John - Abiding In The Vine
Dr. Dowell Flatt
Seminar in the Gospel of John (MIN 516)
13 November 2000
Abiding In the Vine
Text: John 15.1-7
Thesis: To prove that Christians must abide in Christ to have life eternal.
1. The vine symbol was one with which the disciples would be familiar.
- It was a common figure from the Old Testament (e.g., Ps. 80.8-14; Isa. 5.1-7; Jer. 2.21; Ezek. 15.1-8; 19.10; Hos. 10.1).
- “Palestine was a land of vineyards and the vine was associated with the life of the people” (Pack 2:72).
- Also, the Lord’s Supper in connection with the fruit of the vine had just been instituted.
2. Some people have misinterpreted these verses to say that the branches are various denominations.
- John tells us that the branches are individual people (John 15.6).
- Therefore, one can understand that this is about a relationship between Christ and the individual Christian.
3. The previous chapter helped to comfort the disciples in view of Jesus’ coming death, but these verses here deal with the time when He would no longer be physically with them (Woods 321).
4. Three points will be noted pertaining to this relationship:
I. In what/who are we to abide?
A. The Jews/Israel had been a vine but they were replaced by the true vine.
1. Many of them still sought to abide in Abraham or the Law of Moses in spite of the true vine’s arrival.
2. Many people today still seek to abide in other sources other than the vine.
a. Some trust in man’s words more than in the words of Christ.
b. Some trust in themselves.
c. Some trust in materialism (cf. Matt. 16.26).
B. We must abide in Jesus Christ, the true vine.
1. Christ tells us that He is the true vine (John 15.1).
a. He did not say that He was one of the vines.
b. He said that He was the only vine.
c. Therefore, every person seeking to be a faithful branch for God must abide in Jesus Christ.
2. The phrase “in me” or “in the vine” is found eight times in the first seven verses; therefore, there can be no question to the teaching of the essentially of abiding in Christ.
II. Why are we to abide in Christ?
A. He tells us that He is the true vine (John 15.1).
1. “True” is the word “alethinos,” which is better translated as “real, genuine” (Robertson 257).
2. Therefore, we can abide in nothing else and survive.
3. “The Christian life is unthinkable except union in Christ” (Barrett 474).
B. If we do not abide in Christ, then:
1. We cannot bear fruit (John 15.4).
a. We would be lifeless.
b. We would be taken away (John 15.2).
2. We will be able to do nothing (John 15.5).
a. In contrast, in Christ we can do all things (Phil. 4.13).
b. “The Christian is totally dependent on Christ for his spiritual life and achievements” (Pack 2:74).
c. “No man could ever achieve the tiniest fraction of such a righteousness as that of Christ; and therefore, no man can be saved as himself” (Coffman 370).
d. “We are dead, fruitless branches, without the Christ-life” (Johnson 230).
3. We are cast forth and wither (John 15.6a).
a. Jude depicts it as being plucked up by the roots (Jude 12).
b. They are removed from the only source of life; therefore, they begin to die.
(1) A spiritual death is described here.
(2) Therefore, there is the possibility of apostasy.
4. We are gathered and cast into the fire (John 15.6b).
a. We are the tares that will be gathered and burned (Matt. 13.40-41).
b. We will be cast into the everlasting lake of fire (cf. Matt. 7.19; 13.42; Rev. 20.15).
C. The reason that we are to abide in Christ is because our souls are at stake.
D. If we are abiding, then and only then may we have assurance of salvation and confidence of God’s answering our prayers (John 15.7) (Beasley-Murray 273).
1. “When he promises that he will grant whatever we wish, he does not give us leave to form wishes according to our own fancy” (Calvin 111).
2. Those in Christ will pray in a right manner or according to God’s will.
E. Our fellowship with Christ is solely dependent upon our staying in Him because He is always there (John 15.4; cf. Rom. 8.31-39).
1. “The permanence of the purity to which they had attained depended upon the permanence of their fellowship” (Westcott 217).
2. We must let Christ live in us (Gal. 2.20).
III. How do we abide in Christ?
A. First, we must get “in Christ.”
1. Paul tells us that we get “in Christ” by being baptized into Christ (Gal. 3.27).
2. Therefore, we must respond to the gospel plan of salvation.
B. Second, we must continue to be “in Christ.”
1. Warren W. Wiersbe defines “abide” as “to keep in fellowship with Christ so that His life can work in and through us to produce fruit” (355).
a. The word for “abide” is “meno,” which was especially used by John “to denote an inward, enduring personal communion” (Bauer 504).
b. It is also translated as “tarry” (e.g., Matt. 26.28), “remain” (e.g., Luke 10.7), “dwellest” (e.g., John 1.38-39), “endureth” (e.g., John 6.27), and “might stand” (Rom. 9.11).
2. Another way of saying this is recorded in 1 John 1.7.
3. How do we do this?
a. We allow Christ through His words to dwell in us and lead us (John 15.5, 7).
(1) We must walk in His footsteps (1 Pet. 2.21), which have been revealed in the New Testament.
(2) Song: Step by step, He leads me, and I will follow him all of my days.
(3) “Jesus and his revelation are virtually interchangeable, for he is incarnate revelation” (Brown 662).
b. We must continually grow and bear fruit (John 15.5).
(1) We are to bear the fruit of the Spirit as specified in Galatians 5.22,23.
(2) This is a life-long, growing process similar to the one depicted in 1 Peter in which one is to be continually adding to or growing (1 Pet. 1.5-11).
c. Also, God helps us by purging us so that we can bear much fruit (John 15.2).
(1) This is a spiritual cleansing that helps to remove things that should not be.
(2) We may be pruned by a trying of our faith (James 1.2-4), a chastisement from God (Heb. 12.4-13), or a trial of our faith (1 Pet. 1.7).
(3) This only helps us to become stronger and bear more fruit.
(4) “He tends it, waters it, and endeavors to protect it and cultivate it so that it will produce its maximum yield” (Tenney 151).
1. We’ve noted that we are to abide in Christ because there is no where else that we can abide (cf. John 6.68).
2. When we abide in Him, then we have life and a future in Heaven.
3. Therefore, let us ever strive to abide in the true vine; i.e., be faithful unto death and receive our crown of life that awaits us (cf. Rev. 2.20).