Sunday Morning | October 22, 2023 | John C. Majors | Louisville, KY
In today's sermon, we delve into the concept of the True Vine, a metaphorical image found in several passages from the Bible, including Isaiah 5:1-7, Jeremiah 12:10, and Ezekiel 15:1-8. These passages portray God as a caretaker of His vineyard, nurturing it and expecting it to bear good fruit.
The Bible also speaks of the need for God to take away and prune the branches that do not bear fruit. This pruning process may seem uncomfortable, but it is essential for our spiritual growth. As we reflect on this, we realize that God's agenda in our lives is not primarily for our comfort but for our fruitfulness. He desires to see us flourish and bear fruit that glorifies Him.
Another thought to ponder is the purpose of marriage. What if God designed marriage not primarily for our happiness, but to make us holy? This perspective encourages us to see our relationships, especially in marriage, as opportunities for spiritual growth and sanctification.
To abide in the True Vine, we need to remain clean and follow the instructions provided in the Bible. We must stay in God's Word, asking and praying for His guidance, and keeping His commandments. This is how we can abide in Him and remain connected to the True Vine.
The results of abiding in the True Vine are truly remarkable. We experience a deepened relationship with Christ, bearing fruit in our lives, having a unified purpose with Christ, glorifying the Father, and ultimately finding joy in our journey of faith.
As we meditate on these concepts, let us be encouraged to stay connected to the True Vine, allowing God to prune and shape us, so that we may bear fruit that glorifies Him and brings joy to our lives. Remember that God's agenda for us is not mere comfort but abundant fruitfulness for His glory.
At Valley View Church we are currently studying through the entire gospel of John, verse by verse. You can join us on Sunday mornings at 11 AM for worship. We are located at 8911 3rd Street Road, Louisville KY 40272.
Well, good morning Valley View. It's great to be with you today. As we continue in our study of the book of John, we're going in to John chapter 15 today. And that's a familiar passage for many and I think a significant passage. And as I study the passage, I was reminded of an experience when we moved into our first home. You probably may recall back to when this happened for you, but prior to that, we were renting and there's a different level of care that's needed when you own the home or have borrowed the home from the bank versus when you were renting. And me being extremely handy was looking forward to that. Not at all. By the way, we move into the home, though, and I can be motivated to learn how to do some house projects because of the reality. You start to learn, Hey, this is cheaper if I figure it out myself. And thankfully I had people around me who had a lot of wisdom I could call on and ask for help. And so one day though, my neighbor calls me and asked me for help on his house, which was his first mistake. Right? If you're calling me, you're really desperate. And he was he was trying to change out his garbage disposal. The garbage disposal got bad. Lucky for him, I had just done that and someone had just shown me how. And so I go over and of course, he's making the same mistakes that I was making before someone came over and showed me how. It's actually pretty simple if you know what you're doing. That being the key phrase, it's always if you know what you're doing and you have the tools every time, so stop telling me that, okay? I know I've got it. I got to figure it out. If you know what you're doing and have the tools. And I knew in this instance I felt like an all star. So we come in, we get it fixed, we get it all set up, everything's ready. It looks great. He flips the switch and nothing. And the first thing I say is, Hey, did you happen to check the switch first? Now, one element I didn't share was the whole time we're working on this. His wife was nearby the whole time offering. Let's see. How do I say this? words of advice, words of instruction. Words highlighting areas of deficiencies in our abilities and intellect all along the way. And so at this point, though, she saw this as a key opportunity to really heighten maybe some areas where he was lacking. And I thought, you know, I think this is a good time for me to remove myself from the situation. I said, I'll tell you what, I think you can figure out the switch. Let me know how it goes. And of course, the next day he told me it was the switch. Indeed, there was nothing wrong with the disposal. I replaced the switch. Now the disposal works and I have a new disposal. So thanks for your help. The key thing in that situation was there was nothing wrong with the disposal. The issue is, is that the disposal had been disconnected from the source of life, the source of power, the source of energy had been disconnected from the thing that makes it work. And of course, today, as we look at this passage in John chapter 15, that is the issue. How do we stay connected to the source of life? That is the issue when you get disconnected from the source of true, everlasting joy filled, purposeful