The True Vine (John 15:1-5)

The True Vine (John 15:1-5)

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MPS: Disciples of Jesus are united to Him, united together, and bear Gospel-fruit. (1-5)

The Old Testament teaches us that the manner in which God seperated and sanctified His people was through His covenant people. The vine symbolized God’s covenant people, Israel throughout the Old Testament. To say that Christ is the True Vine is not to say that all of faithful Israel were the untrue vine. Instead, our Lord means to instruct us that The covenant is in Christ, all true life belongs to Him, and His covenant people are engrafted into the vine. He is their source of life.

Therefore, when one claims salvation based on their acceptance into a covenant community as the means by which they are saved, they are wrong. Instead they should say that they’ve been saved, cleansed, and accepted based on being grafted into the True Vine. They’ve been united to Christ and as such they’ve been brought into the covenant community known as the Church, or the Body of Christ.

Every fruitful and profitable vineyard has an efficient and effective vinedresser whose responsibility is to care for the vines to ensure they produce fruit. A vine is worthless without fruit and won’t produce fruit without an attentive vinedresser. We see in Christ’s illustration that the vinedresser removes entire branches if they aren’t bearing fruit. We see that He trims branches that are bearing fruit so that they may bear more. We don’t see a picture of wise and perfect branches, but branches that are trimmed by the all wise and truly perfect vinedresser as they abide in their pure and impeccable vine.

So What kind of fruit might Jesus be talking about? Holiness (Mt. 3:8), righteousness, (Php. 1:10-11), obedience (Jn. 14:15), disciples (Mt. 28:19), and spiritual growth (Gal. 5) are all fruit that a disciples of Jesus bears because they abide in Him. A disciple of Jesus who detests God’s love found through His moral decrees is no disciple of Jesus. One who is joyfully rebellious against his maker, never has or will ever lead another towards Christ, and embraces the fruit of the flesh is one not destined to dwell with the divine but to dance with the devil and his demons in damnation.

God knows who abides in His Son and makes the necessary arrangements for those who abide in Him and those who abide in this world. By His grace and wisdom He provides for humanity the ability to examine fruit. A sweet potato farmer can comb his field and examine which of his potatoes are fit for market and leaves the undesirables to be picked through by those who had no participation in their planting. The farmer even if by the proxy of his workers, tilled the soil, planted the seed, spread the fertilizer, watered the field, and harvested the crop. He has the choice of what to keep as the fruit of his labor.

This is the case with God. Through the work of the Holy Spirit and proclamation of the Gospel He has tilled the soils of our hearts, planted the seeds of faith, fertilized those seeds by giving us the means to see our faith and belief increase, He continues to water through our worship of Him, and the harvest comes at His Son’s return in the New Heavens and New Earth. I fear the day that I stand before the Lord and He chastises me for not bearing as much fruit as I could have had I been more pointed in my remarks or more loving in my care of His flock. “Erik, my dear son. Why didn’t you soften your heart to hear the cries of my people? Why didn’t you correct your brother and your sister who instead of cherishing their salvation they treated it with contempt and carelessness?” In my efforts to not over burden His people I often wrestle that I might not burden them enough. So I ask you, are you abiding in Christ.

I pray that each of us abides in Him like our Lord commands. That we might be like the potato fit for the market rather than discarded scraps left for the undeserving. By God’s mercy He will take things out of the disciple’s life, sometimes painfully, so that they will bear more fruit. I say that this pruning is out of His mercy because our mission and purpose in life is to bear Gospel fruit. This fruit is beared of faith and repentance as well as fruit that comes with seeing disciples made all come as a result of abiding in Christ.

It’s not so much that we are perfectly righteous and holy or that we have seen thousands come to Christ through our evangelistic efforts. We are God’s workmanship and His molding us ends at the end of this age. So the fruit of His work in our lives is our conforming into the image of His Son as found in Romans 8. We will see God’s work in our proclamation of the Gospel. This could be from the preaching of the Word on Sunday mornings or in our daily lives as we share our hope in Christ with those who lack hope. God could be using us as the farmers to plant the seeds, fertilizer, or water. We know that He tills the soil and sometimes we are blessed enough to reap the harvest.

When Jesus instructs His disciples that they will be pruned He means that God will remove the obstacles to our fruitfulness. If God isn’t removing obstacles then you either aren’t engrafted into the vine or you aren’t abiding in Christ. 

So as to not depress His disciples, Jesus reassures them that they’ve been made new by His Word and His blood. However, they’ll need to continue to be cleansed by His Word and through His Spirit because they remain in this world (Jn. 13:10). 

Therefore, you must Confirm your union with Jesus by examining your fruit. For your own benefit you must become your own fruit inspector and enlist the help of a friend. Are you bearing fruit in your life? Have you seen disciples of Christ made through your work? Is your thirst for holiness and righteousness increasing? Are the fruits of the Spirit increasingly evident in your life?

After you inspect your fruit with the help of your brother and sister, put away the things that distort, distract, and destroy your union with Jesus. This is where the rubber meets the road of our convictions. If you are convinced of the importance of abiding in Christ then you must examine the things of your life that are seeking to pull you out of the vine.

There are foxes prowling the fields of God’s vineyard. They stalk the fields looking for a potato that seems easy enough to pluck out of the ground so that he might take it to his home and eat it. Diseases can come along and strike down an entire crop. A farmer might lose his crop in times of drought and natural disaster. 

Is there any greater natural disaster than a disciple holds his God with contempt? Might a disciple give into the temptation of laziness and not water his soul with the wellspring of God’s Word? Aren’t congregations in our day struck with the disease of selfishness, self-worship, and consumerism? The greatest predator today that walks around our field is the belief that ascendance to social conservatism is critical to one’s salvation, but holiness is optional. Other predators include the divisive spirits that dwell among God’s people in their covenant community but are never truly part of the True Vine. 

Heed these warnings and encouragement. Jesus calls you to “4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.The disciple bears fruit as long as they are rooted in Christ rather than rooted in worldly ambitions. So when you see your faith beginning to shrink or see a slowing of your growth, ask yourself whether you are abiding in the source of eternal life and eternal fruit. Are you rooted in Christ or rooted in the world?

So we see that at first a branch may bear a little fruit. After some pruning the branches fruit increases. Then after even more pruning the branches fruit increases again. The branch will continue to increase in its fruit production until it dies or is out of season. The disciple without exception will bear fruit in their life. Each at a different pace but according to God’s pruning work and their work in abiding in Christ.

You should be Chasing after Christ before walking after anything else. Your fervency for the treasures of this world should pale in comparison to your zeal for God. The abiding Christian is a pious Christian. When you recognize that your piety and fruitfulness is lacking then you abandon your lusts after this world instead of abandoning Christ.

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