Abiding in the Vine, Part 2
Abiding in Christ
Abiding in the Vine, Part 2
John 15:5-8, 11
 
Turn in your Bibles to the 15th chapter of John for our lesson this morning. And today we continue what is part two of Abiding in the Vine. Our first message dealt with verses 1, 2, and 3 and was merely detailing the parts of the analogy verses 4 to 11 goes into even more detail in talking about the various aspects and all the ramifications. And so this morning we come to part two of Abiding in the Vine.
 
The greatest tragedy in existence is the tragedy of the Judas disciple, the one who is around the truth of Jesus Christ, the one who makes a superficial attachment to Jesus Christ, then at some point moves away and is damned.
 
Now as we approach John 15, Jesus is in the Upper Room. And He has in His mind, two types of disciples, the eleven before Him who are real disciples and that one who has gone to betray Him, the Judas disciple.
 
And in thinking through these two disciples, He draws this beautiful analogy of the vine and the branches. And He is the vine and the Father is the Vine Dresser and the branches are would-be disciples, some of them are real, some of them are Judas branches.
 
And He tells us that you can tell the real branches because they all bear fruit and they please the Father and they obey and they continue in love and they remain. 
You can also tell the Judas branches because they're only temporary and pretty soon they leave and they never have any fruit.
 
Now in our first message we looked at verses 1, 2, and 3 and we saw this basic introduction of the analogy.
 
Then we began last week as we came to verse 4 to see Jesus moves to a plea, and the plea is, in verse 4, "Abide in Me and I will abide (or remain) in you."
 
Jesus then is primarily speaking to that would-be superficial disciple and saying be a for-real one. Don't be the tragedy of Judas all over again. The primary direction of those words at the beginning of verse 4 is to that Judas branch, that professing Christian to be a true Christian, really saved and really abiding.
 
And then we saw last week how He repeats the same thing in different words in verses 8, 9, and 10. He says, bear much fruit, continue in My Love, abide in My love by keeping my commandments. All of those are the same kind of directives going to the would-be disciple who's not real. They are directives to that Judas branch to be legitimate, the plea from the heart of Christ to go against that terrible tragedy of being around Jesus and being near Jesus but not being saved.
 
And so what we have then is Jesus presenting two types of disciples in the branches, One branch is a true disciple, one is a false. One branch is saved and one is lost, although they both on the surface appear to be real disciples, they're not.
And so Jesus is calling out, pleading with the false disciple to be for real.
 
Then I told you also last week that as a secondary thought, the term "abide in Me" could also be to a Christian. Now in a positional sense we do abide in Christ; that is the character of being saved. There's no doubt about that, we are abiding in Christ.
 
But there's a sense in which this can speak to us because it's possible as a Christian even to have those kind of exceptions when we fail to abide fully as we ought to--when we sin, when we kind of go our own way and for a day, an hour or a week or whatever it may be, we go against the principle of abiding, even though in a positional sense we are saved and we do abide, in a practical sense we don't abide fully as we ought to.
 
It's kind of the idea of fellowship vs. relationship. We're always in relationship with the Father, we're always in relationship with Christ, because relationship can ever be broken if we're really saved.
 
But we lose the fellowship and the joy and the experience of that fellowship. And so it is with abiding, that in a positional sense we always abide but very often we lose the joy and the experience of abiding, and so in a sense “abide in me” can be to a believer, to get as close to Jesus as possible, to get as much as the life essence of Christ flowing through him as possible. We saw that in detail last week.
 
But going back to our primary reference, to a non-believer who is faking it, as it were, I want us to look today at the consequences of discipleship.
A man has two choices. He can be a branch, truly abiding in Christ, he can be a real Christian, or he can be a branch that's not for real, temporary, fruitless, not continuing in His love, not obeying His commandments, on a continuous basis, and ending up in ultimate and eternal disaster.
 
Now Jesus says to every man who is a would-be disciple to be a real disciple. And I want to show you today the consequences of being a true branch and the consequences of being one that is cast aside because it never was real to begin with.
 
