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CHRIST THE TRUE VINE, #714

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. (JOH 15:1-3).

Throughout the Scriptures, the Lord gives simple, logical illustrations to portray His divine teachings. For instance, if the Lord is speaking to shepherds, He will use sheep to illustrate His spiritual lessons. If he is speaking to a merchant, He speaks of merchandize. If He is speaking to farmers, He will use wheat, tares and chaff to illustrate His point. In the illustration in our text, He uses a vine, something so simple we can all relate.

Yet their very simplicity becomes a stumbling block to the wise and prudent. The scribes and the Pharisees had no understanding of what Christ was teaching because they were so far elevated in their own minds. They thought they fully understood the coming Messiah, but they had no conception of what He was talking about.

1CO 1:18-19 says, "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." To those who were looking for an earthly kingdom, the preaching of the cross was foolishness. Many who have graduated from schools of theology stumble at the Word, because in their own esteem they are so wise and so prudent they cannot comprehend the simplicity of the gospel.

Our Saviour used the illustration of a vineyard to reprove the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the church leaders, the teachers of the law, the teachers of religion of the day. MAT 21:33-34 says, "Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it." Everything needed for the production and harvesting of the fruit was made ready. When the time of the fruit drew near, He sent His servants that they might receive of the fruit. The purpose of the vineyard is to gather fruit, and if there is no fruit, the entire purpose for planting the vineyard is lost.

So when the Lord Jesus likens His church and Himself to a vineyard, where is it that the Father receives glory? What is the purpose of the vineyard or the church? Why has the Lord planted His church in the earth? Notice JOH 15:8, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." The fruit we bear as Christians is how the Father is glorified, and His purpose for planting the vineyard was for His glory.

In MAT 21:38 Jesus illustrates Satan’s gospel of salvation without repentance. "But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance." We need to learn a lesson from this. Do you and I seize upon the death of the Son for the inheritance, rather than rendering to Him the fruit of the vineyard? So much religion today is only concerned about the inheritance. They want to go to heaven, and they seize upon the death of the Son so they can go to heaven.

Suppose your grown children visit you, and you can tell by their attitude that it is not because they love you, but they want to get your inheritance. The Lord is rebuking those who have a selfish religion and are only concerned about escaping hell and going to heaven. Where is the fruit of repentance? Where is the fruit of serving God for His honor and glory?

If my children come to visit me, I have great pleasure when I can sense that it is me they came to visit, that they are not coming to visit me just to make sure they can get my inheritance. This is what the Lord is speaking about with His vineyard. He is saying that those miserable husbandmen who are only seizing upon the death of the Son that they may have the inheritance, that they should be destroyed.

We do certain things for a certain purpose and sometimes side effects are a bonus. If our serving God is for the sole purpose of reconciliation to God, a side effect is everlasting life. However, if our whole goal is everlasting life and we have no thought of being reconciled with God, then it is as seizing on the death of the Son for the inheritance. We do not have everlasting life and serve the world.

The vine and its branches illustrate a oneness— a common source of life shared by all those in Christ. All of the branches come into one root. The fruit they bear is all the same. He is teaching us about the oneness in Christ and His church. They have one Spirit and one purpose to be planted, and what was that? For the glory of God. We have absolutely no spiritual life within us outside of that which we derive from the Lord Jesus Christ.

We see this in JOH 15:4. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." The fruit the Father is glorified with is the fruit that comes from the true vine, the fruit that comes from Christ. You and I as branches in that vine will bear the same fruit as the root, will we not? And what fruit was that? It is the fruit of love. That same Spirit of Christ should be revealed in our every attitude and action.

The fruit spoken of throughout this chapter restores the purpose of the creation. God created man for His glory. God was to be glorified by man by his serving Him according to His will. JOH 15:8 shows the purpose of creation. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." That fruit is the Spirit of Christ, that spirit of love and unity, that oneness that is illustrated by the vine.

The ultimate glory of the Father was found in the fruit of the True Vine, which was Christ’s obedience unto death. We see that in PHI 2:8-11. "He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." He was exalted because the Father was glorified by His humble obedience. This is the fruit of the True Vine. The blood of Christ appeases His wrath, but He was glorified by Christ’s unconditional obedience to Him.

JOH 12:23-24 says, "And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Christ was glorified by bearing fruit. When He died, He bore fruit when those kernels grew from that one root. Those kernels were His people who were brought into the life of Christ. The only fruit we bear that is acceptable to the Father is that which finds its source in the True Vine.

Our Saviour’s use of the vine in His illustration teaches two important lessons. First is the relationship between Himself and His bride. The church of Christ has a relationship with Christ that is described as a marriage union. JOH 15:5a says, "I am the vine, ye are the branches." Second, it also points to the Father being glorified by the True Vine and its branches bringing forth fruit unto God. That is shown in the second half of the same verse. "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." It is in this fruit brought forth from the Vine that the Father is glorified.

