
fruit of the vine is not another Messiah, the fruit of a Christian is not
another Christian. The husbandman
cultivates another branch. The
fruit of the vine, if Jesus is the vine, and the word says he is,
is not another Messiah. The fruit of a Christian is the ministry that you
produce for others. If God is the
husbandman and Jesus is the vine and we are the branches that produce and bear
fruit, then the Holy Spirit can be likened to the sap that flows through the
vine into the branches to sustain them and help them be fruitful.
is how you treat your brother. [Galatians
5:22-24] God, through the Holy
Spirit expects us to do works that are a blessing to our brethren.
Who are our brethren? Matthew
12:50 tells us that our brethren are those who are obeying God.
How can we tell who our brethren are?
Some are easy to spot. Look
with me in [Matthew 25:37-40]
fruit is work! Acts 16:31 says,
“believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and continue in good works, and you shall be
saved.” It doesn’t say that,
does it? It simply says
“believe”, one time plus nothing else.
Spiritual salvation does not require any works; it doesn’t require
being fruitful; it requires only to believe.
Bearing fruit is not talking about salvation, but it’s talking about
works that occur after you’re saved that please the Lord and this obedience
results in rewards in the coming Millennial Kingdom.
is it that lets us bear fruit? Ephesians
2:8,9 says, “For by grace are ye saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves: it
is the gift of God: Not of
works, lest any man should boast”. This passage seems to say that we are saved
by grace through faith. Grace and
faith are not mentioned in Acts
16:31, so how are they used in this passage?
In a nutshell, what Ephesians 2:8 is saying is this: “Having been
saved, ye endure by grace through faith.” Verses 8 and 9 of Ephesians 2 are
not dealing with salvation because the Greek grammar plainly states that
salvation occurred in the past and this salvation continues to the present.
The gift of God in this verse is grace and not salvation. Grace is what we use to bear fruit.
What is the grace of God?
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “And
he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made
perfect in weakness. Most gladly
therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may
rest upon me.” How do we
get the power of Christ? The answer
to this question is in Romans 5:2; “...we
have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand...” If we make
shipwreck of the faith, then grace will not be available for us to endure in
times of testing. We need the grace of God if we expect to serve Him in an
acceptable manner. Hebrews
12:28 says, “...Let us have
grace, whereby we may serve God
acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”
If we cannot access the grace then we cannot expect to “...receive the
reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ,” as it says in Colossians
3:24. Grace must reign!
Romans 5:21 says, “So might
grace reign through righteousness...” Grace does not reign just because
we are saved. The verb “might
reign” in this verse is subjunctive
and indicates that grace might not reign.
Grace reigns if we continually come to the throne of grace as in Hebrews 4:16; “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of
grace, that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help in time of
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith
is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Faith is the substance that allows us to please God.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “But
without faith it is impossible
to please him...”
Only the just; the obedient, can live by faith.
Faith gives substance to grace. Romans
5:2 tells us, “...we have
access by faith into this grace wherein we stand...” If we do not
access grace by faith we will not have the power of God we need to endure. If we do not access grace by faith, we will not bear fruit.
are works for? [James 2:14,17-26]
Works in James are works that make faith profitable.
We are justified by our works. We
endure by grace through faith. How?
That word that is translated as “taketh away” is the Greek word airo.
The primary definition of the verb airo is to lift up or to raise or to
lift from the ground. In the LXX,
we see this word used several times, such as the Testament of Solomon, Genesis
40:16; 45:23, 35:2 and many other places.
Matthew 4:6 says, “And
saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written,
He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their
hands they shall bear thee up (airo; same word), lest at any time thou dash thy
foot against a stone”.
Revelation 10:5 says, “And the angel which I saw stand upon the
sea and upon the earth lifted up (airo) his hand to heaven”.
Acts 27:13 says, “And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that
they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence
(weighed the anchor; airo), they
sailed close by Crete”. Kathairo
is from “kata” (down) lift, so it means to tear down or to unlift.
