The Vine and the Branches
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 is to his followers, his disciples, what a vine is to its branches. We draw our nourishment from him so that we can grow and develop to maturity, and so that we can bear fruit in keeping with repentance, and for his eternal kingdom, the kingdom of God.
Now, notice with me here that he is speaking of his branches, those who are connected to the vine. He is speaking of those who believed in him with genuine faith or else they wouldn’t be referred to as “in me,” i.e., in him. They are connected to the vine. They are a part of him.
When we understand what the Bible teaches about faith in Jesus Christ, and about our salvation from sin, we will be able to accept what this is saying here. For, the Scriptures do not teach once saved always saved. They do not teach salvation as a one-time experience and then one day we go to heaven.
According to the Scriptures, we were saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Christ returns and our salvation is complete, provided that we walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh and that we continue in him until the very end.
Even Paul said that he disciplined his body and that he kept it under control, lest after preaching to others that he should be disqualified (1 Co 9:27). For, he taught that we must walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, for if we walk according to the flesh, we will not inherit eternal life.
And bearing fruit has to do with results of our walks of faith which prove ourselves to be disciples of Jesus Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is certainly to be listed here as well as such things as repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ as Lord of our lives, living holy lives, pleasing to God.
So, if we believe in Jesus, but then we don’t bear fruit to show ourselves to be our Lord’s true disciples, God removes us. But if we do bear fruit, our Lord prunes us, he disciplines us, he corrects us, he allows us to suffer, and he tests us and our faith so that our faith grows, and we mature in him.
Abiding in Him
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 was speaking to his true disciples. They were spiritually clean. So, he is speaking here to all who have entered into relationship with him via faith in him. We must abide in him. If we do, we will bear much fruit. If we don’t, we will be thrown away, gathered up, thrown into the fire, and burned.
And to abide means to live, to stay, to remain, and to continue. It isn’t just about reading the Scriptures, but it is about living them. It is about abiding by them, obeying what they teach (New Covenant teaching). And it is about being doers of the word and not being hearers only.
So, what does it look like to abide in Christ? It means he owns us, we are his, and our lives are now to be lived according to his will and purpose, and in his strength and power, under his guidance and direction. It means we live in daily communion with him, listening to him and doing what he says.
He is our master, and we are his bond-slaves. Our will is to do his will. So, daily we are in the word of God, studying it to hear from the Lord, so that we can follow the Lord in obedience to his will for our lives. And daily we are walking in obedience to our Lord, doing what he has called us to do.
Our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, for we were bought with a price, the blood of Christ, so that we would now honor God with our bodies (with our lives). For, Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness.
But if we decide that we can be a Christian, and that we can go to heaven when we die, but that we don’t have to do much at all in the way of acknowledging our Lord, and if we think that obedience is not required, but that we can keep living in our sin, then we are sadly mistaken, and it will cost us our lives for eternity.
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:7; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]
Proving to be His Disciples
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.”
A lot of folks these days think that if they just pray a prayer to receive Christ into their hearts that they are now saved from their sins and that heaven is guaranteed them when they die. But that is a lie! The Scriptures do not support that teaching unless they are removed from their context.
They think that Jesus does it all and that nothing is required of them, for they see any requirements at all as works-based salvation, which they avoid. But, again, it is because they are being lied to by people who take Scriptures out of context to make them say what they don’t say.
Jesus taught what is taught here in John 15, and he taught that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow him in obedience. For, he said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives (if we die with Christ to sin), we will have eternal life.
Jesus taught that whoever loves family more than they love him are not worthy of him, and that whoever does not take his cross and follow him (meaning to obey him) is not worthy of him (Matt 10:37-38).
As well, we are urged to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. And we are to let our manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ. And we are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work (Eph 4:1; Php 1:27; Col 1:10; 1 Thess 2:12).
The Great Redeemer
Lyrics by Francis Foster, 1915
Music by Samuel W. Beazley, 1915
How I love the great Redeemer
Who is doing so much for me;
With what joy I tell the story
Of the love that makes men free.
Till my earthly life is ended,
I will send songs above,
Then beside the crystal sea
More and more my soul shall be
Praising Jesus and His love.
He has purchased my redemption,
Rolled my burden of sin away,
And is walking on beside me,
Growing dearer day by day.
That is why I sing His praises,
That is why joy is mine,
That is why forevermore
On the everlasting shore
I shall sing of love divine.
Glory be to Him forever!
Endless praises to Christ the Lamb!
He has filled my life with sunshine,
He has made me what I am.
Oh, that everyone would know Him,
Oh, that all would adore!
Oh, that all would trust the love
Of the mighty Friend above
And be His forevermore.
He is everything to me, to me,
He is everything to me,
And everything shall always be;
I will never cease to raise
A song of gladness in His praise;
Here, and in the world above,
My soul shall sing of saving love;
Life and light and joy is He,
The precious Friend who died for me.
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