Unless We Remain

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.”

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, scripture refers to that as we are now “in Christ” and Christ is in us (Rom. 8:1, 10). But, what it also says about being “in Christ” is that we have died and are dying with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ to his righteousness. It says, in fact, that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but who walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-25).

And, what it says regarding our fruit is that, if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (literally decay), but if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8).

And, it says that the fruit of the flesh is “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these”. And, it says that if this is what we practice (make our habits, our lifestyle), that we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Yet, it is not saying that we must live in sinless perfection, but that how we live (what we make our practice) determines our eternal destiny (Gal. 5:19-21).

And, then it goes on to describe the fruit of the Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:22-24).

Again, this is not saying we will do this perfectly, but that this should be what we practice. It should be our new norm, since we have died with Christ to sin and we have been raised with him to newness of life in him. But, this involves daily dying to sin and self and daily walking by the Spirit in Christ’s righteousness (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

So, the point of what Jesus is saying here, and continues to say throughout this passage of scripture, is that how we live (our lifestyles) matters for eternity. If we bear no fruit in keeping with repentance, then we are cut off from the vine. But, if we bear fruit in keeping with repentance, then he will prune (discipline) us so that we will bear even more fruit for his kingdom. He will help us and empower us to grow in him and to walk in faithfulness if we will yield our lives to his control to walk with him in his ways and in his truth.

John 15:3-7 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. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

This word “abide” means to remain, to live, and to continue in (stay) in Christ, and “in Christ” means to be walking (in lifestyle) no longer according to our sinful flesh, but to be walking (in practice, in the way that we live) according to the Holy Spirit of God. And, it means that we walk in obedience to His Word – to His commands (Jn. 14:23-24; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; 1 Jn. 3:24).

But, this is not works-based salvation. We are doing nothing in our own flesh to try to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We can only abide in Christ and him in us because of God’s grace to us in sending Jesus to the cross to take our sins upon him and to put them to death on our behalf. We can only abide in Christ by the faith that has been given us by God, too, but which we must exercise. And, since that faith is God-given and divinely persuaded, it will yield to the Lordship of Christ over our lives, and it will walk in his ways.

What we need to understand here is that grace and faith are inseparable. We are saved by God’s grace, through (God-given) faith (Eph. 2:8-9). But, that faith is described for us in scripture as action, behavior, attitude, submission, and surrender of our lives over to Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) of our lives (Jas. 2:14-26; 1 Jn. 1:5-9). God did what he did for us in order that we might be saved from our sins, but his grace to us is not free license to continue in willful habitual sin against God.

God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (fleshly lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

Thus, this abiding in Christ is our part in our salvation, but by God’s design, not by our own will and purpose. And, it is empowered by God, too, i.e. we can’t do what God requires unless he is in us and we are in him and we are walking in obedience to him by his power at work within our lives. It is us cooperating with God in his work of grace in our lives by us submitting to God and to his will and purposes for our lives.

But, if we don’t submit, and we decide to go our own way, instead, then we will be cut off from his eternal kingdom (Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8).

John 15:8-11 ESV

“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.”

It is not enough for us to merely profess faith in Jesus Christ. We must prove ourselves to be true followers of Jesus Christ by how we live, but in the power of the Spirit living within us and at work within our hearts and lives. Again, this is not speaking of sinless perfection, but this is talking about lifestyle (what we practice). And, this is not us trying to earn our salvation, but this is us walking in obedience to our Lord and thus proving our faith to be genuine faith in Jesus Christ and that we are his followers.

So, this keeping of Christ’s commandments to us, his church, is in practice, in lifestyle, as a matter of our normal course for how we live our lives. If we fail, and we sin against God, we confess and we repent of our sins, and then we move forward in our walks of obedience to Christ, by the Spirit. For, scripture teaches us that if we walk by the flesh, we are going to die in our sins, not have eternal life with God. But, if by the Spirit we are in the practice of putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live with Christ and in Christ for eternity (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

So, know the truth here. For many are teaching that we can just receive Christ into our hearts and then our salvation and our eternal life is guaranteed us, no matter how we live from that moment forward. But, that is not what the scriptures teach. They teach us that how we live and what we practice, in lifestyle, does matter for our eternity. For, true faith in Jesus Christ results in us walking with him in obedience. And, it is continuous, and it endures to the end, which is when our salvation will be complete.

In Faithfulness He Leads Me

An Original Work / March 20, 2013 / Based off Various Scriptures
(Ps. 26:3; 86:11; 91:4-5; 111:7-8; 119:73-76; Is. 25:1,4&9; 42:6-7; Hos. 2:16-20)

Teach me Your ways, Lord, and I’ll walk in them.
Give me a pure heart. I’ll fear Your name.
Your love is always, ever before me.
Continually I’ll walk in Your truth.
You will cover me with feathers.
Under Your wings I’ll find refuge.
My Lord’s faithfulness will be my
Comfort and my shield.
The works of His hands are faithful and just.
Trustworthy are all of His precepts.

Your hands have made me, and they have formed me.
Give understanding of Your commands.
I have put my hope, O Lord, in Your word.
Your teachings, O Lord, are righteousness.
Lord, in faithfulness You have
Afflicted me so I may learn of
Your unfailing love and comfort
And Your truthfulness.
You are my husband; You have betrothed me
In love, compassion and faithfulness.

O Lord, You are my God, I’ll exalt You.
In faithfulness You’ve done wondrous things.
You’ve been a refuge for those who’re needy;
A shelter in storms; shade from the heat.
This is the Lord, we trusted in Him,
Let us be glad and rejoice
In His salvation which He
Provided through the Lamb.
Open the blind eyes; free all the captives.
Tell them of Jesus: “Be born again!”

Sunday, July 14, 2019

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