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Text Sermons : ~Other Speakers A-F : Richard E. Bieber : ABIDE IN ME

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"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, un­less you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."
John 15:1-8

These words were spoken by Jesus to eleven men as he was about to leave them and return to the Father. Less than twenty-four hours after Jesus speaks these words he's dead. On the third day they see him alive in his re­surrection body. For forty days Jesus keeps appearing to them and speaking to them. Then he leaves this earth and they see him no more.

They saw Jesus no more, and yet the command, "Abide in me," was branded on their hearts.

"As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me."

It was because they did abide in him and his words did abide in them, that these eleven men made such an impact on the history of this planet.

They were not driven by a memory of Jesus ... they were driven by a living relationship with Jesus which heightened,
deepened,
clarified, after their eyes could see him no more.

This thing spread ... other men and women who had been with Jesus in flesh and blood were now with him as branches in the vine ... drawing life, bearing fruit.

Saul of Tarsus, who had watched Jesus from a distance and despised what he saw…who had directed the killing of Stephen the first martyr….came to know Jesus when these eyes could see him no more, became a branch in the vine, drawing life, bearing fruit.

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20) …For me to live is Christ, to die is gain."(Phillipians 1:21)

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit...." John 15

These words are spoken to every disciple of Jesus who has ever been, or will ever be, born into the Kingdom of God. They are spoken to people like you and me,

- whose eyes have never seen Jesus,
- our hands have never touched him,
- our ears have never heard one word out of his mouth,
yet he says we can abide in him ... indeed, if we are to live the kingdom life on this earth we must abide in him.

"Apart from me you can do nothing."

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples."

Notice that word abide ... abide ... abide. Jesus keeps re­peating it because it's the essential thing if we are to have his life in us, his fire burning in us.

"Abide in me."

On the grape vine the branches have no choice. They grow out from the vine and there they are. And as they draw life from the vine they bear fruit. But we have a choice. We can abide in the vine or we can drift. We can draw life from Jesus or we can draw synthetic "life" from a thousand other "religious" things.

On his side, Jesus promises;

- to sustain us through every storm,
- to supply us with the life of the Spirit.

But he can only do this if we choose, daily, hourly, on through the year: to abide in him. If we abide in him, we live. If we don't abide in him, we wither and die and are cast forth as a branch and thrown into the fire.

But exactly what is Jesus commanding us to do when he says to us, "Abide in me?" "Abide in me" means four things.

1. Abide in me means, "Stay in me."

"As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it stays in the vine, neither can you unless you stay in me."

If the branch visited the vine every week or two and went flying off by itself the rest of the time what would happen to it? If the branch decided to share its time between the vine and a cherry tree what kind of fruit would it bear? Jesus is saying,

"You have to learn to stay in me ... dwell in me... remain rooted and grounded in me all the time."

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

The secret place of the Most High is Jesus. But we have to dwell in him,
live in him, stay in him ... day and night ... if we're going to live under the shadow of the Almighty ... the protection of God.
"Stay in me with a consistent prayer life."
"Stay in me with thoughts that keep returning to me ... centering on me."
"Stay in me by laboring at my side and learning all I have to teach."
"Stay in me by continuously listening to my word, which I have put in your heart, which will never be silent unless you silence it."
"Stay in me by doing what I tell you to do."
"Stay in me! Live in me!"

2. Abide in me means, "Draw life from me."

"As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it draws life from the vine, neither can you unless you draw life from me."

"It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail. The words that I speak to you they are spirit and they are life ... The words that I speak to you, draw life from them!"

The branch will either draw life from the Spirit coming up through the vine ... his words ... or it will draw life from the spirit of Babylon. The seductive images of Babylon, (especially religious Babylon) filling it with anxiety, greed, anger, lust, vanity, suspicion, delusion, deceit, hypocrisy. And then the branch will bear not the fruit of God but the fruit of Babylon and it will be severed from the vine by the knife of the vinedresser. What is the source of your life right now?

"Draw life from me ... it's the only life there is."

3. Abide in me means, "Trust me."

"As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it trusts in the vine, neither can you unless you trust me."

The branch that bears fruit rests in the vine and the vine holds it. The wind blows, but the branch doesn't go flying off in the wind. It rests in the vine and the vine holds it. The rain falls, but the branch doesn't panic and wonder if the rain will wash it down to the sea. It rests in the vine and the vine holds it.

The only anchor I have in this world ... the only anchor I can really trust… is the vine who holds me.... Jesus.

"The life I now live in the flesh I live by trust in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.... Jesus."

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High (Jesus) shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

"I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress ... my God ... in him will I trust.'"

"I will trust him above all things .... I will trust him."

4. Abide in me means, "Work with me."

"As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it works with the vine, neither can you unless you work with me."
"Work with me. Get under the yoke with me and work with me."

"We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night comes when no one can work."

"Working together with him," says Paul, "we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain."

"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
"Lord, you know that I love you."
"Feed my sheep! .... Get to work!"

The vine works his life into us in the Holy Spirit. But we have to work it out. We work out the salvation he works in with deeds, action, clear thoughts, bold words.

- We seek the lost...just as he sought us.
- We bring back the strayed…just as he brought us back.
- We bind up the crippled…just as he healed us.
- We strengthen the weak…just as he strengthens us.

Working with him we abide in him.

"Abide in me," means stay in me, draw life from me, trust me, work with me. When we abide in Jesus, his life is formed in us and soon fruit appears on the branch ... real fruit ... kingdom fruit. It may not look like much to the world out there or to churchianity, but God knows that it will remain when the fires of trial destroy everything else. Sons and daughters of God will be brought to birth by the power of God working in us.

One more thought:

We're all concerned about the need for unity. We know that the work God has given our congregations to do at this hour, will get done only if we are one. But this unity is not something we manufacture. It's some­thing the Lord gives us, and he gives it in only one way. If I abide in the vine and you abide in the vine we are one in the vine. Jesus holds us together .... he directs our path, he insists that we work together in peace, and he wonderfully helps us.

If our unity with each other is based on anything else it will shake apart every time there is a sifting, every time there is a storm. So the call of the Lord Jesus to each of us as an individual and to all of us as congregations which he has drawn together and which he alone can hold together is simple : "Abide in me......

Abide in me.."

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask what­ever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my father is glorified; that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."






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