we are so blessed to be worshiping here
this morning I want to say a quick word
about and clear up any confusion about
what happened last week
if you didn’t see it on our Facebook
page Facebook rolled out an update that
blocked us from being able to get online
because we needed to update the browser
and it took a little while to figure out
that problem and unfortunately we were
not able to get it figure it out Sunday
morning so after 50 minutes of trying we
finally tossed in the towel and gave
gave God His glory nonetheless and we
had a time of prayer for you here so but
we’re we’re back online we’ve got the
glitch fixed and we’re excited to be
worshipping with you this morning and
just want you guys to be thinking about
those in our congregation who may not be
able to get online right now reach out
to them give them a call be thinking
about the people in your care group so
the people who aren’t in a care group
and let’s continue to love one another
and hopefully we’ll be back here in the
sanctuary worshiping together as a
church family in the very near future so
with that we are going to study the Word
of God this morning and so I’d ask us to
just bow our heads and ask for God’s
blessing on our time together this
morning Heavenly Father you have come to
us in a person of Christ and in this
Easter season we celebrate the person of
Jesus Christ and what he has done his
death burial resurrection and ascension
and you’re calling us in your word this
morning as Jesus preached to his
disciples to abide in you and father we
confess as we come to you that we may
not fully understand what it means to
abide and hopefully we can shed a little
light on that this morning but above all
it’s up to you it’s up to your spirit we
look up to you as our leader our master
our keeper and our provider and so we
pray that you will lead us into abiding
in you of remaining and finding our
comfort in you we ask you this in the
matchless name of Jesus our Lord amen so
we are looking at John 15 this morning
yesterday I was sitting in my backyard
on one of the he’s nicest spring days
we’ve had yet
and I picked up a book and it’s a book
collection of essays on the German High
Command during World War two and has
these Expos A’s on the different
generals and players in it and I sat
down to read an article about our win’
Rommel who was a legendary commander he
started his career young and he actually
distinguished himself in the First World
War caching capturing many allies and it
was his 7th Panzer Division that really
led a large part of the blitzkrieg
through France
and where a lot of his legend came from
after he had captured thousands of
Allied troops when French commander said
to him you’re just too rapid for us and
the the whole blitzkrieg idea surprised
the world they’d never seen it before
and that was a good fit for rimmel
rimmel ironically was not a good student
in school he struggled in school but he
had this uncanny ability to see
opportunity and seize it and he usually
seized it before his opponent did and
this helped him well in the Africa
campaign when he led the Afrika Korps
and so Rommel is sent down to Africa and
he basically to summarize basically
marches all the way across North Africa
to Egypt crushing the English as he went
but then he got kind of stuck and he got
bogged down because the Allies had this
idea called air superiority and the
Allies weren’t just worried about
focusing on the battlefield what they
were worried about is the supply lines
of their enemies and what they basically
did is shut down the German supply
logistical supply of the German war
machine and the Mediterranean ocean –
just a trickle and so as competent a
battlefield commander as Rommel was he
found himself unable to continue because
he didn’t have the food the gas and the
supplies and that the at the very end
hee hee hee went back and forth some but
he kept finding himself out of gas and
so thankfully general Montgomery and the
other allies not only pinching off his
supply line pushed him back to Tunisia
and so on and we know how the story goes
and thankfully it went the way it went
and interestingly enough Rommel became
more of an opponent of Hitler and
eventually was forced by Hitler to
commit suicide needless to say the story
of his victories and then his failure
have to do with what supplied him and
kept him going what kept him alive you
see sometimes in our Christian lives we
have a great victory and that that great
victory we have above all is that moment
at which where we meet Jesus Christ and
we have a relationship with him and we
we experience this thing and we receive
this gift of salvation and it it’s ours
and it can’t be taken from us but on the
other hand wherever we’re at in life we
have to live the rest of our life and
that takes strength and endurance and
that’s what Jesus is talking about when
he’s talking about abiding he’s talking
about our supply line our supply line
what keeps us alive and going and so he
says here I am The True Vine
and my father is the vine dresser every
branch in me that does not bear fruit he
takes away and every branch that does
not bear fruit he prunes that it may
bear more fruit and I think that’s the
first important thing for us to see here
is that Jesus you know he likens the
whole Christian life to a branch on a
vine that is receiving nourishment and
it’s bearing fruit what Jesus wants for
you and me and his whole church is
abundance is a fruit is fruitfulness in
fact what is the first command in the
