This Week’s Passage: John 15:1-8 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
This Week’s Memory Verse: John 15:4 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
It is pretty obvious what the KEY WORD is in this passage. The word “remain” is mentioned 8 times in these 8 verses. Of the major translations, the NIV is the only one that uses the word “remain” The KJV, NKJV, ESV, and NAS all use the word “abide”. While I generally favor the NIV (largely because it is a solid translation and it is the one I grew up with), I really like the word “abide” in this passage. To me, it carries a depth and richness in it’s meaning that the word “remain” does not have. So that’s the word I will use as I reflect on this passage.
There are 2 things that I want to comment on in this blog: 1) the promises mentioned here for believers who “abide”, and 2) what “abiding” actually means. Lets look at the latter first.
What Does It Mean To Abide
Remain. Continue. Stay. Dwell. Live. Look up the word “abide” in a dictionary and these are some of the words that you will find. The illustration that Jesus uses about the vine is perfect to give a practical picture of what it means to abide. In order for a branch to stay healthy and to produce fruit it MUST stay connected to the vine. It MUST draw all it’s nourishment from the vine. It MUST continually look to the vine for it’s strength, for it’s vitality, for it’s life. If the branch is broken off – it stops producing fruit, it cannot receive nourishment, and it dies. Abiding in Christ means that you stay connected. It means that you look to Christ for your strength and nourishment. It means that you find in Him everything that you need in order to live. You don’t try to look other places because they will not satisfy your needs when you are in Christ and cannot satisfy the longings of your heart when you are not in Christ.
The Promises for Those Who Abide
There are three of them spelled out in these verses:
1) Verse 4: If we abide in Him, He will abide in us! – The misconception is that we have invited Jesus to come into our life. (“Just pray this prayer and invite Jesus into your life and you will be saved.”). The truth of the gospel is that He has invited us to come and experience life in Him. He is the One who extends the invitation to us. And if we come and find our dwelling place in Him, His promise is that He will NEVER leave us or abandon us or bail on us. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying – “if you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?” If we abide in Him, He WILL abide in us!
2) Verse 5: If we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit! – No ifs, ands, or buts – the promise is that we WILL produce fruit… and a lot of it. And it will happen naturally. It’s not something that you will have to try to make happen. I have never seen a branch on a peach tree straining for all its worth to produce peaches. As long as it is connected to the trunk of the tree in a healthy way it will produce peaches. That’s what it is there for. If it is not producing peaches then that is an indication that something is wrong. So the question I have to ask myself is this: am I producing fruit, and if not, why not? And if so do I need a good pruning to take place in my life so that I will be even more fruitful.
3) Verse 7: If we abide in Him AND His words abide in us God WILL answer prayer! – Have you ever been in a relationship where you were so connected that you often knew what the other person was thinking and what they were going to say? That’s the kind of connection you have with Jesus when you are abiding. And that’s why God will answer when you pray – because you are thinking along the same lines as He is, you are thinking His thoughts. So when you pray, it’s as if He already had in mind what you prayed for and was just waiting for you to verbalize it. Elsewhere in Scripture this is referred to as “praying according to God’s will” (see 1 John 5:14).
Note the phrase “and His words abide in us.” This is why I’m a fan of what we are doing with these passages. As we ponder these powerful passages of Scripture and as we take the time to memorize His Word, more and more His words are abiding in us. And the promise of Jesus is that when we abide in Him and His words abide in us then He WILL answer prayer.
Now that is a promise I really like. I’m just sayin’!
Next Weeks Passage: Philippians 2:4-11
Next Weeks Memory Verse: Philippians 2:4-5