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John 15:1-8

LESSONS FROM THE LORD’S VINEYARD

 

Intro: John 14:31 tells us that Jesus and the Disciples are about to leave the upper room, where they have shared the Passover meal. They are going to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus will pray His great High Priestly prayer and will later be arrested by the mob led by Judas. Jesus speaks the words which compromise chapters 15 and 16 while they walk to the garden.

In this chapter, Jesus is pictured for us as The True Vine. It is to imagine Jesus and His men walking through the darkened streets of the city and then passing beyond the walls into the surrounding countryside.

As they walked toward the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus began to talk to His men about vines, vine dressers and fruit. What prompted this teaching? There are several possibilities. No doubt they would have passed near the temple which had great vines carved into its doors. They may have passed through the Golden Gate which also had gorgeous vines carved into it. Of course, it was April, and that meant that the grape vines would be beginning to blossom with the promise of a fresh harvest. As Jesus walked with his Disciples, perhaps He reached out and took a vine in His hands and used it to teach an object lesson to His men. But wait, the teaching may have been even more profound! The symbol for the nation of Israel was a vine, Psalm 80:8-10. This same truth is seen in Isa. 5:1-2. But, this vine had not lived up to its intended purpose, Jer. 2:21; Hos. 10:1. Therefore, God had sent His Son, the Lord Jesus into this world as “The True Vine. What Israel had failed to do, He would accomplish! Whatever prompted this teaching that night, it is clear that His desire was to teach them about the most vital relationship they have in their lives, the one with Jesus and His Father.

We might ask ourselves, "Why did Jesus give them this teaching now?" The answer is simple: They needed it! These men have just been informed that Jesus is going away, but that His work is going to continue, and that it is to continue through them and their lives, John 14:12. If they were to carry on the work of the Lord, then they needed to know how to produce that kind of fruit in their lives. He wants them to know that the only way they can be fruitful for the glory of God is to abide in Him, the True Vine.

Today, we are some 2,000 years removed from that night, but the work of the Lord continues. God is still working through the followers of Jesus Christ to accomplish His work and will in the world today. Many of us may sit here and wonder how we are supposed to do the work of the Lord and how we can produce that kind of fruit in our own lives. Well, the answer is found in these verses. Today, I want to share with you a few simple lessons that we can learn from the Lord Jesus. I want to preach on this thought: Lessons From The Lord’s Vineyard. These precious verses teach us how we can be fruitful branches for the glory of the Lord.

 

I. A LESSON ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS

A. In verse 2, Jesus uses the phrase “in Me. He is telling us that He is speaking here to people who are in a vital, life-giving relationship to Himself; He is speaking to those who are saved. No one can be considered a branch in the Lord’s Vine unless there is a vital connection to Him. No one can bear fruit for the glory of the Lord unless they are attached to the Vine. No less than 6 times in these verses, Jesus uses the phrase “in Me. He is talking about a situation that is an absolute necessity for life and fruit bearing.

B. How does one get to be “in Jesus? The only way this can happen is for the “new birth to take place. This occurs when a person comes to see themselves as a sinner. They become convicted of their sins and sense the Lord calling them to come to Him. They respond to His call by faith, receive the finished work of Jesus at Calvary as the payment for their sins, and confess Him to be the Savior of their souls. This is the Bible way of salvation, Rom. 10:9, 10:13; Acts 16:31.

C. Now, there are plenty of people “in religion; and there are plenty of people in the church. There are many who are moral, upstanding people, but that does not mean that they are “in Jesus! In fact, many are and will be deceived in this matter, Matt. 7:21-23. Don’t let that happen to you! Be sure you are saved and that you have been grafted into the True Vine, Rom. 9:17.

D. No one can be a fruitful branch for the glory of God until they have a vital, life-giving connection to the Vine. Without that vital connection, the “sap of life cannot flow in and through you. Before you can have anything else, from God or with God, you must have that relationship to God. Before you can have a hope of Heaven, or forgiveness of sin, you must have a relationship with Him. Can you pinpoint a time in your life when that relationship came to be in your life? If not, you can be grafted in today, if you will come to the Lord Jesus Christ, by faith, and call upon Him for your soul’s salvation. He won’t turn you away, John 6:37. After all, just look at all He’s done to save you! (Ill. John 3:16; Isa. 53:1-12; Rom. 10:21.)

 

II. A LESSON ABOUT REPRODUCTION

A. A vine has one distinct purpose: bearing fruit. But, if you will notice, the vine itself does not bear the fruit. It delegates the fruit bearing to the branches. The vine has fruit, but its fruit is the branches!