Bible when I say that we often think of
the first commandment right you shall
have no other gods before me but that’s
not the first command in the Bible the
first command in the Bible after God
Stoops over Adams body and breathes the
breath of life into his nostrils is be
fruitful be fruitful and multiply and
fill the earth and subdue it that’s what
we’re here for
we weren’t here for sin we weren’t here
for ourselves we’re here for
fruitfulness and we have to always
understand this relationship of
redemption to the original creation is
that redemption is bringing back not
only the vision of the original creation
but where the original creation was
headed because it wasn’t static it
wasn’t sitting there doing nothing it
was going somewhere it was going toward
the same thing that we’re going toward
it’s Christians which is the great
kingdom of God Adam and Eve were perfect
morally but they were not perfected in
the sense of where God was going to them
because he was bringing them to a place
that was in higher relationship and
intimacy with him and so to abide in
Jesus is to abide on the on the vine and
get our nourishment from it and you look
at what he says here he calls the Father
the vine dresser and the vine dresser
does two things number one he hews off
branches and tosses them into the fire
this is an image of eternal judgment now
you should not hear this as God is
tossing people out when he doesn’t like
them or when they fail we all fail all
the time but what he’s talking about is
a branch in the world that does not bear
fruit at all and in the Gospel of John
what that means is it means someone who
does not believe it’s someone who’s
making an active choice of the will to
not believe the gospel to reject the
gospel of God and so it says he takes
away the branches and tosses them into
the fire but it says he does another
thing it says he prunes and to prune
means to discipline in order to
stimulate spiritual life and growth
that’s why you prune a plant as you
prune it to bring life to stimulate life
and really that’s the way we are as
people usually when things are too easy
then we’re not the most productive and
then when we find ourselves in a tough
spot or in under pressure or whatever it
may be we step up and rise to the
occasion and that’s what a plant does if
you start pruning it and then it’s it it
responds by growth and that’s what God
fact Augustin himself said at once point
Christ purges his church through
medicinal afflictions medicinal
afflictions or what he also calls
wholesome afflictions in other words
where God loves his children enough to
discipline them to stoke them to at
times go to us and to bring the best out
of us and if you think of any athlete an
athlete who wants to win doesn’t want an
easy coach they want a hard coach they
want a coach who’s going to be on them
who’s going to make them get up at 5:00
a.m. who’s going to make them do what
they need to do that’s the point of
having a coach and that’s what God is
doing through the Spirit in the church
he takes away those who reject him
altogether but those who believe and
struggle he prunes he gives us and
that’s how we need to think about our
Christian life very much like an athlete
an athlete may say I want to win this
race and yet at 4:30 a.m. you don’t want
to win the race that much you want to
stay in your comfy bed but having
someone there to say get up get up and
get out
is what makes us go and it helps us
reach where we need to be because we are
on a journey toward God and you see
Jesus talks about this here in verse
three he says already you are clean
because of the word that I have spoken
to you abide in me and I in you as the
branch cannot bear fruit by itself
unless it abides in the vine neither can
you unless you abide in me I am the vine
you are the branches whoever abides in
me and I in him he it is that bears much
fruit for apart from me you can do
nothing what does it mean when he says
you were clean because of the word I
have spoken to you it simply means this
it means he spoke to them the word of
truth and they heard it with the ears of
faith they heard the word and believed
it and as a Jew at this time you would
hear just like the Shema hear o Israel
the Lord our God the Lord is one that
Hebrew conception of hearing really
means with an obedient heart it first in
the mind believes that when God says
something it is the truth it is the
truth and that it’s not only I’m not
only obligated to it but it’s also the
best thing just like the athlete the
athlete may for a minute be tempted to
stay in bed at the sound of the alarm or
at the sound of the coach calling but as
they think about it this is what’s best
for me if I want to win if I want to run
the race if I want to finish the race I
need to respond now and do
what I need to do to prepare to live the
way I need to live and to compete the
way I need to compete compete and so
they heard the word of truth
that’s what Jesus preaches because Jesus
himself and so he talks about abide in
me and I in you as the branch canary
cannot bear fruit by itself unless it
abides in the vine neither can you
unless you abide in me and this brings
me back to my analogy of Rommels army
without the supply chain his army
withered his tactics on the battlefield
were useless without gas in his tanks
and food in his soldiers bellies and
ammunition in their guns and so is uh so
is it for the Christian there is nothing
to drive us and propel us forward if we
don’t have the Spirit of God and his
