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Thu, Sep 14, 2006

67 - Degrees of Production [b]

John 15:8-17 & Luke 8:1-12 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:53 mins 33 secs

 

Hebrews Lesson 67  September 14, 2006 

 

NKJ Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

 

We are in John 15.  Just by way of summary (remember we are actually studying Hebrews) in Hebrews 6:7 we have an analogy or illustration that is used to describe the production in the believer's life and the consequences of either spiritual advance or spiritual failure. There we read…. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God;

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:8 but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

 

So we have this agricultural analogy. It is amazing how many times we have agricultural analogies in the Scriptures. Of course that was a time period when folks were a lot closer to the earth. It was an agrarian society so this communicated to people. Today we might use illustrations from computers, except I know that there are some of you wouldn't get that either. There are always limitations to every analogy. As we looked at that we identified the elements in the illustration. The earth was the believer. The rain represents the provision of God's grace to give the nourishment, the nutrition needed for plant life to grow. It is dependent upon the volition of the individual believer as to what is produced. So the rain goes on every believer the same. Every believer has the same potential. It is what you do with it in your volition that makes such a difference.

 

Now the text says that the earth drinks in the rain that often comes upon it bears herbs. That's the fruit that is produced. The analogy here doesn't identify this, but the cultivator is God. The illustration within the whole context of what we have seen in Hebrews 5 and 6 is talking about Christian growth and Christian service. The writer of Hebrews is just reaming out his audience because they have failed to grow. In fact they are on the verge of full regression back into Judaism. They are going to sacrifice every thing they have gained in terms of spiritual growth. They are on the verge of losing whatever rewards that they had, and sacrificing any long term production, rewards, spiritual maturity that they have developed. That is the negative side of the illustration. If it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, and its end it to be burned. 

 

As I pointed out the burning there as in John 15 is often taken by people to try to illustrate the Lake of Fire judgment. But, that's not it. It is an agricultural analogy. It is talking about the fact that in the ancient world one of the ways you cleared the field and also provided certain nutrients to go back in the soil was just to burn it off in the fall. In the John 15 passage on the vine, the branch in the fall when there is the radical fall pruning to prune back the vines in preparation for the next year everything that is not useful, not productive for the future is taken out and is gathered up as garbage and burned. That is a picture of divine discipline. So we went from Hebrews 6 to John 15.  

 

Let's review what we are talking about in John 15. First we saw that there are three types of branches. In John 15:2 Jesus says..

 

NKJ John 15:2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

 

That is the corrected translation. Airo there can mean either to take away or lift up. It is used because of it's a cognate to the word that was used for pruning, kathairo. It was a word that did mean to lift up. It is used that way many times in Scripture. In the practice of viticulture in the ancient world at that time according to Pliny there were two times in which there was a pruning of the vines in the field. There was a spring pruning and a fall pruning. The spring pruning was designed to take away the suckers that would pull energy away from the production of the fruit as well as to take certain number of branches that had not yet produced fruit and to tie them up on the trellis so that they would be in the air and be kept dry and would be able to grow stronger so that in the coming seasons those branches would be able to bear fruit. So that is the picture there. The non fruit-bearing branches are lifted up representing young believers who aren't mature enough yet to produce fruit. They need special handling and treatment by God to prepare them for future fruit bearing. 

 

In the second part of the verse we read…

 

every branch that bears fruit He prunes,

 

Kathairo is one of John's famous double entendres here because kathairo also means to cleanse. It is the word that is used in Old Testament passages for cleansing, not only positional cleansing at salvation but post salvation cleansing of sin. That word is used in I John 1:9.

