“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.” John 15:1-2 ESV
A lot of people struggle with this passage of scripture. They want to explain it away by saying that those “he takes away” are those who have made a profession only of faith in Jesus Christ, and that is why they are not bearing fruit. They want to say that they are those who give lip service to the Lord only, but that they never were ever genuinely saved.
But, the issue really goes deeper than that. It goes to the very meaning of what it means to have salvation from sin and eternal life with God. For, if we think of our salvation from sin as a one-time event that takes place in our lives that can never be taken away from us, then the logical conclusion would be that these who are not bearing fruit never were truly saved.
But, what about the fact that Jesus refers to them as “in me”? We can’t be in him unless we are genuinely saved. We can’t be “in him” if we did not ever turn from our sins to follow him in obedience. So, how do we reconcile this?
I believe the big problem here is that so many people have the wrong idea of what it means to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God. For, it is not a one-time event that takes place in our lives which guarantees us heaven when we die. For, we are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus returns and our salvation is complete (Rom. 8:24; 1 Co. 1:18; Heb. 9:28; Rom. 13:11; 1 Pet. 1:5).
Also, the scriptures are real clear that eternal life with God is guaranteed only on the basis of our walks, our lifestyles, which reveal whether or not our faith is genuine. And yet our faith, which has to be God-given and divinely persuaded faith, and not human faith, for it to save us, is not past tense. The scriptures are real clear that it is those believing (present tense) who have eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 3:16-21).
Note with me, too, that at the beginning of Romans 8, where it says that there is no condemnation for those who are “in Christ Jesus,” it also says that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who WALK not after the flesh but after the Spirit. And, then it goes on to say that if we WALK according to the flesh, that we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we have eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17; cf. Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8).
If we truly study the scriptures, Matthew to Revelation, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse, we can’t get away from the fact that we are not guaranteed eternal life with God unless we walk (in lifestyle, in practice) in righteousness, of the Spirit of God, in agreement with God and His Word. And, we can’t escape the fact that it makes it quite clear that if we make sin our practice, that we don’t have eternal life with God, but eternal hell.
[Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; Eph. 4:17-24; Eph. 5:3-6; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Jn. 14:23-24; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Jn. 8:31-32; Rom. 11:17-24; 1 Jn. 2:24-25; Col. 1:21-23]
“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.” John 15:3-6 ESV
So, the Lord is speaking here to his followers, to those who are genuinely his, who are “in him.” They are clean spiritually. But, then he instructs them that they must abide (live, walk, continue) in him, in his truth, and in his ways. For, they cannot bear fruit (spiritual outgrowth, results) in keeping with repentance by themselves, in their own flesh. Only as they live and walk in Him and in His Word can they bear fruit (a harvest, yield, produce) for his eternal kingdom.
And, then he explains that as a natural result of abiding (living, walking, continuing) in him we will bear much fruit for his heavenly kingdom, which is the fruit of righteousness, holiness, godliness, purity, honesty, and love, etc. For, we can’t, in our own flesh, bear spiritual fruit for his kingdom. And, that is because the Spirit gives birth to what is spiritual (of God), but the flesh gives birth to flesh, not to what is of God (of the Spirit).
And, then again he says that if we don’t abide (live, walk, continue) in him, as a matter of course, as a matter of lifestyle and practice, that we are thrown away into the fire and burned. And, the apostles taught the same exact thing. For, if we want to have eternal life with God, we must walk according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, and we must do so until the end of time (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Rom. 11:17-24; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Eph. 5:3-6; 1 Jn. 2:24-25; Col. 1:21-23).
“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.” John 15:7-11 ESV
One of the results of us abiding in the Lord and his words abiding (living in practice) in us is the intimacy we have with him. We have a closeness, a oneness with him. We are in relationship with Almighty God through faith in Jesus Christ. He lives in us and us in him. He is our husband and we are his bride. And, he is our best friend, too!
Through our abiding in him and his words abiding in us we get to know him and to understand his heart and to realize his will for our lives. We begin to feel what he feels and to think his thoughts. His heart becomes our heart. His passion becomes our passion. What he values we value, and what he hates we hate. And, so what we pray is for his will to be done, too. So, we aren’t going to ask for what is out of God’s will.
When we get up in the morning, he is there in our minds and he is already speaking to our hearts. As we go throughout the day we can hear him gently leading us and directing us in the way that we should go, and even cautioning us against going the wrong way, too. Even before a prayer is on our lips he is already answering us in our minds via his Word or via a Christian song or a gentle nudge or a whisper. And, when we go to bed at night, he is still there with us, speaking his truths to our hearts.
And, when we have this kind of relationship with him, and we remain in that relationship, and we walk in obedience to his commands and in his love, then we will bear much fruit for his kingdom and for his righteousness. And, we will prove ourselves, thus, to be his genuine disciples (his followers).
And, this love that we are to abide (live, walk, continue) in is agape love which literally means to prefer (desire, choose) what God prefers. And, what he prefers is what is holy, righteous, honest, trustworthy, just, godly, pure, kind, and faithful. These we are to make our practice, empowered by the Spirit of God living within us. These should describe who we are.
And, when we live and walk and continue in the Lord Jesus, and in His Word, and we practice what is righteous and holy, and not what is evil and immoral, then we are also filled with the joy of the Lord. Awesome!
You Loved Me
An Original Work / December 3, 2019
A song based off the poem by the same name
When I was lonely and afflicted,
You were there to pick me up.
You took me in Your arms,
And You held me tenderly.
Your love embraced me.
Your grace sustained me.
When my heart cried out to You
In my fear and my despair,
You never turned away,
But You let me know You loved me.
Your grace forgave me.
You did not shame me.
Then, when I answered the call,
“Here, Lord, send me.”
You sent me to where I must be.
Your mercy held me, did not fail me.
All this, You had planned, to use me.
And, when all trials and scorn
Came to test me.
You gave me all that I would need.
You strengthened me so I’d not fail You.
Your kindness blessed me, it touched me.
And, when I needed the church
To lift up me,
To hearten me so I’d not fail,
You blessed me with folks who would love me.
Their presence with me, Your praise hailed!
And, when I walked through the valley
Of the shadow of the death,
And tears flowed from my eyes,
Still Your kindness was there for me.
Your touch, it healed me.
For I believed You.
When now I think about the ways,
Of the many, many ways
That You in Your great love
Show me that You’ll always care for me,
My heart, it thanks You,
And gladness fills me, fills me.