John 15:1-6 ESV
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”
Branches “In Christ”
What does it mean to be a branch “in Christ”? Don’t we have to be “in Christ” to be one of his branches? What does it mean to be “already clean”? Wouldn’t that mean that the person had already been cleansed from sin? So, is Jesus not speaking of those who already have faith in him and therefore they are his branches, and they have been cleansed of their sins?
Ok, so then what does he say about his branches, i.e. about those who are “in Christ”? If they don’t bear fruit, he takes them away. And they can’t bear fruit unless they abide in him. And what does it mean to abide in him? It means to stay, to remain stable, to endure, to continue in and to conform to. It means to abide by him and by his rules for our lives.
So, they are “in Christ,” they have been cleansed of their sins, but some are not abiding in him, and they are not bearing fruit, and so he takes them away. And not just taken away but thrown away like a branch and then thrown into the fire and burned. So, what is this saying about his branches?
So, some people will say that they were not his true branches. But does the context here bear that out? Not if they are “in Christ” and they are already clean. That would indicate they are/were true branches, but that they just didn’t remain in Christ, they didn’t continue to abide in him, and therefore they were cut off, thrown away, and burned.
So, what this is indicating is that you can be “in Christ,” be one of his true branches, but if you fail to abide in him and by him, and thus you fail to bear fruit in keeping with repentance, you can be cut off from the vine, and you can be thrown away, thrown into the fire, and burned for eternity. But does the Bible teach this elsewhere? Yes, it does!
Cut Off From Christ
Paul, in Romans 11, was addressing Gentile Christians (branches) who were grafted into the vine after some of the Jews were broken off from the vine due to their unbelief in Jesus Christ. And he warned them to not be arrogant toward the branches, for they stand fast only through faith. So they were not become proud but to fear, for God could cut them off, too, if they did not continue in him and in his grace (kindness) to them (See Rom 11:17-24).
So, what is God’s grace to us? His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we await his return. His grace delivers us from our addiction to sin and it empowers us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God (Tit 2:11-14; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24).
So, for us to continue in his grace (in his kindness), it means we continue to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and we continue to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return. And it means we walk according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, and we don’t walk in sin, but we walk in righteousness.
So, what this is saying, in essence, is that if we do not abide in Christ – and abiding in Christ is the same thing as continuing in his kindness, in his grace – and therefore we do not bear fruit in keeping with repentance – and bearing fruit is walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh and it is dying to sin daily and walking in obedience to our Lord – then we can be cut off from the vine and thrown away and burned.
So, is this taught in other Scriptures in the New Testament? Yes! If we do not daily die with Christ to sin and walk in obedience to him, we will lose our lives for eternity. If we do not walk by the Spirit, but we make sin our practice, we will not inherit eternal life with God. We are all going to reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, we will reap destruction, but if we sow to please the Spirit, we will reap eternal life.
For God will render to each one of us according to our works. And if we are self-seeking and we do not obey the truth, but we obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. For we are all going to receive what is due us for what we have done in the body, whether good or evil. For, the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. So, we have to continue in the faith, firmly established and steadfast, not moved away from the gospel.
[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:15-16; Rom 8:3-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6, 24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; 1 Co 15:2; Heb 10:26-31; Matt 7:21-23]
Every Branch Bearing Fruit
But, for the branches “in Christ” who are bearing fruit, who are walking not according to the flesh, but who are walking according to the Spirit, who are not making sin their practice, but who are making righteousness their practice, and who are dying daily with Christ to sin and to self and who are walking in obedience to his commands, he prunes them that they may bear more fruit.
And what is pruning? It is to trim the branches with a cutting instrument. It is not the removing of branches, but it is the cutting away of parts of those branches things which are superfluous or undesired. It is the process of making us holy, cutting things out of our lives that are unnecessary and that keep us from being all God wants us to be or things which may be leading us into sin or might be holding us back from following Jesus wholeheartedly.
This is the discipline of the Lord in our lives, which is for our good that we may share the Lord’s holiness and that the Lord’s discipline in our lives, although painful, may later yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness to us who have been trained by it. And righteousness is whatever is deemed right by God, such as holiness, godliness, moral purity, faithfulness, and honesty (See Hebrews 12:1-12).
So, the purpose of the pruning (divine discipline) is so that we who are already bearing fruit in keeping with repentance may bear even more fruit of righteousness, that we may walk closer to our Lord, more fully obedient, more faithful in all things, more honest, more trustworthy, and serving him more fully in the ways he has called each of us to serve for his glory.
But we have to remember that we can’t bear this fruit of righteousness if we are not abiding in Christ, walking in fellowship with him, saying “No” to sin and “Yes” to righteousness daily, in his power, being in his word, listening to what it teaches us, and then obeying what it says, in his strength. For, apart from Christ, we can do nothing. We cannot generate this within ourselves. This only comes through yielding control of our lives to Jesus Christ.
More Precious Than Silver
Lord, You are more precious than silver.
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds,
And nothing I desire compares to You.
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