 

NKJ 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

It specifically brings in the idea of post salvation cleansing and discipline for the fruit-producing branch that is necessary that it bear more fruit. Certain things have to be taken out of our lives so that we can be more productive. I don't know if you have noticed that but as you mature and get older you realize that there are things that are good and fine and fun to do that we all enjoy doing. At some time it is a question - is it more productive for my spiritual life for me to do this or to be in Bible class. When we start realizing that it is more important to be in Bible class because we have to learn to think biblically and doctrine needs to be our way of thought that we have to let a lot of good, fun and fine things go because they are no longer productive toward the end result of spiritual maturity. That is part of the pruning process.

 

In verse 8 we read of the third kind of branch, the non-abiding branch. Jesus says... 

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:8 but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

 

It is a third class condition emphasizing volition. Maybe you will, maybe you won't. You might abide but you might not.

 

NKJ John 15:6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

 

This is what would happen in the fall pruning. It was a more radical pruning. So this refers to a non-fruiting branch that comes under divine discipline. So there are three types of branches. The non-fruiting branch which is a young believer who is not mature enough to produce fruit yet and then the fruit bearing branches which are maturing believers who produce more and more fruit and then the non-abiding branches which are pruned or discarded as useless. That's divine discipline or the sin unto death in the life of the believer. 

 

The goal we see here is fruit production. That's the goal. The goal is not learning doctrine. That is only a means unto an end. The goal is not accumulating a vast library of theological works. It is not collecting a vast technical theological vocabulary. That is all good and fine, but it is a means to an end. The end is fruit production defined in terms of character in Galatians 5:22-23 and in other passages defined in terms of spiritual service or Christian service. 

 

In John 15:8 we read…

 

NKJ John 15:8 "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

 

Notice the word. I put the Greek in there.  Become is the Greek verb ginomai. It is not as the NJK translates it, you will be like it is a static verb. 

 

NAS translates it… 

 

NAS John 15:8 "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

 

There is a theological agenda behind that. You will prove you are a real disciple if you abide. If you don't abide you wouldn't prove. That is a little lordship slip in there. Actually the verb is ginomai which doesn't mean to prove at all. It doesn't mean to demonstrate. It doesn't mean test. That would be some form of dokimazo or that word group. It is ginomai which is a word that means to come into existence. It means to be, to happen, to come into existence that was not formally in existence. For example you see this usage of this word in John 1. You have basically three what they call existential verbs in Greek. That means that these are verbs of existence. He Is. That means that He exists. You have eimi, ginomai and huparcho. These three verbs all have the concept of he exists, he is, it happens, or it comes into existence. 

 

So we read …

 

NKJ John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

 

All through John 1:1-4 the verb is the Greek word eimi in the imperfect tense. Then when you come to John 1:5 it says…

 

NKJ John 1:5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

 

In the English it is the same verb that you had the first four verses but it shifts in the Greek from eimi to ginomai. You see Jesus always was. There never was a time that He didn't exist. But when you get to verse 5 "there came a man named John," it is ginomai. He came into existence. There became. Something that was not became. You have these little nuances that show up in the Greek that are very important to pay attention to. What Jesus is saying here in John 15:8 is that when we bear much fruit, we become disciples. 

 

There is a lot of debate. You have run into it before. Maybe some of you are confused about it. There are people who think that a disciple is the same thing as a believer. The word disciple is the Greek word mathetes which simply means to be a learner, to be a student. You could have students or learners or followers of a teacher or a rabbi that in the case of Jesus were not necessarily believers. Judas was a disciple, but he wasn't a believer. Then you have those who are true disciples who are truly implementing the teaching of Jesus. These are believers who are growing and advancing in their spiritual life. That is what is being illustrated here by the branch that abides in Him. So the second point of review is that the goal is fruit production, which glorifies God. If you come from a Presbyterian background and you remember the Westminster Confession of Faith the first question is - what is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God forever. That is the chief purpose of man. This comes out of John 15:8. That is our purpose – to glorify God. We glorify Him by growing to spiritual maturity. 

