John 15:1-7

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 1) Our Lord had told His disciples and others on previous occasions, "I am the DOOR; by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved." There is no other door. He said, "I am the true BREAD from heaven;" "I am the WATER of life;" "I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE." Everything that God has spiritually and eternally is in Christ, by Christ, and through Christ (John 3:35; Col. 2:9; I Cor. 1:30). Acceptance, forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life are ours by a living union with Christ; for He is the true vine. Believers are branches that have life, grow, and bear fruit only because of their union with the life-giving vine. With respect to the vine and the branches that are in the vine, "My Father is the vine-dresser" Who purposed, planted, and supported the vine (Heb. 10:5; Gal. 4:4-5) for the purposes of His will and for His own glory (Eph. 1:11-12).

(Vs. 2) There are many religionists (such as Judas, Simon Magus, Demas, and others) who even APPEAR to be in Christ by association, outward profession, and performance of church duties; but they bear no spiritual fruit--love, joy, peace, etc. (Gal. 5:22). Religious duties and what men call fruit may be produced without any true spiritual union with Christ (Luke 16:15). These professors are dead branches which will eventually be exposed and taken away. The true branches which are savingly rooted in Christ by the Father's will and through genuine faith not only bear spiritual fruit, but they are constantly pruned, cleansed, and cared for by the Father through trial, teaching, and afflictions that they may grow and bring forth more fruit (James 1:2-4; I Peter 1:7; Psalm 119:71). The fruitless branches were never "in Christ" by grace through faith. They only appeared to be.

(Vs. 3) Christ had told His disciples in John 13:10 that they were "clean, but not all," because Judas was then among them. His being gone, Christ could now say to the eleven, "Ye are clean." Not by works, by law, nor by ceremony were they clean, regenerated, sanctified, and justified, but by His blood through the Word preached and believed (Titus 3:5; James 1:18). These men were all true branches in the true vine, Christ Jesus. By the grace of God they believed in Christ, loved Christ, and were in Christ, never to be separated from Him (John 10:27-30; Eccles. 3:14; I Peter 1:3-5).

(Vs. 4) It is true that once a man is saved by God's grace, he will remain saved forever; yet the Scriptures are full of warnings to believers against unbelief (Heb. 3:12-14), against drawing back (Heb. 10:38-39), to continue in the faith (Col. 1:21-23), and against neglecting His Word (Heb. 2:1-3). Abiding in Christ is abiding in His Word (Vs. 7), abiding in His love (Vs. 10), and abiding in His Spirit (I John 2:27). This abiding in Christ is not a condition which man fulfills by himself before Christ will give him life, but abiding in Christ is the RESULT of Christ's gift of life and TRUE EVIDENCE that we have the life of Christ (II Cor. 5:17). Branches on a grapevine do not bear fruit by themselves but from the vine and as a result of their union with the life-giving vine; neither can any man bear, produce, nor possess any spiritual knowledge, life, gift, grace, or holiness except through Christ's abiding in Him and his abiding in Christ (Gal. 2:20; I Cor. 15:10).

(Vs. 5) Three things are expressed here.

(Vs. 6) When the vine-dresser comes to care for his vineyard, he prunes, dresses, and gives special attention to the branches which have life, green leaves, and fruit. But the branches which are hanging around the vine, diseased, dead, and fruitless, he takes away, bundles them together, and burns them. These fruitless branches are false religious professors who profess to believe, who are numbered with the church, and who appear to men to be "in Christ." But like the wheat and the tares, it takes the eye of God to discern the real difference. We form our opinions by outward signs. God looks on the heart, and He will expose the counterfeit.

(Vs. 7) Abiding in Christ means many things, such as regeneration or the very fact of spiritual life (Eph. 2:1; John 1:12-13), faith in Christ (Heb. 10:38), love for Christ (John 15:10; John 21:17), and perseverance (Heb. 3:6, 14). But abiding or living in Christ is expressed here simply as "my words abide in you." His Word is truth, the gospel, His promises, precepts, and grace and is called "the Word of life" (Phil. 2:16: Heb. 4:12; John 6:63). The Word of God is called the seed of life (I Peter 1:23-25; Luke 8:11-15). One cannot separate the incarnate Word and the written Word. It is impossible for a man to abide in Christ who knows not, loves not, and obeys not His Word. "Ye shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you." This must not be understood of temporal things, such as riches, honors, material and physical luxuries, which we may at times covet, but of things spiritual. The man in whom His Word abides desires the will of God and the glory of God and will pray accordingly (Rom. 8:26). Yet all things spiritually required, needed, and sought will be given if we abide in Him and His words abide in us (Matt. 7:7-11; Phil. 4:19; I Cor. 3:21-23).

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.