"Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples" (John 15:8)
And, are those who do not bear much fruit not disciples? They may be, but in a backward and immature stage. Of those who bear much fruit, Christ says, in effect, "These are My disciples, such as I would have them be- these are true disciples." We say about someone in whom the idea of manliness is realized: That is a man! Likewise, our Lord reveals who are disciples after His heart, worthy of the name: Those who bear much fruit.
We find this double sense of the word "disciple" in the Gospel. Sometimes, it is applied to all who accept Christ's teaching. At other times, it includes only the inner circle of those who followed Christ wholly, and gave themselves to His training for service. The difference has existed throughout all ages. There have always been a smaller number of God's people who have sought to serve Him with their whole heart, while the majority have been content with a very small amount of the knowledge of His grace and will.
And what is the difference between this smaller inner circle and the many who do not seek admission to it? We find it in the words: "much fruit." With many Christians, the thought of personal safety - at first, a legitimate reason to believe - remains throughout life as the one aim of their faith in God. The idea of service and fruit is always a secondary and very subordinate thought. The honest longing for much fruit does not trouble them. Souls that have heard the call to live wholly for their Lord - to give their life for Him as He gave His for them - can never be satisfied with this. Their cry is to bear as much fruit as they possibly can, as much as their Lord can ever desire or give through them.
Bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples. I beg every reader to consider these words most seriously. Do not be content with the thought of gradually doing a little more or better work. In this way it may never come. Take the words, "much fruit", as the promise which your heavenly Vine reveals about what you must and can be. Fully accept the impossibility - the utter folly - of attempting it in your own strength. Let the words call you to look on the Vine anew, and undertake to live out their heavenly fullness in you. Let them waken in you once again the faith and the confession, "I am a branch of the true Vine. I can bear much fruit to His glory, and the glory of the Father."
We need not judge others. But, we see in God's Word everywhere that there are two classes of disciples. Let there be no hesitation as to where we take our place. Let us ask Him to reveal to us how He asks and claims a life which is wholly given up to Him. Let us ask to be as full of His Spirit as He can make us. Let our desire be nothing less than perfect cleansing, unbroken abiding, closest communion, abundant fruitfulness - true branches of the true Vine.
The world is perishing; the Church is failing; Christ's cause is suffering. Christ is grieving on account of the lack of wholehearted Christians bearing much fruit. Though you hardly see what it implies or how it is to come, say to Him that you are His branch to bear much fruit. Tell Him that you are ready to be His disciple in His own meaning of the word.
My disciples. Blessed Lord, much fruit is the proof that You, the true Vine, have in me a true branch - a disciple wholly at Your disposal. Give me, I pray, the childlike consciousness that my fruit is pleasing to You, what You count as much fruit. Amen