IS SOMETHING MISSING IN YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
John 15 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 which 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.
Overall Background: The passage we just read was spoken by Jesus just a few hours before He was betrayed. It was probably somewhere between the Upper Room and the Garden of Gethsemane by the Mount of Olives. We were there just a month ago and I tried to imagine what it might have been like for the disciples. They had just left the upper room where they heard their Master make some of the most bizarre statements ever! As they were celebrating the Passover, He held up the bread and the cup and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you…This cup is the new covenant in My blood…drink it…” That’s cannibalism! No Jewish person in his right mind would ever say that! But, that wasn’t all! He went on and said things like – “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me” (Which your pastor explained last week). Again, John 14:10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” Again, John 14:19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Now, if they walked past the Temple, they probably saw the golden vines above the gate of the Temple. You can imagine Jesus stopping there and pointing to them and saying, “I am the true vine. You are the branches. Abide in Me.” That was heavy! Is it any wonder that the disciples fell asleep when they got to the garden?
Listen very carefully this morning – the passage we just read and the verses I just quoted are the very heart and essence of Christianity.
Application: If you feel that something is missing in your Christian life, then this is the message for you. If you are tired of trying to live the Christian life, then this message is for you. If you are tired of religion with all its traditions and rituals and rules and obligations, then this message is for you. If Christianity has lost its joy and purpose, then this message is for you.
Three things we will see in this passage. Let the Holy Spirit bring you to Christ in a way you’ve never seen Him before.
I. THE TRUE VINE
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Background: The imagery of the vine was often used in the Old Testament to refer to the Nation of Israel. Psalm 80:8 “You have brought a vine out of Egypt” referring to the Hebrews. Jeremiah 2:21 “I had planted you a noble vine.” His disciples were familiar with this imagery. Even Jesus had used this imagery in His parable of the vineyard, where He referred to Himself as the son of the vineyard owner who was rejected by the vinedressers – referring to the chief priests, the Pharisees, and the scribes. But in the wee hours of the night, Jesus gave that imagery a whole new twist. No longer were the people the vine living under the control of the vine dressers, but now Jesus Himself was the true vine, and the vinedressers had been replaced by God the Father Himself.
You can imagine the look on the faces of these disciples. They’d never heard stuff like this before. What’s more? Listen to verse 2 “Every branch in Me.” Meaning: Now, they were no longer the vine but just the branches on the vine. Their job was to simply abide/remain/be connected to the vine and they will have all the necessary nourishment – food, water, and nutrients to survive. Everything they needed will be supplied to them. They are to feed upon Him – the bread and the cup.
By the way, this was not a new concept. This was always God’s plan. Even the Old Testament saints were eagerly waiting for this promise. Listen to Paul in Colossians 1 26 “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Nothing has done more damage to Christianity than the false idea that we need to live a good life for God. He’s up here and you are down here. Just do the best you can for Him. That’s Hinduism and Islam and religion. Jesus came to turn religion up side down! It’s no longer God up here and you’re down here and never the twain shall meet. Now, it is the Living and True God coming to dwell in you and living out through you what you could never live out by yourself. Now God is pleased not because of you but because of the One who lives in you. In fact, you are dead! Listen to Paul again in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Nothing will so revolutionize your life than realizing that Christ is your life. You have to admit that you don’t have it. You will have to make sure that your lines of communication are open with Him. You will have to make sure that you are available to Him.
Application: What is Christianity? What does it mean to be a Christian? Is it just a list of dos and don’ts? Is it just your self-effort? Is it just trying to do the best you can to please God? If you are saved, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes of faith to who you are in Christ. If you are lost, you are not in Christ. You need to be grafted – saved.
II. THE CASTAWAY BRANCH
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.
Background: Just when you think that such a life is too good to be true and that people will abuse it or take advantage of it. This is just a life of passivity. Jesus goes on to clarify. 2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit…” What are these fruits?
- Christ like temperament – Galatians 5 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.
- Winning the lost – Romans 1:13 “…I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also…”
- Sacrificial Giving – Romans 15 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem…28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain.
Did you notice how the fruits benefit other people? Have you ever seen a branch eating its own fruits? They are for others. Victory is when the world says of you what this book has said of you. You don’t have to go around advertising who you are. It is obvious. Jesus said in Matthew 7:20, “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
What happens when there is no fruit? 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; What does that mean? Some people have built big theological schools on just a few verses. I don’t believe that at one o’clock in the morning, trying to walk down in the dark towards the Kidron Valley, Jesus is trying to discuss the fine points of theology! Who He is thinking of is Judas. Just a couple of hours ago Jesus had said to His disciples – “One of you will betray Me.” Immediately, they began to question – “Is it I? Is it I?” Even Judas asked and Jesus answered, “You have said it.” That would’ve been a good time for Judas to fall on his face and repent but he didn’t. Jesus gave him a piece of bread and Satan entered him. “He then went out immediately. And it was night.”
It is possible to be in church all your life and do all the stuff and be active and still be fruitless. Those people just get taken away.
For e.g. During the fall, dry leaves just fall off the trees. Imagine if you had to go and pluck them. How does that happen? The sap (the life of the tree) just pushes them out. People who do not have Jesus in their lives, they are not connected to Him, they are not saved, they are pushed out by the truth of Jesus.
Do you know the only time the leaves keep hanging on even though they are dead? If the entire tree itself is dead.
You can hang on to your emptiness like dead leaves to a dead tree and you’ll remain dead. Christianity is Christ. Taking Christ out of Christianity (as someone said) is like taking notes out of music, numbers out of mathematics, and blue out of the sky. It’s dead and empty.
Application: What kind of a branch are you? Are you a living branch? Are you a fruit-bearing branch? Are you connected to Christ? Is His life flowing through you? If you feel like the castaway branch, today is the day of salvation.
III. THE FRUITFUL BRANCH
2 “…every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Background: If you like gardening, you understand this very well. I remember watching my dad going through the garden with a pair of shears. I didn’t understand why that was necessary. In fact, it looked almost painful. But he knew what he was doing. He was cutting away the dead wood that only bred insects and worms. Not only that, He was even cutting away the live tissue. Why? To keep the life of the plant from dissipating. Sometimes even clusters of grapes are cut so that the rest of the crops will be better.
So also, God prunes us to bring out the best in us – Sometimes it comes in the form of messages like this. Sometimes it comes in the form of trials. Sometimes it comes in the form of discipline. Sometimes it comes in the form of weakness or thorn in the flesh. Praise God that like a parent He knows what is best for us. He cuts off only that which has been draining strength from us. One thing we have to realize is that the pruning shears are in the hands of our Heavenly Father. He is never closer to us than when He is pruning us. It’s a sign that we belong to Him. Don’t believe the Devil’s lie that God is holding out on the best for your life or God is not giving you what you deserve or if you follow God, bad things will happen.
Listen to this promise – verse 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you 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.
1. Is Jesus your vine? Are you saved?
2. If He is your vine, are you connected to Him this moment?
3. Are you bearing fruit?