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John #41 Abiding In Christ

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That you may Believe and have Life #41

John 15:1-17

We are continuing in our walk through John.  Jesus has been in the Upper Room of the home owned by an unidentified man.  They have shared a dinner there.  Jesus has washed the disciples feet there.  Jesus comforted his disciples with the word that though he would be leaving them to return to the Father, he would return for them after preparing a place for them.  And in the meantime he would send another comforter to be with them and in the, The Holy Spirit.

Now he has left the house and walking with his disciples.  The don't know it, but he is taking them to the Mount of Olives, where he will pray and then be betrayed by Judas, arrested, tried, and crucified

So picture Jesus walking with his disciples in the evening, in this setting, and let's pick up our reading …

Read 15:1-17

What does it Mean to Abide?

If we see nothing else today we must think for a few minutes on this thought of abiding in Christ …

Your notes that you have are going to give you something to take with you, but I will just spend the last little bit of our time there.  So don't be worried if I don't get to your notes for a little while don't be worried I'll get there AND get us out of here …

So …

Think with me for a minute about abiding in Christ, Remaining in Christ is the English word used in the NIV

The call to COME to Christ is always a call to ABIDE

Jesus does not invite us VISIT him, he calls us to ABIDE to REMAIN

The Greek word her is meno - to remain, abide, tarry, not to depart, to continue to be present, to be held, kept, continually

Jesus Christ calls us to come, abide, tarry, CONTINUE TO BE PRESENT, held, continually

When Philip and Andrew were followers of John the Baptist, John pointed out Jesus as "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World" … they followed Jesus and in 1:38 they asked "Where are you staying" … and Jesus replied "Come, and you will see" … so it says in verse 39 they WENT and they Saw where he was STAYING

To Abide means to come and STAY …

Praise God that when it comes to our Salvation, the staying, is dependent on Christ.  He saves us and he keeps us!

However, as his children, his branch, his followers we are still called to ABIDE, REMAIN IN HIM … why IS that?  Because we have a level of responsibility.  We must make it the desire of our heart and the conviction of our lives to stay where he is staying, to do what he is doing, to be committed to HIS plans, purposes, and ways and NOT to our own. 

In John 6:27 - Jesus said do not work for food that spoils, but for food that ENDURES (abides) to eternal life

We do not cause ourselves to REMAIN … Christ does that … but our response to REMAINING or ABIDING life that comes from God is for us to live out the Abiding Spirit, he has given us, with an abiding life committed to him.

In that Difficult to hear passage of John 6 Jesus gives a glimpse into our grace given life in Christ that can understand what it is to abide in him

V 56 says whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me

What is this image?  This image is like our communion.  It is the broken body of obedience and the selfless pouring out of his blood.  When we are fully committed to the plans and purposes of Christ to the point of uniting with Christ in his body and blood then we are understanding what it is to ABIDE or REMAIN in Christ

When we walk like he walked, we abide in him

When we live like he lived, then we remain in him

John 8:31/32 says if you HOLD (abide/remain/meno) to my teaching, you are really my disciples 32 and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free"

Paul explained it to Timothy in 2 Tim. 3:14 -  but as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it

1 John 2:27,28  … as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit - just as it has taught you, remain IN him  28 and now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming

1 John 3:24 those who obey his commands LIVE in him, and he in them …

Everything about the Branch is determined by its relationship to the Vine

If it continues … it is fruitful

If it fails to continue … it is barren

If it continues … it is useful

If it fails to continue … it is useless and cut away, gathered, and burned

Why a Vine/Branch?

The resident of Palestine in Jesus' day would have resonated well with the words of Jesus. 

Cultivating vines for grapes was a regular part of the hearts desire of every resident of Palestine.

In 1928, Herbert Hoover was running for president with the slogan, "A Chicken in every pot, a car in every garage." 