The vine is used in Scripture to symbolize the church as we see from PSA 80:8-9. "Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land." When He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and planted them in Canaan, He illustrates that by saying He brought a vine out of Egypt. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ says, "I am the true vine," the antitype of the church that fulfills all the expectations of the heavenly Husbandman.

It is by the imputed righteousness of Christ that we can serve the Lord acceptably, because it is in the atonement of Christ that we are made acceptable. Our best righteousness outside of Christ is but filthy rags, but as the Lord looks on us in the way of gospel obedience, from our hearts desiring to do His perfect will, He is able to be well-pleased. This fruit that comes from the True Vine and its branches is what cheers the heart of God. Notice this in JDG 9:13. "And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?" The wine is a symbol of what causes God’s greatest pleasure.

Our text says, "my Father is the husbandman," the One who plants the Vineyard, the One who cultivates the Vineyard, the One who takes care of it. This points to His love for Christ and the church. As Christ condescended to be made in the form of a vine, to take on our human nature that He might be our substitute, He assumed the position of being dependent on the Father on our behalf, that He might in our human nature, render to the Father the fruit that the Father created us for, and we are no longer able to bear because we are fallen in sin.

ISA 53:2a says, "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground." This is a prophecy of the coming of Christ. A tender plant needs the care of the husbandman to sustain it.

See how the Father cared for this Tender Plant before He was born. MAT 1:18-20 says, "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." The Lord spared her from being put away. He spared her from reproach.

The Husbandman also cared for His Tender Plant soon after He was born. In MAT 2:13 we read, "And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him."

The Husbandman has this same tender care for the branches of this Tender Vine. You and I, the church of Christ, are the branches in this vine.

Notice JOH 15:2. "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." Now He is talking about the care He has for the branches, for the church, for the members of Christ. What do we understand by the phrase, "He taketh away?" How is this giving His tender care? Does that mean that those who are in Christ can fall away? No. That is not what it means. Even as the Husbandman preserved the True Vine from the hand of Herod, so He also preserves those who are in the True Vine from the power of Satan and sin. He will never allow Satan to destroy any branch that is truly in the Vine.

The phrase, "He taketh away" found in verse 2 comes from the Greek word airo (ah'ee-ro), which means "to lift; by implication to take up or away—to raise—to expiate sin." He is saying that every branch in me that does not bear fruit, that runs along the ground, that gets caught up in the things of this world, He lifts up and expiates or takes away from sin. That is how He cares for His tender plant.

This same Greek word airo is frequently used in Scripture to mean "lifted up," as in LUK 17:13. "And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us."

ACT 4:24 says, "And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is."

The Father looks after every branch that is in Christ, and He will not let Satan come in and destroy it any more than He would allow Herod to destroy the True Vine.

This same word airo in JOH 11:41 means both "lifted up" and "took away." "Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me." Took away and lifted up come from the word airo.

On the other hand, EZE 33:13 makes reference to those who are righteous being taken away if they turn from righteousness and begin to walk in sin. "When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it."

We know there is no falling away of the saints who are once in Christ, so, how do we bring these two truths into harmony? On the one hand, the Lord says it is impossible to fall away, and on the other hand He says He will take away those who do not bear fruit.

This is explained by looking at DEU 29:29, which says, "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." In His secret will the Lord knows who are His and who He will uphold. For example, in His revealed will He told Jonah to go and preach to Nineveh that in forty days it would be overthrown, but in His secret will He knew that Nineveh would hear and repent and He would spare them.

Jonah argued about this in JON 4. He said in other words, "That is why I fled to Tarsus. I knew that you are a God of mercy and love and that You would repent of this evil." Jonah was trying to walk by the secret will of God and disobeyed His revealed will. The revealed will of God is the instrument He used to bring them to repentance because He had thoughts of peace toward them.

The revealed will of God is, if you don’t bear fruit I will remove you, but the secret will of God is shown in JOH 17:11-12. "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled."

None of those in Christ will be lost. However, how do you know that you are in Christ? You will know by the fruit you bear. He is cautioning us that if we are not bearing fruit, we must question whether we are in Christ. Those in Christ who are unfruitful, He lifts up. He takes them away from the things of this life and brings them above the things of the world. How does He do this? It is by causing them to question and examine themselves as to whether or not they are in Christ. The revealed will of God works in harmony with His secret will. The Lord uses such admonitions as the instruments to lift us up from the earth and to bring us back to bearing fruit.

Our text may be read to say, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he [lifteth up]." Everyone in Christ who gets caught up in the things of this life, the Lord will lift him up above the things of this earth. If that person is in Christ, he has borne fruit, even though we be may have become fruitless as we are warned of in TIT 3:14. "And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful." The Apostle Paul cautioned those in Christ not to become unfruitful. When you and I become unfruitful sometimes the Lord allows Satan to harass us and bring us to question, "Are we in Christ?" If we are, the Lord will lift us up, but that is what He uses to lift us up.

The Husbandman’s cultivating will never weed out a shoot from the Tender Plant that He has planted with His own right hand, but He will cleanse it by the washing of the water by the Word.

