Design a site like this with
Get started

VIDEO Supernatural Peace

John MacArthur May 10, 2015

We come now to the Word of God and we return to the 14th chapter of the gospel of John: John, chapter 14.  As we’ve been going through the gospel of John, we’ve taken paragraphs pretty much along the way.  But this morning I want to deal with just one verse, one verse that is a very wonderful verse, a very important one.  It’s John, chapter 14 and verse 27, John 14:27.

We’ve worked our way all the way up to this verse and I couldn’t get past it, it’s just so rich.  John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.”

Peace appears twice in that brief verse.  It’s a popular word; it’s an almost impossible reality.  It is a constant pursuit.  I give credit to people for chasing it.  But it seems as though the world has been unable to find it, and that is, in fact, true.

Turmoil is in us, near us, around us, and beyond us, dominating the fallen world.  There is an absence of personal peace, family peace, local peace, national peace, international peace.  The Durants, in writing their history, said that by their calculations, in the last 3,500 years, there has been less than 300 years that could be called peaceful in the world.  On a national level, this is a very troubled society.  There are many ways to demonstrate that, but that would in some ways be redundant since you’re all aware of it.

Maybe something you didn’t know is that two million Americans are in prison.  That’s the highest incarceration rate on the planet; and we’re supposed to have everything in this country.  We’re now facing, it seems, street riots on a routine basis, execution-type killings, and the threat of terrorism in our neighborhoods.  At the same time, family disintegration is pandemic.  Children are born illegitimately without a married mother and father, divorce is everywhere.  And where divorce doesn’t take place, marriages are still full of conflict, hostility.  And at the bottom of that list is personal peace.

This is a very troubled world, even at the level of human hearts; a lot of talk about peace.  There are always people trying to find peace: peace in the cities, peace in the communities, peace in the family, peace in relationships, peace in the world.  There are always people trying to come up with truces of some kind between conflicting parties.  People want that; they want peace in their lives.  They want some tranquility in their lives inside of them, and in the most intimate relationships they posses – in families and in communities, and on and on and on – to be free from trouble; to be free from stress; to be free from threats, fear, anxiety, depression, despair, conflict.  Everybody seeks that.

People talk about trying to find peace and quiet, or trying to make peace, or law enforcement trying to keep the peace, or global arbitrators trying to establish peace, until we finally rest in peace.  People pursue their peace by diversion, by drugs, by recreation, by entertainment, by shopping.  On a broader scale, there are those who tell us that peace will only come in communities and cities when there is social change, when there is economic change, when we fix the external things.  People have been saying that since the beginning of human history, and peace has been completely elusive.  There is a reason for this and it is this: among those who do not know God in the wicked world, there is no peace, there is no peace.

I read some years ago an assessment of history that asked the question: “How many peace treaties that have been signed have been broken through human history?”  Answer: All of them.

Now people settle for a minimalist definition of peace, a moment’s calm, a moment’s tranquility, a brief truce.  Historians have defined peace in the world as the lull in the battle when everybody stops to reload.  But there is a peace that comes only from God, and that’s the peace that is being presented to us in that verse I read.  Let’s look at a biblical definition of this peace.  Only God’s Word, only God through His Word, can authoritatively point to real peace.

Now in the Old Testament, there’s a familiar word for peace.  It’s the word shalom, and it’s used about 250 times.  Very common word among Jewish people.  In fact, it is the most normal greeting among Jewish people, and has been for centuries: “Shalom.”

It began to be used as a greeting way back in the book of Judges, way back in 1 Samuel.  It has been a part of Jewish culture since the beginning.  And when they said to someone, “Peace,” what did they mean?  Did they mean, “May you please stop fighting with your wife,” or, “Would you please stop being a problem in the neighborhood or disrupting the synagogue”?  What did they mean?

Shalom is a word that is a very large and all-encompassing word, and in essence it means this: a wish for completeness; or a wish for contentment; or a wish for fulfillment, or satisfaction, or blessing; or maybe well-being works; a wish for prosperity on all levels.  In other words, it is a desire that all that is good would flow into your life.

And that’s what Jewish people meant, and still mean, when they say shalom.  They don’t mean, “I hope you stop fighting with your wife.”  They mean, “I wish for you all that is good, all that is blessed, all that brings satisfaction, fulfillment, completeness, and contentment.”

The New Testament counterpart to that word is the word eirn from which we get the feminine name Irene.  It is the same thing.  Eirn is a word that literally describes a tranquil state of the soul, a soul at rest, a satisfied soul.  That’s the biblical view of peace.

Now outside the Scripture, humanity would settle for far less than that.  Humanity would define peace mostly in negative terms: to be without trouble; to be free from conflict; to have no stress.  It would be the absence of hostility, the absence of unrest, the absence of conflict.  Peace for the world is just the absence of what troubles them.  It is being free from things that cause you to be fearful, anxious, depressed.

But that is an insufficient and incomplete definition of peace; however, it is the only peace the world can offer.  That has to be their definition because that’s all there is.  There’s only the possibility of a lull in the conflict.  There’s only a possibility of a kind of superficial, temporary respite from an otherwise troubled existence.

Job said, “Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward.  As inevitably as sparks off a fire go up, man is born to trouble.”  In this world Jesus said you’ll have trouble.  It’s the nature of fallen people living in a fallen world and colliding with other fallen people.  So we’ve got to kind of condescend a little bit to the world because the only kind of peace that they can ever experience is some temporary absence from conflict, or some temporary escape from conflict.

But that is not how the Bible views peace.  The most definitive condensed statement on peace I just read, it’s in chapter 14 of John, and verse 27.  The Bible says a lot about peace, and the word for peace is used, as I said, about 250 times in the Old Testament, Hebrew word.  The Greek word is very, very frequently used in the New Testament.  But when the Bible talks about peace, it is talking about something completely different; and that ought to be obvious to you because when Jesus says, “I’m giving you My peace,” He says, “it’s not the peace the world gives you.”

And what is fascinating to me is that at the very time that our Lord talks about peace and presents this peace as His own peace that He’s granting to His followers, He is at the most dramatic, potentially disturbing, distressing moment in His life.  He is leaving the world in hours through the means of execution on a cross, and He knows that, and He knows the details of it.  He has lived through them in anticipation by His omniscience a thousand, thousand times.  He knows what He faces.  He knows He will be not only crucified, it’s not just the physical reality of that, but that He will be separated from His Father and He will be punished for all the sins of all the people through all of human history who will ever believe.  He knows what He’s facing.

He also knows that His disciples are profoundly distressed.  They had certainly everything they could possibly hope for and more in His presence for three years, and now He is leaving.  He has said that to them repeatedly.  He’ll say it again in verse 28: “I go away.”  And He knows that this is troubling to them.  As chapter 14 opens up, He says, “Stop letting your hearts be troubled.”  So He is going to give to them a kind of peace which will put an end to their troubled heart.

I remind you that the setting here is Thursday night of Passion Week and the last week of our Lord’s life before His crucifixion.  This is Thursday night.  They’re celebrating the Passover in an upper room.  And starting in chapter 13 and going through 16, our Lord speaks to His disciples in that upper room.  And this section is full of promises, full of amazing, astonishing, startling, incomparable promises that our Lord who is leaving is going to give to His own, not only to the disciples, the 11 – Judas has exited by chapter 14 – not only to the 11 true disciples, but to everyone who will believe through what the disciples will write and preach.

So this is His legacy to all of us as well.  So in chapter 17 after He’s made all the promises in 13 to 16, He prays to the Father and asks the Father to fulfill all the promises; and He actually says in chapter 17, “Not only for these who are with Me, but for all those who will believe.”  So these are promises to all who will believe; and He promises us heaven, and He promises us that He’s preparing a room for us, and that He’ll be back to take us to glory.  He promises that He and the Father and the Holy Spirit will all dwell with us.

And then last time we saw that He promises truth, truth.  He pledges that the Spirit will come and enable the apostles and the associates to write the New Testament, and the truth will be deposited to His people for all of history.  So He’s made some astonishing promises: heaven, resources, whatever you ask for.  “Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it.  You have all of heaven’s resources at your disposal even though I’m not here.  And truth is always going to be available to you through the Word of God, the Scripture, and the illuminating ministry of the Spirit in you.  And now the promise: peace, peace.”

But this is a supernatural peace.  It belongs only to those who are Christ’s.  There are four features of this peace that I want you to see in this one verse, okay, four features of this supernatural, divine peace.

First of all, the nature of this peace, the nature of peace.  When we’re talking about peace, what are we talking about exactly, specifically?  Well let me say very simply, there are two aspects to this: one is objective and one is subjective.  What do I mean by that?

An objective peace is that peace which is outside of you.  It is not inside of you; it is not experienced by you; it is outside of you.  It is a transactional peace.  And then that’s the objective peace.  The subjective peace is that peace that is inside of you and it is experiential, and the second is based on the first.

So when we talk about peace, let’s look at verse 27 and see how our Lord gives us the nature of this peace inherent in this statement: “Peace I leave with you.”  This is a deposit; this is a gift.  This is not a command, this is a gift.  He is not asking them to find this peace, He is saying, “I’m leaving this peace with you.  I’m depositing this peace.  You will possess this peace.”  It is a reality; it is a gift; it is a transaction.  Our Lord grants them this peace and to all who will follow them in loving and serving Him.

What are we talking about?  What is this peace?  Maybe the best way to start explaining it is to have you turn to Romans 5; Romans, chapter 5.  And here it jumps out of the page at you right away; chapter 5, verse 1.  Based on the work of Christ in the end of chapter 4, Him being delivered over because of our transgressions and raised for our justification, based on His work on the cross, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” okay.

So now we’re talking about peace with God.  Preposition is very important: peace with God.  We are at peace with God, that is why Paul in Ephesians 6:15 calls the gospel, “The gospel of peace,” because the gospel brings peace between the sinner and God.  That’s what justification does.  When God declares you just, when He imputes the righteousness of Christ to you, you are declared righteous.  You are justified by faith in Christ and by the work that He did on the cross.

