John chapter 15:1-12.
"1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12 ¶ This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you."
"26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;"
The Book of Life - the living Word of God; In John's Gospel we see more of God's law of spiritual life - in John chapter 15. As Jesus seeks to bring to His disciples a true understanding and knowledge of God's ways, He looks around Him at the very world He created. He sees there His preparation for what He came to earth to accomplish among men. Wherever something is living He can point to it and say, that vine shows a relationship with its branches that is true in the spiritual realm.
We always must begin with the Father, the source, here the Husbandman. He planted the vine. He is the source and planner of all life. He is the vine-dresser. It is He who nurtures, trims, defends the vine. God gave His Son to be the source of all blessings to man, all grace descending from above through Him, and God takes care of all the branches, those united by faith to Christ.
When we first believed, when we first accepted Jesus the Christ as our Saviour we as a dying, withered branch were grafted into the True Vine, and received new life from Him. This new life flowed into us and we were born again by Spirit. As branches we are a part. We do not then contain life in ourselves, just as my hand is not the center of life in my body. Jesus is the vine. He is the center of life for us. In John 5:26 He says:
"For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself."
Do we then think that we can accept Christ and then go our own way and have life? Joy and peace in a Christian comes only as we stay in contact with the center of life which is Jesus the True Vine. Otherwise we again begin to wither and lose our fruit.
The great truth is: Abide in Christ. Verses 4,5: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Just as when the blood flow to my hand is stopped a little bit, the signs of life begin to fade. If circulation is cut off, the hand will slowly die. Just so, without Christ we can do nothing. If we would manifest signs of spiritual life we must abide. As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, so we cannot bear the fruit of a Christian life without being in Christ, without being in touch with the center of life which is Christ.
But in verse 6 is a stern warning - God needs Christians' fruit to draw others to His Son. If a branch abides not in Christ, it is cut off. Looking back at verse 4. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Two kinds of people attached to Christ are here set forth. One kind bears fruit, the other bears none. It is true of a graft of a branch that it may be mechanically attached to the vine yet have no vital connection, in which case, by not receiving the life bearing juices of the vine it can bear no fruit. These may be described as those who are visibly attached to the Church but have no living faith in Jesus, nor desire His salvation, indeed they do not open their souls to the spiritual life of which He is the source. They take no vital hold in Him, therefore they have no living union with Him. They are not capable of bearing fruit. Judas Iscariot is an example.
The opposite of this kind consists of those that 'in Christ bear fruit.' They are one spiritual life with Him. The Husbandman purges it in the sense of pruning - that the branch might not pursue its own glorification in its own leaves, instead of the main work of the branch - to bear fruit. What might cause the need for pruning – the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in which choke the word, whereby it becomes unfruitful.
Mark 4:19 - these hinder fruitfulness.
The Lord's chastening will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:11.
Verse 6 points back to verse 4. The one who abides not in Christ is taken away, cut off, and withers. Whatever pretense of religion there may have been, decays and disappears. There was no true union with the Vine and no matter how hard a branch may try to imitate the Christian life without a complete trusting and abiding in Christ, no fruit can come from such a false branch.
If we compare their fate with the tares in the parable in Matthew 13:41 -
'The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity' and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.'
The only purpose of the branches is to bear fruit. Those that do not are useless and good only for fuel for the fire.
Now let us turn to the key word of Christ's command to us 'Abide.' It means to continue, to dwell, to remain, to stand, to tarry, simply, to stay.
Where you abide is where you live. All Jesus wants us to do is stay where we are - as born-again Christians we need to stay with Christ, keeping the flow of life from God open. This is a relationship with Jesus Christ that began when you were born again. You will bear fruit. Jesus promises that.
How do you stay there? The same way you came to Jesus - by the grace of God, Romans 10:9,10 ye confessed with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and believed in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thy shall be saved.' You received by faith Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
To abide we must continue to say "Yes, Lord," to Jesus, to whatever He tells us to do - whether in His Word or otherwise. We must believe that He is the Lord of the Universe, the Lord of Glory, and He knows what is best for me, in every day, every moment, every circumstance and relationship. We must trust Him with our very lives.
First the Saviour said 'Come unto me, and I will give you rest.' He speaks of the rest of pardon and acceptance - the rest in His love. But all that God has to give cannot be bestowed at once - it needs time to become a part of us and fill us as we grow, holding fast to His promise: He said 'Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me and ye shall find rest to your souls.' He wishes us to yield to His training, to submit in all things to His perfect will, to let our whole lives be one with His. The moment the soul yields itself to obey, the Lord Himself gives the strength and joy to do it. As we surrender to Him, His almighty love holds us fast, and keeps and blesses us.
We are to give up all to Jesus, and receive all from Him. It is His work to keep us abiding when we yield ourselves to Him. He wishes to share a life of abiding, unbroken fellowship with us, offering to lift us up to where He would have us.
Paul says in Colossians 2:6,2. 'As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, abounding therein.' It is God Himself Who has established us in Christ.
Just as in justification we had to cease our own working, and had to accept in faith the promise that God would give us life in Christ. So it is now in the matter of our Christian lives, we must stop the constant striving as if our works will establish the connection with Christ more surely. We must allow God to do it, accepting His work in and through us by faith.
