Our Vision is to see lives transformed through Jesus Christ to the glory of God. It’s beautifully seen in John 15, so I’m going to use the vision statement to structure this talk. Every vision speaks to a problem and a challenge. To understand that we need to see the context. Jesus is giving his final instruction as he is about to die. Verse 1
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. (NIV)
Now in the Old Testament, Israel was often called a vine that God planted, the problem with Israel is that they didn’t produce fruit. When Jesus says I am the true vine, that is I am the true Israel. When every Israelite was getting baptized, they were confessing sins. When Jesus was getting baptized there were no sins to confess and the Father gave his stamp of approval. “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” Finally, someone who obeys me and pleases me. If Jesus is the true vine and we are the branches, then we can only live and bear fruit by staying with Jesus.
1. Our vision is to see lives transformed.
The people of God are not just to bear fruit, but much fruit and fruit that lasts. What does it mean to bear fruit? What is the transformation that Jesus is looking? Bearing fruit includes the following
- verse 8 To show ourselves to be Jesus’ disciples
- verse 10 To obey the commands of Jesus
- verse 11 To have the joy of obedience
- verse 12 To love one another as Jesus loved us
- verse 16 To ask the Father in prayer in Jesus’ name
But verses 1-2 show us that this transformation comes at a cost
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…” (NIV)
Judas was a dead branch that was cut off and thrown away, but branches that do produce fruit are not cut off but cut back so to produce even more fruit. Anything worthwhile comes at a cost. It’s a painful process to be cut back but it’s what brings fruit. Any gardener knows if you want fruit next season then cut back the branches at the end of this season. Verse 16 tells us why this is so important
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit— fruit that will last— (NIV)
None of us like it when we see an athlete chosen for our country and that athlete fails to give their best. How much more when one – chosen by our Lord
- Squanders their time
- Buries their talents
- Wastes their treasures.
- Are filled with bitterness
- Are lacking self-control
- Are never praying
- Are refusing to love others
God chose you to bear fruit that will last. But it can’t happen without Christ.
2. Our Vision is to see lives transformed through Jesus Christ
All change begins with where we are, not where we are pretending to be. Verse 4-5 tells us the only way to bear fruit is by remaining in Jesus.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV)
Eleven times we are told to remain or stay with Jesus. We are totally dependent on Jesus “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
Richard Branson, of Virgin companies, has built 7, billion dollar companies from the ground up and he did it without Jesus. Michael Phelps, won 22 Olympic medals in swimming and he did it without Jesus. So how can Jesus say, “Apart from me you can do nothing”? Because none of what these guys achieved will last into eternity. Compare them to the Christian pensioner who praises her God, loves the saints, witnesses to her neighbor, and is generous with her income, that is fruit that will endure forever.
We celebrated 29 years of MBM last week. We also prayed for those who walked away from Christ these last 29 years, asking God to bring them back.
So how do we remain in Christ to the end?
2.1 To remain in Christ grasp His love for you
Look at John 15:9
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. (NIV)
You will stay with the one who loves you. How much does Jesus love you? As much as the Father loves Jesus is how much Jesus loves you? You are loved as much by Jesus as Jesus is loved by his father. You cannot be more loved. It is impossible to have more love than the love of Jesus. Jesus bathed in the Father’s love for him, we must bathe in Jesus’ loves for us. So, it’s no surprise that Jesus calls us friend.
2.2 To remain in Christ, understand you’re his friend
Who would you love to be friends with? Bill Gates, or Taylor Swift or Cameron Smith. Do you understand that you’re friends with the most powerful and loving being in the universe. As friends, Christ gave up his life for us, verse 13
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (NIV)
We may not know why suffering comes to us the way it does. We may wrestle with God when things are not fair, but what we cant deny is this – He so loves you. A friendship forged by the blood soaked cross. And verse 15 tell us that friends share secrets.
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (NIV)
The mark of a friend is that you’re in the know. I’m an open book, sometimes I overshare too much information, but I don’t share everything with everyone. I share my deep secrets with those that I have a special close relationship of trust with but, as in the rest of verse 15
…for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (NIV)
Jesus has kept nothing from the apostles and the apostles have kept nothing from us. That is why there are no surprises on judgment day. It’s why the bible is sufficient for every good work.