Well every Jewish home wanted a Fig Tree and a Grapevine.  The Grapevine provided grapes of course, but it also provided shade for the house.  It was a status Symbol … it was a symbol of blessing and fruitfulness and stability  It was helpful in the diet as well. 

a picture of the process of planting and cultivating a full blown vineyard

Isaiah 5:1-2 (NIV)

I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.

A vineyard is a commitment and a dedicated process for the farmer.  The production was very dependent on the work of the farmer and the blessing of God.  In the arid countryside water, soil, were not naturally conducive to good production of this crop.  Animals and thieves would damage the crops.

So, a good place was selected.  Then it had to be prepared by the farmer, stones were dug up to make the ground fertile … I'm sure it was somebody's Son digging up and stacking those rocks …

I was in upstate New York several years ago and the ground is rocky and there are farms with long long walls that are 4 feet high and 2 feet wide and nothing but rocks.  And as I passed I thought, someone's son stacked all those rocks and hated every minute of it. 

Matthew 21:33 (NIV)

33 "Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey.

Where do you think that wall came from?  Stacking those rocks …

So they would plant choice vines and then build a summer house for tending to and caring for the vines.  The house would have a second story that served as a watch tower. 

In our text here in John there are Four Main Characters or items of focus …

There is the Vine - Jesus

The Branches - Us as Believers

The Gardener or Vinedresser - The Father

The Fruit - which is the product of the Vine through the Branches

VINE -  There are two other vines mentioned

1) the Past Vine - Israel was in Ps 80 a vine that came out of Egypt and was referred to in Isaiah 5

2) there is a future vine the Vine of the Earth mentioned in Rev. 14 when the world Gentile system is reaped and do not be discouraged believer, this World without Christ WILL reap what it sows.

3) then the PRESENT Vine is JESUS CHRIST, he says he is the TRUE VINE.  Aren't you glad we have the TRUE VINE not the Past Vine or a Fake, Substitute Vine, but we have the REAL DEAL … ABIDE in the VINE

Christ as "the Vine" speaks to the divinity of Christ because only God could be the SOURCE of all that the branch needs

We are the Branches - the word, klema /kaly-may/ a tender and flexible branch  - tenderness and flexibility - the branch that stays IN Christ is NOT one that is proud, stiff but one that is tender and flexible.  The farmer that had a vineyard would bend and shape the branches against the trellis.  He would make THEM fit his structure. 

We are the branch, shooting out from Christ our vine, tender and flexible to the touch, training, of the Farmer, the Vinedresser …

Abiding in Christ is what a tender, flexible, responsive Branch does … it is hearing and doing … The branch that comes from the vine has tendrils that come out and under the leading and pruning of the Gardener, the Vine forms itself to the direction of the trellis, wall, fence …

Luke 6:49 (NIV)

49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."

Jesus said, "you are already clean" … now … REMAIN in Me

Abide in Me

Will you abide in him?

WHY?

  A. Crucial

Apart from me you can do nothing - because the branch has nothing within itself that can reproduce what it needs to live.  The branch is nothing more than an extension of the vine

A branch apart from the vine has no power to produce anything

Of itself … under it's own power,

The scripture if full of the image of our need for union and communion.

Between

Body and Members

Bride and Bridegroom

Sheep and Shepherd

Any part of my body will die without the body

There is no marriage without the continued communion of Bride and groom

The Sheep have to follow the Shepherd to experience his goodness, guidance, and grace

HE is the VINE … WE are the branches

Apart from him … we can do nothing

Sometimes I think we think that WE are the vine and that HE is the branch, we pray and he does what WE want … but it does not work that way

Verse 4 says that no branch can bear fruit by itself … or OF ITSELF …

I have to recognize that while I have inherently things that can be very fruitful, they are nothing without the work of Christ, my vine

I MUST ABIDE in Christ

It is Crucial and

  B. Faithful

That is I must CONTINUE …

Abiding isn't a one time thing

Abiding means LIVING …

Living insinuates LIFE

Life must keep on LIVING

It's a continuous alive process …

There must be a commitment a continuing

Verse 9 Jesus says As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.  NOW REMAIN / ABIDE / CONTINUE in my love

So, how can I abide faithfully in Christ?

