John 15 is part of Christ’s final instructions to the disciples, and to the believers who would follow them (the church). In John 15:2, Jesus said,
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He (the Father) takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Is God pruning you? Is He directing you to cut things out of your life? Does He chastise (discipline) you and correct you? And most importantly, do you love His correction and chastisement; do you receive it and learn from it?
If He is not pruning you, if you are not dying to the old sin nature, then you are not bearing fruit, either. Jesus told us that if you are starting to bear fruit, then God WILL start pruning away that which is not fruitful. In that manner, the fruit will increase.
Gardening tip: Do you want a bumper crop of tomatoes. The trick is, when the first couple branches of the tomato plant start flowering, then prune most of the other branches. The tomato plant only needs a few green leaves to provide for its energy needs. When you prune back the branches that only have leaves, suddenly the other branches will begin producing more flowers, and more fruit.
It is God’s will that we bear much fruit, just as with a natural gardener (John 15:5). He WANTS you to be fruitful. He wants you to grow to a mature faith in Him. But your faith will remain immature, at best, if you don’t let Him prune you, let Him direct you what needs to be cut out of your life and practice.
The next key to bearing fruit is to abide in Him (John 15:4). This means to be where He is at, not necessarily where you think you should be at. For example, if God wants to start cutting away lust, don’t go working on jealousy instead. You must abide in Him, live in Him. He is the Master Gardener, and you are the branch. Jesus is the vine, from which we receive the life to bear fruit. The Father is the one who prunes, and He knows which branch needs to be pruned, and when.
Several times, Scripture tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. You must bear fruit – your soul depends upon it. Jesus clearly warned above that “any branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away.” A few verses later, Jesus clarified (v. 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.”
Notice, He said the branch is taken away. In context, He explained that YOU are the branch. If we do not abide in Him, and if we do not bear fruit, we are in danger of hell. This is not speaking of judgment day, in which our works of wood, hay, and stubble will be burned up. In that passage, it specifically says our works will be burned, but we will be saved – though as if through fire.
No. In this passage, Jesus says that the branch, the person, will be taken away, withered, and burned in the fire.
So, what is fruit. Is it putting away sin? No, that is pruning. When God tells us to work on putting to death a certain area of our nature, He is pruning us.
Fruitfulness is the changed life that results. In context, Jesus talks a lot about loving others as He loved us. Other fruits include joy, peace, longsuffering, faithfulness, and more. The things He cuts away may look like they are producing life, but there is no fruit. And face it, you can’t eat tomato plant leaves – they are actually poisonous. It is the fruit of the plant we want to eat.