November 29, 1998, SM message
Just three points from this section this morning, and I edited these points greatly for times sake.
1) Jesus is the true vine.
2) The Heavenly Father is the husbandman, or the one who cares for the vine to see that it bears fruit.
3) The believers are the branches.
The vine is one of the most important plants mentioned in Scripture.
A) The branches did not graft themselves into the vine. Such is a work of the Husbandman.
Romans 11 tells us that in order to live and be fruitful, we must first be grafted into Christ. Grafting involves taking one plant and placing it on the root of another plant. Grafting allows the thing grafted to live from the root of something else. Scripture tells us that before being grafted into Christ, we were a wild plant, dry and good for nothing except the fire. We are grafted in by a work of the Spirit of God, called the New Birth.
B) The branches must draw their life from the vine. Romans 11 tells us that the root is Christ, from whom the branches must draw their life. The union of the branches with the vine is formed by faith in Christ, and the realization of total dependance upon him.
We are united to Christ -- we have common interests, feelings, desires and a common destiny in heaven with Christ.
We seek the same things Christ seeks; we have the same goal as Christ has -- that is, the Glory of the Heavenly Father, John 15:8.
We are willing to face the same trials, contempts, and persecutions Christ faced.
We are willing to have the same friends and have the same loves as Christ has, including his love for the lost and for our fellow man.
We are willing to share in his death, and we share in his victorious resurrection -- that is, death to the power of sin in our bodies and the resurrection to the newness of life in Christ.
Our relationship to Christ is as mysterious as is the union of a husband and wife -- they are different, but they are one.
Do we want what he wants?
Do we realize our inability without him?
C) The purpose of being grafted into the vine is so we will bear fruit. (John 15:16, given in the context of the passage we are looking at, vv. 1, 2.)
FRUIT IDENTIFIED (developed through pruning):
1) Winning souls to the Lord.
Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
2) John the Baptist told the Pharisees and Sadducees to Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. (Mt. 3:8.) In other words, good works are part of the fruit of a Christian.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
(Left out Matthew 5:16-- the good works defined from there and from Gal.)
Our light shines best in the midst of pruning.
3) Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
Here we see praise to the Lord in the midst of pruning.
Galatians 5:22, 23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
The Spirit of God works in us to produces the fruit of the spirit, which results in the good works listed in Galatians 5. These good works produced by the Light dwelling within the branches will result in others glorifying our Father which is in heaven. (The definition of those fruits is another study.)
Back to the vine and the husbandman:
D) The husbandman will do whatever he needs to do to see that the branches bear fruit.
If the branches do not bear fruit, they will be removed. We see here a reason why people fall away from the Christian body of faith -- the Heavenly Father pruned them away. (Cf. Mt. 3:10, 7:19, 13:8ff., Lk. 13:7. Which of the fallen away branches were saved? Only the Lord has the answer for that question.)
In 1 Corinthians 9:27, the great apostle Paul expressed his fear of being a castaway.
V. 2, notice which branches are pruned by the Lord. It is those who are bearing fruit, not the dead and useless ones. The tumultuous and difficult life of a Christian is a good sign that he or she is bearing fruit.
Fruit bearing, the image of Christ, is totally contrary to our fallen nature. So believers must be molded by the Father into the image of Christ, against their natural will and desire, we must add:
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Molding involves daily reading and meditation on the Word of God, and prayer to the Heavenly Father. Molding involves continual pruning, or cutting away of the dead and useless things from our lives.
E) The vine is planted in soil that is usually unsuitable for anything else, e.g., cereal grains.
The stones are normally gathered from the ground that is to be used for vines. Walls, terraces and even towers are built out of those stones. (Isa 5:2, Mt 21:33.) Of course, vineyards in Scripture always had a wine press.
The soil can be dry for 7-8 months of the year. In such dry conditions, the vine reaches deep into the subsoil for its nourishment.
F) The vine requires constant care by the husbandman.
The vine must be pruned back to almost a bear trunk. To the natural eye, it would seem the vine is cut back so much that it will die. But the pruning must be done for the vine to bear fruit. If it is not pruned and cultivated, the fruit will very soon degenerate.
In the early spring, the plants must be pruned by cutting off the dead and fruitless branches, which are gathered and burned.
Also, the ground must be kept clear of weeds by cultivating, ploughing or harrowing.
G) the vineyard must be continually guarded (the watchman) as the grapes ripen, or the jackals and foxes will eat the fruit.
Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. (Cant. 2:15.) (This is another study we will not develop today.)
A FEW APPLICATIONS
First, the arid soil forces the branches to gather their strength from the vine, which goes deep into the ground. The branches cannot live without the vine in this soil.
The distresses and cuttings Christians must go through force us to do something that just does not come natural, and that our fallen nature continually fights.
The arid soil of life's turmoils force us to learn to lean totally upon the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ for our very survival. They draw us closer to him than we would be otherwise.
Sometimes it requires very severe circumstances to make God's people learn John 15:5, that without him we can do nothing. Usually, not until I hit a brick wall will I learn the truths of 15:1-8.
Second, Christians are planed in soil that is usually different from the soil where the unsaved are planted. The "Christians' soil" is drier and contains more stones. The "Christians' soil" is an arid soil that requires the grace of God to survive in. The Christian life is a far more difficult life than is a non-Christian life.
The arid soil in which Christians are "planted" as branches on the vine explains why Christians many times have a far more difficult life in this present world. How would the abundant grace and mercy of God be evident if it were not for the arid soil? How would Christ be magnified if it were not for the arid soil?
Both Psalms 37 and 73 develop this thought. Notice Psalms 73:1-14 (v. 5)
The wicked are not planted in the same soil as are the righteous, so the wicked are not troubled and plagued like other men (Christians). It is the arid soil that forces Christians to draw their strength from the Lord Jesus. It is the arid soil that will magnify Christ alone as the life of the Christian.
Philippians 1:19, 20 Paul wrote from prison. He fully realized that the arid soil in which he was planted was necessary for Christ to be magnified in his life. When Christians do not realize the necessity of the arid soil, they are in danger of falling away from the faith.
Third, the vine must be "pruned back" to where it appears almost dead. If this is not done, the vine will go wild, and will not bear any fruit.
The Lord's purpose for his people is to form them into the image of his Son. His purpose for them is that they would bear more and better fruit. John 15:2 tells us that serious "pruning" is required --- that cutting away that is done by the Father can leave us feeling we are on the verge of death.
Fourth, the purpose of the prunings is not to create great grief in our lives.
God's purpose is not to make his people miserable with life. John 15:1-8 clearly tells us that the distresses and cuttings we go through have a purpose, though we do not see that purpose at the time. That purpose is in v. 2, that we may bring forth more fruit. The purpose of the husbandman's actions is so we will bear more and better fruit for the Heavenly Father.
Much Fruit, v. 8, requires much pruning, v. 2.
Luke 14:28 warns a person to count the cost of serving the King. One of the expenses of being a servant is being planted in arid soil and the continual cutting away of the things that hinder our service.
Those who do not go through the cuttings of the husbandman are either not his, or they have been cast away by the Father.
I believe the Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 5 teach that as long as the branches will submit to his pruning, they will not be cut off and cast aside. However, if the branches resist the pruning, they will be removed from the vine, their source of life.