1) Prayer

2) Praise

3) Proclamation

6) And Through His Word

- read it,

- study it,

- understand,

- memorize it,

- Obey it

Why after experiencing his love, grace, goodness, would we want anything else … Remain, faithfully abiding in him

It is Crucial, it is Faithful and it is

  C. Fruitful

    1. Note again a verse we like but often misunderstand.  We saw it last week … "ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you"

    2. there we go, carte blanche … we got a Spiritual Credit Card with an unlimited balance right? Well … yes, and no …

    3. what is the branch expected to do?  Bear Fruit.   Who is the one that determines what is born? The Vine.  If the Branch comes from an apple tree it produces apples.  If the branch comes from a banana tree it produces bananas.  If it comes from a grape vine, it produces grapes.  If it is from a Sweet Gum Tree it produces those annoying little gum balls that litter my yard and deck

    4. What is my point?  Well Yes, you CAN ask anything you want and it will be given, but you have to meet certain criteria

      a. you have to be connected to the vine.  If you don't remain in the vine, you will be a useless branch.  I have branches all over my yard that are BEGGING for nutrition but they aren't getting anything because they are NOT connected to any of my trees. 

      b. My words REMAIN in you - that means we are walking in obedience to his previous commands

      c. the purpose is within the purpose and nature of the Vine.  This whole passage is about healthy branches connected to the TRUE Vine, doing what Healthy Vines do, and that is producing Good Fruit - we said it last week, our requests have to be within the nature and the will of Christ.  You can ask all you want for the vine to let you produce Oranges, but it is NOT going to happen.  The Vine has within it's DNA to produce grapes through the branches. 

Remember who is the Vine and who is branch

     5. FRUIT - natural product - that is what the Gardener wants.  So if the branch won't produce Fruit he's either going to remove it or prune it.  The Father gets involved to help us move progressively forward to what we were intended to do … bear fruit

      a. v 2 - No Fruit

we have to be IN him to bear any fruit … once in him then we bear

      b. v 2 - Fruit

but we still struggle and so the Gardener has to prune us … it has be done very carefully with a sharp knife … The Word of God is a sharp blade and is good for instruction but also correction and rebuke … oh we like the teaching but we don't like the blade … but the pruning knife is sharp

Are you glad that God doesn't leave you like you are.  He loves you too much to leave you the way you are … he wants you to bear fruit.  Some times you even remove Good things that get in the way of the best … some times you have gotten even better and God removes those things to still get us toward best. 

And as he prunes us we bear

      c. v3 More - fruit

there are a lot different parts of the fruit of this vine mentioned in scripture

1) souls harvest are fruit - Ro 1:13

2) holiness through obedience is a fruit of the vine - Ro 6:22

3) Offerings given in the life of a committed believer to the kingdom is a fruit - Ro 15:28

4) There is the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control - Gal 5:22-23

5) Good Works - Col 1:10

6) PRAISE is Fruit - Heb 13:15

And as we begin to bear MORE Fruit … we bear

      d. v5,8 MUCH fruit - you know the list we just gave can at TIMES just be pretend fruit … but A Branch producing

and More Fruit, real fruit, produced by the vine, will have in it seeds that will bear additional fruit.  You can tell how many seeds are in an apple but how many apples are in a seed?

you can count the number of apples in a tree, but how many trees in an apple

Much fruit is born from genuine fruit produced by an abiding branch

We Must ABIDE in Christ … because it is Crucial, Faithful, Fruitful and

  D. Substantial

That is then to say that there is more than flash in the branch abiding in the vine

