In chapter 13 of the Gospel of John, a window is opened allowing us to view the last Passover our Lord would observe before carrying out what the Passover had always pictured. From the days of Moses in Exodus 12 until the very night we read about in John 13, every time the Passover was observed, it reminded the Jews of their deliverance from slavery by the hand of God…but even greater, it foreshadowed what Christ was about to do. He was about to deliver His people, who had been given to Him before the foundation of the world, from the slavery of their sin. He was about to become the Passover Lamb of God.
In verses 5 through 9, Jesus Christ washes the Disciples feet, modeling for them the way they were to live their lives…in humility and service to each other.
Then Jesus makes a statement…
John 13:10-1110 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
Jesus then sends Judas away to do what Satan had filled his heart to do…betray Him. With Judas gone, Christ began to comfort the remaining 11 Disciples…those who truly believed on Him. That is found in John chapter 14.
Now we come to our text this morning. With what has already transpired we read…
1 I am the true (ä-lā-thē-no's that which has not only the name and resemblance, but the real nature corresponding to the name) vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Christ calls Himself “the true vine,” because, as the vine imparts to its branches sap and productiveness, so Christ infuses into His elect His own divine strength and life. He used this metaphor because his disciples were Jewish and very familiar with vineyards.
Christ also relates to them that God the Father is the husbandman, or farmer…keeper of the vine. I know this from experience, being the keeper of any fruit producing plants, such as a garden (in my case) or vineyard, requires knowledge, consistency and hard work. Our Heavenly Father, has all knowledge. He never changes, therefore He is consistent. He never sleeps or slumbers, therefore He is always at work.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
This verse requires both a systematic approach as well as an historical approach in order to rightly divide or interpret. First of all, Christ says, “Every branch in me…” Some read this and believe that Christ is speaking of two types of saved individuals. I can understand how they would think that. We have to rightly interpret what Christ is saying to understand what He is meaning. “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit is taken away.” Is Christ saying that every true Christian that does not bear fruit will be taken away? Is it possible for a true believer to never produce fruit? Can a true believer lose his salvation?
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Christ will NOT cast out the elect.
John 10:27-3027 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
30 I and my Father are one.
True Christians have been given ETERNAL life (without end)…and no one can pluck them out of the Father’s hand. We know, from Christ’s own words that a true Christian will never be cast away into the fire to be burned as vs. 6 of our text makes clear as to what happens to those branches that do not “abide” in Christ…that do not produce fruit.
Matthew 7:17-2017 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
The principle is established by Jesus Christ that a lost individual does not bear the fruit of a true Christian. It is clear from the words of Christ, taken all together, that every branch that does not bear fruit is taken away. He is referring to lost people.
John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained (established) you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
The elect of Christ, saved by His grace alone, at their appointed time, will follow Him and will bring forth fruit. So then, who are the branches “in Him” that do not bear fruit? Taking a systematic approach, we see that those branches that do not produce fruit are lost folks. Taking an historic approach, from the writings of our Baptist forefathers, John Gill and Charles Spurgeon, we see that historically, these “branches” that produce no fruit have been interpreted as highly religious, but lost church members.
“There are two sorts of branches in Christ the vine; the one sort are such who have only an historical faith in him, believe but for a time, and are removed; they are such who only profess to believe in him, as Simon Magus did; are in him by profession only; they submit to outward ordinances, become church members, and so are reckoned to be in Christ, being in a church state, as the churches of Judea and Thessalonica, and others, are said, in general, to be in Christ; though it is not to be thought that every individual person in these churches were truly and savingly in him. These branches are unfruitful ones; what fruit they seemed to have, withers away, and proves not to be genuine fruit; what fruit they bring forth is to themselves, and not to the glory of God, being none of the fruits of his Spirit and grace: and such branches the husbandman taketh away.”
are both branches, they are both branches in the vine: “Every branch in Me.” How much alike persons
may apparently be, who in God’s sight stand at opposite poles of character! Both the persons described
in the text were in Christ: in Christ in different senses it is obvious, because the first persons were not so
in Christ as to bring forth fruit, consequently, as fruit is that by which we are to judge a man, they were
not in Christ effectually, graciously, influentially, or so as to receive the fruit-creating sap. If they had
brought forth fruit, their fruitfulness would have been a sign that they were in Christ savingly.
Who will venture to say that a man who yields no fruit of righteousness can be really a Christian? Yet they were in Christ in some sense or other; that is to say, the two characters were equally esteemed to be Christians; their names were enrolled in the same church register; in the common judgment of men they were equally Christian; according to their own profession, they were so; in many other respects which we need not now catalog, they were both in Christ as His avowed disciples, as soldiers professedly fighting under His banner, as servants wearing His uniform.
