ABIDING IN CHRIST, #715
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. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (JOH 15:4-5).
To rightly understand "Abide in me, and I in you," we must remember Jesus was addressing His eleven disciples, not Judas Iscariot. He is speaking to those who are in Him, not to a traitor. He is saying that those who are in Christ must abide in Christ. Abiding in the vine implies being there in the first place. Only those who are in Christ can abide in Christ. Before we can bear fruit in the True Vine, we must first have been planted or grafted into that vine.
Scriptures teach us that we must first be cut off from the wild vine before we can bear fruit in the True Vine. ROM 11:24 says, "For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?" Two things take place before we are in the vine. First we are cut off, and then we are grafted in. These are both the work of regeneration. By nature, the fruit we bear is wild grapes, and this is not pleasing to the Lord. We need to be cut off from our servitude of self and sin, and be engrafted into the service of the True Vine. This is an act of grace, an act that is outside of us.
2TI 2:19 shows where the cutting off takes place. "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." Why would we be called upon to depart from iniquity if we are not slaves of iniquity? We must depart from before we can enter into. We cannot serve God and mammon. We cannot serve iniquity and the flesh and serve God. We must examine whether we are abiding in Him. Do we show by our fruits that we have been grafted into that vine? Are we bearing the fruits of righteousness and holiness? Are we bearing the fruit of the Lord Jesus Christ? We cannot bear the fruit of the vine unless we are in Christ and abide there.
One can be religious, be baptized and join a church, and still be outside the True Vine. To become grafted into the True Vine is to become a new creature through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. 2CO 5:17-18 says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation." Old attitudes, old desires, old affections have passed away. This is reconciliation unto the will of God. From Gods side we are reconciled. From Gods side salvation is in place. From Gods side, His wrath is appeased. However, from our side, the carnal mind is enmity against God. It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. That enmity must be broken.
Becoming reconciled with God begins with true gospel repentance. That is a complete change of mind. EPH 4:17 shows the state of mind that constitutes true repentance, the work of regeneration, and the renewal of the mind by the Holy Spirit. "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind." See the connection between our walk of life and the vanity of our mind. No fruit is borne in the True Vine as long as we walk in the vanity of our minds.
Our text speaks of the fruit we bear when we are not only in Christ, but abiding in Him. Who we serve is established by the fruit we bear. ROM 6:21-22 says, "What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." The fruit we bear when we walk in the vanity of our mind ends in death. However, when we are no longer under the bondage of sin, but become servants of God, we bear fruit unto holiness, and the end is everlasting life.
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.
What is this "fruit unto holiness," which is referred to in our text? HEB 13:12-16 says, "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
Are we willing to bear the reproach of Christ and follow Him out of the camp regardless of the circumstances? In other words, we are not in society, we are not part of the crowd. He bore our reproach upon the cross. Are we rendering to him the fruit of gratitude? Do we respond with gratitude for the reproach that He took on our behalf? Do we follow Him and bear His reproach grudgingly? That fruit unto holiness is that Christlike spirit. When we have to go outside of the camp and bear the reproach of the multitude, do we become discouraged? We must follow wherever He leads, even if it means receiving reproach. We do not just stand there and let Him bear the reproach while we gain the praise of men.
God is pleased when we make sacrifices, giving up that which would please the flesh. Are we willing to suffer shame from our own loved ones in order to follow in His footsteps? The Lord gives us trials to bring us to the proving ground.
PHI 1:10-11 teaches us what the Scriptures mean in bearing of fruit by abiding in the True Vine. "That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." Righteousness is right attitudes toward our neighbors, loving our neighbors as ourselves. This fruit of righteousness is by Jesus Christ.
The fruit we receive by abiding in Christ is revealed in Christs intercessory prayer. He receives the fruit of our righteousness, and we receive the fruit of His righteousness. We read of His intercessory prayer in JOH 17:16-18: "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world."
We have been sent into the world to follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, to follow Him in the way of the cross. This virtue of oneness is obtained by the union that those who are in Christ receive from Him as the True Vine. We see this in JOH 17:21-24. "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
As the branches abide in the vine, they become one vine; they become one body. The vine, the branches, the root and vineyard are all one. This oneness is a fruit of abiding in Christ. God is glorified by the oneness of the Body of Christ. By abiding in Him the world may know that the Father has loved us even as He loved Christ. The Lord has the same love for you and me that He has for His Son!
Can you imagine the blasphemy that it brings on His name when those who profess to be in Christ use their religion to take advantage of someone? Many people have told me, I would far rather deal with a person who makes no profession of religion than to deal with someone who professes to be a Christian. I could name as many as I have fingers on my hand who put a picture of a fish in their advertisements to let you know that you are dealing with a Christian, and they were the crookedest snakes I have ever dealt with. They bring reproach on the name of Christ. When you and I are one in Christ, and when our fruits are the fruits of Christ, that is where the Father is glorified.
True salvation is to receive the gift of repentance, that is, to become a new creature in Christ. We can have as much religion as the Pharisees had and still be outside the True Vine. He is not talking about being religious. He is talking about bearing the fruit of the vine and having the Spirit of Christ. Look what the Saviour said about the Pharisees in MAT 5:20. "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." The Pharisees had a legalistic righteousness, a righteousness of dos and donts, but their hearts were filled with all kinds of vice and corruption.