There is MORE than lush leaves

There is more than a pretty flower

There is MORE than juicy fruit

There is SUBSTANCE

Abiding by nature Abides

Abiding by Nature produces

Abiding produces fruit that will LAST

It bears fruit

It shows in love

There is substance to the vine and the branch

Jesus says Love each other … AS I have loved you

Greater Love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his … FRIENDS …

He has SHOWN himself a friend

Pr 18:24 - there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother

And Jesus then says show me the substance of the relationship

In this talk of a vine and a branch we might get a feeling of it being a detached … non personal relationship

Sometimes we might even see our relationship with God that way, he is God in Heaven, but don't miss that he is a God who is near as well

There is a relationship to be had.  We need him like a branch needs a vine, but he also loves and treats us as the closest of friends. 

But he expects us to hold up our side of the friendship

V14 - you are my friends if you do what I command

Then he encourages us in saying "you are my friends" … "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.

You did not CHOOSE me, but I CHOSE you and appointed you to go and bear fruit … fruit that will last

Oh there is substance to this relationship to which we have been called

Continue IN Christ

Abide with him

Remain in him

Dwell with him

Because there is something there

Have you ever had a friend that you couldn't believe would be YOUR friend?

Have you ever had a relationship with someone whom you never would have imagined would like you?

Friends … I have been studying this word …  philos - the word in simplest terms means friend, or associate, companion … but remember Jesus is talking to his disciples and some who would have already considered themselves companions or associates … so they would have heard this in a more formal meaning. 

In January of 1985, Lisa and I had become engaged in December of 1984.  But we were moving up the date.  We had dinner with my parents and my brother Tom.  We told them that we wanted to move our wedding date up.  We got my parents blessing, and then I turned to my brother and I said "Tom, I want you to be my best man."  He was shocked, because he knew I had friends who were worthy of that honor and he never thought I would ask him.  I then got on the phone and began to call Scott, Terry, Lawrence, David, and David and asked these men to also stand with me as friends of the grooms.

THAT is what this word philos also means and is the way that the disciples would have heard it

Jesus said, you are friends of the groom NOT just servants.

Now we think of groomsmen as men who just put on a tux, hang out with the groom, mess up his car and make sure the tuxes get returned.  But in Jesus day … the friend of the groom was defined as one of the bridegroom's friends who, on his behalf, asked the hand of the bride and rendered him various services in closing the marriage and celebrating the nuptials

Did you hear that?  The Groom's friend went to the potential bride and asked for her hand on behalf of the groom!!!

How much more substantial is the relationship that we have with our vine that that.

We are JUST BRANCHES … NO … we are Branches that are FRIENDS OF THE GROOM

Our job is to go to the potential Bride on Behalf of the Groom and ask if she would become his Bride and then perform other services preparing for the Marriage

Well folks, we are in one hand considered the Bride of Christ, but we are also Friends of the Groom and we are to place the focus on the Groom.

We are to go to those without Christ and let them know just how much Christ loves us

Empowered by the Holy Spirit

Drawn by the Father

He is the Vine … we are the Branches and when we ABIDE in Him

Remain in him

Continue in Him

The branch glorifies the vine

The vine glorifies the Farmer

The farmer seeks to glorify the branch through pruning and protecting so it will bear MORE fruit to glorify the vine, to glorify the farmer

And the cycle goes on and on

REMAIN in Him

The Branch that wants to thrive cannot CHOOSE whether or not to Abide

Oh there's just no time to Pray today …

But in Prayer I Abide

Oh I just don't feel like Praising Him

But in Praise I Abide

Oh I don't want to Speak a Witness?

But in Proclamation I Abide

Oh I don't want to Study, I don't want to Memorize, I don't have time to Read, I don't want to Obey

Oh But in His Word, I Abide

Abide in Christ

Live in this World but

Abide in Christ

Abide in Christ Saint

Don't be a Stick in the Yard

Thrive on the Vine

Abide

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