BEING PRUNED IN ORDER TO BEAR MORE FRUIT
According to John 15, if we mean business with the Lord, the Father will prune, cut, and purge us. All the branches need a certain kind of trimming. I am somewhat reluctant to say this because I do not want to disappoint you or scare you away. However, if you go to the best husbandman to ask him how he helps the branches to bear fruit, he will tell you that he prunes them. Some branches do not bear fruit because they are short of pruning. When the brothers and sisters mean business with the Lord, and the Father comes in to put His hand upon them and prune them, right away the preaching of the gospel becomes prevailing. On the other hand, we may be very comfortable. If someone asks, “How are you?”, we may say, “Everything is fine.” However, everything is not fine for the gospel preaching. The more everything is fine, the more we are not prevailing in gospel preaching. When one day the environment, our situation, is not so fine, even upside down, that will be the prevailing time for gospel preaching.
Many dear saints cannot preach the gospel prevailingly when they are healthy. However, once the Father, the Husbandman, touches the branch a little, their health is gone; they have some kind of illness. At that time their preaching becomes prevailing. While we are prosperous, we may tell people that they need Jesus and that they must believe in Him, but this may be like the daughters of Lot talking to the people in Sodom. People will not care for this kind of speaking and will listen to it in the same way that they listen to the news. However, we may lose our business, lose other things, or have other troubles. We may suffer something. This is the trimming, the cutting, the purging, and the breaking. This will cause us as branches to bring forth fruit. The Husbandman, who is the Father, knows how to prune us.
John 15 is very significant. In this chapter the Father has the intention to work all that He is, all the fullness of the Godhead in Christ, into the branches of the vine that they may bear fruit. There is much need for the Father to work all His fullness into us that we may bear fruit, that is, that we may have the outflow of the inner life, which is the reality of the fullness of the Father. The outflow of the inner life is the fruit, and many times this outflow comes out only by trimming, cutting, and pruning.
ABIDING IN CHRIST IN ORDER TO BEAR FRUIT
In order to have a prevailing outreach of the gospel, we must learn how to abide in Christ. To abide in Christ means to keep ourselves in fellowship with Christ. All the time we must let Christ abide in us. There must be an inner flow between us and Christ. We have to abide in Him and let Him abide in us. Then whatever He wishes, whatever He speaks, His Word, His intention, will abide within us. There is the need of such a living fellowship between us and the Lord.
Again, this does not mean that we should not open our mouth to preach the gospel. It means that our preaching with our mouth depends on the real inner flow of Christ. We must have the inner flowing in Christ and with Christ. Then, whenever we open our mouth, there will be the prevailing power, not merely an outward power but the power of the inner life.
ASKING WHATEVER WE WILL FOR FRUIT-BEARING
We also have to learn how to pray for this outreach. John 15:7 and 8 say, “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. In this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and so you will become My disciples.” This portion deals with prayer. Whatever we ask, the Father will answer. This means that we ask for certain persons to be brought to the Lord to be a part of the increase of Christ. In the past some young ones came to me and said, “In John 15:7 the Lord promised that whatever we ask, He will give to us. For several years I asked the Lord to give me the best college so I may get a Ph.D., but He has not fulfilled His promise.” If we read the context of this chapter, however, we will realize that the prayer mentioned here by the Lord is that certain persons may be brought into the increase of Christ. It is a prayer for people to become fruit as the outflow of the inner life.
If we add all the foregoing items together, we can see where our shortage is and why our preaching is not prevailing. Many in today’s Christianity think that gospel preaching is a matter of activities, evangelistic campaigns, and crusades. It is not so. The real gospel preaching is the outflow of Christ through you and through me. That is the increase of Christ.
(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)