Faithlife Sermons

The True Vine and the Branches: Abide in Me

John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:30
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John 15:1-17 The True Vine and the Branches (Abide in Me) Introduction: Every human being longs to truly live, to live life to the fullest. This is something that John as well as the whole Bible assumes. Each human being has a longing for the truth that will give them the best quality of life. The continual claim of this gospel is that “Life” is found in Jesus Christ alone. John has continually informed us about this “life” in Jesus. In our last studies John has Jesus making his claim that he is the way, the truth, the life and no one comes to the Father except through him. That through the giving of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will give us the very presence of God… This passage turns it’s focus now on abiding in Jesus, and in the “life” that is in him.… This chapter is concerned with the preserving and cultivation of that presence… Jesus uses this word abide 11 times in these 17 verses..Jesus promises through our abiding in him Fruitfulness, Joy, answered prayer and glory to the Father. This might sound contrary to the doctrine of Justification by Faith alone but what John is really getting at here is that we who are now in Christ, cultivate, grow, through obedience to Christ, into perfection or true human wholeness- Life. 1. The True Vine 1. Jesus calls himself the True Vine. - There is much talk of vineyards in the Old Testament. Israel was, after all, an agrarian culture. Therefore human thriving or “Life” was often pictured as a fruitful vineyard bringing forth great wine…. Which is why God’s people are often seen as God’s vine, planted and cultured, for fruitfulness joy and blessing and human wholeness. Israel was God’s chosen instrument to show the nations the “True Life” in Yahweh…..but as the O.T. shows, Israel never fulfilled this calling. 1. “Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.2 He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines;he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it;and he looked for it to yield grapes but it yielded wild grapes….7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!” Isaiah 5:1,2,&7 2. Notice that the vine was to produce good fruit -justice and righteousness or right doing and instead it produced wild or bad fruit - bloodshed and an outcry or lamentation and grieving…. This plant has failed to reach it’s goal and purpose. It lacks the joy, blessing and goodness for which it was intended… 3. Jesus tells his disciples that he is the True Vine - Jesus is the new but finally faithful Israel - God’s chosen True Vine that brings forth good fruit!…That Jesus is the True Vine means that no natural life is the true life, that life such as mankind seeks and longs for, can only be had in association with Jesus… Jesus once again presents himself as the object of the World’s desire and longing...Now, through Jesus, we have and can reach the goal for which human beings were intended - human wholeness, Eternal Life. 1. Since Jesus is the True Vine, (one way to claim what he has claimed again and again) those who want “life” must abide in him. 2. Abiding in the Vine 1. Abide 1. This isn’t the first time that Jesus has spoken this word of abiding or making our home in him. This is that idea of truly being at home, settled, fixed into, at peace, at rest in Jesus. To abide practically means to keep up a habit of constant close connection with Him, to be always leaning on Him, resting on Him, making Him our fountain of life and strength, our daily companion and best friend, it is sticking close to Jesus. 2. Jesus is saying -Live in me. Make your home in me. Plant your life in the midst of mine. Cling to me. 3. Abiding in Christ, as we have seen, is a matter of utmost importance. It’s life and death, and either you are abiding or you are not. But how can we know? Is it a feeling? Do we just know in our hearts? 2. Fruitfulness 1. Jesus tells us,“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.” The proof that we are abiding in Christ is fruit. 2. What is fruit? - Fruit is an image for good results coming from the life of a believer, probably in terms of bringing benefit to the lives of others and advancing the work of God in the world. Many people have tried to narrow down what exactly the fruit is that Jesus is talking about here… I see it as an all encompassing change of character or as some call it Virtue… If Jesus life blood, if his holy Spirit, is dwelling in your life you are changing, it might be slow, it might be frustrating, it might be embarrassing.. but little by little, day by day, you are being changed into the image of Christ. Therefore fruit is the infallible mark of true Christianity 3. Rather than, that the Father takes away dead branches, being a verse about those who were once saved losing their salvation, these verses insist that there is no true christianity without some sort of fruitfulness - Christ likeness, the life of God being lived out in us, the progressive path of human wholeness in God, through Jesus. All that John has described throughout this Gospel in the one phrase -Eternal Life. 3. Pruning 1. This fruitfulness is something that God the Father desires more than anything else for us, and personally oversees for our lives - “My Father is the Vine dresser or gardener and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes (or cleans), that it may bear more fruit….by this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” The Father trims and prunes the branches for greater fruitfulness…This seems so random