On the cross, He paid the penalty for your sin, and that frees God to forgive you and impute the righteousness of Christ to you.  That is a declaration; that is a divine decree; that is not an experience.  That is not inside of you, it is a transaction that takes place outside of you by a sovereign God.

You are justified by God; that means declared righteous based upon your faith in Jesus Christ; and His righteousness then imputed to you, you stand just before God.  Therefore, we have peace with God.  Every Christian has peace with God, every Christian.

Now before you are saved, before you come to the knowledge of Christ, the situation is very, very different.  To find out how different it is, all you have to do is look at verse 10 of Romans 5: “We were enemies.  We were enemies.”

There’s no peace, no peace.  We are alienated from the life of God, cut off from God.  We hated God.  In a very divine and pure sense, God hated us.  He is angry with the wicked every day the Scripture says.

There was the most severe and permanent everlasting alienation between the sinner and God.  It ends up for those who don’t believe as eternal hell.  That’s how alienated we are from God.  That is the supernatural and final and terminal extent of our alienation: “We were enemies, but we were reconciled to God.”

How were we reconciled to God?  “Through the death of His Son, through the death of His Son,” end of verse 11.  So through the Lord Jesus Christ, we have now received the reconciliation.  That is the kind of peace we’re talking about, first of all, objectively.

Look at 2 Corinthians, chapter 5.  Very important portion of Scripture, 2 Corinthians 5, verse 18: “God, who reconciled us to Himself.”  Verse 19: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself by not counting their trespasses against them.”

How did God do this?  How did He reconcile us?  By verse 21: “He made Him, Christ, who knew no sin, sin on our behalf.”  So He put our sins on Christ, punished Christ.  And since our sins were paid for in full, all we have to do is believe and we are reconciled to God.  That’s the kind of peace we’re talking about.

I want to show you one other important text.  It’s in the 1st chapter of Colossians, Colossians 1:19, “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, in Christ, and through Him, through Christ, to reconcile all things to Himself.”

How did He do that?  “By having made peace through the blood of His cross.  He made peace through the blood of His cross.”  Another way to say that is in verse 22: “He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”  That reconciliation is the peace with God that Romans 5:1 is talking about.

Since the rebellion of Adam and Eve, the whole human race has been born alienated from God.  The whole human race has been born enemies of God.  The whole human race has been born as a children of wrath under divine judgment.  We are the enemies of God by birth, we’re born that way; and we’re the enemies of God by choice.  We are the enemies of God by heritage and we’re the enemies of God by action.

Humanity and God are at war.  All of us came into the world at war with God.  We are part of the world, and James 4:4 says, “Friendship with the world is to be the enemy of God.”  But the gospel of peace is the message that the enemies can be reconciled, and that peace was made through the blood of the cross.

That is justification.  All sin is forgiven; the rebellion has ended.  The enemies have become friends; the enemies have even become sons of God.  We are welcomed into God’s family and God’s presence forever.  Jesus made peace by taking on our punishment in full, and we are reconciled, and we now have peace with God forever,  We have peace with God forever.

Put it another way: forever God is on our side.  Forever He will never leave us or forsake us.  Forever we will be in the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Forever we will possess the very life of God, forever.  That is an external, eternal reality, never to change.  That’s objective peace with God.

But that objective peace also provides for us a subjective peace, an internal peace, an experiential peace; a sense of goodness, trust, contentment, tranquility, confidence, well-being; and that is why when we get together, we love to sing, for example It Is Well with My Soul.  Of all the hymns that we sing, I don’t know that you sing any hymn with more eager gusto than you sing that hymn.  You just sing it with all your heart, “It is well with my soul.”  And you are in the moment, you’re expressing that, experiencing the subjective peace that comes from the objective reality of being reconciled to God.  That’s the joy that we have in being believers.

In Romans, chapter 15, there’s a verse, verse 13, that says this: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope.”  That’s a prayer.  That’s a prayer from the apostle who’s saying, “I want you to literally be filled with the subjective peace that ought to be the result of your objective reconciliation,” Romans 15:13.

Romans 14:17, “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking; the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  You have been made righteous, you’ve been justified, and the result of that is peace and joy.  And the two are really inseparable: if you’re at peace, you’re in joy.

Now this is not a kind of passive peace; it is not just being willing to endure; it is a lot more than that.  It is not some kind of benign reality.  It is a triumphant peace.  It is an aggressive peace.  It is a peace that moves out.  It is a conquering peace.

It is a peace that not only protects you from anxiety, and fear, and doubt, and despair; but it is a peace that triumphs over everything with courage, confidence, contentment.  It’s a triumphant peace, and you should be experiencing all of it.  So that’s the kind of peace our Lord is saying: “I leave you this peace.”  First of all, objectively, peace with God; and then subjectively, the peace of God, which is what it’s called Philippians 4 as we will see.  So that’s the kind of peace.

All right, just another feature: the source of peace.  Back to verse 27: “My peace I give to you, My peace.  Peace I leave you, but it’s My peace.”  That is to say it’s divine, it’s supernatural.  It comes from heaven; it belongs to Christ; it belongs to God.  I won’t take the time; I won’t take the time; but many places in the Bible you will find this statement: “The God of peace, the God of peace.”

You’ll find it in Romans 15; you’ll find it in Romans 16; you’ll find it in Philippians 4, 1 Thessalonians 5, Hebrews 13, 2 Corinthians 13, 1 Corinthians 14, et cetera, et cetera.  Second Thessalonians 3:16 I will point out to you: “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.  The Lord be with you all!”  That’s his prayer again, that you would enjoy the peace that comes from the Lord of peace.

Well look at verse 27.  The peace that He gives is His own peace: “My peace.”  Another way to see that would be to go to chapter 16, verse 14, where our Lord says, “When I send the Holy Spirit, He will come.  He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.  He’s going to give you what I possess,” and part of that is His peace.  So the peace that we have is not the peace of the world – that’s the next statement he’s going to make – it’s from heaven.

Paul wrote 13 letters, at least.  We’re not sure if he wrote Hebrews or not, but he wrote 13 for sure.  In 12 of those letters he said this: “Grace and –” what “ – peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have the God of peace, we have the Lord of peace; and in Galatians 5, we have the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace.  Again, this is the essence of the Trinity that dwells in the believer; with the eternal life of the presence of the triune God comes divine peace.  It was the same peace: “My peace,” He said, that kept Him calm on that Thursday night knowing what was about to happen; knowing that His disciples would scatter, Peter would deny Him; knowing that He would go to the cross, bear sin.  It was the same calm really that he exhibited through His whole life when He was treated with mockery, scorn, hostility, hatred, betrayal, all undeserved.

Where did that peace come from?  Well, essentially, it came from perfect trust in the Father, perfect trust in the Father.  So just mark it down in your mind: peace is connected to trust.  It’s connected to trust.  His trust in the Father was so clear and so consummate and so complete that Hebrews 12:2 says, “He went to the cross for the joy that was set before Him,” even though in the going, in the garden, He was sweating blood in the agony.

When Jesus stood before Pilate, Pilate was one disturbed person.  Pilate was getting more disturbed and disoriented and more disconnected from any kind of reality the longer he had to cope with Jesus.  So finally in frustration, chapter 19 of John, verse 10, Pilate says to Jesus, “You do not speak to me?”  He’s literally outraged that Jesus doesn’t get who he is and how important he is.  “You do not speak to me?  Do you not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?”

The calm is stunning.  Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above.”  That’s trust.  “Whatever you’re going to do to Me is what God wants you to do to Me.  Whatever’s going to happen is God’s plan.”  That’s why I’m telling you the peace that He gives is the peace that is built, not only on the external reality of justification, but the internal reality of a God who can be trusted.

This is where the subjective peace begins to really become strong.  And so Paul said to the Thessalonians, as I read you, that, “I want to pray that you would be full of peace.”  That peace isn’t created in a vacuum.  It doesn’t come as a result of manipulating your mind, playing mind games or psychological tricks.

So Jesus says, “Look, I’m giving you My peace, the peace that I possess in the face of Pilate, My executioner, in the face of the cross, in the face of separation from the Father: ‘My God, My God.  Why have You forsaken Me?’ in the face of sin-bearing.  This is my peace and it’s My peace that I’m giving you.”  And that should be obvious.  If the Trinity lives in us and the Trinity’s presence is our eternal life, then we have the possession of those attributes which are God’s attributes, including His peace.

It’s not available to anybody else; and that’s the third point.  The nature of peace, the source of peace, and the transcendence of peace.  He says, “Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.”  This peace from God is not found in the human realm, it transcends all that the world offers of superficial and temporary peace.  The world’s pseudo peace – listen – the world’s pseudo peace is the bliss of ignorance.  It’s the bliss of ignorance.

One writer said, “The wicked may have something which looks like peace, but it is not.  They may be fearless and stupid.  But there’s a great difference between a stupefied conscience and a pacified conscience.  This is the Devil’s peace.  He rocks men in the cradle of security.  He cries, ‘Peace, peace,’ when men are on the precipice of hell.  The seeming peace a sinner has is not from the knowledge of his happiness, but the ignorance of his danger.”  So I say the world’s pseudo peace is the peace of ignorance.

I was visiting Lori Price.  Her husband is going to glory, maybe today even.  Patricia and I went to be with them yesterday and their precious family.  They’ve been in our church for many years; and a sadness in the family to lose this precious father, grandfather, husband.

But we were rejoicing.  All of us were rejoicing in the face of this inevitable moment of death.  They were all saying how thrilled they were that he was now going to see the Savior.  There was such peace.  And Lori was saying that they have some hospice folks who’ve been coming in in recent weeks, and one of them wanting to help said, “Well, you know, it’s all going to be good because it’s just going to add another angel to heaven.”

This is a person who regularly deals with dying people, and that’s what you’ve got?  That’s it?  This is going to add another angel to heaven?  Based on what authority do you say that?  If that comforts anybody, it makes my point.  People are happy to settle on a stupid answer and a false peace.

And I’m not denigrating the dear woman who serves in that way, I’m just saying if you don’t know where the real peace lies, you come up with ignorant responses to the most dire of all events; somebody on the edge of hell in the most severe danger they ever been in, and you can’t come up with some kind of superficial statement out of the air.  But why do people do that?  Because it works.  People will settle for an ignorant answer and a fantasy rather than face a biblical reality.