life and everything else follows from that. How do we stay connected? That's what we're going to unpack as we look at John Chapter 15. So turn in your Bibles to John. Chapter 15. That's on page 848. In the Church Bible, we have free Bibles for you. If you don't have a Bible out in the connection corner, slip out anytime and grab one. Keep that, read it. We have Bible reading plans out there as well that you can get. We're working through the New Testament together as a church. This year we're going to look at John Chapter 15 verses one through 11 today. We're going to look at it in two big parts, verse one through three first, which deals with our position in Christ. Who are we in Christ? Where do we stand with him? Once we have our bearings on that, we'll look at verse four through 11, which is the product of our position, the overflow of our position because of who we are. In the end, because of the realities of who we are in him, because of the connection to the source. Here's what's true in your life. Here's the overflow of that. Here's what it means to be connected with him. So I want to start with verses one through three that'll set up everything else we look at. Verse one, chapter 15, Jesus says, I am the true vine and my father is the vine dresser. 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. So there's a few words in here we need to unpack to get the fuller context of what Jesus is talking about. Because almost every time that Jesus speaks in the book of John, there's a huge amount of background going on that informs what he's saying. And the first little phrase in here that we need to look at, at a deeper level is this where he says True Vine? I am the true vine and my father is the vine dresser. Now, why would he add the word true? That implies that there's an untrue vine that maybe you've been looking for the vine. That's not the real vine. Well, this points to a broader context that the rest of scripture highlights. There's a background to this image of a vine. You see this in stories in the New Testament, but the Old Testament background goes back to a number of key passages. In fact, we're going to throw these up on the screen. I'm not going to reference them all, but you can jot them down and you can look them up later on your own. We're going to look at two of them in particular. Go ahead and put those up on the screen. But there's an Old Testament background this history of Israel being referred to as a vine or a vineyard over and over again. But there's some key aspects to why they were referred to as a vineyard and what the context of the reference was, what God was saying to them in that context. So two passages in particular we're going to look at today to give us that background. Isaiah Chapter five turn to Isaiah Chapter five and we'll just look at those first two verses. Isaiah is one of the major prophets, which just means, you know, there's a bunch of books from the prophets. The major ones just mean the big ones, the larger the longer books. And then there's a whole collection of minor prophets that doesn’t mean there are less important, they're just shorter books and they're all kind of collected together. But Isaiah is kind of in the middle, near Psalms, in the Old Testament. We're going to look at chapter five, and there's just a couple of two verses to set this up, and there's more beyond that that you can read. But here's what the first two verses say of Chapter five. Let me sing for my beloved, My love song concerning his vineyard, the Lord's Vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it. He cleared it of stones, planted it with choice vines. He built a watchtower. In the midst of it, he hewed out a wine vat in it, and he looked for it to yield grapes. But it yielded wild grapes. So the Lord takes all of this time to create a vineyard, put a vine watchtower wine vat. Prepares everything ready for grapes to come, and it yields wild grapes. Now, that's not really the best translation of that word, because if you think of wild fruit, you still think edible fruit. I mean, behind our house growing up, there was a bunch of blackberry bushes and we couldn't wait to the middle of the summer to go out there and just and eat those. I'd get sick off of eating. My face would be stained black for weeks because of eating all those blackberries. They were wild, but they were still good. This word is also often translated stinky by bad, not good. Nothing that you want to eat. Sour grapes. It's often called the Lord invested all this energy to plant a vineyard and instead of it bearing good fruit, it bore actually bad fruit fruit that was not only just not good, but would make you sick. So that's his first condemnation of the vineyard, but now flip to Psalm 80 because Psalm 80 gives us a little more insight into when God refers to the nation of Israel as a vineyard, What he's pointing out and what he was trying to say to them, we get a little more insight. And so on Chapter 80 here, we're going to look start at verse eight. We'll just read most of the rest of the chapter here. And you know what? As I read this, think about other imagery in the New Testament of stories you remember about vineyards. We haven't read ahead