for Jesus to place right here, why does Jesus make this point? The work of sanctification often feels like a losing a cutting back.. think of discipline.. so often in the midst of discipline we think.. this is killing me this isn’t helping.. I can’t do this.. but as we continue to abide we find that this training was the loving work of the Father… 2. Pruning- “Were you ever in a greenhouse or in a vineyard at the season of cutting back the vines, it might seem a waste to see scattered on the floor the bright green leaves and the developing clusters, and then look up at the bare stem, bleeding at a hundred points from the sharp steel. But there was not a random stroke in it all, and there was nothing cut away which it was not loss to keep and gain to lose; and it was all done artistically, scientifically, for a set purpose- that the plant might bring forth more fruit”. Maclaren 3. Hold on tight, continue to abide and it will show in time that this was the work of the Father pruning his loved vine… 3. If fruit is the mark of abiding how do we abide in Christ? 1. Jesus actually tells us..“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” 1. The particular way in which Christ is calling us to this being at home in him is by being at home in his love. 2. Now if you grew up in a similar christian circle to mine you heard pastors and teachers say, “you’ll never hear a vineyard groaning or straining to bear fruit.” (implying that all christians have to do is nothing except “be” in Christ and they will bear fruit)… this is true.. trees and plants don’t make sounds… but that is to take the metaphor too far…. 3. Jesus is actually calling us to the very strenuous, difficult task of mentally and physically fighting for this abiding in him, his love and his word… 1. “Abide in me” means to continue in a daily, personal relationship with Jesus, characterized by trust, prayer, obedience and joy. to fight for these things. I know you know how many things try to come between you and that goal…Jesus is saying, “Safeguard your relationship with me so that I continue to abide fully in you.” 2. The New Testament is filled with this kind of teaching, with Paul’s, along with the others, exhortations to put off the flesh, and put on the “new man” in the Spirit, to be renewed in your mind through knowledge.. to become through discipline, what God has purchased you to be - a Whole human being. 3. Jesus gives us one of the greatest helps in doing this -abiding disciples are to think often upon Jesus’ great display of love for them, particularly seen in him giving his life for their lives…his never stopping, never giving up, un-breaking, always and forever love. 4. Do you ever wonder why Christians talk about the cross so much? It’s because Jesus told us to. This is the place, this shameful, excruciating death of the cross, where Jesus’ love for us is most powerfully proclaimed. It’s there where we see how high, how deep, how wide, how long the love of Christ for us….but we have to fight for this..why? Because we are so screwed up.. our thoughts, our actions, our failures, the attacks of the devil, all of these seek to condemn us.. Jesus tells us to fight against all that by abiding… 1. “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” -Keller 4. The Particular Fruit or Proof that Christ seeks 1. Jesus goes on to say, “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……This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you..” 2. The way we abide in Christ love is through obedience to his commandments - Particularly to love, in the same way that, and out of the love, with which Christ has loved us… 1. What he demands is that the same love that he has shone would now flow through our lives to our brothers and sisters and out into the world..…trusting in, being at home, placing all our hope and confidence in Jesus’ love, and then passing on that love to others is the way that we fulfill these this commandment. Love as you have been loved.. Our love for Christ, our abiding in him, is only seen as authentic as we truly, and practically love one another.. The test of our love and loyalty to Jesus remains the simple, profound, dangerous and difficult command: love one another…God’s work of making us whole human beings is coming to completion (perfection) when we love one another. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” -The circuit of God’s love is completed in us when we love one another. God’s love achieves it’s desired goal. 2. It’s astounding, of all the things that Jesus wants his people to be marked by - holiness, world wide evangelism, church growth, successful programs, slick sermons, deep knowledge, cultural influence..etc. Love for neighbor (God’s people) is the greatest proof or fruit of the Life of God in us. …. Conclusion: C. S. Lewis once said: "It is easier to be enthusiastic about humanity with a capital "H" than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive. Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular." The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. (discipline yourself) As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. We often consider ourselves ready to lay down our lives for others in one great, dramatic, heroic gesture; but for most of us, God calls us to lay down our lives piece by piece, little by little in small, seemingly insignificant but important ways every day. This radical change in human character, can only come by the new birth and that continual abiding in Jesus… “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.” “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
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