Summary: Jesus prayed that we remain in unity, but from the beginning there have been divisions. What creates unity? Let’s find out in John 15:1-8.
Prelude: Jesus prayed that we remain in unity, but from the beginning there have been divisions. Purpose: What creates unity? Plan: Let’s find out in John 15:1-8.
The True Vine
John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”
Jesus describes himself as the true vine, sometimes called the trunk. And God the Father is the husbandman, vinedresser or owner. This metaphor also described the relationship between old covenant Israel and God (Psalm 80:8; Isaiah 5:3-7). Here we see that God takes care of His vineyard, the Church.
John 15:2 “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.”
We are like branches or cordons. New shoots grow with leaves and tendrils. Pruning does two things: removes dead branches and makes fruitful branches even more productive. Don’t be discouraged when people leave or church gets hard. Stick around, God may be pruning us for greater service.
Example: a church once was stuck at 80 attendees and no growth. A new preacher came and the church shrunk from 80 to 20. People were upset. They wanted to get rid of him, but after pruning it grew to many hundreds. God prunes churches for growth.
Clean by the Word
John 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”
How are we pruned clean? The word that Jesus speaks prunes us. Grapevines must be pruned clean to produce. In winter 85-90% of year-old wood is removed. Summer pruning removes excess. The biggest problem is not removing enough. We are reluctant for God to prune us. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” using the same word for pure or clean. Vinedressers remove unfruitful parts so that the vine can focus its energy on fruitful parts. What must we do?
John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
Abide means “stay.” Quitters don’t abide. Cutting ourselves off is asking for fire. If God prunes us by 85-90%, He knows what He is doing. Those who endure to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13).
Abide means rest, designed at creation, originally the seventh day. We abide or rest in Jesus, a permanent rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30).
Abide means fellowship with others who abide in Christ, with forgiveness and grace. It includes the blessing of living longer and healthier lives than those who cannot abide by church.
Abide in Whom?
John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
If I was starving, I would not care what music played, if they only had green beans and no ice cream, or if the cooks did not get along. Abide means we stay where Jesus is. If a church preaches Jesus then that’s where I want to be. The music and personalities are irrelevant.
Abide means stay in Jesus.
Abide means to hear Jesus before tradition, reason, and experience.
Abide means connection, and Jesus our greatest friend.
John 15:6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
To not abide means to quit. To not abide means fire. The vine will be trimmed. Sometimes we suffer painful setbacks. Yet, Jesus is also pruning us. The Lord disciplines those that He loves (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6).
My Words Abide in Your
John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
Abide means rest in Jesus.
Abide means stay in the Word, prioritizing Jesus’ words.
Abide means answered prayer. Pruning is a temporary setback, but produces a much better harvest. A vine that is cut off cannot bear any fruit. It is just headed for the fire. Cutting ourselves off from Jesus and church causes our lives to shrivel up. We cast our lives into the fire.
John 15:8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
Abide means honor God.
Abide means bear much fruit.
Abide means teachable, disciples. Do those who cannot love and forgive others in the church eventually leave? God prunes everything that keeps us from bearing spiritual fruit. Are we bearing the fruit of the Spirit?
God created his Church to be unified in Jesus. Let’s not be quitters, but abide in connection with heaven. Let’s hang in there and bear much fruit.
New King James Version (NKJV) Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.