John #41 Abiding In Christ
That you may Believe and have Life #41
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 …
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 …
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?
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.
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
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?
6) And Through His Word
- read it,
- study it,
- 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
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
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