The Dwelling Place
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Christ The Vine
Pastor Caleb Delzell - February 9, 2018

Jesus, in words of comfort to His disciples on the evening of His betrayal, draws upon the metaphor of a vine in a vineyard, being looked to and cared for by the vinedresser. We don't have to dig deep for some hidden meaning to this passage, Christ Himself opens it up for us. We see three main characters in this section: 1. Christ, the vine; 2. The Father, the vinedresser; and 3. The saints, the vine's branches. I want to take a second and focus on character of Christ, and we ask ourselves this question: "Why does Christ compare Himself to a vine?"

Well, we can see the Old Testament is full of examples were Israel is compared to a vine or a vineyard. The problem is that although God had provided everything necessary to produce a bountiful and ripe harvest, the unfaithful vine of Israel was stubbornly unfruitful. It wasn't just unfruitful, it actually produced wild, worthless grapes, with no value or flavor. So God, the vinedresser, comes and takes away that vineyard's position, prestige, and protection (Isaiah 5:1-7)

This shows us the need for a new vine, one that wouldn't be fruitless. A better vine, one  that would bear a rich harvest. A True Vine, one that bear for the Vinedresser that which He desired. Jesus comes to us in this section of John and says, "I am the True Vine."

The word 'true'  here simply means real, genuine, or authentic. There are a lot of preachers and teachers within the Christian community these days who would try desperately to connect you to a false vine. Oh, they may say "Jesus, Jesus" on the outside, but the fruit of their lives is rotten and sickly. A perfect example of this are the Pharisees, the religious leaders in Christ's day. They come to John the Baptist to be baptized, but they come with a false meekness, really driven by pride and jealousy. John sees what's taking place, and he calls them out for it, telling them that all the external washings of baptism in the world can't help them if internal heart still bears poor fruit (Matthew 3:7-10). And these were the spiritual leaders of the nation! Claiming to know the mind and ways of God, while all the while producing nothing of value for His kingdom.

John the Baptist wasn't the only one to deal with this subject. Christ Himself warns us of the reality of many deceptive vines, many false prophets who externally appear as meek and humble sheep, but internally are ravenous wolves, looking to devour and prey upon the ignorant church. They couldn't care less whether or not you produce a real and lasting harvest so long as their own bellies and pockets get filled in the process. So Christ tells us to examine their lives for fruit. Be alert and active, scour their lives for a harvest that will result from being attached to the True Vine (Matthew 7:15-20).

Paul is in line with the Lord as he admonishes his young associate Timothy to be on the lookout for these kind of false leaders, warning that it's only going to get worse (2 Timothy 3:13). People will get to the point, like in ancient Israel, where they won't even want to hear what's true anymore! We can see this even today, as the true Word of God is traded out for cute stories and funny anecdotes. The power of the Gospel too often takes the back seat to self-help/self-improvement new-age nonsense (2 Timothy 4:4-5).

What's our response when faced with an all-too-often self-centered and fruitless church? Christ tells us in John 15:3-4, 4?Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5?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.

We stay connected to the True (real, genuine, authentic) Vine of Christ. Stay plugged in to Christ through time in His Word, in communion with His Holy Spirit, in service for His kingdom, bearing those fruits as evidence of your integration in the Vine. The Apostle John had so much to say on the topic of abiding in Christ, but let me share just one section with you before I wrap this up. 1 John 2:28-29, 28Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.

If we live out the fruit of righteousness, not on our own, but in the power His Spirit gives, then we are proven to be abiding in the True Vine, and so we are confident in our salvation, not damnation, when He comes.

What's the point? Don't get sucked up by a false teacher here or a false prophet there trying to sell you some powerless, fruitless form of self-absorbed bologna. Instead be diligent to abide in the True Vine, operate through the True Vine, draw strength and nourishment from the True Vine, and then live a life that bears fruit for the glory of the True Vine.

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THE DWELLING PLACE - March 17, 2018