Why are so many Christians stagnant in their faith? Why do we often live as though the gospel stops at the moment of conversion?
The good news of Jesus doesn’t stop the moment we get saved. In fact, salvation is only the beginning of God’s work in our lives. We often view salvation as the ending point; it’s really the beginning point. The gospel of Jesus doesn’t only justify us; it sanctifies us. When we receive the Holy Spirit at salvation, an incredible work begins to happen in us: we begin to bear fruit. When we are firmly planted in the gospel and committed to growing in Christ, He produces in us the fruits of the Spirit, the marks of a true Christian.
In Bearing Fruit, Robby Gallaty walks us through the life of the Christian. Biblical, intentional, and practical, Bearing Fruit points our hearts to the gracious God who called us, justified us, and is now sanctifying us by the work of his Holy Spirit.
|Publisher:||B&H Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)|
|Age Range:||3 Months to 18 Years|
About the Author
Robby Gallaty is the Senior Pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, TN. He was radically saved out of a life of drug addiction on November 12, 2002. In 2008, he began Replicate Ministries to equip and train men and women to be disciples who make disciples. He is also the author of Creating An Atmosphere to Hear God Speak (2009), Unashamed: Taking a Radical Stand for Christ (2010), Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples (2013), Firmly Planted: How to Cultivate a Faith Rooted in Christ (2015), Rediscovering Discipleship: Making Jesus’ Final Words Our First Work (2015), MARCS of a Disciple (2016), and The Forgotten Jesus: Why Western Christians Should Follow an Eastern Rabbi (2017).
Read an Excerpt
How Fruit Grows
The Absolute Necessity of Abiding in Christ
A friend of mine builds effects pedals for electric guitar players. Using these pedals, with the click of a button or the turn of a knob, a guitarist can alter the sound coming from his instrument. He can cause it to chop like a helicopter, distort like a speaker turned up too loud, or echo like a sound resonating through an expansive cave.
The principle behind effects pedals is incredibly simple. Using what are called pickups, the sound from a guitar is turned into an electrical signal, then carried to an amplifier, which converts the electrical signal into an audible sound. The effects pedals sit between the pickup and the amplifier, altering the electrical signal that is eventually heard.
He told me about a time when he was building a pedal for a friend and, for some reason, it just wasn't working. He had connected all of the different capacitors, transistors, and resistors in the order they were presented on his schematic, secured the input and output jacks on the side of the pedal casing, and ensured that both the guitar and amplifier worked — but when he turned on the pedal to test it out, nothing happened.
He retested all of the connections, traced the path of the signal to make sure there weren't any problems in the wiring, and tested each element individually to ensure there were no faults in the circuit. Everything was perfect, except for one thing. He had forgotten to connect the power adapter to the wall. As soon as he did, the pedal sprang to life and functioned exactly as he'd designed it.
Sadly, many believers attempt to live the Christian life in a similar way: unplugged from the power of the Holy Spirit. One of the most overlooked aspects of the Christian life is the absolute necessity of abiding in Jesus in order to bear his fruit.
Abiding in Christ
In his Gospel, John records seven statements of Jesus in which he declared himself to be certain things. These are often referred to as the seven "I Am" statements:
"I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again" (6:35).
"I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life" (8:12).
"Truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. ... If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture" (10:7, 9).
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (10:11).
"I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live" (11:25).
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (14:6).
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser" (15:1 esv).
Notice what the seventh (and final) "I Am" statement says. Jesus calls himself a vine. The reasoning behind this will likely astound even the most seasoned believers. Let us explore it for a moment.
Christ as Our Source: The True Vine
Throughout the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was frequently likened to a vine. One of the most splendid examples of this is found in Isaiah 5, appropriately titled "The Song of the Vineyard." Isaiah begins the passage as the narrator, saying that he is singing about "my beloved" and his "vineyard on a very fertile hill" (v. 1 esv). He describes the intentionality with which a vinedresser cultivates the finest crop: "He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines" (v. 2 esv). Anyone who has planted a garden understands both the care that goes into this process and the effort that is required. One does not accidentally grow a garden.
Beginning with verse 3, however, the speaker shifts from Isaiah to the Vinedresser (God). He states, "Judge between me and my vineyard" (esv). The tone of the song likewise shifts. "And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste" (vv. 5–6 esv).
