June 3, 2022
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned (John 15:5-6).
John 14 & 15 can be difficult to understand based upon the traditional approach to the subject of God’s grace and man’s responsibility. John 14 emphasizes God’s grace upon the believer. John 15 emphasizes the believer’s responsibility to God. Throughout the entirety of the discourse, it is to be maintained that God’s grace sustains the believer, even though the believer may fail in his responsibility to God. But that has always been the case throughout Scripture.
The emphasis on ‘abide’ (John 15:4-7,9-11,16; 11 times!) is of great importance to the believer because of its consequences, not because it leads to total destruction, but because it leads to corruption and fruitlessness, which should be of paramount importance to the true believer. Just as it is necessary for the non-believer to Come to Me (Matthew 11:28), it is necessary for the believer to Abide in Me (John 15:4). Why is it necessary?
(1) To abide in Christ is to continue in the joyful recognition of the value of His atoning sacrifice for sin, and the power of His shed blood to cleanse us from sin. There can be no fellowship with the Lord Jesus while we harbor doubts of our personal salvation and acceptance with God.
(2) To abide in Christ is to maintain a spirit and attitude of complete dependency on Him throughout life. It is the consciousness of our helplessness and fruitlessness if we do not live in Him. It is the realization that, apart from Him, we can do nothing. There can be no living in Christ while we maintain a spirit of self-sufficiency. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me (John 15:4).
(3) To abide in Christ is to draw the fulness of life from Him. It is not enough that I turn from my sin in abject disgust. I must turn to Jesus in complete love and faith. It is no longer a question of my sufficiency to be saved, but His sufficiency to save me. We do not produce spiritual fruit in and of ourselves. We are the conduit through which the powerful fruit producing life of Jesus Christ flows. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
It is an unfortunate, and sad mistake we make when we lead people to believe we are the cause of our own self-sufficiency, our own glory, holiness, or righteousness. This is the trap of a works-based theology. It is of the greatest importance that we know that Jesus is our all in all (1 Corinthians 12:6; 15:28; Ephesians 1:23). (Galatians 2:20) 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. Amen.