And by the time we're done today, if you've had a hard time making up your mind about whether you ought to be real or a hypocrite, whether you ought to give your life to Jesus Christ or just be religious, whether you ought to be truly saved or just play the game, if when I'm done you still have that problem then you are truly in the death grip of Satan, because the choice is so obvious when you look at the consequences.
 
Now last week I told you what the basic meaning of abiding was. Tonight I want us to see the blessings of abiding branches and then , time permitting, we’ll see the burning of non-abiding branches.
 
A real disciple, a real Christian who really commits his life to Jesus Christ is blessed. An individual who superficially attaches to Jesus is burned, and that's just the distinction that I want you to see today.
 
So tonight, we have
 
 
 
2. The Blessing of Abiding Branches
 
verses 5, 7, 8, and 11, record blessings of abiding branches, and they're thrilling blessings for the true disciple.
 
For the one who is a real branch, for the one who really loves Jesus Christ, for the one who is attached to the vine, who has a love relationship with Christ in whom Christ's life really lives, the one through whom He pours His essence and fruit is born, what are the blessings? 
 
The first blessing of an abiding branch is
 
- Fruit
 
Verse 5
 
There is a basic principle stated there and it is that an abiding branch will bring forth much fruit. Every Christian bears fruit.  There is no such thing as a fruitless Christian. Jesus said, "Every good tree brings forth good fruit". He even went on to say you can tell whether a man is saved or not by his fruit, because He said "By their fruit ye shall know them."
 
And here He says the same thing in verse 5.  There will always be fruit in a believer. It may be difficult to find; there may be lapses; there may be times when we don't experience all the abiding life offers.  But there is going to be fruit because that's the character of our life. If Christ is in me then He will produce something in my life.
 
 
Now that is extremely important because God wants you to have a productive life and He produces things through your life by His own power and His own essence. I know it’s important because Scripture mentions it so much. 
 
The main word for fruit in the Old Testament occurs 106 times.  It occurs 70 times in the New Testament.   Twenty-four of the Twenty-seven New Testament books refer to the idea of fruit. Every one of Paul's letters talks about fruit in the life of a believer.   
 
God has designed life in relationship with him to be productive and fruit is the product of God's life in a man.
 
That means God is the source of fruit. Remember, we are just branches.  God is the life-producing agent. It is His power; it is His life that produces fruit. In fact, apart from Him there is no fruit at all.
 
So what is fruit?  We talk about having fruit in our lives and bearing fruit and Scripture puts all this emphasis on it, so what is fruit, spiritually speaking? 
 
Let’s begin by seeing what it is not. 
 
Fruit is not success.
 
Nowhere in the Bible is success ever synonymous with fruit. Some people think that if something is big, and if there's a lot of people in it, or if it's kind of apparently on the outside successful, that that's fruit. Most of the time, that’s how we judge churches and ministries. How many did they baptize?  How many attend?   That is not necessarily fruit.
You can’t automatically assume someone is fruitful because they have so many people they've won to the Lord, or because they have so many people in their Bible study, or because they have so many people in their church, or because they have so much emotionalism or because they're so zealous for some kind of a program. That's not necessarily fruit. 
 
That may just be fleshly performance and not fruit at all. So many times we think somebody's really fruitful because by human standards they look successful, and at the same time, judge someone a failure because they don’t’ have the same results. 
 
That happens with missionaries all the time. I have friends who are now with the Lord who served 42 years in China without seeing a convert.   Many would consider them failures, but now 25 years after they served, the gospel is bearing fruit in China, likely because of the faithful witness of people like them down through the years.
 
You do not measure fruit by success or sensationalism.
 
There is another danger that comes with assuming fruit is being successful and that is trying to do and be what somebody else is.
 
