Abiding in the Vine
John 15:4, 8–10

Good Morning, from the Voices of Hope Evangelistic Team, to all who are reading this message, I welcome each of you gathering today by way of the internet. Once again, it’s a blessing to be able to share from God’s Word as we can proclaim it all over the world. 

The title of my message is “Abiding in the Vine” and the scripture this week is found in John 15:4, 8-10, if you wish to turn there you can follow along. 

John 15, last Sunday we considered verses 1, 2 and 3 and this morning we will begin a message that will run from verse 4 through 11 and will continue next week. 

We talk about knowing Christ. We talk about being in Christ. We talk about walking with Christ, about loving Him and Him loving us. We talk about this union but how best can we explain it? What does it really involve? What is it really? Jesus has chosen for us what has to be the most graphic analogy showing us our relationship to Him and His to us; that of a vine and branches. There are so many truths in the analogy of a vine and a branch that can be brought into the context of the Christian life that it has to stand as the greatest analogy. 

We talk about the fact that we grow together with Christ, which is perfectly illustrated by a vine and a branch. We talk about the fact that we are nothing in ourselves but gather all of our strength from Him, which is again perfectly illustrated in the vine and the branch. We talk about the fact that as believers our lives are filled with His energy, His power, and His resources and again perfectly illustrated by a vine and a branch. A branch has no energy of its own, only that which is sent into it by the energy in the vine. We talk about the fact that we of ourselves can’t produce fruit, but it must come from His power through us, exactly illustrated again in a vine and a branch. 

Jesus is portraying to us the relationship of a believer to Himself using the analogy of a vine and a branch. He also reflects on that one who is apparently a branch who is apparently in Christ but who in fact is not legitimate and thus is cut off, thrown away and burned in the fire. Last week we saw that there were two types of branches. We met the vine, verse 1, Jesus Christ. We met the vine dresser, the one who cares for the vine and the branches, Father God. Then we met the two kinds of branches, those that do not bear fruit which the Father takes away. Those are Judas branches. Then there are the true Christians. You can review last week’s message at 

In our study for today, Jesus continues this analogy. He does so by making a heart-stirring plea in verse 4, first three words, “Abide in Me.” This is the plea of Jesus. In other words, be a for-real branch. He is basically speaking to that fruitless branch, that branch that really isn’t for real and saying, “By all means, abide in Me.” In other words, be for real. Remember the way you can tell a true branch it bears fruit. 

The second way you can tell a true branch, a true branch abides in Christ. The word “abide” means to remain, to live or to stay. A true branch stays in Christ. Jesus then is pleading with those superficial branches to be for-real branches. He is saying, “Branches, don’t be just apparently be in Me, but abide, show the legitimacy and the absoluteness of your faith by remaining in Me.” He’s saying be for-real so that you remain. Abide in Me. 

He gave a solemn warning in verse 6 to the branch that doesn’t. He says in verse 6, if a man abide not in Me he is removed, cast forth as a branch. Notice that the man removes himself. There are some people who apparently are attached to Christ. Then all of a sudden they are gone and we ask ourselves the question: what happened? The answer is simple. They never were real to begin with. The false branch does not abide, it is taken and cast forth. Men gather them into the fire and they are burned. 

This morning I want us to see the basic meaning of “abiding.” Here we see the call of Jesus in verse 4 and He is saying to men like Judas, “Don’t be like that, be for-real, abide in Me, show that your faith is real.” It’s just another way of saying be saved, you superficial branches, be saved genuinely, honestly, real in Christ. 

Jesus calls to all who have made a statement or an apparent identification and says be real. Notice it in verse 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.” 

Jesus says, be for-real and give evidence that you’re for-real by remaining. Remaining in Christ is evidence that you are saved. People say, “You know Mr. So-and-so, and you know he used to come to church all the time and was active in everything Christian then all of a sudden boom, he was gone. I mean, it was over with. And he’s never been back and years have gone by and what happened to him?” He proved that he never was real because he didn’t abide. He never was real to begin with. If a man really knows Jesus Christ, it is the character of that salvation experience for that man to abide in Christ. 

1 John 2:19, “They went out from us but they were not of us.” How do you know that, John? “For if they had been of us, they would have continued with us, but they went out that they might be manifest that they were not of us.” The true believer stays. 

1 John 2, in verse 24, “Let that therefore abide in you which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son and in the Father and this is the promise that He hath promised us even eternal life.” So Jesus calls to every apparent disciple to show the truth and the reality of his discipleship by remaining in Christ, not to be a Judas disciple. 

