Nov 13

If you’ve ever noticed the word “vintage” on a bottle of wine with a year next to it, did you wonder what that meant? Or perhaps you’ve heard someone mention that a certain vintage was “a very good year.” The vintage of a wine refers to the grape crop of which it was made. So, a wine from a certain vineyard might be very good one year and not as good another year. It depends on the fruit. The Jewish people Jesus spoke to would have well understood the concept of vintage. It’s likely why He used the metaphor of vines and branches to deliver a critically important message:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:1-8 (NIV)

Jesus’ central point here is basic. Apart from the Father, we can do nothing that impacts the Kingdom of God. We can do nothing to bring glory to God if we are disconnected from Him. What is less clear is this: What exactly is the fruit to which Jesus refers? The Apostle Paul makes that clear in Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV):

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

When we remain connected to God, the fruit we produce is the character of Christ. If you were to describe Jesus to a spiritual police sketch artist, these characteristics are what you would use. It’s important to understand though, that they are not ours. They are the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Rather than say “the fruit of the Spirit,” it might be more appropriate to say, “the Spirit’s fruit.” It is His fruit. And it is singular. One fruit, nine characteristics.

Whether or not we produce fruit that pleases God, whether we remain connected to the vine, depends on two things:

  1. Have we received the Holy Spirit?
  2. Are we filled with the Holy Spirit?

These are not the same thing. I can have a 1,000-gallon gasoline tank at my home. But if I don’t fill my car’s gas tank with some of it, it does me no good.  It’s the same with the Holy Spirit. Receiving Him is a one-time event. Being filled with Him isn’t necessarily an all-the-time thing. We have to surrender to be filled. Then we will produce God-pleasing fruit. But we can’t do this on our own. We must surrender to God’s Spirit.

Over the next three weeks, we will be examining the fruit of the Spirit. While we look at each one individually, there will be a common thread: Only the Spirit can produce this fruit in us. Whether the vintage of our life in Christ is “a good year” is determined by the fruit we produce. We will start next week with love, joy and peace. We hope you join us on a journey fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit!

— Pastor Jerry Bader

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