But because our friendship is with King Jesus, it is marked by obedience,
2.3 To remain in Christ you will obey Him (John 15:10)
Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (NIV)
What is true for Jesus is true for us. Jesus remains in his Father’s love by obeying him. We remain in Jesus’ love by obeying him. I remember talking to a guy, he understood grace and put his trust in Christ, Praise the Lord! He loved Ephesians 2 that says “We are saved by grace through faith and not by works” Praise the Lord! But he kept smoking dope to the glory of God. Praise the Lord! Eventually we had the talk, he said “But Ray I love Jesus” I said “Yes, but Jesus said ‘If you love me, you will obey my commands.’” The penny dropped for him. I love Jesus by obeying him and my obedience is how I remain in Jesus love.
Part of that obedience involves loving one another.
2.4 To remain in Christ you will love others (John 15:12)
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (NIV)
I remain in Christ’s love by loving others, to the extent that Christ loved us is how we are to love others. That is fruit that lasts.
The 2 great commandments are: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. God could have kept all the love for himself, but he gives a 2nd command: Love your neighbour as yourself. I love God by obeying him. I love God by loving others. I’m to Love his people, love the world, love the enemies. This is what a transformed life looks like. We value biblical truth but only to the extent it leads to transformation. You’re harming your relationship with Jesus by not loving others.
In Don Carson book ‘Jesus and his Friends’ he says
“It is not easy. The unlovely ones in the brotherhood bring out the worst in me. The whiners get on my nerves. The gossips and the arrogant, the immature and the silly, conspire to drain my resolve. But the answer is to remember that the branch can do nothing apart from the vine. And that Jesus himself loved his friends, his unlovely, whining, gossipy, arrogant, immature and silly friends enough to die for them.”
That is why I think we are given 2 big open-ended promises of prayer
2.5 To remain in Christ you will pray big in Jesus’ name (John 15:16)
…I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (NIV)
You read these verses out of context and it sounds like this is a blank cheque, promising anything, get everything. If you believe that why not ask God to make you walk on the moon while you’re at it. Friends, learn to read bible promises in context. What does Jesus want us to pray about? Fruit that lasts; Obedience to Jesus commands; Love one another.
If you want to pray in Jesus name, then pray Jesus will ask God that you will produce fruit that lasts. Don’t give up changing some area of your life! contentment, jealousy, back biting, gossip, porn, bursts of rage, lack of courage, poor self control.
Ask anything in any area of growth and Jesus will answer.
I’m in an Anger Management course with 2 other guys at church. It’s very humbling, you call up and the questions are asked me were:
- Do you have AVO? No
- Do you have a Domestic Violence charge? No
- Is this a Court order? No
So why go? I want to keep bearing fruit that lasts. I can’t love others if my frustration slips to some anger. I want people to feel safe. I want my family to feel safe. I want my staff to feel safe. And yes, the course gives me insight, but apart from Jesus I have no motivation to change. Apart from the Spirit of Jesus I have no power to change. Apart from Jesus blood I stand condemned. Because of Jesus I want to bear fruit that lasts for the Fathers glory
3. Our Vision is to see lives transformed through Jesus Christ to the glory of God (John 15:8)
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (NIV)
Our lives are lived for the Father’s pleasure. Our obedience puts a smile on the face of God. Our good works make God look good. And what I love is that, as verse 11 tells us, as we remain in Christ, God’s glory becomes our greatest joy.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (NIV)
Oh, to taste the Joy that my ordinary life marked by obedience lifts up the Father. Oh, the deep satisfaction of knowing that my good works give pleasure to my Father. There is nothing sweeter to the soul than saying yes to Jesus. To come to the end of every day not only enjoying forgiveness for sins committed that day, but the joy of thanking God for those simple and imperfect good works Jesus enabled you to do. Fruit that lasts for those who stay with Jesus, for apart from Jesus we really can do nothing. Every physical pleasure has a short lived life span, but the pleasure of pleasing God is so long lasting. Have you ever thought what it’s like to be Jesus? Verse 11 gives us some insight.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you. (NIV)
If you know the joy of obedience you have a sense of the joy Jesus has with his Father for all eternity. When this joy comes say to yourself “So this is what it’s like to be Jesus.”