John 15:1: “I am the true vine,
John, chapter 15 verses 1-10, should be memorized. Although there are many (what I call) supportive verses throughout the New Testament and the Old, nothing speaks of relationship so adroitly and wistfully as does Jesus’ allegory of a vine and its branches.
John 15:4: “Abide in Me, and I in you.
This is really, really, really big. These seven words, if understood, cherished and obeyed, will add so much to who you are. These seven words will bring increase of every good thing you now have. And whatever you lack – financial security, physical or mental or emotional wellness, quality relationships, whatever – you will steadfastly gain. If you but abide in (live with, remain attached to) Christ, Christ, in turn, can/will abide in you. You must get that. Okay?
Psalm 23:1: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want
Jesus is quite qualified to care for His sheep. As one of His many sheep, you must stay close to “that great Shepherd of the sheep”. Sheep who stray lose much of their protection; no longer can they say, “I shall not want” (“I have everything I need”). Sheep that don’t wander are christians who are abiding.
John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches.
You are a branch. I am a branch. Every person is a branch. Branches are attached to something. When Jesus called Himself “the true vine” He suggests there are vines not true. Religion is a vine not true. To this vine are attached billions of branches throughout humanity. The fruit religion produces through its many branches is not good fruit. Only the branch attached to “the true vine” bears good fruit. Repeat: Only the branch attached to “the true vine” bears good fruit.
The company of pharisees was a bad vine. Their people “were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” Catholicism, to which I was once attached, is a bad vine. So much sadness…. so much heaviness…. so much loneliness. Evangelicalism, to which I was once attached, is another bad vine. Every evangelical christian exchanged the Good Shepherd for another shepherd, “the true vine” for another vine; that’s how he/she became an evangelical. All religions are bad vines pretending to be good vines. Though they valiantly try, they cannot produce good fruit.
John 15:5: you are the branches.
Most “branches” (most christians within christianity) are attached to two vines (or more), Jesus and another. They are the “double-minded man” of which James spoke. The ‘another’ vine competes with Lord Jesus for supremacy, for lordship, for devotion. “Let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” (Jm.1:7) Those attached to Christ alone obey Christ alone; He is Lord in fact, not symbolically.
John 15:5: He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit;
Do you get that? If you will but abide in Jesus you will bear much fruit. Repeat: If you will but abide in Jesus you will bear much fruit. Let’s go over that again…. how do you get much fruit? You get much fruit by simply abiding in “the true vine”. Simple. No, not easy, but simple.
Since you want much fruit, abiding in Jesus should be your determination. You and those you influence will be blessed, eternally so. If you are not determined to abide in Christ you won’t. But if you are you will.
John 15:8: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit;
There’s that word again…. much. The Father will be glorified by you if/when you bear much fruit. Lots and lots of fruit. How do you get much fruit? “He who abides in Me…. bears much fruit.”
Are you beginning to see the wonder and beauty of John fifteen? Can you understand why I said this is really, really, really big? John 15 is central because Christ-and-you is central. Christ-and-you is the concern of the Father’s heart. Within the first eight verses of John 15 Jesus said “abide in Me” five times. Do you think Jesus is trying to tell us (you) something?
John 15:4: the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,
As there is no power in an unattached branch, there is likewise no power in the unattached christian. For a branch to bear “much fruit” it must be attached to a healthy vine; for the christian to bear much fruit he/she must be attached to Christ. You have to get that, know that, embrace that. “Let these words sink down into your ears.” (Lk. 9:44)
John 15:5: without Me you can do nothing.
Without a relationship with Jesus Christ you can do nothing good. There will be no worthwhile fruit. Don’t try to produce fruit. You can’t. You can only bear fruit that Jesus produces through you. Amen?
John 15:2 (AMPC): Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away);
Thankfully Jesus didn’t say “He (the Father, “the vinedresser”) cuts away (trims off, takes away)” the branch that is bearing little fruit. Most of us would have been ousted a long time ago. Thank You, Father!
John 15:2: Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
The Father wants fruit – more fruit, much fruit – from you. Much fruit is possible. Not probable – most bear little fruit; most live far (very far) below their potential – but possible. “He who abides in Me…. bears much fruit.”
How does the Father prune you? The answer is found in verse 3….