We all aren't the same kind of branch in the sense that we produce the same kind of fruit. There's distinctiveness. Every believer bears fruit that is in a sense unique, though it's common to all of us.  For example, the fruit of the spirit is common to all of us, yet there is a sense in which our fruit is uniquely arranged and ordered and designed, and it produces in a unique way.
And unfortunately, many think they have to be like somebody else so they can be fruitful.  As I’ve mentioned already, don’t worry about the fruit.  Just worry about abiding, and let God produce the fruit.  ,
Fruit comes by abiding, and it does not come by success, sensation, or trying to simulate somebody else and tying it on.
 
So what is fruit? 
 
Fruit is many things in Scripture. Let me just list some of them and offer a little bit of explanation.  We don’t have a lot of time to spend on each of these, so I’ll just touch on them and you can study them out for yourself.   
 
First of all, fruit is
 
1. Christ-likeness
 
A believer who is like Christ is a fruit-bearing believer. It is a life that is patterned after Jesus Christ. Think of what Paul said in Galatians 5:22: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control, against such there is no law."
 
The perfect example of each of those was Jesus Christ.  Everything He has He gives to those who are His, and so Christ-likeness in all of these virtues is fruit. And as we develop them consistent with His character and nature we are bearing fruit.
 
2. Praise
 
Hebrews 13:15
Whenever you praise and thank God, you are bearing the fruit of an abiding branch.  That's exactly what He says right there. The utterance of Christ's magnificent name; a worshipful thankful spirit; when you pray express to Christ your adoration and your praise, that is fruit. When you get down on your knees and thank Him for all that He has given you, that is fruit.
 
Let me give you something else that's fruit.
 
3. Generosity
 
Philippians 4:17
 
When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he received from the Church at Philippi a love gift and what we read in this verse is his response. 
 
He's saying, ”It's not that I want a present; it's that I love to see fruit in your life.” In other words, I'm happy for your gift of love not because I get it but because it's the fruit of your relationship to Christ. So he considers this gift as fruit.
 
The gift represents the love and the love is the fruit of the Spirit and so Paul says when generosity is extended to someone who has a need and it is motivated by love, then that is fruit. 
 
4.  Edifying Words
 
Now with this one, the verse comes through the back door. 
 
1 Corinthians 14:14
Chapter 14 is primarily talking about the problem and misuse of tongues in the Corinthian church, and in verse 14 his point is if a Christian prays in a language that no one can understand, then the words are unfruitful.
 
If I stand up and begin to speak in a language that nobody knows, I am not contributing anything to you. There is no fruit in that. It is fruitless.
 
The point is, an abiding Christian in tune with the Spirit doesn’t need an unknown tongue to bless others, he just needs to use the one he has to speak and pray and bless.  And when he does, that is fruit. 
 
5. Behavior
 
Good works are fruit. You general conduct as a Christian is fruit as it is consistent with the life of Christ.  In fact, I didn’t touch on this the other morning when we were talking about letting our light shine, but Matthew 5:16 says we are to “Let our light shine in such a way that people will see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven.”
 
I think two things are implied there.  One is visual.  They “see” our behavior.   But they also “glorify God” and that implies they have been taught and have heard and received instruction on what to do in regard to God.   
 
And that is what Paul is talking about when he instructs us to “walk worthy of the Lord and be fruitful in every good work”.
 
 
Let me share one more method of fruit-bearingand it is the most obvious and that is
 
6. Evangelism
 
1 Corinthians 16:15
 
Paul calls this particular house of Stephanus the first fruits of Accaia; they were the first converts in Accaia. Fruit, in the Book of Corinthians is considered to be those who are won to Christ.
 
People won to Jesus Christ through witnessing are the fruit of abiding. And again the key to being an effective witness for the Lord is found in abiding.  As you abide the fruit will come and all the opportunities will be there. You worry about concentrating on your relationship to Jesus Christ and He'll put you into every single opportunity he has designed for you and make it a fruitful opportunity and give you a sensitivity to the opportunity. 
 
