From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled “The Snare of the Fowler”
– C. H. Spurgeon
1834 – 1892
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Please take some time and read What Vine are you Abiding In? (Part 1). In Part 1, we looked at the context and background for our passage John 15:1-11 and Jesus’ teaching regarding the vine and the branches. We also had to face the tough question: “What vine are you abiding in? Jesus, the true vine? Or one that is untrue?
Now, in Part 2, we’ll ask another tough question: “What fruit are you bearing?”
Let’s jump back into our passage from John 15:
John 15:4 “…As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
So, what kind of fruit are you bearing? Are you bearing any fruit at all? Surely you are bearing fruit…its either good fruit or its bad fruit.
The purpose of the branch is to bear fruit. It is completely useless if it does not bear fruit. Notice how, from Part 1, the branches are pruned, cut off, and taken away, but the vine is never pruned or cutoff. There is no other purpose for the branch than to bear fruit. In order to bear fruit the branch must be fully connected to the vine. The branch gets all its sustenance from the vine. All the water and nutrients come from the roots to the vine to the branches in order to bear fruit. If the branch is disconnected or partially connected, it will NOT bear fruit…and we know what happens to that branch.
Jesus mentions “FRUIT” 6 times in this passage, do you think he is serious about it?
Are you abiding in one of these unTRUE vines? One of these FALSE vines described earlier which makes you bear BAD FRUIT? False fruit? What does bad fruit look like? Let’s consider several passages from the Apostle Paul:
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Any of these sound familiar? Recognize any of those fruits in your life? How about these: Continue reading
Your sermon of the week is a great one by R.W. Glenn entitled The Absurdity of Injustice. This evangelistic-minded message from passages in Ecclesiastes is one that you don’t want to miss. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I listened to it twice.
As our family continues down the road, I never cease to be amazed at those who tell us, “Oh, I could never do what you are doing!” Or, they may comment, “Lord bless you, but that type of work is definitely not for me!”
Similar phrases normally revolve around the lack of amenities that are available in Liberia such as no electricity, little to no running water except in Monrovia, very poor roads, and an infrastructure that is probably 100 years behind America.
Yet, each time I hear these type of comments, I remember a quote I once heard that says,
“How much is too much for something or someone you love?”
The reference, as I recall, was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The Lord Jesus Christ, who had need of nothing, laid aside the splendors of glory to come down to a sin-cursed world, took upon Himself human flesh, and became a servant, obedient even to the death of the cross. This was NOT too much for our Savior to do in order that He might redeem to Himself His elect from every tongue, people, and nation.
2000 years have passed since the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth and there are billions who have never heard the gospel even once. Here in the west, we hear it on the radio, see it preached on the television, sit through brief sermonettes supposedly proclaiming the gospel and the glory of Christ, but rarely does anything change either in our hearts or in our lives.
Little more than 100 years ago, here in America, most did not have electricity, and very little running water unless it was hand-pumped. Trains were slow and travel to many parts of the USA was difficult. There was no Starbucks, no Wal-Mart, and no grocery stores lined with enough merchandise valued at what some small countries spend in an entire year on their own economy.
Let me put a little perspective into this last statement. The US Central Intelligence Agency puts Liberia’s GDP at $3.6 billion per year. Wal-Mart has annual sales of more than $370 billion. In other words, the total income of Liberia is just 1/10th of what Americans spend at Wal-Mart alone! This does not include the next top 5: Home Depot, Kroger, Target, Sears, and Costco. These last five stores account for another $340 billion in annual sales.
Does this not startle us? Does it not shock us? What about Starbucks? Annual sales for Starbucks in 2010 was $8.96 billion, which is 2 1/2 times the size of Liberia’s entire GDP!
Now it is no secret to family and friends that I do not like Wal-Mart for a variety of reasons, but I will admit to having had my share of Starbucks $4-5 cup of coffee. The more I consider the poverty around the world, the more it hurts when I take money the Lord has entrusted to my stewardship to buy a drink that is the equivalent of 2-3 days of work for a Liberian brother or sister. Yet I wonder how often our conscience is often soothed while we drink our lattes and iced cappuccinos and maybe even offer a quick prayer that the Lord will bless our Christian brothers overseas.
With this post, I am not advocating the boycott of Wal-Mart or Starbucks. What I am seeking to do is put a little perspective into what is often a mundane existence for us in the West. When our brothers and sisters are in need, I grow more and more convinced that we will give account for what we do with our finances.
So, we go back to the question of “How much is too much for someone or something you love?” Do we easily and glibly rattle off “For God so loved the world” and proclaim that while the gospel is for the world, we cannot be bothered to reach out because we are more interested in spending our funds on that which will gather moth and rust and will eventually decay?
Sundays in many evangelical circles even take this to an additional level. We gather around bagels, donuts, and lattes because without them we won’t draw the same size crowd. While everyone sips their drinks and proclaims how good and awesome God is, souls are slipping into eternity while we ease into Sunday barcoloungers and absent-mindedly throw a few crumpled dollars into the offering plate. As it slips from our fingers, we may even ask the Lord to “bless” our humble offerings and cause the gospel to be spread around the world.
Who are we fooling? What is wrong with us in the West that we can be blessed with so much and yet think that we have a responsibility to give so little? Jesus Christ came and gave of Himself in death – the ultimate sacrifice – so that we might be free from the penalty of death. How much is too much for us to give? Are we willing to do more than give of our finances? Will we give of ourselves?
The phrases often quoted to us are not just fair pictures of the malaise in evangelical churches when it comes to true sacrifice and the cause of missions. It is actually a reflection that maybe even at the base level – sometimes even a Starbucks White Chocolate Raspberry Mocha is too much for the Someone we claim to love.
A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.
As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the word of God, and dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spell-bound for hours each evening.
If I wanted to know about politics, history, or science, he knew it all. He knew about the past, understood the present, and seemingly could predict the future. The pictures he could draw were so life like that I would often laugh or cry as I watched.
He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first football game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars.
The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn’ t seem to mind but sometimes mom would quietly get up while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places and go to her room, read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.
You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house–not from us, from our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four letter words that burned my ears and made dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted. My dad was a teetotaler who didn’t permit alcohol in his home–not even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often.
He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (too much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man-woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.
As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.
More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive. He is not nearly so intriguing to my Dad as he was in those early years. But if I were to walk into my parents home today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.
His name?…..We always just called him…TV
See also The Stranger sermon by Pastor Tim Conway.