Paul gave similar warnings not to be a Judas branch. Colossians 1:21-23 (ESV) 21  And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22  he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23  if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. 

He is saying the legitimacy of your salvation will be determined by your continuance in it; if you continue in the faith, grounded, settled and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye have heard. In other words, the evidence of salvation will be that you abide in Christ. 

Another passage, Hebrews 3:6, “But Christ as a Son over His own house whose house are we.” We are Christ’s house. “If we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” He’s not saying hang on to your salvation and don’t lose it, he’s saying the evidence that you’re really His house will be your continuance in Christ. 

Verse 14 same chapter: “For we are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” True believers start and end their life in a relationship that is living and vital to Jesus Christ. And the same thing is in Hebrews 10:38 and 39. 

Back to John 15, “Abide in Me,” and here comes a marvelous promise to the abiding branch. “And I in you.” And I might add in there, “I (will remain) in you.” Abide in Me and I’ll abide in you. In other words, if you’re for real, I’m for real in you. The only person that could claim the promise of the constant abiding presence of Jesus Christ is the one who is constantly abiding in Christ. Abide in Me and I’ll abide in you. And the Bible talks about us being in Christ and Christ being in us. “Christ in you the hope of glory,” Colossians 1:27. 

So, we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we abide and Christ abides in us. When by real faith we are truly saved we will always abide and Christ will always abide in us. That’s a warning to the professing Christian that if he isn’t real, then Christ isn’t there either. 

Notice verse 8 because He repeats the same concept in different words. Verse 8, “In this is My Father glorified that ye bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.” In other words, My disciples bear fruit. He’s looking at that fruitless branch that is superficially attached to the vine and saying, “bear fruit?” It’s just another way of saying abide, it’s another way of saying remain. It’s another way of saying be a true believer. It’s another way of saying be a real disciple because only the real disciple bears fruit. 

He says it another way in verse 9. Listen to this, “As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you. Continue ye in My love.”  A real disciple doesn’t come into the love of Christ and then leave it. He continues. Be real, Abide, Remain. So whether He says abide, bear fruit, or continue in My love, it’s all the same thing. 

Verse 10 “If you keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love even as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” He says to them abide, bear fruit, continue in My love, obey My commandments. Those are all saying basically the same thing. A true disciple obeys the commandments of Jesus Christ. A true disciple continues in His love. A true disciple bears fruit. A true disciple abides in Christ, remains there all his life from the moment of salvation till his death. A true disciple is what Jesus wants. And His heart has been broken and shattered by Judas. And in effect He is saying no more Judas branches, be real. 

I love the end of verse 10, Christ portrays Himself as the perfect example of abiding. He says, “Even as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love …” He wants the kind of relationship with us that He has with the Father. In John 17, remember in His great high priestly prayer, how He prays that He may be one with us as He is one with the Father? He abides in the Father. Do you think He’s ever going to depart from that? No. And He wants us to abide in Him in the same way. 

So Christ in this passage is saying the same thing. He is still on the contrast between the true and the false disciple, the real one, the apparent one and the artificial one. He is contrasting the one who really is abiding and the one who is temporarily connected but is going to remove himself and thus show that he never was real to begin with. So he is pleading with that branch, that superficial branch, he’s pleading with you who attach yourself to Jesus only on the superficial end and He’s saying abide, bear fruit, continue in My love, keep My commandments … this will show you’re real, be for real, is what He is saying. 

And that’s a perfect portrait of a true Christian. The true Christian remains in Jesus Christ, never leaves. A true Christian bears fruit. A true Christian stays in His love. A true Christian obeys His commandments. John 8, “If you continue in My Word, then are you My disciples for real.” A true disciple obeys. A true disciple continues in His love. A true disciple bears fruit. A true disciple abides. Jesus is calling to those branches who are superficial and saying be real. 

Look back at John 14:15, “If you love Me … and the tense of the verb indicates it should be this way.… If you love Me you will keep My commandments.” Watch verse 21, “He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me.” Verse 23, “If a man love Me, he will keep My words.” 

You see, every true disciple loves and obeys. Those are two keys to the Christian life … love and obedience. And obedience is the thing that springs out of love. 