yet in today's passage, but you're going to see some elements even appear in today's passage. Clearly, this was in the back of the mind of Jesus, and the disciples would have heard and can made connections here around this Psalm 80, verse eight, You brought a vine out of Egypt. You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it and took deep root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches it sent out its branches to the seed shoots to the river. That all sounds like a good thing. Israel is meant to spread. Bless the nations. I made you a blessing, he said. Abraham, I blessed you so that you will bless others. It's all sounding good. Why then, have you broken down its walls so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit? The boar from the forest ravages it All that move in the fields, feed on it. Turn again. God of hosts, look down from heaven and see have regard for this vine. The stock that your right hand planted. And for the son whom you made strong for yourself. They have burned it with fire. They have cut it down. May they perish at the rebuke of your face. But let your hand beyond the man of your right hand, the son of man, the very phrase Jesus used uses of himself whom you have made strong for yourself. Then we shall not turn back from you. Give us life and we will call upon your name. What we see here and we saw hinted at in Isaiah. You also see in the Ezekiel passage that was on the screen, the Jeremiah passage. There were two things that were often referenced when Israel was called a vine or a vineyard. One was their lack of bearing good fruit. Each time that they're referred to as a vine or a vineyard, you didn't bear fruit like you were intended to. And then the was the warning of judgment. You didn't bear fruit. And if you don't, judgment is coming. And there was always a connection between those two realities. One thing I appreciate about that, and I think you see this pattern in the history of Israel where they get off course and God sends a prophet and he warns and he says, look, change your ways, repent or judgment is coming. And they ignore him and judgment comes and then there's sorrow and then repentance and then restoration. You see that cycle repeated over and over again, which makes me appreciate the warnings. You know, God doesn't just enter in to people's worlds and just out of the blue bring judgment. I mean, he starts with warning appeals. Come to me, return to me, turn away from your wicked ways, he pleads. It's almost it reminds me a little bit and it's a very different situation, but it reminds me some of of the parents that I've sit down with. We have a prodigal child over and over again. The pleading, the begging, the reaching out, the entering into their world. Please come back, return. You hear this cry of desperation, John, I've done everything I can. I don't know what else to do. And I know some of what I'm doing may be pushing them away. And I know some of what I'm doing might be enabling them. And I just. I don't know what else to do. I've tried everything I can to reach their hearts, which you can appreciate. I mean, none of us would do things perfectly in that situation. But there's a pleading, there's an urgency, there's a hunger to reach them and not just let them tumble out into wherever their choices take them. We have a friend recently who their family had gone through some trauma and one of their children pulled away, just kept pulling away from the rest of the family still in their home. But their room became a place of just utter isolation. And so this parent, single parent, didn't know what else to do, started to remove things from this child's room, things that that child would retreat to. And eventually it got to the point where they had taken their entire room, everything in storage, the entire room, just a mattress left on the floor. And this parent says, I, I don't know what else to do. I don't even know if I'm doing the right thing. I'm trying my hardest to get this child's heart. I just can't let them continue to isolate themselves. I got to fight for their heart. I can appreciate that. None of us do it perfectly, but it's done in love. And thankfully that child responded to that in a positive way. And of course, story's never over. We all have years ahead of us. But Jesus points back to the history of Israel as a vine, reminding them that we are called to bear fruit. We're called to bear fruit, and if not, there's judgment. God warned Israel about that for years. And so when Jesus says, here I am, the true vine, those who should have borne fruit, those who were meant to bless the nations and didn't. Now I'm the one who will perfectly. We've seen this throughout the book of John so far. John. Chapter two. He shows up in the temple, cleanses the moneychangers, drives him out, and he says, I'm the dwelling place of God. It's not this building, it's Jesus the person. John Chapter four with the woman at the Well Do I worship which mountain do I worship at? No, no, it's not about the mountain. Jesus says He is the one you worship. Spirit and truth in John Chapter five and six with Moses, he's comparing himself to Moses. Moses fed them in the wilderness, manna, for 40 years. Wasn’t