John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He 1takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
While Jesus leads His disciples from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane, He continues to teach them using the picture of a vineyard, where the Father is the Vinedresser, and Jesus is the Vine. On the Vine, there are many branches, some are fruitful and some are not. Jesus says that those branches that are not fruitful are taken away and those that bear fruit are pruned. Now, the Greek word that is translated as pruned is used elsewhere in scripture to mean cleansed. Those branches that are unfruitful are taken away, those that are fruitful are cleansed and that being by the Word of God. Cleansed and pruned might sound like two different things, but consider how pruning is also cleaning a branch of that which doesn’t belong. Jesus testifies of the cleaning power of His Word in verse 3, saying to His disciples, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” I believe that as we are study the Word of God we are also being pruned … Trimmed, cleaned and even purged.
If you dig into the Etymology of that Greek word, you find that it’s root word is even more telling, in that it speaks of purification by fire, being Levitically clean and being ethically clean. These are three things that are often overlooked and under-taught when people teach the Bible; often categorized and discarded as Old Testament concepts, and therefore outdated, instead of recognizing that the the law is from God and good in it’s purpose of leading us to Christ. When we receive the full counsel of God, we enjoy the fulfillment of the law in Christ and the Torah remains good as we are conformed to the image of Christ, being washed in the fullness of the Word of God. In that conforming we are being sanctified as our bodies are presented a living sacrifice and we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds, which you probably recognize as the process Paul spoke of in Romans 12:1 … but so often verse 2 is left out, which is unfortunate because it speaks of the fruit of those things in verse 1, the holiness part …That we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. In other words, living it out, which is something those who go too far on the law side of things tend to place above Christ, and those who go too far on the grace side of things tend to ignore.
We should not run all the way over to one side and say, I am saved by Grace and can now live a hedonistic lifestyle, ignoring what God said is right and wrong. Neither should we run all the way over to the other side and say that Grace is the sum of Christ plus keeping the law. When it comes to salvation, for a believer to place dependence on the law is to distrust the grace of God, and to use grace as an excuse to continue in sin is to abuse the Grace of God. Instead of extremes, we abide in Christ, the Word made Flesh and the Fulfillment of the Law … or put another way, we surrender ourselves to the Will of God in Christ.
In Acts 27, When Paul was prisoner on board a boat headed for Rome, a tempest struck and the boat was being torn asunder in storm. The ships crew threw overboard all the stuff they had brought so that ship might be more buoyant. The crew themselves were going to leave the ship, when Paul said unless they abide in the boat they would be lost. It’s a very interesting picture of our abiding in Christ, and while it may freak some people out to say this, the Bible speaks of both the security of the believer and the removal of unfruitful branches and because the Bible does not draw a hard line between the two, I’m okay with leaving that up to God and as for myself abiding in Christ. That means I throw everything else overboard and just remain on the ship believing that my Lord told me I was secure in His hands forever and ever, AMEN!
Our abiding in Christ during the storm makes our relationship with the Savior that much more vivid and attractive to others when we are willing to let go of those things that keep us from being comfortable in the fulfillment of the law that is Christ, whether that’s finances, toys, gadgets, opinions, even strong beliefs regarding non-salvation related issues. Letting go is a good thing because most of the time all those things we want to carry around with us just crowd out God, whether that thing may be a toy or an opinion.
1 John 2:15-17 Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.
Someone once said, “By the grace of God, sometimes the doors that He opens for us are narrow so that we cannot enter with all our baggage.” So what are you willing to lay down before God today? What is holding you back from a closer relationship with Him? Paul counted all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, suffering the loss of all things, even counting those things as rubbish, that he may gain Christ and be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ. That’s what he said in Philippians 3:8-11. Scripture also confirms to us that wise men come before Christ and lay down things that the world counts as valuable.
Gold: Lord, all I have is Yours and You are most precious to me.
Frankincense: Lord, I want to be adorned in Your righteousness that is by faith.
Myrrh: Lord, I die to self that I might live forever in You.
What are you willing to lay down at the pierced feet of Christ? Anything? Everything?
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