 

Then third we have the condition for fruit production. That is abiding in Christ. That is the sole and necessary condition to bear fruit. Jesus said…

 

NKJ John 15:7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

 

 I want you to notice a couple of things here. First of all (this is the fourth point) what we learn by looking at the verse is that abiding is not simply a positional reality or an abstract doctrine. When we think about Paul's use of "in Christ" and positional truth, that is positional. That is more abstract. That has to do with an eternal reality based on the fact that we have received the imputation of divine righteousness and we are justified and identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. But that is not experiential and it is not relational. When we come to a word like abiding, it is a word that is rich with personal intimacy. That's what fellowship is all about – personal intimacy. It is intimacy. It is not just having a right relationship with someone because there is nothing that creates friction between you and the other person. But there are a lot of folks like that we know. There is nothing negative going on in our relationship. We know them. We are friendly with them. We see folks at church. We see them two or three times a week. We talk to them. We chat with them. There is nothing negative going on between us, but there is no intimacy there. There is no really rich fellowship there. That is what I think happens with a lot of believers. They have a knowledge of Jesus Christ and a lot of doctrine but there is almost this arm's length relationship there. They are in fellowship in the sense that they confess their sins and there is no sin that abridging that relationship, that hinders the relationship but on the other hand there is not a very deep relationship. There is not a lot of intimacy there and mutual dependence. We get that in John 15:7. 

 

NKJ John 15:7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

 

That is one way, from the believer to Christ; but then there is a reciprocal aspect to that. 

 

and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire,

 

There is communication that is going on between the abiding believer and His Lord. There is that ongoing prayer life. It is a two-way road. 

The words of the Lord are being communicated, learned, studied and absorbed from the Scripture. That's the communication of God to us.  Then on the other side there is that reciprocity where we respond in prayer. That is the communication that is going on between Christ and the believer. Abiding is a not a positional reality, abstract doctrine. It is manifest in an ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ. It is indicated through prayer. It is an intimacy which builds eventually to occupation with Christ. The more we study the Word – initially in spiritual growth it is like studying a book. The more you study the Word the more you begin to build the God and the Lord who are behind the Word and you begin to build that relationship and as that relationship develops then what Christ thinks of what we think, say, and do becomes more meaningful. That is called occupation with Christ. So that as we think about that relationship with the Lord His love for us is a motivational feature in our life. I think they trivialize that. I hate the fact that they trivialize this concept and stuck it on T-shirts and bumper stickers and things like that. It's WWJD (what would Jesus do). 

 

I remember years ago a young couple, friends of mine got married. They were on their honeymoon. They had a little disagreement. You had to hear the wife tell the story. They had a little disagreement. She came out of the bathroom and she looked at him. He was lying on the bed his hands folded and his eyes closed. 

 

She said, "What are you doing?"

 

"I am thinking about how Jesus would handle this." 

 

You had to know the guy. He was serious. Sometimes it comes across as pious. But that is what occupation with Christ is. 

 

"How would the Lord want me to handle this situation? How do I apply doctrine here so that I take the thinking of the mind of Christ and apply this to the situation?"

 

That is a result of developing a relationship with the Lord where His values and His thinking and His will affect and how we make decisions and how we conduct our lives. 

 

The third point was the condition for fruit production is abiding in Christ.  

 

The fourth point was that positional reality abstract doctrine.

 

The fifth point is what we learn from this is that abiding is not some subjective feeling or some psychological state of mind. Some people get into that trap because when they start thinking about a relationship coming out of the cosmic system in which we live and the culture in which we live where everything is so darn subjective and emotional and touchy feely, that they only way that they think they can evaluate a relationship is they have all of this subjective touchy feely garbage going on. The Lord was aware that is a problem for a lot of people. So He gave objective qualifiers in this context. That abiding is not just a psychological state. It's not getting worked up into some sort of subjective idea of how I feel about Jesus, which is what a lot of Christians do. They go out and create their own little subjective idol in their mind about whom and what Jesus is and then they fall in love with it. It is just another form of mysticism and idolatry. What we see in this passage is abiding and that relationship that personal intimate relationship with Jesus is grounded in doctrine. It is my words abiding in you. There are objective boundaries, borders, qualifiers based on doctrine.   