These two persons were probably equally sound in their doctrinal views, they held the same precioustruths of God. If they heard falsehood, they were equally earnest to denounce it. When they listened to
the gospel, they received it with joy, and so received it as to be willing to assist in the spread of it, and
even to make sacrifices for its extension. These persons were equally attentive to ordinances. How often
has it happened that two persons of widely different states before the Lord, have been baptized at the
same hour, in the same water, into the same name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
and have then broken bread together with equal apparent fervency, and with equal professions of enjoyment and devotion! These people have been equally fair in their profession; their moral conduct has, in the judgment of all onlookers, been much the same; they have avoided everything of ill repute, and they have in their measure sought after that which was comely and lovely in the estimation of men. Ah, there will often be found two who publicly pray alike, have an equal gift in prayer—and what is worse, preach with equal earnestness and zeal, and to all appearance their family prayer is maintained with the same consistency, and yet for all this, the end of the one shall be to be cast away as a branch to be burned, while the end of the other shall be to bring forth fruit unto perfection, with everlasting life as the reward.”
Those who are the fruitless branches are the ones spoken of by Christ in…
Matthew 7:21-2321 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Yes, they were church members, just as Judas Iscariot was a member of the first church started by Christ. Yes, they had many wonderful works, as did Judas, yet they did not bear the fruit of the Spirit as seen in…
Galatians 5:22-2322 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Those who have truly been saved…those true “branches in the vine” will bear fruit. They will bear fruit because the “husbandman” God the Father ordained it and will “purge” it or prune it. He will remove every part of the branch that the fruit is not growing on, but is sucking the life from the rest of the branch. Every old, dead, decaying leaf He will remove. Every “sucker” chute that grows but has no value, He will remove. By doing so…He causes the branch to bring forth more fruit.
Those branches that do not produce fruit will be removed, as Judas Iscariot was. Those who are not true Christians will, like the seeds planted in rocky soil, spring up, but will wither away when the heat of the sun is upon them, because they have no root. Or, like the seeds that fell among the thorns, they will spring up, but be choked out by the thorns…the cares of this world. We’ve all seen it. Some, who are like the tares the enemy planted among the wheat will be allowed to grow up with the wheat, but will one day be removed by God’s angels on the Day of Judgment. God will make obvious who they are.
Keeping in mind that Judas had left, and Christ was with the 11 true believing disciples, Christ said…
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
They were clean: They had been regenerated, set apart by God to be holy and to produce His fruit in their lives. Their hearts had been purified and His grace had been formed in their souls. It was the very words of Christ, the Gospel, that were instrumental in accomplishing their salvation. They were truly saved men.
A few short hours before He would shed His blood and suffered the wrath of God for their sins on the Cross of Calvary, Christ told those men…and He tells believers today…
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Abide in Him… that is what we are to do. The word “abide” is translated from Greek word (me'-nō – to live; to continue to be in). Jesus Christ is telling us to continue to live in Him. Draw your life from the “sap” of His own divine strength and life that flows from within Him.
Last week, we were encouraged to make Christ our life… Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
Today we hear the very words of Christ…He tells those who have been saved to Abide; to continue to live in Him. Most of us have grown tomato plants or seen them growing. What happens when a branch, that has tomatoes growing on it, is somehow broken or bent? The leaves began to turn yellow and the fruit begins to wither. Sin causes a break from Christ…not a complete separation, but a tear in the branch. Our fruit begins to wither. The tear or break must be mended so the sap is allowed to flow fully again into the branch. When we sin, we must confess it, repent of it and seek His forgiveness.
As we do that, and as He removes those things from our lives that suck the life from us, we will be able to abide in Him, to continue to live in Him and be very fruitful. Without Him we can do nothing…nothing that is spiritually good; no, not anything at all, be it little or great, easy or difficult. We cannot think a good thought, speak a good word, or do a good action. Neither can we begin one, nor, when it is begun, complete it. Nothing is to be done "without Christ"; without His Spirit, grace, strength, and presence.
If it were possible for the branches that are truly in Him, to be removed from Him, they could bear no fruits of good works, any more than a branch separated from the vine can bring forth grapes. All the fruitfulness of a believer is to be ascribed to Christ, and His grace; not the free will and power of man.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Any person, though professing faith in Christ and a good church member, who does not continue on in Christ…who does not abide in Him, will be cast away into the fire of God’s wrath. On the contrary, the professing true believer will abide in Christ and the words of Christ will abide in him and he will bear fruit…much fruit.
This is the manner in which you will be disciples to Jesus Christ…By the holy, set apart life you continue to live, your growth in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, your continued faithfulness and obedience to Him, all of which will bring the Father much glory…
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Fatherwhich is in heaven.
As Paul encouraged Timothy, I encourage you… “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of...” (2 Timothy 3:14)