D’Vine Dissertation On Discipleship

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D’Vine Dissertation On Discipleship

John 15:1-17                           March 9, 1997

Scripture:  Responsive Reading #649, Hymnal



          First, Jesus shows his disciples, by the personal example of washing their feet, the importance of serving others as he has served them.  Some objected.  The lesson we learned in the message on Taking Up The Towel was, “Wash up, not out, on serving Jesus.”

          Then Jesus speaks to his disciples about the necessity of faith in himself as the way and the truth and the life of God to comfort them in the trials they were about to face.  Some of the disciples still didn’t understand.  The lesson we learned in the message on Hanging On The Hinges Of Faith was, “Hang hard, not up, on faith in Jesus.”

          Now he instructs them in further truth about himself as not only the source of life for themselves but for others as they remain connected to him.  The proof of life, all life, is that it bears fruit in one way or another.  That is, life reproduces itself.  In Jesus, this is the Christian concept of discipleship, becoming more and more like Jesus ourselves and bringing others with us - making them disciples as well.  It is spiritual reproduction. 

Billy Graham said:  One of the first verses of Scripture that Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, made me memorize was, "The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach other also" (2 Timothy 2:2, KJV).  This is a little like a mathematical formula for spreading the gospel and enlarging the church.  Paul taught Timothy; Timothy shared what he knew with faithful men; these faithful men would then teach others also.  And so the process goes on and on.  If every believer followed this pattern, the Church could reach the entire world with the gospel in one generation!  Mass crusades, in which I believe and to which I have committed my life, will never finish the great commission; but a one-by-one ministry will.

Dawson Trotman, the founder and first president of The Navigators, once said, "The greatest time wasted is the time getting started."

As a young student at Baylor, Waylon More had the opportunity to ask Dawson Trotman several questions from his heart, in an automobile ride from Fort Worth to Waco, Texas.  Waylon shares the following:

   A couple of the many questions and answers given by Mr. Trotman during that ride to Baylor University have stuck to my life.  One question was "What do you think is the most important thing a Christian can do for Christ?"  Daws paused and answered simply, "Never miss daily time alone with God.  It's irreducible."  I was surprised at his answer, thinking he might mention the need to evangelize the world, become a missionary, make some great sacrifice, or die for Christ.

          It is this very truth that we see in this passage today, John 15:1-17.  You see, Dawson Trotman didn’t think of it first, Jesus did.  Dawson Trotman said we needed to stay connected daily with God as the most important truth of the Christian life.  And we all know that, as Jesus said, he is the way to do that (Jn. 14:6).  It is through our connection with him that all other things for him are possible.  Here Jesus uses figurative language, an illustration of a vine, to show us an everyday example of what that connection with God through him can do for us and others.  And, conversely, it shows us what happens when we don’t stay connected with God through him.  Let us take a look at d’vine truth. 

I.       D’vine Truth  (v. 1)

          A.      Jesus is the true vine.

Ex 3:14  God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"


Joh 6:35  Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

Joh 8:12¶  When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Joh 10:7  Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.

Joh 10:11  "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Joh 11:25  Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;

Joh 14:6  Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Joh 15:1¶  "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

          But then I had some J.W.’s show up at the door of the church Sat. morning.  They didn’t want to believe who Jesus is.  I said, “We have a major difference in our theology.  I believe that Jesus Christ is God and you don’t.”

          They just started to argue their deceived position from their perverted scripture.  I told them that the human race is deep in sin.  That it has affected everyone.  That since I was a part of this sin problem, it would take God to do for me what I could not do for myself.  Therefore since salvation is through Christ as you have just affirmed, he must surely be God since no man could do it.  Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.  They affirmed that Jesus only said he was God’s Son.  But as my wife once said to a J.W., “If you had a son he would be a man, but if God has a Son then he is God.”

          I closed the door quietly.  They just wanted to argue.  It took a lot of gall to come to the door of the church on a Saturday morning three weeks before Easter and try to convert the pastor to heresy while he is working on his sermon.  I wonder if we have that kind of fortitude to go through the neighborhood to proclaim the TRUTH that they have to proclaim a lie.  We have the true source of life from the true vine.  Are we so certain of our source of life that we have died on the vine?  The source of life only gives life if it flows through the branch.  If it flows through the branch it will produce fruit in keeping with the source.  We must reproduce ourselves in the image of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Spirit.  The J.W.’s are reproducing death and destruction.  Unless Christ is God, we are all dead.       

