John 15:1-4 NIV
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
He Cuts them Off
When we understand the gospel message and the message of our salvation, in its fullness, it helps us to understand this passage of Scripture more fully. For, our salvation is a process of sanctification which takes place in our lives and is not complete until Jesus returns.
So, we don’t “get saved,” then we live our lives, and then one day we die and we go to heaven. We were saved (past), but we are being saved (present) and we will be saved (future) when Jesus returns. But we must walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh if we want eternal life with God and if we don’t want to die in our sins (Rom 8:1-17).
Faith in Jesus is not a one-time experience. Our salvation is not a one-time event that takes place in our lives. Our salvation is conditional. Our eternal life with God is not a sure thing, also, unless we walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh, and unless we continue in the faith until the very end.
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-24; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 3:6, 14-15]
So, when Jesus says that the Father cuts off every branch “In Me” that bears no fruit, he is speaking of those who believed in him for salvation. They are branches from the true vine, who is Jesus.
Call it what you want, whether you say they were never saved or not. They professed faith in Jesus but their lives did not bear fruit in keeping with repentance, so they aren’t saved in the end. They are cut off, thrown away, they wither, they are picked up, and they are thrown into the fire and burned, for they are useless (see vv 5-8).
So, not every profession of faith in Jesus ends in salvation from sin and eternal life with God. Many are going to stand before God and say, “Lord, Lord,” but he is going to say he never knew them and that they are to depart from him, for they are workers of iniquity (Matt 7:21-23).
But you know what else it says in that passage? Jesus said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, “but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
So, all those many people today who make professions of faith in Jesus Christ who, because they “prayed the prayer” or they made a public profession of faith in Christ, are holding on to some promise that guarantees them forgiveness of sin and eternal life with God, yet they don’t believe they have to do the will of God, they are in for a big surprise.
These He Prunes
Our fruit are our deeds (our works) which reveal whether or not our faith in Christ is genuine faith. Yes, we don’t earn our own salvation via our works, but our salvation is not absent of works. We are saved to good works. We are God’s workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
[Eph 2:10; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6; Phil 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; Rom 2:6-8; Jas 2:17]
Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin) and follow (obey) him. Paul said that we must walk (conduct our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Both said that if we don’t do this, we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 8:1-17).
All throughout the New Testament, the picture we are given of genuine faith, which results in forgiveness of sin and eternal life with God, is repentant, submissive, and obedient to Christ. And we are given the picture, too, that those who continue living in sin will not have eternal life with God.
So, those who are walking according to the Spirit are those who are bearing fruit for God’s eternal kingdom. So, we are not cast off and thrown into the fire, praise Jesus, but we are pruned so we will bear more fruit. And this pruning involves suffering. Suffering is part of the Christian life for it keeps us humble, it matures us, and it draws us closer to our Lord.
The more we suffer for the sake of righteousness and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation, the stronger our walks of faith become and the more determined we are to stay the course and to fight the good fight and to finish the race God has laid out for us. And the more willing we are to stand up for what is right and to say what needs to be said, even if we are rejected in return, for our rewards are not in this life, but they are in heaven.
Remain in Him
The only way we can be fruitful for God’s eternal kingdom and to do the works God designed that we should walk in them is if we abide in the vine. We have to remain in Christ and in his word and his word in us. So, how do we do that?
It really comes down to repentance, obedience, and submission. Daily we deny self and die to sin and walk in holiness in the power of God’s Spirit living within us. We don’t just talk the walk, but we walk the walk. And we don’t have one foot in our faith and the other in the world.
This remaining in Christ is having a personal and intimate relationship with him 24/7. He talks with us and we talk with him throughout the day, not just for five minutes a day or a week. We go where he sends us. We say what he commands us to say. We follow his leading.
We also have to be students of the Scriptures who study them in their context, for many false beliefs stem from Scriptures taken out of their context and made to say something else. Even if it seems clear what a Scripture is saying, we need to study it in context to make certain that we are not misinterpreting what it says.
Basically, we see our lives as no longer belonging to us but that they belong to the Lord, and that we are here on this earth not for ourselves but for the Lord for his glory and praise. So, we surrender our lives to Jesus and we follow him where he leads us, and we bear much fruit for God’s eternal kingdom because we are walking in the Spirit and not by the flesh.
Broken and Contrite
An Original Work / May 13, 2012
I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.
Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.
Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.