 

That leads to the sixth point. This relationship is not based on simply subjective impressions that we have "a closer walk with thee" as the hymn says but that there are objective barometers, objective markers that we can go to that tell us if we are abiding and if there is an ongoing relationship. This comes up in John 15:10. 

 

NKJ John 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

 

Earlier in John 14 Jesus said,

 

NKJ John 14:15 " If you love Me, keep My commandments.

 

You see the same thing repeated by John in 1 John. Love for the Lord is based on keeping His commandments. About 4 or 5 times in the book of Deuteronomy we have the same message that God tells Israel that, "if you love Me, you will keep My statutes and ordinances." So from the Old Testament through the New Testament love for God is not measured by some sort of interior psychological, subjective warm fuzzies that we get singing a lot of choruses about how much I love Jesus. It is measured by what we do with the doctrine that we learn – if you keep my commandments. This implies that you have to know what the commandments are. In order to know what the commands are you have to spend some time not only reading your Bible but in Bible class so you can learn what those commandments are. You have to study. You have to understand that. 

 

There is a pattern that is given here. First of all abiding in Christ is marked by obedience to His commandments. That's how we can measure it. 

 

The second thing to observe here is that "the commandments" does not refer to the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are simply (or as it was called in the Hebrew the Ten Words) simply the preface for the Mosaic Covenant. It is similar to the prelude of our Constitution. It was an opening summation of the principles that under girded all of the different case laws that are set forth in the Mosaic Commandments. The Mosaic Law ended at the cross - Romans 10. Christ is the end of the law. The Ten Commandments or the Mosaic Law were just one manifestation of the character of God and His revelation of His character given to man. It didn't make any of those things wrong or sinful. Man did not have to wait for a period of some 2,500 years after creation (from about 4,000 BC to 1,400 BC) to find out that murder was wrong. He found that out as soon as Cain killed Abel. He didn't have to wait 2,500 years to find out that adultery was wrong. He didn't have to wait 2,500 years to find out that idolatry was wrong. These things had been wrong from the beginning. The Ten Commandments were part of a specific document, a covenant, which is a contract between God and the nation Israel. It never applied to anybody else. No Gentile nations were ever judged on the basis of any specific violation of the Mosaic Covenant. You go through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the other prophets and they give their condemnations of the Edom, Moab the Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, and the Egyptians. They are never held to account for anything that is specifically related to the Mosaic Covenant. Not once. They are held to accountable because of idolatry. That is not restricted to the Mosaic Covenant. They are held accountable for anti-Semitism. That is the flip side of the Abrahamic Covenant

 

NKJ Genesis 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

 

The Ten Commandments had nothing to do with salvation or even the spiritual life of the nation. It was part of their civil life which of course was a theocracy so it is not a secular thing like we think of.  That is not what Jesus is talking about. The term "commandments" refers to all of the instructions that are contained in the Scripture that apply to the believer's life. Primarily for us that is going to be Church Age material. This involves both prescriptive commands, positive commands of things to do such as …

 

NKJ 1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray without ceasing,

 

NKJ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

You can go through chapter through chapter after chapter in the Bible and you find all of these things, prescription of things that should characterize the life of the believer – walking in the spirit, giving. All of these various things are all part of the believer's life. That is the positive prescriptions. 

 

Then we have the proscriptions – the things that are prohibited. For example (I thought I would stick in the same passage)…

 

NKJ 1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit.

 

So you have positives and negatives. All of these mandates establish the boundaries of the spiritual life. As long as we are applying the positive and avoiding the negative we are in bounds. We are in fellowship. We are walking by the Spirit. But when we violate any of these, then we are out of bounds and we are quenching the Spirit. We are out of fellowship, in carnality, operating on the sin nature.  