Moses, by the way, it was God and I am, he says, the bread of Life. And so here I am, the true vine. I am the one where joy and peace and life will be found. So that's the first significant phrase to get our mind around to understand this passage. The true Vine Jesus. He is the fulfillment of everything but the second phrase. And now we start to get into a little more troubling or difficult part of the passage. Look at verse two again every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes. First, let's think about that phrase takes away. I think there have been many have wondered the difficulties of this passage. What do you mean? Every branch, in fact, every branch in me, he takes away. I mean, our church historically has held strongly to the view of eternal security. Once saved, always saved. May have been how you've heard it said, if you're a child of God, you don't become an unchild. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ-neither death, persecution, peril, toil, nothing. So how can that be? Someone is in him and yet taken away. What's really important as we study every passage of Scripture to understand the immediate context, what is happening around it. I try to do that. To try to always point is forward, backward, behind, ahead, to make sure we're looking at the context, not forgetting what we just talked about. And for them, you know, this these 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, those chapters that we're taking many weeks to unpack would have just been over 15, 20 minutes of interaction with Jesus, probably. And so just a few minutes ago in Chapter 13, one of the disciples, one of those who was in him, among him, a part of him was taken away, left the group was sent out. Judas had just been in them, in me, among them. And the context here of those who are in me and one is taken away, I think clearly refers in part to Judas, one who had just left in one who appeared to have real faith but didn't. And if you've been a part of a church, whether this one or pick any one for any amount of time you've seen this, you've experienced this where someone appeared to have true faith, appeared to be following Christ, but then come to find out they weren't. It was a show. It was pretend it didn't mean anything to him. It was made up. And I'm not talking about those struggle for a season right? Anyone who is Christian has struggled for a season that happens. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about those who never had genuine faith. It was a show. It was a game. And we see that for Judas. He leaves. He doesn't stay connected with them. The contrast here is interesting because we see the contrast as we continue through the book of John. We'll see this very clearly. It's really, in a lot of ways a contrast between Judas and Peter. And this verse highlightsthat look back at verse 2:
every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away-- Judas--every branch that does bear fruit he prunes. And the big contrast among the disciples is between Judas and Peter, because Judas denies Christ, not just denies, betrays, and thus shows that he didn't have genuine faith. Peter, though I will never leave you no matter what. Even if everyone else denies you, I will never deny you. He denies it, but he's treated very differently. Jesus prunes him. So one he removes and one he improves, one he takes out from the group. One who is decaying the group one who is a dead branch, not producing fruit, but one that will produce fruit. He prunes. Now pruning is really interesting. Pruning is the act of making one piece of fruit bigger than it should be by removing the smaller fruit. So you can have ten flowers, ten small flowers that no one wants in a vase, or you can have one big flower by cutting away the nine others. Pruning is actually an act of love. It's the step you take to take away the things that are taking life from the thing that should really be producing life. And so we've all experienced this. If you've walked with Christ for any amount of time, I think of parenting. Part of our call as parents is to press in to our children's lives. Part of our call is to take that unformed lump of clay you're given and to shape them, to give inputs, to help direct them, to correct, to be a part. The Lord uses you to help prune and direct them. And if we don't do that hard work, it doesn't somehow get easier later. In fact, it gets a lot harder. The call is to press in to do the hard thing to prune. And he does this in our life as well. I remember taking one of those personality profiles. You ever taken one of those for work or we used to do those at Church Spiritual Gifts assessment as well. There's different formats where those are given. I took one for a place where I was working, and part of it is to kind of help you understand yourself so you know how to better interact with others, to know what gives you energy, what takes energy, areas to grow strengths. And of course, whenever I have read those, I've focused heavily on the strengths. Right. Let me look at areas where I'm strong and I'll just kind of ignore the areas that are weak. We'll look at those pages later if I'm forced to. Well, this particular study had somehow stumbled