          When I went over to the house for lunch I found that they had left some Watchtower information on the front step.  I read part of it to see how deceived they are.  The cover page article was about how to know the truth about Jesus.  Their ‘MO’ is to cast all kinds of doubt and then refer you to them for more information so you will know the truth.   Somehow they have lost the connection to the vine.  They have become sap-suckers instead of life-givers.  Jesus wants us to stay connected to him as the true vine so that his truth flows through us to others.  He is the way to God because he is God.  Any other Jesus is false.

          B.      God has prepared, planted and cultivated this vine.

          God, the Father, as the gardener, has taken the responsibility to bring about eternal redemption by planning for the coming of Jesus from the beginning of time, brought him in the fullness of time, and is reproducing his ministry through discipleship until the end of time.  Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, hearts are cultivated to respond to him in faith.

II.      D’Vine Surgery  (v. 2)

          A.      The gardener tends the vine so that it produces fruit.

          B.      Pruning is a process of production.

                   1.       Some types of pruning are removal (no fruit=no branch).

                             a.       Dead wood takes up valuable resources.

                             b.       Dead wood allows entrance of disease, insects and                                             decay.

                             c.       Dead wood is unsightly.

                             d.       Dead wood doesn’t heal over.

                             e.       Judas was dead wood that had to be cut off.

                   2.       Some types of pruning are remedial (any fruit=more fruit)

                             a.       Live wood must be challenged and motivated.

                             b.       Live wood must be set free from hindrances.

                             c.       Live wood must be trained to produce.

                             d.       Peter was live wood that had to be cut short.

                   3.       Better to get cut short than cut off.

                             a.       We must receive God’s pruning as a blessing.

                             b.       The blessing of pruning is production.

                   4.       How are we pruned?

                             a.       We are pruned by the forces God sets about us if                                               we are attentive to his instruction.

                             b.       We are cut off by the forces God sets about us if                                                we are resistant to his instruction.


III.    D’Vine Cleansing  (v. 3)

          A.      Pruning is an aspect of cleansing.

          B.      The Word of God is cleansing just like pruning.

          C.      We are pruned by the Word of God.

                   1.       It either condemns us.

                   2.       Or it changes us.

                   3.       Change is growth.

                             a.       When we stop growing, we die.

                             b.       We grow in discipleship through the Word.

                             c.       The Word is our connection with Christ  (Josh. 1:8)

IV.    D’Vine Connection  (v. 4)

          A.      Christ’s instructions are to remain on the vine.

                   1.       We remain on the vine by remaining in the vine.

                   2.       The remaining is mutual.

          B.      Christ desires to produce fruit in partnership with us.

                   1.       No branch bears fruit apart from the vine.

                   2.       We are the branch, he is the vine.

V.      D’Vine Reproduction  (v. 5)

          A.      Christ is the source of our life.

          B.      We are the object of his life.

          C.      Christ is the source of our fruit which is his object for our life.

          D.      Christ is the source of absolutely everything worthwhile we                     could ever hope to do.

                   1.       Without Christ, nothing can be accomplished.

                   2.       If anything worthwhile is ever accomplished, it                                         reproduces Christ. 

                             a.       All other things are destined for destruction. 

                             b.       Only what is done for Christ will last.

                             c.       Eternal life bears eternal fruit.

                             d.       This eternal fruit is also spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22)

          E.      What are we trying to accomplish?

VI.    D’Vine Fire  (v. 6)

          A.      We must depend on Christ’s resources for fruitful ministry.

          B.      Depending on our own resources is certain failure.

                   1.       A branch without nourishment from the vine is just a                               stick.

                   2.       A dried up stick has no useful purpose to the vine.

                             a.       The highest and best use for a stick is to fuel fire.

                             b.       The Refiner’s fire either produces fruit (gold) or                                                 requires fuel.

                             c.       Reproduce or die out.

          C.      The work of Christ is indestructible.

          D.      But many have not consented to be a work of Christ.

VII.   D’Vine Communication  (v. 7)

          A.      To remain in Christ means we have allowed him to effectively                           communicate with us.

          B.      If he has effectively communicated with us, we are then enabled               to effectively communicate with him.

                   1.       Our asking is then controlled by Christ to the extent we                                     would not ask anything contrary to his mind or will.

                   2.       Our confidence then is that our prayers will be answered.

VIII.  D’Vine Evidence  (v. 8)

          A.      Bearing fruit is evidence of our discipleship.

                   1.       Our fruit is personal.

                   2.       Our fruit is reproductive.

                             a.       Fruit is nourishing.

                             b.       Fruit has seeds.

          B.      Our discipleship brings glory to God.

                   1.       We multiply glory through personal growth.

                   2.       We multiply glory through kingdom growth.

IX.    D’Vine Love  (vv. 9-11)

          A.      Our connection with Christ as the vine is through love.

                   1.       The Father loves Christ.

                   2.       Christ loves us.

                             a.       Christ is the channel of love.