You can find it in a few places such as Mark 15:36, which says, “And
one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it
on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias
will come to take him down (kathairo).” Verse
46 of that same chapter, Joseph of Arimithea “bought fine linen and took Him
I spent a lot of time growing up
on a farm, and one of the things that we raised were grapes, mostly muscadines
and scuppernongs. Do you know what
we would do when we discovered a branch that wasn’t bearing fruit?
We’d support it. We would build a trellis and lift it up, off the ground!
Grapes don’t usually bear fruit when they’re down on the ground.
Verse 2 in John 15 is saying,
“Every branch in me not bearing fruit, He lifts up!” He supports us; He provides us grace. Verse 6 tells us if we’re not abiding in Him, we will be
cast out. He lifts us up, at least
for a little while, if our hearts are after Him, even if we’re not producing
fruit. If we continue in being
unfruitful, we’ll be cast out. We
won’t lose our salvation; that can’t be lost.
But, we’ll lose out on our inheritance on the rewards in the age to
come. Lifted up by grace.
about those who are producing fruit? Look
in verse 2. [John 15:2 last half].
He’s pruning those who are being productive so they can be more
you to notice a correlation here between John 15 and Matthew 13.
In Matthew 13, there are some that bear 100 fold, some that bear 60 fold,
and some that bear 30 fold. In John
chapter 15, there are those that produce fruit.
They are pruned so that they may bear more fruit.
Those who are abiding in Him (present, active), and therefore He’s
abiding in them, what do they bring forth?
They bring forth much fruit. Fruit,
more fruit, and much fruit.
He’s pruning those who are being productive so they can be more productive.
Is pruning a pleasant experience? No!
It’s painful! That’s the same word as we were looking at in Mark:
Kathairo. Those who aren’t
being fruitful, he lifts or supports, at least for a while; those who are being
fruitful aren’t in need of being lifted up; they have a firm foundation
already. But, the fruitful branches
can expect tribulation and pruning in their lives.
Ironside once told this story about a woman who came up to him and asked him to
pray that she would have more patience. He
said, “Let’s pray right now”, bowed his head and said, “Oh, Lord, please
bring tribulation upon this dear lady.”
interrupted him and said, “No, no, no! You
misunderstood! I want patience.”
What does Romans 5:3 tell us? It
tells us that tribulation brings about patience or endurance.
Those that are being productive; those bearing fruit; can expect
tribulation. They can expect to be
pruned. If the fruit is not used
and replaced, it rots on the branch; then what good is it?
We are to continue in being productive and producing fruit.
because our lives are going well doesn’t mean that we are being pleasing to
God. Of course, just because our
lives are going well doesn’t mean that God’s unhappy with us, either.
Much of it may be attitude. When
I broke my ankle, I had the comfort of knowing that God would provide and God
had a purpose and a plan for my life. Without
that comfort, this may well have been devastating.
doesn’t unjustly cause tribulation, but He permits it.
He also will not allow more than we can handle.
He will lift us up and protect us from tribulation that is too much.
What will He do to those who cause tribulation to befall us?
[2 Thessalonians 1:6-8]
Hosea cries in Hosea chapter 10, "Israel is a vacant vine. The
fruit is equivalent to it". Israel
failed to gladden the hearts of either God or men. Christ came and did both.
Jesus is the vine, Jehovah is the
husbandman, we are the branches. We’re
to produce fruit; we’re to produce the fruit that cheers the heart of God and
men. If we’re being unproductive,
God will support us for a while; if we’re being productive, we can expect
pruning and tribulation that we may be more productive.
We’re to abide in Christ; we’re to be after His heart, and if we
permit Him to abide in our heart, we will produce much fruit!
we’re unproductive for too long, watch out!
At a certain point, we will be cast forth as a
branch and burned! We will lose our
inheritance, and we won’t get another chance.
We’ll still be saved; that can’t be taken away, but our crowns and
rewards will literally be up in smoke! It’s
all about our rewards and crowns! It’s
about our inheritance!
to produce good fruit and not thorns and thistles; don’t cast tribulations
into the paths of others!
are we to produce good fruit? To be
a blessing to the saints. Why are
we to be a blessing to the saints? In
order to be able to inherit the Kingdom that was prepared for us from the
foundation of the world. We’re to
produce good fruit.