Okay, He’s talking about the true and the false disciple. He has been speaking in general terms, believers abide unbelievers don’t abide, that’s clear cut, that’s it. Now Jesus is saying all Christians abide. All Christians bear fruit. All Christians continue in His love. All Christians obey. If someone stops doing that and forsakes Christ, he never was saved to begin with. That’s 1 John 2:19, that’s exactly what it says. 

John couldn’t draw the line any more clearly than that, that’s John’s way. He does that all through his gospel. I tried to find someplace in John’s gospel where he contrasts one type of believer from another and there isn’t any. He just says believer/unbeliever. Believers do this, unbelievers do that. Believers have eternal life, they drink the eternal water, and they never thirst. Unbelievers always thirst. Now sometimes, you’re a believer, you get a little thirsty, right? Sure, but John doesn’t deal with that. Believers don’t thirst … unbelievers thirst. 

He talked about the bread of life in chapter 6. Believers never hunger, unbelievers always hunger. You’re a believer, do you ever get a little bit hungry for the Word, for spiritual truth? Sure you do. But John isn’t messing with exceptions. That’s it, just clear cut. John always presents the ideal pattern designed by God, never messes with the exception. 

If you understand the mind of John, you get it. If you don’t, it’s confusing. First John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He’s faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us.” There he says one thing: believers confess, unbelievers deny their sin … contrast. Believers always confess, unbelievers always deny. There are occasions when believers also don’t confess as they should … sure, but John doesn’t fool with those. Just, boom, that’s it. Always the ideal. 

Chapter 2:3, “And by this we do know that we know Him if we keep His commandments.” Now watch … “He that saith, I know Him—that is you claim salvation—and keepeth not His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whosoever keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. By this know we that we are in Him.” John says  unbelievers disobey, believers obey … period. Now do believers ever disobey? Sure, but John doesn’t worry about the exception. He again is drawing the line clear cut. 

All right 2:9, look at this, “He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.” You mean a believer never has an occasion of stumbling? John says don’t fool around with the exceptions, I’m just drawing the lines. 

Verse 11, “But he that hateth his brother is in darkness,” is there anybody in this world that you don’t love and you’re a Christian? Again you have an exception. “And walketh in darkness and knoweth not where he goeth because darkness hath blinded his eyes.” John says believers always love their brother, unbelievers never do. And you say, “Wait a minute, John, I know some believers who don’t love their brother.” Don’t fool with the exceptions, I’m just drawing the line clear. 

You have the same thing in 3:14 and 15. All through here you have it. “We know that we have passed from death unto life,” verse 14, “because we love the brethren.” Now watch, “He that loveth not his brother—singularly—abides in death.” Do you ever know a believer who didn’t love some other believer? He says they abide in death. You say, “Well, wait a minute now …” I’m not talking about the exceptions. I’m talking about the pattern. 

Verse 15, “Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” Oh no, John, that is too clear … you can’t say that. You can’t say that if you just hate some guy you’re going to go to hell if you’re a Christian. Well John doesn’t want to be pushed into that. He is only drawing the black and white distinctions, the perfections. 

You have the same thing in 2:15 where he says, “Love not the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Tell me, Christian, real honest, some things in the world you like a lot? Kind of like to get your hands on them? Is John saying you are going to go to hell because you love that car over there? You want that new car, you drive by it, see it ever time. Wait a minute; John doesn’t want to be pushed into the exceptions. He is drawing the general lines. 

Look at this one, still in 1 John 3:6, see if you can swallow this. “Whosoever abideth in Him, sinneth not.” Did you get that? You say, “Oh boy, John, I mean there you have really gone to the extremes. There’s no way that I can buy that.” Listen to this. “Whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him.” Verse 8, “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” Boy! Verse 9, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” 

Don’t you get the idea that John really draws the line clear cut? John doesn’t fool with the exceptions. You say, “Well, didn’t he know that some of us Christians might not like some other believer? Didn’t he know we might blow it and disobey? Didn’t he know we might sin?” 

Sure he did, but I like him because he puts the ideals where they belong. He’s concerned with the positional truths and the general patterns of life. It is the general pattern of a believer that he does not disobey, he loves his brother and he avoids sin. That’s the general pattern and John doesn’t sweat the exceptions, he must have known about them. 

Chapter 2:1 and 2 kind of gives you a little sneak into the soft side of John. “My little children, these things I write unto you that ye sin not.” But then he says, “But if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” He doesn’t like to allow for exceptions but he concedes a little bit so that we don’t lose completely on the idea that God knows we’ll fail. 

