Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jesus Teaches His disciples To Abide In Him By Loving Each Other, And Expecting The World To Hate Them: John 15:1-27

Text: John 15:1-27

Theme: "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, what ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (20:30-31).

3. Preparatory Persuasion
     C. Of disciples (13-17)

Jesus teaches His disciples to abide in Him by loving each other (v1-17), and expecting the world to hate them (v18-27). 

Jesus taught His disciples to love each other (v1-17). The Bible strongly stresses that salvation is by grace, through faith in Christ, apart from any works we contribute. This is the theme of the entire epistle to the Galatians, and is also a major thread in the book of Romans and Ephesians. All in all, there are at least 350 verses of NT Scripture which proclaim salvation by faith, without reference to human merit.  That God seeks to glorify Himself and eliminate man's boasting is the recurring theme of the entire Bible:

"For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

The Bible also stresses that once a person is saved, he can never be lost. Romans 8:29-30 says, "For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son...And those He predestined, He also called, those He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." God has already determined that everyone He saves will be saved not only from the penalty of his sin, but also from its power his daily life (Rom. 6:1-23), and then from the very presence of sin when He gives him his glorified body (Romans 8). Since God has predetermined this will occur, it is so certain that He can refer to future aspects of our salvation in the past tense. The following verses, in the strongest possible sense, show that nothing (and this includes the person himself) is able to separate those God saves from His love.

With this overwhelming mass of clear Biblical data as a background, let's consider Christ's instruction to the disciples. Jesus is the true vine, which is the source of spiritual life for believers (John 15:1). He dwells in them through the Holy Spirit (cf. chapter 14:17, 23), and this is the source of their ability to bear fruit. God the Father is the vinedresser, who tends to the branches (John 15:1). Those branches which bear no fruit, He takes away.  Those which do, He prunes, that they may bear more fruit (John15:2). The branches then are believers who draw their life from Jesus, to bear the fruit of love (John 15:12, 17) and joy in their lives (John 15:11).

But What about the branches which the Father "takes away"? And what does it mean that "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned" (John15:6; NAS)?.  There seem to be at least two possibilities. 

This could refer to people who make a profession of salvation, but who never truly believed in Jesus in the first place, like Judas. These unbelievers go to eternal hell, where they are burned (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:9). Another possibility is that this refers to true believers whom God chastens to the point of physical death (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:30; Hebrews 12:4ff). As such, they are taken away by the Father, and their works are burned up as useless. 1 Corinthians 3:15 says, "If any man's work which he has built upon it [Jesus] remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire."

Jesus taught that in order to bear fruit, His disciples must abide in Him (John 15:5), that they abide in Him by keeping His commandments (9-10), and that His commandment is for them to love one another (12, 17). This fruit bearing is still by grace, through faith in Jesus, as He is the one who chose the disciples, appointed them to bear lasting fruit (16), and who gives them their fruit bearing ability by indwelling them (through the Holy Spirit). Thus, He instructed them to abide in Him by bearing the fruit of love in their lives. 

Galatians 5:22 refers to fruit bearing as a ministry of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life. "...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...". Believers are called on to yield to this ministry of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 teaches that when a person trusts Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit baptizes, or places him into the body of Christ. Romans six says that by this "baptism", believers are so united with Christ, that they have, positionally, died with Jesus (to sin), and been raised with Jesus (to newness of life). In light of this position, believers should stop letting sin reign in their mortal bodies, and rather yield their members to the service of God. This is called "sanctification". In John 15, Jesus calls on believers to yield to this fruit bearing ministry by loving their brothers.

Jesus also taught His disciples to abide in Him by expecting the world to hate them (John 15:18-16:1). One trial which might cause believers to stumble is the hatred which the world shows for them. To keep His disciples from stumbling when they face this hatred, He prepares them to expect it. The world hated Jesus, and persecuted Him, because He shed light on its sin (John 7:7). If the disciples kept Jesus' word, the world would hate them also. This is because they are ignorant of who God the Father is (John 15:21), and because the disciples would not conform to the sinful ways of the world (John 15:19). 

The sin of the world in hating christians is magnified by the fact that Jesus did such marvelous miracles among them (John 15:24ff). The miracles proved beyond doubt that Jesus is the Son of God, and thus the Savior. The Holy Spirit would bear witness of Jesus (John 15:26), and the disciples would also bear witness to Jesus. As a result, the world would hate them, so they should expect this opposition. 

Jesus teaches His disciples to abide in Him by loving each other, and expecting the world to hate them.

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