Summary: Abiding in Christ allows us to have the mind of Christ, produce fruit, and glorify God. So why is the church in such a miserable state?
April 6, 2003
Text: John 15:1-8
Subject: Jesus, the True Vine
Title: Fruit Producers of the World, Unite!
I kind of fancy myself as a student. I am always trying to learn something new from every situation. As a young man beginning in the carpenter trade I learned by watching and asking questions. I found that if I could understand the why of something it was easier to apply. However, if something was done just because that was the way it was always done, then forget it. That kind of information was wasted on me.
Observing churches, I have become a student of different philosophies of church growth. I have studied different pastors and learned from the, in both negative and positive situations. In other words, I have considered the things I would do and wouldn?t do. In the beginning I thought that many of the growing churches were churches that made Christianity easy for people. They were churches of convenience that didn?t require much commitment from anyone. Though this may be true in a few cases, what I have really found to be the truth is that churches that are growing are fruit producing churches.
There was a pastor in a small town who was asked to preach the funeral of one of his church members. He was an older pastor of an older congregation and as he began to preach he had one of those senior moments ? and he forgot the name of the man who had passed on. But undaunted by his failing memory he moved to the front of the casket, looked down and said, ?This corpse has been a member of this church for 25 years.?
Today we want to look at the very end of Jesus? ministry as He was speaking to His disciples before His arrest. In this passage Jesus gives very clear instructions for what it takes to have a healthy growing church. If a church will do these three things ? Bear fruit, Abide in Jesus, and Ask - it will thrive.
Today we are going to take all of the corpses out of the church and replace them with fruit producers.
I. Bear fruit.
a. Know the source of your nutrition.
i. Jesus said, ?I am the true vine??
1. The vine was an Old Testament symbol of Israel.
a. Psalm 80:8,9, ?You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it. You prepared room for it, and caused it to take deep root, and it filled the land.?
2. Not always used in a positive sense.
a. Isaiah 5:1,2,7, ?My well-beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill (the opportunity to bear fruit was there). He dug it up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine (Israel). He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes. Vs 7 For the vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. But He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.?
3. Jesus was saying, ?don?t put your faith in who you are ? children of Israel ? but in whose you are!
a. ?I am the true vine!?
b. Israel is a vine planted in God?s vineyard but they missed the whole point of their relationship. God gave them the law to draw them to Himself in faith, but they loved the law more than the Law-Giver.
b. Christians are branches.
i. You are connected to the vine.
1. The vine is the source of your nutrients that keeps you alive.
a. Man does not live by bread alone but by every utterance that comes form the mouth of God.
2. If there is any kind of interruption between the vine and the branches, the branches suffer and are unproductive.
ii. Every branch that does not bear fruit is taken away.
1. These are the branches that are no longer receiving the life giving nutrients from the vine.
a. Branches that have stopped attending church.
i. Ephesians 5 says that we are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness ?
ii. Speak to one another in psalms and spiritual hymns and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
1. Where does spiritual growth take place?
a. In church!
b. Branches that have stopped praying.
i. We are told to ?pray without ceasing.?
2. To build themselves up in the most holy faith!
c. Branches that have become hearers of the word only and not doers.
iii. Folks if we aren?t taking care to get that spiritual nourishment ? it?s your responsibility ? you will become unfruitful and die a spiritual death.