Every true believer in Christ will produce fruit of some kind, in some measure. Jesus makes that quite clear in John 15, where He declares, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away…” (v. 2). Then He describes what becomes of such branches in v. 6, “If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered, and they gather them, and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Jesus is not saying it’s possible for a person to lose his salvation. Instead, He is revealing that some professions are superficial—some people appear to be branches because they are following Christ for a while, but they neither “abide” in Him nor produce fruit.
Remember the context of this teaching.
It’s the evening of the Last Supper. Supper is over, the feet have been washed, Jesus disclosed that one of the disciple’s would betray Him, and Judas has slipped out into the night to do the dastardly deed. Then Jesus took up several topics of discussion for last-minute instruction before going to the garden, the betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion. This vine-and-branches discourse is one of them, and when you consider the larger context, it becomes clear what He means and about whom He’s talking.
Imagine how rattled the disciples will be in just a couple hours. One of the twelve, the treasurer of the group, someone with whom they have traveled all over, rubbed shoulders, and shared in the experiences of being associated closely with the Messiah will plant a kiss of betrayal on their Master, who will then be led away to His death.
How could one of their own do such a thing? How could a “branch” turn so on the Vine? How could this “branch” be utterly unfruitful?
It’s a branch that didn’t abide. It—he—was attached to the Vine in a pledge of loyalty, a profession of faith, a declaration of intended discipleship, but time revealed the truth. He didn’t abide.
So how does one abide?
Jesus helps us out here. In v. 10, He declares, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love….” And what are His commandments? He gave two on this night of betrayal. The first is found in John 14:1, “…you believe in God, believe also in me”—a call to total, repentant, dependent faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (again, follow the context and read through the rest of chapter 14).
The second commandment Jesus issued that night comes in 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” When you consider the actions of Judas Iscariot, you realize he kept neither of these commandments. He was a branch by profession, but unabiding, and unfruitful, and therefore doomed.
If you are a genuine believer in Christ, you have come to repentant, dependent faith in Him, after which you developed a love for other believers in Christ. The fruit production has begun, and your life has been changing and developing ever since.