• Tony Birkhead

BHAG 2018 - Week 2



Discipleship Is Answered by Fruit, More Fruit and Much Fruit!

INTRODUCTION

When we often look at the subject of fruit, we look at are we sharing Jesus with others? Do we know Jesus? Do we know the gospel and do we see results of the gospel in our lives? Sharing the gospel is for sure a part of what fruit is, but there is much more to see here. The gospel has power in of itself.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (John 15:7-14)

1. What are some of your favorite things to do that aren’t necessarily productive? Why do you enjoy those things?

2. What actions or activities make you feel the most productive and why?

With little time remaining on earth, Jesus had important words for His disciples about living a productive life. He promised that He would enable those who abide in (or stay committed to and in communication with) Him to bear much fruit. Also, Jesus declared that the result of bearing fruit is glory to God. Jesus makes it clear to His disciples that they have been chosen to bear fruit in the future. To do this, He says, they must abide in Him. Apart from Him, they are able to do nothing.

3. What does it look like to remain in Christ?

4. What is the link between obedience and prayer (v. 7; see also John 14:13-14)?

Verse 7 says that a disciple of Christ remains in conversation with Christ through the Word and prayer. By living in Christ and by having His teachings remain in them, believers will pray according to His will. Such prayers always produce positive results that glorify the Father. Producing abundant spiritual fruit demonstrates that believers are Jesus’ genuine disciples.

5. How can believers bring glory to God, according to this passage?

Producing spiritual fruit is joyful, but it comes as the result of sacrifice—of pruning and abiding and seeking the heart of God. In this way, it should lead us to follow the example of Christ, who “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,” as Hebrews 12:2 tells us, “and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

6. What sacrifice do you need to make in order to bear more fruit?

7. What is the evidence that Jesus’ disciples remain in His love? What does your obedience or lack of it reveal about your love for Christ?

Jesus demonstrated His abiding in the Father’s love by obeying God’s commands. Jesus did not consider God’s commands to be burdensome. He obeyed out of love for the Father. Similarly, our obedience is a characteristic of abiding in His love. The command to abide in Christ is a life-changing one—the Son of God Himself not only allows us to draw near to Him, He commands it. And He promises that once we are walking connected closely to Him, our prayer will be powerful, our actions will have impact, and our joy will be full.

8. How do you define joy? What would Jesus’ disciples have learned from Him about joy?

9. How has Christ made your joy complete?

10. How would you sum up what it means to love one another as Christ loved you?

11. What does love for others motivate you to do on their behalf?

MOVING FORWARD

Let’s identify how these verses can apply directly to our lives…

  • Why is it imperative that we allow Jesus to live in and work through us? What happens when Christians don’t leave room for Him to work?

  • What can you do to more closely and consistently abide in Christ? How can we as a group intentionally help one another with this effort?

  • What are some specific things we can ask God to accomplish through us? What step might He want us to take to accomplish this?

COMMENTARY

John 15:7-14

As Jesus continued to instruct His disciples the night before His crucifixion, He made use of vivid and familiar imagery. The analogy of a vineyard served as the vehicle for His teaching. In the analogy Jesus identified His Father as the vine grower, Himself as the vine, and His disciples as the branches that abide in Him and are pruned to enable them to bear more fruit. Jesus added a specific dimension to the mutual abiding of the Christian life (v. 7). He set forth the condition that His words abide in believers. On the basis of this condition, He made the promise of fruitful praying. An abiding life is an obedient life. My words abide in you points to a willing acceptance of Jesus’ authority as expressed through His teachings and commands. Words that remain ultimately become words that are obeyed. Whatever you wish defines the possible agenda of a believer’s praying. The agenda is unlimited. Any concern is a proper subject for prayer. We can pray for anything that Jesus desires and for which He would ask the Father.When followers of Jesus bear much fruit, God receives glory. Since believers cannot bear fruit of themselves but only by means of Christ’s indwelling life, their fruitfulness is a manifestation of divine life. It thus glorifies God and serves as evidence of genuine, vital discipleship. Next Jesus turned to a declaration of His love for His disciples. On the basis of His declared love, Jesus urged the disciples to abide in my love. He wanted them to live in the consciousness of being loved— rejoicing in its fact, depending on its undergirding, being careful not to betray it, and being faithful to all that delights it. That Jesus gave such a command suggests some can live without being mindful of Christ’s love for them. Thereby they miss out on the close fellowship between Jesus and His followers and on the obedience and joy that flow from it (vv. 8-9).Jesus moved from the need to live in awareness of His love to the need to obey His commands (vv. 10-11). Remaining is dependent on obeying. Abide in carries the connotation of living in the awareness and enjoyment of divine love. Jesus then moved to teaching about joy. Wholehearted obedience leads to full-hearted joy. “I have told you this” refers to Jesus’ promise in verse 10 that obedience to His commands would lead to an awareness of living in His love. Jesus then explained further the desired outcome: “that my joy may be in you.” Jesus probably meant He would impart to them the kind of joy He had found through His obedience to the Father (15:10). The disciples would be the recipients of joy that Jesus gave them through His indwelling presence. The disciples gained a measure of joy through obedience to Jesus’ commands, and to that would be added the joy that came from Jesus.The “commands” to be obeyed (15:10) are reduced in this verse to a single command. We are to love each other and to do it in the way and to the degree that Jesus loves, namely, as I have loved you. Jesus’ love for His followers sets the standard for His followers’ love for one another and furnishes the motivation for practicing mutual love. Having set His love as the standard for the disciples’ mutual love, Jesus described the highest manifestation of love. Willingness to lay down one’s life for others is the supreme test of love. Jesus’ saying no doubt referred primarily to His death as proof of His love for the disciples (“as I have loved you,” v. 12). Having mentioned “friends” as the ones for whom love prompts the giving of oneself, Jesus gave the qualification for people being His friends. The “if” clause in verse 14—you are my friends if—identifies the singular requirement for being His friend: doing “what I command.”

#remain #love #fruit #discipleship

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