So we’ve seen the nature of peace, the source of peace.  And the third thing to say is that this is a transcendent peace.  It’s not the kind of peace that the world talks about with its superficial ignorant fantasy.  The Bible emphasizes that the world’s peace is inadequate.

Isaiah 48:22, “‘There is no peace for the wicked,’ says the Lord.”  No peace.  Isaiah 57:21, “‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’”  Jeremiah 6:14, God excoriates the false prophets who heal the brokenness of His people superficially saying, “‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace.”  You remember Jesus looking over Jerusalem says, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!  But now they’ve been hidden from your eyes.”  No peace.

In the end times, 1 Thessalonians 5, unbelievers are going to say, “‘Peace and safety!  Peace and safety!’ and destruction is going to come on them suddenly like labor pains on a woman with child, and they will not escape.”  You can’t find true peace in ignorance or fantasy, it’s only available in Christ.

People lack peace.  That’s not an emotional issue; that’s not a psychological issue; that’s not a circumstantial issue.  That is a theological issue; that is a spiritual issue, because only those who know Jesus Christ can have peace with God and the peace of God.  And that brings us to a last point.

We’ve seen the nature of peace, the source, the transcendence.  One other important feature: the pursuit of peace.  You say, “Wait a minute.  What do you mean the pursuit of peace?  You just said it’s a given.  You just said it’s a gift.  It’s not a command.  He said, ‘I’m giving you peace.  I’m leaving you peace, My peace.’  What do you mean, the pursuit?”

Well, look at verse 27: “Stop letting your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”  Even with all these promises, all these incredible promises of peace, is it not reality, folks, that we live a lot of our lives lacking peace?  Do I hear an amen?  That’s what I thought.

We have to talk about reality here.  Is it strange to say you have a promise and then to give a command?  No more strange than to say you have a cupboard with all the resources.  Why don’t you go there and take some out?  Or you have a bank account with all the money you need.  Why don’t you go withdraw some of it?

This is consistent with everything our Lord has promised.  There’s always appropriation.  Look, He promised us, “All the resources of heaven are available, but to access that, you ask in My name.”  He promises us the truth, the truth, written in Scripture for us.  But to access that, you study to show yourself approved unto God.  You search the Scripture.  You’re a diligent student.  He promises us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but we are commanded to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, to be filled with the Spirit.  This shouldn’t be surprising because the Lord promised salvation and eternal life to His people, but that is appropriated by faith.

Psalm 34:14’s command is this: “Seek peace and pursue it.  Seek peace and pursue it.”  By the way, Peter quotes that in 1 Peter 3:11.  Isaiah 26:3 reveals that it is those – this is very important: “Who steadfastly trust God, who are kept in peace.”  Isaiah 32:17 links the experience of peace with a righteous life.  Colossians 3:15 says, “Allow the peace of Christ to rule in your hearts, to rule in your hearts.”  Not something in a corner; it should dominate you.

Paul urged Timothy, “Pursue peace,” 2 Timothy 2.  Peter wrote 2 Peter 3:14, “Be diligent to be found by Him in peace.”  James 3: “Righteousness and peace are inseparable.”  Hebrews 12 speaks of the peaceful fruit of righteousness.  So peace in your life is pursued through righteousness, through faith, through prayer.

You know, a good way to see this is to go back to Matthew, chapter 6, just briefly because we only have a few minutes.  But Matthew, chapter 6 – you know the passage – verse 25: “For this reason I say to you, stop worrying, stop worrying about your life.  Don’t worry about your life.  Don’t worry about what you’re going to drink, what you’re going to eat, what you’re going to wear.  Don’t worry about that.”  Then He goes through a whole litany of things: “God takes care of the birds, God takes care of the plants.  Worrying doesn’t help anything.  You can’t add a single hour to your life – ” verse 27 “ – by worrying.

“Why are you worried about your clothing?  Look how He clothes the lilies of the field more gloriously than Solomon.  If God takes care of grass and plants, don’t you think He’s going to take care of you, since they are temporary and you’re eternal?  This is what the pagans – ” verse 32 “ – seek.  Your Father in heaven knows that you have need of all these things.”  Verse 34: “So don’t worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will care of itself.  Every day has enough trouble of its own.  You don’t need to import what hasn’t happened.”

So what’s the positive here?  “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,” okay, His righteousness.  So when you follow the path of righteousness, peace finds you on the trail, finds you on the road.  Don’t worry; pursue righteousness and you’ll find peace.  But one thing: you’ll have an affirming and not an accusing conscious.  That’s another message.

Philippians 4 – one more passage – Philippians 4, verse4: “Rejoice in the Lord always.”  That’s pretty clear.  But He still says, “Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your meekness, or your gentle spirit, be known to all men.  The Lord is near.”

Live in constant joy.  Never at any time should you be anything but joyful: “Rejoice in the Lord always; and I’m telling you again, rejoice!  Let your meekness be known to everyone.  What have you got to worry about?  The Lord is near.”

Verse 6: “Be anxious for – ” what “ – nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication.  Let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God – ” we already know about peace with God, Romans 5.  “The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension – ” it’s not as the world knows, it’s beyond that.  “The peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

It’s just an amazing thing.  Stop being anxious for anything.  You will pursue peace, first of all, when you pursue righteousness; secondly, when you pursue thankful prayer, when you come before God by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, letting your request be made known to God.

Now this introduces a critical component in peace: faith, faith.  You go to God in the midst of all your troubles because you believe in His power and His promise, right, and His provision, and His resources, and His love.  We talk about faith: “I need more faith.  How do I get more faith?”  I’m going to make it real simple for you – write it down: faith is primarily thinking, thinking.

It’s not something floating out in space, it’s thinking, it’s thinking.  Thinking about what?  God, His person, His attributes, His words, His works, His power, His promises.  The more you read about God and think about God, the greater God becomes; and the greater God becomes in your thinking, the greater your faith will be in Him; and the greater your faith, the more eager will be your thankful prayer in the midst of trouble that brings peace.

That’s why the Bible talks about having a renewed mind: Romans 12, Ephesians 4:23Colossians 3:2.  It’s about how you think.  And to make that indelibly clear, go to verse 8 in Philippians 4: “Finally, brethren – ” listen, here’s the last word on this “ – whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute – ” and all of that would be true of God “ – if there’s any excellence and anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”

And if you’re thinking on those things, you’re thinking about God, because all those things are true of God.  God is truthful, God is noble, God is righteous, God is pure, God is gracious, God is worthy of praise.  And when you think like that, Paul says, “You’ll do what I’ve done.  You’ve seen me do this.  Practice these things – ” end of verse 9 “ – and the God of peace will be with you.”  You’ll experience this peace.

So how do we pursue peace?  Through righteousness, obedience, and through faith.  Trust and obey.  We go back to those things over and over, don’t we?  But the beginning is in your thinking.

Listen to Isaiah 26:3 – I mentioned that I’m going to quote it: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on You because he trusts in You.”  Perfect peace is the product of perfect trust.  Perfect trust is the result of perfect knowledge of God.  The more you know about God, the more you trust Him, the more trustworthy He is, obviously, in your mind.  The more you trust Him, the more eagerly you go to Him in the midst of your trouble with thankful prayer.  And when you go to Him in your trouble with thankful prayer, the peace of God floods your soul beyond comprehension.  This is really – this is a staggering promise in verse 27.

It’s not surprising that I couldn’t get past one verse, right?  Pretty amazing.  And having said just that meager amount, we have come to the end.  There are more gifts that Christ promised to us in these passages, but none, none is more overarching than this one: peace with God and the peace of God.

Father, we thank You that we’ve been able to be together this morning, this wonderful place, the sanctuary of Your presence, because You dwell within Your people.  We have been blessed in fellowship, we’ve been blessed in music and prayer, and the Word has been a blessing to us, a profound, a profound stream of water coming down from heaven to quench our thirsty souls.  We thank You, Lord, for giving us peace with God and the peace of God.  May we experience it to the full as we pursue it through righteousness and faith.

I pray, Lord, for all who are here to know, first of all, peace with You through justification, salvation, reconciliation.  Lord, bring sinners, even now, to the foot of the cross.  Bring sinners to the realization that they live on the brink of eternal danger, and may they run to Christ for salvation and peace.

And saints, Lord, bring them to the place where they have a desire for the fullest of peace that doesn’t come because their circumstances change, but becomes a reality when their knowledge of You increases.  Increase our understanding of who You are, our great God, and cause us to walk in the path of righteousness by Your Spirit that we may enjoy Your peace.

We thank You, blessed Christ, for giving us Your peace.  What a gift.  May we be faithful to honor You in response, we pray in Your great name.  Amen.

Trees of Righteousness

June 28, 2021

Isaiah 61:3

“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

The spring and summer storms that roll across the Midwest can pack a powerful punch. Their destructive force levels towns, tearing up the landscape, yet it’s not unusual to see a great tree standing in the rubble. Arborists tell us that extreme weather conditions stimulate trees to send their roots deep into the earth. This process enables them to withstand the predictable but passing storms.


The storms of life are inevitable, but have you noticed that believers who have endured immense difficulties are remarkably resilient? Their inner man is at rest, and they display a calm spirit. What is their secret? They have learned to reach upward toward heaven in surrender to God’s will while sinking their roots deep into His righteousness, and in doing so, they have learned to trust Him in each challenge.

Trusting God is easy when all is sunny and bright –

it is the tempest that proves where our confidence lays, in Him or us.

The next time the winds of life blow, tempting you to worry, remember that the Lord is at work. All that is raging around you will increase your spiritual strength and depth. Trust Him as you look forward to what He is about to do, and even the sound of the wind will become a comfort to your ears.