 

So Jesus says, "If you keep My commandments.…

 

It is just a matter of, are you applying the word? When you are applying the Word in fellowship then…

 

NKJ John 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

 

Isn't it great? He doesn't leave us without a concrete example. He gives us a concrete example. We have the perfect impeccable God Man to give us the example of what it means to walk in love. So we don't have any questions about what that means  - to abide in the love of the Father. The relationship that we have has clear objective markers so that we can evaluate our life under the objectivity of Scripture and know whether or not we have an ongoing relationship with the Father or not so that we can know whether or not we are abiding in Christ, whether we are staying in fellowship. It doesn't have any thing to do with how we feel. It doesn't have anything to do with our emotions. It has to do with the objective realities of the Word of God. That doesn't mean that emotions don't enter in because we are human beings. We have emotions and they do. But they are not the criteria. They are not the basis for evaluating things.

 

The overriding mandate (this would be point number seven) of all these mandates is given in John 15:12. 

 

NKJ John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

 

Notice Jesus consistently sets Himself up as the pattern or example. We are to abide in His love just as He abided in the Father's love. We are to love one another as He loved us. The more you think about that the more convicting that becomes because He is getting on the verge, that very night in just an hour or so He is going to be arrested in Gethsemane. Then He is going to be taken off and He is beaten and tortured and then He is going to be put on the cross the next day. This is His demonstration of love. We go back to John 3:16.

 

 John 3:16 is usually wrongly translated in most passages where it says, "For God so loved the world."  People get the idea that "so" is the idea that God loved the world so much. But that is not what the Greek means. The Greek starts off adverb houtos which means…

 

God loved the world in this manner. This is how God loved the world. He gave His unique son that who so ever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

 

So we do see an element in salvation of the demonstration of what love is. In fact Jesus is going to say in this very passage that …

 

NKJ John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.

 

So this is an example, an illustration of what that divine love is all about. It is an unconditional love because it is not conditioned on the behavior, attitudes, or character qualities of the object of that love. When God is looking at us Romans 5:8…

 

NKJ Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

 We were dirty, rotten, obnoxious, stinking, rebellious sinners – unrighteous. God sent His Son to die for us. Christ died as our substitute. It didn't have anything to do with our attractiveness. It had everything to do with His person and His character. 

 

Jesus summarizes in verse 17 this basic command. It is the umbrella command for understanding everything. It is the law of love.

 

NKJ John 15:17 "These things I command you, that you love one another. 

 

This is at the end of what I would call a bracket. The opening part of the bracket is at the beginning of this discourse when they are still in the Upper Room. Turn back a couple of chapters to John 13. As they go out from the Upper Room, Jesus says to them….

 

NKJ John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

 

If you go back into the Old Testament to Leviticus 19:18, you find that there is a similar command; but it is not the same. I want you to listen to the difference. In the Old Testament the command of the Mosaic Law was that you are to love your neighbor as yourself. 

 

The object of that love is any person (as we come to learn from Scripture) that comes into your sphere of operation, your sphere of life. That is your neighbor. That is what the parable of the Good Samaritan is all about. You are to love your neighbor. That person can be a loser. He can be a wonderful person. He could be a believer or an unbeliever. It doesn't matter. It is just some person who comes into the periphery of your life. You are to love them how? What is the standard? As you love yourself. The assumption is that every person loves himself. 

 

"Oh, wait a minute. I know people who have really bad self images."

 

The only reason you have a bad self image is because you love yourself so much. You have disappointed yourself. So you feel bad about yourself now because you haven't lived up to your high expectations. Everybody loves themselves. That is what Paul says in Ephesians 5…

 

NKJ Ephesians 5:29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

 

What is behind the hating of himself is a love for themselves, an over bloated distorted love for self. God understood that. The best He could do to communicate this in the Old Testament was "to love your neighbor as yourself". In other words, quit being selfish and put them first. 

