A few weeks ago we began a discussion on God’s definition of growth according to Jesus words in the gospel of John.
John 15:1-8 (NKJV) “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 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. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 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. 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. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
In these first eight verses Jesus describes branches in Him which are fruitful and branches in Him which are not fruitful. He relays to us the end of those branches; the fruitful to be pruned and the unfruitful to be cut off and cast into the fire. The only difference between the two branches is whether they abide in Christ or not. In simple speak, those who maintain and deepen their dependence on Christ are the fruitful, those who do not are unfruitful. Our call in the church is to deepen our connection to Christ (our attachment to the Vine) through prayer and obedience that arises from a heart of love being led by the Holy Spirit. This is not to do great feats for Christ with our Christian creativity, but to wait on Him, observing where he is at work and what He is inviting us to join Him in.
When we are growing in this we will certainly bear fruit. The fruit that we bear is how the world can “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8). I will share more on that in a while, but let’s dive into the first of the five fruits of abiding Jesus describes.
#1 THE FRUIT OF ADOPTIVE LOVE
In John 15:9 Jesus declared “As the Father loved Me, so also I have loved you; abide in my love”. It is no secret that the Father loved the Son. From the accounts of Jesus baptism and the other times that the Father spoke openly, we know Jesus is His “Beloved Son”. Colossians 1:13 declares it is by Jesus blood we have been delivered from the domain of darkness and are being translated into the kingdom of the Son the Father loves”. From Psalm 2 where we read in verse 7 “Today you are my Son, I have begotten you” we also read in vs. 12, as if the Father is imploring the wicked kings of the earth “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way”. In John 10:17 we find Jesus is loved by the Father because He lays down His life for the sheep and we see the affirmation of this love in Philippians 2:5-10; where we find Jesus humbling himself to the point of death, even the death of the cross; whereby the Father has given Him THE Name above every name. The Father loves the Son.
In order to understand how we gain this “adoptive love” as fruit we must first explore a little further how this love was displayed in relation to Jesus, for He loves us as He was loved.
a. His Father Perfectly Ordered His Steps. In Psalm 37:23 we read a familiar line, which is often quoted or remembered when we need wisdom to move forward or are facing difficulty... “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord”. Although we can conjecture about the Hebrew word for “good”, the context more than suggests this is referring to a righteous man. Jesus was the only perfectly righteous man and His steps were perfectly ordered by the Lord, as we see from the leading of the Holy Spirit in His life. In John 4 we found that He “needed” to go through Samaria. This was by the Father’s ordering and the Holy Spirit’s leading (as Jesus Himself said He did nothing, said nothing His was not instructed to do by the Spirit of God). What of the account of Lazarus being raised from the dead, where Jesus waited until the perfect moment, having His steps ordered by the LORD. Even His death “before the foundation of the world” was orchestrated step by step by the Father’s direction. We also find that in the O.T. God was referring to this ordering of His steps…
Isaiah 50:4-5 (NKJV) “The Lord GOD has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not rebellious, Nor did I turn away.
As we consider how the Father loved Jesus, we can in turn understand how we are loved in a similar manner, being that we are redeemed through Jesus blood. As we submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit we are promised not only that He will never leave forsake us, but that the same Comforter will teach us and lead us (John 14:26; I John 2:22,27).
b. His Father Perfectly Protected Him. When considering Jesus life and ministry, He was in danger even from His birth. After He was born, Joseph was instructed in a dream to take the Child to Egypt. When His family migrated back to Israel it fulfilled prophecy (Hosea 11:1). Jesus family had to move to Nazareth, Joseph being warned in a dream (Matthew 2:19-23). He was in danger during His 40 days in the wilderness, the beginning of His ministry and throughout the duration of it (Luke 4:28:29, John 8:59). When tempted in the wilderness Satan tried to tempt Jesus with passage of scripture that was written about Him. That passage is Psalm 91. We find that Jesus lived His entire abiding under the shadow of the Most High. The angels did have charge over Him lest He would dash His foot against a stone. As Jesus was loved by the Father with perfect protection, so we are loved in the same fashion.