John 15:3 (Phillips): you have already been pruned by my words.
The twelve were pruned by Christ’s words. More accurately, the Father pruned the twelve through Jesus. (Jesus: “I do not speak on My own authority.”) Many (most?) have been taught that the Father prunes us by bringing adverse circumstances into our lives. Is this what you thought? Relax, the Father prunes you by Bible truths, directly or through others. (Could He be pruning you through my words?)
2 Corinthians 5:10 (NLT): we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve
The value of your eternal rewards will depend on how intimate (how firmly connected) you are to Lord Jesus during your here-and-now. Since so much (so-o-o-o much!) depends on your abiding relationship with Jesus, you must know what it means to abide. I can help you….
Matthew 19:27: Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.
Following Christ is abiding in Christ. Abiding in Christ is following Christ. You cannot be abiding in Christ while following another. Just can’t. If you have a herd mentality – going whenever and wherever the crowd is going – you are not following Christ; you are following christians.
Christians follow christians who are following christians who are following christians. To abide in Christ you must get off that train. You must be like Peter who “left all” to follow Christ. (That won’t make you popular; the herd despises rejection.)
Luke 22:54: Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance.
Like Peter on that scary night, most follow Jesus “at a distance”. Christians are abiding in Jesus, but just barely. Religionists are constantly fretful; too much intimacy costs too much. You can follow Jesus closely or distantly. The choice is yours.
John 21:15: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me
To love is to abide. To abide is to love. There are degrees of loving. There are degrees of abiding. There are degrees of commitment. The intensity of intimacy with Lord Jesus was chosen by you, not Jesus. Please understand that wherever you are, relationally speaking, you can be closer. And when you draw closer, you can draw closer still. There is always more of Christ to gain.
Peter replied, “Lord, you know that I love You.” I respectfully challenge you: Can you say, “Lord, you know that I love you”? Can you declare, “Lord Jesus, You are ‘first love’ . There is nothing or no one I love more than You.”? If so you will be eternally wealthy.
To love is to abide. To abide is to love. The loving mother abides in her suckling. Newlyweds, still enamoured, abide in each other. Religionists abide in their religion. The rich abide in their wealth. We all abide in something or someone. We abide in the one we most love.
Paul abided in Jesus. (“To live is Christ.”) As did John. (“There was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples.”) As did Thomas. (“Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”)
Psalm 91:14: “Because he has set his love upon Me,
Love can be “set”. Love is a choice. You can set your love upon him or her or them. Or on this or that or whatever. God gave you a free will; you can “set” your love on whomever or whatever you choose. You can choose to set your love upon Jesus.
John 15: 9: abide in My love.
Paraphrase: “Be mindful of My love for you. Live in the awareness that My affection encompasses you always. Acknowledge and respond to My deep love for you.”
Psalm 31:1: In you, O Lord, I put my trust;
This is but one of many supportive verses to John 15:4 (“Abide in Me, and I in you”) that will enhance your here-and-now and your eternity.
To trust is to abide. To abide is to trust. David enjoyed an abiding relationship with God. God enjoyed an abiding relationship with David. Why was David so special? Was it because “he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good looking”? Don’t think so. Was it because He was pretty good with a sling? (“David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone.”) Don’t think so. David was exceptional because his relationship with God was exceptional. (“In You, O Lord, I put my trust.”)
You trust by entrusting. You trust fully by entrusting fully. It’s not easy. Fretting is a sign you have a long way to go. Don’t feel bad; just keep climbing, responding to God’s “upward call”. So many times the OT admonishes, “Trust in the Lord”. You remain in trust by continual entrusting.
There is power in trust. Much power. The more trust, the more power. Just consider David’s life; his strength and success were fruit of abiding trust. Trust in your Jesus will likewise make you an overcomer.
Romans 7:25: I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!
To be grateful is to abide. To abide is to be grateful. To abide in gratitude is more than an occasional “Thank You, Jesus.” It is an ‘attitude of gratitude’ that doesn’t fade away, that fosters strong devotion.
Luke 18:1: Men ought always to pray
To relate is to abide. To abide is to relate. We talk the most to the one in whom we abide. Think about that. The way we abide more fully is to – listen carefully now – talk to Jesus, talk to Jesus, talk to Jesus. Since we can all talk to Jesus, we can all draw closer.
