PRUNED & CLEANED
Series on John 15 pt. 5
As most of you are aware we have a dog named Elphaba. Elphaba bring me much joy. Apart from her getting mad at me on Sundays and then displaying that anger in an unpleasant way, she is a real good dog. She always wants to show me affection no matter what. No matter how bad my day goes I can count on Elphaba to greet me with her little nubbie wagging and her wanting to give me kisses.
She is also a very smart dog. She understands several words. Words such as Outside, wall, Bills (she knows that means we are going up Edson Rd.), ride, ball in fact she know how to spell that, b-a-l-l. Other words include OK, snack, and one of her favorite words, Moose. Which is the generic term for any stuff animal that she can rip the stuffing out of as quickly as possible. She also understands the word Bath.
You can say any one of those words to her and her ears will go up, (one anyway), and she will look very intently at you. All those words but one. It is this word that makes her little nubbie go between the legs and she goes an hides under the table, and that word is bath. She does not like baths.
The reason I share all this with you, is because it illustrates that words mean things. They communicate things, even to dogs. Sometimes words communicate very important things.
In fact it is through words that God communicates to us that very means of salvation. Believing what the words of the gospel communicate brings eternal life.
Romans 1:6; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” The words of the gospel are powerful.
This is why we read in Rom 10:13-15; “For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"”
Please understand that I am not suggesting that there is some power in the words themselves. The phrase “"whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." is a powerful phrase. However, if I rearrange those words to read, “The LORD whoever on name calls the saved be of shall.” Those words in fact lose their power, because they fail to communicate the fact that it is the Lord that saves.
Why all this talk about words? Because we see the importance of words in our passage for today. Please turn with to our passage for today, that will be John 15:2-3. This of course is our Lord Jesus Christ speaking, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”
We have spent the three weeks dealing with the first part of verse 2, today I want us to look at the second half of vs. 2 along with verse 3.
We can see that while the Father brings judgment upon those branches that do not bear fruit, we read that “every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
I want us to notice some things here. First it is the Father that prunes. This is the work of the Father, and it must be. You see if it we are responsible for this pruning, if we practice self-pruning, it will lead to self-righteousness. It will lead to thoughts of look how good I have made myself. When we try to get rid of those harmful things in our lives through self, not only do they usually come back, but we tend to take the glory rather then give it to God.
We must understand that this work of pruning is the loving work of the Father. We can also see from our passage as well that it is a work that the Father does upon EVERY branch that bears fruit, not just some. The Father is at work in the live of every true believer, working in them that they may bear more fruit. That is one reason why every true believer in Christ will bear fruit.
I want us to take note of that word “prunes”. It is the Greek word KATHAIRO (Kaa-thy-row). The word basically means to “cleanse” or “make clean”, “purify”. It is very similar to the word “clean” in verse 3. Though the word “clean” in verse 3 is a adjective, this word in vs. 2 is a verb.
We all know what a verb is. A verb expresses an act or action. But we should understand that Greek verbs have a "Tense", which describes both the kind and the time of action. This verb in verse 2 is a Present, Active, Indicative. The reason I point that out to you is because this verb is describing for us, not a past action by the Father, but an action that is present. The Father is pruning, He is cleaning presently. This is an ongoing action by the Father on the branches. This is not a one time deal.
This process of ongoing cleansing or pruning has another theological phrase, it is called “sanctification”. Now I could preach several sermons on sanctification, and in fact I have in the past, but I want to give you a brief and simply definition for our study here on John 15:2.
The act of sanctification is the means by which we grow in God’s grace. It is the process by which God works in us to become more like Christ. We will see in a minute when we look at the 3rd verse, that this is not how we are declared holy, that is justification, but this how we grow toward holiness which again is sanctification.
Within the metaphor at work in John 15 we can see this in the sense of a vinedresser cleaning the branches of parasites, and bugs, and dirt, and so forth. That is what the heavenly Father does, HE removes those things in our lives that are harmful to our growth in Christ. He removes those things that prevent fruit from growing.
What are some of the things that the Father might remove. Relationships, addictions, desires. Again it must be the Father who removes these things because when we remove them on our own, it leads to self-righteousness, to patting ourselves on the back, as opposed to giving God the glory.
You see as we abide in Christ more and more, as we move closer and closer to Christ, become like him more and more, those things that the Father cuts away are hardly even noticed.
When I was a little boy I could not wait until a got older and got a job. Why? Because once I had a job I could buy all the G.I. Joe stuff I wanted. I had it all planned out. But as I grew older I matured and of course my interest in G.I. Joe went by the wayside. I was not interested in that stuff any more.
So it is with growing in Christ, abiding in Christ. The things of the world fall by the wayside, and we don’t miss them. The interests I had before I became a Christian were far different than what they are now. Because I have grow in Christ and God the Father has cut those things out of my life, because if He did not, they would interfere with growing fruit for His glory.
Let us also understand that this pruning, this cleaning of the Father can at times be painful. I believe that Heb. 12 speaks of this pruning, yet in a different metaphor. Heb 12 speaks in terms of a Father disciplining His Son;
Heb. 12:5-6; “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."”
