John 15:4 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.
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.
Jesus Christ was teaching His disciples of the significance of being branches on the true vine. We noted yesterday that the eleven disciples were connected to the Vine. They were clean. They needed to understand the importance of bearing fruit.
In verse 4 Jesus reminded the disciples and all New Testament saints of the importance of abiding in Him. The word translated as “abide” means “to remain, to continue”. The opening verses of this chapter remind us that true Christians are true Christians because they are branches connected to the Vine — Jesus Christ. A true Christian is given life by being connected to the Vine. A true Christian is saved by the grace of God and puts his or her faith in the true God and in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The true Christian does not set the terms of salvation, nor the terms of the Christian life.
When a person is saved, they willingly surrender their lives to God’s ownership. They no longer belong to themselves. They have been bought with a price and they are called to glorify God with their body and spirit.
Jesus is warning us here of the futility of thinking we can walk away from Him once we are saved. The saints in Corinth were carnal. They were still saved, but they were not enjoying the blessings of salvation. They were caught up in squabbles and schisms. They were condoning sin in their midst. Paul was directed to address that and they did listen and they did grow. That is the evidence that they were saved people.
Jesus pointed out here that it is not possible to bear fruit as an independent. We talk of being Independent Baptists. The word “independent” there speaks of the fact that we are not a part of some denomination. We do not form a conglomerate body with a headquarters somewhere that dictates how we must function. During the lockdowns, and the wicked restrictions put upon us, we did not receive letters from some body telling us how we needed to respond. We listened to other Independent Baptist preachers and we looked into God’s Word and we prayed about it. Ultimately, we chose our path based on what we believed God tells us to do. We were penalized at one point. We have not heard from the government as to when we will go to court. No other church is responsible to pay our fine if it sticks. Others might choose to help us, but they are not obligated by some human contract.
As Christians we are held to a higher standard. That standard is God’s Word. We know that the apostle Paul taught the importance of local churches helping other local churches that had needs. Our obligation is through the love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts.
Our independence does not mean we can do as we please and still call ourselves a true church. We are under the Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is in charge. He gave us His Word and the Holy Spirit indwells every true believer and guides us in understanding and making the right decisions on all things. It is necessary for us to walk humbly with the Lord in order to hear Him and to be able to make the right decisions.
In verse 5, Jesus again reminds us that He is the vine and we are the branches. Jesus is seeking to drive home the importance of that close fellowship that the saints need and that is only available through being close to Him.
When we look at the last supper, we know that the disciples wanted to know who it was that was going to betray Jesus. We read in that context that John was leaning on Jesus’ breast. John was close to Jesus. He was close physically, but he was also close spiritually. Peter, on the other hand, was not close to Jesus physically, nor was he close to Jesus spiritually. He was still too independent in his thinking. He tried to interfere with Jesus’ purpose in coming to this earth. He did not understand the need for Jesus to go to the cross. None of the disciples understood this at that time, but they would learn that.
The true child of God needs to be leaning on the breast of Jesus Christ. He or she needs to be close to Him at all times. We cannot allow the world to get in between us and the Saviour.
Jesus made it very clear that without Him we can do nothing. If we are trying to run our lives our own way after we are saved, we will be wasting our time. The blessing and the power of God will not be present.
In verse 6 we have a phrase that the casual reader gets wrong. We have mentioned many times the importance of the context. You cannot pull a verse out of its context and use it as a tool to support some hobby horse you may want to ride. There are those who insist on believing that a person who is saved, can lose their salvation. The devil wants us to believe that.
We need to remember the devil has been behind the chaos of the past two+ years. One of the tools he has used very effectively is the tool of fear. The officials are still talking of new variants. Ontario is claiming to be in the 7th wave of the “pandemic”. The health minister has declared that two shots is no longer good enough. Now it is about being “up to date”. They are suggesting a new shot every 9 months. One of the motivators to get people to comply has been the element of fear. There are likely more deaths now from the shots, than there are from the “virus”. There is no question that something is happening, but the narrative we are being fed is a lie.
In religious terms, the devil wants to keep people afraid of losing their salvation. II Timothy 1:7 states:
II Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
Christians do not operate under that level of fear. Christians operate under the fear of the LORD. That is safe. That is life.
In John 15:6 the word “fire” is in reference to judgment. The question is: what kind of fire is this? We know that the lost will be cast into the lake of fire. That is a place of torment.
We know from I Corinthians 3:13 that the Christian’s works will be revealed by fire. The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ describes His eyes as being “as a flame of fire”.
Saved people will be judged. However, saved people cannot lose their salvation. That in no way gives licence to sin. Those who are truly saved have the love of God in them and they want to serve God faithfully. As we have noted, a Christian can be carnal, but he or she cannot be satisfied in that place. God does not allow them to remain there either. He loves His children too much to allow them to be miserable. He wants them to know His joy.
I Corinthians 3:15 talks of the saved person who is saved “though as by fire”. That is not a statement designed to encourage any saved person to live carnally. That is a warning, reminding the saved that it is possible to miss out on great blessings now, but also for all eternity. That is not God’s design for His children.
Jesus reminds us in our text of the importance of abiding in Him. He is not talking about hanging on for dear life for salvation. He is talking about fruit bearing. The wise person listens to what God says and gets saved and then abides in the Vine.