John 15:9,10: abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love,
To obey is to abide. To abide is to obey. The rebellious teen is not abiding in his/her father. The obedient teen is. Her heart is to please, never dishonour. When away from Dad she is with him still.
Evangelicals obey Christ and their religion. They are the “double-minded” of James 1:8.
Isaiah 26:3: You will keep in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You,
Being mindful is abiding. Abiding is being mindful. Abiding in Christ is being mindful of Christ.
There are degrees of abiding. Abiding doesn’t come easy. It comes in increments. Comparatively, rock climbing is no challenge. Gaining Christ is a forever grind.
If you are like me you are easily distracted. We must persist. In six months you will notice increased ability to stay focussed, to be more mindful of His Presence. Every day can be a day of growth, even if only slightly. It’s worth every investment you make, every price you pay. Christ “will keep in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on” Him. And you will gain much more than peace; you will gain every good thing, such as….
John 15: 7: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in You, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
This is an incredible promise. Jesus taught us there are two conditions for answered prayer: 1) You abide in Him and 2) His words abide in you. Many of your prayers have gone unanswered simply because one (or both) of the two requirements was not fully realized. If both these necessities were satisfied fully all your prayers would be answered. Jesus guarantees it.
Having said that, however, these two conditions are never satisfied fully. I have never fully abided in Jesus and His words have never fully abided in me. I, and you, must be satisfied with increase. Our prayers will become increasingly powerful as we grow in intimacy and as His words reign more fully. Increase…. our goal is increase.
John 15:7: and My words abide in you,
What does this mean? How can you know if the words of Jesus really do abide in you?
Psalm 1:2 (AMPC): his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night.
To have Christ’s words (which are the Father’s words) abide in us, we must know them. This takes study, this takes prayer, this takes spiritual strength. I know, I know…. you already have Bible words in you. Some you have memorized. So now it’s a matter of increase, daily increase.
2 Timothy 2:15 (AMPC): Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.
Bible study never ends. Understanding words you read doesn’t come all at once. You could meditate on John fifteen and its supportive Scriptures for a year and still not ‘get it’ entirely. It has been said christians not only need to be taught, we need to be reminded. We forget, we’re reminded, we forget again, we’re reminded again.
Psalm 119:11: Your word I have hidden in My heart, That I might not sin against You.
I have often studied the Bible out of an inferior motive. Studying the Bible is what nice christians do; and so I did. Not to know the will of God to obey, but just to know. This can be quite detrimental because “Knowledge puffs up”. Some, especially pastors, study because Bible knowledge is required to climb religious hierarchies. You want to know (you want to want to know) because you want to understand what pleases and displeases Jesus. (“That I might not sin against You.”)
Truth truly received is truth applied; it is much more than head knowledge. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” We will be rewarded for what we do, not by what we have learned.
James 1:22: deceiving yourselves.
Christians can verbally binge all day on politics, problems, diet, church issues, etc. and somehow conclude Christ’s words abide in them. They are “deceiving [them]selves.” Jesus taught, “Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” The words we speak indicate the degree Christ’s words abide in us.
Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you;
You are playing checkers with the Lord Jesus. Whose turn is it? Is it Jesus’ move or yours? Are you waiting for Him or is He waiting for you? I suggest it’s your move. Ask. Now it’s Jesus’ turn… He adds truth to your storehouse of truth. Then it’s your move again; ask for more truth. Jesus will answer again, in time, adding more truth to truth. Truth may be knowledge or it may be understanding or it may be correction. Truth will come…. according to your faith. (Jesus:“According to your faith let it be to you.”) Hmmm. If it’s that simple why don’t more people simply ask?
Christians have as much truth as they want. It takes courage to embrace truth; truth, you see, often necessitates change. The way it is is threatened. Best to leave things as they are. Pastors dodge obvious truth regarding the religion they serve because Bible truth will capsize their lives. Truth will drive pew-people out of their cozy bondage and into challenging ministry.
John 15:4: and I in you.
Jesus wants to abide in you. Jesus died a horror-death to secure you. He wants you more than you want Him, much more.
