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JOHN 15 - THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES
(Verse by Verse)

These are notes taken from a teaching by E.G. von Trutzschler (“pastor Von”) at a New Tribes Mission annual conference in Bolivia (and I’ve added some notes - Art Barkley)

:1. I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Vineyard Keeper.
The implication here is that there are "untrue" vines. Those who entrust their lives to Christ are of the "true" Vine. God the Father is the Gardener, Jesus is the Vine, we are the branches. The Vinedresser (or Gardener) speaks of God's sovereignty, ownership, care and protection. God has a hedge around us.

Job 1:10 Haven’t You placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? …

:2. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes (or lifts up), and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.

“in Me” speaks of salvation (he is referring to those who are Christians). We're not “in Christ” because of bearing fruit. We don’t earn salvation by our fruit; we produce fruit because we are abiding in Christ. Who of us would be saved by our own righteousness or faithfulness?

Ec. 7:20 There is certainly no righteous man on the earth who does good and never sins.

A Christian may or may not bear eternal fruit (as determined by God). “Cuts off / breaks off” refers to divine discipline. God reacts, perhaps removing me to another place (perhaps to heaven).

1 Cor. 5:5 turn that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord. (See also 2 Cor. 2:5-8)
1 Cor. 11:30 This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep. (died)
1 Cor. 3:15 If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he wll be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.

“bears / produces fruit” Fruit is the character of Christ being produced in us by the work of God. What does a natural fruit do? It satisfies, brings pleasure.

Gal. 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Pruning speaks of removing parts that, from God’s perspective, are a hindrance to what He wants to accomplish in and through my life. Their harmful character may or may not be obvious to me; for example, parasitic plants. Who but God can decide what has value? All pruning hurts for awhile. The bottom line is: Can I trust Him? Trials reveal Christian character.

Heb. 12:4-11 … they (parents) disciplined us, … but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Rom. 5:3-4 … but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.

:3. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

You are clean because of what He has accomplished; “clean” is an appropriate reminder of salvation. The disciples were clean; Judas was unclean. Clean relates to "union", whereas washing relates to "communion". Our feet get dirty as we walk daily in this world.

John 13:10-11 One who has bathed,” Jesus told him, “doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him. This is why He said, “You are not all clean.”

:4. Remain (abide) in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains (abides) on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain (abides) in Me.

“Abide” does not speak of salvation, but "fellowship"; it is not union, but "communion". Union depends on God, communion depends on me. (for example, as in a marriage relationship) Abide/remain (used 64 times by apostle John) means "to dwell, continue, tarry, endure", "to continue in communion/fellowship without unresolved conflicts".

Scofield on “abiding”“Having no sin unjudged and unconfessed, no interest into which He is not brought, no life He cannot share. The abiding one takes his burdens to Him, draws wisdom, life, and strength from Him. It is not unceasing consciousness of these things, and of Him, but that nothing is allowed in the life which separates from Him.” (pp. 1136-37).

Can continual communion be maintained? Is God unreasonable? On page 164 of “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret” we read, “We should never be conscious of not abiding in Christ.” (If I have a thorn in my foot, or a particle in my eye, do I ignore it, or pretend it doesn’t exist?) Only unacknowledged sin can break fellowship. Confession immediately restores fellowship. Jesus calls us to a "rest" (see Matt. 11:28-30). Not a "striving" to rest, but rather a vigilance, sensitivity to anything that would disturb that relationship. If I am "honestly" doing what I believe to be pleasing to Him, I can trust Him to show me otherwise.

Illustration: An object held in an open hand does not strive, yet is not overcome by gravity. If the object represents you as a soul, then gravity would be like the sinful nature in our body, and the hand would be like the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 30:20-21 The Lord will give you meager bread and water during oppression, but your Teacher will not hide Himself any longer. Your eyes will see your Teacher, and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.”

Walking in the light speaks of communion. Am I aware of darkness? Darkness speaks of sin. This is dangerous! Our eyes adjust if we are not careful.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

God uses His Word to train us.

Heb. 5:13-14 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.

We're all at different levels in our Christian growth - child, adolescent, adult. He alone knows where I am, and deals with me accordingly. He doesn't expect me to act beyond my age.

Communion is conditional. His promise is conditional on my choices, like so many other promises He makes. The choice to abide/remain indicates that my natural tendency is one of "not abiding/remaining".

:5. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.

