Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons by Year 2020 Sermons . Abiding in the Vine (Part 3)

. Abiding in the Vine (Part 3)

ABIDING IN THE VINE (PART 3)

Introduction:

Last Sunday we started focusing on the fruit bearing side of abiding in the Vine. We looked at the fruitless branches. Then we spent the whole week till yesterday morning looking at the branches that bear fruit, and we started touching on the issue of abiding in the Vine, abiding in Christ.

 

Today I want to specifically look at the abiding in Christ part specifically. There might be a little bit of overlap, but I know you can deal with that. Some reminders are helpful.

Turn with me to John 15:4 (ESV) 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.”

Do you desire to be the most effective, productive servant of Christ that you can possibly be?  Do you want there to be present in your life that which God has produced, that which cannot ultimately be explained by you, and that which will glorify the living God?  Do you want a real experience with God; do you want something that is not the product of your imagination, but the product of His presence and His working in your life?  Can you say that you want nothing that is counterfeit but only that which is authentic?

 

If your answer is yes, then you must give heed this morning to the command found in verse 4.

So, we have looked at the fruitless branches and identified them.  We have looked at the good fruit that will be produced in those who are vitally connected to Christ and identified that good fruit.

 

This morning I want to focus closely on the simple statement that “we must abide in Christ.” The Greek word for abide is meno {men'-o} which is an aorist, active, imperative. So, we are commanded in the 4th verse to abide, or remain, in Christ.  What does this command speak to us today?  I know we touched on this during this last week, but it is worth our time to concentrate our attention on it this morning. The reason I want to do this because what we are dealing with here is supernatural. It is God who produces fruit. This can only happen because your life is now In Christ. So, what do we have in this imperative? There are four things I want to point out.

 

Point 1. This is an explanation.

 

This command explains a couple of particularly important things to us.

 

A.     It explains how fruit is produced in a believer’s life.

 

It is not something we do, though we are not passive in the process, but it is something that is done in us and through us.  Fruit production is God’s work and we are God’s project.  Fruit production is the result of the Holy Spirit’s presence and God’s loving work as the Vinedresser.  Christ is the Vine, the source of our life, and we are the branches who bear fruit because we are connected to Him. In that statement we are reminded of the simplicity of all this. We touched on this yesterday.

1. The simplicity of it – it is abiding in Him.


a. What our focus is not – the fruit.

John 15:5 (ESV) 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.”

 

If you say this morning that you want to be a maximum fruit bearer and you want to do it for His glory, you will miss the mark if you say, ‘I need to concentrate on getting love in my life, peace in my life, patience, kindness, gentleness, and the rest’. Now all those things are true, but all those things are the by-product of simply having a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason why fruit is there, is because we abide in Him. I am certainly to understand God’s commands in these areas and give myself to obeying Him in these areas, but my focus is not the fruit itself. I must not set my focus on love, apart from Jesus, joy, apart from Jesus, on peace, apart from Jesus, and so we can go on. You can do nothing apart from Jesus. You might say that you need more patience in your life, and you probably do, but if you can work on it apart from Jesus, all you have is morality.

 

b. What our focus is – the Saviour Himself.

The answer is amazingly simple. In everything, I need to stay close to Christ. I need to love Him, I need to pursue Him, I need to be sure that I am submitted to Him, I need to be certain that I am knowing Him better through His Word, seeking Him, consistently through prayer, following Him wherever He leads me and doing everything He tells me. Show me anybody who is truly in Christ and stays close to Christ, and I will show you someone in whose life is love, joy, peace etc. So, the fruit is produced by staying close to Christ. “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit,”

 

My focus is on Christ.  My focus is on remaining close to Him, loving Him, pursuing Him, obeying Him, and seeking Him in all my ways.  The promise of these verses is that if I remain close to Him this fruit will be produced in me.

 

Question:  Have you learned the simplicity of the Christian life?  Can you say that your focus is as simple as pursuing the Lord Jesus?

2. The solitariness of it – it is only abiding in Him.

Not only that it is as simple as this, but this is the only way it is going to happen. The one way we are going to bear fruit is by staying close to Christ. Nothing else will result in fruit.  Nothing else will do.  Not only is it true to say that we are to abide in Christ, but nothing other than that will result in fruit production.

a. Activity will not do it.

