Proving Our Discipleship for God’s Glory
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”- John 15:8
Jesus “has no one in his flock who does not bear fruit to the glory of God.” This comment by John Calvin on today’s passage summarizes one of the major points that Christ makes in the parable of the vine in John 15:1–11. Spiritual fruitfulness marks the true Christian, for it proves that we are Christ’s disciples (v. 8). Many people profess to follow Jesus and yet show no desire to keep His commandments. Those who continue in such a state prove themselves to be false branches who were never united to Christ to begin with. As such, they are dead and fit only for destruction (v. 6). True Christians will bear the fruit of good works of service to God and neighbor. Those who bear little fruit God will prune so that they bear more fruit (v. 2). He will discipline us, even allowing suffering in our lives, so that we will bear a more abundant crop.
This fruit-bearing, Jesus tells us in today’s passage, is ultimately for the glory of God (v. 8). The love we show to others through our works of service to the Lord is not an end in itself. We do not do good works merely to do good works, though they are essential. Instead, our good works have as their end goal the glory of our Creator. The Father, Jesus indicates in John 15:8, is glorified by our fruitfulness. But why does our fruitfulness glorify Him? Because in the final analysis, God is the One who bears the fruit through us.
We find hints of this in verse 7, where Jesus connects our abiding in Him with answered prayer. Only God, of course, can answer prayer, so when we pray for fruitfulness and fruitfulness ensues, it is because God has done the work. He may use us, but He is the One who finally makes it happen. Moreover, Jesus tells us in John 14:12–17 that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will do greater works than He did on earth. But as we noted in our study of that text, these greater works that we do in the new covenant era are not works from which He is absent. The ascended Christ is actually doing these works in and through us. Though He is present in heaven according to His humanity, He is empowering His people by His Spirit and is present with them by the same Spirit, such that the righteous deeds of the church are ultimately the righteous deeds of Christ. And since whatever the Son does, the Father also does (5:19), this means that our good works are the works of the Father as well. The Father is glorified by our fruit because He is the One who produces the fruit in and through us.
Expositing the parable of the vine, Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary John: “As Christians, we will bear fruit, but it will vary in degree. The closer we stay to Christ, the more fruit we will bear.” Since our fruitfulness glorifies God, we should seek to bear as much fruit as possible. As we meditate on Christ’s words, seek to serve Him, and repent when we sin, our fruitfulness will increase, and the glory of God will be more fully seen in our lives.
Passages for Further Study