What Does It Mean to Abide and Be Pruned? [Sermon]

2018-05-24T20:26:46+00:00 Blog, Sermons|

We all long to have more than a mundane life. We want to leave and impact on the world and have a sense of joy as we do so. In Jesus last words to his disciples, he gives them a beautiful picture of His role, the Father’s role and their role as they live their life for His glory. If we are going to have a spiritually vibrant, we too will apply these truths.

Sermon Outline:

Jesus is the Vine. (vv. 1, 3-5)

Abide in God by embracing Jesus as Lord.

The Father is the Vinedresser. (vv. 2, 6-7)

Accept the pruning of God for the sake your transformation.

The Followers are the Branches. (vv. 2-7)

Acknowledge the Word of God as the instruction for living.

Sermon Transcript:

The Oldest vine in the world

How many of you watched the Royal Wedding? Well, in Hampton Court, UK there is a grapevine that is reported to be the oldest living vine. It is over 2500 years old. This grapevine has one root which is 12-foot round, and some of the branches are over 120 feet long. Despite its age the vine still produces 500 to 700 bunches (weighing 485 – 705 lb) of grapes each year. Although some of the branches are 120 feet from the main root, they still bear the sweet and delicious fruit because they are connected to the vine. Each branch is connected directly to the stem and draws nourishment from it.

“I am the vine, you are the branches” Jesus said. It is one of his most popular statements, yet one of His most misunderstood. Yet, if you think that that old vine as a picture of what Jesus was getting at — Christianity is like it in that we have 1 root, 1 true vine and all of the branches find their nourishment from it.

But when it comes to our life, what’s the secret to keeping a deep and consistent spiritual life? Someone text in, “What does it look submit and give full control to Christ?” I want to at least partially answer that question today. I’ve entitled my message the 3 Keys to Spiritual Vibrancy.Before Christ was pierced for us, He gave words that should piece our heart — with conviction and comfort.

[relv] If you are saved, John 15 should be one of your favorites passages in the whole Bible as it explains the mechanics of how you are continually transformed. If you do not know Christ, this is a passage you need to listen to and consider — who else or what else offers me such hope and meaning in this life and the next? Nothing!

[structure] Today we will start our journey into the second half of what is known as the upper room discourse. In John 15, Jesus is still present with His disciples as they leave the rented room and head to Gethsemane. At the end of Chapter 14, Jesus said, “Rise, let us go from here” — as if he was calling them to arms. Now, on His way to the greatest battle of all time, He is giving his disciples (troops) some final words of encouragement, instruction and prayer. We will look at seven verses that are some of the best John captured, and we will them apply them to life.

Please open your Bible with me to John 15:1-7 on page 902. You can also follow along in the Grace Chapel app and take notes on the back of the bulletin. If you don’t own a Bible or know someone who needs one, you are welcome to take the one in front of you. You can also text in any questions during the message to 303-335-9484 and I do my best to address those in the series or on social media throughout the week. Join me as we encounter God through His Word.

John 15:1–7 reads — 

[1] “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. [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.

I’m not much of a gardener, but this week I had to learn to be. With the help of Joey, my wife and my dad, I put this planter together and planted a few vines. It didn’t come without a few runs to Home Depot and some dirt under the fingernails, but so far, the plants are still alive.

With ever scoop of dirt, bending of the branches and arranging of the roots, I better understood the imagery of what Jesus was getting at in this passage. He said twice — “I am the vine.”

Jesus is the Vine. (vv. 1, 3-5) He is the key to all spiritual vibrancy.

When we start with verse 1, we see that the WHO is the key to understanding the HOW and the WHAT.

The How and what: How do I really have life in this life? What do I have to do to ensure I get that results that are most pleasing to God? The answer to these questions in simple of you know the “WHO.”

Jesus starts by identifying roles, and most importantly clarifying His role. This is one of the 7 main statements Jesus makes in John about who He is (“I Am…”). He employees an image to make it clear: vine, vinedresser and branches. As if to say that WHO He is answer the WHAT He will do and HOW he will do it in our life. Let me give you some significate biblical background here.

 

The Vine, Vinedressers, Branches in Old Testament History

When I take you to Israel J, you will see something in all of the Minister of Tourism logos — it is a grapevine (carried by two guys — representing Joshua and Caleb). The grapevine has always been the supreme symbol of Israel. It was used both in the Temple adornment and the coinage produced after the Maccabean Revolt. It was to those in the Maccabean period as Stars and Stripes is to us. Put that in context — there is richness in the imagery used in John 15 when Jesus says that He the vine, God the Vinedresser, and us branches.