 

Jesus though, (after you have the incarnate God who demonstrates love) comes along. And notice how He ups the ante in the new commandment. It is not the same commandment. 

 

He says, "That you love one another." 

 

The "one another" here does not include unbelievers. This is specifically directed to other believers. "One another" throughout the Scriptures always has to do with reciprocity within the body of Christ. We are to pray for one another. We are to encourage one another. We are to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. All of this happens within the body of Christ. So we are to love one another how? By having everybody stand up and turn around tell the person behind you how much you love them and give them a big old hug before church? That used to drive me nuts. It still does. I have to put up with that. I go a lot of places where they do that. You have to have good manners and a little poise and go along with the flow because you can't make an issue out of it in the midst of the church. You have to understand what battles you can win and when you can win them and when you should win them. That's not what this is talking about. 

 

Jesus has been demonstrating that. The object of love is no longer just any person. It is directed towards other believers on the one hand. 

Furthermore the model, the standard, the example is not how your love yourself, it is how Christ loved you. It went from something that was pretty difficult to do to something that is impossible to do unless it's empowered by God the Holy Spirit. The spiritual life and developing this kind of love is not something you can do by pulling yourself up by your spiritual bootstraps. It doesn't happen. It has to be a production from the Holy Spirit. We are reminded that over in Galatians 5:22-23… 

 

NKJ Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

 

NKJ Galatians 5:23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

 

The first fruit of the Spirit is love. Now we are going to go to Galatians 15, probably next week. There is a reason in the context that love is the first thing mentioned there. If you go back to Galatians 5:14 Paul quotes Leviticus 19:18.

 

NKJ Leviticus 19:18 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

 

Then two verses later he says you are to walk by means of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit is love. That is what he starts talking about - love. That is the importance there – love for one another. Then Jesus goes on to say…

 

NKJ John 13:35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

 

You don't get there the second week you are a Christian. You don't get the second year you are a Christian. This is something that develops over time as a result of spiritual growth to learn how to love one another as Christ loved you. That becomes the foundational standard for all Christian relationships. The most fundamental of which is within the family and the marriage. How are husbands to love their wives? As Christ loves the church. So husbands, that means as part of your job as a husband is to spend a lot of time thinking about how Christ loved the church so you can figure out who your role model is and how He sets the standard your responsibilities as a husband. 

 

Then there is a flip side of that. The wives don't get off. The wives are to submit to their husbands as they do to the Lord. So that still becomes the standard. Notice - God consistently gives us objective standards that have nothing to do with culture, that have nothing to do with people. 

 

He isn't pointing out and saying, "See, Bill and Mary have a really good marriage. You have to do things like they do things."

 

He gives us this rock solid objective standard that is in the person of Christ and exemplified on the cross. So how is somebody going to know looking at you without you saying anything that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ? It is going to be by love for one another as Christ loved the church. So we have to remember all of the factors that go into divine love and get rid of all the garbage that the word brings with it from our own culture. We see in terms of where we have gone with this that the seventh point was the overriding mandate – if we are to abide we are to keep His commandments. The overriding mandate is given in John 15:12. It is exemplified in John 15:34-5 and then John 15:17.

 

Jesus summarizes. ..

 

NKJ John 15:17 "These things I command you, that you love one another.

 

So everything that is given there between the time they leave the Upper Room and Jesus gives them this new commandment, everything that is going on in their conversation and his introduction when He talks about the Father in chapter 14 He talks about prayer He talks about the indwelling of the Father and the Son in the believer. All of these have to do with being able to fulfill the mandate of divine love. The key is abiding in Christ because abiding in Christ produces fruit. Now just to give you a preview of coming attractions what we see here in John 15 is that the sole and necessary condition for producing fruit is abiding in Christ in the context of John 15. Then we go over to Galatians 5 and Paul says that the sole and necessary condition to produce the fruit of the Spirit is to walk by the Spirit. Then that tells us that walking in the Spirit and abiding with Christ are two different ways of talking about the same thing. There are two or three other ways the Scripture uses to define that ongoing relationship that the believer has with the Lord that is necessary in order to produce fruit. 