The Lord wants our heart, our spirit, our state of mind, to be the Spirit of Christ. Those who are in Christ have a heart religion. A Pharisee can labor under a legal repentance and still not have been grafted into the True Vine. MAT 23:25-26 says, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also." The Lord is showing that the outside can be never so clean that your outside actions can be right where you think they ought to be if you still have a heart filled with wretchedness. However, if the heart is planted in Christ, the right actions automatically follow.
Many false vines only bring forth wild grapes or doctrines of men that teach a salvation without the fruit of repentance. ISA 5:1-2 says, "Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes."
The wild grapes prove there was no true fruit of repentance. The Lord had done everything to make it possible to bear good fruit. ISA 5:7 says, "For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry." How many professing Christians do not have a heart religion?
Gods Word teaches so clearly what fruit we bring forth if we abide in Christ the True Vine. 2PE 1:2-4 says, "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
Look at the difference between the fruit of the True Vine and the fruit of the wild vine.
Our text says in JOH 15:4-5, "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. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." Outside of abiding in Him we cannot bear the fruit of righteousness. Outside of Christ we will only have wild grapes at best.
This fruit referred to in our text must be put into action in the labor of love. HEB 12:12-15 says, "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled."
How do we fail of His grace? Grace is the divine influence of the Holy Spirit revealed in our lives. We fail of it when it is not revealed in our lives, if we are outside of the vine. We fail of His grace when we allow bitterness in our hearts. One person with bitterness in his heart can defile a multitude because he sows discord among the brethren.
The grace of God in the soul is an active yielding to Gods will. Look at PHI 2:12-15, "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."
We must strive to obey the law of love. We must examine our hearts, and if bitterness wants to dwell in our hearts, we must pray that the Lord will deliver us from it. As we obey, it is the Lord who works in us. We shine as lights in the world when we have been done wrong, and the world can see that we reflect love in exchange, that we do not harbor bitterness.
If our hearts are producing the fruit of the Spirit of Christ, it shall be revealed in our attitude toward His Holy Law and in our attitude toward our neighbor. TIT 2:13-15 says, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee." People need to rightly understand the gospel. Some think that He just came to purchase a trip to heaven for us.
The title of Husbandman with which the Lord Jesus referred to the Father implies a natural expectation of good fruit for all the labor He bestowed upon His vineyard. If you have ever had anything to do with farming or gardening, do you not look forward to the fruit of your labor as the reward of your work?
When the Father sent the Son, He trod that winepress alone, and He purchased the redemption of His people. The gospel is being preached to the ends of the world, and it is being perverted into the gospel of Satan with the doctrineall you need to do is believe or accept and you will go to heaven. Repentance is not even mentioned.
ISA 5:3 says, "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?" Why did it not bring forth fruits unto holiness and righteousness when the Lord came to redeem them from iniquity? What more could He have done? The gospel was preached showing us the way we could return to His service. Why do we then still bring forth wild grapes?
Our Saviour gave up His throne on high to express His unspeakable love for fallen man, that they might be redeemed from all iniquity. How then can they go on with covetousness, bitterness, and hatred in their hearts for their fellow man. Look at ISA 5:7. "For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry." The Lord can be so longsuffering, that after He has made salvation available, man will harden his heart against Him. How intolerable that Day of Judgment will be for those who have neglected so great a salvation.
In EPH 4:31-32 we find the fruit the Husbandman wants from those who abide in Christ. "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 Christs sake hath forgiven you."
Abiding in Christ is to become His imitator. EPH 5:1-2 says, "Be ye therefore followers [imitators] of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour." That blessed love of Christ was such a sweet-smelling savor in the nostrils of the Lord.
JOH 15:2-3 describes our cleansing and standing before God. "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."
The evidence of this cleansing is found in 1PE 1:22-23. "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."
This cleansing as to our standing before God is found in the atonement of Christ. A daily cleansing, though, is needed to remove defilement. This was demonstrated by our Saviour in JOH 13:10. "Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all." You are washed. Your standing before God is secure. You dont need to be washed from head to foot as Peter suggested. The Lord Jesus has cleansed us in His atonement, but we need to wash our feet. We must clean up our act. We must clean up our attitude. We must walk in the footsteps of Christ and abide in Him.
Notice our Saviour speaks of two types of cleansing. He says "ye are clean," that is, in our standing before Gods bar of justice, yet there is need to wash our feetour attitude and walk of life. That union and communion with Christ is found in walking in the Spirit of Christ.
We are never exhorted to be in Christ; that is a gift of God. We are there by the new creation as we see in EPH 2:10. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." That is how we come to be in Christ. We are His workmanship. We are exhorted to abide there, that our heart, our attitude and our actions correspond with this. Our evidences that we are in Christ become dim if we walk with hearts of bitterness. Our evidences that we are in the new creation become dim when we have hearts filled with lust and other forms of unrighteousness. That is when we start to produce the fruit of wild grapes.
The exhortation is to abide in Him, that is, by our actions and attitudes. We see that in JOH 15:4-5. "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. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." Outside of Christ our old nature will not bear true fruit. We will bear wild grapes. You cannot bear the fruit of the Spirit of Christ without abiding in Christ. If we walk in the spirit of the world and bear the fruit of wild grapes, we can do nothing pleasing in the eyes of God. Everything we do is an abomination to the Lord if it is outside of Christ. Amen.
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