Someone once said: ‘Fruit is not borne of activity but of abiding.’ But specifically, what does that mean? How is spiritual fruitfulness realised in the life of a Christ follower? The answer Christ gives is: “Abide in Me and I in you” (John 15:4). Keep yourself attached, closely attached to the vine. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He that abides in He, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Everything that you try to do will come to nothing unless you do it through a conscious, abiding dependence on the enabling of Christ. Make it your aim for the rest of your life to discover in an ever-deepening experience what it means to abide in Christ. It is the secret of all fruitfulness.
There are several indicators in the text that help us discover what this means in practice. One is in verse 7: “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you.” Abiding in Christ involves letting His words abide in us. Notice how these two things come together: the word abiding in you and effectual prayer.
Here is the first and decisive line of battle in your life. You must resist everything that would pull you away from serious study of God’s Word and daily times of concerted prayer and meditation to let that word sink in and abide. The inwardly abiding word is a truth of Scripture believed, cherished, and rolled back and forth in the imagination until its implications spill over into daily life as love, joy, peace and righteousness. The word will not abide within us if we are in a hurry. We deceive ourselves when we are so busy doing good things that we snatch a text and a prayer on the run and think that we will be strong followers of Christ and bear spiritual fruit for the glory of His name. Another indicator of the practical meaning of abiding in Christ is the parallel phrase in verse 9: “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Abide in My love.” Christ’s present love for me is His commitment to give me, right now and forever, everything that is good for me. Therefore, abiding in His love means constantly receiving as from His loving hand all things as good for me. It means never doubting that He is doing me good, but always resting in His kindness. There is a great freedom when you are confident that every hospital room you enter, every word of advice you share, every meeting you attend and every situation in which you find yourself is a place where the Lord of all loves you, that is, will do what is good for you. Believing that and acting on it is what it means to abide in the love of Christ. If you do these things, you will bear much fruit. Finally, the end for which you seek to bear fruit is not just your own joy (verse 11) or the benefit of your people: it is that God the Father might be glorified. Verse 8: “In this is my Father glorified: that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.” The supreme destination of every follower of Christ is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The honour of Christ is at stake in whether you bear fruit; but not only that, His Father is glorified when you bear much fruit!