 

Before we jump over to Galatians 5, I want to go to one other passage in the New Testament that talks about fruit production. That is in Luke 8. I have chosen the Luke passage. I think it is a little clearer than the Matthew 13 passage. Luke 8 is the parable of the sower. 

 

A parable is a fictitious story that is designed to draw out certain parallels to a doctrinal truth and to illustrate it through common events in real life. It is the idea of telling a story. It has similarities to a fable or a morality play, things of that nature. It is not an actual historical real situation. But it is based on things that happen in every day life so that people can draw a connection and parallel between two things. That is actually what the word parable means - something that comes along side. So it is a type of analogy. In Luke 8:1-15 we have the parable of the sower. We are not left to try to figure out once again what this is talking about - what the different elements are talking about - like people think today that you just kind of read this and then you go and contemplate your navel off in a closet somewhere and have a blinding flash of insight as to what this means and then you bring in this new interpretation. 

 

Jesus starts off in verse 4…

 

NKJ Luke 8:4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable:

 

NKJ Luke 8:5 "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it.

 

People can relate to this because back in those days you would put the seed out by hand and there would be a path between the rows that you were planting. That is what it talks about. I think some translations say that it fell by the road. We are not talking about going down the road here.  It is the path. It is hodos. It means the way. It can mean a road, a path. It can mean a number of things. It is that walkway between the rows of plants in the field. Some falls on the more solid path between the rows. It is trampled down because that is where the workers walk. The birds of the air come and devour it. 

 

NKJ Luke 8:6 "Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.

 

That is the second kind. It fell on rocky soil. Then the third kind of soil.

 

NKJ Luke 8:7 "And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.

 

So that is the third kind. You have what falls on the hard soil, what falls on the rocky soil and what falls among the thorns. Then the fourth…

 

NKJ Luke 8:8 "But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold." When He had said these things He cried, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

 

The disciples don't know what it means so they ask Him to explain.

 

 NKJ Luke 8:9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, "What does this parable mean?"

 

In verse 10 He says…

 

NKJ Luke 8:10 And He said, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that 'Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.'

 

NKJ Luke 8:11 " Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

 

Obviously the sower is the messenger, the one who spreads the Word of God – evangelist, pastor, or someone who is spreading the Word of God.

 

He says in verse 12…

 

NKJ Luke 8:12 "Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

 

So it is very clear that this first one is not saved. He doesn't believe. He isn't saved. It is very clear. So they hear the Word but they are deceived and blinded.  

 

NKJ 2 Corinthians 4:4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

 

Then we come to the second category in verse 6. Let's compare the original and the explanation.

 

NKJ Luke 8:6 "Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.

 

Now I want you to notice a couple of things here. In the illustration there is germination. That means there is life; there is growth. It is not dead like the first one. There is germination and growth, which means there is life. But the problem is that there is nothing that sustains it. In the interpretation the Lord says... 

 

NKJ Luke 8:13 "But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.

 

Then we have the word dechomai that is a synonym for lambanoLambano is used in John 1:12.

 

NKJ John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

 

Dechomai is used in other passages like in James 1:17 where it talks about receiving the word which is able to save your life. This is clearly an indication of reception and acceptance of the Word. It is even defined in context as belief. 

 

NKJ James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

 

They are believers. They fall away, but they are believers. We studied this already in our study of Hebrews 6. There is nothing in the Scripture that says that if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you have to believe all of your life. Believers can fall into temptation, testing and doubt and give up but they are still saved.

 

NKJ Luke 8:13 "But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.