doctrine and his life flowing through
our spiritual veins and so what does it
mean to abide well it means several
things and I want to share with you four
ideas of what it means to abide
firstly number one to abide implies
discipleship that means being a follower
of Jesus and I remind us that the word
disciple means student it means someone
who’s learning someone who’s teaching
and I emphasize it’s not someone who’s
been taught it’s someone who is being
taught okay it is someone who’s learning
and so we focus on the ing there it’s an
ongoing relationship of learning and if
you think of the branch of tied into the
vine it’s an ongoing relationship of
being fed by the branch by the vine you
know by the vine that’s the relationship
of Jesus and so to abide means an
ongoing relationship of following Jesus
and following his teaching and you note
down here and in in 15 eight he says by
this he’s talking about abiding but he
says by this by this abiding my father
is glorified and that you bear much
fruit and so prove what you prove to be
my disciples by abiding in Jesus in his
teaching and the life of the church we
prove to be Jesus’s disciples the second
thing it means the second thing to abide
means to have a persevering faith not a
withering faith but an enduring faith
Jesus himself says in Matthew he who
perseveres to the end the same shall be
saved as disciples we require an
enduring faith that does not waver from
the truth now this does not mean that if
you struggle with doubt sometime that
you’re not a disciple it’s not that way
at all
in fact when we doubt it sometimes proof
that we are a Christian because when we
doubt and we feel uncomfortable with our
doubt and we struggle with our doubt
it’s because we care and it’s because
God is pruning us and so a persevering
faith is one that can be pruned it’s a
faith that can be pruned which is
different from the faith that is dead
there is no faith and the father has to
take away those branches and throw them
into the fire the third way to abide is
to continue or endure in Jesus and the
regular practice of his teaching okay
and so what that means is we practice
what Jesus teaches we practice it on a
regular basis it’s not just knowledge to
us it’s not just ideas but it is how we
live the Christian life is not a list of
propositions there are propositions to
our faith there are creedal statements
to our faith but the Christian Creed’s
have legs because Jesus is raised
because Jesus died on a cross and
descended into hell and was raised again
to sit at the right hand of the Father
means we are to walk in a newness of
life and to live a life that’s pleasing
to him
that’s the legs in fact the greatest
analogy one of the greatest biblical
analogies of living by faith is to walk
to walk in the way and so we endure and
the regular practice of his teaching not
just the learning part not just the
Gospel learner because you know the idea
of discipleship the idea of teaching
this term that comes up very often in
the New Testament a term
a Greek word D decay and the word D
decay doesn’t mean just an academic
learning what it means is more of a
training it was a common Greek word in
the Greek and Roman trades of
apprenticeship of hands-on teaching and
so there’s two things in this – first
there is our own effort and resolve we
need to commit ourselves to live and
continue and endure in Jesus’s teaching
but there’s a second part and that is
part of the gift that God gives us which
is made up of really two parts itself
which is the spirit and the church and
that’s continuing with the church and
that leads us to the fourth way to abide
in Christ to abide in the vine our
fourth way to abide means to person to
be an ongoing participating member in
Christ’s Church
the body of Christ the people of God
remember the church is Christ’s body it
is his bride and to abide in the church
plays a big role in abiding in Christ
body in a concrete and real way and this
raises a very good question in fact it
raises a great question that has existed
throughout much of the life of the
church because you know the church is
full of people like me who have a
profound sin nature
we often say and we do not do and we
often intend to do but we don’t and
that’s what Paul is talking about in
Romans saying in Romans seven when he
says the good that I will to do I do not
do and the thing that I will not do I do
Oh wretched man that I am Christianity
begins with this premise that we have a
hard time doing the right thing because
we have this power the flesh the sinful
nature and our flesh that wars against
the Spirit of God and so this great
question is is there any salvation
outside the church is there any
salvation outside the church and that’s
a very unpopular question because nobody
wants to say no nobody wants to say that
today especially in America where we are
we live by the idea of Independence and
I’m a big believer in the American idea
of Independence as long as it falls
under the rule of Christ that is
understood properly but we can take the
quote by st. Cyprian who said he has not
God for his father who has not the
church for his mother and that sounds
very extreme to us so my simple answer
to that question is is there any
salvation outside the church well my
answer is not really and I can hear many
of you thinking right now what kind of
answer is that Todd is it yes or is it
no what kind of answer is not really
well in the world things are not always
quite so simple as they seem on the
