John 15 today. It's mostly about "abiding" or "remaining" in Christ and the power that is given to us by doing so. Here are several of the truths spoken to my heart this morning as I read and studied this chapter: 1. Jesus said, "I am the true vine" (vs 1). Not only is this an extraordinary statement about his divinity, it also points out the source of all our spiritual life and power: Jesus. He is the vine. We are the branches. When the branch is securely connected to the vine, fruit will happen. It doesn't have to be worked at, strived for. Fruit just happens because it is securely fastened to the vine, Jesus. Therefore, our greatest work in faith is to strive, work to believe in him, to stay/remain connected to him.
2. Jesus does from time to time prune the branches (vs 2ff). He clips off unnecessary "stuff" to make us more fruitful. Remember: his desire is we "abide/remain" in him constantly. It's easy to start being grafted to the the "stuff" of this world which actually prevents us from bearing a lot of fruit for him. This is what he cuts off. Yes, it can be painful. But it's done by the loving vine dresser who knows what is needed for us to "remain" in him to bear the most possible fruit.
3. Apart from Jesus and our connection to him, "you can do nothing" (vs 6). Nothing! We can't bear spiritual fruit by our works. It only comes from "abiding" in him. Anyone apart from him is eventually thrown away and burned. They've tried to operate in their own strength. They do nothing to glorify God in their lives. They can't.
4. But if we remain in Jesus, true spiritual power comes to our lives. Look at vs 7: "But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you ask any request you like and it will be granted to you." Vs 8 assumes we will produce much fruit and give glory to God because of this fruit. But the key to prayers being answered and much fruit that glorifies God coming forth is abiding in Christ, being connected to him. How does this connection especially happen? Jesus tells us: by being joined to him thru the Word of God. His words are in us and we are in him. If you don't know, believe in and pray the Word of God while abiding in him, you have no spiritual power.
5. There are two other ways to abide in Christ. First, by obeying what he tells us to do (vs 10). I would assume that's the commands of the Scripture. A proof we abide is that we obey. If we're connected to Christ, we will have his life flowing thru us. We will hear his voice. We will obey what he tells us to do. Second, love will pulsate thru our lives (vs 10). You will love as he loves. You will forgive as he has forgiven. You will reach out to the needy as he did. The greatest evidence of love is a willingness to lay down your life for a friend (vs 13). That's what Jesus did for us. He died for us so that we would no longer be his enemies but his friends (vs 14). We're no longer slaves to God, in a master/slave relationship, under Law, having to obey to receive blessings. Now we are God's friends in every way. Obedience and love are two ways to abide in Christ.
6. Vs 16: "You didn't choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for using my name." Wow, what a verse! I see two powerful truths. First, our relationship with God is secure because he first chose us. He initiated the process. He asked us out first. He contacted us first. He wanted to marry us first. Therefore, we should always be secure in his love, never wavering that he loves us. On those days I think I'm not worthy and he doesn't love me, I remember HE thought I was worthy to come to me and die for me. HE thought I was lovable. HE thought I was worthy to be in a friend relationship. Therefore, if this is true, second, I can ask him anything in his wonderful name, according to his character, and know it is answered. I realize that if I'm truly abiding in him, I will only be asking what he wills! But glorious, amazing answered prayer should be a regular part of my life in Christ!
7. But the world is not going to like me as I abide in Christ (vs 18ff). If the world rejected Jesus, it will reject me too! Vs 20: a servant is not greater than the master. It's really without cause (vs 25). But it's true. Jesus points out the world's arrogance, selfishness, pride, competitiveness, our selfish ambition. When you don't like the message, kill the messenger. It happened to him. If we are truly abiding in him, it will happen to us. Most of the Christian world knows this is true. Most of the Christian world, especially in Muslim countries, is experiencing persecution and shunning because of their faith in Christ. What we experience here in America is more of an annoyance than hatred. Nevertheless, Jesus clearly taught in these verses that if we love him, serve him, obey him, we should expect what happened to him. If we don't, I wonder if we are truly "abiding in Christ" and bearing fruit for God's glory
Today, abide in Christ. Draw near to him. He will draw near to you. Don't let anything cause you to be disconnected from Jesus. He is the vine. We are the branches. Let his life flow thru you to a dying world. And always remember: apart from him, we can do NOTHING!
To Christ alone and always belongs all the glory.