Last week we investigated John’s profound statement in John 1 that Jesus was the Word of God. This depiction of Christ is collaborated throughout the Bible as we compare the power and work of Christ with the power and work of God’s revelation, His Word.
- The Word creates; Jesus creates. The Word justifies; Jesus justifies. The Word saves; Jesus saves.
- As we said last week, this is not to say that Jesus is nothing more than words written in a book. Jesus is not your Bible, and your Bible is not Jesus. But God cannot be divorced from His words. His purposes are accomplished through His words. His power is displayed in His words.
- The Bible also speaks of being “in Christ”; and being “in the Word.” How are we to understand these statements and what happens to those who get “in the Word” and” in Christ”?
I. Read John 15:1-14 – Jesus is speaking to His disciples in the upper room just before His betrayal by Judas. Jesus’ words are designed to protect and encourage His disciples before He leaves them.
- He has already spoken about the peace He provides (14:27)
- He tells them Satan is on his way (14:29-30)
- He later tells them that He loves them (as a friend that would die for another -15:13) and that the world would hate them (as it has hated Him -15:18-19)
- John 16:1-4 – “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.
- The illustration of the Vine and Branches is designed to teach them how they can survive what was coming. How can be expected to endure the persecution and accomplish what they would be commissioned to do? It would only be possible if they abided in Jesus and Jesus abided in them.
A. “ I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinedressser” (v. 1) – Jesus’ illustration portrays our heavenly Father as a vinedresser. This is one who plants the vine and is ultimately responsible for its growth and development.
1. The Vine is Jesus. He is God’s plan and God’s purpose. Jesus is uniquely from the Father. He is called the Only Begotten of the Father (John 1:14), not because He was a created being, but because He was uniquely chosen and honored by the Father.
2. We are the branches. This is the fascinating part – we are part of God’s plan when we, as branches, bear fruit for the vinedresser. Our fruit is the purpose of the Vinedresser. Our fruit magnifies Him, not us. (vs. 8 – Herein is my Father glorified)
B. Abide in Me, and I in you” (v. 4) This is the command that is the focus of Jesus’ words. We are responsible for abiding in Jesus. It seems as well that Jesus abiding in Me is congruent and dependent upon my abiding in Jesus. How do we do that?
1. Abide (Greek – meno) “stay, dwell, endure, remain”. It is more than an appearance or occasional dwelling, but a settled habitation.
a. The Bible often speaks of God’s desire to live (tabernacle) with His people. God is said to live in us, as our bodies are described as the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the church as the habitation of God in the Spirit.
b. The Bible also speaks of us dwelling in God (as here in John 15). 1 John 4:14-15 – 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
c. God in us, and us in God. This is not some mystical experience. It is the result of a choice that I make to allow Jesus to influence me. It defines a relationship that I develop with the Word of God. Our connection to the vine is as strong as we want it to be.
C. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5) – The branches cannot bear fruit apart from the Vine. In the physical world we understand that the outer branch does not provide for the development of the fruit. The nourishment and life flow from the trunk of the vine, and any disconnection from the vine makes the branch useless.
1. What is the fruit here? The Bible identifies the fruit of the Spirit of God as the qualities OF God Himself. (Galatians 5:22 – 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,) We cannot become like Christ without abiding in His words. But the context may point more to the fruit of evangelism – converting others to Christ. That is the fruit that these disciples will be called upon to produce soon. 2 sobering thoughts here:
- You cannot make disciples apart from the word of God. Mark 16:15-16 – 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
- If we do not convert others we will not survive the judgment of God. – Jesus’ passionate desire was “much fruit”; and Jesus’ stressing this here emphasizes the truth that the evangelization of the whole world is the first, last, and great duty of the church. Conversions are the fruit Christ had in view here; and no Christian, and no church, can be considered truly “in Christ” unless passionately engaged in soul-winning.
D. “ If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (John 15:7) Abiding in Jesus is also described as abiding in His words. This is not to say that Jesus and the Bible are the same, or that the Holy Spirit is the Word, or that one gets more of the Holy Spirit by reading more of the Bible.
1. But Jesus cannot be divorced from His words. I cannot enter or sustain a relationship with Jesus apart from obedience to Jesus’ words. John 6:63-68 – 3 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
2. Abiding in Jesus demands that we abide in His words. How do I do this?
a. It is more than an educational experience. Abiding in the word is more than memorization and study. We know this for several reasons.
- The devil can memorize Scripture. He quoted it to Jesus in the wilderness to tempt him (Matthew 4:1-10).
- Second, we know it because of what Jesus says in John 5:38. – “You do not have (God’s) word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom He has sent.” The people Jesus was talking to knew the words of scripture. They memorized it daily. But it did not impact their lives.
- Thirdly, Jesus said those who abide in His word bear much fruit. (Jn 15:2) Spiritual fruit comes through obedience to the words of Jesus. In Romans 6 Paul said that the Christians had become slaves of God and that they were bearing the fruit of holiness (Rom. 6:22)
E. What happens when I get in the Word and the word gets in me? Look again at the text of John 15. I get these things:
1. Purpose: I can know God’s purpose and will for my life. God’s desire for me is that I bear fruit and bring glory to Him. The scriptures define this for me.
2. Pruned: I can be pruned to bear more fruit. John 15:2 – Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
- “Prunes” (Greek) can also mean “cleanse, purge” (It’s a Vinedresser tool to promote growth) The sdiscipline of the word is an important tool of God to do accomplish His purposes. “Whom the Lord loves He chastens” – Heb 12:11 – “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”
3. Power : “Ask what you desire and it will be done” – Does this mean I will get everything I want? I dare not explain away the force of this promise. But those who continue to abide in God’s word develop different desires. They desire to do God will above all else – as Jesus did. God will not deny us the ability to do His will. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. As I abide in the word I access the power God provides. – 2 Tim 1:7-9 – Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”
- Rom. 8:28 “All things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”
4. Life: This is an integral understanding of Jesus’ words here in John 15. Unless we abide in Jesus we cannot live. John 15:6 – 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. Without a real connection with the Vine I am dead!
- You may not appear dead to others, but you are. (cutting my trellis vine. Some branches were disconnected. They would be made known later.)
- Burton Coffman connects vs. 7 with Jesus statement in John 14:20 – “I am in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”– “Here is the whole prospectus of God’s kingdom in embryo, making this verse rank with Gen 3:15 as a statement of the whole plan of salvation. Here is the achievement of God’s righteousness, the secret of justification, and the basis of the redeemed’s avoidance of judgment – the whole works; it’s all here! Ye in me …” (from Coffman’s Bible Commentary)
a. My salvation is defined by my identification with Jesus.
- 2 Cor 5:17 – 7 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
- Eph 1:10 – That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him.
- Eph 2:6 … raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
- Eph 2:13 – But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
- Col 1:28 – Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
- Gal 3:27 – 7 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Conclusion: 1) I f you are not in the Vine you are dead. You have not hope. “Good” people do not go to heaven. Saved people do! They abide in the Vine. 2) If you are not bearing fruit…you will be cut off… because you are dead. And you will be cast into the fire.