JOH 15:2 says, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." A husbandman who takes good care of his vineyard will purge everything that is unfruitful. This word purgeth comes from the Greek word kathairo, which means "to cleanse, i.e., to expiate; --to purge." It does not mean pruning and cutting away and casting off. It means to clean it up.

The importance of keeping Scripture in context is shown as the meaning comes through clearly in the next verse. JOH 15:3 says, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." He will cleanse with the holy Word of God. How do we walk in the perfect will of God except by the light of the Holy Scriptures? The Word of God teaches us who Christ is. It teaches us the perfect example that He has set for our lives. It teaches us that Spirit of Christ, that spirit of self-sacrificial love. By the light of the Word we are cleansed from our wrong attitudes toward our neighbor. He cleanses our actions, our walk of life.

This would teach us that the Husbandman cleanses the life and actions of His Son’s Bride to make them ready for the marriage supper of that great day. REV 19:7-8 says, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." This righteousness is the right attitude and actions as we receive them from Christ. This is how we make ourselves ready.

In COL 1:10-12 we read, "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet [fit in character] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."

Do you think the Lord will have people in heaven who are rebellious and refuse to walk in His will? We cannot change after this life. If we die with a rebellious attitude, we cannot change it when we come to the judgment seat. That attitude will get cleansed in this life or not at all. We must come to the Spirit of Christ in this life. He wants us to be made ready to be the Bride of Christ.

When a young couple is going together, they become engaged. During this engagement period they learn to establish a relationship. They come to harmony in all things so that when they come into a marriage union they have perfect harmony. In this life we are betrothed unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and during this lifetime we are establishing a relationship with Christ. We come into harmony with His will.

This cleansing is twofold. The blood of Christ cleanses us as our text says, "Now ye are clean through the word." We must be cleansed by the blood of Christ to stand righteous before the bar of God’s judgment. We see this in 1PE 1:23. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

In the other sense we are ever exposed to defilement and in constant need of cleansing also by the Word. Have you ever talked to someone and think back, I didn’t show much friendship? Has it ever entered your mind after you have snapped at someone that that was not very loving? During this time of betrothal we find that we need this daily cleansing, but that has nothing to do with standing righteous before God. That is the preparation for the great wedding day.

As we read in PSA 119:9, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word." When we have a wrong attitude, and we see that we have violated the Word of God and feel defiled by it, He cleanses us. We need a daily cleansing as we are building that relationship with Christ for that great wedding day. Why does it refer to a young man? A young man is filled with vigor, he has his whole life before him, and he has no thought of death. He can change his way by taking heed to the Word of God.

2CO 7:1 says, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." How does the Father do His cleansing? He takes the holy Word of God and instills it in our hearts, which makes us willing to make the corrections that are needed to walk in His will. The Lord has no pleasure in having us serve Him out of compulsion or a fear of hell. He wants us to serve Him because we delight in doing His will.

Whatever means the Lord uses for this cleansing process, such as afflictions or chastening, it is only a means to bring the soul into submission and obedience to the Word. PSA 119:67, 71 says, "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word…. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes." The Lord sends afflictions to get our attention.

These afflictions are in God’s purging process to cause us to bring forth more fruit. Look at EPH 4:23-24. "And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Where does salvation begin? It begins by repentance, a change of mind. Instead of serving self, we want to serve God. That is a command. Change your attitude. Get your act together.

The Word that Jesus said He will use for this cleansing goes on to name just a few of the wrong attitudes from which we must be purged in EPH 4:25-26. "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Get your differences settled and put out of the way. Don’t hold a grudge. He takes the Word of God and tells us, That is a wrong attitude. Don’t live with that attitude. Don’t be bitter against that person.

Continuing in verses 27 to 29, we read, "Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." Do we use slang words and tell dirty jokes? Do we say things that are unbecoming to Christianity? He tells us that everything we say should build up our fellowman.

Verses 30 to 32 say, "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you." If we have a problem with someone, do we start telling others about it? These things are so natural to our human nature, but the Father is going to purge us. He is not going to allow us to continue to live in these sins if we are in Christ. We need to imitate Christ. God forgave us a big debt, we need to forgive the little debts of others.

Our text says in Verse 3, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." The entire Word of God is a mirror to show us the law of God, showing us what God requires of us. See what the Word tells us of the procedure God uses for this cleansing. 1PE 1:5-7 says, "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."

The Lord doesn’t leave us to cleanse ourselves by the Word. In the areas where we aren’t being cleansed, He sends trials to bring us to the realization that we someday are going to appear before Him and account for every idle thought. That quickens us and gives us a ready mind to serve Him.

The Word tells us so clearly that we should count it all joy when we come under our Heavenly Husbandman’s faithful cleansing process. Look at JAM 1:2-4. "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

Let us take the words of Christian liberty once more, to express the joy there is found in our heavenly Husbandman’s work of cleansing as He prepares us for glory. ROM 5:1-5 says, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

Our text says in JOH 15:1-3, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." Amen.


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