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The Abiding Vine

Scripture: John 15:1-8
Date: 04/21/2007 
This sermon focuses on Jesus' reference to Himself, "I am the true vine" in John 15. The word "abide" is a key term in explaining this object lesson. The experience of real Christianity is to abide in Christ all week long.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Glad to have each of you here this Sabbath morning, and want to give a special welcome to any who might be visiting us. We hope that you’ll sense God’s Spirit here and His love will be felt in the hearts of His people and that we’ll communicate that to you. Now is the time where we in the service open the word of God and in a very special sense direct our attention there. The primary focus of the message this morning is based on the passage that Anna just read to you from the gospel of John chapter 15. if you have your Bibles I’d invite you to turn back there. The message this morning I’ve titled “The Abiding Vine”. The Abiding Vine. Jesus begins in chapter 15, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” Now this is the seventh of the seven I am statements that Jesus makes in the gospels. Let me just recite them to you and I think they’ll quickly be remembered. Christ says I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the door, I am the good shepherd, I am the resurrection and the life, I am the way, the truth and the life, I am the true vine. This is the last one of the great I am statements.

Keep in mind how important that is in the minds of the Jewish people when someone said I am. One time they almost stoned Jesus because He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” When Moses said, “Whom shall I say sent me?” The Lord at the burning bush said, “I am that I am.” So when Jesus says, “I am the vine” that’s a very profound statement. Vines held a very high place in the minds of the people in the Hebrew economy. The Lord told them that He was going to lead them into this land flowing with milk and honey, and you already know about the milk and honey, but then He goes on to say, “And you’ll be eating from vineyards you did not plant” because the vine was used a number of different ways. Not only did they use of course the juice of the vine, for juice and for wine, they made raisins. You remember David brought raisins. They used to make these cakes of raisins that would keep a long time because of the sugar concentration and David brought them to his brothers when they were fighting the Philistines. So it was a very foundational supply of life for these people. When Jesus says I am the vine, He is saying life comes through Me.

They had a law that if you were attacking another country you weren’t to destroy the vine of the land because that was the food for the people. Matter of fact, it was so important if a soldier was getting ready to go into battle, the priest or the general would make an announcement and in his announcement it would say, “If you’ve married a wife, but you have not had your honeymoon yet; if you’ve built a house, but you have not lived in it yet,” and here’s the third one, “if you’ve planted a vineyard, but you’ve not yet drunk or eaten of the grapes you are excused from battle for those reasons.” I just wanted you to understand in their thinking how important it was the respect they had for the vine. So when Christ says I am the vine, He’s saying I am the source of life. You read in Psalms 80… Don’t lose your place in John, but if you could take one finger and turn over to Psalms 80 verse 8, here’s what the Lord says there. “Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land.” This is telling us in the Bible when God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and He planted them like a vine, that vine is Jesus, because keep in mind what is the church? What is the body of Christ? It’s the church. So when the Lord talks about planting His people in this land, planting His body in this land, that’s synonymous with Jesus who is the body, the church.

Now one word you’re going to find that is the operative word in our sermon today and through this passage. Matter of fact, I was just reading and as I was up there I was listening to the men’s choir. I want you to know taht was wonderful. I enjoyed that. But it was a little bit of background music for me because a thought came to me. I hope you don’t mind. I opened up my Bible and I thought I wonder how many times the word abide appears in John 15, verses 1 through 11. I just began to circle them real quick. It’s ten times, abide, abide, abide. I think actually the last one says remain and it’s really from the same root word. God is saying abide in Christ, abide in Christ. Now this is very important because He says without that abiding relationship you can do nothing, you become nothing, you’ll ultimately just be burned like brush. So we need to know what does it mean to abide in Christ, to abide in the vine. Amen? Very important study.

We’re talking about life and death issues here so I hope that you’ll perk up and tune in. The word abide, of course it’s Greek here in the New Testament. It comes from the word MENW, it’s a verb and it means listen, I think I’ve got it on the screen to back this up. This is what the meaning of that word is, “To stay in a given place, estate or relation or expectancy. To abide, to continue, to endure, to be present, remain, to stand, to tarry for…” so when Jesus says abide in Me, there is that sense of staying, tarrying, expectancy, resting. It’s all encompassed in that word that he’s using there. Now to understand a word in the Bible it’s always a good idea to go to one of the first uses of the word and since we’re reading the gospel of John we’re going to the first chapter of John, go there with me, and we’re looking at one of the first ways God uses that word abide. John 1:37 after John the Baptist pointed at Jesus and said this is the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world, the disciples overheard that. They began to stalk Jesus you could say. They heard Him speak and they followed Jesus.

Then Jesus turned and He saw these two disciples following Him. Then He said to them “What do you seek?” They said, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” Where do You dwell? “He said to them, ‘Come and see.’” That’s a very important phrase. Come and see. By the way, it’s not until you come to Jesus you do see. You’ve got to come to Jesus to see. So if you want to experience where Christ dwells, He says, “Come and see.” Ultimately we’re hopefully going to find out where He abides in heaven and abide with Him there. Amen? Come and see. “They came” they followed Him to, I don’t know if He made a booth or He had a pup tent or what exactly it was. It might have been an outdoor camp, but He had a place where He was camping and “They came and (they) saw where He dwelt,” now catch this, “and (they) abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.” It was twilight, the sun was going down, it was late, and evidently they would not have forced themselves on Him. They wanted to come and just talk to Him a little bit and as the sun was going down He invited them, He says, Stay with Me. It’s late. Abide with Me where I am.