So it is with Jesus Christ. He came to this world to die on the cross for the sins of fallen men, Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10; John 18:37. His fruit is the souls saved by His grace. His fruit is believers. His fruit is those branches that have been grafted into Him by grace. His fruit is us, and He has delegated the bearing of fruit to you and me.

B. Ill. When a branch is grafted into a fruit tree, it receives its life from the tree, but it continues to bear its own kind of fruit. For instance, if you graft a branch from a peach tree into an apple tree, the branch that is grafted in will continue to bear peaches, while the host tree bears apples.

However, when a wild branch is grafted into Jesus Christ the True Vine that wild branch receives a new nature. The lost sinner who comes to Jesus for salvation receives from the Lord a brand new nature. In fact, he receives the “divine nature, 1 Pet. 2:4. That is the essence of the “new birth. It transforms those who are saved into “new creatures,” 2 Cor. 5:17. As a result, the life of Jesus, the True Vine, flows through the saved individual and that new branch bears the fruit of the Vine.

C. You will notice that God, in these verses, indicates that He expects us to bear fruit. You will also notice that there is to be a progression in our fruit bearing. Verse 2 mentions “no fruit,” “fruit,” and “more fruit.” Verse 8 speaks of “much fruit.” I gather from this that God expects us to always be growing in the fruit bearing process.

When we speak of “bearing fruit, what do we mean? What will be produced in our lives when we yield? How will we know if fruit is being produced through us? There are three basic fruits the Lord bears in the lives of His children. They are:

1. Sanctification - That is, we become more like Him - Rom. 6:22; Phil. 1:11; Col. 1:10.

2. Spirituality - That is, we behave more like Him - Gal. 5:22-23.

3. Souls - That is, we are burdened like Him - Rom. 1:13.

D. Is Jesus living His life through you today? Are you bearing fruit for His glory? This was the secret of Paul’s success as a Christian, Gal. 2:20. The fruit you bear, or do not bear, says much about your life – Matt. 7:16-20; Matt. 12:33.

III. A LESSON ABOUT RESPONSIBILITY

A. When we think about fruit bearing, we draw back, thinking that it is hard and that we cannot do it. Many believers think that fruit bearing is for the “super saints,” and for those who “have arrived. In truth, bearing fruit for the Lord is not difficult at all! In fact, it is one of the simplest things any believer can do! I will go a step farther. Fruit bearing is an absolutely passive activity. If you will do one thing, then fruit will happen in your life!

What is that one thing? It is mentioned 6 times in the verses. The one thing required of the branches in order for fruit to be a reality is for them to “abide in Jesus. If the branches will abide in Jesus, they will bear fruit for the glory of God. The only thing the Lord requires of the branches is for them to rest in Him and to draw their life strength from them. If this happens, fruit will always be the result!

 

(Ill. I have never seen a fruit tree, a vine, or any other fruit bearing plant struggle to bring forth its fruit. The branches yield themselves to the will of the vine; its life flows through them and fruit happens!)

 

B. How does a person abide in Jesus? First, you must be “in Jesus. You must be saved! After that, you abide in Him through prayer, study of His Word, meditation upon Him and His Word, v. 4, worship and praise, and total surrender of the life to Him, Rom. 12:1-2.

If I am going to abide in Christ, then I must draw my life from Him. I must yield my will to Him and allow Him to live His life through me. I must come to the end of myself and realize that apart from Him I am nothing and that I can do nothing.

Abiding in Jesus sounds difficult, but it is not. Few people actually do because, while it is simple, it is costly! Few people really want to pay the price of total surrender to the will of the Lord.

C. If I want to be a fruitful branch for the glory of the Lord, I must learn the secret of fruitfulness. I must learn to abide in Him and draw my life from Him. Otherwise, there will never be any fruit from my life. Without Him, you and I can bring nothing spiritual to pass, John 15:4. But, with Him, we can be used in a mighty way, Phil. 4:13.

D. Just a thought before we move on in the passage; every genuine branch wants to honor the Lord. Every person who is truly saved by grace has as his or her first priority the glory of God, 1 Cor. 10:31. Jesus tells us plainly in verse 8 that our bearing “much fruit brings glory to the Lord. If that is really your heart, then learn the secret of abiding in the Vine. Allow Him to live His life through you and watch Him use you to bear much fruit for His glory.

The quality of that fruit is not my responsibility. I am simply to abide. He will bring the kind of fruit through me that pleases Him. The quantity of that fruit is not my responsibility. My duty is to abide in Him. He will produce the quantity of fruit from my life that pleases Him. If we could ever grasp the truth that being a fruitful Christian is about abiding, it would make a world of difference in our lives.

 

IV. A LESSON ABOUT REALITY

A. The sad fact is this: not all branches bear fruit at the same level. Be that as it may, the Vine Dresser deals with every single branch in His vineyard. Notice what Jesus says.

