THE LORD’S PURPOSE AND HIS COMMAND
The Lord said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” This choosing transpired in eternity past. Before the foundation of the world, the Lord chose us in Himself (Eph. 1:4). Then in time we were born, and eventually we heard the gospel and believed. By this we know that we have been called, yet we must realize that we have also been appointed. In Greek the word “appointed” really means “set.” The Lord set us in a certain position and in a particular environment. The Lord said, “I appointed you that you should go forth and bear fruit.” The Greek for “should” in this verse has two moods. One is the mood of purpose; the other is the mood of command. The word “that” denotes purpose, and the word “should” denotes command. We see the Lord’s purpose, and we also have a command from the Lord. We should go forth, and we should bear fruit. These are commandments. The Lord set us in a certain position because He has a purpose—that we should go forth and bear fruit. Yet this is not only the Lord’s purpose; it is His command—we should go forth and should bear fruit. Furthermore, the Lord continues, “and that your fruit should remain.” How could our fruit remain? It depends upon us. We have to do a lot to carry out the Lord’s commands. We should go forth, we should bear fruit, and our fruit should remain. Otherwise, the Lord’s purpose cannot be accomplished, and His goal cannot be reached.
To bear remaining fruit is not easy, yet it is the Lord’s command. If you do not go forth, you are disobeying the Lord’s command. When the Lord comes, you will have to face Him and give Him an account. The Lord may ask, “How much fruit have you borne?” You may say, “Lord Jesus, it was too hard. I never went forth.” In John 15, following abiding, that is, following the enjoyment of Christ, there is the matter of fruit-bearing. The Lord may say, “In John 15, I charged you that you should go forth and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” If you do not go today, one day you will be judged by the Lord. Even if you do go forth, yet you would not endeavor to bear fruit, the Lord will condemn you.
To go forth is one thing; to bear fruit is another. To get married is one thing; to deliver a child is another. To get married is not hard; it is an enjoyment. But to deliver a child is a kind of suffering, travailing. The mother must suffer not only on the day of its delivery; she has to suffer for nine months. After the child is born, she must spend all her time and energy so that it will grow and be healthy. Not only should her child “remain,” but it must remain in a proper way. The Lord Jesus spoke in a detailed way concerning bearing fruit because this is not a simple thing to do.
OUR PRAYER FOR REMAINING FRUIT
Now we must consider the remaining portion of verse 16: “That whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give you.” Again the Lord uses the word “that.” The Lord appointed us that we should go forth and bear fruit, that our fruit should remain, and that whatever we ask in His name, the Father may give us. The last point in this verse is to pray not merely in a general way but to “ask…in My name.” The Lord does not intend for us to ask for material things. The Lord’s intention is for us to pray purposely for remaining fruit. Even if we would go forth and bear fruit, and even if we were able to labor much to keep the fruit, our fruit still might not remain.
After doing so much, one thing remains—we have to ask. We may be able to preach, baptize, and bring people to the church meetings, but we cannot give life. Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God made to grow” (1 Cor. 3:6). We must admit our dependence upon the Lord. We can and should do a lot, but whatever we do will not produce the result. The result comes from the Lord’s direct work. However, His direct work depends upon our work. We have to go forth, we have to bear fruit, and we have to work that the fruit will remain. However, whatever we do without His additional doing means nothing.
The final thing that is needed is our asking. We have to pray in a particular way. To ask in His name is to ask for remaining fruit. We must pray: “Lord, I went forth. I worked hard. I preached the gospel to this one. I baptized him and visited him regularly for more than one year. I even brought him into the church meetings, but thus far, there is nothing promising that I can see within him. Lord, what is needed is Your work. I can do a lot, but I cannot give life. I may bring a hundred into the church life, but without Your additional work, the giving of life, my labor is vain.”
This does not mean our labor is not needed. Without Paul’s planting and Apollos’ watering, the Lord could not have given life. We must lay the base with our labor. Then the Lord can give life. We need to ask the Lord for remaining fruit.
(The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)