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Summary: If we want to live fruitful Christian lives, we have to stay connected to Christ.

Staying Connected

Text: Jn. 15:1-11

Introduction

1. Read Jn. 15:1-11

2. Illustration: S. D. Gordon tells of a spring storm that broke a large limb on his cherry tree. Although it hung by a very slender strand, to his surprise the blossoms came anyway. Later some fruit began to grow as it did on the other branches. He noticed, however, that only those in full contact with the tree bore "much fruit," while the partially severed branch produced only a scanty supply. As believers, we must be careful about our spiritual connections, making sure we are fully abiding in Christ. The fruit we bear, whether much or little, tells the story.

Proposition: If we want to live fruitful Christian lives, we have to stay connected to Christ.

I. Abiding In Christ Will Cause Us to Bear Fruit (1-4)

A. A Branch Cannot Bear Fruit By Itself

1. The grapevine is a prolific plant; a single vine bears many grapes. In the Old Testament, grapes symbolized Israel’s fruitfulness in doing God’s work on earth.

a. The prophets had written of Israel as God’s vine, carefully planted and cared for.

b. But the vine was a disappointment because it yielded only rotten fruit; that is, they refused to give him love and obedience.

2. Jesus says ""I am the true vine..."

a. He lays it right out there for His disciples to see. Jesus is the vine.

b. He doesn’t say that the church is the vine, but He himself is the vine.

c. The church is no more than the branches in the vine (Morris, NICNT-Gospel According to John, 593).

3. Not only that, but Jesus says He is the "true" vine.

a. Unless the believer is vitally connected with him, the quality of his fruitfulness will be unacceptable. - Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM

b. There may be many branches, but if they are to bear the right kind of fruit, they must be a part of the real vine.

4. Notice also that Jesus says the Father is the "husbandman," or "vinedresser."

a. Vinedressers both trim branches so that they will produce more fruit and cut away dead branches that have no life in them. In each case the assumption is that fruit-bearing is the test of life-giving attachment to the vine. -

(Burge, Gary M. "The Vine and the Branches (15:1 - 17)" In NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: John. By Gary M. Burge, 418. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 2000.)

b. If we bear fruit, He prunes us so that we bear more fruit.

5. However, if we do not bear fruit He cuts us off.

a. Pruning is necessary for any vine. Dead wood is worse than fruitlessness, for dead wood can harbor disease and decay.

b. An untrimmed vine will develop long rambling branches that produce little fruit because most of the strength of the vine is given to growing wood. -Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM

6. He said "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."

a. "Remaining," for the disciples and for all believers today, means to make a constant, moment-by-moment decision to follow Christ.

b. And we must not be passive--believers don’t just sit and "remain" until they die. Instead, we must be active--we have a lot to do.

B. Wither and Die

1. Illustration: I remember when I was a little boy, we had a grape vine in our back yard. My Dad used to get so made because it seemed like every year the kids in the neighborhood would get into the grapes before they had time to ripen. We would come home from somewhere and find a bunch of grapes all over the ground. Before long those grapes would rot and die because they were no longer connected to the vine.

2. If we want to stay in Christ, we must first stay connected to the vine. Unless we stay connected we will die.

3. Second, we must allow the Father to prune us, by cutting away all the things in our life that do not produce fruit.

a. If those things are allowed to stay in us, not only will we not produce fruit, but they will eventually suck the life right out of us.

b. It may hurt a little when the Father begins to cut things away, but the end result is always better.

4. 1 Jn. 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

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