Harvest: Friday 30th September 2016

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Our Harvest service was taken by Roger Thomas of Aberystwyth, who preached from John 15:8, ‘By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.’

At this time of year we thank God for His goodness throughout the year, but especially now. We are gathered to say thank you, ‘While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease’ (Genesis 8:22). God has kept His promise, He has been good to us.

The portion of scripture this verse comes from is part of the Parable of the Vine, spoken in the Upper Room the night before Jesus was betrayed.

Notice Jesus says, ‘By this my Father is glorified.’ Look at how Jesus refers to God as ‘my Father.’ He is saying He is God’s Son – one of the fundamentals of Christianity. Jesus is God’s Son. Millions of people believe in Jesus – He was a good man – however, few believe He was God’s Son. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet but not God’s Son. We don’t all worship the same God. The Baptism of Jesus declares Jesus to be God’s Son, ‘And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’ (Mark 1:11) The miracles of Jesus declare Jesus is God’s Son, ‘Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves’ (John 14:11). The transfiguration of Jesus declares Jesus is God’s Son, ‘And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ’This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to Him!’ (Luke 9:35). His resurrection declares He is God’s Son, ‘(He) was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 1:4). It is essential we believe this.

John 3:36 ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remain on him.’ If we reject God’s Son, we reject God the Father.  ‘No one who denies the Son has the Father’ (1 John 2:23).

‘By this my Father is glorified.’ This is our purpose in this world – to glorify God. To glorify God is to praise and to tell others how good God is, not to glorify ourselves or another person.  Matthew 5:16 ‘In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.’

Romans 15: 5-6 ‘May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

The purpose of the church is to glorify God. Is this true of us? Do we live to glorify God? Are we seeking to glorify God? Psalm 90 tells us that it is the purpose of all creation to glorify God. The psalmist in Psalm 148 tells of the angels, sun, moon, stars and heaven itself all glorifying God. The psalmist calls on the earth to glorify God, including all creatures, even those in the depths of the oceans as well as the weather.

We are told that to glorify God we need to bear much fruit – to do good works and have a godly character. ‘And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God’ (Colossians 1:9-10). ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law’ (Galatians 5:22).

How do we bear this fruit? The Parable of the Vine answers this question. Jesus, as He walked, would often see something and use this to teach. He said, ‘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’’ (John 15:5) Here we read of the branches that bear fruit. The branches are Christians, people who believe the gospel.

‘If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you’ (John 15:7). The person who has faith in Christ and who also keeps His commandments is like the branch in the vine, which receives sap and nutrients from the vine and produces grapes. By being in Christ we receive grace and His grace enables us to do the good works. We need to be in Christ by faith, believing in the gospel of repentance. We cannot bear fruit without Jesus Christ. It is the only way to bear fruit. Jesus refers to Himself as the only true vine. There is only one vine that can enable us to live a godly, fruitful life – Jesus Christ. Is there fruit to be seen in our lives? Do we see a godly character, a life of godliness? Are we in Christ? Have we believed the gospel message?

Jesus is God’s Son. He was in heaven with His Father, three in one. We are sinful because of what happened in the Garden of Eden. God has given us His law, yet we can’t keep His law. We deserve to be punished, God has to punish us. Punishment is Hell. But God loves us and doesn’t want us to perish so He sent His Son into the world. He kept the law we broke. On the cross of Calvary He took all our sin upon Himself and suffered the punishment of our sins. He died, was buried and rose again on the third day. This is the gospel message. Go to God, confess your sins. Have we asked God to forgive all our sins?

If there is no fruit in our lives we don’t see a life of godliness but a life where we live for ourselves. We are not in Christ. ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit’ (John 15:1-2).

‘If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned’ (John 15:6). This speaks of separation, of judgement and eternal Hell.

It we see fruit in our lives it is evidence, ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come’ (1 Corinthians 5:17).

In the Parable of the Vine Jesus teaches us that God helps us to bear fruit. The Father actively works in us so we can bear more fruit. Our God prunes, cleanses the Christian. How does He cleanse us? ‘’Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you’ (John 15:3). The word cleanses us. This is an encouragement to read the word of God.

Another way He cleanses us is through trials. God allows trials into our lives to change us, to drive us to God in prayer, ‘For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it’ (Hebrews 12:11). ‘Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing’ (James 1:2-4).

‘By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.’ (John 15:8) Do we bear ‘much fruit’? Do we see a godly character in each other? If not, prayer is the answer. Read the word. Ask God for more of His Holy Spirit. Another blessing of being in Christ is answered prayer (verse 7).

In summary, we are to glorify God, bear fruit, indeed, much fruit, by being in Christ.

Why does bearing fruit glorify God? Through our character and deeds, the fruit shows people what God is like. So when people see our gentleness they see the gentleness of God. When they see the way we talk to others, how we behave, they see the character of God. Through God’s grace we become more godly. ‘By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.’ (John 15:8)

 

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