By Ryan Shaw
Ryan is the international lead facilitator for Student Volunteer Movement 2 – SVM2- and currently lives among the unreached.
Themes of John 15
John 15 is a powerful chapter and one that all believers should commit to study and re-study often. If taken to heart and proactively responded to, this little chapter will revolutionize our lives as followers of Christ.
Secondly, it will rightly prepare us to be faithfully reap the global harvest among the unreached. The entire chapter contains words spoken directly by Jesus which motivates us all the more to take them seriously.
The summary of the chapter is first, that the abiding lifestyle in Christ leads to fruitfulness. Second, wholehearted obedience to Christ’s commands as laid out in scripture produces a harvest of love and joy within. Third, we are to expect opposition as true believers and that it is in the midst of this that the Holy Spirit empowers us for anointed witness.
Blueprint for Fruitfulness
The student mission movement God is building internationally is meant to bear tremendous fruit for God’s eternal Kingdom. The Lord Almighty is moving across the emerging generation of believers internationally with the core purpose of drawing millions who will rightly respond to Him into the life of great fruit producing.
I often wonder if in the Church today we have lowered the standards of fruit bearing that Jesus intends for His people. Or maybe we simply have gotten away from the key scriptural means for how to rightly produce it. This is where John 15 comes in.
It is a blueprint for providing the only avenue through which the people of God can ever hope to produce eternal fruit.
It is not uncommon to find believers striving for fruitfulness with lots of self-effort. This stems often from an inner desire to be recognized, affirmed or find their name in prominence. This cannot and will not produce the eternal fruit that remains that Jesus speaks about.
It might influence people based on the individual’s personality, force of speech and knowledge. Yet those who will see true fruit that remains for eternity will rely only upon the living and abiding life of Christ cultivated within them day by day.
Inner Fruit vs. Outer Fruit
What are we referring to when we speak of bearing fruit? There is inner fruit and outer fruit. Inner fruit consists of regularly growing in the level which the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) is operating within us while also being characterized by the list of virtues highlighted in 2 Peter 1:5-11.
It is consistently growing in Jesus’ greatest command in Mark 12:30,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
It is cooperating with the purpose of God to daily conform each believer into the likeness of Christ often through tests, hardships and adversities. It is having our spirits enlarged to receive an increasingly greater measure of understanding and revelation related to God’s ways.
The student mission movement will not attain to all it is meant to without the emerging generation of believers deliberately choosing to count the cost and place themselves at the feet of Jesus to develop this kind of inner fruit.
Outer fruit consists of the life of Christ within us as genuine believers touching others with whom we come into contact. It is the divine influence felt upon a human heart when they receive words or ministry and something is changed within as a result.
It is the impartation of spiritual truth to others which empowers them to live differently. Outer fruit is people aligning themselves with God’s prescribed ways of following Him. It refers to the genuine operation of the gifts of the Spirit within the people of God.
In the student mission movement this type of fruitfulness surrounds ministries who see hundreds drawn into a lifestyle of abandoned devotion for Christ and subsequently hear and respond to His beating heart for all peoples.
For Fruit that Remains We Must Remain in Him
The essence of verses 1-8 is that God wills His followers to produce eternal fruit that remains. The door to continually growing in the measure of fruitfulness being produced is abiding with Christ. As we purpose our hearts to dwell in intimate relationship with Christ, giving time, energy, dedication and discipline to cultivating our inner life in God, we will see marked changes within and without.
Neglecting this most crucial component of a believer’s life is to set ourselves up for failure in every other arena as Jesus emphatically declares, “Without from Me you can do nothing (verse 5)!”
We are called to root ourselves deeply in Jesus, our Vine, and be willing for the pruning hand of the Vinedresser to set us free from anything that hinders our doing so. Those who submit to Jesus’ leadership in their lives position themselves for progressing from fruit to more fruit to great fruit for God’s Kingdom. This is what we are after in the student mission movement.