John is the only Gospel writer to record Jesus’ extended conversation with his disciples at the Last Supper
knowing that his time had come to suffer and die Jesus told his disciples that they would no longer be able to follow him and that one of them would betray him
they were confused and shaken
where was he going that they could not follow?
which one of them would betray their Lord and Master?
none of them knew it was Judas
up to this point he had not looked or acted like a false disciple
he who had been with them for 3 years, had performed miracles and cast out demons
Jesus had given him the important position of administering their funds
in spite of these things he was a false disciple
this also frightened and dismayed them
if Judas could fall away what hope was there for them?
we learn from the disciples’ confusion that false disciples are hard to spot
they easily blend in
it is not hard to do many of the things which true disciples do and remain in sin
remember that though Judas cast out demons and performed miracles, Jesus said of him in John 6:70, “one of you is a devil!”
Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
Tares look just like wheat until the wheat starts bearing seed (by their fruit you shall know them!)
Jesus would not entrust himself to those who “believed” but who were not truly commited to him (Jn 2:24)
Jesus addressed those who “believed” as doing what they heard from their father the devil (Jn 8:31,38,44)
NT examples of false disciples
Philip was deceived by Simon the Magician (Acts 8:13, 21-23)
baptized him even though he was not a believer
Demas abandoned Paul and the gospel ministry because he loved the world (2 Tim 4:10; James 4:4)
recognizing the reality of false disciples, John 15:1-11 is a critically important passage because it answers life’s most important question: “who is a true follower of Jesus?”
a key concern for all who are serious about their faith
what is genuine salvation?
how do I know I am truly saved?
how do I know I will go to heaven and escape hell when I die?
nothing in all the world is more important than getting this question right
with Judas’ departure as the background Jesus used the imagery of the Vine and the Branches in Jn 15 to explain true discipleship and to encourage perseverance
The Vine is Jesus
Jesus is “the true vine” = the only source of life
true as opposed to defective
OT Israel a defective vine (Isa 5:2; Jer 2:21)
Jesus the only one capable of giving life
he is the life!
thus the only one capable of being a blessing to the world
Israel was supposed to have been a blessing but failed
Jesus’ gives life to all who are attached to him
The Vinedresser is the Father
The Father is the Vinedresser who uses his knife to cut the branches.
The Branches are believers and unbelievers who are joined to Christ.
the Father’s cutting work is two-fold:
He cuts off professing Christians who have joined themselves to Christ but do not bear fruit
many people join themselves to Christ for various reasons who have never truly repented of their sins and have not submitted to Jesus as their Lord and Master
they profess to be Christians and they act like Christians but they do not possess the marks of true believers which include:
becoming like Christ, becoming more holy, gaining more and more victory over sin, loving the things of God more and more and the things of the world less and less
He cuts away the things in true believers which hinder their fruitfulness.
the Father’s purpose is to make those he has joined to Christ more fruitful
he does this by cutting off whatever hinders their ability to bear much fruit
Judas is the branch that doesn’t bear fruit
he had a defective attachment to Jesus which did not become apparent until he left
what identified him: he stopped abiding, he did not remain with Jesus and the disciples
for this reason Jesus exhorted his disciples to abide in him (vv.4&9)
mentions abiding 7 more times!
why should we abide in Christ?
what are the blessings of abiding in Christ?
The Blessings of Abiding in Christ
1. Christ Abides in Us
you are clean:
Jesus washes us from the guilt of our sin.
Who experiences this cleansing?
Those who have been changed by his powerful, life-giving word
we are not clean because of anything we have said or done but because of what Jesus has said and done!
we repent and believe because Christ first effectually calls us
having cleansed us Jesus commands us to abide in him, i.e. not to depart from him
his promise: as we abide in him, he abides in us
one of the reasons for a lack of assurance is not abiding in Christ
the first blessing we enjoy from our union with Christ is his abiding in us
not only does Christ abide in us but also the Father and the HS
John 14:17, 20, 23; Rom 8:10-11; 1 Cor 3:16, 6:19-20; 2 Cor 6:16; Gal 2:20; Eph 2:22; Col 1:27
we are the temple or residence of the triune God
what are we to do in light of this reality that the triune God lives within us?
God promises to be a father to those who forsake the world (be separate) and devote themselves to purity (touch no unclean thing)
God will look on them as his own dear children! (v.18)
2. The Father Makes us Fruitful
not only are we made clean but we are made holy (sanctified, set apart)
we are given the Spirit of Truth (Jn 14:7)
HS bears witness to Jesus (Jn 15:26)
HS guides us into all truth (Jn 16:13)
this is his sanctifying work
All true believers have things in their lives which hinder their fruitfulness
as the Vinedresser the Father is committed to cutting away those hindrances
what are they?
There are 2 things make us unfruitful: “every weight” and “sin which clings so closely”.
imagery of running a race (we are not in a sprint but a marathon)
weight = runners remove anything not needed for the race to increase endurance and speed
these are things which are not sinful but which distract us from our primary purpose as disciple making disciples (cross bearing & renouncing everything)
sin which clings = removal of all loose or bulky clothing which would entangle cause to stumble or fall or reduce movement
sins which we struggle to overcome and reduce our effectiveness
the Father’s commitment to all whom he has joined to Christ is to cut away the weights and sins which make us ineffective in our spiritual marathon
The knife the Father uses is the Word of God
God uses trouble, trial and affliction to show us what is hindering our fruitfulness.
note: “trained by it” suggests repeated troubles and trials and afflictions
Jesus: “in this world you will have tribulation” (Jn 16:33)