Bearing fruit that remains is not simply what we are chosen and appointed to do. It is a continuation of Christ’s work on the cross and His authority in prayer cannot be separated from this purpose. Only when we are rooted in Christ and bear fruit through Christ can we pray effectively in His name.
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (John 15:16)
Our relationship with God is a dynamic, vibrant, living thing. Rather than being static and measurable, it’s continually growing and deepening. It transforms us from the inside out, shaping our thoughts and responses and gradually reworking us in the image of Jesus. On the outside, we cannot see the inner work happening, just as a farmer cannot see his fruit trees undergoing the changes that bring forth fruit. God’s work in us is a hidden, secret thing, but it’s evidenced by fruit that remains. This is a measurable outcome of our relationship with Him. But today’s verse poses an interesting dynamic between producing fruit and results in prayer which is seldom taught on. We like the idea of God granting us anything asked in Jesus’ name, but how often do we speak this in the context of bearing fruit? Yet John’s Gospel links these very clearly.
Fruit that remains in biblical context.
At the very beginning, God creates mankind and commands them to go forth and multiply – to bring forth fruit. From this we can see that fruit or harvest is a fundamental purpose for us. He intends us to bear fruit, both naturally and spiritually. The reason for this is that fruit feeds others. A harvest is intended as provision. Any fruit we bear is not simply for ourselves but for the good of others too. From a spiritual perspective, God seeks fruit that remains. In other words, it’s fruit born of the unity between God and man – of relationship and spiritual intimacy between the Creator and the created. In and of ourselves we cannot produce lasting fruit. Anything born of the flesh is corruptible. It will inevitably perish and pass away. Only fruit that is born of the work of the Spirit in and through us is eternal.
From the general command to bear fruit we move to the New Testament call to bear fruit. While Genesis establishes this as a general command to mankind in general, but Jesus makes it a command specific to believers. In a sense, it’s Him saying that we are trees in God’s orchard, purposed to bear spiritual fruit that remains – is imbued with the supernatural, eternal power of God to ‘feed’ mankind. It’s an ‘official’ responsibility of every believer in that we are chosen and appointed. Our New Testament appointment is our purpose which God revealed in Genesis in His general command. When we come to God, His intention is that we fulfil the purpose we were created for – to bear fruit. This is how we live for His glory because the fruit is of Him, not of ourselves. Our fruit is the outward manifestation of the inward work of God.
Fruit that remains and spiritual health.
Today’s verse reminds us that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Unless we are firmly rooted in Him, we will not bear fruit or will produce fruit that isn’t lasting. It’s only the supernatural resurrection life of Christ in us that results in the kind of harvest God desires. Because of this, Jesus says we’ll know false prophets by their fruit. What they produce – whether it lasts or is corruptible – will define their spiritual health. The same truth, however, applies to believers. The more deeply rooted we are in Christ, the more lasting will be the fruit we produce. Our spiritual health depends on our relationship with Jesus. The richer and deeper this is, the better the fruit. It’s a logical analogy to consider fertilizing and dressing of fruit trees. Good feeding means good harvest, and our food is Christ and His life in us.
Fruit that remains is important because it produces future harvests. Fruit from a single tree provides more trees, which in turn provide more fruit. It’s God’s principle of multiplication at work. But it’s also His way of disseminating the resurrection life of Jesus. Producing fruit is, in essence, making disciples. The fruit lasts and produces a harvest of its own, and the cycle is repeated, ensuring eternal harvest. What we put into the lives of others will reflect our spiritual health. This is a simple truth because when we are deeply rooted in Christ, His life manifests through us. His work and ministry continues in us. We are simply the tree. It’s the life of Jesus that flows through us and produces fruit according to His purpose. He decides between apples, pears, and apricots, and our connection or relationship with Him determines the quality and quantity of the harvest.
God works in us to produce fruit that remains.
Another wonderful truth in our verse today is that God works in us to produce fruit that remains. If Jesus chooses us and appoints us, He’ll make sure it happens. Trees don’t stress about which orchard they’re in or which type of harvest they should produce. This is fundamental to producing fruit that lasts. God decides when, what, and how. We simply have to root ourselves and grow in Him. He provides all the nourishment we need, and He prunes us and tends us with infinite care. In His hands, we are assured of everything needed to fulfil His purposes. But we have to choose to take root and grow. We also have to accept that we don’t have a say in any of it. Joyful surrender to His purposes is all that is required. The command to bear fruit isn’t something we have to struggle with or work at.
Our great blessing in all this is the life of Christ in us. The deeper our root is in Him, the greater the life that flows through us. A tree that bears healthy fruit is a healthy tree. It’s stem and branches are sound. The leaves are whole and shining. Everything about it speaks a supernatural vitality. It’s a dynamic life that must overflow, and it does so in fruit that remains. That same life that is in us infuses the fruit and makes it grow and flourish in turn. And God does it all. That’s a pretty awesome thought in a world that is intensely focused on achievement, success, and self-aggrandisement. Thinking of producing fruit for God, who is perfect, can be daunting. Knowing that He is the one who determines, devises, and delivers is a wonderful relief and a powerful encouragement.
Effective prayer and fruit that remains.
There is one little word which joins the fruit section to the ask for anything in Jesus’ name statement. The word ‘that’ tells us that asking is dependent on the bearing of fruit that remains. This is a truth seldom preached, which explains why so many believers are disappointed when they take this promise at face value out of context. In simple terms, Jesus says that when we fulfil what we are chosen and appointed to do, which is to bear fruit that remains, we will then be able to ask for anything in His name and expect results. It’s a conditional promise. Without the conditions, the promise will not operate. We can declare and claim the promise until the cows come home. That won’t change what God has put in place. Obedience and surrender to our purpose in Him are the criteria by which the promise is released.
We must understand this correctly and not come under condemnation because we ‘aren’t bearing fruit’ as we imagine we should. Our verses don’t talk of quantity but quality. Neither do they stipulate the size or type of fruit. To God, fruit is fruit. He created trees to bear large and small fruit in every colour and shape. What’s important is that there is fruit, and that means rooted in Him. The issue of prayer in this context relates to spiritual authority – using the name of Jesus. Unless we are surrendered, obedient, and in relationship, we cannot speak in His name. Only when we fully identify with Christ can we pray in His name. Otherwise, it’s self usurping His name and will not bring results. Rooted in Him means fruit through Him. Our focus must be Jesus. Everything else, including the authority in prayer, will follow because it’s His purpose.
Fruit that remains and the work of the cross.
The death and resurrection of Jesus fits perfectly into our analogy of fruit that remains. As a ‘seed,’ He was buried and rose again as a ‘tree of life’ to bear fruit through us. As seeds from that original tree, our purpose is to continue the work Jesus accomplished on the cross. It’s perfect and complete but is released through the fruit in our lives. His death and resurrection are multiplied to feed the multitude. He is the life, the source of fruit that lasts. But He is also the focus of who we are and what we do. As our all in all, He provides for all with no lack. It’s not about working for God but about living in Him. Deep-rooted and united with Jesus, we can accomplish any purpose for which we are chosen and anointed, because He has already done it on the cross.
When we see Your wisdom and grace, Lord, we cannot help but rejoice. Thank You for reminding us of our purpose in Jesus and that You have already taken care of the details. Help us to draw nearer and root ourselves deeper, and to freely surrender to Your perfect work in us so that we can bear fruit that lasts for Your glory and the extension of Your kingdom. Forgive us if we have prayed presumptuously, and help us to walk in surrender and obedience so that the authority of Jesus can never be misused.