upon the page that they don't call them weaknesses, they call them areas for growth. And there was this one in particular. It said this personality type tends to be good at dishing it out, but doesn't really take it very well. And it said it more eloquently than that, but that's what it meant. And I thought that that's interesting. This study is clearly wrong because that's not me. And Julie said, Well, yeah, you might consider it. Maybe just think about it. Very gracious. And of course, as I thought about it, you're right. That does describe me many times. Yeah, sure, I could offer some criticism, but not only did I not receive criticism, it was like a concrete border wall blocking out any criticism. It doesn't even get near me. you can dish it out, but can you take it in the same way that you're willing to dish it out? That's pruning. I hope I've grown some in that area. Just knowing that if you're going to walk with Christ, there will be pruning in your life. And this is hard to say, but we should welcome that. We should want that. Of course, none of us are going. Yes, Lord, prune me, please. No, But the part of us that goes, No, I don't want to stay the way I am. I want to keep growing. I want to keep growing closer to him. So we see this contrast between removing and pruning, removing, improving, cutting off the one who doesn't bear fruit or bears evil fruit. We're to remove. But the one who does bear fruit. We're going to prune, improve to bear even more fruit. So that sets the position. In fact, there's a quote that I heard one commentator say that I thought sum this up real well. Go ahead. Throw that up on the screen. God's agenda in our lives is not for our comfort, but for our fruitfulness. Yeah. Amen. Sort of. Right. A maybe we whisper. Amen with that one. Yeah. It's not for our comfort, it's for our fruitfulness. He doesn't seem very concerned about our. Our comfort, but about our fruitfulness. There's a great book along these lines of if you're married, you've got to read this book. I know. I've just sold it well, right? Yeah. Thanks, John. This sounds really appealing. You got to read this book. And if you want to be married, you've got to read this book, Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas here, the byline of the book says it all Grow up. This is the byline. It's on the cover. What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? Now, I hope marriage is happy. I don't think God wants us to be miserable in marriage, but happiness flows from the holiness. It's not the other way around. And most people enter into marriage. I'm sure you've been there. I'm sure you can remember back to that day where you thought, This person will finally make me happy right now. Finally complete me. They'll find me. Fill in all the gaps. But what happens when that wasn't true? Or maybe the opposite happened. Now marriage is first and foremost- Christ centered marriage is first and foremost about our holiness, about pruning, about sharpening. And then the happiness flows out of that. The joy, the relationship, the connection. It flows from that. It's not the other way around. So the pruning, it's a key part of our Walk with Christ. This sets the context verses one through three of everything we're going to see here in the second section versus four through 11. So let's turn our attention to there. I'm going to read through those verses. Let me just say on the front end, I'm going to give it away. These verses are all about one word, and you're going to see it ten times in this passage, depending on your translation, around ten times. And in fact, if you're comfortable, I might just encourage you to circle this word as we go through it. Some people like to write in their Bibles, some don't. I'm not forcing you to. You do what you want, but you might just circled this word to see, to have this visual representation, how many times it shows up over and over and over again. And it's simply the word abide, abide by it, abide abide by it. You're going to see it over and over again in John 15. Let's read verses four through 11, verse four, 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 and I. In 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 burn. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, 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. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love. Just as I have kept my father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. Abide, abide, abide, abide, abide in my words, abide in my love, keep my commandments, abide if you love me. Abide. I am me, me and you, abide, stay connected. This goes back to that picture of the garbage disposal. Stay connected, abide, remain in the source of power. That word abide is one of John's favorite words in the book of John. It shows up 40 something times. In fact, you may remember Andrew walked us through one of the Psalms, Psalm 91, with the theme of Abide That’s a great Psalm to complement this passage. If you want a passage to dwell on this week, put that in your reading schedule for the week. Just meditate on that psalm on the heels of this message on abide. That same theme was there as well. Go back and watch the message. He gave us