2015 11 01pm John 15:8 Lord’s Day 32 – Why Must We Do Good?

If we cannot earn our salvation or pay God back, why must we still do good? Jesus answers this question with words of encouragement and hope!!!

Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,
Yesterday was Reformation Day. And the catch-cry of the Reformation was justification by faith alone, with much of the emphasis and attention falling on the word ‘alone.’ There is nothing that we contribute to our justification; it is all of God and through Christ.
And this is very much what the first part of Q86 is all about: “We have been delivered from our misery by God’s grace alone through Christ and not because we have earned it.”

Well sadly, this very beautiful truth is taken by the devil and TWISTED in an ugly way to suggest, even to believers, that perhaps what we think or say or do doesn’t really matter. The twisted logic is that if salvation is by grace alone, then why bother doing good? It is the question asked here at the end of Q 86: “Why then must we still do good?”

Well, an answer to that question is found here in John 15:8. For here the Lord Jesus is very plain about the necessity of doing what is good and right. Let’s listen to the words of the Lord Jesus again: He says, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

And we give our attention to these words today because as we go from this place we will face multiple opportunities to do what is right or to sin. What we are considering tonight is as real as your next thought or the next word or sentence that comes out of your mouth or does not come out of your mouth because you know it would have been wrong to say what first popped into your mind.

So with the words of our text, THE LORD JESUS REVEALS THAT FRUITFULNESS HAS VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL RESULTS. So what we need to do first of all is explore what the Lord Jesus has in view when He talks about bearing much fruit. For then we shall be ready to explore the vertical and horizontal results of fruitfulness that He reveals. So two main headings – FRUITFULNESS and then THE VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL RESULTS OF OUR FRUITFULNESS.

In the first place then, let’s explore what the Lord Jesus has in view when He talks about bearing much fruit.

1. These words of Jesus are a part of a kind of METAPHOR from the world of agriculture that He is using to teach spiritual truth. He uses the IMAGE OF A VINE. And we see that Jesus is the vine and the Father is the vinedresser and that all those who claim to be followers of Jesus are divided into two groups – those who truly do abide in Christ and those who do not. You see, among all those who claim to be followers of Jesus, you will find HYPOCRITES – pretend believers. You will hear them speak about God and faith and you will see them doing religious things but it is a sham or a pretense or a going through the motions.
A. And Jesus used the image of a vine here because of the problem of hypocrisy among the people of Israel in the OT. In PSALM 80 and ISAIAH 5, God described the people of Israel as a vine planted in the Promised land. Her calling was to live a life of holy obedience that would attract the people of the surrounding nations to the worship of the One, true God. But that was not what was going on in Israel as we read earlier in Isaiah 60 and elsewhere in the prophets. The people were singing God’s praises and extolling the law of God at the temple but worshipping idols and breaking God’s commandments back at home. And so, the vine was cut down when they were sent into exile because of this hypocrisy.
i. So already we see that to bear much fruit means to live in a way that is consistent with what you profess.
B. And the Lord Jesus has a lot to say about hypocrisy in the Gospels. In MATTHEW 7, for example, Jesus uses the image of trees and fruit. He says, “A healthy tree bears good fruit but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
i. Boys and girls, if I asked you to quickly tell me if a certain apple tree was healthy, you would not look for a drill and drill a hole in the tree trunk to get a core sample for a spectron microscope so you can analyze its molecular well-being. You would look at the branches and if you saw a tree full of red, rosy apples and you took one off and bit into it and it was crisp and sweet and juicy, you would tell me (after you had finished your mouth full, of course ), That tree is healthy! But if there were few or no apples and the ones there were withered and covered in spots, it would be obvious that was an unhealthy tree. Right?
ii. Well, in the same way, the fruitfulness Jesus is talking about can soon be seen and heard in what we say and do and what we don’t say and don’t do.
iii. Indeed, that is why the Catechism goes on in Q/A 87 to quote 1 CORINTHIANS 6:9-10, “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” You don’t need to wonder about whether those who continually and unrepentantly engage in sin like this might still be children of God because they do, after all, you know, profess faith in Christ. Uh-huh! They are not children of God. Anyone can see this!

