JOHN 15:1-9 – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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. 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 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. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”
THEME OF THE DAY: HUMAN BEINGS NOT HUMAN DOINGS. Today’s scripture is the familiar parable of the Lord Jesus called “The Vine and Branches.” It details the close relationship Jesus has with His disciples both positionally and practically. The key word throughout the parable is abide, appearing eight times in nine verses. We define the word as “to dwell, to remain, to continue.” A.W. Pink wrote on this abiding experience of the Christian, “By all these terms, to abide, continue, and dwell, are the reference to the maintenance of fellowship with God in Christ. To abide in Him, then, is to have sustained conscious communion with Him.” Pink would develop this truth further, “To abide in Christ signifies the constant occupation of the heart with Him – a daily active faith in Him which, so to speak, maintains the dependency of the branch upon the vine, and the circulation of life and fatness of the vine in the branch.”
There is so much to be said about the abiding in Christ life. We may address the dependency of the branches upon the vine for nourishment. Or the truth that the branches or Christians are not fruit producers but fruit bearers. In and of ourselves, we can do nothing. Jesus reminds us of this truth in today’s scripture – Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. And we will learn by painful reliance of our self-sufficiency leading us to failure that when Jesus says, “You can do nothing apart from Me”, He really means nothing. But our direction for the abiding life in Christ is a take-off from the first paragraph – fellowship or our closeness to the Lord Jesus; the inseparable closeness of the vine and branches. And what is meant by this is the personal nature and relationship of the vine and branches, the believer and Christ.
If we are going to know the joy, power and influence of the abiding in Christ life, we must constantly remember we are created human beings wired for relationships not human doings needing to accomplish tasks or a to do list. Forget this, and our relationship with Christ will not be severed but it will suffer. There will be no enjoyment, no vitality, and no living spirituality. And never equate closeness to Christ by our service for Christ. Acceptable service is an outflow from abiding in Him. Without closeness in personal relationship with Christ, of being human beings abiding in Christ, not human doings serving Christ, service will be joyless and dull duty. But when the vine is providing life to the branches, joyful fruit follows.
The abiding in Christ life. That defines Christianity and it rests on our constant awareness we are human beings in relationship with our Lord, not human doings just serving Him.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to not equate service for You to knowing You. Teach me the difference.”
QUOTE: “Effective service for the Lord comes from a close walk with the Lord. Without the latter, the former is fruitless.”
In the affection of Christ Jesus,