Part 2: What vine are you abiding in?
Jesus looks in the eyes of his disciples, who are probably a bit shell shocked, and tells them:
“I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away…
Jump to v 6
If 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.
AND BURNED! Do you see this? Jesus is comparing the non-abiding branches to the abiding branches and those that do not abide do not bear fruit and are completely worthless and he cuts them off and he burns them. Just an hour or so earlier, Christ pointed out how one of his disciples was going to betray him: Judas. He is telling the remaining disciples about Judas – the betrayer of Christ. He is comparing the abiding disciple to the non-abiding disciple represented by Judas.
Think about Judas, he was with Christ everyday for 3 years. He heard every sermon, went to every Sunday school, did every bible study, and he went to every retreat and every church event. He may have even gone to the singles dinner. Here is the unbelievable thing: I’m sure he even sat in a quiet place with Christ – his loving mentor and teacher – listened to him teach about himself and his fulfillment of prophecy and the law.
Can’t you see Jesus and Peter or John sitting along the shore of Galilee talking intimately? Or Philip sitting with Christ under the shade of a big tree? Judas did this as well. He was face-to-face and sitting close to Jesus learning one-on-one with the creator and savior of the universe…he sat listening to Jesus. Can you hear it? “Believe in me, Judas, and it will be counted to you as righteousness.”
Do you hear it?
But, he was with Christ and never abided. He didn’t stay close to Christ. His life was not for Christ. His heart was set on something else. He was not IN HIM. Judas didn’t abide in the true vine.
What are you abiding in?
- Are you abiding in Christ?
- Or are you abiding in yourself?
- Are you abiding in video games?
- Your friends?
- Your parents?
- How about religion and good works?
For me it is usually work, family, house, computers, and books that I am drawn to abide in.
No matter what you are abiding in, you’ll bear fruit. But you’ll notice that Christ quickly points out that the vinedresser – who is the Father – takes away the branches that do not bear the spiritual fruit of godliness. These fruitless withering branches are worthless. Think about this – the branches from a grape vine are the most worthless of all trees and wood products. They serve one purpose only…to bear fruit. The withered branches can’t be used to build a house. They can’t be used to build anything. They can’t even be burned for heating a house or cooking. They are worthless. The withered branches are tossed in God’s rubbish pile and are BURNED.
C.H. Spurgeon put it this way in his sermon, “The Fruitless Vine,”
“If it were any other kind of a tree he would at least reserve it for chopping up to make a fire within the master’s house, but this is much an ignominious thing, he throws it away in the corner and burns it up with the weeds. If it were a stout old oak, it might have the funeral of the Yule log, with honor in its burning, and brightness in its flame; but the fruitless vine is treated with contempt, and left to smolder with the weeds, the refuse, and the rubbish. It is a miserable thing.”
DO NOT become one of these branches. You must abide in Christ to have eternal life. If you don’t abide, you will fall in line with those like Judas who knew Christ, but never abided. They were never in Him. They will never inherit the promises of eternal life.
Jesus uses the word ABIDE – 11 times in this passage (if you count v 16). You think he is serious or what? Listen to the definition of abiding:
a) to remain
b) in reference to place: to sojourn, tarry, not to depart, to continue to be present, to be held, kept, continually
c) in reference to time: to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure
d) of persons: to survive, live
e) in reference to state or condition: to remain as one, not to become another or different, to wait for, await one
This is such a blessing. Wait on Christ. Do not depart. Continue in him, endure…Abide in Christ is the point. He wants you abiding in him. He does not want you abiding in other things. Find rest and peace in Christ.
Moses, in Psalm 91, provides a great definition of abiding for us (my favorite).
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Abiding in Christ is to rest in him, to rest quietly without fear or anxiety to the point that you doze off comfortably in your savior’s arms – at peace.
Now, even the branches that are abiding in Christ and are showing fruit get some treatment from the Vinedresser. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes. The Father will prune you in order that you bear more fruit. Do you hear this? God wants you to bear fruit and he will prune you so that each season you bear more and more fruit.
Pruning – this is another one that you have to hear the definition: “to reduce especially by eliminating superfluous matter for more fruitful growth.”
Each one of us here this morning and me have superfluous matter in our lives and the Father is coming to reduce it! He will. I have been through this. I can speak of personal experience on this one. God does not want you to remain where you are…he wants you to be more fruitful. He will remove things from your life so that you will be more fruitful.
Pruning hurts. No doubt about it, pruning is a painful experience that God will take us through. The Father’s desire is to conform you into the image of Christ and he’ll do that be cutting away the junk from your life. That junk might be a job, or a friend, or money, or comfort, or luxuries, or your health. These things will hurt when they are cut off, but you will become more fruitful the next season IF you are abiding in Christ.
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. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
2 Corinthians 3:18
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
The word “changed” or “transformed” here is Meh-ta-mar-pha-toh, which is obviously related to our own English word of metamorphosis, which means to change in appearance, condition or character. Here is another passage dealing with the Father transforming or pruning us:
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 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.
When you abide, you will bear fruit, but God will prune you in order that you are made perfect and complete lacking in nothing – IN and THROUGH CHRIST.