“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” (John 15:5-6)
When doctrinal truths, or even particular words, are repeated in Scripture they are done so for emphasis. Such is the case in John 15:5-6 when Jesus repeated what He had previously stated to His disciples in vs. 1-4. What truths were restated and reconsidered by the Lord?
First, Jesus stated that He was the vine and His disciples were the branches. As such, disciples of the Lord are joined to Him and responsible to bear fruit for His glory and honor. The fruit disciples are to evidence are those qualities and characteristics which best exemplify the qualities and characteristics of the Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 5:22-23 describes this so-called fruit of the Spirit as follows: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” This type of fruitful living best exemplifies a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ.
Second, disciples of Jesus are to abide in Him. This means they are to remain, stay and reside in Christ by obedience to display the fruits of the Spirit. This speaks of the perseverance of the saints. All true believers in Christ will abide in Christ. Those who do not abide in Christ are not true believers of Christ (I John 2:19).
Third, those who do not abide in Christ are thrown away like a branch which has been cut off from the vine and/or the tree. I recently removed a branch from my peach tree located in my back yard. Soon after I discarded the removed branch, the leaves on the branch began to wither and die. It was because the branch was no longer joined to the tree. I removed the branch from the life giving sap of the tree.
In light of this statement by Jesus, is our Lord teaching that true believers can and do lose their salvation? This is often argued in light of John 15:5-6. I do not believe this is the case.
Dr. R. C. Sproul provides some wonderful insight when he writes, “His (Jesus) warnings about what will happen to those who are unfruitful is not a declaration about whether one can lose one’s salvation; they are an encouragement to believers to test the genuineness of their faith by examining their fruit and asking God to do what is necessary to make them more fruitful.”
Dr. Sproul concludes, “We do not want to be among those who make a false profession and end up in the fire. Thus, we seek to know that we possess genuine faith, and one way we do that is by looking to our lives for evidence of spiritual fruit. We will invariably be disappointed by what we see, given the abiding presence of sin, but even meager fruit is better than none. And we will also ask the Father to prune us, to do what it takes to make us more fruitful, so that our harvest increases.”
Are you willing to ask your heavenly Father to prune you in order for Him to produce more, and much more, spiritual fruit in your life? What areas in your life need to be pruned by the Lord?
Soli deo Gloria!