Friday, May 18, 2007

Abiding in the Vine

“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 (John 15:4 NASU).”

[Abide in Me, and I in you]

Abide: To stand fast; remain; go on being (Webster). In the context in which it is used here: To stand fast in love and faith toward Christ; to remain united with Christ without intermission; go on or continue being faithful to Him. Thus Jesus is saying, if you remain in Me, I will remain with you, and will teach, guide, and comfort you. This He proceeds to illustrate by a reference to the vine. If the branch should be cut off an instant, it would die and be fruitless. As long as the branch is attached to the vine the parent stock imparts its juices, and furnishes a constant circulation of sap continuing the growth and fruitfulness of the branch. Thus if a disciple should be separated from Christ, or if he should lax his union to Him and dependence on Him, first the fruit withers and the branch droops and soon dies. While the disciples are united to Him by a living faith, from the nature of the case, strength flows from Him to His disciples, and they receive help as they need. Devotion then is manifested in good works, in love, and self-denial and is as natural, as easy, as unconstrained and as lovely as the vine covered with fruitful branches and is at once enticing and useful.

“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 (John 15:5 NASU).”

[he bears much fruit]

This verse is just stating the positive effect of abiding in Christ whereas the previous verse was stating the negative effect of not abiding in Him. In the last clause He re-emphasizes the negative effect thus leading into His next statement.

“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 (John 15:6 NASU).”

[he is thrown away as a branch and dries up]

Here we re-visit verse 2 [He takes away] Two very controversial statements among Christians. I was reared in a Southern Baptist Church and was taught “once saved always saved.” Their doctrine is based upon the following Scripture,

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand (John 10:27-29 NASU).”

[My sheep hear My voice,]

To hear His voice is to be led by the Spirit. And those who are led by the Spirit are obviously not led into sin. These are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14).

[and they follow Me]

It seems to be that “follow Me” would mean the same as “abide in Me.” These bear the fruit of righteousness and to these He gives eternal life. A willful sinner is not in right standing with God thus he does not and can not bear the fruit of righteousness.

When I was called into the ministry my Lord pointed out a verse of Scripture to me, which stated,

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6 NASU).”

He impressed upon me that I should teach His people His truths that they may be delivered from destruction. This I vowed to do. Now I believe in the eternal security of the believer, if the one who says he believes is “abiding in” or “following” Christ. But I do not believe that going to church ever Saturday (for those who go on the “Sabbath”) or every Sunday (for those who go on the “Lord’s Day”) or just every now and then and living in sin the balance of ones time is following our Lord or “abiding in the vine.” Thus I share the following truths with you that you might not be “destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

As the vine-dresser will remove every unfruitful branch from the vine, so will the Father remove every unfruitful member from the Body of Christ; the rebellious or stubborn, and all false and merely nominal Christians who are attached to the Christ by faith in the word and His divine mission, while they do not live in His life and Spirit, and do not bring forth any fruit to the glory of God. And also every disciple which has been in Him by true faith (Heb. 6:4-6) but have returned to or have continued to willfully sin, and in so doing, “has trampled under foot the Son of God and treated as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified and has insulted the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29 NAS):” all these “He takes away.”

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15:7 NASU).”

[If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,]

If you remain steadfast in Me through love and faith, and My doctrines and commandments abide in you through devotions and obedience, without intermission, then ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Our Lord requires of His disciples faithfulness from a heart of love.

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples (John 15:8 NASU).”

[that you bear much fruit,]

Jesus bore the fruit of righteousness, thus He glorified His Father. If His disciples bear the same fruit and glorify the Father as He did then they are “abiding in the vine” and are known as His disciples.

Pastor Jake

No comments: