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John 15:1-8



3 elements:  The Vine, the branches, and the fruit.  Jesus has just warned His followers that He is leaving, but that He will send His Spirit in His place.  He will be up in heaven, but will send down a life line--a way to remain connected.  The Vine!  Are you holding on to the Vine? 


“What’s the main thing I’m supposed to do as a Christian?”

        I’ll tell you…just hang on.

“OK, I’m listening…waiting…what do I do?”

        I just told you…hang on!  Stay connected!  Don’t let go of the Vine!


Oh, I know, it’s true, salvation isn’t about me holdin’ out, but God hangin’ on.  We’re in His hand, and our salvation rests in His hands.  So why tell us to abide in Him?  Because, being in His hand doesn’t mean you are connected to His heart.  He’s pumping out nutrients to poor saps like us, and we’re not just along for the ride in His hand…He wants us to cling to Him!


A.    The Vine.

vv. 1, 4a, 5a, 7a

Jesus again claims to be God.

John's first verse says:

John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...

He claimed to know Abraham, and that got people riled up, saying, "You aren't old enough to know him!

John 8:58
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

John 6:35
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life:
John 8:12
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world:
John 10:7
Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
John 10:11
I am the good shepherd:
John 11:25
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection...
John 14:6
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:

And now in our text He says I am the vine!

        It's a picture of a grape vine. 

Past vine = Israel.

Isaiah 5:4
What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

He's speaking of Israel's idolatry, turning away from Him.  And He says in essence, "You can't do enough for some people."


Future vine = Gentile nations which reject God in the end times.  We could be part of the formation of this coming together now!

Revelation 14:18
... Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.

When these grapes are squeezed, it is blood that comes out.

        "Battle Hymn" says He treads the grapes of wrath.


Present vine = the Great I AM!  The TRUE Vine.

        As believers, we are invited to abide in Him, the true vine.  Unbelievers attach themselves to the vine of this earth, choosing to connect themselves to temporal things which do not satisfy and take you nowhere but down.  But we find all we need in Jesus, the True Vine!  It's a living relationship, a loving relationship, and a lasting relationship!


B.    The Branches.

v. 5          If you are saved, then you are a branch.  And you should be attached to the Vine.  Evidently it is possible to be saved and to detach from the Vine, or else we wouldn't have the command to 'abide' in the Vine, and remain connected.

        And a branch is worth next to nothing unless it is attached to the vine.  It can detach, and still be a branch, but a dead one, and relatively useless.

ill.--the Kuna Indians could use branches to build huts, but they weren't valuable, burned down often [volatile], and certainly could no longer bear fruit.

        The world can use you if you detach from Christ, but don't be fooled into thinking you have any real value, or will produce anything truly good.  Rather, you are a volatile, detrimental testimony.


v. 6          This is not talking about hell.  It's an illustration of the worthlessness of a disconnected branch.  It has no life, no vitality, no joy, power, or spiritual energy.  And so, it won't be productive. 

        God has every right to inspect His branches for fruit.  He planted us, gave us life, and left us here for a purpose!


Abide = live with, tarry with, dwell with.  [technical definition]

        It's all about remaining connected in the proper orientation to our source...

"If I am willing to be to Christ what Christ was to His Father, then Christ will be to me what the Father was to Him!"


Consciously do these 3 things:  [practical definition]

        1.     Rely on His strength.

Wake up each day with the realization you can do nothing/be nothing without Him.

v. 5b        It's not 'you can do MORE with me but LESS without me.'  It is without me you can do NOTHING!  [zero, zilch, nada!]

        You may be able to build a little something from a human point of view, but you will do nothing of eternal value, and then why did your existence matter?


"But I have a lot of God-given talent!"  Without abiding in Christ, do you know what your talent means?  Nothing. 

[experience / intellect / money / good works]


ill.--ever walked/ran on a treadmill? [clothes hanger]  It's a trip to nowhere!  You put forth a lot of energy, but make no forward progress. 

        If I preach this sermon without abiding in Christ, it is a 30 minute trip to nowhere!  It will make no progress and produce no results.

        To teach a class without abiding is a one hour trip to nowhere!

        To witness to someone without abiding is promised to go nowhere.

        To work in children's ministry without abiding is to babysit.

        You may post something real spiritual online, and it may get likes and comments, but God wants most of all to be connected to you for real, and promises that if we are not abiding in Him, it's a cyber-trip to nowhere!


We want to make a real difference, amen?  Let's abide in the Vine!


Christ is our pattern:

John 5:19
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

Yes, Jesus IS God.  But in taking on human flesh, He laid aside some privileges of His deity, and became like us, and had to rely on His Father!  It was for the same reason He was baptized...to give us an example!


Abiding in Christ is possible largely thru prayer...simple reliance on God.

        To preach without relying on God is to say "I can do it myself."

[teach / raise a family / succeed at work / make plans / draw up a budget]


Abiding isn't just having a prayer 'time', it's having a 'prayer life.'  It's a moment by moment awareness that I can do nothing without Him!


"I thought that ‘number one’ would surely be me

I thought I could be what I wanted to be

I thought that I could build on life's sinking sand

But I can't even walk without You holding my hand."


        1.     Rely on His strength...


        2.     Receive His Word.

James 1:22
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

This speaks of a 'receiving' [lit. 'welcoming'] of the Word.


Back to ch. 15, v. 7   These 'words' are the life-giving 'sap' we need.

Matthew 4:4
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

John 6:63
... the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

In other words, make this abiding a 2 way street.  Prayer is you talking to God, but allow God to talk to you thru the Word!


Can you go from Sunday to Sunday without cracking open your Bible?


"These two hath God married, and never shall part:

Dust on the Bible and drought in the heart."


Disconnected, I'm dead, and ready for the burn pile.  Abiding, I have abundant life, love, and longevity!


I'm having an affair.  Yes, it's a love affair.  The best times in my day are in my prayer closet, alone with God, and in His Word, drawing closer to Him!  He helps me know how to live, and He helps me know what to say [to you now], [to others].


Christ is our pattern:

John 12:49
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

Jesus says, God tells me what to say.  My words are 'God's Words'.


Doers, not just hearers.  Reading and doing are different.  God didn't give us His Word to INFORM us but to TRANSFORM us.

Matthew 7:26
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

ill.--a Broadway actor was about to play to a packed house.  A small fire broke out backstage.  The stage manager knew it would easily be contained, but wanted to take precaution, so he sent the actor out on the stage to ask the audience to evacuate the building for a few minutes.  He did so, and they thought he was joking, and they laughed.  He said, no, I'm serious, and they nodded and looked at each other, thinking this was part of his act.  He could see that they weren't taking him seriously, and he got down on his knees and pleaded with tears in his eyes.  They roared with applause, standing to their feet.  "Bravo!"

        And that's how many people go to church these days.  They hear the Word, they applaud it and nod their heads, very impressed, but they leave with absolutely no intention of following its instructions.  They aren't doers...but hearers only.

        [clapping] "He's a good preacher.  He was funny.  That was so good."  With no intention of living any different.

He kept my attention.  I didn't doze off at all [some of you can't say that...just a tip: if you can see me, I can see you!]


This is not abiding in Christ.


We must rely on Him in our prayer life, and receive His Word...


3.     Relinquish to His will.

v. 10        Surrender in advance of knowing what your commandments will be.

ill.--imagine signing a blank piece of paper and handing it to God as if it were a contract, and He can then fill it in however He sees fit.


We say, "Show me your will and I'll get back to you."

        But God wants us to work without a net.  He doesn't reveal His will so we can consider it, but so we can obey it!


Until we are surrendered to His will, we won't truly know His will.


"I'll do anything ... except:   " [an exception clause in the contract]

"I'll do anything ... including:   " [erase the exception clause]

        He may not want you to do that, but He does want you to be willing!


The Vine, the branches...



C.    The Fruit. [5 types next time]

There's a progression in this passage, from 'no fruit', to 'fruit', to 'more fruit', to 'much fruit.'

vv. 2, 5    The purging is a pruning, so more sap can flow to the branches, so there can be more fruit.  When the branch truly abides in the Vine [v. 5] it bears much fruit [v. 8].


If the branch could speak, when pruned, it would say what?  Ouch!  But it's for a great cause.  Is there not a cause?  So don't be afraid to go out on a limb...that's where the fruit is!


What fruits does God expect from you as a branch?

        1.     Soulwinning. 

Romans 1:13
Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

ill.--you expect an apple tree to bear apples, and a pear tree pears.

        So, what should Christians produce?  Christians!  The Good Shepherd expects His sheep to reproduce.

John 4:35-36
35 ... Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

What fruit can you point to in this room?  I don't win souls because I'm a preacher.  It's because I'm a branch.  The Father has the right to inspect me as a branch, and to expect fruit.  [Shepherd/sheep]


When is the last time you sat eyeball to eyeball with someone, and told them how they can be saved?  The fruit we leave up to God...only He can give the increase, but are you delivering the truth?  Ultimately, our job is to abide in the Vine.  The point is, it is hard to imagine being close to Jesus, reaping His many benefits, and not wanting to share!


Who will be in heaven, and will approach you and say, on a human level, thank you for what you did for me?


        2.     Holiness.

Romans 6:22
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

This tells me that holiness isn't a jacket I put on.  It isn't something I work up from within either.  It's the natural fruit which is produced when I abide in the Vine!

        No apple tree strains to produce apples.  It just happens.

        In some of our circles, holiness is attempted from the outside.  Keep this list of rules and standards, and you will be holy. 


Well, you can keep your hair just right, dress up modestly, and carry the huge, coffee-table KJV around and still be as wicked as the devil on the inside!  You can convince others around you that you are holy, and might at times convince yourself, but you will never convince God until you have the inward heart change!


Now, when holiness is produced on the inside, it will make its way out, but just don't you worry about that, or the temptation will be to manufacture it outwardly in order to prove it is inward, even if it is not.


Who you are on the inside can and does make its way out.


Now, certainly the Bible teaches standards, and so we preach those, but what is the motive of the heart?  And how are those outward standards rooted in the inner man?


"Man looks on the outside and God looks on the heart."

        Both are important to remember, but which is more important, and which should come first?


ill.--you look at an apple and there's a worm hole.  Does that mean there's a worm in there?  No!  That hole isn't there because he wormed his way in...but because he ate his way out!

        The larvae egg was laid on the apple blossom in the spring, and the apple formed around it, it hatched, and he bore his way out!

        Sin starts in the heart and bores its way out!  And the same is true of holiness.  And yes, it will affect our walk, our talk, our appearance, our standards of living, and how we treat others.


        3.     The Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Christian character.  Abiding in the Vine of Christ fills us with the Spirit, which bears fruit.  If you are abiding in Christ...if you are Spirit filled...it will be evident in these 9 ways, which is summed up in the word character. 


What is on the inside comes out. No one can ever make you explode with anger unless it is somewhere in there, beneath the surface.  That venom you inject in someone close by is the outward fruit of what is inside.  "Hurt people hurt people."  What’s in the rag of your life?  We’ll find out when life squeezes you!  What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket!  Lust is inward, and then takes on the outward manifestation of sin.


        4.     Good works.

Colossians 1:10
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

We all know that works are not the 'root' of our salvation.  We put a lot of effort into proclaiming that truth, so none get the idea that you be good in order to go to heaven.  But the 'fruit' of our salvation is good works.  Again, it's the chicken and the egg ... don't get the cart before the horse! 


Now, the presence of good works isn't proof of salvation.  That can be manufactured as well as an outward counterfeit.  And yet though I say the presence of good works doesn't prove salvation, the absence of good works is a strong indication of being lost! 

Matthew 7:16
Ye shall know them by their fruits.
Matthew 7:20
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.


the fruit of soulwinning, holiness, the Spirit, good works...


        5.     Praise.

Hebrews 13:15
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

You gotta wonder about the person who walks around with such a long face that it would take a week to shave it!

        Abiding in Christ WILL manifest itself in praise ... it is a fruit that grows on the branch that remains connected to Christ!


"Does anyone have a praise tonite?"  "Anything you're thankful for?"  No?  "Any prayer requests?"  Wait, one at a time.  Keep your hands up!


The grumbling, moaning, groaning, critical, griping Christian will undergo a radical makeover one day in heaven, why?  Because they will be attached to the Vine like never before!


"Attitude affects altitude."  It should be the opposite!


Psalm 22:3
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Does He really inhabit us because we praise, or do we praise because He inhabits us, and thru close connection, pours in that praise like warm sap into the branch?


This gives us the attitude of gratitude.  Happy thanksliving!  In every situation we find God's presence, and His providence working all together for good, and even bad things lead us back to Him with the fruit of our lips being praise, and not just our complaints which seem to make up 95% of our prayer lives!


Prayer effectual is in v. 7, leads to...

Fruit perpetual in v. 8, leads to...

Joy celestial in v. 11!


Imagine your prayer life being as much praise as prayer requests!  Imagine after just thinking on our awesome God, praising Him, and ABIDING in such a place of worship and adoration of how great and grand He is, that you then turn to your complaints and they seem so small.  Yet still you share your heart, because God cares about those little things...they are big to Him because He is connected to you, and so loves you, and wants to bless you!


God the Father is the husbandman.  He has the right to inspect and expect the fruit of soulwinning...it's why He left us here.  Holiness: because He said be ye holy, for I am holy, and you are connected to me.  His Spirit will lead you to good works [horizontally] and praise [vertically].


I dare you to ask God to prune you!  Don't do it if you don't mean it.

"Do whatever it takes for me to bear fruit...more fruit...much fruit!

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