Going one layer deeper, the Grape vine The imagery of Israel as a vine planted by God, the Vinedresser, is all over the Old Testament and anywhere you find this Old Testament imagery, it goes on to describe how the vine (Israel—God’s chosen people in the Old Testament) was not faithful to the Vinedresser. It needed someone to come and “Replace it” or make it healthy again.

“Israel” at the vine was established to achieve the purpose of bearing much fruit as a “light to the Gentiles” (Isa. 49:6) and to be a testimony to the uniqueness of Yahweh God. Yet, the vine Israelbore “wild grapes” (Isa. 5:2), chasing other gods to its shame and incurring the wrath of God. Thus, the vine Israel was subjected to divine judgment and was handed over to pagan nations to be burned (cf. Ps. 80:14-16). The vine needed a redemption plan, a new root, new life-blood.

So, in referring to Himself as the “true vine” (Jn. 15:1), Jesus declares that He is bringing forth the fruit Israel failed to produce.That is, the blessing of all nations through the revelation of Yahweh’s salvation. Jesus embodies God’s true intentions for His people: Jesus is the one who will bless God’s people (not Israel)— and the “Branches” are those of us who have been “Grafted in” by faith and are now men and women from all nations, belonging to a royal priesthood of God.

So, when Jesus says he is the vine, He is highlighting His Uniqueness: Jesus is the truevine (v.1).There is no other vine, except Him. Jews, other gods, or our own work will not have any more access to God except by the one true vine — Jesus.

By being the true vine, we see His Provision: Jesus the Vine provides the sanctifying word (v.3). Jess said in verse 3, “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.”He makes new what was dirty, destructive and distant from God.

He does this by His Power: Jesus the Vine is the only means by which the branches bear fruit (v.4). The vine lives to give its life-blood the branches.. The branches may have abundant fruit, and when that fruit is mature, and the vine will be seen as great and glorious. The first key to spiritual vibrancy is this: Abide in God by embracing Jesus as Lord.

What does abidingor remainingin Christ mean? It gives us a picture of the divine sap running between the vine and the branches – the Holy Spirit. He had just told them that he had to go so a greater could come. Yet He is telling them to abide? That is because saying say connected to me through the “Alter Christos” — the other Christ, like me but better. Abiding in Christis parallel with being filled with the Spirit.

I love the Old Testament imagery of being “Hidden” (or abiding) in God: “For He hidme in his shelter in His day of trouble…” Psalm 27:5 and “He hid me in the shadow of His Hand…” Is. 49:2. The calling to abide is a promise of provision, comfort and guidance.

The real fruit of our character come with a deep connection to the vine. That is why God does not shield us from the assaults of this life but rather exposes us to them, so we will learn to hold fast to Him.

Jesus said, “I am the Vine” but The Father is the Vinedresser. (vv. 2, 6-7). As if to say, I will give you what you need for life, but my father is sovereignly in control of all life. Yes, there may be hardship (heat, wind, fire, flooding) in this life, but He will care for you and watch you. And as He watches over you,

One of the times I remember the Father tending to the branches in my life was when I was living in Chicago. I worked at a church where it seemed everything seemed to be getting upside down. Loss of Family | loss of friends | Loss of job | loss of clarity. Packed apartment and headed home. No Molly at the time. Loneliness | fear | opportunity to throw spears. In all of this, God was “Cutting away” what needed to be cut to bear more fruit.

Two types of Cutting that happen by the Vinedresser:

  1. Those who do not know him:Claim Christ or know Jesus Christ but are unfaithful. This is his response to
  2. Branches (not people, could be character, actions, roles etc.) not bearing fruit: even the branches that are doing well, those that best convey the life of the vine, get the knife.I have seen many faithful Christians get pruned. This is his response to fruitfulness.

Why the cutting? For Maximum fruit production; to get the most out of us for His sake. To increase their fruitfulness.

What is involved in pruning?

  1. Pain. Pruning always hurts.Sometimes the pain of pruning is because of our sin and can be the result of someone else’s sin.