He invited them to abide with Him. The gospel begins with Jesus inviting His followers, they were following Him, to not just follow but to abide. Now that’s the experience I want. That’s the experience Jesus wants you to want. If you don’t want that experience, pray that you’ll want it. That’s the experience of real Christianity. It’s not just an occasional once a week rendezvous with Jesus that many of us have, but all week long abiding in Him. You’ll see as we proceed why it is so very crucial. Please don’t forget the gospel begins with two disciples following Jesus, they abide with Him and then after they abide with Him they’re so excited about knowing Him because they stayed and they really got to be friends and they talked around the campfire that they went from that experience and told others and brought others to Jesus. They went from that to bringing others.

Abiding means Christ in us. You notice that Jesus says as the branches abide in the vine so you must abide in Me. That’s talking about Christ in us. Ultimately we all want to have others accuse us of being Christians. We want to reflect Jesus. Someone said one time if you were brought to court and accused of being a Christian could you be convicted? If you were brought to court and accused of being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? We’re hoping the answer is yes, right? That comes from having Christ in us. You want others to look at you and say, “You know, that person is probably like what Jesus used to be like. When I lived up in the mountains, some of you have seen a few of the old pictures of when I was a hippie.

Believe it or not I had long hair to my shoulders and I had a beard and my mother used to tease me. She was not quite as reverent about Jesus as I was. She said, “Doug, you’re looking like Jesus now.” It was almost like sarcasm. I thought well, that’s nice, but I would much rather have people say you’re acting like Jesus. Because anybody with long hair and a beard could look like the typical picture of Jesus that we have, right? What the Lord really wants is for people to say, “You’re acting like Jesus now.” Our behavior is Christ-like. That happens when Jesus is in us. So how do we get Him there? It’s through abiding with Christ. How do you know if Jesus is… are you aware of it all of the time when Christ is in you and you are in Him and you’ve got that abiding relationship? When you surrender your life to Jesus, and you’re walking with the Lord, sometimes you’re conscious of it, sometimes you’re not. That does not necessarily mean that you’re not abiding in Christ. One time somebody asked the great missionary Hudson Taylor, he had spent the night at a friend’s house and they said, “How can I know?

Am I always conscious of when I’m abiding in Christ?” And Taylor said, “Well, I spent the night at your house last night. When I first went to sleep I knew I was in your house, but somewhere during the night I lost that consciousness, but I was still there.” When you fall asleep sometimes you don’t know where you are, but it doesn’t move you. Do you see what I mean? You may be abiding in Christ and not always be aware of that, but what troubles us is the times we know we are conscious that we are not abiding in Christ. If you’re abiding in Christ, if the vine is abiding in the branch, will there be evidence? There’ll be fruit. Isn’t that right? Can that sprig or that grapevine bear fruit if it’s not attached to the main vine? No, it’ll be fruitless. If the fruits of the Spirit are in our lives then we know we’re abiding in Christ. Now I want you to especially think about the phrase or the term in Christ, in Jesus. Those two terms just in the New Testament appear over one hundred times especially in the writings of Paul. It’s one of his favorite phrases. He talks about being in Christ, being in Christ, being in Jesus.

What does he mean by that? He’s talking about a connection where the spirit is flowing between the two. There must be contact. Now every now and then electricity if you get enough of it pent up in a source and something metallic goes by it will arc it will jump trhough the air. Have you ever seen that? My son, I think it started out it was Stephen’s then Stephen gave it to his younger brother Nathan. He’s got one of these electric globes. You know a little plasma globe. How many of you know what I’m talking about? Inside this glass ball, about that big, is this electrode of some sort (I’ve forgotten what it is) and it emits electricity and if you touch your finger to the outside of the glass ball because you’ve got some moisture in your finger an arc will jump from this electric pinnacle in the middle and it jumps across. At first it scares you. You think I’m going to get electrocuted, but it hits the glass. It doesn’t hurt you at all. How many of you know what I’m talking about? You can see the electricity jumping. I still, every time I say goodnight to him I go, I play with it. It’s kind of fun. But you’ve got to clean them off every now and then.

They get covered with fingerprints. But some of us hope that the Holy Spirit will arc from Jesus to us, and it does happen that way at times, but you know the bible really teaches that you’ve got to be connected. Have you ever seen sap jump through the air from a branch to a twig? If you cut a twig off of the tree, is it going to stay alive? No, it’s got to be connected for the sap to flow. We have to stay in Christ for the Spirit to flow through us. Any of you ever do any grafting, trees or vines? You know what you have to do if you want that graft to survive is you’re taking a cutting from another tree or another vine. As soon as you cut it, you keep it in water to keep it alive because separated it doesn’t stay alive long, does it? And then you’ve got it get it as soon as possible when the sap is flowing… By the way, timing is important. You can’t do a graft at the end of the summer. It won’t take. You’ve got to do it, timing, season is very important. In Christianity when your heart is tender and the Holy Spirit is moving on your life, you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot. You’ve got to do the graft while the sap is flowing.

