I am the bread of life. John 6:35.
I am the light of the world. John 8:12; 12:46.
I am the good shepherd. John 10:14.
I am the resurrection and the life. John 11:25.
I am the way, the truth and the life. John 14:6.
I am the true vine. John 15:1.
“Dwell in me and I will dwell in you. Live in me and I will live in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me.” John 15:4.
As we study the gospel of John, we are gradually building up a picture of Jesus as He really is. We see in Jesus everything we need for life and godliness, so that we can enjoy life and life to the full. (John 10:10.) It is so important that we have a balanced, biblical picture of Jesus, as this gives us the picture of God the Father, John 8:9; 14:7. Just meditate for a couple of minutes on the above list and you will see that Jesus is everything we need for every area of our lives.
This passage is precious to many Christians because it shows us clearly how to live our lives and it gives us a measure against which we can look at our lives and see what progress we are making. As we stop and consider our relationship with the Father, it encourages us that God really is doing great things in and through us and we can make adjustments as we feel prompted.
As we think about the vine, we see that Jesus presented Himself as the trunk and roots, with the followers as the branches. We are inseparable as we share one sap, one life: the Holy Spirit. If we are the branches, we receive our life from the vine. Father God is the gardener and He is responsible for the fruit-bearing. It is not the responsibility of the branch to bear fruit.
Our main responsibility in the Christian life is to remain (abide) in Jesus
How? For us to live “in Christ” and allow Him to live in us, we have to be vitally united to Him. He must be as essential to us as the air we breathe. God had a great purpose when He incorporated us into the vine at our new birth. Remember: when you became a Christian, it seemed as if you had decided to follow Jesus. But, in fact, the Holy Spirit set you up and God called you. So it is with fruit-bearing. It sometimes seems as though we have to work hard at being a Christian, but the truth of the matter is that the gardener is responsible for making us fruit-bearers. (Read Matthew 4:19.) Only with the sap running through us, giving us the Life of God, can we bear any fruit. (Read Ephesians 2:8-9.)
When we realise this and get the truth of it in our hearts, we can rest in God’s love and allow the Holy Spirit the freedom to work in and through us as we learn to stay vitally united to Jesus. Galatians 5:16-18.
There are basically two areas of fruit-bearing in the Christian life
- Winning souls for Jesus Christ.
- Christ-centred life and character.
We can never fulfil what we see as God’s high standard of good works in our own strength. We will be constantly bogged down by feelings of inadequacy, inferiority and frustration. We have to learn the truth of abiding in Jesus Christ and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then we shall see HIS fruit in our lives. (Galatians 5:22)
If we are born again of the Holy Spirit of God, fruit-bearing will be the natural response to what we are doing in our lives. The branch of the vine cannot choose to be pruned or to bear grapes if it is grafted into the trunk. Equally, we have no choice about being pruned. God the Father recognises things in us that are preventing us from becoming more fruitful. The wonderful thing is that the gardener knows just the right time to do the pruning, often when the conditions are bad. (Pruning a vine is drastic.) But He also knows the right way to do it, so that His vine will be so much more fruitful. He certainly would not do any pruning if He thought it would put the vine’s life in danger.
So, if we feel we are going through a time of pruning, we can be reassured that it won’t continue for ever. It is only the unproductive parts of our lives that are being removed. The resulting fruit will be phenomenal. It will benefit the Kingdom of God and us. We need to allow the only truly perfect man to live His life through our human body, by the power of the Holy Spirit. We can give Jesus every need, moment by moment, realising that:
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.
As you recognise your own inability to walk the Christian life in your own strength, you will find His ability in you is totally adequate to face any problem. You will then be able to respond according to God’s word. (Read Zechariah 4:6.) So, we choose to give ourselves to our union with Him, giving Him first place where our attention is concerned.
We surround ourselves with His word if we want to grow spiritually and be people of “power for the hour”! This must be consistent; otherwise the pressures around us will get to us, and draw us away. So, do whatever it takes to know God and you will be shocked, when you next take stock of your life, to see what amazing fruit there is. If you have doubt about bearing fruit in your life or feel condemned, then do not hesitate to ask close friends if they can see fruit in your life.
Blessings of abiding
- A close relationship with Jesus, John 15:3.
- A fruitful life, John 15:2-5.
- An abundant life, John 10:10.
- Answered prayer, John 15:7.
- Glory for God, John 15:8.
- Being loved by God, John 15:9.
- Overflowing joy, John 15:11.
“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit.” John 15:2.
Jesus warns here that, if we think we can walk the Christian life without Christ, we are simply counterfeit. People who have all the outward profession of the Christian life (such as the good works and the caring personality) have the outward appearance of looking like true branches and seem to be part of the vine. The evidence is whether or not the fruit lasts. Sooner or later, God will allow circumstances to occur which reveal that such people never belonged to Christ.
We must be aware of this situation as revival comes to our area and being a Christian becomes exciting and a fun thing to do. If you think that you are a counterfeit Christian, you need to repent for the pretence and open up the whole of your life to Jesus Christ and accept that: “apart from Christ you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) From this time on, you will be kept united to the vine by the power of God. (Compare 1 Peter 1:3-5.) God never cuts off true branches. We are part of the vine and that’s why we bear much fruit.
Home challenges for Power Up! – No. 24: Abide in Jesus
1. Read the notes: “Abide in Jesus”.
a) Which aspect of Jesus’ character shown in the list of “I am” statements do you find most exciting?
2. Explain in your own words how you abide in Jesus.
3. Having read the notes and looked at this passage, can you now relax about the amount of fruit in your life? Why is that?
4. According to John 15:5, are you a true Christian or a counterfeit? “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live, and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.” Deuteronomy 30:19. Choose to follow Jesus wholeheartedly today.
Read John 15:12-25
5. What is a sign of amazing love? Give a practical example.
6. a) What does Jesus say He now calls us? John 15:15.
b) What does this mean to you? Do you feel happier being a servant?
7. In your opinion, what are some of the most important qualities of a friendship?
8. List several of the privileges of remaining in Jesus from John 15:1-17.
9. What does Jesus mean by the word, “world” in John 15:18-25? (Ephesians 4:17-20 may be of some help.)
10. Give two reasons why a Christian is persecuted. (John 15:18-20)
11. Can you share a story of your experience of being “hated by the world”?
12. How are Christians persecuted in the Western world today?
13. Give reasons from John 15:20-25 as to why people do not have any excuse for not believing?
14. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my Name.” John 15:16.
a) Memorise this verse.
b) Try and sum up what you have learnt in one short sentence.