John 15: 1-8
I was thinking about the latest caption on our MBC sign, especially on the side that faces north which says “you may have religion, but do you have Jesus” That is an amazing question to ask those who pass by and read! Why? It’s one of those statements that really make you think or at least it should when it comes to your eternal soul. See when I see a statement like this it makes me think if Jesus was walking with His disciples in 2014 and they came across our church sign, would He expound a truth to that caption with His disciples? Would this call for yet another one of Jesus’ spiritual moments? The reason I say that is throughout the ministry of Jesus, He always had a way of using what was before Him to illustrate a truth to His disciples. When the Priests performed their rituals during the Feast of Tabernacle by pouring out water and then Jesus cried out “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink” When they lite the torches to symbolize the Pillar of fire in the wilderness Jesus said “I Am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life.” Now we come to John 15 and we see yet again Jesus using His surroundings to make a spiritual truth come alive to His disciples. In this context, Jesus draws an allegory of the vine and the branches. He also is setting forth the plumb line for genuine Christian living. This example or illustration wouldn't be foreign or unusual for the disciples to grasp or understand. Why? In Isaiah 5:7 it says “For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting….”
It’s interesting to note that the “grapevine” was a symbol of national life. The grapevine was an emblem that appeared on the coins minted during the Maccabean period. This was regarded by the Jews through reverence and honor, just as Americans do when it comes to their Stars and Stripes. This was so precious to them they crafted a huge, gold grapevine to decorate the gates of the temple. So to hear Jesus say this wasn’t foreign or out of the ordinary. Jesus took this moment to teach His disciples a truth about …..Himself [the Vine] the Father [the Vine Dresser] and the branches [the disciples and us]. See the overall emphasis of this passage is fruit-bearing and self-examination. Christ Jesus is telling Us (the Believer) that in order to be Born Again and to have that relationship. You “MUST” key word being (MUST) "abide in His Love". You must “abide in the Vine.” Andrew Murray says abiding is "Just as a servant knows that he must first obey his master in all things, so the surrender to an implicit and unquestionable obedience must become the essential characteristic of our lives."
See we can do many things without abiding in Christ…..
- We can earn a living
- We can raise a family
- We can practice generosity
- We can even have religion as our signs states
- It is even possible to pastor a church without abiding.
- It is possible to pray, sing in a choir, serve in the church and serve others without truly abiding.
When I think of doing things without Christ I'm reminded of what Paul Tripp illustrated fruit without Christ. You can take an old apple tree that has no health apples by going to the store and buy the biggest and juiciest apples they have come home and grab your stable gun and pin these beautiful apples to the tree that can’t produce those kinds of apples you purchased and pinned to the tree. From a distance it looks like a healthy tree full of apples, but as you get closer you begin to see that it’s a dead tree with fruit stapled to it. See apart from Christ we can do many things but in the end, it’s still a dead tree. This is why Jesus says what he says in chapter 15 to disciples as He prepares to leave them in the coming hours.
IN ORDER TO TRULY LIVE YOU MUST ABIDE IN CHRIST (V4) (V5) (V7)
First off! What does abide mean? “Abide” to be, or exist, to continue, to dwell, rest, stand firm, or be stationary for anytime indefinitely. In general, abide by signifies to obey, to maintain, defend, or stand to, as to abide by a promise, or by a friend; or to suffer the consequences, as to abide by the event, that is, to be fixed or permanent in a particular condition. What Jesus is saying that abiding in Him involves the belief that “apart from Me you can do nothing.” Do you believe that as it pertains to your life? What is the spiritual outcome of me abiding in Christ?
- It produces real fruit in your life.
- It produces a genuine love for others and a lost world.
- It produces a heart to sing and praise the sovereign Lord of the Universe.
- It produces obedience and joy that supersedes our daily struggles of life.
- It produces evidence that salvation has already taken place. An outward change to inward transformation of the heart.
As Jesus said in John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” See abiding brings an all-around genuine difference because you are connected to the True Vine…….Jesus Christ. See, all our plans of life should be controlled by the will of Christ, and formed and executed under His control. That means all the emotions and feelings of the heart should be controlled by Him. Our love and desire to please a holy God in everything we do. We’re to be obedient to the will of God and abide in His Holiness. That’s why the Psalmist says “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Ps 37:4. He plants His desires in your heart and they will become your desires because you love Him with every fibre of your being. And the amount of fruit you bare will be shown by your walk. Because those who learn to abide stay put for the pruning the Lord must do as we make this journey home. This means we must abide and get into His word, this means to associate with others who remain and grow in Christ. Those who are the branches…the church. But there is a warning we also see Jesus give His disciples….again I’m reminded of our MBC sign “you may have religion, but do you have Jesus” This brings me to my next point in this passage.