surface do we want to believe that every
person who has not heard the gospel goes
automatically to hell or do we want to
believe that someone who was horribly
treated in a church environment and
never came back but struggled and prayed
by themselves in many ways throughout
their lives and and we’re just confused
and didn’t know any better that they’re
going automatically to hell just because
they don’t attend church no I don’t
think our gods like that not at all
can God save someone who is not part of
the church who has not heard the gospel
who has never been exposed to the gospel
for various and sundry reasons and my
answer to that is yes of course and I
believe he does he does so all the time
but that doesn’t change the church’s
mission to go preach the gospel and to
bring the grace of that gospel to them
would you rather be saved by accident or
would you rather be saved and know
you’re saved and know why that’s what
the church offers but the church offers
something more than that it offers the
truth of God in a way where we can
discern our own hearts and know if we
are not saved you see Christianity
doesn’t even assume that every Christian
sitting in the pew is automatically
going to heaven when in in Corinthians
11 and first Corinthians 11 when we come
to take the Eucharist it says let a man
or woman examine themselves to examine
themselves about sin is sin ongoing in
our lives are we repenting of it
regularly and so God can save people who
are outside of the church and he does
and that’s what we call a extraordinary
means that is God’s prerogative but God
didn’t give that mission to me God is
the judge see that’s what Jesus already
said God is the vine dresser he decides
which branches go in the fire and which
don’t and what he’s saying here is God
wants to put as many branches as
possible back on the vine Paul is going
to use this analogy of Israel and he’s
going to talk about Gentile
as branches grafted in to the vine God
is a God about not only preserving those
branches that are on the vine but of
also grafting in new ones God is a God
of salvation but here’s the cut the
here’s the other thing what we also have
is what we call the the ordinary means
of grace God ordained for this very
imperfect thing called the church to go
out and preach the gospel and bring the
good news that Jesus wants to save
branches in the world that’s what he
wants to do that’s what he said he God
loves you God loves us and that’s what
the church is here to do and so it is a
very a wholesale rejection of the church
is a rejection of God’s gift and if you
reject God’s gift you’re kind of
rejecting God right and so that’s why I
say not really yes of course
God can save anybody he wants when he
wants how he wants even without a
preacher or the church directly involved
he can and does that but that’s not our
mission as the church you see the same
God who can does do that and does do
that is also the God who has Jesus say
at the end of Matthew’s Gospel all
authority in heaven and earth is given
to me go in all the world and make
disciples of every nation and part of
the churches the part the dirt the
churches charge and command is to go
make disciples baptizing them in the
name of the Father Son and the Holy
Spirit and then what teaching them all
that I command and you see when you
become part of the church and you abide
in the church you abide with the people
of God you abide with the Spirit of God
and you were taught and you begin to
live by Jesus’s commands and this is how
people will know that you are my
disciples that you love one another
now here’s the point if you’ve been a
Christian for a while and never taken a
little vacation from the church what
happened to your spiritual life anyone
who’s done it for a while knows that
they went downhill fast because it’s
there to build us up it’s there to help
us along that journey you see the church
is there where we are meant to grow to
learn and become more like Jesus and
nevertheless the church is imperfect
broken weak prone to faults and entirely
hypocritical at times and certainly
often worthy of ridicule but the church
and all her weakness warts and
foolishness presents us with a test and
that test is the test of humility you
see the only thing that leads us to
reject other people is pride and pride
is what gets in the way of a
relationship with God and that’s why I
said can you be saved without the church
not really and what I’m really saying
that is can you have real assurance of
your salvation apart from the church not
really because if you’re rejecting the
church you’re probably in a state of
pride or you’re saying you know what I’m
not like those people I’m not gonna be
like them I’m not going to be like those
people they’re all hypocrites over there
well they’re all sinners just like me
just like you and the only way of the
only thing that makes us alienate
ourselves from other people in the
church who are trying to grow in their
faith is our own pride and pride what
the gospel tells us is God resists the
proud and gives grace to the humble
and so I myself
I don’t have the clairvoyance to know
who’s going to heaven and who’s not but
I do know the truth of the gospel that
God calls us to humble ourselves in the
sight of the Lord and me being in
relationship to other brothers and
sisters with all their imperfections and
warts that I have as well takes a lot
more humility on my part than the other
and so the power of the gospel this is
important the power of the gospel is not