Then down to vss. 10-11; speaking of earthly fathers we read; “For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He (that is God) for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
We are told here that the Father chastens us that we may be “partakers of His holiness”, (that’s sanctification) which in turn will yield what? “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” Just what we are told in John 15. The Father prunes, or cleans, (sanctification), that we produce fruit.
So this pruning then sometime comes in the form of the Father disciplining His children.
Let us move on to verse 3, while pruning is the work of the Father, cleaning is the work of the Son. Listen again to vs. 3, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”
What does our Lord mean by this? I believe that Jesus here is not speaking of sanctification as verse 2 does, but Jesus is speaking of justification.
I could spent a lot of time discussing what exactly justification is, and in fact I have in previous sermons. But I just want to give you a very brief definition. Justification is the act by which we are DECLARED just. That is we are declared to be holy to our Holy God. We are declared not by anything we have done or can do, but we are declared just through the atoning word of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Heavenly Father looks at us as being cleaned based on the work of Jesus Christ. The work that is declared, using words, by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This goes back to what I was saying at the beginning of the sermon. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. That Jesus died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again. Trust and faith in the truth that those words communicate, that makes us clean.
To really understand Jesus words here we need to go back to John 13. I am going to read vss. 6-11; “Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, "Lord, are You washing my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this." Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, "You are not all clean."”
There words are spoken in the upper room, the same place the words in John 15 are spoken. He is washing the feet the feet of the disciples. He does this to communicate a greater truth. What does Jesus mean when he says, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” It is clear that Jesus is not speaking of physical dirt. But He is talking about sin and the need we have to be cleansed of it. He is speaking of justification. He is telling Peter (but not Judas) that he is a justified person. That Peter is clean of the penalty of sin, but not from the tainting effects of sin.
There is the effect of the atoning work of Christ, but which we are justified and clean, but then there is the cleansing of sanctification that we just make mention of.
Jesus takes this image from the everyday life of the people he is addressing. If you were to go to another house for dinner or something similar you would bathe before you go. The people in those days wore sandals so on the way your feet would get dirty. So when you arrived at the friends your feet would need to be washed but not your whole body.
This illustrates for us that while a person who truly abides in Christ, who is truly in Christ, they are totally justified. They are declared holy before a holy God. Yet, they are in need of constant cleaning from the effects of sin in their lives.
So Jesus is telling Peter in so many word, you don’t have to be born again or regenerated by the Spirit over and over again, but even regenerated people need to be continued cleansed by God. This cleansing is a permanent act by God.
This is the same truth we see in our verse under study, John 15. The Father continually cleanses us that we might bear fruit, but we are clean through the work of Christ on the Cross.
What we see the beautiful way in which God’s word teaches us the same wonderful truths in different forms.
I want to go back to something that I touched on a couple times already in the this sermon. As Christ states in verse 3; “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”
What is seen is that the cleansing power of the words of Christ, is the life which flows through the true vine into the living branches, the branches that are producing fruit.
We must understand that Jesus’ word is not given some magical and mystical power here. What is meant is that Jesus teaching as a whole, His doctrine, His word in its entirety.
Which would include who He is; John 1:1; 14 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (vs1)
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Vs. 14)
Jesus is the Word, He was with God, He is God. Sharing in the glory of the Father.
His word includes what He does; As Col. 1:21-22 tell us “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight––”
We are presented Holy and blameless through the death of our Lord Jesus.
The true of being cleansed by the entirety of the word of Christ is also stated in 2 John 1:9 “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.”
Keep in mind that we will be judged by the Word of Christ; John 12:48 “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him––the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
The point I am making is that there is power in word of Christ, through it we are cleansed, through it we know we have life, through it we abide in Christ, through we are continually cleansed.
Listen to Psa. 119:9; “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” This is very to similar to what Jesus states in vs. 3, "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”
We must be cleanse by the word of God, lest we believe that we can cleans ourselves, with man’s ideals, man’s ways. Man’s words will not cleanse us.
Listen to what James Montgomery Boice states in his commentary on John, “Nothing will keep sin from us but a careful attention to and application of God’s Word. Nothing else will cleanse us.”
Think about that for a moment. You see all sin is a violation of God’s Word. Therefore holiness, purity, righteousness, being clean, must be the application of God’s Word.
So we have seen today that the Father prunes (sanctification), that which the Son has cleansed (Justification). Next we will move on to John 15:4 and look at what it means to abide in Christ.
In conclusion let me say that you need to be clean. The only way one can have eternal life is through the cleaning power of the Son. Is to be make clean by the Son.
And that cleansing only comes through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That He died for our sins, that He was buried and that He rose again on the third day. Do you believe that Gospel? Have you admitted your sin, and turned to Christ for forgiveness of that Sin. Believing in Him as Lord and Saviour? I pray you have.
I have an question regarding your salvation, or any question regarding what I have preached on this morning please speak with me after the service.
LET US PRAY