Sermons

Summary: Sin is perhaps the biggest of the obstacles because it is connected with all of the other obstacles in our lives that hinder God’s will. Sin has many forms and formats that make deadwood in our lives, but sin has one purpose and that is our destruction.

THE LIFE LINE

Text: John 15:1- 8

Just recently my daughter Lilly looked at the bushes of the parsonage that had been trimmed back. She expressed her concern that the bushes might not grow back. I assured her that that the pruning that had taken place was good for the bushes because there was dead wood that need to be removed on some of the those bushes. One morning when I was getting ready to drive Lilly to school, a month since her first observation, she commented on how the bushes are starting to come back.

John 15:1-8 is a scripture that illustrates how God prunes our lives. Jesus reminds us that He is the Vine, we are the branches and God is the Vine dresser. God wants to prune our lives (John 15:2) so that we might accomplish His will in the plans that He has for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11) because God has prepared things that He wanted to accomplish in us and through us (Ephesians 2:10). There are obstacles that have be addressed through the way that God prunes our lives before we can reach the planes God has for us. Sin is perhaps the biggest of the obstacles because it is connected with all of the other obstacles in our lives that hinder God’s will. Sin has many forms and formats that make deadwood in our lives, but sin has one purpose and that is our destruction.

THE VINE

Have you ever noticed how many times the vine analogy shows up in the Bible? The word vine shows up in scripture 58 times in 62 verses. Consider some of these verses from Psalm 80:7-9:

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the [heathen KJV] nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land (ESV).

Why is this passage of scripture important for today as it relates to John 15:1 - 8? Here’s the answer: We know from the Old Testament that Egypt was a place of captivity where God’s children were being held as slaves---like livestock. This rescue effort orchestrated by God on behalf of His chosen people came through the leadership of Moses whom God chose to lead them out of captivity and re-establish them as a chosen nation. God removed the bad actors---the heathen nations (KJV) and gave His chosen people a new start represented by clearing the ground (Isaiah 5:1- 7).

What is God’s goal for this Vine?

1) God’s goal: It is God’s goal that the vine be fruitful in being holy and multiplying through evangelism.

2) Sin: Sin aka rebellion becomes the obstacle that the enemy---Satan will configure into whatever format that would hinder God’s will and advance our destruction!

3) Pride: Pride is at the root of every sin. Pride caused Satan to stumble and fall (Isaiah 14:12 -15 cf. Luke 10:18) and he uses sin against God’s children to make them stumble and fall.

4) The satanic stamp: Paraphrasing John Wesley described it, “Are we not all guilty of pride that becomes guilty of idolatry because of how Satan has stamped his own image on our heart in self will”? (John Wesley. Wesley’s Works. Sermons Volume II. Sermon: “Original Sin.”Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978, p. 60). God’s goal is God-guided unadulterated growth---inward and outward growth, not growth that is based on anything man-made, pride and building our own version of Babylon (Genesis 11:1-9).

THE BRANCHES

Can any branches that are not attached survive? Can fish survive out of water? The answer to that question is of course not!

1) Detached: Jesus tells us that to be detached is to die---”Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Jesus gives us life more abundantly compared to the enemy who only desires to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).

2) The doorway: Jesus also gives to us the gift of eternal life because He is the door (John 10:7, 9)---the path way to salvation.

3) Pioneer: Jesus also mentions that He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:11, John 3:16) because He is both the pioneer---the author and perfecter of our faith of our salvation who endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

4) The Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8): Jesus gives all who believe a new beginning to become new creatures in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17) and the guarantee of life eternal when we have finished the race that God carves out for us (Hebrews 12:1) in this life.

5) Abiding [KJV], {Remaining NIV]: How many times does that word appear in this scripture John 15:1- 8? Abiding in Jesus means that we are obedient to His teaching throughout scripture because “fruitful appears in obedience.” (Merril C. Tenney. John: the Gospel of Belief. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976, p. 228). Take notice of John 15:6: “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (ESV).   In other words, fruitfulness and obedience are connected!

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