Okay, but this is all poetry, right? It's just metaphor for thoughts and feelings and emotions, isn't it? No. Here is the kicker: the Lord proclaims, "For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting" (v. 7 esv). Isaiah then brings the passage out of the realm of metaphor and into the realm of historical fact, "Therefore my people go into exile" (v. 13 esv). Look at what has happened. God planted his people, his vine. The vine started bearing bad fruit ("wild grapes," according to verse 4). No matter how many times Israel was brought back into God's graces, they always found ways to mess it up.
In John 15:1, Jesus' words, in light of this passage, have particular weight. Saying "I am the true vine" (emphasis mine) brings all of this discussion of Israel-as-vine into sharp relief. Where Israel proved herself unfaithful, Jesus proved himself to be her unblemished fulfillment as the true Israel. He is the perfect bridge between imperfect man and holy God.
Surely the disciples recognized this, right? Consider where they were moments before he spoke this: they were reclining at the Last Supper over wine. Luke 22 reveals that just before Judas went out to betray Jesus, he offered a physical analogy: "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you" (v. 20). Jesus showed them that his very blood was the new wine, his very body the true vine. They had walked with him for almost three years and witnessed that every word he ever spoke came true, and now he was making a blatant reference to a well-established analogy. Surely they understood the symbolism.
Yet this would not be the first time they missed what was right in front of their eyes. After Jesus fed the five thousand and then the four thousand, for example, the following took place:
They were discussing among themselves that they did not have any bread. Aware of this, he said to them, "Why are you discussing the fact you have no bread? Don't you understand or comprehend? Do you have hardened hearts? Do you have eyes and not see; do you have ears and not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of leftovers did you collect?" "Twelve," they told him. "When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of pieces did you collect?" "Seven," they said. And he said to them, "Don't you understand yet?" (Mark 8:16–21, emphasis mine)
Historically, seeing and hearing the truth of God had not been enough to convince Jesus' disciples, but he was not about to let them miss it again. On the way to the garden of Gethsemane to pray for the final time before his death, Jesus taught one final, absolutely crucial lesson: he was the True Vine. But that was only part of the final truth he desired to communicate.
God as the Caretaker: The Gardener
"I am the true vine," Jesus said, "and my Father is the vinedresser" (John 15:1 esv). The vinedresser — or gardener — has the job of caring for the vines and tending to the branches of his garden. Unless you are acquainted with grapes, however, much of the process may be a mystery to you, as it was to me. The Old Farmer's Almanac gives some insight as to just how arduous (and rewarding) the task of vinekeeping can be.
First, one must construct a trellis. The Almanac states, "Grape vines will need to be trained to some sort of support to grow upward." This structure and protection cuts the risk of obtaining diseases spread by ground-dwelling critters. The vines are to be planted six to ten feet apart so their roots and branches have room to spread; the hole should be twelve inches deep and twelve inches wide. The vinedresser is to periodically trim the top two or three buds while steadily watering the plants.
Second, for the first couple of years, the gardener's job is to keep the vines from producing fruit — that is, until the vines have been sufficiently established. For the first few years, the roots are not strong enough to support a fruit-bearing vine. They are to be pruned in March or April, before the buds swell and after the harsh winters. The Almanac continues, "Not only would vines run rampant without control, but canes will only produce fruit once." Surprisingly, in order to ensure a high-quality product, as much as 90 percent of the previous season's growth should be pruned.
Here's the key: the more one prunes, the more grapes one will produce. In the first year, "cut back all buds except for 2 or 3. ... Select a couple of strong canes and cut back the rest." In the second year, you are to prune back all of the canes. "Leave a couple of buds on each of the arms. Remove flower clusters as they form."
I think the point is clear. Planting a vineyard requires great care and attention, with special emphasis on frequent, dramatic pruning. So what do we learn from Jesus calling his Father the vinedresser?
