God’s Vineyard

“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 bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. “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. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:1-11)

This discourse that Jesus was using to teach His disciple happened on the way from the Upper Room where they shared the Lord’s Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus given them in the Upper Room a secret to a righteous Christian life. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” (John 14:10) This was the secret that had enable Him to conduct His mission those past three years with the disciples. “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.” In the Upper Room Jesus had told them that the Father would send the Holy Spirit to dwell within them and give them the power to accomplish all that they had to do in their commission. The secret is that it is Christ who lives through God and we that live through Christ. It is God that does His work through us if we abide in Him. “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 14:20)

The purpose of God was to restore a personal intimate relationship with His people. In this verse we see the key that has helped many a great Christian to understand the relationship that God wants them to know. “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 bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2)

Jesus was using an allegory from the grape vineyard that they were walking through to the Garden on the Mount of Olives but He was not saying the He was a copy of that vine. Jesus is the true vine from which life comes forth. As all things were created through Him, and Jesus was saying that the vine and branches of the vineyard were the copy, as He was the true vine. Jesus is the true vine from which true life is achieved.

It is important to note that in Jesus’ allegory the vine is all inclusive. It includes the whole plant, the branches, the stem, and the root. The Apostle Paul later expounded on this theme in his letter to the Corinthians, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12) The Church becomes the body of Christ and He is the vine and we are the branches.

Jesus is the vine and we are the branches and the whole purpose is to produce fruit. We have this question then, what is the fruit that we as branches are to produce? The fruit is borne by the branches produced by the vine. What is the fruit that we are to bear? There are those who say that the fruit that we bear is the winning of others to Christ. There are some in the Church that say if one is not winning others to Christ they are fruitless. I don’t think that is a logical conclusion. The fruit is that which is produced by the vine and is an outflow of the life of the vine. It is a wonderful thing to be used by God to lead one to His Son Jesus Christ and many of us have had that privilege. There are many who have never brought one to a saving knowledge of Jesus, but I would not say that their lives are fruitless.

Let us look to the Scriptures to learn what they say the fruit we are to bear is. We find the use of the vine many times in the Scriptures and let us look at a few of them. The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel.” (Isaiah 5:7) And in Psalm we read, “You removed a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it.” (Psalm 80:8) The Nation of Israel was the fruit that God had planted in the Promised Land, which God had prepared for His vineyard. “He dug it all around, removed its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it And also hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones.” (Isaiah 5:2) God had done everything possible for His vineyard to produce fruit. But when God came to look for the good fruit He found bad fruit. “Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.” (Isaiah 5:7)

God had come to His vineyard to find the fruit of moral character, He came looking for justice and righteousness, but He found oppression and cruelty, and He found indifference to the needs of others. The fruit that God was looking for was moral character. The Apostle Paul describes the fruit that God is looking for, it is the fruit of His Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Jesus is teaching that the purpose of the vine is to produce such fruit.

As Christian followers of Jesus we are God’s vineyard and He is the vinedresser. God is responsible to see that the purpose of the vine is fulfilled and Jesus points out that it is a twofold work. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2) First God takes away the branches that do not produce good fruit. But, secondly Jesus is teaching us that in the midst of life we can become more Christ like, we can have more of the moral character that Jesus has, and we can have more fruit.

In the Greek the word prunes translates to cleanse. Now that popped a “?” in my mind until I learned about grape vineyards. Suckers, which are little shoots, grow where the stem meets the branch. If allowed to remain they will take the nutrients out of the vine causing the vine to produce little or no fruit. So the vinedresser (God) prunes away these sucker shoots that the vine may produce more fruit. These sucker shoots also collect leaves and other debris so by removing them it is a cleansing process. We each have sinful living in our lives that pop us and rob the truth of His word. They are as the sucker shoots on the branches. The Father then finds the branch that is beginning to produce fruit and cuts off the shoots so it can produce more fruit.