 Awaiting His return,

– Pastor Jack

Seek not Great Things

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is greatness.jpg


Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not’ ~ Jeremiah 45:5

This statement was said to Baruch amidst news of distress, disaster, and destruction. Baruch was a scribe who wrote down all what God said to Prophet Jeremiah. When Jeremiah received a word, he ‘dictated all the words the Lord had spoken to him. Baruch wrote them on the scroll’ (Jeremiah 36:4). What Baruch penned down had a central theme; disaster is looming. Although messages of hope and redemption were interlined, calamity and seventy years of captivity had to occur. There was no escape, and that did not sit well with most of the hearers. ‘When they heard all these words, they looked at each other in fear’ (v16). In fact, the King ignored the words and actually, ‘cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the brazier until the entire scroll was burnt in the fire’ (v23). ‘The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes’ (v24). Eventually, many did not take heed of the impending calamity.

Unlike the others, Baruch who wrote down the nature of the impending disaster was somehow disturbed. Although he did not openly express it, the Lord knew what was in his heart. And so God through Prophet Jeremiah tells him, ‘You said, ‘Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest’ (v3). However, the Lord knew that the real source of Baruch’s sorrow, pain, groaning, and restlessness was not really the disaster decreed, but what will be left behind when captivity set in. And so God continues to tell him, ‘I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted throughout the land’ (v4), leading Him to ask Baruch, ‘Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people’ (v5). The only consolation that God gave Baruch was, ‘but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life’ (v5).

Likewise, God only gives us an assurance of life. Other great things may come and go. Positions may come and go, wealth may come and go, fame may come and go, and loved ones may come and go. In fact, God has decreed that ‘The world and its desires pass away’ (1 John 2:17). The only assurance that He gives is eternal life and so ‘the man who does the will of God lives forever’ (v17). When all is said and done, the only thing we can really escape with is our life (if we have one). Jesus says, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ (Matthew 6:19-21). Essentially, Jesus was alluding to the fact that any investment made in this world has no guarantee. Worldly investments can be uprooted. The only guarantee that God gives us is eternal life- to those who store up treasures in heaven. Heavenly investments are not made like worldly investments. They are done from within, from the heart. And so making heavenly investments is giving our hearts to God, so that our hearts will be set on a secure and everlasting treasure, a treasure we can find even after we leave this life.

Instead of seeking great things for oneself, God says, ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well’ (v33). Just like Baruch was assured an escape with his life amidst death, destruction, and captivity, Believers are not only assured eternal life, but the trivial things that people seek while on the earth. That’s why Jesus says all these things will be added to you as well. It is an assurance. This is because, when our hearts are right with God, He directs our ventures, gives us knowledge and insight on how to make wealth, gives us skills and abilities that make us excellent and distinguished in what we do, and gives us wisdom on how to manage what we have. In short, God ‘will give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed’ (Psalm 20:4).

The moment we begin to possess and set our heart on what God has given us, exalting it higher than Him, God says, ‘I the Lord will answer him myself in keeping with his great idolatry’ (Ezekiel 14:4). Usually, He causes a shake-up ‘so that what cannot be shaken may remain’ (Hebrews 12:27). In the process, wealth, position, power, fall at an instant and a man is left bare. Bare to clearly see who God is without blinders and distractions. This is what happened to Pharaoh of Egypt who said, ‘The Nile is mine; I made it for myself’ (Ezekiel 29:3). When Pharaoh took God’s gift and in the process misconstrued the gift, and exalted himself above God, a shake-up occurred. God says, ‘Because you said, ‘The Nile is mine; I made it,’ therefore I am against you and your streams, and I will make the land of Egypt a ruin, and a desolate waste . . . It will be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never exalt itself above the other nations’ (v9,15). People who seek great things for themselves only come to ruin and become a byword, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’ (1 Peter 5:5). Because in humility of heart, one does not seek great things for themselves, but rather seek the great God, and the God of great things – the God of ALL things.

‘But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God’ ~ Luke 12:21

Hands Held HIGH!

GOD’s intention, through His Son, Jesus, is to revert all men to the default position He created in them!

In Genesis 2:16, “the LORD GOD commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:’”

Can you see that man? Can you picture him every time he was hungry? He lifted himself and he lifted his hands to receive what GOD had provided. This was GOD’s default position for man! Can you see that man? He’s like the praying man, saved by grace, lifting his hands to GOD in prayer and thanksgiving

“And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD, your GOD, Who hath dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be ashamed.” Joel 2:26

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. And My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,” (Isaiah 32:17, 18)

The Psalms says: “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities,
Who healeth all thy diseases,
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction,
Who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
(Psalms 103: 1 – 5)

Can you see him lifting his hands to GOD and being lifted by GOD, “so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s,”?

Good and Bad Guilt?

Guilt can be a merciless taskmaster that drives us far from God. Or, guilt can gently lead us back to a right relationship with Him, more fully convinced than ever of the Father’s love. How we respond to guilt today can determine our success in life for years to come. It can even determine where we will spend eternity.

Listening to Our Guilt

The Bible says we are created in God’s image and His glory. This wonderful privilege of bearing His image also holds out the requirement that we live righteous lives. When we do something that conflicts with our sense of right and wrong, an alarming thing happens: we feel guilty.

If you are feeling guilty, then this internal moral compass is sounding an alarm indicating that you may have sinned. And sin separates us from God.

That’s why it is important to listen carefully to your guilt. Don’t just try to ignore those nagging feelings of moral ill. Listen to your heart. Then determine to find out what’s causing your guilty conscience.

Guilty as Charged

Even as you read these words, you may be coming to a realization of the source of your guilt. Perhaps you have offended someone. Or you have done something you know God did not want you to do.

Guilt can arise from things we say and do that directly violate God’s law. Even if we are not familiar with a specific Bible passage, God has given us a law that is written on our hearts and helps us know when we have sinned (Romans 2:15)

True guilt is God’s way of warning us to repent and turn away from our sins so He can forgive us, cleanse us and make us entirely guilt-free. The fact is, the Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Another passage says “the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (Gal. 3:22).

Guilt is a fact of life because sin is a fact of life. And our sin has the consequences of death (Romans 6:23). But God does not leave you “shut up” under the emotional burden and deadly consequences of sin. He has made a way to break free from our sin and guilt.

God’s Answer for Guilt

God works through everything that happens in our lives, including guilt, to draw us to Jesus (John 6:44,45; John 14:6; Romans 8:28,29). No matter what you have done, God has made a way home – through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life, yet He was willing to die on the cross and receive the punishment we deserved. His death on the cross and triumphant resurrection secures for you all the blessings of God, including forgiveness. All you have to do is repent an turn your life over to Jesus (Acts 3:19).

This is what the Bible calls being “born again” of the Spirit of God (John 3:3,5). We enter into the born-again experience by repenting of our sin, yielding our lives to Jesus as Savior and Lord, and trusting in faith that He will forgive and cleanse us from all sin (Romans 3:23; Romans 10:13; 1 John 1:8-9; John 1:12).

Guilt-Free Living

God’s answer for sin and guilt accomplishes what no amount of human effort could manage. Thanks to the blood of Christ, we can “draw near” to God “in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22).

This cleansing is not just a one-time event. Every time the Holy Spirit prompts our spirit that we have sinned, we can return to His throne of grace to receive mercy (Heb. 4:16). If we fail to respond to guilt in repentance, we can expect God to continue to work in our lives until we come to Him in humility. For God desires children who can serve Him with a “clear conscience” (1Tim. 3:9).

Having a clear conscience also requires that we walk in humility and repentance towards those around us. Be sure to seek forgiveness and to forgive.

Taking On the Accuser

At times, the enemy of our soul, Satan uses guilt to keep us from the Lord. The Bible describes Satan as the “accuser of the brethren” who appears before God day and night with accusations against believers (see Rev. 12:10).

These accusations leave us feeling as if God has not forgiven – or will not forgive – us. We respond in shame, anger, bitterness, and depression – which further drives us from God’s presence.

This kind of guilt – a guilt that does not leave even after we repent and turn to Jesus for cleansing – is not from God. As we have seen, the blood of Christ fully satisfies God’s righteousness. Thus, “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

If you have repented of your sins but still feel the accuser lurking in the shadows, confront the accusations with God’s Word. As Jesus said, “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Walk in that freedom.

As You Pray

God wants to free you from anything that would hinder your full life and liberty in Him. If you are dealing with guilt, choose the path that leads to life; repentance. Then stay on that path by fully accepting God’s forgiveness and cleansing:

“Father, I confess my sins to You. Thank You for forgiving me of every sin I have ever committed. And thank You for releasing me from the burden of guilt. Help me to continue living every day for You. Amen.”

God’s Word on Guilt

“Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is His flesh, … let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:19,20,22)

Scriptures For Study

Romans 6:23 — Wages of sin; gift of God

1 Timothy 4:2 — Effect of lying on our conscience

1 John 1:9 — God’s faithfulness to forgive

Jeremiah 31:34 — No remembrance of sin

John 1:12; John 5:24; John 8:36 — Belief in Christ delivers from sin

Romans 6:18, 22; Romans 8:1 — Freedom from sin and guilt

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.

Can God change your life?

God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God. You can also send us your prayer requests.

The Value of Scripture

FROM R.C. Sproul  Nov 13, 2020

The value of Scripture in the life of the believer lies in its source and its function. In his exhortation to Timothy, Paul commended Scripture to Timothy by saying, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

When I was a little boy, there was a fellow in our community who was a couple of years older than me, and he was something of a bully. He made fun of me and called me names, which hurt my feelings. Sometimes I came home crying to my mother and told her what the other boy had said to upset me. My mother had a favorite response to this. As she wiped away my tears, she said, “When people talk like that about you, son, consider the source.”

That little bit of sage advice from my mother was a principle that I learned to a much more intense degree in the academic world. One of the rules of scholarship is to track down in your research the sources for the information you have to make sure that those sources are reliable. Scholars have to be careful not to take anything at face value, because credibility is directly tied to source. They must analyze, examine, and use the critical apparatus at their disposal to track down the real sources.

Paul assured Timothy here that the source of Scripture is God. That Scripture is “given by inspiration” refers not to the way God oversaw the writing of the Bible but to the source of the content of the Bible. The word that is translated “given by inspiration” is the Greek term theopneust—literally, “God-breathed.” When Paul wrote that Scripture is God-breathed, the idea was not one of inspiration but of expiration; that is, the Bible was breathed out by God. The whole point here is that the Bible comes from God. It is His Word and carries with it His authority. Paul wanted Timothy to understand the source of the Bible, not the way it was inspired.