It’s very dangerous to think, “Well, not now, but maybe someday later I’ll give my heart to Jesus. It’s not convenient now. I’m not ready now.” You can’t promise the graft is going to take later. So in the springtime you then take that graft and you make a careful, very sharp knife, you make a very careful cut in the mother plant, you cut a fresh cut on the graft, you lay them together so that the cells are touching, you tie them together so they don’t come apart, or sometimes you can do a graft where they put tar around it. The idea is you’ve got to make sure there is a good connection the sap is going to flow from the apple tree to this new apple variety that you’ve grafted in or the new grape, whatever the tree might be. Can you understand the principle of grafting? It’s sensitive. I heard about a man who lost part of his arm and they managed to get it in a bucket and get it frozen and quickly back to the hospital and attach it and pretty soon the circulation and the color came back again and he had nerve damage, but he still had his hand. They had to do it very quickly. This is the kind of picture that Jesus is telling us. If we’re separated we don’t live.

We’ve got to stay plugged in to Christ, be in Jesus, to be in Christ. What does that mean? These spiritual terminology that we throw around so recklessly and folks say that’s good, but what does that mean? Stay with me. We’ll talk about it. He says that we must abide in Him. I’m in verse 2, John 15, verse 2, this is our passage of study. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away…” Now for those who are mixed up with what they call once saved, always saved, the Bible does not teach that just because you were in Christ one day that you’re going to be saved no matter what your choices are. You do not lose your freedom of choice after you become a Christian. God does not take your will. If you choose at some point not to follow Him, not to love Him, not to serve Him then you’re not longer saved. Did you hear that? It’s a free choice. You cannot force love. If you do not love the Lord, you’re not saved. There’ll be people in heaven that didn’t know a lot of things. There’ll be people in heaven that maybe did not eat a biblical diet, but there won’t be anyone in heaven that doesn’t love God. That’s basic.

So if a person chooses, you can’t force love or it stops being love. Did that make sense? I’m going to say that again. The idea that some of my predestination friends embrace that once you’re saved, you can’t be lost it smacks of the idea that God forces you to love Him against your will. If you love the Lord, you’ll obey Him. Not everybody who says they love God is obeying Him. You’ll know them by their fruits. Are you with me? If the fruit is rebellion, they don’t love Him, right? So just because they said a prayer at some point in their life and gave their heart to the lord and they’re out living for the devil does not mean that they’re still in Christ. He says any branch in Me that does not have the right fruit is taken away.

So how important is fruit to Jesus? It’s crucial. It’s essential that we have these fruits. He says, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away…” I’ll get to that in a moment. “…every branch that bears fruit He prunes” it. What is pruning? How do you prune something? Do you add to or take away? Do you tape on or do you cut away? Pruning is where you take your sheers or your pruning hook or some tool and you are cutting back that it might be more productive, that it might be more symmetrical. I’ve got a neighbor that actually did some pruning on a tree. The tree was probably healthy, but it just didn’t look right anymore. It was not symmetrical and so he did some cutting and so now it looks healthy and balanced. If a tree gets too lopsided on one side and all the weight and fruit shows up there the whole tree can die because it can fall over. So sometimes you’ve got to prune to make it more symmetrical, make it more healthy.

Pruning is like the trials. Even if you love the Lord, even if there is fruit in your life, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to go through trials. Matter of fact, let me read it to you from the Bible. He says in Peter every son who the Father loves experiences chastening. James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work…” Let the Gardener prune. Trust Him. Has the Lord done any pruning in your life? sometimes the pruning means He’s cutting away those things that are not productive. Sometimes it’s relationships that were distracting and taking us down the wrong road. There’s a lot of ways the Lord prunes us. Sometimes it might be some physical ailment or trial because it’s teaching you to depend more on Him. Ultimately what He wants is it makes you more fruitful as a Christian. Christian fruit is not talking about how much money you’ve got in the bank. That’s not the currency God is talking about. Christian fruit is love, joy, peace. You’ll find that list in Galatians 5:22. Do you know what I’m talking about?

That’s what He wants so He allows trials to come that we might be more productive. Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” God sometimes allows us to go through trials; sometimes you go through suffering, emotional suffering, physical suffering, things that may stay with you your whole life, but they have helped you, they’ve balanced you, they’ve prepared you to be more fruitful. When you go through pruning, as soon as you prune away a bad vine do grapes pop out on the other end of the vine immediately or do you have to wait patiently? So just because you’re going through pruning now, you might say I don’t know how this is going to help, wait. If you’re going through trials, and you say “I don’t know how this is going to make me a better Christian,” just say, “Lord, I’m trusting You. I don’t understand, but I know all things work together for good.” Patience. You may see fruit later from what you’re going through now. I look back over my short life and I can see times when I was going through trials and I couldn’t see why in the world that would ever serve any positive purpose. Enough time goes by and you say, Well, Lord, now I see. That experience has helped me be more fruitful as a Christian. I see it now. And then you know what?

Thank Him, and then trust Him in the future because there is… How often do you prune a grapevine? You have a good, healthy grapevine that has good grapes so you only prune it once because you don’t want to wreck it. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right? Wrong! With a grapevine they prune them every year. So how long in this life is God going to be pruning you even if you’re a fruitful Christian? He’s just always going to be pruning. You know we’re in northern California. I’m assuming you know that the vineyards send people through every year to prune. We’ve got some grapevines that grow around our garden fence up in Covelo and every year you’ve got to go cut them, cut them back, cut them back and the grapes get thicker and they get bigger and they get juicier and you’ve got to know what you’re doing when you’re pruning too. God is a master gardener and He knows what you can handle in your life. He knows what you can handle in your life.

