Extracts From a Lecture on Fruit-Bearing

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 8
1Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; 3Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. (John 13:1‑8)1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide 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. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6If 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. 7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (John 15:1‑11) I desire, beloved friends, to say a few words to-night on the subject of fruit-bearing. Fruit is the great test of the tree, and it should be a matter of conscience for each one of us to see that we have borne something that answers to the wonderful ministry that God has given to us in these last days. Have we answered to the culture that has been bestowed upon us? That is the grand question before us to-night. I do not speak of salvation, I speak to those who know what it is to have salvation settled, because until salvation is settled God does not do anything in the way of cultivation, so that point must be settled first. In the first sight it would seem that the Lord Jesus brings in here a subject abruptly, and many times have I been puzzled to understand how the Lord Himself can turn away from the subject in chapter 14, and take up the subject in these first eight verses that seem so out of connection with that which has gone before. However, you will find that there is the most intimate connection between these three chapters; and I take up the subject of fruit-bearing, not confining myself to any particular line, because the Lord here does not speak of any particular line of ministry, and so setting aside the dispensational aspect of the chapter I desire to bring to bear on your conscience and my own too, the subject the Lord speaks of here-that of fruit-bearing. I say there is the most intimate connection; for in chapter 15 the Lord speaks very distinctly of the state of the soul. Fruit is the outcome of what is within, and so with us; the heart gets wrong, and everything is wrong. You see God produces a certain state of soul, and the outcome of that state of soul is fruit for the Father. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." You see it is not confined to any particular line of ministry. It is not the evangelist, the pastor, the teacher, etc., alone; but you will see that when the Lord speaks of fruit-bearing, He touches the soul and conscience of every one of His followers. This is an important point for each one of us, that in a day like this -a day of spurious imitations- we should desire that He would give us power to produce a distinctive color to the fruit, a distinct taste when eaten.
Now turn to Psa. 1, and there you will find in verse 1, surely a godly Jew, but still Christ in the distance. Verse 1 tells me what he does not do; he does not keep bad company to begin with; but in verse 2 he keeps very good company, and that is, his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in verse 3 he becomes like a tree producing fruit in its right season. The first three verses of Psa. 1 are important, giving us the principles of fruit-bearing; he does not sit in the seat of the scornful, he does not mix in bad company, but is occupied with God and His word, and the consequence is that he produces fruit, produces fruit in this barren world, where there is nothing of God except that which is seen from His saints. How important it is then for you and me to understand that we are each one responsible to God to bear fruit, responsible because we are connected with Christ, united to Him. I do not attempt to describe the fruit: your own soul and conscience before God must ever describe that; but ask yourself the question, Have I answered to the wondrous cultivation that God has bestowed upon me? Culture that saints have never received before, although they had the blessings of God's Spirit and of God's word, yet never has God ministered His word in such a marvelous way as He has for many years past; and again I ask myself, and each one here, Have we answered to that which God has so bountifully bestowed upon us? Now if fruit be the outcome of what is within, it is the state of soul that I should desire to have. I find a tree in Psa. 92 planted within the house of the Lord, and flourishing in the court of the house of our God, and bringing forth fruit in old age; this shows that he was not walking in the world of sense, but in a higher sphere. It is to those who are inside, to those who know where the source and spring of power is, those who know the upper and the nether springs. The upper spring, Christ in glory; the nether spring, the Holy Ghost on earth. And the question for us is, How have we used them?
Now I will return to chapter 13. This is a remarkable chapter in this way: we have the Lord commencing a new and distinct thing, a new and distinct ministry. There are three liftings up in John's Gospel. In chapter iii. it is the sacrifice, He is superior to the serpent; the serpent cured the bites where there was faith, but Christ raised up from the earth not only cures the bites-is made sin for us-but He has given to us eternal life. The serpent never could do that. Christ is made sin for us, and sets us in a new sphere-the sphere of fellowship with the Father, fellowship with the Father and with His Son. The knowledge of the Father, not simply God. The knowledge of the Father is what characterizes Christians, as the knowledge of the Almighty characterized Abraham.
Now, in chapter 8 you have the second lifting up, and I think it is to show the excellency of His person. "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me," is the third. (Chapter 12). Here it is not so much a question of salvation, but of Himself becoming a new center or base of work for God-lifted up from the earth, taken away from this scene.
Now, in chapter 13 He commences a new and distinct order of ministry. Many souls would rather look back and contemplate the Savior dying on the cross. How many are occupied to-day with the cross? Well for them to know, that if they are occupied with the cross they are not occupied with Christ in glory, the One who said, "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." That is, He set Himself apart on high, in order that we might be set apart for Him here on the earth, and so He says, " I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." The prince of this world judged, the system of this world set aside, and a new order of things introduced, and every believer here to-night is in that new sphere. Are you conscious of it? Conscious of sitting down in the presence of the Father and Christ, and of understanding that it is possible for believers also to be introduced into this blessed intimacy; and thus do you know what it is to sit inside? Many sit outside, and so never know the warmth of the glorious presence of the Christ of God. But chapter 13 commences the service that is in keeping with the new order, the present ministry of Christ. Do you understand that? Well, it is not the past, nor is it the future, but it is the present ministry of Christ. It is divided into two distinct offices. He is High Priest for our weakness and infirmity, and He is the Advocate for our sins. " If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father." They are distinct one from the other, and distinct from the cross; the cross it is that brings us into the place, and then it is that we have the Lord Himself as the High Priest and Advocate; two distinct offices.
In the Epistle to the Hebrews, which brings before us the wilderness journey of the saints of God in contrast, to the wilderness journey of the children of Israel that brought them into the land of Canaan, we have the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the High Priest, who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, the One who sustains us in the path, the Word of God that directs, and the priesthood of Christ to support. What a wonderful person the priest is! It was the priest Aaron who carried the children of Israel through the wilderness. Now, there are three very distinct aspects of the priesthood. In Exodus we have the man who maintains the people in relationship with God. You recollect the breastplate and ephod, they were connected together by the ring of gold and the lace of blue, that is, secured by what is divine and heavenly; the link was typically with the High Priest above; and the High Priest there supported the people. And in Ex. 28 we find that the breastplate must not be loosed from the ephod, that the one could not be separated from the other. Aaron wore the names of the children of Israel before Jehovah, their names were on the breastplate, and this is the part of our priesthood, that we try and support the saints of God; we cannot make the link, that is already formed, but as priests we must support the children of God. Now, the Leviticus priest helped in worship, and the Numbers priest helped in service, and did you ever remark the wording of the scripture in Num. 18:1212All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the Lord, them have I given thee. (Numbers 18:12)? All the best of the oil, all the best of the wine and of the wheat, etc., was to be given to the priest. Why? Because he had to support the people in service. Now, these are three very distinct aspects of the priesthood, and we are all responsible to the Lord Jesus to manifest these characteristics of priesthood, sisters as well as brothers, it applies to all alike Now ye are a "holy priesthood," says the apostle, and our bounden duty is to exercise priesthood; and if we understood our responsibilities, and undertook our responsibilities, there would be more power and buoyancy in the meetings, because every one would help and sustain the one who was taking the leading part; because that God has so tempered the body together that one part is dependent upon the other, and so as we are priests God would have us exercise our priesthood; whether as Exodus, Leviticus, or Numbers priests, He would have us holding together, each one feeling that although " I am not a preacher, I may not be anything of that sort, but you cannot get on without me." And why? Because if you have a crooked limb you are not perfect, so the meeting is dependent upon every one, and if we only realized this more, we would have happier gatherings together. J. S. B.