Teaching Tips Episode 252

Today I answer another question from a friend. In summary, his question centres on whether it is appropriate to use the teaching about bearing fruit in John 15 to encourage an expectation of what is called “personal fruitfulness”.

I share some thoughts about the nature of the mission, our particular historical emphases in the International churches of Christ, and the downplaying of the personal element by the apostle Paul (1 Cor 1:14). We also look at Old Testament context (Is 5:1-7)

Fruit bearing is not a test, but a by-product of abiding. It’s not ‘produce or die’, but ‘abide and produce’, it is not a demand, but a promise. Love for Jesus and one another is at the core of the discourse from John 13 to 17 (Jn 15:12; Jn 13:34-35)

“If we are to ask what fruitbearing signifies, the broad answer of Bultmann is adequate: “every demonstration of vitality of faith, to which, according to vv 9–17, reciprocal love above all belongs”; we may add, in the light of v 16, “to which also effective mission in bringing to Christ men and women in repentance and faith belongs”. Taken from the Word Biblical Commentary

Your gift might be inviting people to church, it might be teaching them, it might be hospitality, or it might be something else. All of us have gifts and opportunities to help people become Christians, but it is not narrowly limited to bringing people to the community of faith.

What I am suggesting should take the pressure off, but makes it no easier!
It is simpler and simplistic to take attitude, “I just need to invite people to church to clear my conscience that I am ‘on the mission’.”

But the truth is deeper and more wonderful, if no less challenging, because it’s the question as to whether I am truly abiding in Christ, and truly, deeply, in a Christlike way loving my brothers and sisters which is more fundamental.

What are your thoughts on this question?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: [malcolm@malcolmcox.org](mailto:malcolm@malcolmcox.org).

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm