Summary: How to recognize a true believer

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Moving on from Jn 14, the Passover on down through the vineyards to the garden He had just finished saying,

‘You in me and I in you’- as they pondered on these words- Jesus shows them a vine.

Background Info:

q Passover came at the beginning of harvest; the 14th of the month of Nisan (March)

q Grapes are central to Israel’s agriculture and economy.

q Part of Israel’s national anthem.

q The grape is only as good as the rooted stock.

q Individual branches are grafted into a healthy plant.

q New plants are pruned for 3-5 years to ‘train’ them before they produce a crop.

q Can produce for up to 100 years.

q Very adaptable plants but require care, water, fertilizer and pruning.

q Disease and lack of productivity can spread from dead branches if not removed.

q A vine is a spreading plant.

Harvesting has changed over the years, but grapevines remain almost the same.

It is still relevant to us.

The disciples would have understood that He was talking about Israel.

He didn’t explain what the vine was or the fruit.

Ps 8o: 8-16

Is 5:1-7 & v20

People draw 3 conclusions, He was speaking about:

q Converts

q Labour

q Character

But now Jesus shows them the true vine and the Father has the gardener and the Spirit as the fruit.

The father has laboured throughout time to produce a people in His image and likeness; from the Garden of Eden.

Let us make man in our image according to our likeness. Gen 1:26

A representation of God; His character, substance etc. (not His DNA)

Two types of believer:

1. Fruitful.

2. Unfruitful or bad fruit if any.

Unfruitful believer:

1Jo 2:19

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out], that they might be made manifest that they were not of us.

The Father removes/ takes away = people who seem to be believers manifesting power eg. Judas, Simon the sorcerer

Matt 7:7-23 ‘you shall know them by their fruit’…

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

9 fruits gathered in one cluster like grapes. Although seems plural, remains singular.

This is the evidence of true discipleship.

Where there is true fruit, it remains; man-made ‘results’ eventually disappear.

Without the vine, we are not only handicapped, but paralyzed!

Deprived of all influences of God’s grace and Spirit;

q Indifferent

q Cold

q Dead to spiritual work and Holy unction

How many people do you know who profess to know Christ, yet their lifestyle tells a different story?

The bible constantly warns us about apostates.

A phony spiritual image is deeply dishonest and cannot generate new growth.

God prunes. Why?

The word prune comes from the same word for cleanses- made clean.

Not cut off, but cut back

Does the word correct you?

Challenge you?

Is painful at times?

This is for our good.

Illustration: God is more concerned about our character than our comfort. His goal is not to pamper us physically but to perfect us spiritually.


The vine of the OT referred to in Is 5:7 speaks of the fruit being justice and righteousness.

Link to Jn 15 it shows Christ-likeness and the fruit of the Spirit.

His image can be seen in us when we abide in Him.

Jn 15:4 abiding is a two-fold process.

1. Active voice: what we are to do.

2. Passive voice: trusting what God will do.

Christian work at one or the other but rarely both.

This can bring problems for having an imbalance can result in fruitlessness.

You may be active but not Christ-like.

Abide=remain: keep close, follow, obey, …..Christian disciplines/formation/habits of Christian life=growth and fruit

V5 ‘and I in him’

We should have an expectation of Christ’s presence in our life.

We can function without Him and still be active.

Are you functioning in dependence on Him or without Him?

We must have action and dependence together to be fruitful.

We can also have discipline without dependence=bareness

What disciplines or Christian formation do you do?

Some never or rarely read the bible, pray, fast or meditate on scriptural truths.

All they produce is piety (sour grapes), bitter to the taste and good for very little.

These expect God to do everything, but as I said, it’s a twofold process.

Illustration: Sow a thought and you reap an act;

Sow an act and you reap a habit;

Sow a habit and you reap a character;

Sow a character and you reap a destiny.

SAMUEL SMILES (1812–1904)

V6 if a man doesn’t abide, it’s the work of the Father to remove him.

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