 

They don't produce fruit. There is life there. There is germination. It begins to grow, but it doesn't produce fruit. That is why I have emphasized this point the last couple of weeks. There is a big difference between plant growth and plant fruit. It takes 80, 90, 100, or 120 days for plants to produce fruit. In between there is a tremendous amount of growth, which indicates life. When that seed germinates and puts out a shoot it is life. There is regeneration here. But because there is no nourishment or rejection of nourishment there is no feeding from the Word of God. 

There is no fruit. What did Jesus say in John 15?

 

NKJ John 15:7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

 

Then you will produce much fruit. But that is not what is happening here.

 

Then we come to the third soil.

 

NKJ Luke 8:7 "And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.

 

We have gone through the hard soil – the unbeliever. The second category is the believer who has a little growth. The third category is some fell among the thorns. The thorns sprang up with it and choked it. Once again, choking involves something that is already growing. There is already life. It indicates that. But that's not enough to press the interpretation. Let's look at verse 14.  In verse 14 we read…

 

NKJ Luke 8:14 "Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

 

There is fruit there. It is like those tomato plants that you put in at the beginning of August. Then we get some freak early freeze about the middle of October so it never gets to maturity. So we take those green tomatoes and we fry them up and have fried green tomatoes. You have to know all about country to know about that. So we have life here. There is a lot of growth here. It's not just a little bit of growth like you had in the one before. But there is a lot of growth. There are buds. There is fruit but it doesn't come to maturity. No fruit is brought to maturity. 

Why? Because there is a distraction. The cares and details of life get in the way. They get distracted by work. They get distracted by family. They get distracted by hobbies and pleasures and all kinds of things in life rather than keeping their priorities straight on the Word of God. 

 

The other day I heard this sermon. I am not going to tell you where I heard the sermon. It wasn't bad. The guy who was preaching was a graduate of a good biblically sound seminary. He is probably good and biblically sound. He talked about your greatest priority needed to be relationships. That is so typical today. 

 

I thought, "Only after the Word of God and the application of the Word of God."  

 

I couldn't believe he just slipped right by that but it is so typical today. They emphasize relationships. There was an article on the cover of the Wall Street Journal about a week ago Tuesday about how the purpose driven phenomenon is splitting churches left and right across the country. There are huge worships wars that are going on around the world between churches because the younger people influenced by the baby boomers (of course we know how anti-authority and rebellious they were) who brought in all of this Christian rock and praise and worship music and everything else going back to the Jesus movement of the 60's. So churches are splitting left and right. The big popular thing today is this whole purpose driven movement – the church growth movement. This article pointed out that what is standard in all of these kinds of churches is that 90% of the messages have to do with relationships, marriage and family and money management. It doesn't have anything to do with doctrine or salvation or any of those things because this is what brings people in because these are the things they are facing in life.   

 

So we have gotten away from doctrine - doctrine is not important. But doctrine is what provides nourishment. It is the Word of God taught in its entirety produces the nutrients, the nourishment that is need to produce growth. So when you get distracted and you don't spend time studying the Word and applying the Word, then you will end up like the seed on thorny ground. 

 

Then we come to the fourth one.

 

NKJ Luke 8:8 "But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold." When He had said these things He cried, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

 

If you look at the parallel in Mathew 13 it talks about twenty fold, thirty fold, and a hundred fold. Believers will produce fruit in different proportions. Not everybody is the same because not everybody has the same gifts. Not everybody has the same ability to take in the Word. Not everybody applies the Word as much. But it is a mature believer that produces fruit. That's the emphasis on this parable. It is actually the parable of the soils because what he is talking about are the different kinds of response there will be to the message of the gospel. Some will reject it. Then there are three different kinds of response among believers – those who have some spiritual growth, just a little bit. Some have a little bit more, but never see fruit brought to maturity. And then those who are truly concerned about mature spiritual fruit. 

 

That brings us up to where I want to get into the next section. That is connecting up the filling of the Spirit with walking by the Spirit - Ephesians 5 and Galatians 5. We will come to that next week.   

 

Let's bow our heads and close in prayer.