He knows what you need in order for you to be more fruitful. Just trust Him. There is no fruit without Jesus. You must abide in Him if you want fruit. John chapter 15 we’re back to our passage, verse 4 and 5, Christ said, “Abide in Me, and I in you.” Now you notice it sounded like we were going back and forth. We are. To be fruitful it’s both of us. It’s we’re abiding in Christ. We’re resting in Him and He says, “I want to be in you.” That’s talking about a real love relationship where you’re abiding in Him and He is abiding in you. Notice why. “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches.” When he talks about the vine in this old English terminology it’s talking about the thick grape stalk vine, the part that everything springs out of. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him,” the sap is flowing between them, “bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” You cannot have the fruits of the Spirit unless you have an abiding relationship in Jesus. You know that verse is a very important very powerful verse.

Without Me how much can we do? I’m ashamed to admit how many times in my life I have tried to produce Christian fruit without the Christian spirit or the Christian relationship. Christianity is about a relationship, a loving relationship with Jesus. I’ve got a friend who is not here and probably won’t see this broadcast. He called me last night, is interested in maybe getting some marriage counseling because he’s now engaged. He wasn’t wanting the counseling because there’s a problem; he’s wanting the counseling because he knows I won’t marry him unless he has counseling. That’s the law we have at this church, anyone getting married they all need some counseling. Amen? We all know how many of us got married and still need counseling, right? So get it ahead of time, do as much as you can. I said, “Brother so-and-so, I hear a little twinkle in your voice,” and he was just so excited. You could just tell there was a difference.

There’s love there, there’s a relationship and he wants it to be cemented. I was surprised how quickly things were happening. I said, “Are you in love?” He said, “Yes!” There’s this intimacy, there’s this yearning, there’s this desire to tell others and to seal the commitment. The Lord wants us to have that love relationship with Him. The fruit of the Spirit, again Galatians 5:22 is, what’s the first fruit? Love. If you go to I Corinthians chapter 13, now abide these three, faith, hope, love “but the greatest of these is” what? “…love.” The most important fruit of the Spirit is love. Jesus said, “By this, by your love for each other will all men know that you are My disciples.” John always constantly was saying love each other, love each other. This is how they’re going to know. And you’ll produce the fruits of the spirit when you have that love relationship. I remember reading an illustration by Pastor Ironside and he said that in Hampton Court near London there is a grapevine that is under an atrium that is a thousand years old, but has one root that is at least two feet thick the stock. Some of the branches are two hundred feet long.

That means it’s drawing sap out of the ground, great big massive root here two hundred feet away. Figure out how far that is. That’s out in the parking lot isn’t it? There’ll be grapes at the end. Those grapes, those sweet luscious grapes that are two hundred feet away, where are they getting their nourishment from? From the same source, they come from the stock. So wherever you are in your life, if you’re abiding in Christ, that’s how you produce the fruits of the Spirit. You may not see the root, but you know the fruit is the result of the root. It’s because we’re rooted in Christ we’re going to be fruited with the Spirit, with the fruits of the Spirit.

Now I told you this is a very important subject. It’s because it’s life and death. If we fail to abide in Jesus what does the Lord say in John 15:6? “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered…” You notice that first it’s cast out then it withers. There is a period of time when a branch is cut off that it can still be grafted back in. Once it dries, it dies. Like an olive tree Paul talks about in chapter 9 of Romans. The gentiles are grafted into the stock of Israel. When you cut it from one and you put it in the other if you don’t wait too long and you keep it moist it can take root and it can survive, but if it withers, if it dries it dies and what’s the state then? They gather them, they throw them in the fire, they are burned.

They are withered, dry, spiritless fuel to the fire. There are two choices. We’ve got to learn what it means to abide in Christ and a vital living relationship with Jesus or perish. Didn’t Jesus tell us that? There are two choices. Whoever believes eternal life and those who don’t believe perish. Abide in Him, live fruit. No fruit, cut away, brush pile, fire. What happens to the tares? They’re gathered and bundled and burned as useless. I know that’s kind of serious. It’s meant to be. It’s life and death. Ezekiel 15:6 “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so I will give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem…’” You know some wood you can do things with.

You can cut down an apple tree and you can actually carve it. Apple wood is not such a bad wood. You don’t get a lot of it from apple trees. Walnut, you can make great things from some of these trees, make great things. Not too many people build furniture out of grape vines. Am I right? It’s not a very good wood. It’s kind of a punky, light, useless wood for construction. What kind of 2 by 4’s did you build your house out of? Well, you might have cedar, you might have redwood, I don’t think anyone has grape. Am I right? Do you know what my point is? What good is grapes if you cut them away and they’re not bearing fruit the wood isn’t even good for anything. It’s just burned up as slash, useless brush. And so the Lord is telling us it’s like what Ezekiel said, it’s not good for anything. You don’t make tools out of it. It’s not good for nothing but the fire. What is our choice? Fruit, abide, destruction if we’re not abiding, cut away.