We have churches all over South Africa that are extremely busy. I remember telling my previous church about 20 years ago that we need to become a beehive of activity, which we did. The question is not activity, but fruit bearing based on abiding in Christ and drawing close to Christ. That is one of the reasons our purpose statement at Logos is ‘To know God and to make Him known’. What we need is a great display of the presence of Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit that is seen in His people. Activity does not bear fruit. Staying close to Christ does. Some people hunger for activity because it is easier to stay busy than to stay close to Christ. Give me another Bible study, give me another men or ladies’ study, give me another missions outreach, please organize another event for me and I am happy. But, call a prayer meeting and see how many show up? We rather want activity than drawing close to the face of God.

b. Education will not do it.

Simply attending Bible lessons is not going to produce fruit. Our greatest need is not for another Bible lesson, but to do what we have already learn from Christ. Remember the Pharisees who were searching the Scriptures to find life in them and Jesus rebuking them because they do not come to Him to have life. Just soaking in information is not going to mean that you are close to Christ. And it is only being closer to Christ that results in fruit bearing.

c. Imitation will not do it.

You set your target on people and you desire to be like those people that seem to be bearing fruit. I just want to be like them. There is a place for following people as they follow Christ. Paul exhorted people to follow in His footsteps. But Christianity is not a game of follow the leader, or as the cannibals’ play, swallow the leader. It is about Christ. The only way you can follow somebody who has a connection to Jesus is if you have the same connection to Jesus they have. You must be saved, and if you do not know Christ in a saving way, and you are trying to imitate people who do know Him in a saving way, the difference between you and them is that they have His life and you don’t. And as a result, they will bear fruit and you will not.

d. Association will not do it.

Association will not do it. I have watched people over the years who come from a big ministry as members, and then look down on people from other ministries, as they think that by their association they have arrived. And then associating with people who really love the Lord Jesus will not help you to bear fruit.

 

B. It explains why fruit is not present in an unbeliever’s life.

1. They have no real connection to Christ.

How do you explain people who have all the activity, all the education, all the imitation and all the association and they have no fruit in their lives?

 

Let me say it again, none of this will connect you to Christ. Let me tell you this. I grew up in the church, I attended prayer meetings from the time I was 2 weeks old, Sunday School, services, even our Youth Group was more a social evening for all ages. I got all the education necessary, won all the prizes for Scripture memorization and finding a verse in the Bible first consistently, I copied my leaders and associated on all levels and by my matric year I was an atheist. You see, I had no real connection to Christ.

 

Only regeneration and indwelling of the Holy Spirit will vitally connect you to Christ. You do not come to Christ by activity, but by Faith.

2. They are not able to abide in Him.

If you find that you cannot abide in Him, it is because the most essential element of abiding is missing.  The very life of Christ Himself is missing.

 

So, it explains how the fruit is produced in a believer’s life, it also explains why fruit is not present in unbelievers, but it also explains what God’s plan is for His people.

 

C.      It explains what god’s plan for his people is.

1. What he is not working toward in us.

He is not concerned about our view of happiness, our view of success and our view of influence.

His single goal for you is His glory and His fruit. Think about Christ’s work during His time on this earth.  Is it really what you would have expected? He spends three years with 12 men for the most part.  Is that really the best use of His time from our vantage point? He did not book out stadiums and advertise Himself big. His works and His teaching were what drew people.

 

So much of what He does in us will not fit, either, with what we would normally expect.

 

We want God to do something spectacular in us or use us in SPECTACULAR ways when most of the time He is working through ORDINARY ways.  The outcome, however, WILL be spectacular, but only in a way that glorifies God. He will allow us to bear fruit for His glory and His glory alone.

 

Our first point is that this imperative to Abide is an explanation, then, secondly it is an exhortation, and exhortation to ‘Abide in Him’ to ‘Remain in Him’.

 

Point 2. This is an exhortation.

 

  1. The exhortation is addressed to disciples

This is a command to all of us who know Christ this morning who are listening in now. “Abide in me”.  What do we learn of this exhortation?

 

  1. It is a blessed exhortation – stay close to Me.

 

This reflects His love and care for us. Don’t you do this as a parent? When your family moves into some kind of danger, even if it is a hike in the bush, you tell your children to stay close to you. Christ knows exactly what this world will throw at you and He wants you to stay close to Him.

 

  1. It is also a sobering exhortation –

Why do I say so? Because it is a warning. John 15:6 (ESV) 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.” Those who do not stay in Christ will burn. This does not teach that if you hold onto Jesus that you are saved. It teaches that those who are saved, hold onto Jesus. The reason they hold onto Jesus is because He is holding onto them. He exhorts and we heed the exhortation and we do remain close to Him, precisely because He has saved us.

3. The exhortation is to persevere.

This is a constant theme in the New Testament, and it is a confirming sign of the new creation.