imperfection but it’s in patience that’s
where it is you see it is the perfection
of Christ that saves us but it’s
displayed in patience it’s God was
long-suffering toward us not willing
that any should perish but that all
should come to repentance as the Apostle
says that is the long-suffering of God
that’s patience and to be the church it
takes humility and patience as we’re
jostling up against each other
with our pride and our arrogance and our
own sin nature a healthy church should
have people who are imperfect who are at
different stages in their Christian life
from infant to adult and they’re all
probably and they all should be
apologizing to each other more than
anything else because Christians living
together bump into each other just like
a family
and so if the gospel is about the
patience of God toward sinners you and
me because of Christ’s perfection then
we have hope then we have hope
you see an imperfect person can be saved
where there’s a patient God and so to
abide in Jesus is to abide in his ways
which is patience with sinners other
sinners abiding in jesus’s ways and his
church gives powerful meaning to the
next words that Jesus says here in John
15:6 he says if anyone does not abide in
me he is thrown away like a branch and
withers and the branches are gathered
and thrown into the fire and burned
that’s Jesus it’s Jesus who said that
those are serious words and it’s all
comes back to that simple idea God
resists the proud and gives grace to the
humble God resists the proud and gives
grace to the humble the father is the
gardener and his job is to dispense with
those design dying branches and so what
we have to understand here what this is
saying to us underneath all this is that
pride is the basis of unbelief I will
not believe because of this because I
have too much pride too
and so it’s important that in the
analogy the vine the branch chooses not
to abide in the vine the branch chooses
because of pride not to abide not to
abide in the vine and that’s what Jesus
calls us to here in verse seven he says
if you abide in me and my words abide in
you ask whatever you wish and it will be
done for you now these words are
extremely important to understand what
abiding means Jesus says if you abide in
me and my words abide in you ask
whatever you wish and it will be done
for you and we’ve all seen the
Charlatans TV preachers who say if
you’re not healthy and wealthy you’re
not walking with God if you want a
Mercedes ask God for a Mercedes if you
want a 10 bedroom house on the ocean ask
God for it and if you don’t get it it’s
because you don’t have faith and these
are charlatans and they are liars
because what these words mean here in
verse 7 is they indicate a total change
of life and will a total change of how
you and I think because the Christian
life is about the conformity of my will
to God’s prayer as someone once said
wisely is not about changing God’s mind
it’s about changing my mind to God’s
mind well if that’s the case when my
walk when my will is conformed to the
will of God when I pray what do I ask
for I only ask for what God’s gonna do
anyways because my will
I want God’s will and that’s what we see
in the Gospel of John that Jesus is
praying in the garden
and says not my will be done thy will be
and so Jesus does not mean by this God I
want a Lamborghini for what well before
we ask God anything the question that
the will that’s conformed to God and
that’s abiding in the will of God that
that will is saying God what do you want
because that is what the Christian life
is is to want what God wants and love
what God loves and when we don’t want
what God wants and we don’t love what
God loves
we’re not abiding or we’re not abiding
well and so these words indicate a
radical change of life has taken place
when Jesus says ask whatever you wish
and it will be done for you excuse me he
is referring to someone whose mind and
will has been captivated by the gospel
and by Jesus Christ and that there’s
nothing else important to Jesus there’s
nothing more important to us than Jesus
and so we can ask what is the Heart of
Jesus what does God want for you and he
says this in verse eight by this my
father is glorified that you bear much
fruit and so prove to be my disciples
God wants abundance for you but he wants
real abundance he wants us to bear fruit
unto eternal life
you see God put us here to be productive
to make a difference in the world as I
quoted from Genesis that very first
command is be fruitful and multiply fill
the earth and subdue it and we have to
understand in the Gospel story that
whole vision that God gave was number
one for our abundance and fruitfulness
it was for us to have the best life out
there and it was broken when mankind
down it doubted that and turned against
it in wanting a life that was not God’s
will we not only wanted not truly the
best life ever but we chose a lesser
life and when you think about being
we constantly judge one another by
productivity right we judge ourselves by
our project our productivity standards
we put on ourselves we judge each other
by the productivity standards we put on
each other but our productivity gets
hijacked when it serves something other
than God the fulfillment God brings can
only be found in serving God
and serving anything else is just
shortchanging ourselves and that’s what
happened in the garden we shortchanged
ourselves and yet in the gospel Jesus
invites us to abide

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