Other times it is simply because we are bearing abundant fruit and God wants us to bear more. For Example, King David, a man after God’s Heart was “Pruned” so that He could be more fruitful. Psalm 119:67, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” And Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” He comes in and adjusts what needs to be adjusted so that we can bear even more fruit.

  1. His Presence is always involved in pruning. God’s hand is never closer than when he is pruning the vine.Those who abide in Jesus choose to stay put for the pruning.

We rest and trust in the work of God and enjoy His presence as He works. Augustine of Hipposaid it well, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

#2 Accept the pruning of God for the sake your transformation.

At times, God takes us through hard things to increase our spiritual growth through test of faith or trials of character. We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can control our response.

Our Response to Pruning:

  1. Gratitude over grumbling: Recognize the love of the Father
  2. Humility over haughtiness: Submit to the Lord’s timing
  3. Compassion over comparison: Use your pain to comfort others
  4. Application over apathy: Press on to know God in the midst of discipline
  5. Accountability over isolation: Involve the community in your growth process
  6. Hope over despondency: Trust the unseen purpose of God

 

Every member of the military begins his or her training with boot camp, the infamously intense stint of sweat and suffering by which he or she is made fit for military service. If the experience is as horrific as it’s often portrayed in popular media, why do so many put themselves through it—voluntarily?  For one, boot camp is a limited period of time.  Although it is intense and perhaps brutal at times, it does not last forever. Once the training has run its course, a season of reprieve will come. Secondly, the strength and ability gained through the training is that much greater for its intensity. In other words, the outcome is worth is experience.

Similarly, the Christian can endure discipline knowing the Lord has ordained seasons of trail which, however long, will end and will result in redemption (1 Pt. 5:5).  We can anticipate deeper, richer, and more lasting growth as he or she trusts the Lord through a season of discipline. Our heavenly Father is hungry for fruit from his vine, and in order to produce it will often in his pruning cut deeper than we would have ever had chosen — But it is worth it!

The Followers are the Branches. (vv. 2-7)

Three things seem to be clear as to what we are to do or keep in mind:

  1. Branches are accountable to the Vinedresser (v. 2)
  2. Branches need the Vine in order to bear fruit (v. 4)
  3. Branches take Him at His Word (in His name) will flourish (v. 7).

‘Abiding (or remaining) in Christ’ must not be reduced to a subjective, mystical, inner state. The mark of an abiding heart is not only, or even principally, a sense of inward serenity, but a ‘conscience clear before God and man’ (Acts 24:16).  It is allowing Jesus’ words to remain in us.

Living in the Will of God and praying in the name of Jesus comes when we #3Acknowledge the Word of God [is] the instruction for living.

Because of God’s “precious and very great promises” (1Pt.1:4) secured in Christ, we can trust He will never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:8).  He knows what we need even before we ask Him (Matt. 6:8), and as we commit ourselves to Him, He will complete His good work in us (Phil. 1:6). He just asks for us to trust — to abide!

In the next several verses, which we will look at next week, talk about remaining in the vine by obeying His commandments. To know His commands, we have to know His Word and see it as the instruction for life and living. When we do, our life will be hidden in Christ and become a display of God’s glory for the world. Colossians 3:3 says, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Oh, and to be hidden and abide in Him and find true life!

Even the oldest vine in the world has to be pruned.The branches are cut back each year so that it will bear even more fruit. Even you may have to be cutback, pruned and worked on so to be more fruitful!

I want you to reflect over the last year. Can you identify any experience of discipline in your life? How did God bring a harvest out of the pruning? If you can identify the harvest, take time to give thanks to God, reaffirm your trust in His loving care over your life, and consider how your experience of discipline has equipped you for participation in God’s mission.

Let me ask you — did you learn from your last pruning, or did you sluff it off as circumstance and miss what God had for you to learn? How are you applying what you learned?

If you are in the midst of a pruning season and cannot yet see the harvest, I want you to read and meditate on Psalm 13. The Psalmist, being in profound anguish, nevertheless expresses deep and abiding trust in God. Maybe right now, you need to talk honestly to God about the battle you are in just to trust Him and ask for His help to remain faithful in this time.

We can have hope and gratitude, knowing that even the Apostle Paul called his sufferings “light momentary affliction,” which is itself “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

2 Corinthians 4:17, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”. Someday, we will be with the vine and the vinedresser more fully. I can’t wait for the day. LET’S PRAY.

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