The principle's simple. Don't get yourself tied in knots. Don't get yourself all strung out because you haven't won "X" amount of people.  Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty.  Just spend time with the Lord and then let Him produce fruit through you.
 
So the first blessing is fruit.  The vine sends life into the branch and the branch bears fruit. All the branch has to do is abide, and the fruit is Christ-likeness.  It includes Christ-likeness, praise, generosity, edifying words, good conduct and evangelism. 
 
Here’s the second blessing:
 
 
- Answered Prayer
 
Verse 7
 
God says, "If you are truly an abiding branch, I will be faithful to answer every prayer". That's a fantastic promise but is that really what it means? 
 
It is what it means with two conditions. 
 
First of all, it says this:  “If ye abide in Me.”
 
So first of all the promise is for a true believer. God does not obligate Himself to answer the prayers of an unbeliever. He may choose to, but He’s not obligated.
 
But if you are an abiding branch in abiding relationship with the vine, then you will have answers to your prayers.   And by the way, this is not talking about the day-by-day vitality of the relationship, this is talking about a point-in-time relationship.  This is talking about becoming a Christian.  So if you are an abiding branch who is connected at one time then that fits condition number one, to have your prayer answered.
 
Then look at how the verse continues: 
 
“and My words abide in you,"
 
Now that's condition two for answered prayer.
Can you imagine this verse without that statement?  It Jesus had just said, “Ask for whatever you want and I’ll do it.”
 
Can you imagine the mess you and I would create with that kind of limitless prayer power?  Just a blank check signed by God?
 
Condition number two is the God-imposed limiter on the offer.  Someone says, “I know I’m a true branch, and I’ve asked for a lot of things and didn't get 'em.”
 
Then you need to check in on condition two. It has to be there.  “My words abide in you.” So what does that mean? It means this: Condition #1, If you're a true branch, And Condition #2, you're life is continually regulated by the Word of God, then God has a promise for you. 
 
Now the key to understanding the promise is found in understanding what is meant by the phrase “my words”.  The phrase literally translates as “utterances” and here’s what that means. 
 
There are a lot of people who claim to believe the Bible, and in principle they do.  But that’s not what this verse is talking about.  This is not talking about general doctrine or principle.  This is talking about the details of the words  of Christ. 
 
IN other words, in order to get in on the promise of answered prayer, the specific teachings of Jesus Christ must be in controlling our lives. It's easy to say, “I pattern my life after the Word of God.”  But which part are you talking about? 
 
The point of the promise is our life must be patterned after the individual utterances of Jesus. After all, Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord and not do what I say?”
 
That’s the key; doing what He says.  That gets it down to the nitty-gritty, and the practical thing about loving people, and about studying the truths of the Word of God, and about obeying God. It gets down to the very practical areas.
 
So when a man's a Christian he meets condition one, but when that man studies the New Testament, and  learns the truths Christ has revealed and continues to reveal through the writers of the New Testament, and when those become the controlling things in his life then he meets condition two and then he can ask what he will and God responds because under condition two he's fully controlled by Christ's words.
 
Why is that true?  When a man is under the control of Christ’s words, then his requests will match Christ’s requests. The Christian who is abiding in Christ and in whose heart Christ's words are in complete control will not ask anything contrary to Christ's will.
 
Here’s the third blessing of abiding.
 
- Glorifying God
 
verse 8
 
A believer who really abides, who's a fruit-bearing believer, is a glory to God. God is glorified by his life and that’s the one we're here on this earth to do.   When our life is an abiding life, a fruitful life, God is glorified. What a tremendous principle that is.
 
In fact, everything you do, everything that is produced in your life that is, fruit gives glory to the Father, not you.
Think about it this way:  If there’s any fruit in your life, Who produces it?  God does. IN Romans 15, Paul said, “I wouldn’t dare try to take credit for what God has done or not give him the glory for what He has done.”
 
He didn't go around bragging on himself, telling people how good he was.  Anything he did that was worthwhile, Christ did it. Paul says, "I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live yet not I but Christ lives in me." He does it all through me. I'm just an abiding branch, and He does all the producing in me.
 
