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Discipleship Study Week 8

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John 15:1-8

John 15:1–8 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. 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. 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.
Jesus, the True Vine
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
This discourse starts way back in chapter 13:31, emphasis on V33
John 13:33 ESV
Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’
John 13:36 ESV
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”
Which then leads to chapter 14
John 14:1 ESV
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
John 14:15–18 ESV
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:23–27 ESV
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
What Jesus is addressing, again from chapter 13 is the disciples anxiety over Jesus leaving them.
He’s talked of us loving Him and Him and the Father loving us in return and sending the Holy Spirit to live in us, that is the answer to their anxiety.
But there is a measurement to our loving Him, what is it? From the verses in chapter 14 it’s if we keep His commands or His word.
So, according to Jesus words, why do we obey? Because we love Him. Our obedience does prove our love, but it doesn’t earn His love. We love Him, therefore we obey.
So now to our verses in chapter 15
This is a metaphor, a word picture that they would be familiar with. Vines and the caring of vines.
The vine throughout scripture was in reference to Israel, now Jesus says He is the vine and His Father is the gardener. Israel was always the worlds access to God, now it’s only through Jesus. He is the vine, He is the gate, He is the way, the only way to God.
What is the purpose of a grape vine? To produce grapes
Jesus refers to Himself as the “true vine” meaning other vines must be false. What does He mean by this? A branch only lives because it receives life from the vine. There must be other ways in which “branches” can believe they are receiving “life” that must not be true, they are false, not real life.
His Father, God, is the gardener, who prunes the good branches and removes the bad ones. What is the basis on whether a branch is good or bad?
What happens to the fruitful branches? They are pruned so that they can bear more fruit. A branch or fruit trees job is to produce fruit and more fruit. It’s what they were created to do.
What is fruit? Obedience and love, living like Jesus, getting life right not religion, having a Jesus impact on others, bringing others into the kingdom, becoming more like Jesus and helping others to be more like Jesus, creating disciples, etc.
What happens to the unfruitful branches? He takes away and later it says they will be thrown away, wither, gathered into a pile to be burned.
The word translated as “cuts off” in the NLT and NIV is airo in Greek and it actually means “take away”. What is the difference in seeing it as takes away rather than cuts off?
What makes the branch healthy and fruit bearing? Look at verse 4, if the branch has been severed, not taken away or cut off, this is a different word. The Gardener hasn’t done this. Some how it hasn’t remained in the vine, but the branch that does and will produce fruit has remained in the vine.
Remain, stay connected to, continue to exist. Those that are truly Jesus’ will remain, will stay connected to Him as the vine. Those that are not truly followers of Jesus, they will not remain, they will sever themselves.
Again, if the Holy Spirit is the seal guaranteeing our inheritance, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
2 Corinthians 1:21–22 ESV
And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Ephesians 1:13–14 ESV
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
2 Timothy 2:11–12 ESV
The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;
V5, our ability to produce fruit and much or more fruit is only because of the branches receiving life from the vine. It’s like the umbilical cord.
If we as a claimed “Christian” are not producing fruit, remember what fruit is, then we are probably not a Christian, we are not in the vine, we are close to the vine, but were never really plugged in to the vine.
V7, what is the key to this verse? And My words remain in you, then you may ask for anything because you will be asking for what I would be asking for, and it will be granted.
We are filled with Jesus Spirit, we are filled with His life in us, we are filled with His words, we are filled with His love, we are filled with joy (11), we are part of a new community.

Ephesians 3:14-21

Ephesians 3:14–21 ESV
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
New Living Translation Chapter 3

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Growth

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Paul writing, praying this for the Ephesians to the Father. Last week we talked about us operating as priests, here Paul is communicating a way in which he does that.
God is the creator of the family, He is the foundation on which a marriage and family are to be built, He is the creator of the new family of God, the church, the body of Christ, the Christian family.
Riches, unlimited resources
So what’s He praying? That from the Creators unlimited resources that they and us are empowered with inner strength through His Spirit.
Sounds like the life in the vine, then Christ will dwell in us and we in Him, as we trust Him our roots, our connection to the vine grows deeper into God’s love and will keep us strong.
He also prays that we have the power to understand how wide and long and high and deep that love is.
How wide—wide enough to cover all the sins of all the world, all can be forgiven and loved by God
How long—when did it start and when will it end, His love is a faithful and everlasting love
How high—it reaches from heaven to earth and takes us from earth to heaven
How deep—the love of God has the power to reach the worst of sinners,
Even though Paul feels Gods love can be comprehended, only with the Spirits power, but also says that this love surpasses knowledge, human knowledge cannot understand it.
He also prays for us to be filled with the fullness of God. Does this expression sound familiar?
Colossians 1:19 ESV
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
Doxology, praise prayer, to God, who is able to do far more abundantly, sounds excessive, than all we ask or think.
We don’t know what to ask for, whatever we think, He is able to do far more.
We don’t know how much to ask for, He is able to do far more.
This comes after we are to be filled with the fullness of God, our asking and thinking are according to the power at work within us, they are to be Jesus’ asking and thinking.

Colossians 1:24-29

Colossians 1:24–29 ESV
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
New Living Translation Chapter 1

Paul’s Work for the Church

24 I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

We’ve talked about rejoicing, not in what we are suffering, or even why we are suffering it, but in what God is doing in us and eventually through us because of the suffering.
Paul says he’s suffering for their sake? He was always dealing with opposition, Jews with Judaism and Jewish festivals and ceremonial issues, Gnostic philosophy saying salvation was through knowledge and not faith in Jesus, and that knowledge was only given to a select few who claimed it. Or denying the preeminence of Christ, or worshipping angels, denying Jesus as God and Lord,
Maybe it was his beatings and imprisonment for just declaring Jesus, opposed by the world powers.
Paul views himself as an extension of Jesus, not that he is God or Savior, but in that Jesus came primarily for the Jews, and Paul has now been commissioned by Him to take this message to the Gentiles, and with that message, similar sufferings as Christs.
Paul says that his sufferings are also for the Church, to make known to the Gentiles all of who Jesus is and was and what He did, suffering obviously included, and Paul is preaching, teaching and modeling Christ.
He has been called to make the “Word” of God fully known, or the entire message.
The Jews thought Messiah was for them, and even though Jesus does say He came for the Jews, we see in the Gospels evidence of Jesus’ ministry to Samaritans and Gentiles east of Galilee.
This was not fully understood by the Jews, that Gods plan from the beginning was to reunite all people under Christ, that Messiah was for the whole world, Gentiles and Jews.
This truly does show the immeasurable riches of the love, mercy and grace of God, to cover not only Jews, but also Gentiles, all people.
Not only to offer forgiveness, but to adopt them into the family, to give them citizenship, to become part of the body, the temple or church, to receive the Holy Spirit, to have Christ in them and be a branch in the vine, with the real confidence assurance of eternal life with Him.
Him we proclaim, Christ, not some works based system, but the person and work of Jesus.
They warn everyone, salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to the scriptures alone, for the glory of God alone, the 5 solas of the Protestant Reformation.
Present everyone mature in Christ—genuine, complete, adult in Christ. Not with an infant and ignorant faith, but a mature, informed, consequence understood faith.
For this he has toiled or worked with sweat and blood, he struggles now and then, but Jesus has been his strength, his energy, working powerfully in him and through him.
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