1. v. 2 every branch in Me that beareth not fruit he taketh away… - "Taketh away" means “to lift up or to raise higher. This is a picture of a branch that has fallen into the dirt. It’s leaves are dirty and covered, they cannot absorb light hence the branch cannot bear fruit. The gardener sees the branch in this condition and He lifts it back up, cleanses it and puts it in a position where it can receive light and rain and where it can grow as it should.

On a personal level, this means that when we get to a place in our Christian lives where we are unfruitful and barren, the Lord will reach into our lives; He will disturb our slumber and He will lift us up in an effort to challenge us and shock us to growth.

There are three steps in this lifting process.

1.) His Rebuke - Heb. 12:5

2.) His Chastisement - Heb. 12:5

3.) His Scourging - Heb. 12:6

There are times when the Lord can only accomplish this through chastisement. If chastisement is responded to with repentance, He will cause us to be fruitful for His glory. If, however, we choose to go on in our sins, there is a sin unto death, 1 John 5:16.

Has the Lord been challenging areas of your life? If so, do not run from His challenge. Instead of running from God, turn and run to Him. After all, His chastisement is always a proof of His love, Rev. 3:19, and of your relationship to Him, Heb. 12:8.

2. v. 2 and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. This has the idea of cleansing. When the Gardener sees a branch that is producing fruit, He removes things from the branch that sap it vitality and strength. Things like sucker branches, useless buds, misdirected shoots, spots, discolored leaves, etc. Anything that consumes life but produces no fruit must go!

So it is in the life of the believer. There are so many things in us and around us that can hamper our walk with the Lord. When we begin to be fruitful, we can rest assured that He will cleanse us through the pruning process so that we might do ever more for His glory. When we allow things into our lives that hinder our walk with the Lord, then we are in danger of a pruning. Ill. "Pruning" by its very name sounds painful, and it isn't always easy to cut the junk from our lives, but if we do not do, the Lord surely will!

B. Notice verse 2, Jesus says that this ministry is performed on “every branch.” No one is excluded from the touch of the heavenly Vine Dressers hand and He challenges us and cleanses us to be fruitful for Him. There is no doubt that when He is purging and purifying our lives that it can be very painful. But, I would have you to remember that He is never closer to us than when His ministering hand is upon our lives! His touch, no matter how it may hurt for the moment, is proof that you are His and that He cares for you!

C. Verse 6 tells us that not every branch responds properly to the challenging and cleansing ministry of the Gardener. When this happens, there is a loss of fellowship and of reward. Many people have read this verse and have concluded that it is possible for a branch to be forever cut out of the Vine. Here is what Jesus is talking about:

1. Loss Of Fellowship - Cast out - Not Abiding (Note: This is not a salvation text, it is a fellowship text!) (Ill. My grandfather’s watch. It doesn’t work any longer, but I keep is because it is mine. There is a relationship that I won’t deny!) (Ill. Cannot lose relationship. The withered branch still possesses the same nature as the Vine, but it is not longer attached in the sense of life drawing fellowship.)

2. Loss Of Vitality - Withered - Possessing no life! Dead and dried up. This describes many Christians today! It didn't use to be this way, but now there is deadness where there used to be life. There is weakness where there used to be power. There is emptiness where there used to be fullness. My counsel is for you to come back and renew that lost fellowship. Once again start to draw that life giving juice from the Vine and begin again to produce fruit for Him.

3. Loss Of Reward - When this life is over, there will be many who name the name of Jesus and were unfruitful. They will experience the loss of every reward, 1 Cor. 3:13-15. Many think they will be content just to get to Heaven, but there should be a desire to have rewards to place at His feet. Will you hear, "Well done?" Only if you are a fruitful branch!

 

Conc: Jesus is the True Vine. He exists to bring glory to His Father, the Vine Dresser, by saving sinners, living through them and causing them to bear fruit. With this in mind let me close by asking you a few questions:

1. Are you "in the Vine"? Have you ever been genuinely saved and grafted into Jesus? If not, then you need to be and you need to be today!

2. Are you "abiding in the Vine"? Are you drawing your strength from Him so that He is able to produce is fruit through you life? If you are, you will probably not even realize, but if you aren’t, you will know it for sure. If you are not abiding in Him and, as a result, you are not as fruitful as you should be, then you need to do something about it right now.

3. Have the Gardener been performing His purifying and pruning ministry in your life? If He has, remember that it is because He loves you and that He has a wonderful plan for your life. Why not get before Him today and thank Him for not letting you “run to leaf,” and for caring enough about you to reach into your life to touch you and draw you unto Him?

 

If there are needs in your spiritual life, the time to come before Him and deal with those needs is right now. Let’s mind Him!

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