2. Well, as we narrow in a bit more to the immediate context of this verse, there are two aspects of the fruitfulness that the Lord Jesus is describing here that we see from the surrounding verses:
A. The first is that fruitfulness LOOKS TO THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS.
i. In John 12 we read about the Last Supper that Jesus shared with His disciples. And you boys and girls might remember what Jesus did after the Supper? We find it described in JOHN 13 – HE WASHED THE FEET OF HIS DISCIPLES. And listen to what He said after He had done this: (vv14-15) “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” And a few verses on, to demonstrate that is was not just foot washing that Jesus had in view here, He said, “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” So looking to the example of Jesus, if you want to “bear much fruit,” what must you do? You will look for ways to love others by serving them.
B. And hold on to that thought as we see that to bear much fruit also means to OBEYS THE COMMAND OF JESUS. Now, you can’t separate looking to His example and obeying Him; to imitate Jesus is to keep His commandments! But let’s look at some of the commands of Jesus that we see in these verses.
i. As we just heard a moment ago from JOHN 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just as I have loved you”
ii. JOHN 15:12 says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
iii. And JOHN 15:17 says, “These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
iv. Are you sensing a theme to these commands of our Lord? To bear much fruit is to love one another.
v. And if you are thinking to yourself, That’s good but what does loving others look like? Well, the word love should remind us of what chapter in the Bible? 1 CORINTHIANS 13. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal … Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast,” etc.
vi. But stepping back from these specific commands for a moment, we are talking g here about bearing much fruit. And that word ‘fruit’ should remind all of us of GALATIANS 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” And not again that the first part of the fruit listed there is? Love!
a. I spoke earlier about taking a core sample from a tree and putting it under a microscope to analyze its molecular structure. Well, if to were possible to analyze your dealings with others with a microscope, it should be that the printout of results reveals large quantities of L/J/P/P/K/G/F/G/SC.

Well, what we have seen that is that fruitfulness means that what we say and do should be consistent with what we profess. We have seen that others will soon be able to tell if we are bearing good fruit by what we say and do. We have seen that fruitfulness looks to the example of the Lord Jesus and obeys His commands, which place a very heavy emphasis on our love for one another. Fruitfulness then is the fruit of Christ’s own character shining out from within us in what we think, say, and do. And because Jesus talks here about bearing much fruit, it ought to be that as the years go by, more and more of the character of Christ shines out from within us in terms of what we think, say, and do.


1. And the first one is the vertical result that we see at the beginning of the verse: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
A. Way back in the very first chapter of the Bible we are told that Adam and Eve were CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD. They were created to reflect the character or the attributes of God. Just as God is a God of knowledge, wisdom, goodness, love, holiness, righteousness, truth, and power to exercise His will, so Adam and Eve were created with knowledge, wisdom, goodness, love, holiness, righteousness, truth, and power to exercise their will. As human beings they were like a pool of still, clear water that perfectly reflected the image and glory of God. But then the brick of sin was tossed into that pool, stirring up the mud on the floor of the pool so that the reflection was distorted and twisted and corrupted. But once we take hold of the Lord Jesus by faith, the Holy Spirit begins the lifelong work of removing the bits of mud from that pool and smoothing out the wrinkles in the water so that more and more we begin again to reflect the image of God. And the Father can see Himself reflected in the lives of His children. Fruitfulness, then, has the vertical result of glorifying the Father. And as we bear more and more fruit, so more and more of His glory is reflected!
B. But 1 PETER 2:11-12 helps us see this same truth from a different angle. Listen to what we read there: “Beloved, I urge you … to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among [unbelievers] honourable, so that … they may see your good deeds and glorify God.” And what these words reveal is that God will be glorified by all those who observe the fruit of your holy living. How is that so, you ask? Well, as you imitate the example of Christ and obey His commands, some will see this and ask you about it and hear the hope of the gospel and come to faith in Christ themselves, to the glory of God! There will be others, though, who see this and mock you or blaspheme the Lord or persecute you. But on the Day of Judgment, the Father will remind them of those moments and be glorified as His judgment on them is proven to be just. So God will be glorified by all who observe the fruitfulness of your holy life, either in this life or on Judgment Day.
C. The vertical result of you bearing much fruit then is that the Father is glorified.