After stating that the Bible is God-breathed, Paul spelled out its purpose and value. Scripture, he said, is profitable for several things, including doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.

The value of the Bible lies, first of all, in the fact that it teaches sound doctrine. Though we live in a time when sound teaching is denigrated, the Bible places a high value on it. Much of the New Testament is concerned with doctrine. The teaching ministry is given to the church for building up its people. Paul said, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11–12).

The Bible is also profitable for reproof and correction, which we as Christians continually need. It is fashionable in some academic circles to exercise scholarly criticism of the Bible. In so doing, scholars place themselves above the Bible and seek to correct it. If indeed the Bible is the Word of God, nothing could be more arrogant. It is God who corrects us; we don’t correct Him. We do not stand over God but under Him.

This yields a practical help for Bible study: read the Bible with a red pen in hand. I suggest that you put a question mark in the margin beside every passage that you find unclear or hard to understand. Likewise, put an X beside every passage that offends you or makes you uncomfortable. Afterward, you can focus on the areas you struggle with, especially the texts marked with an X. This can be a guide to holiness, as the Xs show us quickly where our thinking is out of line with the mind of Christ. If I don’t like something I read in Scripture, perhaps I simply don’t understand it. If so, studying it again may help. If, in fact, I do understand the passage and still don’t like it, this is not an indication there is something wrong with the Bible. It’s an indication that something is wrong with me, something that needs to change. Often, before we can get something right, we need to first discover what we’re doing wrong.

When we experience the “changing of the mind” that is repentance, we are not suddenly cleansed of all wrong thinking. The renewing of our minds is a lifelong process. We can accelerate this process by focusing on those passages of Scripture that we don’t like. This is part of the “instruction in righteousness” of which Paul speaks.

Finally, Paul explained the overriding purpose for Scripture study. It comes in the final clause, where the apostle wrote, “… that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” It was as if Paul was warning Timothy that if he neglected the study of God’s Word, his life would be incomplete. He would be missing out on this vast resource, this treasury of truth that is the Word of God. And the same is true for us.

This excerpt is taken from 5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow by R.C. Sproul. To learn about this topic download R.C. Sproul’s free Crucial Questions booklet Can I Turst the Bible?

VIDEO The Benefits of Abiding in Christ, Part 3

by John MacArthur Aug 30, 2015

I have been really startled, I think, to see a strange paradox in our present time. Christianity is under assault; I think we all know that. Christians are being persecuted; the Bible is being marginalized, put out of the public square.

But at the same time that the church is being marginalized, the Bible being marginalized, Christians being persecuted, it is interesting that it’s become popular among worldly and sinful people to claim to be Christians. It just amazes me – and even to claim to be evangelicals: athletes, actors, politicians, TV personalities, reality figures. All kinds of people that are very public claim to be Christians while their lives and conduct bear no resemblance to what is Christian. They seem to have little regard for God or Christ in terms of a dominating role in their lives, little regard for the Bible in terms of obeying its commands and living under its principles, and yet it’s popular to say you’re a follower of Jesus Christ.

I was reading last week an article by a man who said he was the pastor of Bruce Jenner, and so he wrote an article titled “I

went to church with Bruce Jenner; here’s what he taught me about Jesus.” There are plenty of celebrity pseudo-pastors to accommodate the people who falsely claim to be Christians, especially prominent people. It’s a very strange thing. It is actually dangerous to be a true Christian, but cool to be a false one. That thought takes us to our text in John 15.

John 15 is, of course, the teaching of the Lord Jesus. These are the very words of our Lord. And, of course, His words dominate chapters 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17. Those are all words from our Lord on Thursday night of Passion Week, the night before His crucifixion, His last night in the upper room, celebrating the Passover with His disciples. And during that time, He exposed Judas as the betrayer, and it says in chapter 13, verse 30, that Judas “went out immediately.” So from that point in chapter 13, verse 30 on, He’s talking to the remaining eleven disciples who did not leave. That’s in His mind on that final, final night.

The contrast between Judas – the false follower, the false disciple, the false apostle, the false Christian, if you will – and the eleven who were genuine: our Lord brings that distinction between Judas and the others into very bold and clear perspective in the opening 11 verses of chapter 15. Let me remind you of them by reading them.

He says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so 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 bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

Now the questions that are answered in this text are these: “What is the nature of true Christianity?” “What marks a true disciple?” “How do we distinguish true Christians from false Christians?” “How are we to understand and explain our actual relationship to God through Jesus Christ?” These are foundational questions, foundational, the most foundational questions of all questions.

There are, obviously, many who say they believe in Jesus, even call Him Lord, even go to church. They might like the Bible. But Jesus warned about superficial faith. In Matthew 7, He said, “Many will say to Me in the judgment day, ‘Lord, Lord, we did this and that in Your name,’ and I will say to them, ‘Depart from Me, I never knew you.’”

In chapter 13, He said there are people who give some sort of signal that there’s real life, but they never bear fruit because of the love of riches, or the cares of the world, or the persecution that being a Christian brings. They wither and die. Jesus said there are going to be false Christians growing alongside true Christians in that same 13th chapter of Matthew. They will not be able to be distinguished until the judgment when the angels make the separation.

Jesus pushed back people who came ostensibly to believe and follow Him. He did it in John 2, He did it in John 6, He did it in John 8, He did it again in John 12 as you remember. He did it with the rich young ruler who came asking the question: “What do I do to receive eternal life?” and the man went away sorrowful rather than saved. And when people wanted to follow Him like disciples, He said things to them like, “Unless you’re willing to leave father and mother, and hate mother and father, and hate your own life, and give up everything you have, and take up your cross and follow Me, you can’t be My disciple.”

He told people to count the cost and understand what they were really signing up for. And then He actually told His own disciples that it’s difficult to become a true follower. It’s difficult because it’s the end of you: “Deny yourself.” And it could cost you your life: “Take up your cross.” And it’s a life of obedience: “Follow Me.” But nonetheless, there were always, and still are, people who attach to Jesus in some superficial way.

Judas is their archetype. He’s sort of the principal figure, the principal model or example of a false believer. No one since then could be as close to Jesus as he was since He’s not here anymore. For three years, he followed Christ. And then, as I said from chapter 13, verse 30, he went away, he went out, and he went out to perpetrate the most heinous crime in human history, the betrayal of the Son of God, leading to his execution.

As we come to chapter 15, the Lord has been saying many things that night to His disciples, many things since Judas left, many wonderful promises He has given to them and to us, many warnings. He has told them about what will come. He has made pledges to them. He has described what they should expect of hostility and persecution in the future – and that goes for all of us after them. He said a lot. But here in chapter 15, we have this definitive statement about distinguishing a Judas branch from a true branch, a false disciple from a true disciple, a false Christian from a true Christian. He does it with this analogy of a vine and branches.

God is the farmer, God is the vinedresser. Christ is the vine, the true vine. It is Christ who is obviously working in His incarnation under the leadership and the care of the Father. He says that through His whole ministry. He submitted to the Father in everything He did. The Father is the one caring for the vine. There are two kinds of branches. There are fruitful branches, true believers like the eleven who remained; and fruitless branches, like Judas who left.

Now that Judas is gone, our Lord speaks in verse 4 – and that’s where we want to pick it up – to the remaining eleven, and to all others who are still claiming to be followers of Christ. “Abide in Me,” that’s the command. The word is “remain, stay.” “Don’t do what Judas did. Don’t leave. Don’t go out. Stay. Remain.” This is a simple command, but it really dominates the rest of this text. The word “abide” is used ten times: “Stay. Stay.”

I would simply echo that to you, if you have made a profession of faith in Christ, if you have attached to Christ at least from the human perspective from what we can see and experience, don’t leave. Stay. Stay. Give evidence that your faith is real. Stay. If you leave, you demonstrate that you are a fruitless branch, never had eternal life, and will be cut off, dried up, and burned.

I keep reminding you of 1 John 2: “They went out from us because were not of us. If they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out from us that it might be made manifest they never were of us.” But to the one who abides, our Lord makes incredible promises – and that’s what we’ve been looking at.

Go back to verse 4. The first promise is salvation, eternal life. That is contained in His words, “I in you.” “Abide in Me – remain, stay – and I in you.” That is how you define what it means to be a Christian. It is to be indwelled by God, indwelled by God. Down in verse 5, He says the same thing: “He who abides in Me and I in him.”

Back in chapter 14, He made promises that are equally stunning. Chapter 14, verse 16: “I will ask the Father, He’ll give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you, in you.” There, we are promised that the Holy Spirit will be in us as true believers. Incredible truth.

Down in verse 20: “In that day you will know that I am in My Father and you in Me, and I in you.” Not only the Spirit, but the Son. And down in verse 23: “If anyone loves Me, he’ll keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” The Holy Spirit, the Son, and the Father, the triune God takes up residence in the life of a believer. That is what salvation is. That eternal life that we receive is the very presence of God. We become, as Peter says, “partakers of the divine nature.”

So we remind you that when you describe yourself and say, “I’m a Christian,” and somebody says, “What does that mean?” it is far more than that you believe certain things, or that you go certain places, or go through certain religious ceremonies. It means that the Trinity lives in you. God has taken up residence in you. You are His dwelling place. You are His temple.

John – you will remember this – said the same thing in His first epistle, 1 John 4: “If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and believe the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

You have it again: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all abiding in the believer. That’s salvation. You’re a new creation because you became a partaker of the divine nature. You are presently the possessor of the very life of God, which is as eternal as God is. You will never die; you will only go into eternal glory.

Another way to understand that is your salvation was a bigger change than your resurrection because you were given the divine nature; you’re only awaiting the fullness of its expression. That’s salvation. So the first thing that comes to one who abides is salvation.

The second thing is righteousness, or sanctification, if you will – sanctification. Verse 4 again: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so 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 bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Using the agricultural metaphor: a branch lying on the ground isn’t going to bear any fruit because the fruit comes up from the root through the vine and extends out the branches. If you are connected, however, you will bear fruit, you will bear fruit. “You will bear – ” according to verse 5, “much fruit.”

What is this? We talked about it last time. It is basically righteousness, righteousness, which is another way to speak of sanctification. Righteousness is being separated from sin, and that’s what sanctification is. So if you are a true believer, then God has taken up residence in you. That presence of God, that indwelling, divine nature, will be manifest by its own characteristics, and your life will give a demonstration of righteousness. That’s sanctification.

Philippians 1:11 speaks of the “fruit of righteousness.” Romans 6:22 speaks of the “fruit of holiness.” Romans 7:4, “fruit unto God.” James 3:17, “good fruit.” Second Corinthians 9:10, “righteousness.” Colossians 1:10, the “fruit of every good work.” Ephesians 5:9, “all godliness, righteousness, and truth,” the fruit of righteousness, godliness, truth. Hebrews 12:11, the “peaceable fruit of righteousness.”

In other words, if you are connected to the vine, the life of God, which is pure and holy, will manifest itself through you. You will be characterized by righteousness: by righteousness thoughts, righteous words, and righteous deeds – not perfect, because that divine nature is still incarcerated in unredeemed human flesh, and not until you get rid of this sinful body will the expression be perfect. But nonetheless, it’s there.

And what is this righteous fruit? Well, we went over it last time: repentance for sin – a true repentance and a life-long repentance, that righteous fruit. John the Baptist said that. Holy attitudes. The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Praise and worship, the fruit of our lips, giving praise to God. Giving to people’s need – Philippians 4, Romans 15 – that’s fruit; communication of truth that blesses others, that’s fruit – 1 Corinthians 14; pure conduct – Philippians 1, Colossians 1; and then finally we said when you bring someone to the knowledge of Christ through the gospel, that is fruit – Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 16: Any righteous deed that comes as a result of a righteous nature and a righteous attitude. So what do you receive if you stay? Salvation, sanctification. Salvation, sanctification, righteousness.

Now let me take you to the third – and I’ll give you six before we’re done this morning, a total of six. Number Three: answered prayer, answered prayer. Look at verse 7: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” That is an astounding promise, is it not? “Ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you, if you abide in Me.” There are two qualifiers here. Qualifier Number One: “If you abide in Me,” if you are a true believer, if you are a true branch, if you have a permanent union with Jesus Christ in which His life is coming through you.

Let me look at it on the other side. If you’re not a true branch, you are on your own, my friend, you are on your own. God guarantees no answer to your prayers, no involvement in your life. You have no promises; you have no assurances. You can make no claims on Him; He has no obligation to you. God never promises to answer the prayer of a nonbeliever, or a false believer. He’s under no obligation to do that. If you are a Judas branch, you have no claim on Him. I think it’s important to remind you of that because there are lots of “prayers” floating around in the air from people who pray to God without any true relationship to Him and somehow expect and answer. God can, if He chooses of course, answer a prayer for His own purposes, but He has no obligation.

I think about that whenever there’s some kind of national day of prayer or when I hear people sort of blithely say, “We’re praying for you,” and I want to ask, “To whom? And on the basis of what, and why?” God is under no obligation to the children of Satan to answer their prayers, except one prayer: repentance and faith in Christ, and a cry for salvation. Any other prayer you’re on your own.

Well, you’re on your own, but your not really on your own because you’re of your father, the devil. You’re in the kingdom of darkness, not the kingdom of light. You’re under the power of the prince of the air who works in the children of disobedience to affect his own will. You’re part of the kingdom from which believers are delivered. So you’re not on your own. You have Satan and his demons moving in your kingdom and accomplishing their purposes. “But if – ” on the other hand, verse 7 “ – you abide in Me, if you’re a remaining branch, possessor of true eternal life, if you’re abiding in Me, everything changes. You can ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.”

Now that sounds like a carte blanche. Some people think it should be, that whatever people decide they want, God should have to deliver as if He’s some genie who jumps out of a bottle when they rub it and gives them whatever they want. But there’s a second condition. The first condition: “If you abide in Me – ” second condition, verse 7 “ – and My words abide in you, and My words abide in you.”

Now, that’s not talking about the red letters in your Bible; not talking about the actual things that Jesus said. I don’t like red letter Bibles for that very reason; it’s all from God. But that is simply saying if the truth from God abides in you. Why does He say that? Because to be a believer, you have access to God. To be a believer, you have the promise your prayers will be answered. But also to know that your prayer is going to be answered, you have to know something about God. You have to pray within the framework of God’s revelation.

So Jesus says that second condition is that – to borrow Paul’s language in Colossians 3, “that the word of Christ dwells in you richly.” You understand from Scripture who God is, what He desires. You understand who Christ is, what He desires. You understand who the Holy Spirit is and what He desires. Can you imagine without that condition, if God just said, “If you abide in Me, ask whatever you want and I’ll do it.” We would be running things.

If God was simply a genie who popped out of the little bottle and gave us everything we want, we would be all on a course to self-destruction. James says, “Look, here’s the problem. Your prayers aren’t answered because you ask to consume things on your own lusts.” In other words, you’re asking from your own perspective. You want what you want.

Look, there are people who call themselves Christians who believe that we can ask for anything and God is duty-bound to give it to us. No. If you’re a believer, a true believer, you meet condition number one. But condition number two is that you pray within the framework of the words that have been revealed from God to you that tell you about God, and about His will and His way and His kingdom and His purpose.

Now, the disciples back in Matthew 6 said, “Lord, how should we pray?” and Jesus said, “Pray like this: ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your will be done and Your kingdom come,” okay, then we’ll get to me. All legitimate prayer starts with the recognition of God’s name, that is what is consistent with His glorious person; God’s will, what is consistent with His glorious purpose; and His kingdom, what is consistent with His glorious unfolding plan. Person, purpose, and plan. So I need to have the words of Scripture, the words of revelation, the words that tell me about God and Christ and the Holy Spirit, and the kingdom of heaven, and the will of God. I need to have those words abiding in me so that they control my requests.

Go back to chapter 14 for a minute. We looked at this months ago, verse 13: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Does that mean if you just tack “in Jesus’ name, amen” at the end, you get what you want? No. It’s not some kind of a formula. “If you ask anything consistent with My name.” What is My name? Lord Jesus Christ. Anything consistent with My sovereign lordship, anything consistent with My saving purpose, anything consistent with My messianic rule over My glorious kingdom. You’re asking in the framework of the name of Christ, the name of God, the purposes of God.

Look at chapter 16 for a minute, verse 23. It’s going to come up again on this same Thursday night in the upper room, or in the walk to the garden in this case. Verse 23: “In that day, you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything – ” here comes the qualifier again “ – in My name, He will give it to you. Until now, you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”

Verse 26: “In that day, you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me.” In other words, “Whatever you ask in My name, consistent with My purpose and My glory and My kingdom, which is equal to the Father’s glory and His kingdom, the Father will do to put His glory on display. But it’s always in My name, in My name, in My name.” It’s repeated over and over again.

So, I remind you that this is an incredible, incredible promise from the Lord that whatever you ask consistent with His person, purpose, and plan, He will do. Your prayer should demonstrate, 2 Corinthians 10:5 that “every thought has been taken captive to the obedience of Christ.” You pray within the framework of divine purpose.

You might even say this: “Father, this I ask because this could be what You desire for Your glory, this could be what You desire for Your kingdom, this could be what You desire to exalt Your Son, this could be what You desire to show the power of Your Holy Spirit.” That’s the principle, always with a view to the divine name, the divine plan, the divine purpose, the divine person. This is what James calls “the prayer of a righteous man.”

And James says – 5:16, James 5:16, that prayer is effective. “The effective prayer  of a righteous man,” because he prays out of 1 Corinthians 2:16, we have the mind of Christ. If you have a rich, loving, obedient relationship to the vine, and if the true life of God courses through your life, your desires will be His desires, your loves will be His loves, your longings will be His longings, and you will ask always in that framework. Your prayers will always be “glorify Yourself, advance Your name, advance Your kingdom, advance Your gospel.”

Now John understood this. He was there listening to this and he wrote in 1 John 3:22 these words: “Whatever we ask, we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commands us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.” It’s all tied together: abiding, obeying, loving, praying.

Jude 20 has an interesting little phrase: “praying in the Spirit.” Some people think praying in the Spirit is falling over in a dead faint. You’ve seen it on television I’m sure. Praying in the Spirit is rolling your eyes back into your head and spouting some kind of gibberish. No. Praying in the Spirit.

What do you mean “praying in the Spirit”? How does the Spirit pray? Romans 8: “The Spirit prays according to the will of God. The Spirit prays according to the will of God. The Spirit knows the mind of the Father, the Father knows the mind of the Spirit, the Spirit prays consistently with the will of God, with the divine will in mind.” Praying in the Spirit is not some ecstatic experience in nonsense, it is praying specifically and particularly within the framework of the will and purpose and person of God as revealed in Scripture. Now when you pray like that, and when you pray from the vantage point that you not only know those things but you are an obedient believer, you have qualified to have your prayers answered. God will be faithful to answer your prayers. Now, there’s a lot to be said. More about that maybe a little later in our study of this section.

Let me give you a fourth blessing, a fourth blessing: “If you abide, the Lord promises you assurance, assurance.” Verse 8: “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” The hardworking vinedresser finds His glory in the fruitful vine. The hardworking vinedresser finds His glory in the fruitful vine.

I remember meeting a gentleman, a nearly 90-year-old gentleman who grows grapes up in the Central Valley and he wanted to show me his operation – one of the largest grape growers in California – and I thought he would take me to an office and show me whatever. I got up there, got in a pickup truck, bounced along through some ruts and ended up ankle-deep in dirt, walking down one row, after another, after another, while he reached in and pulled out the grapes. He showed me the fruit of his labor by showing me the grapes, and he explained to me every kind of grape. He found that if I wanted to know about him, I didn’t need to see his pickup truck and I didn’t need to see his office, I needed to see his fruit; and then I needed to eat it, which was an incredibly wonderful experience.