In our Christian experience we have that within us which produces the fruit of the Spirit. It is not a work that we could do on our own but is a work that is accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit within us. All we do is abide in the vine (Jesus) and He will produce the fruit through us. The Father also takes away the branches that do not bear fruit. We all have that evil nature that we have inherited from the fall in the Garden of Eden. That sin nature that we are prone to fall into. Those deeds of the flesh that so often entrap us. “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21) The Father is at work pruning these things back and removing them from our life. He has an all powerful tool that He uses to accomplish this as Jesus said, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3)

It is the power of God’s Word, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, which brings on our godly sorrow, and brings us to repentance. This is the pruning knife of the Father cutting of the shoots that drain the live out of you from the vine keeping you from a Christ like life and the fruit of the Spirit. The Father does this not only once but it is a work that is done repeatedly. Jesus said, You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3) In the vineyard there is a pruning season every spring and in our life we are going through the pruning season till we reach our home.

It may have sounded that we are to do nothing. Far from that for there is much that we are to do. The key to what we must do is to be faithful to our Lord and Master. Jesus addresses this with a most helpful verse. “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)

We have often heard that relationships are give and take. This is true with our relationship with the Lord. In this verses we seen two things that must happen together for us to have a personal relationship with the Lord. We are to abide in Him. This is something that we must chose to do and to carry out all of the time. This is an active participation on our part and it is not easy as the adversary will certainly try to prevent it. We are to let Him abide in us. Just allow Him to live through us. This is the power, this is God living through us. Both actions must be present for either one to work together.

For us to have the abundant life we must abide in Christ and He must abide in us. Jesus is the faithful and true One so the question for us is are we abiding in Him. If we do not abide in Him, then we do not produce fruit for His Kingdom. We are useless and to be thrown away. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (John 15:6)

I am afraid that there are many who punch their ticket and attend Church each week. But they are not abiding in Christ and therefore He is not abiding in them. I had a Pastor tell me once that he did not judge people but he can’t help but be a fruit inspector. There are many in Churches today that have no spiritual life that can be seen. Finding the fruit of the spirit in them is a task when it should be something seen naturally. They may have been members of the Church for years but there is no evidence of life in them. Eventually these branches will be gathered and burned. “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 31:41-42)

Our Lord now gives us one of the benefits of bearing Good Fruit for the Kingdom. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) Answered prayer is one of the first signs of a fruitful life. It is not the fruit but it is the result of living a Christ like life. If you are having a loving relationship with God you can “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” This is the liberty that the Christian has through Jesus Christ. Prayers are answered from an obedient and dependent heart. We cannot tell God when and how to answer our prayer but He will answer as a result of the relationship that we have with Him.

When the world sees the fruit of the Spirit reflected in us, then they will know that we are a child of God. God will be glorified by the life of Jesus living through us. “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:8) This is not a life style that requires a special appearance like being in Church. This is a way of living that fits into every aspect of our life. It can be lived lying in a hospital bed sick, at home or at play, at work or in the market place, and anywhere or situation that life leads us. When we manifest our Christ like spirit we will be glorifying God. It is not so much are actions that glorifies God but the moral character that we have in performing those actions. If you want to be known as a child of God, then manifest His fruit in your life by abiding in Him.

Our obedience to God’s Word is a reaction to the love we have for Him. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) Our love grows from the love that Jesus has for us. “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5) When we have the love that God has given to us it is easy to want to obey Him. When we obey His word keeping His commandments, we will abide in His love. It is a cycle that produces a deeper experience of His love. “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:9-10)

The joy of the Lord has two sides to its reality. First it is the joy that the Lord has in His heart. The fullness of the gladness that He had in a relationship with His Father. This is the joy that Jesus wants us to have, joy in a relationship with His Father. We can have that as we abide in Him and He in us and a restored relationship with the Father. When we abide in the vine we will manifest the fruit of the Spirit, that moral character of Jesus. Our payers will be answered and the Father will be glorified by our discipleship. We will experience a deeper love and our joy will be made complete. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, June 24, 2016

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