a great message on this theme of abiding. John uses that word in a variety of ways though. So for instance, sometimes he uses it just to refer to a location. John Chapter 11 with Lazarus, he hears the message of Lazarus. They say, Come, he's sick, we need you here. But then it says he remained two more days where he was, he stayed where he was. Two more day. It could be translated. He he dwelled two more days where he was so referring to a physical location, a place you physically stay. But spiritually, the word when it's used is often referred to this idea of continuation continuing in the faith. You remain in the faith, you stay in the faith, you stay engaged in the faith. You're active in the faith. When I think of this, I've thought of maybe how it is to live in a house, own a home, going back to that analogy. Most of us don't even realize how much energy you are putting into that structure every day. Just by living there, you know, it's like this symbiotic relationship. If there's not someone living in a home, it looks really different than someone who is. And every day you're adjusting something, you're fixing something, you're mowing something, you're cutting something, you're doing something to improve that home. You're keeping something clean every day, even in small ways, in ways, dozens of ways. You don't even realize. And so it's really obvious when as a couple of homes in our neighborhood, it's clearly happened where someone has gotten chronically ill or or passed away. In fact, there's this one home I ride my bike past when I'm exercising. And just there was one day where I noticed all that shutters crooked. That's interesting. I bet they'll tend to that quickly. Don't worry. I'm not that neighbor. I don't go around checking everybody's house, make sure they're up to code for the neighborhood or anything. But for whatever reason, that stood out to me the next week, man, the grass is really tall. The next week. that gutter dropped the next week. A year later, you can barely see the house. I mean, the bushes have grown so tall. It's shocking how quickly, if there's not someone remaining abiding, staying engaged, investing every day that a house just falls apart. Remain, abide, continue, continue in the faith. It's not just a one time decision and I'm good to go. Remain, abide. Stay, continue. There's so much energy in this world and that's why we see it ten times here over and over again. And I think what we see as I looked at all those uses of the word abide and what was emphasized there, I think we see a list of how to abide. Okay, John, great. You say stay connected to the energy source. How do I do that? I think there's three ways we we do abide, how we remain, how we stay connected. But then there are five results. So we do stay connected, but then there are results of staying connected. So three ways we'll go through these quickly. Three ways we do abide, and they're here in the passage and then five results of abiding. Here's the first one. Number one, stay in his word. Look at verse seven. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Abide in my word, stay in his word, Spend time in God's Word. I think one of the fascinating parts of Christian growth is it's so simple. It's just so simple. Someone asked me, How do I grow as a Christian? I'm going to you're going to hear the same thing over and over again. There's no magic formula. I'm going to say, read God's word, pray, confess sin regularly, be in community, give, have a giving heart, serve others. It's very simple and maybe not always easy, but it's super simple. There's no magic formula. Stay in his word. The way your mind is transformed is by being in his word. Your thoughts are transformed by taking his thoughts into your heart. In fact, there's a story of Hudson Taylor. He was a famous missionary in China, really pioneered a lot of the missionary efforts into China. And someone had said to him he heard a report of one of the other missionaries had gotten caught in an affair. And his response to that very first words were, when did he stop having his quiet time? That's an interesting response. And of course, that doesn't mean that if you didn't have a quiet time today, you're going to have an affair tomorrow. No, but the point being, when did he stop abiding in God's word? And that's the beginning of a downward slide. How do we daily connect in his word, daily engage in his word and fight for our heart connection with him? So that's number one. Number two, this is also in verse seven, verse seven. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.So the second:
