The Blessings of Abiding in Christ, Part 1

The Vine, The Vinedresser and the Branches  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  44:52
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John is the only Gospel writer to record Jesus’ extended conversation with his disciples at the Last Supper
knowing that his time had come to suffer and die Jesus told his disciples that they would no longer be able to follow him and that one of them would betray him
they were confused and shaken
where was he going that they could not follow?
which one of them would betray their Lord and Master?
none of them knew it was Judas
up to this point he had not looked or acted like a false disciple
he who had been with them for 3 years, had performed miracles and cast out demons
Jesus had given him the important position of administering their funds
in spite of these things he was a false disciple
this also frightened and dismayed them
if Judas could fall away what hope was there for them?
we learn from the disciples’ confusion that false disciples are hard to spot
they easily blend in
it is not hard to do many of the things which true disciples do and remain in sin
remember that though Judas cast out demons and performed miracles, Jesus said of him in John 6:70, “one of you is a devil!”
Jesus’ teaching:
Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
Tares look just like wheat until the wheat starts bearing seed (by their fruit you shall know them!)
Jesus’ experience:
Jesus would not entrust himself to those who “believed” but who were not truly commited to him (Jn 2:24)
Jesus addressed those who “believed” as doing what they heard from their father the devil (Jn 8:31,38,44)
NT examples of false disciples
Philip was deceived by Simon the Magician (Acts 8:13, 21-23)
baptized him even though he was not a believer
Demas abandoned Paul and the gospel ministry because he loved the world (2 Tim 4:10; James 4:4)
recognizing the reality of false disciples, John 15:1-11 is a critically important passage because it answers life’s most important question: “who is a true follower of Jesus?”
a key concern for all who are serious about their faith
what is genuine salvation?
how do I know I am truly saved?
how do I know I will go to heaven and escape hell when I die?
nothing in all the world is more important than getting this question right
with Judas’ departure as the background Jesus used the imagery of the Vine and the Branches in Jn 15 to explain true discipleship and to encourage perseverance
The Vine is Jesus
John 15:1 ESV
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Jesus is “the true vine” = the only source of life
true as opposed to defective
OT Israel a defective vine (Isa 5:2; Jer 2:21)
Jesus the only one capable of giving life
he is the life! (Jn 14:6)
thus the only one capable of being a blessing to the world
Israel was supposed to have been a blessing but failed
Jesus’ gives life to all who are attached to him
The Vinedresser is the Father
John 15:2 ESV
2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
The Father is the Vinedresser who uses his knife to cut the branches.
The Branches are believers and unbelievers who are joined to Christ.
the Father’s cutting work is two-fold:
1. He cuts off professing Christians who have joined themselves to Christ but do not bear fruit
many people join themselves to Christ for various reasons who have never truly repented of their sins and have not submitted to Jesus as their Lord and Master
they profess to be Christians and they act like Christians but they do not possess the marks of true believers which include:
becoming like Christ, becoming more holy, gaining more and more victory over sin, loving the things of God more and more and the things of the world less and less
2. He cuts away the things in true believers which hinder their fruitfulness.
the Father’s purpose is to make those he has joined to Christ more fruitful
he does this by cutting off whatever hinders their ability to bear much fruit
Judas is the branch that doesn’t bear fruit
he had a defective attachment to Jesus which did not become apparent until he left
what identified him: he stopped abiding, he did not remain with Jesus and the disciples
for this reason Jesus exhorted his disciples to abide in him (vv.4&9)
mentions abiding 7 more times!
why should we abide in Christ? what are the blessings of abiding in Christ?

The Blessings of Abiding in Christ

1. Christ Abides in Us

John 15:3–4 ESV
3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
you are clean:
John 13:10 ESV
10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”
Jesus washes us from the guilt of our sin.
Who experiences this cleansing? Those who have been changed by his powerful, life-giving word
we are not clean because of anything we have said or done but because of what Jesus has said and done!
we repent and believe because Christ first effectually calls us
having cleansed us Jesus commands us to abide in him, i.e. not to depart from him
his promise: as we abide in him, he abides in us
one of the reasons for a lack of assurance is not abiding in Christ
the first blessing we enjoy from our union with Christ is his abiding in us
not only does Christ abide in us but also the Father and the HS
John 14:17, 20, 23; Rom 8:10-11; 1 Cor 3:16, 6:19-20; 2 Cor 6:16; Gal 2:20; Eph 2:22; Col 1:27
we are the temple or residence of the triune God
what are we to do in light of this reality that the triune God lives within us?
2 Corinthians 6:16–18 ESV
16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
God promises to be a father to those who forsake the world (be separate) and devote themselves to purity (touch no unclean thing)
God will look on them as his own dear children! (v.18)