THE CONSEQUENCES FOR THOSE WHO DON’T ABIDE IN ME (V6)
What does this mean? Do you think Jesus was thinking of Judas when expressed His warning to His disciples? Judas now being removed from the group, it may also apply to anyone who has made a profession of Christ, and denies the truths of the Gospel. To neglect to walk worthy of his profession is put that person in the danger zone. Which include..... False teachers, false converts, apostate believers….those who heard the truth and do nothing with it. Because in all reality they never belonged to Christ in the first place. In 1 John 2:18-22 we read “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.” These are the ones who have forsaken the church and speak evil things about her by trying to tarnish the bride to their neighbor or their community….whether it’s at the pulpit or the ones who seat in the pews. Jesus said we are to be aware of such people!
In Matt 7:15 Jesus said "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” We need understand Satan's children are in the church today that's why we need to discerning to all things under the authority of the Vine. That’s why you will know them by their fruit. Trying to staple good apples to a rotten tree. Because these types of people are here….in our TV sets, on the internet and so on and we the church at times can be easily swayed or persuaded to believe their lies or join their cause or jump on their band-wagon. As Jude said “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 4. This is the warning Jesus is conveying to us! A self-examination and understanding are we really living under His life line or ours.
See the question isn't do you have Jesus? The question we need to ask is this! Does Jesus have a hold of me? This reminds me of "Alan Redpath who had two daughters who loved to swarm him when he came home at night. “As he came in the door one evening, his little girls ran to meet him. One grabbed his leg and hugged him with all her might. He snatched the other daughter up in his arms. The one squeezing his leg said, "Now, I've got all of Daddy." The daughter in his arms replied, "Yes, but Daddy has got all of me!" Perhaps the question we need to continually ask is, "Does God have all of me?" Because if Christ doesn’t have a hold of us, then we’re in the danger zone waiting to be burned up in the fire! See “Consuming Fire” represents Judgement from a Perfect and Sovereign God. Just as Paul reminded the church in 2Thes 1:8 “in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” Understand, if God does see Christ in you…then you’re not His
- Action and Behavior.
- Life……doesn’t demonstrate the transforming work of Christ; according to this portion of scripture that person is cast into the fire. For living in their pagan and self-serving lifestyle and ignoring the truth of the gospel.
And according to Matt 13:40-42 “This is Jesus speaking in the parable of the Tares. "Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The tares according to this parable are the false believers the false prophets that will be separated from the wheat, the genuine believers in Christ Jesus. But there is still hope, because Christ say's if you abide in Him (v11) "My joy may remain in you.." that means believer, you and me in the Lord Jesus Christ). True love for God wants to obey the LORD and His Commandments. We are to follow the greatest example and Do as He did. Christ chose you out of darkness! We should be walking according to His commands with joy and a deep desire to please Him.
How will I know I'm His? By abiding and bearing fruit (v5) (v8) All genuine believers will bear fruit…. Some more evident than others, if you are a born again believer, but you will bear fruit of Christ righteousness. What is the outcome to someone who doesn't have a changed heart like Judas? (v6) Don't play church because God knows and sees the heart. He knew who would betray Him then, and He knows who is betraying Him today. What is the promise to those who truly abide and are His? The answer is found in (v11) Jesus says "your Joy may be full” but the only way to experience that joy is to abide in the Father, through the Son, kept by the Holy Spirit as we continually abide in His Love. Why? Because He loves you and me. As John MacArthur says "You abide by recognizing you're a branch and by keeping your position in the vine. If you want to get as close to Christ as you can, that will involve stripping out the things of the world; putting aside all sin, which distracts and saps your energy; and putting aside the kind of self-effort that operates independently of the Spirit. All those things will rob you of a deep, personal, loving relationship with Jesus. Get into the Word of God and you'll be an abiding branch. Here is the challenge for everyone of us! Are you abiding in Him? Are you sealed in His everlasting Love? Are you bearing the fruit of the Spirit? Are you being obedient and bring Him praises and glory? Do you genuinely love Him and treasure Him above everything? Only you can answer these questions and only God truly knows your heart. But as Kent Hughes said “with each trimming, may there be more of Christ in us, for God’s glory and the blessing of others!”