Mankind is constantly forging idols in his heart. He finds a way of living as he sees proper. He is thoroughly convinced that his way of thinking trumps any other view. “There is a way that seems right to a man.” (Proverbs 14:12) Without Christ, his end is death. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (I John 5:12.) The way without Christ is a road of depravity. It is ingrained with the spirit of antichrist. This is the protocol of one who does not believe Christ. According to the scriptures there “is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.” (Ecclesiastes 9:3) Being “full of evil” does not necessarily mean that the fullness of the evil is witnessed. It takes on various expressions that are rooted in rebellion and pride. Its branches spread out through the world. Many are trying to change what is by nature unchangeable. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can do that.
There is a protocol for Christians; the way that they are called to live. That protocol can only be followed by abiding in Christ who is designated as the True Vine in John 15:1-8. Jesus is emphasizing to his circle of disciples the relationship about to be experienced between Him and them after His resurrection. They will be in a new position (in me) vv. 1-3. There is an obligation in this position (to abide in me) v 4. The fulfillment or failure in this duty is (to bear fruit or to burn) vv. 5-8. 1.”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away. And every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3. You are already clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what your desire, and it shall be done for you. 8. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” According to verse 3, the word has brought Jesus’ disciples into the kingdom of God. Those who make a profession of faith in Christ are united with Him. There are branches that do not bear fruit even though they are attached to the vine. The phrase in v2 ‘takes away’ can also be translated as ‘lifted up’. These are the branches that are lying on the ground wet and dirty. They will not bear fruit until the vinedresser lifts up the branch, cleans it, and puts it back on the fence where it can get light. It is here that it begins to bear fruit again. Those who do not bear fruit have dirtied their souls with sin and the lusts of the world. If this persists they will be fruitless and thrown into the fire. It is a judgment on the branch. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered: and they gather them and throw them in the fire, and they are burned.” They did not follow the protocol of abiding in Christ. The good branch abiding in the vine will bear fruit. It is his only hope of bearing fruit. He cannot do this on his own. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (v4)
Discipleship in the word of God and abiding in Christ is the protocol for bearing fruit for God. Being spiritually minded is the way in which Christ can continually make His strength dwell in them and act through them. Looking to Christ to perform that which He has created for us to do. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:9) Bearing fruit will not happen without prayer. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
There is a pruning process that we who are in Christ will incur as a result of conforming us to the image of Christ. “Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” This process of fruit-bearing will by necessity be a cutting away of those things that will nullify the branch bearing more fruit. There will be many experiences that we will all face that will be hard. Attitudes, emotions, choices, trials, mountains, valleys, relationships, pain, suffering, self, pride, sin will all go under the pruning knife of the Lord. In our weakness, a constant reliance on prayer at the throne of grace, will be the normal Christian life. We cannot survive without it. The branch receives sap only from the vine. The believer will only bear fruit as he abides in The Vine. That is why the Lord has given us His promises. We draw sap from Him in the form of strength, help, and mercy. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) “As the Father loved Me, I also have 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, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (vs 9-11)