The Secrets of the Vine: Bruce Wilkinson has an excellent study of disciples bearing fruit and what that really means.
- The Secrets of the Vine Introduction
- Authentic Disciples Bear Fruit
- From No Fruit to Bearing Fruit
- From Bearing Fruit to More Fruit
- From Bearing More Fruit to Much Fruit
The Secrets of the Vine (Bruce Wilkinson), teaches about every believer going from bearing no fruit to bearing fruit. John 15:2, 4, 6
Percent of Christians at each stage:
- No fruit (60%)
- Fruit (25%)
- More fruit (10%)
- Much fruit (5%)
The Challenge to Bear Fruit:
- “Every branch in Me” is a believer in Jesus – (present active participle, linear, continuing) 2 Corinthians 5:17
- “Does not bear fruit” is a believer not bearing fruit currently – John 15:2a
- “He takes away” is God’s parallel response to our poor productivity – John 15:2a
Does God do anything to you when you are not bearing fruit? Misconception: God does not intervene when you are not bearing fruit. Truth: God regularly intervenes to stimulate you to bear fruit.
- Your fruitfulness is hindered if you choose to sin – Romans 6:21a, 22
- Your fruitfulness is hindered if you focus on riches and this world – Matthew 13:22, Luke 8:14, 2 Timothy 2:3-4
- Your fruitfulness is hindered if you give into apathy Titus 3:14, 3:1
Principles of the Fruit Bearing Disciple:
- The Disciple Principle # 1– God gets involved with believers making fruitlessness their ongoing choice.
- “Take away” does not mean cut off, but lift up – (aeros, to lift up should never be translated cut off. The branch falls and gets into the dirt, and mud, where it gets no light from the sun. The vinedresser carefully washes the branch and ties it back up) – Matthew 9:6b, and Matthew 14:20
- “Lift up” in the vineyard means to clean off and tie back up – the branch is far too valuable to cut off.
- “Lift up” for believers means God seeks to restore constantly
- The Disciple Principle # 2– God intervenes in the life of the “no fruit” branch with disciplines.
- God disciplines every single member of His family – Hebrews 12:8
- God disciplines as a kind and loving Heavenly Father – Hebrews 12:9
- God disciplines when we need it, for our holiness and profit – Hebrews 12:10
- The Disciple Principle # 3– God disciplines progressively through Three Stages – Hebrews 12:5-6
- Stage 1 – God’s light discipline is called rebuke – 2 Timothy 3:16-17, John 14:8 (verbal or spiritual dimension, reproof, conviction of the Spirit, discomfort).
- Stage 2 – God’s medium discipline is called chastening – Hebrews 12:9-10 (correction which has an emotional dimension, distress).
- Stage 3 – God’s heavy discipline is called scourging – John 19:1-2, Matthew 10:17 (meaning exactly what is says, bringing severe pain into a person’s life, which has a physical dimension, desperation).
What if a branch does not want to be picked up? Remember that God does not go directly to the belt, but goes through a discipline process.
The Process of Divine Discipline:
- Process # 1– God’s discipline can affect us in all areas including physical – 1 Corinthians 11:27-30
- God may discipline you with weakness – 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Acts 5:16 (sick).
- God may discipline you with sickness – Matthew 14:14, Numbers 12:9-10
- God may discipline you with premature death – Acts 5:4b-5, Proverbs 9:10 (discipline is different from punishment. Punishment makes you pay for what you did; discipline is to correct so you will not make this a habit). Additional thought, are all sins equal in God’s sight. Yes, on one side, Jesus died for “sin” but on a practical side, stealing a pen from work is not the same as murdering someone. Both sins put Jesus on the cross, but there are levels of sin, as Ezekiel talks about “greater abominations” in Ezekiel 8:6-10, 13, 15
- Process # 2– God disciplines appropriately but some sins are dealt with severely.
- God disciplines severely the sin of unforgiveness – Matthew 18:32-35, Luke 16:23, 27-28
- God disciplines severely the sin of sexual immorality – Hebrews 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6
- Process # 3– God’s discipline is not necessary if we judge ourselves.
- Judge yourself by repentance – 2 Chronicles 34:27-28a
- Judge yourself by restoration – Luke 19:8
- Judge yourself by reconciliation – Matthew 5:23-24
The Precept of God Desiring Fruit Bearers :
God disciplines believers who are not bearing fruit in order to restore them to fellowship and fruitful productivity.
- Do not forget the exhortation about God’s discipline – Hebrews 12:5
- Dedicate yourself to be trained by God’s discipline – Hebrews 12:11
Hebrews 12:5-13 is a key passage. Check also Isaiah 5:1-4, Deuteronomy 8:5-6