ask, pray. A key part of remaining in him is prayer. And we spent a lot of time on this last week, so I'm not going to rehash it here. In terms of what does that mean? Do I ask whatever I want? He gives me whatever I want. That's not what that means. What it means is more of as I grow in connection with him, my prayers become more like the prayers that he would want for me. My heart becomes more aligned. I have a better understanding of the very thing that I should be praying for myself. But prayer is a key aspect of growth. As a Christian Lord, let me hear from you, Lord. Hear from me, hear my heart. And it's also listening to him. I remember hearing Tim Keller say when he was asked, How come you didn't seem to get caught up into celebrity Christian culture. Tim Keller, well-known pastor in New York City, author of many books, highly regarded. And he said, I think the one key was just a commitment to personal prayer. It's not rocket science. Simple. Pray. So abide in my word, pray, and then number three, look at verse ten. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love. Just as I have kept my father's commandments. We've seen this over and over again now in this passage. And number three is keep his commandments. We've seen this over and over. There is an intimate connection between love and obedience. Loving him and loving his commands, keeping his commands increase our love for him. And we're not talking about legalism. We don't gain his favor by how many commands we keep accurately, and hopefully those outweigh the bad things we do. It's not that there is a joy and delight in wanting to do the thing that brings him pleasure, that brings him joy. You keep his commands. So those are just three hows of abiding, ways to abide, the means by which we abide in him. But when we are abiding in him, when we are connected to the vine, to the source of life, what are the results of that? I think we see five results in here as well. I think there are more, I'm going to highlight five. The first is a deepened relationship with Christ, Look back at verse two-- and this is a really simple phrase it's easy to skip over, but it's important-- abide in me and I in you. There is a reciprocity here. We don't report to a dictator-- God. There's a relationship, there's a connection, there's a deepened sense of relationship. He says, I'm in you and you're in me. There- There is a source of life that we're drawing upon and like a friendship, there's joy in the give and take. There's joy in the building of the relationship. And we want to strengthen that source of life. We don't want it to get cut off. Any of you ever woken up in the night and you can't find your arm? You know what I'm talking about. You're like, Where is it? I can't feel it. I don't know where it is. Finally, you get around to it and it's like wrapped around your head sideways and it's completely dead. There's just nothing there in those moments. You got to be careful, because if you get up too fast, you might slap your spouse who's lying next to you. Don't, you know, try to play it off. Didn't mean to. Sorry, my arm was dead. Don't do that. They'll know it wasn't dead. But once you get up, once you walk around, once you get it out of that contorted position, life starts to flow to it again. It's usable again. Life is restored. I remember my dad had surgery on his wrist and when he was leaving the hospital, his arm was numb. You know, they had numbed it and they put him in a sling. He's like, What? I need a sling for? I don't need a sling, You know, it's just my wrist. The rest, my arm works like, No, you need it. Why? So you don't close your arm in the door? Why would I do that? Because lots of people before you have to leave the hospital with a numb door while it was doing - our arm. Why won’t this door shut? You know, our arms hanging out the door. They don't even realize it because it's dead. Stay connected to the source that gives you life, that brings you life, that deepens the relationship with him. The second result we see one is deepen relationship. The second is bearing fruit. Look with me in verse five, I'm the vine, you're 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. The result of walking in him is bearing fruit. In fact, the expectation for the Father of Christ is that we will bear fruit. It's not, some Christians bear fruit and some don't. Those who are in Christ bear good fruit, and that's going to look different for all of us. There is the fruit of discipleship. There's the fruit of investing in others. To see them say there is the fruit of growing character, the fruit of the spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Fruit takes on a variety of forms, but there should be increasing fruit in our lives. There should be some sign of Christ at work in our life. If a radical life changing event occurs in your life, there should be some sign of that having occurred. Again, we go through seasons. I get it. There are times where you wonder, Will I ever bear any good fruit? I get that. But over the course your life, we should be growing in fruit. In fact, what do you call an apple tree that doesn't bear apples? Firewood I heard someone say. That's right. It's not an apple tree. It's not. It's not good for anything. But maybe to look at, firewood. What do you call a Christian who doesn't bear fruit? No such thing. We're called to bear fruit. And it's the natural overflow of abiding in him. Number three, we have a unified purpose with Christ. This goes back to the one we already highlighted in verse seven. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, what will happen? You'll ask whatever you wish and he'll give it to you because you will be more unified in purpose. You will grow in your understanding of what will please him and you will only want to pray the things that please him. I appreciated Andrew Just sharing a little bit of transparency- you can have all this world. We pray that in faith because there's plenty of times we think life is found in this world. We all- that's a daily struggle. You can have all this world unity of purpose. We keep growing in unity of purpose with him. And then number four, look at verse eight, by this My father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. Number four is glorifying the father. By this my father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. Part of the Christian journey is that we when we bear fruit, God is the one who gets the glory, not us.Matthew 5:
16, When you bear fruit, people will see it and they will give glory to the Father who is in heaven. They'll see your good works. Give glory to the Father who is in heaven. When we are a part of bearing fruit, it ultimately is to point others to him, not not us. In fact, I would say if you're bearing true fruit, some people even come up to you and go, How did you do that? Because I know that wasn't you. I know you. Where did that come from? There's got to be a greater power and that's when you get a little offended. But then you also go, Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. Let me tell you where this came from. You're right. It wasn't me. Because in my flesh, that's not what I would do. But I'm going to bear fruit that glorifies the father. That's number four. And then number five, look at verse 11. These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. The result of abiding in him- one result, and it's one fruit of the spirit, but there should be an abiding deep present, prominent joy in your life. I read a quote from Abraham Lincoln they had been interviewing a guy for, I don't know, some position, cabinet position or who knows what. And the man left the room and the other person who was interviewing him with him said, Well, what did you think? I don't like? Abraham Lincoln says, I don't like the man because don't like his face. And the guy says, What do you mean, don't like his face? What control does he have over his face? He says every man over 40 has control over his face. Now it might be 40, might be 30, might be 20. His point was his face revealed his heart. There was no joy in that man's life. And you've seen it. You've seen those faces where you just maybe go a little wider around that person because, you know, they hadn't thought of joy in 30 years. But the Christian who abides in Christ, joy should be a mark of our lives, true, abiding, everlasting, real deep joy. These are some of the results of abiding in Christ, some of what happens when we abide in him, when we remain in his word, we stay committed in prayer, when We stay in community. I went to visit Roger Schubert in the hospital the other day. Some of you may know Roger, Roger and Elaine, longtime members here at the church. Roger, this was the day before he was having triple bypass open heart surgery, which, by the way, that seems to be all the rage here lately. Okay. Can we put an end to that? Right. This is the third one over the last few months. And there have been other heart issues in our church. Maybe the Lord is trying to tell us something as a church. I just take note of that side note, PSA over. Point being, back to Roger, I come to see him, to pray with him, and I walk in. And by the way, if you're a deacon, we're going to do communion today. You can go ahead and slip out and prepare for that. We're going to do that in just a minute. And I walk in and the first thing Roger and Elaine say to me, I'm coming there to pray with him. He's about to have open heart surgery. The first thing they ask, Hey, what happened with the hot chili contest? Did you survive? Are you okay? Last week was our fall Chili Cookoff competition. And I agreed to taste the hot chili. And I was like, What? You're about to have open heart surgery, and you're worried about that? Maybe, wonder if he's worried about how that might affect my speech. Right. Worried about what next Sunday would be like. But Roger and Elaine then at that point started to tell me about how person after person had come to visit them and how their family, their extended family had noticed. And they're calling and texting their friends saying, You won't believe how many people from Valley View have shown up here to love on Roger and Elaine. And when I heard that, I just thought, Yeah, that's Valley View. Of course. That's awesome. But then I said to them, You know, you're partly to blame for this. This is partly your fault, because we've had plenty of calls from people, especially when I first started and I was commuting back and forth, we get a call, Hey, how come no one's come to see me at the hospital? Some people slip through the cracks. Some of that we had to own. But some people we just had to say, We're sorry. We don't know who you are. And in fact, no one knows who you are. Roger and Elaine, stay connected. Stay engaged. They abide in the body of Christ. They're there. They were in the rooms of some of the others who had the open heart surgery. They're present. And it's through that connection, through that community that we grow, that we abide, that we stay that we remain in the faith.