Matthew 24 he says, “he who endures to the end shall be saved.” You remember one of the definitions for abiding is to stay, to endure. He that abides in Christ to the end. Some start out abiding, but they get discouraged. That’s why Jesus said any vine in me that does not produce will be cut away. They may have started out but they did not endure. In the end of the summer, when we look at our grapevines it’s easy to tell some of them they’re on the vine, but they’re not producing. What do you think we do? They’re still connected but they don’t do anything. You’ve got to cut them away. We have a brush pile. We drag them off. We burn them. God wants us to be producing fruit, but you’ve got to abide in them.

Now I’ve said all that to tell you how can we do it? How do we abide in Him? Abide in His word. This is one of the most important things I can share with you. John 15:7, Jesus said, “If you abide in Me,” and He explains it now more thoroughly, “and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” Okay, now we’ve heard the problem, now we’re getting the answer. How do we practically abide in Christ? He says let My words abide in you. How do you get the word of God to abide in you? Well, let’s start with reading. Read your Bibles. I say it over and over and over again. Get used to it. I’ll keep saying it over and over and over. We’re here because of the Bible, and the more you read the Bible, it’s a supernatural book, the words that Jesus speaks they are spirit and life and as you read them and you meditate on them… having the word abide in you means you’re thinking about it, you’re analyzing it. I remember one time going to the Lincoln Memorial, and in school they had told us to memorize the Gettysburg Address and I don’t think I could recite it for you, but there are passages I still remember.

Everyone remembers the fourscore part, right? That’s where we all start to lose it after that. “…that a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people and will not perish from the earth.” I think that’s how it ends. I remember going to the Lincoln Memorial and seeing that majestic statue and they had it engraved there on the wall. I started wondering why was this speech such a famous passage of literature? I began to take it point by point and I realized even though he scribbled it on a napkin on a train just some thoughts he collected very quickly it is assembled in such a profound, well written way, it encompasses all of the high points of a message that is inspiring and you analyze the phrases and the verses and the terms and the construction of that incredible speech and it is a marvel that he put that together and delivered it. Matter of fact, the fellow who spoke, he was just supposed to make some opening remarks. The great speaker that day was an orator. He was very famous. The newspaper that day that didn’t really evaluate the weight of what Lincoln said, how profound it was. They said, “The president offered some appropriate remarks.” That was their comment on the Gettysburg Address. Then they began to talk about this famous orator and I don’t even, no one remembers his name. Do you? He talked two hours.

No one remembers his name, but they remember what Lincoln said because it was so profound. You meditate on it and the message of it and it just inspires you with patriotism. Well, the words of Christ, how much more important are they? Every word of God is pure. There is life in His words and as you read His word and you say, Lord, there’s something here. What does this mean? What does this say? I love doing that. Even like the passage we’re looking at today, it’s just a few verses, but it is so full of meaning. If those words abide in you, well what happens? For one thing, “Thy word I have hid in my heart” abiding in you “that I might not sin.” His word keeps us from sin. The devil came to Jesus with temptation. How did Jesus fight it? The word was abiding in Christ. He met every temptation with the word of God. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.” It’s abiding in us and it’s giving us continual guidance from His word. If My word abides in you it gives you the principals to help govern your life. Thy word gives light. It gives understanding. It helps us have a world view and a philosophy by which we can live. Let My words abide in you. Luke 10:39, you know the story. Martha is preparing a dinner for someone of note in their town. Jesus was the guest of honor probably the feast at Simon’s house is what was happening.

She’s rip-snorting around the kitchen getting everything ready and trying to bake and Jesus is in the house and He is teaching and Mary is sitting at His feet drinking in every word, she’s just there abiding, listening to His word. Martha says, “Lord, look. You really need to help me here. I need some support. Can you please tell her to get up and help me? She’s just sitting there really being useless, and I mean, she needs to be helping me get ready for this feast.” Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed,” and I’m not going to take away that part that Mary has chosen. Abiding at the feet of Jesus, soaking up and meditating on His word. Now who was it that lingered at the tomb of Christ? Was it Martha or was it Mary? Martha probably came and then left again because she was so busy she had to go do something. Mary waited. She abided at the tomb and she was the first one to see Jesus face to face, right? She understood abiding. She was abiding at His feet listening to the word. This is the experience we all need. II John, same author as the gospel of John, II John 1:1-2, listen.

The elder, of course there is only one chapter there. “THE ELDER, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever…” Why is it so important to have the truth abiding in us? Christ in us. What is another name for Jesus? He’s the Word. What is another name for Jesus? He is the truth. So as you have the word and you’ve got the truth of the word abiding in you, you in verity have Jesus in you. We always want to know how do I drink His blood and eat His flesh that we might have life. His word, that’s how we get Him in us. I cannot overemphasize and that would be Bible study, family devotions, personal devotions, reading, driving in your car. Saturate yourself with the word. This word of God is like living water. This world is constantly dehydrating us spiritually. Jesus is constantly evaporating out of us. Unless you do something to constantly re-hydrate your soul with the word, you dry out. That means you need to just try and surround yourself with it. I hope you have personal devotions, read your Bible every day.