Try to comprehend the enormity of His invitation, “Abide in Me, and I in you”. Lord Jesus – “The Son of the Highest”, the promised and long awaited Messiah, the Father’s Sent-One, humanity’s only virgin-born, “that great Shepherd of the sheep”, the very “I am”, “the living bread”, the One whose “name which is above every name”, the “Man standing at the right hand of God”, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” – this Jesus is actually calling you into deeper relationship…. into meaningful friendship and fellowship.
I know you don’t/can’t get it because I don’t/can’t get it. It’s too enormous. I simply can’t wrap my head and heart around this kind of love. I just can’t. And why can’t we get it? I think I know….
Spiritual denseness keeps the spiritually blind blind and the deaf deaf. I know you have this nasty obstruction because I have it. Everybody I know has it. What should be so easy to understand isn’t. What should be learned in a day takes months and years. Perhaps this denseness was initiated by Adam’s fall, densified further by multitudes over millennia and densified still further by our own awful sins. Add to this the vandalism of “the rulers of the darkness of this age”.
I’m not sure how it got here, but I do know spiritual denseness is a reality, a dirty cloud floating above our heads, hovering there between Jesus and us. We strain to see through it – we can somewhat – and the straining tires us. Above this gloomy mist are Jesus and the Father. Above there is purity, truth, reality, healthy perspective, knowledge, understanding. Your challenge is the same as mine, to weaken the cloud so you can more fully know, perceive, discern, understand. (“Get wisdom! Get understanding!”)
With Jesus comes improved sight. Every day is an opportunity to inch closer to your Lord. Your day is interspersed with crossroads. A crossroad is a choice, a decision. This way leads to more of Jesus, that way to less. Less television is more Jesus; more television is less. (Remember, I speak relationally, not positionally.) More Bible is more Jesus, less Bible is less. One friend is more Jesus, another friend is less. Gratitude brings more, self-pity pushes Him away. And on and on. Can you see how your daily choices affect you daily?
John fifteen is worthy of your attention/study/meditation/reverence. John fifteen is fruit bearing. John fifteen will make the judgement seat of Christ a day of rejoicing.
It was a Sunday evening service in a small evangelical church. The pastor declared, “Confusion comes when you mix the Word with something that is not the Word!” He said it again, “Confusion comes when you mix the Word with something that is not the Word!” And he said it again and again at different intervals of his message. I can be slow to learn but finally I got it! Confusion comes when you mix the Bible with “tradition[s] of men”. So that’s why I was so confused! I never fully discarded traditional ways.
And that, I concluded, is why everyone in my circle of acquaintances was confused! They want to blend their new experience in Christ with the traditional teachings of their religion, to give loyalty to both the way it is and the Bible. The result is confusion. Always.
Chances are you, too, are suffering from confusion. You have tried to consolidate the truths of the Bible with the way it is in evangelicalism (or whatever) and it isn’t working. Trying to merge two opposing perspectives always brings spiritual disorientation.
My solution, after the pastor’s sermon, was to seriously recommit my life to Christ and to the Bible; I would be obedient to the truths of the Bible as the Holy Spirit revealed them. This commitment caused me to take my family out of catholicism, I was soon baptized in water as the Bible so clearly instructs, and I baptized my children. Confusion could not have a grip on me as long as I stayed true to my commitment.
There are some things in Scripture I do not understand, but lack of understanding is not confusion; I simply don’t know.
You will continue to be victimized by confusion until you embrace the Bible as your sole authority. You may falter in disobedience occasionally, as I do, but things will be black and white. If you have divided loyalties, if you choose the path of least resistance, if the choices you make are based on what does or does not offend others, you cannot be fully used by the One “who Himself bore (your) sins in His own body on the tree”, the One you call “Lord, Lord”.
What does the Bible mean to you? What allegiance do you give it? Is this truly the authority by which you govern your life? Will you be the wise man who built his house on the rock? (Matthew chapter 7)
Talk it over with Jesus.
—————————————————-A TRIBUTE TO JESUS CHRIST
in the beginning
was the word
and the word
was with god
and the word
he was in the beginning
were made through him
and without him
nothing was made
that was made
and the life
was the light of men
and the light
shines in the darkness
and the darkness
did not comprehend it
in the world
and the world
was made through him
and the world
did not know him
to his own
and his own
did not receive him
but as many
as received him
he gave the right
children of god
(John 1:1-5, 10-12)