Following Purpose
Message Summary
This message examines the actions a follower of Christ must take if he or she is going to fulfill the purpose of following which is to bear spiritual fruit. Jesus spoke very candidly to His disciples about this in John 15:1-17. We are to bear the fruit of The Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-25 which deal with the characteristics of our lives. We are also to bear the fruit of our witness which is to make other disciples as we lead them to follow Christ. There are three actions required to do this. The first is to make sure you are attached! How a person knows they are attached to the vine which gives life is then examined. A second action is to remain attached to the vine. We do this by studying God’s Word and allowing His Holy Spirit to guide us on a daily basis. When we remain attached to the vine, we will bear the fruit of The Spirit and through this process we will bear the fruit of making other disciples. The third action is related to the second; We are to bear much fruit! God wants the fruit of His Spirit to be found in our lives in abundance and it is the heartbeat of God that we make other disciples.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Have you ever had a plant you were growing, loaded down with fruit or vegetables, not yet ripened, and accidentally hit one of the branches and realized it had been torn from the vine? What happens to the fruit?

2. Jesus used a very practical illustration from the vineyard to share a very critical lesson with His disciples. A disciple must be attached to the vine if it is to remain alive and fulfill its purpose to bear fruit. How does a person know if they are truly attached to the vine of life, Jesus Christ?
Rom 10:9  That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Rom 10:10  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Rom 10:11  As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
Rom 10:12  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
Rom 10:13  for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

3. Once a person accepts Jesus as their Savior, their relationship with God as His child is secure forever. However, if we are to bear fruit as a follower of Christ we must remain connected to the vine on a daily basis through our fellowship. What are some things we must do to remain connected to the vine in a way in which we can continue to bear fruit? The following Old Testament passage contains some things, but there are others.
Psa 119:9  How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
Psa 119:10  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
Psa 119:11  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psa 119:12  Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.
Psa 119:13  With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
Psa 119:14  I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
Psa 119:15  I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
Psa 119:16  I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

4. God wants us to bear “much fruit!” When we are connected to the vine we bear the fruit of the Spirit and this allows us to live in such a way that we produce other disciples. How do you think this happens?
Mat 5:13  "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
Mat 5:14  "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Mat 5:15  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Mat 5:16  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.


Full Sermon Notes
Following Purpose

Father God, You are so majestic! You are so far above us! Your thoughts so much higher than our thoughts, and yet you love us so much you desire to talk to us, to fellowship with us, to be a part of our everyday lives. You issued the call for us to follow You, because you wanted to be our teacher, our mentor, our example, our helper, our healer, our Savior, our provider, our friend! You told your disciples how important it was for them to remain in Your Word and to allow Your Holy Spirit to counsel them.

Today, we ask you to teach us Your purpose in asking us to follow You! I submit myself to be used as Your instrument today. Speak through me and let those who hear be able to discern Your words from mine. Through Your Word and the guidance of The Holy Spirit help us to follow You! Thanks Jesus!

In the past few weeks we've studied some of best known followers of Christ who were members of the original 12 disciples (Matthew, John, Peter, Thomas. We also learned about three different people who were asked by Jesus to follow him but chose not to. They missed out on such amazing opportunities! Last week we talked about having sight to follow Jesus even though He's not here in a physical body anymore. We find the sight to follow Jesus when we study His Word and allow His Spirit to guide our lives.
As I was studying for this weeks message, I felt led to continue this series one additional week so our follow me series will not end today, but next week and then we'll begin our series on the parables.

Our message today will challenge you. Today's message and next weeks message are not for the faint of heart or those simply seeking to find personal comfort from their faith.
Jesus had always been open and honest with His disciples and nearing the end of His time on earth would not change this! They needed to know their decision to accept the call to follow Jesus came with amazing blessings, but also came with a tremendous mission task! They needed to know there was a purpose and a reason they had been chosen to follow Him.

Let's listen in on the conversation Jesus was having with His disciples, not long before He would suffer on the Cross for them and later rise from the dead and ascend back to His Father in Heaven. We'll take it a few verses at a time. John 15:1-2

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

ETS: In our text... The Father is the gardener, Jesus is the vine, His followers are the branches, and the purpose is to bear fruit.
ESS: Today... The Father is still the gardener, Jesus is still the vine, His followers are still the branches, and the purpose is still to bear fruit!
OSS: To things: We must remain connected to the vine and we must bear fruit!
Probing Question: So what actions must a follower of Jesus take in order to fulfill the purpose of bearing fruit?
Transitional Sentence: Let's take a look!
Unifying Word: Actions

Action #1
Make sure you're attached!

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

These were probably scary words to the disciples. "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit!" Many scholars believe Jesus was alluding to Judas Iscariot, the disciple who followed with his feet, but not with his heart and had already left the supper table to betray Jesus to His death.

And I want you to see this; The gardner cuts off the branch that bears no fruit, but it was not an arbitrary decision of the gardner to just whack off any branch. The problem was with the branch, not the gardner or the vine. Judas' heart had not been in the right place from the very beginning. We know from Scripture he was a follower of Christ not because of his desire to know God, but because of his desire for money, and power. He thought Jesus was going to be the next big political man on the scene. Some even think he betrayed Jesus to force Him into making a move into power.

And when that didn't happen, and Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested, Judas realized he had it wrong and had betrayed an innocent man. I think Judas couldn't get the words out of his mind Jesus spoke to him as he was being betrayed. What words?


