Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Vine and the Branches

I Am the True Vine

John 15

English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus is the true vine. He is the source of life for God's people. Only those connected with him have life and produce fruit. And branches lose their connection if they do not bear fruit.  The fruit of being connected to Jesus is all spiritual blessings, revealed in a life that brings glory to God. 

Pruning is part of the process. God takes away the things that hinder. He removes the diseased sprigs. He cuts off the branches that do not produce fruit.

But the branch has responsibility to develop the connection to the vine, by growing and maturing the fruit of righteousness, keeping the commandments of God because of love for Him. 

Whoever abides in Jesus, and has the power of God within himself, will bear much fruit. It is the connection to the vine, and the life provided by the root of the vine, that produces fruit. The branch can do nothing by itself. 
Jn 15:15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. 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. 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.

5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 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. 

7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Members of One Body

Branches of the True Vine are also called members of one body. When we understand how we become members of one body, we can understand how we become branches on the True Vine. We are reconciled to God in one body through the Cross. The blood of Jesus takes away our sins, and allows us to become connected to Christ in His body. 

This process of becoming connected to Jesus is an exercise of faith that Paul called obeying the gospel.  Rom 10: 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

So the gospel is the key to becoming connected in Jesus. The gospel is preached to all, and those who believe in Jesus to the point of being willing to put their trust in Him (by repentance and baptism) are connected to the vine, becoming members of one body.  When about 3000 were baptized on the day of Pentecost, God added them to the number of His people. 

Acts 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

The Fellowship of the Believers

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[e] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

So that is how we get attached to the vine, how we become members of one body. We are added by God when we hear and believe the gospel enough to put our trust in Jesus by repenting and being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  We become part of the household of God. 

Eph 2:17,  And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Yes, Paul says that by one Spirit we are baptized into one body. Jesus said that we must be born of the water and the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of God.  So we understand that we become branches of the vine by the new birth of water and the Spirit.

One Body with Many Members

Rom 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Once we are connected to the true vine, we must let the love of God and His Holy Spirit work in us to produce the fruit of the Spirit, to bring glory to Jesus. Else we will be cut off and burned.   

 Branches Bearing No Fruit

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