Summary: Do you desire to be a better Christian? Most Christians sincerely want to be better. But how do we become better Christians? Some people say that reading the Bible or other Christian books will make you a good Christian. Other people say that doing a lot
Text: "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5 Niv).
Scripture Reading: John 15:1-17
Do you desire to be a better Christian? Most Christians sincerely want to be better. But how do we become better Christians? Some people say that reading the Bible or other Christian books will make you a good Christian. Other people say that doing a lot of good works will make you a better Chris¬tian. Actually, we don’t begin the Christian life in faith and continue it sheerly through faithful study and good works. Genuine faith results in faithful study and good works.
Jesus used the illustration of the vine and the branches to describe the Christian life. Jesus referred to himself as the vine and to his followers as the branches. Using this analogy we can learn more about the Christian life.
I. A vital union with Christ.
A. Many people have mistaken concepts about how to become a Christian. The Jews considered themselves branches because of birth, nationality, and race. Yet they refused to have vital union with Jesus Christ.
People take many measures to be united with God. However, union with the Lord does not come by belonging to a church. Nor does union come by being born into a Christian home. Nor does it come by observ¬ing rules and regulations.
B. Becoming a Christian means to be united with Christ. How does a branch receive life? It receives life by being grafted into the vine. The life of the vine then flows into the branch.
How then do you become a Christian? You become a believer by open¬ing your life to Jesus Christ. The Lord comes into your heart and gives you new life. Paul’s favorite expression for a Christian was a person "in Christ."
II. A constant abiding in Christ.
A. Abiding in Christ is essential to Christian growth. "Remain in me, and I will remain in you" (John 15:4 NIV) . A branch cannot bear fruit of itself. We can’t be better Christians by our own power. As branches we must abide in the vine. The word abide means to keep in constant contact.
B. Abiding in Christ will result in Christlikeness. "If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5 NIV) . We bear fruit and become more like Christ as we depend on him to sustain us. No one attaches a branch of grapes to a vine and expects them to receive nourishment. A person who is not really attached to Jesus Christ will not bear fruit.
Abiding in Christ results in God’s kind of character. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Gal. 5:22-23).
III. A reaching out for Christ.
A. Christians are chosen for a divine purpose. The analogy of the vine and branches had been a significant symbol of the mission purpose for Israel. When Israel failed to fulfill God’s intention, the prophets applied the analogy of the vine. Isaiah pictured Israel as a vineyard run wild (cf. 5:1 -7). Jeremiah described Israel as a degenerate branch (2:21). Hosea called Israel an empty vine (10:1).
B. Christians can reach out and bless the world. Christians have been chosen for joy. "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11 NIV). Christians have been chosen for love. "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" (v. 12 NIV) . Christians also have been chosen to be ambassadors. ’You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit— fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name"(v. 16 NIV).
Once a German prince wished to possess a Cremoni violin. He offered an enormous price. It was published at marketplaces throughout the region. For months he had no success. One day an old man appeared at the castle gate. The man was poorly dressed and had a worn violin case under his arm. The servants refused to admit him
Finally, the old man insisted that the servants carry a message to the master. He asked them to say, "Heaven’s music is waiting at your door."
The prince ordered him to be admitted immediately. The old man took a perfect violin from the worn case. He made marvelous music and won the prince’s praise.