John 15:1-11 – The Vine – Part 1

In our text today there are at least two things going on.

·  There is Jesus as “the vine” or “true vine” (vss. 1 & 5) and all that flows from this with regards to the believer.
·  And then there is Jesus as “the vine” and all that flows from this with regards to Israel.
·  We will deal with the vine’s relationship to the believer this week and Israel next week.
1) JESUS AS THE VINE
It must be said at the onset that this discussion deals squarely with our position in Christ.
·  A position we are called to live in so that we might best glorify God.
o   This is what is best for us.
o   that your joy may be full” Jesus tells us – vs. 11
o   “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him” – John Piper.
o   God’s glory = Our joy
·  Our position in Christ consists of both abiding in Christ and bearing fruit.
The Joy of Abiding in Christ:
·  Abide in me, and I in you” – vs. 4
·  unless you abide in me” – vs. 4
·  Whoever abides in me” – vs. 5
·  does not abide in me” – vs. 6
·  If you abide in me” – vs. 7
·  my words abide in you” – vs. 7
·  abide in my love” – vs. 9
·  abide in my love” – vs. 10
Jesus clearly sees abiding as crucial and non-negotiable.
·  Jesus uses the imperative; He is commanding us to abide.
What does He mean when he commands us to abide?
·  In our context, it is to “remain or continue” in “an inward, enduring personal communion” with Jesus – BDAG.
·  I can think of nothing more joyous for the Christian than to have “enduring personal communion” with Jesus Christ.
What are the means by which we abide in Christ?
·  They are (1) the energizing of the Holy Spiritand (2) immersing ourselves in God’s word.
·  In other words, this takes us back to living a life of self-denial by the power of the Spirit and our work of “right thinking”.
(1) John speaks of the Spirit’s role in our abiding as follows:
·  1 John 4:13 (ESV) — 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
·  We saw last week that what we know about Christ, and what we believe are because we have Christ’s apologist, the Spirit, testifying to us about Christ.
We simply cannot know and believe the Gospel and the things of Christ on our own.
·  We need help.
·  It requires a heart transformed from stone to flesh (Ezekiel 36) by the Spirit of God.
·  So to abide in Christ is to be indwelled by the Holy Spirit.
·  As John just said:
o   indwelling of the Spirit = abiding in Christ.
(2) John speaks of the word of God’s role in our abiding as follows:
·  2 John 9 (ESV) — 9Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
·  John 8:31 (ESV) — 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
·  1 John 3:24 (ESV) — 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
·  1 John 2:24 (ESV) — 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
Abiding in Christ requires that we know and obey the word of God.
·  We cannot possibly abide in Christ if we do not know what He asks of us.
·  And what he asks of us is found in His word.
·  This highlights once again the necessity of “right thinking”.
·  Jesus goes so far as to link obedience to His word with remaining in His love.
o   John 15:10 (ESV) — 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
o   We dealt with this connection in detail in John 14:15.
How do you abide in God’s word as if your communion with Christ depended on it?
The Joy of Bearing Fruit:
·  does not bear fruit” – vs. 2
·  does bear fruit” – vs. 2
·  may bear more fruit” – vs. 2
·  cannot bear fruit by itself” – vs. 4
·  he it is that bears much fruit” – vs. 5
Bearing fruit is the result of abiding.
·  If you are positioned (i.e., abiding) in Christ, who Himself is positioned in the Father, you will bear fruit.
·  Bearing fruit carries with it the idea of “to be productive” “in the spiritual realm” – BDAG.
·  And as with abiding, bearing fruit brings glory to God and brings us a joy that is full.
Scripture speaks of this fruit in a number of ways:
·  Philippians 1:11 (ESV) — 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
·  James 3:18 (ESV) — 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
·  Matthew 21:43 (ESV) — 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.
·  Matthew 3:8 (ESV) — 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
Kostenberger says bearing fruit conveys the idea of “true Christian discipleship” – Kostenberger.
·  Bearing fruit is “‘showing oneself to be’ Jesus’ disciple” – Andreas Kostenberger.
·  Or showing “evidences of growth” as believers – Kostenberger.
o   This explains Scriptures references to righteousness and repentance in relation to fruit.
·  D.A. Carson says, “This fruit is nothing less than the outcome of persevering dependence on the vine, driven by faith, embracing all of the believer’s life…” – D.A. Carson.
How do we show ourselves to be Jesus’ disciple?
·  What are the evidences of growth?
·  How has our “dependence on the vine” changed our lives?
·  In other words, what is the fruit?
It seems, given what has been said in John 14 and in our text today, that what we are talking about here is progress in sanctification.
·  So, bearing fruit is becoming more Christ-like.
·  It is progressing in a lived in self-denial and action based on “right thinking”.
·  This includes obedience, love of neighbor, witnessing, worship, etc.
·  And as verse 7 alludes back to, it is seeking after and praying for Jesus’ “whatevers”.
·  Jesus tells us in verse 7 that our “prayers will be answered, [because our] prayers will be dominated by the desire for the service of the kingdom of God” – Beasley-Murray.
o   Not self-serving desires but kingdom-serving desires
What are your kingdom-serving desires?
Special Attention:
I want to give special attention to verses 2 and 6.
·  John 15:2 (ESV) — 2Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he [the Father] takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
·  John 15:6 (ESV) — 6If 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.
Jesus tells us in verse 1 that the Father is the “vinedresser”.
·  And as the “vinedresser”, the Father is involved in the vine, branches and fruit in at least two ways.
·  (1) “he takes away” branches that don’t bear fruit (vs. 2)
o   And verse 6 explains what happens to the branches that are taken away from the vine.
·  (2) “he prunes” branches that do bear fruit that they might bear more (vs. 2)
Who are those that are taken away and are gathered and burned?
Who they aren’t:
·  Our text today is not suggesting, in any way, that we can lose our salvation!
·  The abiding refers to what will occur in the lives of those who are saved.
o   As we have said, this is largely about sanctification.
·  In fact, Jesus told the remaining disciples in verse three, “Already you are clean…”.
o   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.”
And we can’t forget the words of Jesus in John 6.
·  John 6:37–40 (ESV) — 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Who they are:
·  This means that the ones that are taken away and are gathered and burned are the pretenders.
·  And clearly, the one in view here is Judas – “but not every one of you” are clean.
·  But one can’t help but hear Jesus’ words from Matthew as well.
·  Matthew 7:22–23 (ESV) — 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
·  The “vinedresser” will remove the “workers of lawlessness”.
So we have seen the necessity of our abiding in the vine that so we may have joy, produce fruit and glorify God.
·  Our position in Christ is to be one of utter dependence on Christ.
·  apart from me you can do nothing” – vs. 5
Right Thinking Summary:
·  “In short, Christians must remember that the fruit that issues out of their obedient faith-union with Christ lies at the heart of how Jesus brings glory to his Father. Those who are contemplating the claims of the gospel, like John’s readers, must reckon with the fact that failure to honor the Son is failure to honor God. Fruitlessness not only threatens fire, but robs God of the glory rightly his” – D.A. Carson
·  We must commit to knowing and doing the things of God in the power of the Spirit.