2. The Father Makes us Fruitful

not only are we made clean but we are made holy (sanctified, set apart)
we are given the Spirit of Truth (Jn 14:7)
HS bears witness to Jesus (Jn 15:26)
HS guides us into all truth (Jn 16:13)
this is his sanctifying work
All true believers have things in their lives which hinder their fruitfulness
as the Vinedresser the Father is committed to cutting away those hindrances
what are they?
Hebrews 12:1 ESV
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
There are 2 things make us unfruitful: “every weight” and “sin which clings so closely”.
imagery of running a race (we are not in a sprint but a marathon)
weight = runners remove anything not needed for the race to increase endurance and speed
these are things which are not sinful but which distract us from our primary purpose as disciple making disciples (cross bearing & renouncing everything)
sin which clings = removal of all loose or bulky clothing which would entangle cause to stumble or fall or reduce movement
sins which we struggle to overcome and reduce our effectiveness
the Father’s commitment to all whom he has joined to Christ is to cut away the weights and sins which make us ineffective in our spiritual marathon
The knife the Father uses is the Word of God
Hebrews 4:12 ESV
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
his method:
Hebrews 12:11 ESV
11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
God uses trouble, trial and affliction to show us what is hindering our fruitfulness.
note: “trained by it” suggests repeated troubles and trials and afflictions
Jesus: “in this world you will have tribulation” (Jn 16:33)
his purpose:
Psalm 119:67 ESV
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
God uses afflictions, troubles and trials to draw us closer to himself and to drive us to his word
Psalm 119:71 ESV
71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
Afflictions drive the true believer to the Word
the HS uses the Word to free us from the “weights” and “sins”
our response?
James 1:2–3 ESV
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
1 Peter 1:6–7 ESV
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Disaster outside of our control reveals false Christians but proves genuine ones
Anette and Roy’s example
the more faith is tested the stronger it gets vs those who collapse
new believers struggle with assurance because their faith hasn’t been tested
trials make them stronger and prove they are saved
True faith is a tested faith
what fruit is the Father is looking for?
fruit is too often confused with external religious acts
going to church regularly, Sunday righteousness, eloquence in prayer, long prayers, regular giving
often times associated with what you don’t do
the problem with using these as measuring sticks is that deceivers, hypocrites, false teachers and cults promote all these things
nowhere does the bible equate these external behaviours alone with the kind of fruit that the Father is looking for
the Pharisees were famous for this rotten fruit!
Matthew 3:7–10 ESV
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Jesus called them “white washed tombs” (Mt 23:27)
listen to Paul’s reminder to the Galatians of the fruit the Father is looking for
Galatians 5:22–23 ESV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
these fruits, in some measure, mark all who are truly joined to Christ
the result of the work of the indwelling Spirit within us
when behaviours flow out of these inner qualities they are pleasing to God
remember though, this is not about perfection but about direction
Bearing much fruit is also connected with hearing and accepting the Word of God
Mark 4:20 ESV
20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
bearing much fruit is connected with hearing the word and holding it tightly with honesty
Luke 8:15 ESV
15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
The ultimate fruit the Father is looking for is righteousness or holiness
Philippians 1:9–11 ESV
9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
demonstrated in good works
Colossians 1:10 ESV
10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
what is your response to the troubles and trials + the knife of God’s word?
whether in your devotions or from preaching
are you grateful for the Father’s cutting word or anger at being convicted?
if you are feeling the conviction of the Word this morning:
if you are a believer: deal with your sins, confess them, commit yourself to turn away
if you are an unbeliever: confess your sins and ask Jesus to have mercy on you
1. What are the proofs I am abiding in Christ?
2. What are the proofs Christ is abiding in me?
3. What are my “weights” and “sins” which are keeping me from being more fruitful?
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