John 15:1-2 ESV
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
Jesus Christ, God the Son, is metaphorically being spoken of here as the true grapevine, and God the Father as the vinedresser, i.e. “a person who cultivates and prunes grapevines” (M-W Dict.). And, we who believe in Jesus are metaphorically being spoken of here as the branches of the grape vine.
God the Father, as the vinedresser, nurtures, encourages, helps and develops us in our walks of faith. And, he prepares us for works of ministry that he might use us in the lives of others to spread his gospel of grace and his love to the people of the world, and to other believers in Jesus, too.
Nonetheless, we must bear fruit (results) which proves that we are truly his disciples. In other words, there must be evidence in our lives that we are walking by faith and that we are not still living to please our flesh. There must be outgrowth from our lives, a product of our faith, which shows (demonstrates) that we truly are followers of Jesus.
For example, if we say we believe in Jesus and in what he did for us in dying on the cross for our sins, then we must believe what he taught us and what his NT apostles taught us with regard to the requirements for our salvation. For, the scriptures teach us that, if we want to have eternal life with God, that we must walk according to the Spirit of God and no longer according to the flesh, for if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins.
Yet, notice with me the wording here, for Jesus said, “Every branch IN ME which does not bear fruit he takes away.” The branches cannot be “in him” if they did not initially have genuine faith in Christ Jesus. I know many people want to say here that this is speaking of those who made a profession of faith in Jesus only, but the context does not bear that out. This is speaking of those who were once part of the vine, but who did not become fruit-bearing disciples (followers) of Jesus, and so they are cut off (See: Rom. 11:17-22; 1 Co. 15:2; Col. 1:21-23; 2 Tim. 2:10-13; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15).
So, what this is saying, too, is that our salvation is not a one-time event and then we are good to go until we die, and then we get to go to heaven.
All throughout the New Testament we learn that we must continue in Christ, and we must remain faithful to him, and we must live according to the Spirit, and not according to our flesh, and that we will reap what we sow. Basically, our salvation is ongoing and will not be complete until our Lord returns. So, we may begin well with Christ, but if we don’t continue, then we can be cut off and thrown away and burned in the fire (see next section).
Thus, we should never take our salvation for granted, or take for granted our Lord’s grace to us, or think of his grace as permission to continue in sin.
And, the reason that God prunes those of us who are bearing fruit is to keep us from returning to our old fleshly ways, to humble us, and so we can share in his holiness (compare to Hebrews 12). And, the Lord pruning us is the same as him disciplining (chastising, reproving) us, and it is for our good. For, when we go through suffering and hard times, we will turn to him, and he will do his work of refining us and conforming us to the image of Christ.
John 15:3-6 ESV
“Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”
Jesus is speaking here to those of us who are truly his by faith in him. We are clean because he made us clean. We can do nothing in ourselves to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Nonetheless, our salvation is conditional to us walking by faith, and not walking according to the flesh.
Where the confusion comes into play many times, with regard to our salvation, is that people have this mindset that God’s grace is merely him forgiving our sins and promising us heaven when we die. They forget that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24), and that we must walk according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, if we want to have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Tit. 2:11-14).
Thus, we must know here that our salvation is a process, not a one-time event and then we are good to go to heaven no matter what. For, we are saved (past), we are being saved (present) and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns for us, his bride, and he takes us to be with him forever. Some people refer to this as the process of sanctification.
Thus, if we understand our salvation as a process, then we will understand the words of Jesus here when he says that we must abide in him. We must live in him, in his truth, in his ways, according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh. We must develop a close intimate relationship with him via time spent with him, throughout our days and nights, in his word, in prayer, in fellowship with him, and via obedience to his commands.
We must regard our lives as no longer our own, for Jesus bought us back for God with his blood, thus we are to honor God with our lives. And, if Jesus is truly our Lord, that means he is master-owner of our lives, and he is the one who is now directing our steps and showing us the way in which we are to walk.
It is possible to appear as though we are bearing fruit for God’s eternal kingdom when we are not, for there are many “good deed doers” out there. Even atheists can do “good deeds.” So, this is not about just going around the world doing good things for other people, though that is certainly part of it. But, this is about giving our lives wholly to Jesus Christ, obeying him, doing what he requires of us, forsaking our idols and sins, living holy lives, pleasing to God, and no longer being conformed to the ways of this sinful world (See: Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:17-24).
John 15:7-11 ESV
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
If we are truly abiding in Christ, in the truest sense of what this means, then what we “wish” will be in line with God’s word and with his divine character and will for our lives. So, this, in no way, is suggesting that Jesus is a genie in a bottle there to grant our every desire just because we claim him as our Savior.
Also, we must prove ourselves to be his disciples. For, there are many who give lip service only. There are many who fake their Christianity for their own selfish purposes. And, there are many who just use Jesus to escape hell and to go to heaven when they die, but they truly do not revere him as their Lord God.
So, there is this phrase which says, “The proof is in the pudding.” It basically means that it must be tried and tested to prove how good it is. And, that is the same for us. We must be tried and tested to see whether or not our faith is genuine, and the genuineness of our faith will be proven by our fruit (outgrowth), which is in keeping with repentance.
One of the strong themes of the book of John and 1st, 2nd & 3rd John is that love for God equals obedience to his Word. If we love him, we will obey him. If we don’t love him, we won’t obey him. If we don’t obey him, thus we do not love him or know him. And, he does not know us.
So, don’t buy into the lies which tell you that being under grace means you don’t have to obey God. For, God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly (worldly) lusts (passions) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return.
Thus, we must hold on to the faith which we profess, and we must walk in it, not just talk it. And, we must take our Lord’s yoke upon us, i.e. we must be slaves to his righteousness, because he is the one who carries the burden of it for us. All we have to do is yield our lives to his control and let him work his grace and his power and strength in our lives, and we just have to cooperate with him in doing what he says. But, it is his power that does the work in us, and not us operating in our own flesh.
An Original Work / November 29, 2018
Based off various scriptures
Cast your cares upon your Lord.
Come to Him
All you who’re weary.
Know that He will
Give you rest.
Take His yoke upon you
And learn from Him
And you’ll find your rest.
For His yoke is easy
And His burden’s light.
It’s His to bear.
Find the peace of Christ in heart.
Let the peace of Christ
Rule in your hearts,
And be then
And, the peace of God
Which is beyond all
We can comprehend
Will guard your hearts
And your minds in Christ,
For He is Lord of all.
Hope in God will not betray.
Let us hold
The hope that
We now profess.
For the One
Who promised hope
Is faithful to
His ev’ry word.
Therefore, with minds
That are sober,
Set your hope
On Christ’s return.
Sunday, December 9, 2018