Every Branch That Beareth Not Fruit
"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away." (John 15:2.) Jesus is speaking here of his disciples as branches on the vine. (verse 8.) No passage could be plainer in affirming the possibility of apostasy. He is not talking about unbelievers; nor is He speaking of those who only "thought they were disciples." He is speaking of the real branches or disciples. The branch Jesus is talking about has been baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27) because he says "Every branch IN ME." This branch is IN CHRIST and the on1y way we get into Christ is to be baptized into him. So this passage applies to Christians -disciples-branches IN HIM.
It is an unfruitful branch. The only destructive or negative miracle Jesus performed was on an unproductive tree. "And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever. And his disciples heard it." (Mark 11:13, 14.) Notice that this tree was not dead and dried up. In fact, from outward appearances it looked as healthy and fruitful as any tree. From "afar off" one could see the leaves. This is so true of Christians. From afar off, they all look like they are active, faithful disciples. Many members attend church services every week-at least one and maybe even all the services. They wouldn't even think of "missing the Lord's Supper." They often lead prayer, wait at the table and some perhaps lead singing or even preach. One looking at such a congregation from afar off, would be lead to comment, "My what an active church!"
But notice when Jesus got closer to the fig tree, "he found nothing but leaves." Think of that! "NOTHING BUT LEAVES." A fig tree is not an ornament tree; it is a fruit tree. Here is a fruit tree WITHOUT FRUIT. What good is salt without savour? What value is a lamp without light? What use is a branch without fruit? It is no wonder that Jesus said he "taketh away" such a branch!
Like begets like, so every tree or branch brings forth "after its kind." Fig trees are to bear figs. Christians therefore, ought to bring forth more Christians. In New Testament days, the disciples "went everywhere preaching the word." (Acts 8:4.) Many converts were made and God was glorified. Are you bearing any fruit of this species? To teach someone the truth and lead him to be baptized is not easy. It is work! But work is what we are in the church for, acocrding to Ephesians 2:10. We are "created IN CHRIST JESUS unto GOOD WORKS, Which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." If we could get all saints to WORK at the job of converting their neighbor; it would save a multitude of souls from perdition and please God immensely. "Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." (John 15:8.)
Other fruit we need to bring forth is in our own life. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Gal. 5:22, 23.) Here again, we find in many Christians, NOTHING BUT LEAVES. These fruits are sadly lacking among us today. These fruits are not even "green" in many brethren who ought to have developed them ripe unto the harvest.
"He taketh away" the barren branch. (John 15:2.) Verse six is more vivid; "he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." This refers to the fires of eternal hell-Gehenna. This means they are eternally and hopelessly lost. What a bitter end for a branch which was created to be fruitful unto eternal glory! How pitiful to contemplate this tragedy! And it was all caused by USELESSNESS and FRUITLESSNESS during these few short years here below. The excuse "I'm too busy" to work at these things will avail nothing at the judgment. NOW -TODAY IS THE TIME TO START. The Christian life is a growth with the objective of mature fruit. Growth comes only by work, study, and spiritual application of the Word of God. "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." (I Pet. 2:2.)
"And now, brethren, I commend you to God and TO THE WORD OF HIS GRACE, WHICH IS ABLE TO BUILD YOU UP, AND T0 GIVE YOU AN INHERITANCE AMONG ALL THEM WHICH ARE SANCTIFIED." (Acts 20: 32.)
Truth Magazine II:12, pp. 9-10