Hi, sweet friends! Please forgive me for being late with this week’s Bible study. I had to get the revised version of my book back to the publisher by today and everything else got put on the back burner. I’m so sorry. I didn’t forget you. In fact, I kept feeling like I let you down and I really am sorry for the delay. I’m so thankful for each and every one you. I love you more than you can possibly know! (Oh-I also apologize ahead of time for the typos I’m sure you’ll find. I’m putting it out there without proof reading and you girls know how I can mess things up! :-))
Now, with that said, I want you to know that I can’t wait to get started with this week’s study! Today we are going to launch our little selves right into the study of John 15. John 15 is a pivotal chapter in helping us learn how to walk victoriously through this thing called life. It’s found just on the heels of Jesus’ promise to His disciples that He was sending the Holy Spirit after He made His sacrificial departure from this world.
As we get started in our study, I want to let you know that I will provide several scripture references throughout our study. They are rich in context and I hope you’ll take the time to look up each one. Your understanding of this chapter will be enhanced if you search out these wonderful nuggets.
Please begin by reading through John 15:1-8 and familiarizing yourself with the context and terminology.
John 15 unveils our response to His promise that we won’t have to do this life alone. It begins with Jesus’ final “I am” declaration and in allegory fashion draws a parallel between the Old Testament symbolic vineyard – Israel, and the New Testament revelation of the real Vine, Jesus Christ. It also is a sweet reminder that the eternal Vineyard Keeper in none other than our Heavenly Father. (Isaiah 5:1-8, Isaiah 27:2-6)
In John 15:1, the obvious role of the branches is to bear fruit. That’s what they naturally do. Those that don’t are removed; those that do are pruned so that more fruit can be produced from the fruitful branch. The obvious assumption is that if a branch is truly a branch it will be connected to the True Vine and tenderly cared for by our Heavenly Vinedresser. It will bear fruit – at least some fruit. If not, it has either proved itself not to be a branch belonging to the True Vine or a branch that is not fulfilling it’s purpose.
There are various theological approaches to this verse, but it would take the entirety of today’s study to cover it well. They seem to echo the parable of the talents (Matthew 15:10-32) and the Beatitudes salt and light summons (Matthew 5:13-15). In my earlier post, Jesus – The True Vine, you’ll find my take on these difficult passages. You will also find the description of a blossom drop Christian. An unfruitful branch and a blossom drop Christian – may they never be words that describe our lives. May others never have to wonder if we are who we say we are!
Now that we’ve covered verses 1 – 2 and the concept of burned up branches in verse 6, let’s continue our verse by verse study:
1. Compare John 15:3 with John 13:4-17 (focus on vs 10). What do these passages have in common?
When we blow it, we have a tendency to feel as though we are no longer worthy to be used by God. These verses assure us that when we wash our feet by applying the water of John 1:9, God will bring restoration to our fractured fellowship. Sweet friend, Jesus died to pay for our sins as well as our shame. Don’t carry the crippling baggage of the guilt and shame your precious Savior died to release you from. Victory is yours because it’s found in the finished work of Christ on the cross.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
2. What does it mean to abide in Christ?
3. Notice who is responsible to do the abiding. With that in mind, what do you need to do in order to abide in Christ?
4. What can you (a branch) accomplish on your own?
5. What is the result of one who abides in Christ?
6. What do you think “fruit” is?
In the Old Testament, God often referred to His people as a vine whose branches bore fruit. At times they bore corrupt fruit or no fruit at all and He chastened them. Blessings were also associated with fruitfulness. God blessed the fruitful and disciplined the barren. Like in the parable of the talents, where Jesus said:
“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Matthew 25:29
It’s natural for fruit to flourish from a branch that is securely attached to a vine and is carefully tended by a loving vinedresser. The same is true for us. Fruit – the fruit of the Spirit – the fruit of righteousness – the fruit of effectiveness – the fruit of a good testimony. These are the types of fruit that come from the life of one who ABIDES IN CHRIST. No fruit comes forth from the life that is trying to function on its own.
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 5:7-8
7. What is one of the blessings of remaining (abiding) in Christ?
8. If you are basking in Christ’s presence, seeking His face and yielding yourself to His will, how do you think that time with Him will affect your heart, your thoughts and your desires?
“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” 1 John 5:14-15
9. In John 15:8, Jesus says two things happen when we bear “much fruit.” What are they?
Sweet friends, time with Jesus is never wasted. Basking in His presence is like the necessary nutrients for a fertile harvest of fruit to be produced in our lives. It’s much more than putting a check on a daily Bible reading plan. It’s enjoying Jesus. Worshipping Him. Jealously guarding our time with Him and worshipping Him in spirit and in truth. It’s being willing to do what He says because we trust who He is.
Today, if you find yourself in a dry season and abiding in Him is not the utmost priority of your life, I pray you will stop everything you are doing and remind yourself of how great the Father’s love is for you. Love Him well, sweet sister. Love Him well. It’s not hard to bask in the presence of the One you truly love.
I pray we will bear much fruit in 2011! Herein is our Father glorified!
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