Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Confessing Jesus Before Men: I AM The Vine


"And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8-9 NASB)

Confess before men" is a phrase that, in Greek, means to say the same the same things about Jesus that He says about Himself. In this series, we have reviewed the I AM's, including I AM the Bread of Life, I AM the Light of the WorldI AM the DoorI AM the Good Shepherd (pasture), I AM the Good ShepherdI AM the Resurrection and the Life,  I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life (the way), and I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life (truth and life).

It was the last night with His disciples. Jesus had washed their feet and they had celebrated the Passover. Judas had been revealed as a betrayer and had left the group. Only the eleven were left with him and Jesus was giving his final instructions. (Leanna Paraphrase) I'm going away, He told them, and I will prepare a place for you. You will join me eventually, but in the meantime, the Holy Spirit will come and help you. 

There were a few things they needed to remember, Jesus told them. Love one another. Serve others. Don't worry. Bear fruit. 

Bearing fruit was only possible if they remained connected to the vine.

Our "I AM" for today is "I AM the vine."

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me, you can do nothing." John 15:5 NASB

A branch that is connected to the vine will bear fruit. It's the nature of vines and branches. The point of being a branch is to bear fruit. As believers, we are simply branches on the Vine of Jesus, and our purpose is to bear fruit. We are not called to simply attend services and memorize scripture. If we are to follow Christ, to abide in Him, we are to bear fruit for all the world to see. 

What kind of fruit should we bear? Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Ephesians 5:9 says the "fruit of the Light" is goodness, righteousness, and truth. 

If we are to bear fruit that pleases Christ, we will bear the fruit of the Spirit in such a way that the world can recognize those fruits in us.

We are not called to convict the world of sin. That's the Holy Spirit's job. We are not called to judge the world or to prune unfruitful branches. That's God's job. 

Our job is simply to be a good branch. As good branches, we are to bear fruit, to be so filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that even the most hardened sinner will recognize something different in us. That is the power of the Spirit at work in us. 

The important part of this branch and vine business, however, is not the branch. It's the vine. No fruit can be produced if the branch is not connected to the vine, for it is the vine that supplies nutrients for life. The survival and health of the branch are completely and utterly dependent upon the vine.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. (John 15:7-8 NASB)

Two wonderful outcomes result from productive, fruitful lives. First and most important, we glorify God with our lives and prove ourselves as disciples of Christ. The second outcome is answered prayer. "Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done." 

Jesus was not talking to hear himself speak. He spent His last few moments with his disciples communicating urgent information. Part of that urgent information is if we allow the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in us, we will be rewarded with answered prayer.

In a desperate and degenerate world, there is nothing more needed than believers who are filled with the fruit of the Spirit and the promise of answered prayer. If we want our world, our nation, to change, there is something critical we must do. Abide in Christ and bear much fruit. Only then can we be assured that our prayers for revival will bear fruit.
Our Father, forgive my poor efforts as a branch. Help me to stay so connected to you that the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in me. Remove everything in me that is displeasing to You. Produce in me the fruit You long to see. In Jesus name, Amen