As servants of the Lord Jesus we have His inheritance and His heritage, therefore no weapon formed against us shall prosper. We find this provision is guaranteed as we appropriate the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). This of course is a guarantee as long as we abide and obey His commands for love sake. This does not mean that we will never die or avoid all trouble, but does mean that in all situations, nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus. It also means we are more than conquerors, over threat, famine, or any fear of death, as death is the conduit to our most prized blessing… Seeing Jesus face to face. This truth should give us boldness in our faith, even amidst the rising hostility against the saint in America. Even as we see these hostilities look more like legalized persecution of the saints, we can regard As the Father loved Jesus with perfect protection, so Jesus pours that love out upon us.
c. His Father Perfectly Provided With Power. As Jesus had been tempted for 40 days and having gained victory over Satan, His Father provided by sending angels to minister to Him. Although Jesus had body appetites, we understand that it was not the everyday stuff that satisfied those needs. In an interesting interchange with His disciples in John 4 Jesus refuses to eat at their request.
John 4:31-34 (NKJV) In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
Whatever Jesus needed of the Father, out of love, provided. Jesus was led by the Spirit when needing direction, empowered by the Spirit to meet the need of the moment, He was sustained by the presence of the Holy Spirit at all times.
As Jesus was loved by the Father so we are loved by Him in the similar fashion. As followers of Christ, God has promised to supply our needs, if we trust Him and leave off of trying to make it happen ourselves. Jesus supplies our righteousness in salvation. Jesus supplies the power which makes our sanctification possible (Romans 8:11). Jesus promises to supply our need for healing (I Thessalonians 5:23). Jesus provides our hope (I John 3:1-3; I Timothy 1:1). He does this for the sake of His love.
d. His Father Perfectly Testified In Power of His Beloved Son. We have already discussed how Jesus was loved by the Father, in declaring His love for Jesus by audible voice in very public ways. What an affirmation of love, yet the Father more often than not provided that testimony through miracles, signs, wonders and prophetic utterance through Jesus. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that the miracles Jesus did were drawing signs to the people.
In John 11, when Jesus went to raise Lazarus from the grave Jesus prayed a simple prayer “Father, thank You for hearing me. You always hear me. But for the people here that they would know you sent me… Lazarus come forth.” The result nearly set fire to Israel’s religious community. Perhaps the greatest of these testimonies was when Jesus was raised from the dead in fulfillment of prophecy (Psalm 16:11).
This was God’s love poured out on His Son and as it has been the case previously, Jesus loves us as the Father loved Him. We can be sure of similar outpouring to prove the veracity of our message for Christ. We understand that Jesus told us we would do “these things” that He did “and greater”. This was not hyperbole, but something He continued to reiterate, as our faith is just as much a supernatural faith as it is the faith of God’s love.
Matthew 6:6 (NKJV) But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
In Jesus instructions to pray we our reminded of how He prayed and how openly the Father rewarded Him for that focus and intimacy. Jesus open rewards have been recited for 2000 years. As the Father loved Jesus and testified so does our Lord Jesus for us. The early disciples found this out as Mark 16:20 states “And they went out and preached the word everywhere, the Lord working with them, confirming the word with the signs following”. Those signs were casting out demons, speaking with new tongues, healing by the laying on of hands, and divine protection. A cursory reading of the Book of Acts reveals this truth.
A Final Thought. “As the Father loved me, so I have loved you”. What we have just reviewed is how the Father loved Jesus, perfectly. Jesus loves us in the same manner.
Romans 8:15-17 (NKJV) For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
This is perhaps the most wonderful thing about Christ’s love for us, He is literally the manifestation of God the Father’s love for us; a love we were not born naturally able to understand, but born again to receive.
My sister-in-law was adopted. Interestingly not a soul would be able to tell. She is treated as a full heir with her brother and sister. Even the differences in physical appearance are hidden, as she has taken on the family mannerisms, movements and speech patterns. In every way she is truly a child, albeit adopted. When people see her they know who she is and that she was raised well and with distinct privilege.
Maybe it’s time we believers in America begin to behave as we have been born again to be. This fruit of adoptive love, should be seen clearly in our mannerisms, movements and speech. When we are filled with loving actions toward Him and our neighbors, then truly they can taste and see that the LORD is good!