Tending the Vines
After he has planted the vineyard, we see that God prunes his branches, which are his followers, in two ways. First, he cuts off the dead wood. If small branches grow among the living ones, diseases and insects can kill the plant. He breaks these dead branches off because he doesn't want anything to hinder the production of fruit. Consider the following biblical texts:
Do not despise the Lord's instruction, my son, and do not loathe his discipline; for the Lord disciplines the one he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights. (Prov. 3:11–12)
Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline — which all receive — then you are illegitimate children and not sons ... No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb. 12:7–8, 11)
Second, he trims the living tissue. Some living branches can reduce the quality and quantity of fruit by robbing the vine of nutrients it requires to grow. As anyone who has endured suffering knows, this is painful. He severs off those good things from our lives so that we can enjoy the best things. How does God prune us, then, since we are not exactly sticks and leaves growing out of the ground? He removes the insects, bugs, diseases, and life-sucking sprigs from our life, which can be wasteful activities, ambivalent attitudes, and counterproductive habits. He eliminates anything that hinders us from bearing fruit to the fullest.
So often we find ourselves filling our schedules with busyness and frivolous activities. Perhaps it is something harmful, like substance abuse, compulsive shopping, pornography, or excessive drinking. Perhaps it's something less obvious, like selfish control in relationships or working long hours at the office at the neglect of spending time with family. Maybe he's pruning even more subtle things than those: laziness or a slothful attitude. Whatever the Gardener sees fit to prune, he will — for the sake of producing good fruit.
Believers: The Branches
By itself, a branch is weak and brittle. If it weren't for the fruit a branch may produce, it would be worth little more than a stick for whittling. You can't build a house or construct a bench with a branch. In fact, branches are only used for one of two purposes: bearing or burning. Either they are left on the vine to bear fruit or they are gathered into a bunch and burned.
What makes a branch useful is not what it is in itself, but how connected it is to the vine. You can see how Christ's analogy is taking shape, and Scripture affirms it repeatedly. We are the bride and Jesus is the bridegroom (Eph. 5:25–33), believers are the members and Christ is the body (1 Cor. 12), and we are the sheep and Jesus is the shepherd (John 10). By ourselves, we are nothing but kindling; connected to the vine, the body, or the shepherd, we find our purpose. Indeed, you, as a branch, can do nothing apart from him. The more quickly you realize this, the more quickly you will acknowledge your dependence on him and your need for his strength.
So what is our role as a branch? In this metaphor, God's role is to plant and cultivate the vineyard; it is Christ who is the Vine, and we depend entirely on the Vine for strength. How does this happen? Jesus elaborates in John 15:4: "Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me."
The Greek word for "remain," as some translations put it, is a difficult one to translate into English. Of the 120 occurrences in the New Testament alone, the word is translated as abide, remain, dwell, continue, tarry, and endure. The word is used eleven times in the first eleven verses of John 15. Rather than trying to pin down an accurate English word for it, however, it would serve us well to figure out how it is we are to abide, remain, dwell, tarry, and continue.
When a person submits to the lordship of Christ, he begins to work in us so that he can work through us. When we make him our home, he takes up residence in us. Think of your home. Your home is your base of operation. It is a place of comfort, security, and familiarity. It is what you await after a long, difficult day. It is where you find refreshment and renewal. It is where you keep the things you love the most. If Christ tells us to abide in him, what he is saying is, "Draw all of your hope, security, satisfaction, joy, refreshment, and renewal from me!"
Just as we feel most protected in our homes, where we are comfortable and secure, we are strengthened likewise in Christ. But Jesus takes it a step further. He asserts that, not only do we find our comfort and security in him, but without him, we can produce nothing, and we prove that we're lost.
Jesus offers a stern warning to those who think they can produce fruit apart from Christ's strength. He alludes to Ezekiel 15:1–8, in which God warns Israel (the incomplete vine) they will experience judgment if they don't produce fruit.
When Jesus says we can do nothing apart from him, he is not saying we can't do anything good in our own strength. There are millions of people around the world who do noteworthy things without Christ. What he is saying, however, is that on our own, we cannot manufacture fruit that God will accept. When you are separated from the vine, you are fruitless and useless to God.
Have you ever played the game Monopoly? It can be a lot of fun, but if you're like me, it can become a full-contact sport. At some point it can cease being an exercise in entertainment and become an effort to amass the most properties. It is about winning! Why? It's not just that we want to win; it's that we want our opponents to lose. If you play the game really well and you're savvy in property acquisition and hotel building, you win big — you may acquire every dollar of Monopoly money on the board.
However, were you to take all of that money to the grocery store to purchase your week's groceries, the cashier would not allow you to hand over that hard-earned Monopoly cash and leave with store-bought goods. You might respond, "You don't understand; I own hotels on Park Place and Boardwalk!" The store management would reply, "No, you don't understand! We only accept U.S. currency." The currency of the Monopoly world cannot measure up to the currency of the U.S. Mint.
