The following is the substance of some ministry at Stillwater Quarterly Meeting in Eighth Month 2008.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing… Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. John 15, verses 4, 5, 7, 8
Jesus lived in an agricultural community, and many of His parables relate to the Creation. If His time had been 2008, Jesus might have compared us to an html document with missing closing tags, something that would probably be easier to understand for most Americans than husbandry.
There are many references to fruit. We are known by our fruit (Matthew 7:20). A good tree (heart) bringeth forth good fruit (Matthew 7:17). The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Bearing fruit brings glory to God.
There are important parallels to spiritual fruit and physical fruit. Sometimes in conversation, someone will say something with the spiritual meaning of “Hey, come and taste this persimmon. Thee has not had a persimmon like this one!” Thee can hold it and know it by its skin and shape. When biting into it, its flesh provides thee spiritual nourishment. Inside are the seed. Natural seed hold the DNA of the tree, but spiritual seed have the DNA of Christ Jesus. Spiritual seed point the recipient to Christ, not to the bearer of the fruit.
After eating a spiritual fruit, thy soul will hunger for more of this refreshment. If faithful, thou canst experience what is described in the scriptures as being engrafted onto the spiritual tree. Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
When it pleases the Lord to graft thee onto the spiritual tree (see John 15 quoted above), He will help thee to produce spiritual fruit for others. It is the xylem and phloem of Christ that works through thee to produce fruit. We often produce such fruit without even knowing it.
However, when we try to take the credit, the fruit fails us – and we fall off the spiritual tree like an old dead limb. But don’t despair – learn from thy mistake and lay hold again on the eternal life He has for thee. Sometimes falling from a tree will make it possible for thee to return to the True vine with renewed vigor. The Lord is not done with thee yet, so don’t lose heart - go ask for another of those special persimmons! His exciting work still awaits thee – don’t miss it!