Our God loves to create, out of nothing He likes to make the most elaborate and complex, out of the dirt He likes to make something that is clean, and out of the old He likes to make things new. Maybe that is why I like yard work, I get to do my part to create something beautiful, it is a partnership with God to get things to grow.
In the Bible our Creator is portrayed as someone who has planted and cultivated a vineyard. In the Old Testament God prepared the soil for His vineyard, He built up walls to keep out the wild animals and to keep people from stealing the fruit, He took great care of it so that it had every advantage and it should have been the most productive and prosperous vine.
But instead of being a beautiful vine that attracted the neighboring nations to God they had become ugly and God was not being glorified by the mess that they had become. After a lot of patient gardening Israel forfeited its right to be the vine, the New Testament message is of God planting a new vine, Jesus comes along and says that He is the True Vine.
John 15:1-8 “I am the true grapevine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of Mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father.
God is the Master Gardner that tends to the vine, He is looking for two different types of branches, the ones that bear fruit and those that don’t, both types of branches are going to get the knife:
He cuts off every branch of Mine that doesn’t produce fruit
Bible theologian John MacArthur says that the first branch that didn’t bear fruit was Judas. He was close to Jesus and he played along like he was a fruitful branch but he proved to be a phony. The branches that are being cut and thrown into the fire were never Christ followers.
John 13:10-11 “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
Anybody can put some effort into changing the outside and fool their friends just like Judas’ eleven friends that were clueless about his true character. I can follow the rules and do what is expected of a Christ follower for long enough to fool anybody, but real transformation comes from the heart where your friends have a hard time seeing.
Eventually the fruitless branches are identified, they cannot hide forever before they are found out and they are removed. God doesn’t allow these branches to keep hanging around because they destroy the reputation of the church and they take away from His glory.
He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more
The last words you want to hear from the doctor is “we need to operate.” That is the news that the Great Physician has for you, He wants to improve your fruit production. In order for us to operate at maximum fruit-bearing capacity God needs to cut off our sins, our habits and attitudes that slow down the production of fruit.
Hebrews 12:10-11 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
God’s discipline is to bring us along a little at a time toward being holy. Sanctification is the church word for the process of being made holy and set apart for God. To live attached to the vine is a life of dependence, exercising faith and becoming more like Jesus, His nature will grow in us and take over the controls.
Jesus is our only connection with God, the only means that we are saved and the only hope we have of living eternally with God. When we are joined to the vine, we are united with Jesus in all our interests, we have common desires, we are delighted in the things that He loves and we hate the things that He hates, we are willing to endure the same trials, contempt and persecution that He bore.
When you produce much fruit you are My true disciples
Every believer bears fruit but not all of them bear “much fruit.” Some branches have a relationship with Jesus and they are a part of the true vine but they are not know by their abundance of fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is in short supply and production needs to be increased.
GOD’S PRUNING TOOL
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
God never changes, He is still using the same tool that He has always used to prune His vine, He uses the knife of His Word to get rid of the impurities that will hold up fruit production. He takes off the old blooms, the shoots that are going the wrong way and the parasites.
The Gardner’s knife causes us much pain, sometimes we wonder why some things have to be cut away and we resist, we don’t like it or understand everything that the Gardner cuts off. Sometimes I have to wonder if I really need so much attention from the Gardener and if He really knows what He is doing.
I must trust that He has great things in store and He wants me to be the most productive and beautiful branch that I can be so that He will be glorified. The beauty of His Vine will attract the neighbors and bring much glory to Him.
The world has some interesting vines that can get me tangled up. Their vine may be their bank account, their education, fame, talents or relationships. Many people plant a vine of religion and rules, but none of these can bear fruit, the True Vine is Jesus and you need to be attached.