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Deepening Intimacy | Obedience | Assumptions
Means of Intimacy #1 The Vinedresser | #2 True Vine | #3 Success |
#4 Means of Success | #5 Promise of Abiding | #6 Purpose of Abiding |
#7 Need of Obedience | #8 Need of Love | Friendship John 15:16-17 | Applying the Principles John 15:16 | Summary Principles |
Study Questions | Small Group Questions
Key question: In what ways can you define the word 'abiding' or 'remaining' that is used in John 15:4-5?
A brother I saw in Ethiopia recently shared with me about a men’s talk in the past. He greatly desired at least one man to be touched by that talk. He frankly told me, “It was me God touched.” He saw that His Christianity was sincere but superficial. If he was going to be a disciple of Jesus, he had to start doing as Jesus said. Otherwise, it is all a big bluff.
John 15:16 helps each of us get a clear vision of what God has for our lives.
He told me that he was there chiefly as a learner (though he was also one of the teachers).
There are so many truths compacted in John 15 that we can only touch upon some of these truths. Let’s use the summary verse, John 15:16, as our outline and touch upon the different truths earlier on as needed.
“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:16).
“You did not choose Me but I chose you.”
Jesus chose the twelve disciples, but He is speaking with reference to a greater group here. This is a pep talk for the apostles but also for all believers. Who can say that the Upper Room discourse in John 14-17 was only for the apostles to be? No, each believer is a branch off the vine.
Each believer is hated by the world. In a similar way Jesus had a special hand in picking us for salvation and His work (He chose those that the Father chose - John 5:19).
Not one of us are a believer by chance. We are purposely loved so that we can respond to His love.
“Appointed you that you would go ...”
Jesus clearly articulates the call of each believer, “Go therefore and make disciples....” (Mat 28:19). Christ’s word propels us to go beyond our front doors and into the lives of others. The Lord wants to make each of us fruitful in the places that He directs. We must not be content to remain where we are unless it is the place God would have us bear fruit.
Each of us need to engage the world wherever God puts us. It is not our prime purpose to sustain our lives as much as actively live out Christ’s life wherever He puts us. This ‘go’ principle helps one spot the place God has for you. You will be more willing to be trained so that you can make disciples. Where does God want you to go?
“Go and bear fruit”
Jesus’ purpose of sending us is quite clear. He wants us to bear fruit. Jesus is alluding to the branches and the fruit that comes to existence by abiding in the vine.
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
The fruit is depicted by the grapes on the grapevine. This means that God wants to be doing something special through the life of each believer. That fruit comes into being by abiding in Christ. The word ‘abiding’ refers to being attached to the main vine. Jesus said, “I am the true vine.”
Jesus is very interested in helping us produce spiritual fruit. He says we cannot do it ourselves. We were never meant to. We need to depend upon Him to bear fruit. So how can He bear fruit through our lives? What kind of fruit does He help us bear? The more we think about Him in our lives, the easier it is to understand what this might mean in our lives.
We usually think of ‘fruit’ as that which is towards unbelievers, but it is good to think a bit wider because Jesus certainly was. The next verse, John 15:17, commands us to love one another.
Love calls us to focus on rightly treating others around us whether it be those in our marriage, family, coworkers or church. His love then extends to our neighbors, friends and even strangers through our lives. We are subduing our selfish focus and allowing Christ to live through us. We focus on carrying out kindness and the teaching of God’s Word (i.e. make disciples) wherever He puts us.
Anticipate how the Lord wants to live out His life through your life in practical ways both to believers and unbelievers. What comes to your mind? Do you need His help to do it? Seek His help now and start taking those steps to complete that good work.
“That your fruit would remain”
Why does Jesus mention this phrase ‘that your fruit would remain’? Along with hope to bear fruit, we should anticipate fruit that makes a significant difference, one that extends into the future. Our willingness to love and go out of our ways is based on hope. That hope is not only seen in our initial decisions and actions but through the longstanding influence our love might have on others.
In other words, do not dismiss simple or repetitive acts of love as not being significant and therefore neglect to do them. If opposition pops up, we can still trust the fruit to be widely used by the Lord.
The Lord really wants our success–fruit that remains. But even more, He wants to bring His great blessings into the lives of many people. We must refuse the modern view to please ourselves and instead adopt the mindset through which God wants to use our lives. This is where the heart of making disciples comes into play. We are ready to be God’s change agent in the lives of the people around us.
Do you tend to think what you do for the Lord has no real impact? Of course, we should first make sure we are abiding in Him and He in us. If this is so, however, we should pray that God would deeply enrich our lives to bring His love to those around us. May God mightily raise us up to make a ‘Christ’ difference in those all around us.
“...so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”
Jesus ties this promise to give us what we need with the quest to abundantly bear fruit. We wrongly associate this with popularity or riches. He instead has us focus on doing what He wants to do through our lives. We abide in Him and therefore understand what He wants done.
We should expect to meet up with obstacles and impossible situations (e.g. perhaps your spouse?) as we carry out His will. We need to seek His intervention by faith. We ask the Father in heaven through the name of Jesus.
When we have His word in us and we are in Him, then we can ask anything. He will hear us. Jesus is not speaking about those things we need for ourselves but those things we need to help others. He is not against us praying for our own needs (see the Lord’s prayer) but that is not His focus here. We are mission focused and because we seek God in faith, He will do what is needed.
Share an incident where you saw God answer your prayer on behalf of another? Does He want you to ask anything now? If so, pause and pray.
What gets you excited? What vine are you attached to?
Do you know where God wants you to bear fruit? If not, directly ask Him to show you.
What kind of fruit do you sense Him wanting to bear through your life?
Are you easily distracted on things other than God’s chief purpose for your life? What can you do to stay more focused?
A video and handout of this lesson is available on the BFF New Testament Library - see below.
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