You’re tired of hearing me. I click on the Bible tape every night. I listen to the word of God. I’ve got it on my little PDA; my cell phone now has the Bible on it where I can listen to someone read the Bible to me while I’m on an airplane. I mean, I think it’s that important. There are computer programs right now that will read the Bible to you on your computer, free online. Just do a search, you’ll find it. Not only just Bible reading, Bible, Bible, Bible. But people expounding the word, sermons. Good Christian inspirational material that will feed your soul. If you start reading a book and after you get a few pages in it, you’re not getting anything out of it, set it aside, find a good one. Your time is so precious, get something that will moisten your soul. Amen? We need that abiding in His word.

Now you may not have thought that John chapter 15 teaches this, but I’m going to also add abiding in the church. Some people start out in the church but they don’t abide. John 15:8 “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” Follow Me. Israel was compared to the vine that God planted in the Promised Land the church. They were to abide in the Promised Land. We are to be abiding in Christ. What is another name for the body of Christ? The church. The Lord wants us to stay there. Not only that Jesus says, “I am the way.”

Well, the church is teaching the way. We are to abide in the way, in the church. Christ is the shepherd. He says I am the shepherd. This is the fold. We are to abide in the fold. That means that we stick with Christ’s body, we stay connected. One of the most practical things you can do to stay connected with Jesus is to have His word abiding in you and to be in the environment of Christian fellowship. Now I know somebody is going to go there. You probably just did it in your mind. You said, Oh, you know some of the Christians I know. They’re hypocrites and I don’t know if there is any benefit in hanging around with them. I know. There are always a few dead twigs on the vine, right? We’ve already talked about that. But there are some fruitful ones too, and you want to hang around, you want to stay in that environment of Christian fellowship because for one thing it gives you accountability and I hope you folks will help your pastors here. In a large church it just really grieves us that sometimes people come and go and we don’t always know they’re there. I think it’s good to count the sheep. Doesn’t the good shepherd know if one is missing?

How does he know to go look for that one that’s missing from the other ninety-nine? Because somebody counted. Sometimes you’ve got friends in your fellowship, in your Bible study group, people who are usually sitting at their regular place. You know we’re all sort of creatures of habit. I know where to look to find you most of the time because you’re usually in the same general vicinity. I think you ought to all throw me some Sabbath. Don’t tell me and just all move to opposite sides. You probably couldn’t handle it, could you? You’d feel so edgy to just be in a whole different section of the church. We’re creatures of habit. But if you look around and you say, you know, so-and-so usually sits here and I haven’t seen them for a week or two. You know you don’t want to harass someone if they miss one week. They might be on vacation. Help us find them. keep them abiding. You know people leave the church little by little. They start missing once then it happens again and again kind of like a car. You can tell the engine is having problems. It begins to backfire and miss a little bit, and you hear your engine cough when it’s been running fine, you say, whoops! What was that? You start worrying. When it starts missing and coughing and every now and then it doesn’t start up. It’s not going to get better.

I know some people they, some people have got a flat tire and they think maybe if I ignore it, it’ll go away. I changed a tire one time for a person (I won’t tell you what the gender was), and they had driven it until it just was shredded to spaghetti. Just they thought, maybe if I ignore it, it’ll get better or if I go faster. It’s not going to happen. That’s what happens with some people’s relationship. We just see people starting to slip away and we don’t do anything to reach out and keep them abiding in the church. Usually if people start missing and then they miss again it doesn’t get better on its own. They need to have someone reach out for them; they need maintenance. I hope you’ll help us. We all need to bear one another’s burdens, amen? We need to care for each other. By the way, in your helping others abide in the church you are helping yourself. You will be blessed in doing that. Abiding churches are fruitful churches.

Abiding also means obeying. John chapter 15:10, we’re still in the came chapter, look what kind of emphasis Christ puts on that. Real love will abide and obey. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love…” Notice the connection between love and abiding. Chapter 15, verse 14, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” There’s that connection there in the same chapter between obeying… John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” So some of the fruit, the evidence that there is love there, that we are abiding, is obedience. If a person says, “Yes, I’m abiding in Jesus,” and they’re living a life of rebellion they’re not abiding. There will be cooperation. Have you ever seen a branch jump off the vine and run around and do its own thing and come back? No, there’s this permanence there. There’s this connection there. It’s regular. I John 2:6 notice again, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

What does it mean to abide in Christ? Go to church, read your Bible, be like Jesus. It says you ought to walk the way He walked. Well, how do you know how He walked? Read the Bible, it’s in the gospels. Look at how He acted. Say, “Lord, I want to be like You.” Walk like He walked. I John 2:17 “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” How many here want to abide forever? Who is going to abide forever? The ones who are abiding now. How do you know who is abiding now? They do the will of God. When they know the will of God, they’re willing to do the will of God. I John 3:6 This is something that sometimes troubles people, but while we’re talking about abiding, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin.”

Now that does not mean, as people sometimes have tried to use this to teach a brand of perfectionism, that doesn’t mean that a person who is abiding in Christ is sinless. That means there is not a pattern or practice. There is no dominion of sin. They are not addicted to any habits. They have been given the victory. These people are not living a life of practicing sin. You’ve heard me quote many times that passage from the book Steps to Christ that tells us it’s not the occasional good deed or the occasional misdeed that determines whose side we’re on, but it is the habitual. What is the habit in your life? Is it one of abiding, is it one of obeying? Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Here is a quote from Andrew Murray that great pastor of prayer. “The secret of true obedience is the clear and close personal relationship to God. All our attempts after full obedience will be failures…” All of our attempts after full obedience will be failures “until we get access to His abiding fellowship. It is God’s holy presence consciously abiding with us that keeps us from disobeying Him.

