Torchbearers for Christ
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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The Vine and the branches

 
The Lord Jesus often used pictures familiar to His hearers to teach spiritual truths. For example, he referred to Himself as the door, the shepherd and the bread of life. Grape vines were very common in Palestine in Bible days and in John 15:1-17 we have an enlightening picture of how we can become fruitful and effective Christians.
      
Jesus is the vine, His Father is the gardener and believers are the branches, joined to Jesus by faith and drawing upon Him for their spiritual life, growth and fruitfulness. In Isaiah 5:1-7, God’s Old Testament people are described as the “choicest vine”. God expected that the vine would produce grapes, but instead it bore wild grapes and was rejected. In Ezekiel 15:1-6, we read that a grape vine has no use apart from bearing grapes; the wood cannot be used for making furniture or for building houses. If it doesn’t produce grapes, it is only fit for the fire. The teaching in John 15 is that God expects His people will be fruitful by abiding in Christ. What is fruit? God is expecting His people to be loving, obedient to His Word, to be prayerful, to live clean lives, to be humble, generous, forgiving and to produce the fruit of the Spirit which is given to us in Galatians 5:22-23. In other words, fruit in the Christian life means those qualities of character that result from the indwelling life of the Holy Spirit. 
 
One of the key passages in our reading is “abide”. It occurs seven times. In order to produce fruit, we must “abide” in Christ; that is, to be joined to Him and to continue to stay close to Him. By doing this, we can expect to be fruitful, which is the mark of a true disciple.
       
Just as we prune fruit trees in order to produce more fruit, God will deal with those things in our lives that could make us unfruitful. Pruning can be painful, but is essential if we are to grow in Christ. A tree that is not pruned cannot produce good fruit. 
      
We need to point out that on two occasions in this passage (verses 2 and 6), Jesus mentioned the grave consequences of the believer failing to bear fruit or of failing to continue abiding in Christ. Abiding in Christ calls for watchfulness and maintaining an unbroken fellowship with the Lord Jesus. The fruitful Christian life requires a life of habitual prayer and regular exposure to the Word of God – reading it, listening to it, meditating on it and being quick to submit to anything the Spirit of God may be saying to us.
      
By meeting these requirements we may be assured of a fruitful, fulfilling and joyful Christian life. May God help us in this coming year to bear fruit, more fruit and much fruit.
 
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  Since 1983 he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.