I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide.—Ver. 16.
There are some fruits that will not keep. One sort of pears or apples must be used at once; another sort can be kept over till next year. So there is in Christian work some fruit that does not last. There may be much that pleases and edifies, and yet there is no permanent impression made on the power of the world or the state of the Church. On the other hand, there is work that leaves its mark for generations or for eternity. In it the power of God makes itself lastingly felt. It is the fruit of which Paul speaks when he describes the two styles of ministry: "My preaching was not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." The more of man with his wisdom and power, the less of stability; the more of God's Spirit, the more of a faith standing in God's power.
Fruit reveals the nature of the tree from which it comes. What is the secret of bearing fruit that abides? The answer is simple. It is as our life abides in Christ, as we abide in Him, that the fruit we bear will abide. The more we allow all that is of human will and effort to be cut down short and cleansed away by the Divine Husbandman, the more intensely our being withdraws itself from the outward that God may work in us by His Spirit; that is, the more wholly we abide in Christ, the more will our fruit abide.
What a blessed thought! He chose you, and appointed you to bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide. He never meant one of His Branches to bring forth fruit that should not abide. The deeper I enter into the purpose of this His electing grace, the surer my confidence will become that I can bring forth fruit to eternal life, for myself and others. The deeper I enter into this purpose of His electing love, the more I will realise what the link is between the purpose from eternity, and the fruit to eternity: the abiding in Him. The purpose is His, He will carry it out; the fruit is His, He will bring it forth; the abiding is His, He will maintain it.
Let everyone who professes to be a Christian worker, pause. Ask whether you are leaving your mark for eternity on those around you. It is not your preaching or teaching, your strength of will or power to influence, that will secure this. All depends on having your life full of God and His power. And that again depends upon your living the truly Branch-like life of abiding—very close and unbroken fellowship with Christ. It is the Branch, that abides in Him, that brings forth much fruit, fruit that will abide.
Blessed Lord! reveal to my soul, I pray thee, that Thou hast chosen me to bear much fruit. Let this be my confidence, that Thy purpose can be realised—Thou didst choose me. Let this be my power to forsake everything and give myself to Thee. Thou wilt Thyself perfect what Thou hast begun. Draw me so to dwell in the love and the certainty of that eternal purpose, that the power of eternity may possess me, and the fruit I bear may abide.
That ye may bear fruit. O my Heavenly Vine, it is beginning to dawn upon my soul that Fruit, More fruit—Much fruit—Abiding fruit, is the one thing Thou hast to give me, and the one thing as Branch I have to give Thee. Here I am. Blessed Lord! work out Thy purpose in me; let me bear much fruit, abiding fruit, to Thy glory.