Your self-righteousness is like Monopoly money in real life — it is acceptable currency in the game, but in God's economy it doesn't amount to anything. He requires a different set of currency. The currency in his kingdom is his righteousness. We can perform all the good deeds we desire in our own strength, but we will fall short of the "real currency" of heaven. Isaiah 64:6 asserts that "All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind."
Believers are expected to produce fruit. However, on our own strength, we are unable to produce fruit that is acceptable to God. A self-dependent branch is as useful to God as an unfruitful believer. Therefore, if there is no fruit in your life, it may be that you're an unbeliever to begin with. Repent of your sins, put your faith in Christ, and begin walking with him today!
Excerpted from "Bearing Fruit"
Copyright © 2017 Robby Gallaty.
Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 How Fruit Grows: The Absolute Necessity of Abiding in Christ 5
Chapter 2 The Fruit of Repentance: Preparing a Path for God 21
Chapter 3 The Fruit of Ministry: A Ministry with No Regrets 35
Chapter 4 The Fruit of Sanctification: God's Work in Our Lives 49
Chapter 5 The Fruit of Righteousness: You Only Grow in What You Know 61
Chapter 6 The Fruit of Good Works: Your Work Done God's Way for His Glory 73
Chapter 7 The Fruit of the Spirit: The Flavor of the Fruit 87
Chapter 8 The Fruit of Praise: Unending Worship 101
Appendix: Foundations 260 (F260) 117
About the Author 131
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
BEARING FRUIT by pastor Robby Gallaty is part of a trio of books by books published by B&H Publishing Group on the topic of discipleship (the other two titles being Growing Up and Firmly Planted --- also published by B&H Publishing). This particular title focuses on the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22,23. But rather than an in-depth exposition of each of the fruits mentioned in that passage, Gallaty probes a more extensive exposition of the allegory of fruit as compared to the evidences of the life of God that should be evident in the lives of Christians. The author wants to show that sanctification --- the process on Earth where the believer cooperates with the action and leading of the Holy Spirit to become more like Christ --- is a natural growth function of life as a new creature in Christ. Just as a human baby would be treated as ill and nutritionally comprised if he did not learn to eat and digest adult food, and to grow physically, emotionally and mentally; so too a Christian is expected to display spiritual maturity and the evident inner changes wrought by the Holy Spirit as time goes on. As Gallaty writes, "Believers are expected to sanctify themselves in the Lord through the strength and power of the Spirit within each of us. We walk in the Spirit…when we allow God to work in us and to work through us." And the evidences of that work and sanctification [growth] are the fruits of character and attitude called the "fruits of the Spirit" in Galatians 5. The author makes a very good point in showing that the term "fruit" is actually used in several places in the New Testament outside of the passage in Galatians, and so a number of chapters are taken up with examining those passages and their meaning to the overall topic of spiritual growth and sanctification. After delving into a thorough explanation of the idea of abiding in Christ, the next chapters look at fruits of repentance, ministry, sanctification, righteousness, good works, love-joy-peace and others in Galatians 5; and finally, the fruit of praise. Writing in a clear and humble manner, Gallaty displays keen insights into both human behavior and psychology, as well as the truths of Scripture and church history to encourage believers to pursue a lifetime and lifestyle of growth by learning to yield to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and keep in step with Him on a daily basis. A quick read, but with much spiritual nourishment to be gained in less than 200 pages. Recommended especially for lay leaders and those who wish to become "disciples who make disciples."
Bearing Fruit… I found this book to be packed full of wonderful truths that I’m excited to mull-over. Each chapter is another aspect of fruit in our lives and it’s a great reference to go to which ever one I’m feeling drawn to by the Spirit to read and pray over any things that He might be helping me see in my own life. I found chapter 7 to be my favorite and loved how he mentioned that the fruit that is in us is for others… it’s a way to show the Gospel to others. We need to be constantly weeding our spiritual gardens just like weeding my own garden. If I let it go, I will lessen my harvest if I receive a harvest at all (it might just choke out my plant and kill it). With hands laid out before the Lord, my prayer is that the Gardener would do the cultivation needed in me to bear the fruit He desires, knowing it’s NOT an overnight process. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.