Visible Evidence of Christian Maturity :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard


The Production of Spiritual Fruit

John 15:1-8, Genesis 49:22, Isaiah 5:1-7, Matthew 3:8, Romans 7:4, Colossians 1:10

Summary: John 15 presents the themes of fruit-bearing, or the visible evidence of true faith and obedience Jesus demands of those who follow Him (Matthew 10:34-39, Luke 14:25-33). Fruit-bearing Christians, or those who do the work of the LORD, will be blessed by Him and hated by the world.

The German pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, opened the first chapter with these words: “When a man comes to Christ, He bids him come and die.”

Bonhoeffer lived by his own words as he lingered in a concentration camp, condemned to death by the “courts” of the Nazi regime in the closing days of World War 2. He and other pastors had left Germany shortly after Adolf Hitler assumed power over the nation and fled to the safety and neutrality of America. However, over time, he began to hear of the numerous deaths of not only the Jews but of Christian pastors throughout Germany who would not bow to the ideological demands of the Nazis and their demands to twist the churches into their antisemitic and evil mold.

Bonhoeffer returned to Germany, determined to not only give aid and pastoral comfort to the struggling remnant of believers but also became involved in a plot to get rid of Hitler and help to bring down the satanic regime he had organized.

The dictator almost met his death in late 1944 when a bomb hidden in a briefcase exploded near him while he was planning a series of attacks with his generals on Allied personnel, led by men such as Generals Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and Montgomery. Hitler discovered the identities of the conspirators who tried to kill him and had them, their families, and all outside agents either arrested or put to death. Bonhoeffer was arrested and sent to a concentration camp designed to eliminate the Jewish people, the object of Hitler’s rage and hatred, and all who opposed him.

Only ten days before the camps were located and liberated by Allied troops, both American, British and Russian, Bonhoeffer had been hanged and entered into the presence of His LORD. It was April 20, 1945. We look back on these atrocities and ask ourselves why men such as Bonhoeffer and all like-minded Christians in history chose death over compromise, comfort, pleasure, notoriety, and the other characteristics that make up this present world. The common bond is not only a mutual faith in Christ but obedience to His commands, producing the fruit worthy of a harvest rather than lingering and stagnating in the realm of spiritual immaturity, seeing salvation in Christ as a form of “fire insurance” and leaving it at that.

As a pastor, teacher, and preacher of the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ, I cringe and fear for anyone who is crass and brazen enough to see the saving grace and mercy He provided for them and all of us through His work of redemption on the cross as nothing more than an assurance that they said the “right words” or prayed some kind of prayer that they really did not mean or understand.

Worse yet, I hear of people who made a “decision” for Christ, who “walked the aisle” at an “altar call” sometime in their lives while attending a church service, shook the hand of the preacher, got dunked in the baptistry, or sprinkled, and afterward are never seen again, living for their own desires. They live and act like the garden-variety pagan who kisses the trees, protests the latest causes, and is in a state of mind-numbing bliss that has been weaved for them by the very devil who assures some “converts” that everything is all right, to their eternal peril (Matthew 7:21-23).

I have dealt with the tragedy of “false converts” (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23; Mark 4:1-9, 13-20; Luke 8:4-8, 11-15) in previous sermons. I do not want to repeat myself. What I want to do is to show new believers and those who have been real followers of the LORD over the years that salvation in Christ is the foundation of what He expects of us while we are in this world.

We are not to merely sit back, sing hymns, attend our varied church services and wait for the LORD’S soon return (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). As the remnant body of Christ, we are to be busy with the King’s business, producing spiritual fruit such as sharing the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 23:44-49; Acts 1:8), standing firm for the faith (2 Timothy 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15), displaying the characteristics of a life under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and not becoming attached to the things of this world (1John 2:15).

When the Lord Jesus was preparing to depart to the Father after accomplishing His work of redemption on our behalf (John 19:30; Romans 5:6-11), He taught HIs disciples about the concept of bearing spiritual fruit with Him as the true Vine who gives them the ability to grow, mature, and produce the fruit that is expected from them.

He taught that we cannot bear fruit, meaning a spiritual harvest, apart from Him. A branch that is not attached to the vine withers and dies. Being attached to the True Vine (John 15:1-8) means that we are dependent on Him and the ability to do that which is expected of us. We cannot mature in Christ if we believe that it all depends on us. As He explains later in Chapter 16, it is through the power of the Holy Spirit (v.13) that we are able to present the truth of the Gospel or do anything else that glorifies Him.

It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are even drawn to Christ in the first place (John 6:44, 12:32; Romans, Chapter 9). Any kind of “religious work” or “duty” apart from Christ is worth nothing (Psalm 127:1; Jeremiah 10:23; John 3:7; 2 Corinthians 3:5, 4:7) and is as wood, hay, and stubble, fit only for the fire. And there will be some believers who will have nothing to show for their time on earth, getting into heaven saved, yet smelling like smoke (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

In these last days before His return for the church and the coming judgment upon this world for its wickedness described in Revelation, those of us who are serious about our testimony and faith in Jesus Christ cannot afford to merely sit back and wait for the eschatological fireworks to commence. I will repeat this once again as I bring this message to a close. We must be about the King’s business more than ever, praying for the lost, sharing our faith with others even at the cost of ridicule, rejection and persecution (2 Timothy 3:12), staying pure in a filthy world, and have the fruit and gems of our work ready to place before Him when we arrive in His heaven (John 14:1-3).

If you’ve not been producing what Jesus expects, now is the time to come before Him with a repentant heart and be willing to obey His directions and do as He commands in the Scriptures. If you have never made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life and asked Him to save you from your sins, now is the time to do so (Romans 10:9-10, 2 Corinthians 6:2). The season for bearing fruit is coming to a close. Have your harvest ready.


Donald was born and reared in the authentic “Cajun Country” of southern Louisiana. He is a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education/ Biblical Studies, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. In Christian Education, 1994), and Andersonville Baptist Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, Biblical Exposition, 2000). He has been in the Gospel ministry since 1986, serving as an evangelist, interim and supply pastor, hospital and rescue mission chaplain, high school and college teacher, and pastor in churches in Louisiana and Oklahoma.

In 2018 he began to devote his time to the rich field of internet and social media evangelism and outreach. In 2021 he became a member of the Oklahoma Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, using his skills as a writer to contribute articles and sermons to websites such as Rapture Ready, Sermon Central, and Inspirational Christian Blogs. He also writes Bible studies and curricula for churches in southeast and central Asia and Africa, the locations of which are anonymous. He can be contacted at: for inquiries, information, and speaking/preaching engagements. A copy of his resume is also available upon request.