 

John 8:31 (ESV) 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,” This is what we call the Perseverance of the Saints or the preservation of the Saints. Colossians 1:21-23 (ESV) 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” Saved people do continue with Jesus. So, this is a loving exhortation.

 

So, how do we stay with Christ. It is by Faith.

 

4. The exhortation is to pursue Christ by faith

We saw this in our devotions this week, that we pursue Christ by abiding in IN HIS WORDS, by abiding in His love, by abiding in His name, by abiding in His joy.

 

It is a faith relationship.

 

    5. The exhortation is to demonstrate the reality of your relationship to Him.

John 15:8 (ESV) 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” Are you really one of His disciples?  Bear much fruit and that will be demonstrated. How do you bear much fruit? You stay close to Him.

 

So, the words “abide in me” is a loving exhortation, but it is also a sobering exhortation.

 

There is a third thing this command represents to us.

Point 3. This is an execution – of self-sufficiency.

I love Spurgeon’s title of His sermon on this section – “Self-Sufficiency Slain”.

 

This puts to death any notion of ANY sufficiency that is found in the man himself. What is your sufficiency apart from Christ? What can you do without Him? He tells us in verse 5. John 15:5 (ESV) 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.”

When Christ says ‘stay close to me’ it is because He knows that apart from Him, there is nothing that you can do. This is a great test as to the soundness of any doctrine.  Does it glorify God, and does it humble man?  Does it speak of God’s abilities or does it speak of man’s abilities? Any doctrine that exalts us, that takes away from the glory of God, that makes man big and God small is not true doctrine. Any book that says, “becoming a better you”, and does not make God Big in the process is not true doctrine.

 

A.     This is true with respect to the believer himself.

 

What can you do without your Saviour?

    1. You cannot overcome sin without Him.

Too often we are so focused on the sin, than being focused on our Saviour. Your greatest need for overcoming sin, is to stay close to Him.

    1. You cannot continue in the faith without Him.

    1. You cannot grow in grace and knowledge without Him.

You want to understand the Scriptures better, you want to know doctrine better, you want to know how to defend your faith better. Stay close to Christ in the process, otherwise it is all intellectual pursuit and not growing in grace and knowledge.

    1. You cannot know His love and peace and joy without Him.
    2. You cannot do anything without Him.

I love what John Newton says – “The grace of God is as necessary to create a right temper in Christians on the breaking of a china plate as on the death of an only son.” What He is saying is that the Christian attitude must be the right attitude for something as small that breaking a China plate that dealing with the death of a son. We sometimes thing that we need God so that we can handle the big things, no my friend, you need God to handle all things.

    B. This is true with respect to the believer and unbelievers.

      1. You cannot effectively share your faith without Him.

    Is there someone you want to reach with the gospel, someone you want to see saved? You can try everything you can think of.  You can witness in every way you know how, but you just cannot do it without Christ and the indwelling Spirit. Realise this. You cannot save them. The quality of your presentation cannot save them. But He can. What you and I must do is to submit ourselves to Him, and to His sovereign will, to His sovereign working and to His sovereign time table. Sure, you must witness, pray for the lost, plead for them to come to Christ, but salvation is from the Lord.

     

    Remember when we were saved. In most of the cases it was not the first time we heard the gospel. I grew up in a church where every Sunday evening was an evangelistic service, so I heard the gospel 18 years times 52 weeks before I was truly saved. We do not need strategy. We need the Holy Spirit’s work. What is the answer for growth at Logos Community Church? It is to seek the face of God. You cannot convince anyone of their need for Christ without Him.

     

    Point 4. This is an examination.

    What is my true position? Am I really connected to Christ? Or am I speaking to somebody this morning who is so frustrated, so tired. You are tired because you have been associated with believers and exposed to believers, and you try to imitate believers and you know what is expected of you by other believers. You have worked and you have been active, and imitated, you’ve associated but you are empty. Listen, no one will fill your heart with the living Christ. No amount of activity, or education can replace the vital connection that you need in Christ. Maybe I am speaking to somebody today who needs to rid themselves from religion, because you know that you are involved in the things of God, but you are not connected to the God of all things. You need Him. The glorious thing of the Lord Jesus is that when you have reached the end, that is where He is. If you have hit rock bottom, that is where He is, if you have reached the end of your rope, that is where He is. If you look up to Him with no strings attached, that is where you will find Him. Will you come to Him today?

     

    Do my current attitudes reflect an understanding of these things?

     

    Genuine humility – without Him I am nothing and can do nothing. Great thankfulness – for His many mercies, and a great desire – to remain close to Christ and to bear much fruit.

     

    Amen.

    Soli Deo Gloria.

    Logos Community Church: 09 August 2020.