The natural, absolute result of being connected is that I will bear fruit! Fruit comes from "just being healthy". There is no reason to compare ourselves to others.

2 Cor. 10:12 … But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding.

We have different gifts, just as there are different types of natural fruit. People are looking for fruit that satisfies, they want "good" fruit. "Activity" is not necessarily "good fruit". “Nothing” has no eternal value, and no eternal reward. We can do plenty in the flesh.

1 Cor. 13:1-3 If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
John 6:63 The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all.

:6. If anyone does not remain (abide) in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

Jesus wasn't attempting to "keep" Himself in union with the Father (see v. 10). This verse speaks of my testimony before the world, not salvation (see v. 2). God sees my faith (invisible to men), but men see my works (visible to men) – see v. 8.

John 13:35 (Jesus said) By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
James 2:14-26 … For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead

God was held in contempt by the world due to king David’s sin (see 2 Sam. 12:14). A healthy branch is fixed, but flexible (manageable, pliable, teachable, moldable). A dead branch is brittle, hard, self-willed, unbendable, unmoldable, unteachable.

:7. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.

We'll be in line with Him. We'll learn to think like Him. God is not a "name it and claim it" wishing well. He wants to change my desires, the things I would wish for.

Amos 3:3 Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? (NIV)
Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.

:8. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

Frustration and failure are unpleasant, but are used by God to draw us closer to Himself. We are lights in the darkness. There is no competition like in the secular world; God gets the glory. There are no politics in an organism. There is no room for selfish ambitions in our work.

Matt. 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. … let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
John 7:18 The one who speaks for himself seeks his own glory. But He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Gal. 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

:9. As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain (abide) in My love.

“as” is important. He loves us in the same way the Father loves Him. We see the Father's love and care for His Son. Jesus entrusted Himself completely into that care.

1 Peter 2:21-23 For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.

:10. If you keep My commands you will remain (abide) in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain (abide) in His love.

We are called to entrust ourselves completely into His hands.

Rom. 12:1-2 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

How do we abide/remain? Obey! Obedience is "voluntary". Obey what? Obey the Holy Spirit.

Gal. 5:16-17 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.

We are given but one command relating to others = Love one another (v.12)

Gal. 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

There is danger in omission, that is not obeying/not doing what we believe to be right. Just as “darkness” is “the absence of light”.

James 4:17 So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.

:11. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

An appropriate time to speak of "joy"?

Heb. 12:2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

We must abide/remain, then we will bear fruit, and then we will experience God's joy. Not just joy, but rather "Jesus’ joy" in full measure.

John 17:13 (Jesus said) Now I am coming to You, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have My joy completed in them.

:12. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you.

Fruit is for others (fruit of the Spirit). Love is a choice; it is choosing to give another's welfare and interests the same importance as my own. “as” puts it within the realm of our possibility.

Matt. 22:39 … Love your neighbor as yourself.
Matt. 23:11 The greatest among you will be your servant.
Phil. 2:3-4 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

:13. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.

It is an "attitude" of willingness.

Matt. 20:26 … whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,
John 10:15-18 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. … This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.”
Phil. 2:3 … Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, …

:14. You are My friends if you do what I command you.

A friend is one who yields his allegiance to another. Partners together with Christ.

1 Cor. 3:6-9 … then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s coworkers. …


:15. I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.

A friend knows the Master's business.

Eph. 5:17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

:16. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.

Chose/Election - Who knows why? No one is better than another. We can only be grateful.

John 6:44 (Jesus said) No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, …
John 12:32 (Jesus said) As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself.”
John 6:65 (Jesus said) … no one can come to Me unless it is granted to him by the Father.”
Rom. 3:11 …there is no one who seeks God.

The fruit that the Holy Spirit produces through me as I abide has eternal value.

2 Cor. 4:17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.

:17. This is what I command you: Love one another.

One command encompasses all. As I abide in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, He will draw others to Himself through the love for others that He will manifest through my life.

John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

REVIEW: RESULTS OF ABIDING/REMAINING IN CONTINUAL FELLOWSHIP:

v. 2. I will be pruned/disciplined/corrected to make me more fruitful.
v. 5. 12, 17 The Holy Spirit will draw others to Himself as I allow His love to touch them.
v. 7. I will be communicating/praying and seeing His answers.
v. 8. God will be glorified through my life.
v. 11. I will be experiencing His joy.
v. 16. I will be bearing fruit that has eternal benefits.

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