But this He can do with power from on high only as we cease interrupting Him by our self-working. He will stir us to watch, and wait, and work, as we accept in faith the dependent attitude that honours Him and opens our hearts to let Him work. His promise is to establish the heart of the humble, moment by moment, day by day.
It is not a matter of feeling, or growth, or strength - It is the simple question whether our will at this moment desires and consents to recognize our place in our Lord, and accept it. If I am a believer, I am in Christ.
God swore to Abraham and to us quoted in Luke 1:74, 75 'That He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.'
It is to the unchanging Jesus that we link ourselves - as we surrender to Him at this moment - it is nothing less than the beginning of the ever present now, which is the mystery and glory of eternity.
To grow in this knowledge and experience we must surrender our known sin, knowing this leaves more room for the inflowing of the presence and love of Christ. We must give up self-righteousness and all pride in our gifts and talents, that they might be used for God's glory, not ours.
True discipleship consists in first following, and then knowing the Lord.
It is the Holy Spirit which is the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. It is His work to flow into, to foster and strengthen, and so to perfect the new life within, that much fruit results. It is the Spirit that is the power of God, coming to us from the Heart of Christ, the revealer and communicator of Christ Himself within us. He is the bond of love between the Father and the Son, by Him they are one. He is the bond of fellowship between believers, by Him we are one. But above all He is the bond of fellowship between believers and Christ - the very life-sap through which Vine and branch grow into real and living oneness: by Him we are one.
Faith in the Spirit's indwelling must keep us from looking at ourselves and our experiences, for that is the way to lose touch with the very source of that Spirit. We must keep looking upon Jesus, and Him alone - thereby the flow is ever stronger. He is the other Comforter.
The purpose and result of abiding in Christ is clearly summed up in verse 8.
'Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples.' As the vine's whole life and energy is used to support the branches, so the branch's whole life and energy is used to produce fruit. Interestingly enough, the Greek word used for branch in this chapter is only used here - it emphasizes the qualities of tenderness and flexibility. Such branches Jesus calls us to be, by being united with Him.
As all forms of life reproduce after their kind - life begets life, and the grape, the fruit of the vine produces a living seed. But before a branch can bear much fruit it must be mature, and continually growing, receiving nourishment from the vine. So we must grow in closer fellowship with Jesus; we must take into our very souls the food of the Word. Our souls should feel a hunger for the life it gives. As we partake of this Daily Living Bread we take into us the life of Jesus to more surely grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Everything that lives, grows. Is your likeness to Jesus Christ more than it was a year ago? This truly is the work God our Heavenly Father wishes to do in us, to make us more like His Blessed Son.
According to Scripture what is this fruit so continuously mentioned? Galatians 5:22,23 gives it most fully:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance.
Luscious and ripe fruit draws others to come and carry it away, that they might be refreshed and nourished. The branch does not makes fruit for itself but to give away and then begin to prepare fruit for another season.
Among all who surround the fruit-bearing Christian, he becomes like a tree of life, which they taste and become refreshed. A soul's abiding in the fulness of Christ's blessing shall surely be made a blessing.
By nature our hearts know too much of selfishness. The new believer can be too concerned about his own salvation, happiness, his own stature as a Christian. But as we abide in Christ, we begin to realize the hopelessness and emptiness of those attitudes. As we forsake the idea of our selfish happiness and devote our lives to winning souls to Christ, we live out the love He has given us. The very spirit of the Vine is love. We must work faithfully on, completely assured that our Lord is working through us. Our weakness is no hindrance to His life-giving power.
As we work we discover our weakness and this throws us upon His strength, stirring us to much prayer, and a deeper union with Jesus.
It must never be just a work we have to perform; it must be with us, as it is and was with Him - the result of the spontaneous outflowing of a life from within, a result of the flowing into us of the very love of God. We must take time and learn of Jesus the very life of love, the divine image of the love of God as it was set before us in the Gospels.
Christ was the revelation of the Heavenly Father on earth. Those who call themselves Christians are the revelation of Jesus Christ on earth.
Verse 10 calls us to a life of faithful obedience to the commandments of Jesus - that this is the way of abiding.
In humility, in truth, in the love that speaks gently and tenderly, we testify of the Saviour as the Coming One. We thereby show that He is now our life, that our faith is not based in the wisdom of the world, but in the power of God. And we must realize that it is not the correctness of our views, nor the earnestness with which we support them that will prepare us to meet Him, but only abiding in Him. Not a knowing about Him, but a living relationship with Him. The resulting fruit shows a breaking out and shining forth of the indwelling glory of that fellowship.
As we look again at these precious verses of our Lord's words may we truly and deeply in our hearts hear Him calling to us and teaching us of His promise, His love, His warning, His commands, His joy - Let us hear His calling us to Him to literally and completely and continually share our life with Him, that He might share with us His eternal life, that we might live eternally and grow and bear much fruit, that others might be drawn unto Him.
Read John 15:1-12. Amen.
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. View more lessons at his Bible Study Lessons page.