                             b.       This love is like sap running through the vine.

                             c.       This sap is nourishing.

          B.      This love is an inseparable bond if we remain in it.

                   1.       We are made confident of his love by being obedient to                                      his command to remain in the vine and produce fruit as                                     disciples.

                   2.       Can we be confident we are pleasing him if we do not                               remain in him?                       

                   3.       He has given us an example of this discipleship in himself                        in that he is confident of the Father’s love because he has                                      obeyed the Father’s commands.

          C.      Our confidence of his love through our obedience produces joy.                         1.          This is the same joy Christ has in serving the Father.                       2.       This is a complete joy that lacks nothing because it comes                                       from God through Christ.       

                   3.       His joy becomes our joy, and his joy was the victory of                                      the cross (Heb. 12:2).

X.      D’Vine Command  (vv. 12-14)

          A.      The ultimate command of Christ is to love.  (v. 12)

                   1.       Love is the highest expression of the Law (Mt. 22:36-40).

                   2.       Love covers a multitude of sins (1Pet. 4:8).

                   3.       Love connects together all that belongs to God.

                   4.       Love is greater even than faith and hope (1Cor. 13:13).

                   5.       Love is the highest emotion humans are capable of, either                                  toward God or toward each other.

                   6.       Christ gave us the supreme example of love.

          B.      Love in action is self-sacrifice.  (v. 13)

                   1.       Christ gave the greatest self-sacrifice.

                   2.       Christ did it to give the greatest love.

                   3.       The greatest love is between friends.

                   4.       Friends prefer one another.

          C.      If we have received that love as friends, we should be able to                             duplicate it as friends - if we remain in the vine.  (v. 14)

                   (Our willingness to sacrifice ourselves for another is evidence of              love’s perfection in us as disciples.)

                   1.       We sacrifice for Christ.

                   2.       We sacrifice for others.

                   3.       It takes sacrifice to bear fruit.

XI.    D’Vine Knowledge  (v. 15)

          A.      The level of relationship changes through love.

                   1.       Our relationship to Christ is no longer ‘master/servant’ in                                 the sense of will to will.

                   2.       Our relationship to Christ is now ‘master/friend’ in the                                      sense of heart to heart.

          B.      The privilege of relationship changes through love.

                   1.       We can now know Christ’s business.

                   2.       Christ’s business is to make, motivate and reproduce                               disciples through love.

                   3.       There is nothing from the Father that he has withheld                               from us that we would be able to understand (S. 16:12).

                   4.       There are no secrets between friends.

XII.   D’Vine Appointment  (v. 16-17)

          A.      The right to choose belongs to Christ.

          B.      He has conferred his privilege of choice upon his friends.

          C.      His friends are the ones who will bear lasting fruit.

          D.      His friends are the ones who will receive what they ask.

          E.      His friends are the ones who are obedient to love.

          F.      His friends are his disciples.

          G.      Are you a friend of Jesus?


          “He is the vine, we are the branches.”  What branch of the service are you in?  Are you in the Lord’s Army?  But I was in the Navy, so let’s use that illustration.  It is as if Jesus were saying, “I am the CCO and you are the SR.  Stay with me and you’ll learn the ropes. Ask me about the ropes and I’ll tell you.  Ignore me and you’ll end up falling overboard.  You’ll become shark bait, whale fodder, squid slime, take your pick.  It will be to your country’s glory that you listen up, prove yourself a seaman, and keep your ship afloat.  We will work side and make a team.  You’ll be my buddy because we have the same purpose and calling.  I’ll give you whatever you ask and share my country’s secrets with you.  Together we shall win the war for the love of country and the glory of God.”

Timeless Truth:            The lifeblood of discipleship is d’vine truth:

                              stay connected and reproduce.

D’Vine Dissertation On Discipleship

John 15                         March 9, 1997


I.       D’vine T _ _ _ _  (v. 1)


II.      D’Vine S _ _ _ _ _ _  (v. 2)



III.    D’Vine C _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (v. 3)


IV.    D’Vine C _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (v. 4)

V.      D’Vine R _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (v. 5)

VI.    D’Vine F _ _ _  (v. 6)

VII.   D’Vine C _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (v. 7)

VIII.  D’Vine E _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (v. 8)

IX.    D’Vine L _ _ _  (vv. 9-11)

X.      D’Vine C _ _ _ _ _ _  (vv. 12-14)

XI.    D’Vine K _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (v. 15)

XII.   D’Vine A _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (v. 16-17)

Timeless Truth:            The lifeblood of discipleship is d’vine truth:

                             stay c _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ and r _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .


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