Written by Paul J. Bucknell on June, 11, 2022
John 15:16 Fruit That Remain With Study Questions
Consider the importance of producing fruit that continues to benefit yourself and others—fruit that remains.
In John 15:16, Jesus closes His discussion by illustrating His purpose for calling His people to work with Him. Jesus is the Vine; the believers are the branches.
“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you” (John 15:16, NASB here and elsewhere).
Before going on, let’s define ‘fruit’. The fruit is the good works or deeds that we do. We do good things, like loving others, because of God’s remarkable work in us. Christ’s Spirit works in us to produce this fruit. Even though Jesus is not on earth, He still works through us. This is His life-giving sap flowing from the Vine into the branches. God wants us to bear much fruit, fruit that remains.
How do we bear fruit? By asking the Father in Jesus’ Name to do good deeds, He makes them happen. Think of a tired Mom starting to get impatient with her little one, so she prays a quiet prayer in Jesus’ Name, seeking extra love. That fruit is the gracious patience she exerts through Christ.
Fruit: Positive effects issuing from our lives
Jesus chose us and commanded us to “bear fruit.” His greater purposes for us shown here extend over our whole lives. Fruit, by nature, benefits others and can be used to grow new plants.
When we lean upon God’s grace through our prayers, our lives become outfitted to bless others. The Holy Spirit bears much fruit in the Christian’s life (Gal 5:22-23). (One spiritual gift is giving: “he who gives, with liberality” -Rom 12:8.)
‘Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mat 5:16).
We are not saved by good works but good works are an obvious result of Christ’s Spirit working in us. The Book of Titus repeatedly states this idea (Titus 1:16; 2:7,14; 3:8,14).
Remain: Ongoing Effects
Our chief focus in this article is on the phrase “that your fruit would remain” (John 15:16).
The Lord speaks about long-lasting fruit or those good works that persist in their effects. What has started with God and born through our lives is spread to others to continue doing good. The good works remain!
Remaining doesn’t directly refer to our heavenly rewards for faithfully serving the Lord but the ongoing way the fruit or works continue to extend their effects, perhaps through those who have been blessed.
For example, nobody is surprised to see Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus. We know of their lives and how God powerfully used them in the past. Their works—their fruit, partly seen in their deeds and character, remain with us by their ability to continue to foster faith and encouragement.
Jesus emphasizes the importance of this ongoing aspect, especially for the disciples that later became the Twelve Apostles. Their work’s permanence is of utmost importance as it directly bears on the brilliance of the Gospel being shared worldwide. They are the foundation stones, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone” (Eph 2:20).
Jesus was not only thinking of the Twelve in the Upper Room Discourse. God has His purposes for each believer, as seen earlier in John 15: “He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit” (John 15:5). The contrast is not between the Twelve and the other disciples, but His disciples and the world. We can safely assume that all believers are similarly appointed to bear fruit that remains, even if in a lesser way.
There are several associated truths with the remaining effects.
The Christian should not shy away from being effective for the Lord. The Lord instructed Joshua to seek success (Josh 1:1-6). This success does not allow the braggart to boast about what great things he has or will do. Instead, the focus is entirely on what the Lord, by His powerful grace, does through His broken vessels (i.e., us), therefore bringing thanks and praise to God (Col 1:29).
At times, for example, God might stir your heart to intercede for others. He will accomplish a measure of goodness through your prayers for the sick child lying in a crib or a missionary’s work far away. God’s final work is not necessarily seen, and though hidden, is still at work!
“Remain” has the extended meaning of a lasting positive result. Any good works are done through God’s grace in us. We have nothing to boast of except our Lord, who determines to work through our feeble lives.
As we see His great work in our lives, we regularly witness to others His work. We connect God’s invisible spiritual work with the productivity or provision brought to our lives.
God will reward us for our faithfulness. He has given each believer good deeds to do (Eph 2:10). We cannot rightly accomplish them without His imparted grace. God has planned them for our lives, even if they seem beyond our reach. In time, He allows us to accomplish them, great or small.
God will reward us for our labors: “For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends” (2 Cor 10:18). It’s nice to hang out with great preachers and workers of good works but finding our own niche is critical.
“Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Cor 3:8).
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58).
“Constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father” (1 Thes 1:3).
Our John 15:16 Prayers
Persisting fruit never comes by itself. Only God’s intervening hand can issue and maintain this desirable fruit. For this very reason, we need to think a bit more about the source of this long-lasting fruit.
Jesus wraps up John 15:16 by setting the framework for this remaining fruit, “So that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” Our prayers in Jesus’ Name act as an activating agent in God’s presence to produce this abounding fruit.
When buying fruit trees, we must be careful to see if a tree is self-pollinating or needs another tree for pollination. Prayer acts as this spiritual pollinator, causing the ongoing fruit from our intimate times with God to bear fruit that remains. God uses mysterious ways to answer prayer, but all bring glory to His Name.
No matter what we ask, He desires to give it to us. We couldn’t find a more blanket statement than to ask Him for those good and worthy things He desires; He answers those prayers, though always in His time and manner. He is so gracious to hear our prayers! May we seek Him more in prayer!
Be careful. If we are set on some plan or project but only minimally pray, we should stamp that project: “Short-lived!”
Psalm 90:16-17 reflections on John 15:16
I am intrigued by possible ways Old Testament writers inspired the New Testament writers. I wonder if in the back of Jesus’ mind were words from Moses’ Psalm (Psalm 90).
16Let Your work appear to Your servants and Your majesty to their children. 17Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands. (Psalms 90:16-17)
Effects on our lives
Psalm 90:16 practically defines Jesus’ usage of fruit from a typical garden scene. Every gardener seeks fruit; otherwise, what is the sense of tilling and planting? Although Moses generally speaks of God’s works in verse 16, he narrows down on the contributions coming through our lives, “the work of our hands” in Psalm 90:17.
God’s Special Touch
“Your work” and “Your majesty” speak of God’s special touch upon our lives by which His grace becomes evident to others through our fruit. In verse 17, Moses addresses “the favor of the Lord.” It’s the presence of God’s work that marks it fruitfulness.
God’s confirming work
In verse 17 Moses twice speaks: “confirm the work of our hands.” This confirming aspect is similar to what Jesus refers to in John 15:16 when speaking of fruit that remains. By asking God to confirm, Moses asks the Lord to establish and bear pleasant results in an ongoing manner. Moses is not just speaking of his work but “our hands.”
Moses will soon pass away and thinks of the new generation, the many Israelites through whom God wants to work powerfully. Though God extensively used Moses, the glory of Israel rests in God’s divine work shining in the lives of the many Israelites.
Jesus in John 15:16 gives us an excellent but surprising understanding of how He creates long-lasting fruit through our feeble prayers. Christ desires this fruit from our lives and gives us the key in prayer.
Bible Discussion Questions for John 15:16
“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you” (John 15:16).
- Who does the choosing and appointing? What does this mean?
- How does the general context of John 15 show that Jesus is not only thinking of His twelve disciples in John 15?
- What does fruit mean?
- What beneficial effects does fruit bring?
- State a few synonyms for the word ‘remain.’
- What does Jesus mean by “your fruit would remain?” What does Jesus hope for us?
- How does prayer fit into creating long-lasting fruit?
- Have you ever thought of the fruit your life bears? Give an example of your fruit.
- Only God can make fruit remain. Pray that God will give you long-lasting fruit.
- 10. Read Psalm 90:15-16. How might Moses’ “confirm your work” be the same as Jesus’ fruit that remains?
Other Reading Material on John 15 and Bearing Fruit by Paul J. Bucknell
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