Abide is not a word that comes up in our conversations much these days, if at all. But it’s a word that is critical to understand, because it’s a sign that we are genuine believers in and followers of Christ. You see, we were never meant to acquire salvation and then put it in the bank for that rainy day. And we were never expected to obey God by our own strength alone. Abiding in Christ is the only way we can be and do what Jesus saved us for. Using the nearby example of a grapevine, Jesus explained to the disciples what it meant to abide in Him, what was needed for them to bear fruit and what that fruit would look like. Here today to explain it to us is teacher and author of the book “Broken Yet Blessed”, Kathi McCarty.
Table Talk Notes
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
– John 15:1-5 –
Jesus – the “true” vine
Israel was the “vineyard” of God. The disciples would eventually be barred from the synagogue & temple worship, and ostracized from the glory, tradition & beauty of Judaism.
“Don’t be deceived. Life isn’t in Judaism. It’s not in religion. It’s in ME.”
A misunderstood passage…
- “takes away” in v2 | Gr: Airo – to pull up or take away; to lift up, raise up
“Takes away” isn’t contextual, logical or linguistically accurate for believers.
John 11:41 | So they took away (airo) the stone. And Jesus lifted up (airo) his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me…”
Luke 17:12-13 | And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up (airo) their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”
Enter the vinedresser…
- “Prunes” – Gr. Kathairo i.e. catharsis; to cleanse of unwanted elements
- New branches, or branches that are heavy with unpicked fruit, sag and fall into the mud, get moldy and rotten.
- “Pruning maintains the vine’s form, size, vigor, and next season’s fruiting wood. Pruning should be done when the vines are dormant in late winter or early spring. Do not prune when vines freeze, because they are brittle and can damage easily. Grape vines produce more wood than necessary. Typically 70-90 percent of the new growth is removed on a mature vine. Leave 3-4 buds per foot of cordon length (horizontal trunk on the vine). Balanced pruning means balancing next season’s crop with last season’s growth by judging how many buds to leave during pruning. Balanced pruning involves only wood produced during the previous growing season. Wood two years and older is not counted or pruned annually in this system.” (from ArborDay.org)
- Vinedresser cleanses & braces them
Now that you are clean…
- Pruning removes what’s rotten or dead. Gets more sunlight to fruit-bearing branches.
- Pruning increases size/quality of fruit (by cutting away the excess wood/blossoms and focusing all the vine’s energy into the selected branches & clusters) and encourages new fruit to develop.
- We are “pruned” by the Word.
5 Characteristics of A Fruit-Bearing Branch…
1) Winning lost souls
Romans 1:13 | I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.
John 4:35-38 | Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.
Matthew 9:36-38 | When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Rom 6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
3) Financial giving as a fruit
Rom 15:26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27 Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things. 28 Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain.
4) Helping practically
Col 1:5b Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth…9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…
5) Fruit of our lips is praise
Hebrews 13:15 | Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
Galatians 5:22-23 | But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. – fruit (Gr – karpos , singular)
Bearing fruit is not optional
Gen 1:28 | And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion (rule) over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Subdue: to contain (not let get out of hand)
Dominion: to have supreme influence
The blessing: Oneness (God, man & earth in this order)
Sin turns world upside down
It would now be very difficult for Adam & Eve to operate in the blessing. Eve (women) will bear children, BUT now it will be with greater pain & risk. Adam (men) will have dominion over the earth BUT not without greater toil & heartache.
The curse: Separation (God, man & earth)
Why we each need pruning
- Rotten fruit/sucker vines (bad habits, attitudes, relationships, priorities, distractions from our calling) drain us of our time & energy for what’s important to Jesus & His Kingdom
- It prepares us for a new season of growth or it can be used as a form of discipline.
Abiding in the Vine…
1 John 2:5b-6 | “…By this we know that we are in Him; the one who says he abides in Him should walk as He walked.”
- Abide: a permanency & sufficiency within. “If you abide in My Word” – very survival is dependent upon the abiding…
How’s your connection to Christ? Are you just barely hanging on, falling in the mud, getting “moldy?” Are you bearing minimal fruit, and unwilling to be cleansed and pruned? Are you trying to grow your own fruit?
John 15:16 | “…I chose you, and appointed you that you should go & bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain (secure)…”
Abide in me, and I in you…11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “Abide in Me….that your joy may be made full (complete).”
– John 15:4 –