This is what the Father does. The Father is glorified when He goes down the rows of His children and when He sees the fruit. God’s glory is in the display of His own fruitfulness through us. God is gloried when we bear fruit. It’s like Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men.” It’s a different metaphor, same idea. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and – ” do what? “ – glorify your Father who’s in heaven.” That glory goes to God.

It’s a simple as this: for a believer, for a true believer, you are not the explanation for your life, you’re not it. People may poke around to try to figure out why you are the way you are. There isn’t a human answer. There isn’t a human answer. There’s no human explanation for me being who I am. I am not the explanation of my life. God in me is the explanation of my life.

If there’s any love in me, it is the love of Christ shed abroad in my heart. Any transcendent love beyond human love, beyond normal love, is the love of Christ shed abroad in my heart. If there’s any joy in me, any unassailable joy, any joy that never is touched, any joy that transcends all earthly joys, it is the joy of Christ in me. If there’s any peace in me, any peace in the midst of horrendous issues, if there’s any tranquility in me that is inexplicable, it is the peace of Christ which passes understanding. If there’s any gentleness or meekness in me, if there’s any humility in me, it is the gentleness and meekness of Christ in me. If there’s any truth in me, it is the truth of Christ in me. Any wisdom in me, it is the wisdom of Christ in me. I am not the explanation for my life, He is.

Now, the benefit of this, incredible benefit, just an incredible benefit – back to that same verse, verse 8, “and so prove to be My disciples.” The benefit is I know I’m a believer. How do I know I’m a believer? How do I know that? Because I can’t explain my life. I can’t explain my love. I can’t explain my peace, my joy, my knowledge, my wisdom, my understanding, my usefulness. I can’t explain me humanly – can’t. I can’t. Something is going on in me that has no explanation on a human level. So I look at my life and I have assurance that I’m a true branch because I see all this fruit, all the fruit that we talked about last week.

Go to 2 Peter 1. Peter talks about virtue here. First of all in verse 4, 2 Peter 1:4, he says, “We have become partakers of the divine nature, escaping the corruption in the world by lust.” So we’ve been transformed. We’re out of the corrupt, into the incorruptible. We have become partakers of the divine nature. That’s God in us, the eternal life in us. And as a result of that, as a result of that, we have been delivered from the corruption in the world by lust.

Now that we’re abiding, what do we do, just sit there? No, we get busy and deepen that abiding. How do we do that? “Apply all diligence – ” verse 5 “ – all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; in your moral excellence, knowledge; in your knowledge, self-control; in your self-control, perseverance; in your perseverance, godliness; in your godliness, brotherly kindness; in your brotherly kindness, love.”

What do we do? We cultivate that in us. And the result? If that happens, “if these qualities – ” look at verse 8 “ – are yours and are increasing – ” more fruit, much fruit, “ – they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” You look at your life, and you go out and you do ministry, and you’re diligent in testing your faith, and stepping out on faith, and being morally pure and excellent and having sound knowledge, and exercising self-control, and persevering in the truth, and obedience and godliness and brotherly kindness and love. If you pursue those things, you will be neither useless nor unfruitful; and so you will look at your life and you’ll say, “Look at my life: look at the usefulness, look at the fruitfulness.”

If you don’t do that, verse 9 says, “If you lack these qualities, you’re blind and shortsighted, and you will forget your purification from your former sins. You will lose touch with your true state.” A disobedient believer, a sinful believer, an irresponsible believer may be a true branch but lose touch with that reality.

“So – ” verse 10 “ – be all the more diligent to make certain about his calling and choosing you.” Not certain to him, he knows. But how do you know? Well, as long as you practice these things, you’re never going to stumble into doubt – never. You’re going to go roaring into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ in the future. Be diligent. Be diligent. If you are diligent in your fruitfulness, you will have assurance, and you will live with what Peter says in 1 Peter 1, is “more precious than gold, the proof of your faith.” So the true branch, blessed with salvation, sanctification, provision through answered prayer, and assurance.

Two more. Number Five: love – it’s going to be quick – love, verses 9 and 10. Our Lord says words that are familiar to us. “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” For us, a statement in verse 9: “Abide in My love. Abide in My love.” “Stay in the place of My love.”

Jude put it this way, Jude 21: “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” What does he mean by that? Stay where you can be showered with His love. Stay where you can be showered with His love. Don’t move out of the circle where His love is poured out.

Well, how do you stay in that circle? How do you do that? You love Him in return. How do you demonstrate that love? Go back to 14:15. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Verse 21, chapter 14: “He who has My commandments keeps them is the one who love Me.”

So it’s pretty clear, and we see it again in verse 10 of chapter 15: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love.” So how do you stay in the place where you can be lavished by divine love? Be what? Obedient. Be obedient.

You’re an abiding branch. You’re connected. You have that eternal life living in you. Stay in the place where you can receive the maximum outpouring of love. Step out of that circle and you’re going to get disciplined; you’re going to get chastening; you’re going to have trouble, trials. “Every son the Lord loves He – ” what? “ – chastens.”

Chapter 17, the end of it, as Jesus prayed that great prayer, verses 25 and 26, He said, “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that you sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” Is this an incredible thing, that the very love that the Father has for the Lord Jesus Christ is the love that Jesus prays the Father will put in us. This is love beyond comprehension.

Chapter 13, verse 1, says “having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the fullest extent, to the max.” He loved them as infinitely as God is infinite. His love for us is stunning, it is perfect, it is unconditional, it is sovereign in that we love Him because He first loved us. It is unfailing, it is eternal, it is sacrificial, it is gracious, it is merciful, it is generous, it is lavish, and it is unbreakable. “Nothing will ever separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8.

His love is poured out on us, and that the deluge basically is connected to our obedience. The more you obey, the more you are lavished with divine love. And who is the example of obedience? Verse 10: “Just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” Jesus perfectly obeyed the Father, and the Father poured out perfect divine love on Him. The more like Christ we are, the more of God’s love we experience. The more we follow the obedience of Christ, the more lavish the love of God becomes on us.

That’s an amazing thing to live a Christian life for a long time and just live in the lavish realities that we’re talking about, to have salvation, some benefits of being the age I am, to have had salvation, and to see sanctification, and to have answered prayer, and to understand that I am a true branch abiding in the true vine, that the Trinity lives in me because of the fruitfulness; and then to know that I’ve lived so many years in the love of God just lavished on me – incredible. So this is what a true branch is. This is a true believer – saved, sanctified, direct connection to God for what’s on His heart, assurance, and lavished with love.

There’s a final benefit blessing, and that’s joy, verse 11, joy. “These things – ” meaning everything He’s just said in the previous ten verses. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be made full. If there’s any love in me, it’s Christ’s love. If there’s any peace in me it’s His peace. If there’s any joy in me, it’s His joy, because I’m a partaker of the divine nature. “I’m saying all these things to you so that you may have My joy and that your joy may be made full.” That’s good news for the eleven.

Listen, the Christian life is not a life of rigidity, restriction, restraint, deprivation. This is not unhappy legalism, this isn’t some kind of brow-beating dower experience of gutting it out. This is living, as the Scripture says, “with joy unspeakable, joy unspeakable – joy that can’t even be articulated.” He says in chapter 16, verse 22, “You have grief now – ” to them he says, “ – but I’ll see you again and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”

All these things are permanent: a permanent salvation, a permanent sanctification, permanent access to the throne of God for all that is necessary, permanent assurance, permanent love, permanent joy. John picked up on that when he wrote his first epistle, chapter 1, verse 4, he said, “These things I write that your joy may be full.”

You have an alternative. You can turn and do what Judas did, you can walk away – walk away from salvation; walk away from sanctification, righteousness; walk away from answered prayer; you can walk away from the security and assurance of knowing you belong to the Lord; you can walk away from lavish, divine love; and you can walk away from everlasting joy. You can do that. You can walk away from all that being perfected in heaven, and one day hearing the words of the Lord: “Enter into the joy of your Lord,” when you enter into eternal joy. You can walk away from all of it. Judas did. Judas did.

But if you walk away, there are warnings. Look at verse 2: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away.” Then verse 6: “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” Jesus said way more about hell, everlasting burning in hell, than He did about heaven. You can walk away. Judas did, and Jesus said he went to his own place. His own place was hell. He walked away from the presence of God, and he’s there and will be there forever. That’s the option; there’s no middle ground.

“Cast into the fire and burned,” we don’t need to explain that. The New Testament describes hell – everlasting darkness, weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, burning, remorse. Horrible place. We can make that choice.

Peter obviously understood this and wrote these words: “If after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” He’s got to be thinking about Judas. They escape defilement, meaning they stepped out of the world, they stepped into the realm of Christ. They stepped into His world.

“If they’ve done that and they are again entangled in the defilements of the world and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” Whoa. “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It’s like a dog returning to its vomit; a sow, after washing, returning to wallowing in the mire.” Don’t leave; stay. All the promises are to those who remain.

Father, we thank You that You have given us Your Word. Thank You for its encouragement to our hearts, as well as its warning. We understand the seriousness of it. Thank You, Lord, for the inescapable clarity with which You have spoken on an issue that is more important than any other, both in time and eternity.

Lord, take this truth and apply it to heart. May it do Your work in Your way, for Your glory, Your honor, Your kingdom; that’s our prayer. Speak to the hearts of those who may only be superficially connected. And, Lord, grant them a true and saving faith, true repentance, and true and eternal life.

VIDEO The Benefits of Abiding in Christ, Part 2

By John MacArthur Aug 23, 2015

Open your Bible to the 15th chapter of John’s gospel: John, chapter 15. This would be our third message in the opening 11 verses of this chapter. It certainly would be possible to go faster than we are, but this is such a very foundational and definitive text. I know many of you have been in our church for a long time. You’ve walked with the Lord a long time; you’re knowledgeable in the Scripture. But for new believers, for those who have just come to know Christ who are beginning to understand the Scripture, and for those maybe on the outside looking in saying, “I’m trying to figure out what Christianity is,” this is a very critical portion of Scripture. So I’ve slowed down the train a little bit here in the 15th chapter because I want you to understand this. This is a very definitive chapter: particularly, these opening 11 verses.

