Abiding in Christ

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Abiding in Christ            

John 15:5 ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing’.

Extra Reading: John 15:1-11

Growth is the soul’s adventure. The vitality, originality, and unseen potentiality of our personalities are suggested in the metaphor of the vine. The grapevine is a prolific plant; a single vine bears many grapes. In the Old Testament, grapes symbolized Israel’s fruitfulness in doing God’s work on the earth (Psalm 80:8; Isaiah 5:1-7; Ezekiel 19:10-14). In the Passover meal, the fruit of the vine symbolized God’s goodness to his people. Christ is the vine, and God is the gardener who cares for the branches to make them fruitful. The branches are all those who claim to be followers of Christ. The fruitful branches are true believers who by their living union with Christ produce much fruit. But those who become unproductive-those who turn back from following Christ after making a superficial commitment-will be separated from the vine. Unproductive followers as good as dead and will be cut off and tossed aside.

From verses 2 and 3 we learn that Jesus makes a distinction between two kinds of pruning: 1. separating and 2. cutting back branches. Fruitful branches are cut back to promote growth. In other words, God must sometimes discipline us to strengthen our character and faith. But branches that don’t bear fruit are cut off at the trunk because not only are they worthless, but they often infect the rest of the tree. People who won’t bear fruit for God or who try to block the efforts of God’s followers will be cut off from his life-giving power. Fruit is not limited to soulwinning (v.5). In this chapter, answered prayer, joy, and love are mentioned as fruit (15:7, 11, 12). Galatians 5:22-24 and 2 Peter 1:5-8 describes additional fruit: qualities of Christian character. According verses 5 and 6, remaining in Christ means (1) believing that he is God’s Son (1 John 4:15), (2) receiving him as Saviour and Lord (John 1:12), (3) doing what God says (1 John 3:24), (4) continuing to believe the gospel (1 John 2:24), and (5) relating in love to the community of believers, Christ’s body (John 15:12).

Many people try to be good, honest people who do what is right. But Jesus says that the only way to live a truly good life is to stay close to him, like a branch attached to the vine. Apart from Christ our efforts are unfruitful. Are you receiving the nourishment and life offered by Christ, the vine? If not, you are missing a special gift he has for you (vv.5-8). When a vine bears “much fruit”, God is glorified, for daily he sent the sunshine and rain to make the crops grow, and constantly he nurtured each tiny plant and prepared it to blossom. What a moment of glory for the Lord of the harvest when the harvest is brought into the barns, mature and ready for use! He made it all happen! This farming analogy shows how God is glorified when people come into a right relationship with him and begin to “bear much fruit” in their lives.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to be connected to you, the true vine. In your name, we ask and pray, Amen.

Rev. Samuel N. Modise 

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