Gospel often contains sayings by Christ that take some time to absorb. John,
writing in his later days, is very familiar with Greek philosophy (see John 1
for a good example of this), so his writing often selects the philosophical
side of the teachings of Christ.
John 15:1-8 NIV
am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. (2)
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that
does bear fruit he prunes so that
it will be even more fruitful. (3) You are
already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. (4) Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No
branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you
bear fruit unless you remain in me. (5)
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him,
he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (6) If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a
branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown
into the fire and burned. (7) If you remain
in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given
you. (8) This is to my Father's glory, that
you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
is a fact of life for Bible teachers, college and otherwise: the students move
on. Whether or not you are a teacher, those in your life who are growing in
Christ because of you are eventually removed from you and given to someone
else. It’s the same thing in evangelism. As a teacher, I have asked, “why?”
Here are some reasons:
so that the teacher’s pride be kept in check. Just when you get very
pleased with a student’s faithfulness, God prunes them away to remind you
that you are not the only teacher with His words on your tongue.
also so that the “pruned” may grow. No teacher ever has all the answers,
nor can his points of emphasis be all-inclusive. People have differing
needs at differing times; God meets these needs by moving people to new
there is this: a teacher can only work with so many people at a time.
God prunes some so that others might arrive.
of a good relationship
same principle applies in our personal lives. We can use this to ask ourselves
some questions which will give us a good idea of how our life in Christ is
growing. For example:
we see ourselves bearing fruit in the lives of others?
God prune people away from you?
Christ’s words remain in you? Does Scripture come readily to mind?
your prayers answered?
your life bring glory to God? Especially at the price of persecution?
that Christ says He is the “true” vine – which implies that there are others,
who are false. Indeed, “the true” vine implies that all others are
false. This picture carries some interesting implications:
is the only mediator between us and God the Father. If you want to be
saved, He is the only way.
is the only source of true life. All the other vines are plastic.
through him are we connected to God; but also only through him are we
connected to each other. If you are not in the church, you are not on the
John 15:9-17 NIV
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. (10) If you obey my commands, you will remain in my
love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. (11) I have told you this so that my joy may be in
you and that your joy may be complete. (12)
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (13) Greater love has no one than this, that he lay
down his life for his friends. (14) You are
my friends if you do what I command. (15) I
no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's
business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned
from my Father I have made known to you. (16)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear
fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in
my name. (17) This is my command: Love each
of love and obedience
some, the idea that obedience to God implies love of God, and vice versa, is
intuitively obvious. For the rest of us, we offer the following instructional
there is the example of Christ. His obedience to the Father is perfect,
and he tells us here that this is because his love of the Father is also
perfect. As Christians, we are the imitators of Christ – and the Father
treats us similarly. He will reward obedience with love, which encourages
even more obedience.
those in need of a picture, here’s one. Consider the commonly portrayed
DNA double helix. Imagine that the genes on one side all say “love” while
those on the other say “obedience.” We keep adding love, one little
element at a time – which requires us to add a similar element of obedience.
Otherwise, the spiral helix is out of balance. Note that perfect
obedience from the very start is not required; just that love and
obedience match, and the spiral continues to grow.
grows into perfection. When does it reach that point? When your joy is
complete. That’s the objective of love and obedience pairs – joy in Christ!
servant, friend, brother
see here the first two steps in the progression which takes us from being
strangers to Christ into being his brothers and sisters. This too is growth:
begin as servants – those who are not at all certain where our service
will lead, nor what its results might be. We know but two things: to
serve is to follow, and that service to God brings honor from God.
soon become the friends of Christ (verse 15). Friends know the plan! As
we mature we read the Scriptures more and more; in our prayers we see more
and more, and soon come to see just what God has planned for the world –
and to some extent for us personally.
we are made brothers and sisters to Christ, co-heirs of the kingdom of
(When we come to him, we already are such; it just takes a while to
often where the pruning takes place – at maturity.
is a problem here: here again is one of those passages that suggests that our
prayers are like magic wands. All we have to do is ask, and God will perform
it – including all the prayers that are contradictory. Remembering that God is
not the author of confusion,
we can discard the contradictory. But there still remains the fact: we don’t
get everything we ask for. Why not?
reason is that we ignore the condition given here: the purpose of this
power – so that we will bear much fruit.
also forget that it is conditioned in love and obedience.
James puts it:
James 4:2-3 NIV
You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have
what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask
God. (3) When you ask, you do not receive,
because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your
it seems, counts.
Church and the World
John 15:18-16:4 NIV
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. (19) If you belonged to the world, it would love you
as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out
of the world. That is why the world hates you. (20)
Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute
you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. (21) They will treat you this way because of my
name, for they do not know the One who sent me. (22)
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now,
however, they have no excuse for their sin. (23)
He who hates me hates my Father as well. (24)
If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of
sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and
my Father. (25) But this is to fulfill what
is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.' (26)
"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the
Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. (27) And you also must testify, for you have been
with me from the beginning. (16:1) "All
this I have told you so that you will not go astray. (2)
They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone
who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. (3) They will do such things because they have not
known the Father or me. (4) I have told you
this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did
not tell you this at first because I was with you.
is a fact: the Christian loves; the world hates – indeed, hates without
cause. It sometimes puzzles the Christian to discover that Mr. Nice Guy is
hated and despised, and can’t figure out why. Here are some thoughts:
The world’s methods start and end with power. The Christian method is
love and sacrifice. This arouses suspicion in the worldly; obviously
these Christians must be up to something sinister – because their method
makes no obvious sense. It’s a conspiracy! It’s also a nettlesome
The world seeks after the material. Since they know there is no God,
there is no heaven or hell, no judgment to come (or now, either).
Therefore, grab all you can while you can. The ends justify the means –
and the ends are all about self.
Man, it seems, is capable of worshiping only one God at a time. The
modern choice is God Almighty or Self Almighty, and most of the world has
chosen self. It’s a very old story. The worship of self yields envy,
lust, anger, sloth, gluttony, greed and most of all pride.
why are we hated?
I can see why man hates God – but why us?
because we are in Him and He is in us. Satan sees this clearly, and he is
the prince of this world. There are no accidents!
because we are salt and light. When the light goes on, the cockroaches
scatter – but they don’t like it. They will create darkness whenever and
wherever they can.
shall we do about it?
not much we can do about Satan in general; just what are we to do with this?
it! To the world the end justifies the means, so they will use social
legal process and eventually deadly force to push away the brothers of
a ready defense for what you believe! As Peter put it,
1 Peter 3:14-15 NIV
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not
fear what they fear; do not be
frightened." (15) But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason
for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
count it all joy when you suffer for the faith. It is an honor to you;
Satan has recognized a worthy foe. It shows your Christ likeness. It
means that God will bless you for it.