Knowing Christ in 2020, Conclusion (John 10:10 and John 15:1-6)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, February 16, 2020
A woman was driving home one night. The weather was really nasty. Rain was coming down in buckets and visibility was very poor. Seeing taillights ahead of her, she followed the car in front. Not being able to see, the car in front seemed to be going in the right direction. So she stuck with it. All of a sudden the car in front of her came to a stop. She began to wonder what had happened; perhaps the car in front had hit a deer or some thing like that. She began to feel uncomfortable; thinking being stopped in the middle of the road can often lead to accidents. Much to her alarm the car in front of her turned off their lights. Her concern was now growing as well as her anger, and she was then startled by a knocking on her window. She looked up and there was a man standing in the pouring rain wanting to speak to her. She cracked the window open and asked the man what the problem was. The man replied by stating that that was the question he was going to ask her. She retorted that she wasn’t the one who had stopped in the middle of the road and then turned off the car lights. The man’s reply was that they were not in the middle of the road, but in his driveway. Obviously, this woman had chosen the wrong leader to follow. She had chosen a leader who would not take her to where she wanted and needed to go. She had chosen the wrong leader and the wrong road.
Are we following Christ? Are we living with Christ? Are we living in a relationship with Christ?
Today, I wrap up the sermon series about Knowing Christ in 2020. Today, I wish to talk about abiding in Christ.
A.W. Tozer wrote:
“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”
We need to live with Jesus and we do that through the Holy Spirit.
My theme and application:
We must abide (remain) in Christ and we cannot bear fruit apart from Him.
Let’s read John 15:1-6:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
- Abide in Christ.
- Let’s put this passage in context. We are in the upper room discourse. This is John chapters 13-17.
- One writes, “It is possible that if the text of this discourse was spoken as they walked from the upper room in Jerusalem down into the Kidron Valley and across to the Mount of Olives, they could have seen the great golden vine, the national emblem of Israel, on the front of the temple.”476
- Verse 1 shares, Jesus is the Vine and the Father is the Vinedresser.
- We have an Old Testament idea of Israel as the vine, but the idea was that Israel was the rebellious vine. This is clearly showing that Jesus is the perfect vine. These are different metaphors in Scripture.
- We could look at this as God, the Father, as the Farmer.
- The NET Bible: There are numerous OT passages which refer to Israel as a vine: Ps 80:8–16, Isa 5:1–7, Jer 2:21, Ezek 15:1–8, 17:5–10, 19:10–14, and Hos 10:1. The vine became symbolic of Israel, and even appeared on some coins issued by the Maccabees. The OT passages which use this symbol appear to regard Israel as faithless to Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT) and/or the object of severe punishment.
- Jesus is the Vine, this means we must be connected to Him. We will come back to that with verse 4.
- Verse 2 shows that we’re are connected to Jesus we are to bear fruit. God the Father prunes us so that we do bear fruit. But if we do not bear fruit we are cut off. Literally the branches that do not bear fruit He lifts up. There are two different views on this.
- Does this mean that branches that do not bear fruit are cut off and thrown into judgment? If this is the case then were they true believers who lost their salvation or were they never believers to begin with? This is difficult because Jesus says that every branch “in Me…” If the unfruitful branch is in Him that seems to mean that they are a believer. But when we get to verse 6 Jesus shares that unfruitful branches are thrown into the fire which seems to be judgment.
- Some believe that what verse 2 is saying is that branches that do not bear fruit are “lifted up” which would mean they get special treatment like a farmer would do and this would make them bear fruit. This would be like using a trellis or something to help it out.
- Others could say they are not truly in Jesus, like Judas. This connects it to verse 6. 1 John 2:19 talks about people leaving the church that were never really part of the church. This fits with verse 6 and the idea of judgment.
- However, in agriculture the pruning of verse 2 would happen in the spring and the removal of disconnected branches of verse 6 would happen in the fall.
- Either way, I believe what Jesus is saying is that branches that do not bear fruit are not truly connected to Him and so they are cut off. Branches that bear fruit are pruned to bear more fruit. The point is that we must be connected to Jesus.
- In verse 3 Jesus shares the disciples are clean, but they are clean because of what Jesus spoke to them. Jesus cleansed them. In this sense, they are clean, meaning they are already pruned.
- In John 17:17 Jesus says that God’s Word is truth and Jesus prays that they will be sanctified by the Truth.
- Verse 4 is key:
- Abide in Jesus.
- This means to “remain” in Him or to “live” in Him.
- Jesus says why they must remain in Him. A branch cannot bear fruit on its own. We need to be in Jesus to bear fruit.
- This is our key application.
- This whole sermon series has been about having a relationship with Jesus. We need to know Jesus. We must abide in Him.
- Brother Lawrence shares: The most holy practice, the nearest to daily life, and the most essential for the spiritual life, is the practice of the presence of God, that is to find joy in his divine company and to make it a habit of life, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him at all times, every moment, without rule or restriction, above all at times of temptation, distress, dryness, and revulsion, and even of faithlessness and sin.
- Think of this like a power strip. I have here a power strip, but does it have power? No, it needs plugged in. That is how we are without Christ.
- In verse 5 Jesus adds to verse 4: Jesus clarifies that He is the vine and we are the branches. This adds to the metaphor. A branch must be connected to the vine, so we also must be connected to the Vine. If we are connected to Him, we bear fruit, apart from Him we can do nothing.
- Think about it: Have any of you cut live tree branches off of a tree?
- At first, we see them all green with leaves, but within a week they are dead and drying up.
- The branch must be connected to the tree. We must be connected to the Vine and the Vine is Jesus.
- Verse 6 tells us what happens if we do not abide in Him. If we do not live in Him we are thrown away like a dead branch. The farmer gathers dead branches and burns them. That is the description of those that do not abide in Him and bear fruit.
- We must abide (remain) in Jesus (verse 4).
- How do we abide in Jesus?
- That is what this has been about. I have been preaching and teaching on that for 6 weeks.
- Spend time in His Word daily.
- Spend time in prayer.
- Meditate on His Word.
- Go deeper in Bible study.
- Spend time with the church family.
- We must bear fruit showing that we remain in Jesus (verse 2).
- We must worship God that we can live life with Jesus (verse 4).
- We must abide (remain) in Jesus (verse 4).
So, where are you at? Don’t give up.
A man once bought a home with a tree in the backyard. It was winter, and nothing marked this tree as different from any other tree. When spring came, the tree grew leaves and tiny pink buds. “How wonderful,” thought the man. “A flower tree! I will enjoy its beauty all summer.” But before he had time to enjoy the flowers, the wind began to blow and soon all the petals were strewn in the yard. “What a mess,” he thought “This tree isn’t any use after all.”
The summer passed, and one day the man noticed the tree was full of green fruit the size of large nuts. He picked a large one and took a bite, “Bleagh!” he cried and threw it to the ground. “What a horrible taste! This tree is worthless. Its flowers are so fragile the wind blows them away, and its fruit is terrible and bitter. When winter comes, I’m cutting it down.” But the tree took no notice of the man and continued to draw water from the ground and warmth from the sun and in late fall produced crisp red apples.
Some of us see Christians with their early blossoms of happiness and think they should be that way forever. Or we see bitterness in their lives, and we’re sure they will never bear the better fruit of joy. Could it be that we forget some of the best fruit ripens late?
Do you know Him?
Confess, believe, trust, commit
Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.
476 476. Tenney, “John,” p. 150.
 Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God. Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 13.