Do you have the opportunity to be a part of what God’s doing?  Give Him the glory.  Whatever's produced in your life gives Him glory.   Wouldn't you like to glorify the Father? Then get to the place where God can produce fruit through you.  And as you grow into experientially abiding branch, He can produce more fruit and He gets more glory.  It's an unbelievable thing that you can actually bring glory to God by an abiding life.
 
One more blessing
 
- Joy
 
verse 11
 
Everything that has been said so far in this chapter is building up to this verse.  Everything he’s said about abiding and bearing fruit and being for real and having prayers answered and continuing in His love and obeying Him, all that was for one great climactic blessing and that is to give us joy.  What a tremendous promise!
 
That flies in the face of the way so many Christians and churches are living.  If you looked and and listened to some people, you would think living the Christian life is the most miserable experience that could ever be had. 
 
But God says, the life I have designed for you is ultimately to bring you joy.  If you want joy, then you abide in me.  If you want more joy, just get closer.  If you want ultimate joy, then choose to live in the fullest sense of what it means to abide in Christ. Now when we do, Jesus says, My Joy will remain in you.  My very own joy, that which I experience that which I share in total fellowship with the Father can be yours.
 
Back in verse 10 He said, as an example he said, "You shall abide in my love even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love."
In other words, He is the example of the abiding life, I abide in my Father, and you know what the result is? Full joy.  That means in spite of everything Jesus went through on this earth, He still had full joy.
 
And He says, it's the joy that comes from an abiding relationship with God and I want to give you that same joy that's mine because I abide in the Father, and when you do you'll have the same joy.
 
Joy comes in an abiding fellowship and Jesus says, “I want you to be just totally consumed with joy.”  To be honest, I don't know too many Christians that are. I meet a lot of grumpy, grouchy Christians. And you do too, don't you? I meet a lot of them that just don't have joy.
 
They're like the lady who wore a new hat to church and a gentlemen complimented her.  She said, “Whenever I get down in the dumps I always get a new hat.” And the guy said, “Oh, so that's where you get 'em.”
 
There are a lot of Christians who are really grumpy grouchy down-in-the-dumps Christians, who don't experience full joy, and the reason they don't experience full Joy is because they don't experience fully abiding in Christ. Because when you abide in Him you have fruit, answered prayer, the Father's glorified and you experience full joy. And it’s easy to tell the abiding branches from the non-abiding branches. 
 
Now before we close, and it won’t take long, I want to show you  
 
3. The Burning of Non-Abiding Branches
 
Verse 6
 
First of all, notice that the branch that doesn't abide, the Judas branch, is a non-believing, false disciple. It's
 
- cast out. He has no living connection with Jesus Christ. He's not real, so he's thrown away. If he was for real that wouldn't happen.
How do I know that?  John 6:37 says this: "Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out." The true disciple is never cast out. This one's cast out proving it was never real to begin with.
 
Then it says not he's
 
- withered
 
HE just shrivels up. He's like that seed that was planted that sprung up for a little while and the rocky ground and then it died, withered.
 
Then notice this tragic statement. Men gather them and cast them into the fire. And they are  
 
- burned
 
This is a picture of judgment. There will come a day when God’s holy angels will gather all the fakes and all the Christ-rejecters and all the tares and imposters and they shall be thrown into the fires of judgment.  That's what He does with Judas branches, and they will burn there forever and forever.
 
No wonder Jesus begins His lesson with a plea for His hearers to be real and come up close and abide in Him. 
 
Because this is the option. That's the choice that every man has. There is coming a day when God is going to send His angels to gather the ungodly, every Judas branch from around the world to cast it into an eternal hell. Nothing could be more tragic that to be so close to Jesus Christ as to be an apparent branch, and to end up in an eternal hell.
And every man has the same choice. You can be an abiding branch in the vine, receive all the blessings, or you can be burned.
 
Let’s pray.
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