I must consciously include the Lord in every thought, activity, and conversation until the habit is established.” That’s what it means to abide in Him. Just keep that awareness of God. Surround yourself, saturate yourself, marinate yourself, pickle yourself in the presence of God so He permeates your being and your thinking. But in reality our lives are so often so filled with so many other things that it’s almost like God is an afterthought. You must fight that. You must make a conscious effort to stay in Christ through fixing your eyes upon Him, reading His word, coming to church, fellowship with other believers and make it a priority in your life. It’s not that complicated.

Here’s the good news. John 15:11 Why did Jesus say all this about abiding? “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” Why did Jesus give this message about the abiding vine? What is the ultimate goal? Why did He come? Because in heaven there are pleasures at His right hand forevermore, the bliss, the joy, the eternal happiness of heaven. He loves His children. He wants you to have that joy; He wants you to have that happiness. You’re never going to be happy if you don’t learn to abide in Christ.

That’s the key. You know what? When you’re abiding in Christ circumstances do not dictate your happiness. That’s the good news. I John 2:28 “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” Joyful children stay connected with mom and dad longer. Joyful marriages, people like to stay home more. If we are joyful in Christ we’ll want to be with Christ. Now what kind of abiding is it? He wants us to learn to abide with Him now so we can abide with Him forever. We all know the story of Zaccheus. Jesus passes underneath the tree and there’s Zaccheus and He says “Zaccheus, you must come down for today I must…” Who knows what word He uses? “I must abide at your house.” He said I want to abide with you. It’s not only us coming to Jesus’ house once a week, the church, so we can abide with Him for a little while. He says after church I want to go abide at your house. So when I have the benediction are you going to invite Him home? He says, “I want to abide at your house. I don’t want to just stop by, knock on the door, try and sell you some multi-level marketing.”

He says, “No, I want to come in. I want to stay. I want to be a guest in your home.” Do you want Jesus to be comfortable in your home? Then let’s invite Him into our homes and sometimes that might mean some changes to do that. He says, “I want to abide with you.” He wants to abide with us. He wants to have that ongoing relationship. Hebrews 13:5 He said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Matter of fact, one of the great themes in the Bible it says God Himself will be with us and be our God. He will abide with the redeemed through eternity in person. Matthew 28:20 Surely “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Can you hear Jesus saying to you today, insert your name, “Doug, I really want to be with you. Believe it. I really do. Yes, even you, even though I know what you’re really like.” That’s why some of you are struggling. He’s saying even though He knows what I’m really like He still loves me and He still wants to be around me? Most of my friends don’t want to be around me for very long. He wants to be around me forever? Yes, I know that’s hard to believe but that’s what He’s telling us today.

You know I was thinking about kangaroos. As I turned off my computer last night, I went upstairs, I was thinking about abiding kangaroos popped into my mind. Let me explain. When a kangaroo is born it’s just a little thing, it’s about as big as a peanut, and it’s a miracle of God how that “peanut” manages to find his way from the birth canal up to the pouch. He’s got to crawl through this forest of mom’s fur to get up there and find it’s way into the pouch and once in the pouch it latches itself onto a little nipple and it locks down on that nipple. So much so that I understand that at that stage in its life if you try to detach that little baby Joey it’ll die. It is absolutely locked in. As it matures, little by little you see it sticking its head out, it will graze a little bit from mom’s pouch and then it goes back in and it nurses and it sticks its head out and it might graze as mom is grazing. She leans over so it can graze from her pouch.

Then as it gets even older still it hops out of the pouch, it’ll bounce around, it comes back, it’ll nurse, it’ll jump back in again. When it’s finally mature mom says, no more, you’re out. Okay. What I want you to do is I want you to think of Christianity kind of like a kangaroo except backwards. We start out like a grown kangaroo hopping around doing our own thing. Every now and then we poke our head in the church, we get a drink and we go back our own way. Real Christian growth is like kangaroo life in reverse. We want to get to the place where we are right in the very bosom of Christ nursing on the milk of His word and we don’t ever let go. That’s what it’s like to grow as a Christian so that you’ve got that relationship.

Now believe it or not, I’m going to end sort of like I started. Do you remember the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus? Jesus is risen from the dead. This is at the end of the gospel story. He meets two disciples. He’s talking to them on the road down to Emmaus from Jerusalem. They don’t know who He is right away. He tells them from Moses to Malachi how they should believe that Jesus was the Messiah and their hearts are burning within them by the things that He’s saying. Finally they get to a fork in the road and there you could see the little sign that says “Emmaus” and the sun is beginning to go down. They can see the glow of some of the lamps in the windows. He makes like, Jesus makes like He’s going to keep going down the road towards Jericho and they say, “Come in and abide with us because it’s late.” Matter of fact, it says “they urged Him”. That word there is they compelled Him, they constrained Him, they pled with Him. They might have even taken hold of His shoulder and said, “Come, come, You stay with us.” And He did. It was in abiding with them at their house He revealed Himself to them. It was in abiding with them that He revealed who He was and they suddenly knew Him and then they had to go tell others.