There are general patterns in the Word of God that distinguish a believer from an unbeliever. John draws them absolutely clear cut, but there are exceptions. Are there times when a believer does sin? Sure. Times when a believer hates his brother? Sure. Times when a believer doesn’t obey as he ought? Sure. Times when a believer doesn’t confess his sin before God as he should? Sure there are.

Here’s the point. There are times when a Christian doesn’t abide in the fullest sense. But what is the general pattern of his life? To abide. John never fools with the exceptions. 

How many times in the New Testament do you read commands from the Apostle Paul, from Peter, from James, from all the writers to love your brother? We just said in 1 John it says if you’re a believer you always love your brother. Then what’s Paul doing saying love your brother? See Paul was the minister to the exception. All of his epistles are full of exception. He gives the first part about the position and then you read here’s what you are, all your position then … boom, boom, boom, right down the line on what you ought to do, what you ought to be, how you ought to shape up, how you ought to live. And let’s face it if there weren’t any believers who blew it, the Father could put away His knife, because there wouldn’t be any pruning to do. 

And so the heart cry of Jesus then to the believer is to abide in all that signifies. And I think that this is perhaps the key message the Spirit of God has for us as believers this morning. 

You want to know what it means to abide as a believer? I can’t say it anymore simply. Stay close to Jesus. Did you get that? Stay close. You know a branch is really a lot better off if it’s connected to the vine. You’ve got to be close. You could say, “Well, this branch is doing pretty good, it’s only a half an inch away.” Oh, sorry, branch, you can’t do a thing a half an inch away. To abide is to be totally connected to Jesus Christ in the fullest sense and as the vine sends its energy through that branch to bear fruit, so Christ can send His energy through you. To abide isn’t complicated, it’s so simple. It just means remain lovingly and obediently close to Jesus Christ and all of His energy will surge through you and fruit will be produced. 

I’d like to get close and I’d like to remain in that totally abiding concept. How do I do it?” It’s in verse 7, first part, “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you.” 

What is the key to an abiding relationship to Jesus Christ? It’s the Word. A believer who is in the Word is an abiding believer, one who feeds on the Word of God, who nourishes his soul with the truths of God, stays in a close warm living energized relationship with Jesus Christ. And so, He says abide in Me and I in you. 

Now watch this in verse 4, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in Me.” To an unbeliever that would say you’ll never be for real, you’ll never have fruit. To a believer that says don’t try to operate independently of Me. 

It’s not a question of whether you’re strong or weak. It’s not a question of whether you’re good or bad, brave or cowardly, clever or foolish, experienced or inexperienced. Whatever your gifts, whatever your accomplishments, whatever your virtues, whatever your experiences may be or may have been, they are worthless in helping you produce fruit detached from Jesus Christ. I mean, what it amounts to is a whole lot of branches lying around trying to tie on artificial fruit. Can’t do it. 

What does the Bible say? “In my flesh dwells no good thing.” And hundreds of Christians never learn that. They run around grunting and groaning trying to bear fruit. You don’t bear fruit by trying, you bear it by abiding. 

You say, “How do I abide?” Just believe that you’re a branch, take the word that tells you, “you’re a branch,” and believe it. Just take your position in the vine. Get as close to Jesus Christ as you can which means stripping out all of the things of the world, putting aside all sin that distracts and saps your energy, putting aside all self-effort, all those things that rob you of a deep personal loving relationship with Jesus, get into the Word and you’ll be an abiding branch, absolutely forget about fruit, don’t even worry about fruit, you’ve got nothing to do with fruit, you abide, He’ll produce the fruit through you. 

If you really want to be close to Jesus, work on the relationship. Don’t work on the deeds; work on the life in Christ. And the deeds will all be the result of that relationship. And then the joy will be there. You be concerned with abiding. 

Just be a branch. Get as close as you can by being in the Word, by loving Him, by obeying Him, get His life, His strength, His energy surging through you and there will be fruit everywhere and you won’t have done anything but abide. And you want to know what the result will be? Preview of next week’s sermon … verse 11, “These things have I spoken unto you that My joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full.” 

Would you like to have full joy? Would you like to live in the midst of full joy? What do I have to do, win 14 souls to Christ a month? No, one thing, abide.

Let’s bow together in prayer:
Father, we do not want a human voice, but we want a divine voice to ring in our hearts and minds and to nail down these truths that they may be life changing to the glory of Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.

 When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click here and may you be blessed by the song, "Lord I Want to Be a Christian."