by Steven Chan
1. Every Christian is expected/required to Bear Fruit:
a. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away” (John 15:2)
b. ”By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8)
c. “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8).
d. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves…If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:21-22, 26-27)
2. Every Christian needs to Abide in Jesus:
a. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me (John 15:4)
b. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
c. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned (John 15:6)
d. If we expect God to answer our prayers, we need to abide in Jesus and His Words: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”(John 15:7)
3. Every Christian needs to Abide in the Love of Christ:
a. “Abide in My love. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9)
b. How do we abide in the love of Christ?
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”( John 15:10)
c. What is the commandment of Christ?
”This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12)
”A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Are we keeping His commandments – including the commandment to “love one another as I have loved you”?
Let’s understand that God expects every Christian to bear much fruit and thereby glorify His Name. Fruit bearing is not an optional matter. Failure to bear fruit has dire consequences!
The only way whereby we can bear much fruit is to abide in Him and especially to abide in His love.
In order to abide in His love, we must keep His commandments, including His command to love one another to the same extent of His love for us.
Are we actively seeking to bear fruit that will glorify God by abiding in Him, in His Words and in His Love?
Comments from a Reader (anonymity requested):-
“Thanks for your dedication to writing articles in the Klang church bulletin, just to prove that someone reads them (I hope) I noticed in your last article (attached church bulletin of 6 May 2012) that you did not distinguish the decision made by the Apostles (and elders) from other decisions made by elders alone in the various autonomous churches. I believe this is important to note as I understand that the Apostles had and were acting in that case based upon a unique authority there were given by Jesus to help establish the early church. Your end point is correct but the omission of this clarification about the example you cited may be cause for confusion to some. See my logic for this comment below and let me know if I have gotten this concept wrong.
Who is the head of the Church? Jesus tell us in Matthew 28:18. “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. By ‘all’ he is declaring that there is nothing over which his authority does not extend. We also see clearly in Ephesians 1:22-23 and Colossians 1:18 that Jesus is the head of the Church. When Jesus returned to Heaven, whom did he leave in charge of the church here on earth? In Acts chapters 1&2 we see the responsibility for the Church on earth was left with the Apostles. Acts 1:4-8; Acts 2:1-4 & 38-41. The authority of the Apostles was unique and applicable to all Christians as they were to reveal God’s Word to the world Matthew 16:17-19. Once God’s word was revealed to the world the work of the Apostles was complete.
See also the example you cited in Acts 15: 1-29 where the Apostles helped resolve a dispute amongst those in the church over the need for Christians to be circumcised (the elders participated in this church decision with the Apostles but it was the authority of the later that allowed them to take this decision to all of the churches – see also Acts 16:4).”
Comments by the writer of the May 6 article:
Thanks for taking the time to highlight the important point that the Apostles were divinely guided to reveal the Word of God and therefore their authority with regards to the teaching of God’s Will was special and different from any others such as elders.
Jesus promised the apostles in John 16:13-14 that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth:
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”
The apostle Paul claimed inspiration by the Spirit with regards to his teachings and those of the apostles as stated in the following passages:-
1 Cor 2:10-13: “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
Eph 3:3-5:”how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:”
1 Cor 14:37: “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.”
Incidentally, please note that Eph 3:3-5 further clarifies or affirms that I Cor 2:10-13 was referring to the revelation by the Spirit to the apostles only and NOT to all Christians then or today – in other words, Christians today cannot claim that they have similar direct revelation/enlightenment by the Spirit – for the revelation “by the Spirit was to His holy apostles and prophets” and not to each and every Christian!
For Christians, the apostle Paul said that after he has received the revelation by the Spirit, he had written them down so that Christians everywhere can now read and understand God’s revelation (Eph 3:3-5) and such writings of the apostle Paul are indeed to be regarded as “the commandments of the Lord” (I Cor 14:37). So in 1 Thess 2:13, he commended the Christians for accepting the apostolic teachings as the Word of God:
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
Thanks again for writing and correcting a potential misunderstanding. We are agreed in our understanding of the special authority that the Apostles had which no one else can claim to have – least of all, elders. The focus of the article of May 6, 2012 was on the working relationship between the churches in the First Century and it’s regrettable that the special role and authority of the Apostles was not highlighted. Thanks again or reading the articles and also for highlighting areas for improvement. Indeed you are to be commended because of the attitude that you exhibit which was also with the Christians in Berea (Acts 17:11).