Summary: Evangelism, discipleship, winning the lost


John 15:1-9 June 6, 2010


I have a really difficult question I want to ask you this morning. And it’s not one of those rhetorical ones, but one I would really like you to consider deeply. Here it is…

“Can you become a Christian and have no desire to share your faith?”

Can you make a commitment to be a disciple of Jesus and have no real desire to reproduce other disciples of Jesus?

I ask this question honestly because I know each and every one of us have different personalities and gifts. I know some of us are extroverts and find talking with people and sharing ourselves with people an easy thing, while others of us are much more shy and introverted and the thought of speaking to people creates a fear beyond explanation.

I mean it’s an important question, is it not? And the answer is not so simple, but it’s really important.

Jesus begins our text: “I Am the true vine and my father is the gardner. He cuts off every branch on me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

Disciples relate to Jesus as a branch relates to a vine. Without the vine the branches are useless…without Jesus disciples have no power to serve Him or to bear fruit.

Here’s what Jesus seems to be saying here in answer to our question: “The church is composed of people bound to Christ in faith for the purpose of bearing fruit for him.”

God intends for his children to reproduce other disciples and it’s only possible for believers who live in constant prayerful relationship to His son. It doesn’t give an exemption to the shy or a special emphasis to the bold. It even emphasizes that God the gardner will prune and shape each branch individually so that they will be capable of producing the most fruit possible.

Here’s the most important concept of John 15…Branches exist to produce fruit. Disciples of Jesus exist to make more disciples.

And our text begins by letting us know.

I. Jesus Christ Is the Source of This Power

When we examine the early church we see all kinds of personalities:

Peter, the bold, speak-his-mind extrovert; Paul, the driven type, an educated Pharisee; John the beloved compassionate, prayerful leader; Barnabas the encourager who did not mind being second; Aquila and Priscilla a discipling couple gently teaching others the way; Lydia a successful woman reaching her family; Philip called “The Evangelist.”

What they all had in common was a real connection to the vine. Different in personalities, but absolutely focused on a singular purpose…”Go and make disciples.”

Each of them understood who they were and why they existed. They were branches that existed to bear fruit…and the power for them to do this was only possible because they had been miraculously connected to the Vine.

It is imperative that we understand that when Jesus calls us to salvation He is also calling us to be conduits of that salvation for those people who are part of our lives. It’s no coincidence that the Philippian jailer immediately leads his family to salvation, and Cornelius introduces his whole household to God’s grace in Acts 10, or that the Samaritan woman runs back to her town to introduce her community to the Messiah.

You see, what I’m sharing with you is that our decision to be saved cannot just be about personal rescue from hell, but the love of Christ must also compel us to be messengers of this salvation to others. Paul says we become ministers of reconciliation.

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Cor. 5:14, 15)

Our view of the people around us changes the minute we are connected to Jesus. His love compels us to become externally focused instead of internally selfish. Here’s how 2 Cor. 5:16-20 records this miracle of evangelism.

2 Cor. 5:16-20

This is so essential in the lives of real disciples that failing to do this has serious consequences.

II. God the gardner cuts off and prunes for one reason

God gave His son for one save this world.

Jesus came for one reason “that the world might be saved through Him.”

Calvary was where the vine was planted, the empty tomb was where it sprang to life, the Holy Spirit grafted the Apostles’ roots to the vine as the original branches, and in turn each of us who have believed their message, God’s plan…the vine is the source of eternal life, branches are connected to the vine for one reason…to produce fruit. And if they do not produce fruit…what good are they…they need to be cut off…if I can prune them to make them more fruitful I will.

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