For the first time preparing for this message a truth came to me. The gospel story begins and ends with two disciples. The first time they’re following Jesus and they say, “Where do you stay?” And He says, “You come and abide with Me.” They get to know Him and then they go tell others because the sun is going down. The gospel story ends with a very similar scenario. Two disciples, except Jesus is now following them. He catches up with them, they say, “You abide with us.” First Jesus says, “You abide with Me.” Then the disciples say, “You abide with us.” They’re both about sundown. Time is of the essence. Our lives are short like a shadow. After He reveals Himself to them they then go tell others. Our job as Christians is summarized and we come to Christ, we abide in Christ, and then we go and tell others about Him that they can know Him too. If you abide in Me then your joy is full.

I remember hearing this story that was I believe years ago in Britain. A British submarine was disabled on the ocean floor. After a couple of days they realized there was really no hope of being saved. Nobody knew what their location was and officers made that announcement to the crew that it looked like being rescued was hopeless. They were unable to surface, running out of air, so they dispensed some sedatives to calm the sailors down because you know when you realize that you’re dying you can get a little bit nervous. The sedatives took very quick affect on one sailor who swooned. He passed out, fell over, and he hit this mechanism that released pressure that un-jammed the surfacing equipment. The submarine surfaced. Just before he fell over, you know what they were singing? Abide with me, past all the eventide. Let darkness deepen, Lord, with me abide. When other comforts fail and helpers flee, Lord, helper of the helpless, Lord, abide with me. And when they thought they were going to die they started singing that song. You know where that song comes from? On the road to Emmaus when they said to Jesus, “Lord, it’s towards evening.

You come and stay with us.” We’re right near the end of the world and it’s time for us to know what it means to abide in Christ. Now I’ve decided not to sing that song. I thought about it, and I thought they always save that song for funerals. That sort of bothers me. It’s a great song for just the Christian relationship. I thought it would be good for us to sing number 310 “I Would Draw Nearer to Jesus.” Isn’t that what this is all about? Having that abiding relationship? I would draw nearer to Jesus. Why don’t you find your hymnals? Let’s stand and sing that together and then I’d like to have special prayer with you.

I would draw nearer to Jesus, In His sweet presence abide, Constantly trying to serve Him, Safe and secure at His side. I would draw nearer to Jesus, I would draw nearer to Him; Fully surrendered each moment, I would draw nearer to Him.

Before we sing verse two there may be some of you here today, I’m in that group, we’re saying, “Lord, we know that the evening is coming. This world is ending. We need to know what it means to be in Christ and to have Christ in us, to really have that abiding relationship so that we know Him and that our joy might be full.” If you feel like maybe you’ve been missing that experience and you want to have that full abiding that Christ is offering, would you like to acknowledge that by just lifting your hands in His presence right now? Saying, “Lord, help us know what it means to abide in You and You in us.” Amen. Let’s sing the second verse together. I want to hear the men’s choir really singing here.

I would draw nearer to Jesus, Nothing withholding from Him, Knowing He loves to be gracious, I would draw nearer to Him. I would draw nearer to Jesus, I would draw nearer to Him; Fully surrendered each moment, I would draw nearer to Him.

Before we sing the last verse, we always have visitors here. There may be members who you’re going through something in your life where the Holy Spirit has spoken to you. Perhaps you recognize today you have not been a fruitful vine, you have not been abiding and you want to be. Maybe there are some who have never really surrendered their lives to Jesus and you want to do that right now. Maybe you haven’t been baptized and you’d like to be part of Christ’s body being grafted into the vine. If you have some special need that you’d like to bring to Jesus as we sing the last verse we’ll direct our attention and our prayers in a special way to that need. Come as we sing verse three.

I would draw nearer to Jesus, Seeking His strength to be true, Willing to tell of His goodness, Gladly His blest will to do. I would draw nearer to Jesus, I would draw nearer to Him; Fully surrendered each moment, I would draw nearer to Him.

Let’s pray together. Loving Savior, Lord, we come before You today because we are earnestly praying, we are yearning to really know what it means to have that abiding relationship. Lord, we not only want to bear fruit, but You have said You can help us to bear much fruit. We invite You to prune where You will that we might be like Christ. Help us, Lord, to abide in Your word, to abide in Your church, and most of all to abide in Thee with a personal relationship. Then as we do this teach us how to do this, Lord, but as we do we ask that the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives that we will be like Jesus through constant exposure. We ask that You will plant Your image on the photographic plates of our souls. Help the world around us to see what Jesus is like when they look at each member of this church. We pray that You will not only meet with us here, but we will invite You to abide with us in our homes. Lord, all of this is because we want to abide with You through eternity in those mansions in that kingdom You’ve prepared. I pray the message today will become a reality in our lives. Be with each of those who have come forward whatever the specific needs might be in their lives, fill them with Your Spirit. We pray the sap of the Holy Ghost will flow into every heart. In Jesus’ name we ask. Amen.

You may be seated. If there are some who would like to know about how to be part of the Central church family, you’re invited to visit with the pastors or fill out the information on the card in the back of your pews. Also there will be a special group that will be staying for prayer following our service. We would ask that you take your conversations to the lobby and respect the reverence in here.

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The High Cost of the Cross (PB) by Joe Crews

The High Cost of the Cross (PB) by Joe Crews
God's Promises




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