Matthew 26:48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.”
49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.

There are still those today who follow Jesus with their feet and not their heart. They attend church or claim Christianity because it benefits them. Take away the benefits and they'll walk away! More on this next week. So this begs the question...

How do we know if we are attached?

Jesus gave us the answer back in John 5:24-27

24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.
26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.
27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

Notice Jesus said, "Whoever hears my word and believes…" The way we know we are attached to the vine is through belief. Through faith. Faith in what Jesus did for us on the Cross. Faith in God's Word and trust in the leadership of His Holy Spirit. Many today have abandoned the revealed truth of God for man made philosophies. This is nothing new! Satan's very first temptation in the garden was to tell Eve she could be as smart as God and in her pride she did the very thing that would sever her from the source of life. She decided to no longer trust God! She then led her husband down the same path. Misery loves company!

Eve isn't alone. Isaiah puts it this way...

Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

So we've all gone our own way. How can we be attached? How can we know we are attached? Folks, it is through faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. God has given us a choice and we make that choice by faith. Paul put it this way in Romans 10:8ff

Romans 10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:
9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

So what actions must a follower of Jesus take in order to fulfill the purpose of bearing fruit?
Make sure you're attached and then...

Action #2
Remain in Him!

John 15:3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Why did Jesus say to the disciples "You are already clean because of the word I've spoken to you?" I think they might have been worried at his words about being cut off. They needed reassurance. Back when Jesus washed their feet he had told them they were clean with one exception. (Judas)

Now Jesus is saying you are all clean without exception! In other words, bearing fruit is not about working for your salvation. It's not about earning God's love or forgiveness. When we make the decision to follow Jesus with all of our heart, Jesus comes in and saves us. That salvation is absolute and complete. But if we are to bear the fruit God desires for us to bear, we must remain in Him. We cannot bear fruit on our own. Why? The fruit God wants us to bear has to be of The Spirit and without a connection with the Holy Spirit we can't bear spiritual fruit. Have you ever noticed Jesus in this passage says we are to bear fruit, not make fruit? Later he will use the word "make." There is a difference. I can go out to my shop and take a piece of wood and carve the shape of an apple, a banana or even grapes, and take some paint and make them look real. But you wouldn't want to eat them. You see, I can make fruit, but it's not the real thing. Only a branch connected to a living tree or vine can produce living fruit! And it's the same spiritually. If we are not connected to the source of spiritual life we cannot bear fruit. We remain in Him by studying and knowing His Word and by allowing His Holy Spirit to guide us on a daily basis!

The natural question for us is this…What kind of fruit are we supposed to be bearing?
Two main kinds of fruit. First there's the fruit of the Spirit, which you "bear" as you follow Jesus, and then there's the fruit of your witness as you "make" disciples for Christ. First the fruit of the Spirit. Gal 5:22ff.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

And if we are bearing the fruit of The Holy Spirit in our lives, then we will have the power to make the other fruit Jesus told His disciples about after His resurrection. Listen…Matthew 28:16-20

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Action #3
Bear much Fruit!

One of the saddest things I've seen down through the years is this; Christians who bear no fruit. Why is this sad? So many reasons.  A Christian who bears no fruit has no purpose. A Christian who bears no fruit, is no longer following Jesus. A Christian who bears no fruit has no joy. A Christian who bears no fruit does not glorify God! A Christian who bears no fruit cannot make others disciples! A Christian who bears no fruit is not walking in the love of God. A Christian who bears no fruit no longer obeys God's commands.

A Christian who bears no fruit is like the Dead Sea in the Middle East. It is an inland lake at the end of the Jordan Valley. Over six million tons of water flow into the Dead Sea every twenty-four hours! The salinity of the water is 9 times that of the ocean. It is 1,401 feet below sea level. "Earth's lowest elevation on land!" It supports no marine life. Thus it is called the "Dead Sea!" Why is it dead? It has no outlets.
The water level never rises more than ten to fifteen feet due to evaporation.

The Dead Sea only receives, it doesn't give, thus it is dead. Sadly, there are many Christians who attend church, small groups, Christian concerts, conferences, and the list goes on and on, but they only receive. They do not give. They do not serve. They do not bear fruit. They have no outlets whereby they allow The Holy Spirit of God to use the abilities, the gifts, the talents, the resources, and the life God has so abundantly blessed them with. As a result they bear no fruit. Folks, the purpose of following Jesus is to bear fruit.

That purpose should be the motivation that drives our everyday lives. If you are a Christian consumer asking what can the church do for me, rather than, how can I serve the One who gave His life to save my soul, then something is dreadfully wrong. Jesus put it this way in John 15:6-17...

6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

He's not talking about losing your salvation here, He's talking about losing your usefulness in God's Kingdom work of reaching the lost souls of humankind. He goes on to say...

7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

In other words, "I'll provide everything you need to bear fruit!"

8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.

Bearing fruit is about love, God's love for us and our love for others!

10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

A Christian who is not bearing fruit is not a joy filled person and God wants us to be filled with the joy that can only come from fulfilling our God-given purpose!

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Folks do you realize what a huge promotion He just gave us? It was an honor just to be considered the servants of the Almighty God, but now He considers us His personal friends. Wow! And it was His decision to promote us not our own.

16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit —fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

In other words, we didn't choose God first, He choose us first and we were given the choice to respond. Jesus then reminds us again that it's all about love

17 This is my command: Love each other.

Let's Pray!