2. But there are also HORIZONTAL results of fruitfulness revealed in these words of Jesus. And we see this at the end of the verse where it talks about PROVING to be His disciples.
A. And the first has to do with OTHERS. Earlier in the sermon we referred to Matthew 7 where Jesus talks about hypocrites and says, “you will recognize them by their fruits.” Put simply, a genuine disciple of Christ will live a holy life while a hypocrite will not. We also spoke earlier about Jesus washing the feet of His disciples and calling on His disciples to serve one another in love. He said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
i. We prove to others that we are followers of Jesus by thinking, saying, and doing as Jesus thought, said and did.
B. But there is a second horizontal result that arises out of this idea that in bearing much fruit we prove to be His disciples. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the Apostle says to believers, “EXAMINE YOURSELVES, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” And how do we do that? Well, I trust that from all we have explored today it is plain that one of the ways we do this is by observing within ourselves a godly sorrow for sin and a hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Boys and girls, there will come a time when you disobey your parents. But if when that happens you feel guilty and disturbed that you have sinned against your parents and against the Lord in this way and you confess this sin in your prayers and ask Him to help you to obey and consciously resolve in your heart to be obedient, that is a sure sign that the Spirit of Christ is at work in you. And this is the same for adults as well. This is why the Catechism answer says, “We do good so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits.”
i. Another horizontal result of bearing much fruit then is the certainty that we belong to Jesus.

3. Now, before we conclude, while I hope it has been useful for us to think about the results of fruitfulness in terms of vertical – towards God, and horizontal – towards others and ourselves, we cannot really SEPARATE the horizontal results from the vertical. Jesus does not do that in this verse. For note that the first part of the verse is linked to everything in the rest of the verse; The Father is glorified that we bear much fruit and prove to be His disciples. That others recognize that we are followers of Christ and that we have certainty that we are followers of Christ all brings glory to our Father in heaven.

Well, for good reason we have largely focused on what we think, say, and do. But as we conclude we must note something vital that underpins all of that. And we do this with a question: If the nation of Israel was the vine in the OT, what would you expect the vine to be in the NT? The church. Right? But that is not what Jesus says in v1 is it. He says, “I am the true vine.”
• In our earlier OT reading, we very deliberately read the early verses of ISAIAH 61. They spoke about a future time when the poor would hear good news and the brokenhearted would be bound up and captives would hear about liberty and prisoners would be released, all to the glory of God. Well, in LUKE 4, we read about Jesus preaching in the synagogue in Nazareth. And He read those exact words from Isaiah and then said, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And with those words Jesus revealed that HE WOULD BE THE NEW OF THE NT: Jesus is the new Israel, Jesus is the fulfilment of the law, Jesus is heart of the gospel, is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus is the foundation of the church. Jesus is the true vine. So the nub or essence of fruitfulness is being connected to Jesus! And that comes to expression in these verses as Jesus talks about abiding in Him. He says in v5, “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.”
• Strip every religion in the world down to its core belief and you will find it is do good. And if that religion has some sort of heaven in it, getting to heaven depends on doing enough good. But strip Christianity down to its core belief and you will find that you cannot do enough good to enter heaven. Instead, you must believe in Jesus. The message of Christianity is believe in Jesus: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And once you understand and believe that you deserve condemnation but that Jesus has secured eternal life for you, then you will show your thankfulness by doing good!
• So the key question today is: Do you believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins?
• But the next question is are you actively choosing each day to remain in Him and to focus your eyes on He who is the author and perfecter of our faith? For that is the only way that you will bear much fruit and glorify your Father in heaven.
• And people of God, to focus on the Lord Jesus in order to bear much fruit has everything to do with this book (hold up the Bible). The only place where you can learn about what He did for you and the example He set for you the commands He has given you is in this book. So may the Spirit of the Lord give each of you a love for the Lord Jesus Christ that drives you to His Word so that you may keep His commands and do what is good. Amen.