How “the rules” empower big faith (and how they don’t)

27/07/13 5:12 PM

John 15:1-17

The Vine and the Branches

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

John 15:2 The Greek for he prunes also means he cleans.

John 10:27:28

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

Some things we notice in John’s gospel about the kind of whole-hearted obedience that connects us to Jesus:
1. It involves constant, passionate interaction with Jesus
2. It involves an up-front, whole-hearted “yes” to anything Jesus actually asks you to do.
3. It bonds you to other people who are trying to do the same thing.

What we notice in John about rules-keeping gone bad.

The rules-keeping is connected to an abstract code, but disconnected from knowing Jesus

One analogy you might find helpful:

Is Jesus a boss or is he a doctor?

According to John 15, how can we experience amazing, powerful, encouraging faith?
1. Give a lot of attention to remaining in Jesus. Involving lots of talking to and hearing from Jesus. And saying a whole-hearted yes to his commands as being a fantastic prescription for what ails you.

2. Richly love your friends who are trying to do the same thing.

3. Eagerly anticipate the fruit-bearing mission Jesus will send you on.

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