And just to kind of remind you where we are, when we come into John 13, we come to the Passover on Thursday night of Passion Week and, of course, Christ is crucified on Friday. So this is the last night before His crucifixion, and He celebrates the Passover with the 12 disciples. And at that Passover meal – which strings out late into that very night – and during a subsequent walk after they left the upper room and headed for the garden where they would be called to pray with Him, and where He would be arrested and then taken to a false trial and crucified the next day – all of those hours that He spent with these men were critical hours for Him to deposit promises to them. Thirteen to sixteen of John’s gospel is the composite account of all that He promised to them, and to us as well. There’s nothing like it in Scripture. It is the most wonderful, rich legacy of Jesus to His own beloved people.

But there was that night a stark reality of the presence of a false disciple, a hypocrite, who had not yet been discovered by the other 11 disciples. The Lord had always known about Judas, but the others had not. In fact, there were no apparent reasons given by Judas, either in his language or behavior, that would indicate to them that he was false, that he would be a defector and an apostate, and walk away and betray Jesus. There were no obvious reasons to believe that he was a tool of Satan, that Satan would actually enter into him and he would go out to perpetrate the sell of the Savior. He was well-embedded among the other 11. And when our Lord said, “One of you will betray Me,” they were all more prone to think it might be them than him. But as this evening goes on, the drama of Judas, of course, unfolds. As you start into this section, go back to chapter 13 for a moment.

On that Thursday night before celebrating the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour, the hour of His death had come, that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the max, and He expresses that love in the legacy of promises that He gives them in these subsequent chapters, through chapter 16, and then the prayer to the Father, in 17, which asks the Father to fulfill all the promises. This is an incredible set of promises wrought out of the love of Christ for His own. But immediately in verse 2 we read, “During supper, the devil, having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him.” We’re just one verse into this incredible evening, and we meet Judas.

Peter asks the Lord a question in verse 9 about washing. “Jesus said to him – ” verse 10 “ – ‘He who as bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.’ For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’”

Down in verse 17, He said, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’” And, again, He refers to Judas, the betrayer.

Over in verse 26, “Our Lord answered the question, ‘Who is this betrayer?’ ‘This is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.’ So when he had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.’”

Verse 30 says, “He received the morsel, went out immediately; and it was night.” This is the background to the 15th chapter. So let’s look at the opening 11 verses of chapter 15, and you will see in what our Lord says here: two kinds of branches, two kinds of disciples – those who remain and bear fruit and those who leave and are burned. And in the background is Judas.

Our Lord says, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You’re already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” He could say that, by the way, because Judas was gone. The remaining 11 were clean.

And then He instructs them, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so 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 bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he’s thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

We’re talking about abiding in Christ, and we’re looking at this very graphic illustration metaphor word picture. Jesus likens Himself to a vine, and the Father is the one for cares for the vine. As you know, the Father was the one who cared for Jesus. Certainly, He cared for Him at the time of His temptation when He sent angels from heaven to minister to Him. But He met His every need through His incarnation and humiliation. He did only what the Father showed Him to do, told Him to do. He submitted completely to the Father. The Father cared for the true vine.

In the true vine, there are branches. There are branches, according to verse 2, that bear fruit, and there are branches that do not bear fruit. Branches that bear fruit are purged, pruned to bear more fruit. Branches that do not bear fruit are taken away, and verse 6 says, “thrown away, dried up, gathered, cast into the fire and burned.” This leads us to contemplate the question that is essentially referred to in verse 8, “and so prove to be My disciples.”

How do you prove to be a true disciple? How do you prove to be a true disciple? Well, what is the nature of a true relationship to Jesus Christ? What is the nature of that? How do you define that? How are we to understand what it means to be connected to Christ? How are we to understand the spiritual reality of our union with God? What does Scripture say about the Christian’s relationship to the Lord?

Now, this is very, very important, critically important, because in Matthew 7, Jesus said, “Many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, we did this in Your name and that in Your name.’ And I’ll say to them, ‘Depart from Me, I never knew you.’” And He went on in that Sermon on the Mount to conclude by saying, “There are people who will build a religious house on sand; and when judgment comes, it’ll collapse.”

In Matthew 13, a little later, Jesus said, “The seed of the gospel truth will be sown, and some of it will fall into soil that looks like it’s receiving the seed, but it’s rock bed underneath the surface; and so before it can bear any fruit, it withers and dies. And other seed will fall into soil that is full of weeds, and they will choke out the life before it can bear fruit.” And what our Lord is saying is, you need to expect some people to give sort of initial manifestation that they belong to God and belong to Christ.

And then in Matthew 13, the Lord said, “There will be, in the kingdom, wheat, and there will be tares, and it will be very difficult for you to separate them. There will be, in the kingdom, a time when the net is thrown, the dragnet is thrown, and everything in the kingdom is pulled in, and then it has to be sorted out. The kingdom is like a small seed, the mustard seed that becomes a massive bush so big that the birds can make their nests into it,” which is to say the kingdom will be huge, but not necessarily all genuine.

And we live in a time when we see that. When our Lord gave those statements to the disciples, of course, the church hadn’t even been born. And now here we are, and we look at a world where Christianity is massive – at least what claims to be Christianity is massive. There are always going to be false Christians. So the question is: “How do you prove to be a true disciple?” Not only, “How do others know you’re a true disciple?” but more importantly, “How do you know?” This is a critical, critical question, the most critical of all questions to ask; and it is answered here. And we’re going to pick it up at verse 4: “Abide in Me. Abide in Me.” The word “abide” is used ten times in this passage. John uses it again in 1 John 4, 1 John 5 – we may have time to look at those in just a minute.

Abide: I know that is kind of an old word and it sort of has spiritual overtones. It’s simply the Greek verb men, don’t walk away from Christ. Stay; remain. Don’t leave. Don’t defect. Don’t become an apostate. This is His word to the 11 remaining disciples: “Continue to believe. Continue to be faithful.”

This is a call to anyone and everyone who is attached to Christianity and could be in danger of departing. If it happens, 1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us because were not of us.” Don’t do that; don’t defect.

Hebrews 10 says, “The severest punishment in hell will belong to those who were close to Christ and turned their back on Him because they trampled underfoot the blood of the covenant and counted it an unholy thing.” If you’re in any sense like Judas, connected to Christianity, don’t walk away. Many had done that. Chapter 6, there was a wholesale exodus of people who were called disciples who walked no more with Him. Judas is no solitary figure, even in the gospel of John, but he is the archetypal defector.

We’ve all lived long enough as Christians probably to have seen someone who professed a faith in Christ turn and walk away. Our Lord says, “Don’t do that. Don’t do that.” And then He gives promises to those who stay. What is the value of abiding? Why should I stay? Well, the passage starting in verse 4 and going down to verse 11 lists a series of promises to those who remain, who stay, and they’re basic.

This is just a basic Bible study, and what I give you this morning, really foundational. This is kind of Christianity 101. The first benefit I told you about last week is salvation, salvation, eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have – ” what? “ – eternal life.”

What is eternal life? It’s not something you’re going to get in the future, it’s something you possess now: “shall have eternal life.” What is eternal life? Eternal life must be the life of God because it can’t be the life of man or any other created being. So eternal life is the life of God. So believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall have life, you shall live. He that has the Son has life. John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

What is salvation? It is having the life of God in you, the eternal life of God. The eternal life of God is not separate from God, and so salvation is stated in that 4th verse in these words: “Abide in Me, and I in you, and I in you.” Or, in verse 5, the abiding branch: “I in him.” “I in you.”

How do you define a Christian? Not somebody who believes something only, although there’s a necessity of believing; not someone who’s connected to sound doctrine, although that’s essential; not someone who belongs to a church, although that certainly is important. The best way to define a Christian is that Christ lives in that person, that he possesses that eternal life which belongs only to God. And we saw that last week, so I won’t take you all through it again. But we saw last week that the Trinity lives in a believer. The Trinity takes up residence in a believer.

Second Corinthians 4:10 says, “The life of Jesus is manifested in our body.” Amazing statement. Listen to 1 John 4, verse 12: “No one has seen God at anytime. If we love one another, God abides in us.” And then verse 13: “He has given us His Spirit.” And then verse 15: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” And then verse 16: “We have come to know and believe the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Over and over again.

Same thing in chapter 5, verse 11: “This is the testimony that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” So in that simple area, that category of 1 John that I read to you – bounced around a little in chapter 4 and 5: God is in us, the Spirit is in us, and Christ is in us. Triune God resides in a true believer. If you have a true faith, if you have been granted by God a true, saving faith that will go all the way, as we read in 1 Peter, to glory, to the revelation of Jesus Christ, then you are the dwelling place of the triune God. That’s what it means to be a believer, to be a Christian, and nothing less than that.

The fact that you possess eternal life doesn’t just mean you will live forever. Unbelievers will live forever in a kind of everlasting death. To have eternal life is to have the One who is eternal life. So when somebody asks you, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” you tell them it means that “the triune God of the universe – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – has taken up residence in me.”

Now, you have the responsibility to convince the person that that’s true by the manifestation of God through your life. And that took us to the second thing that we looked at last time, the second promise. The first is salvation; God takes up residence in you. The second is fruitfulness. Verse 4 again: “As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine – ” that’s the agricultural illustration, “ – so 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 bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” It starts out negative in verse 4, then it becomes positive in verse 5, then it goes back to negative at the end of verse 5. Bottom line: only as you abide in Him and He abides in you can you bear much fruit, much fruit.

This fruit then, according to verse 8, becomes the proof that you’re a disciple. That’s what verse 8 says: “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” So that is the only way we know that we are disciples of Christ that are genuine, that we are branches connected to the vine. Our Lord said on another occasion, “By their fruit, you will know them. A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit. Good tree, good fruit.”

It was John the Baptist, wasn’t it, in the 3rd chapter of Matthew who saw the Pharisees and Sadducees coming. They wanted a baptism, and he said to them, “You brood of vipers. Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore, bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” And then he said, “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore, every tree that doesn’t bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Same language. If you’re a fruitless branch or a fruitless tree, you’re going to be cut down and burned. Bear fruit that manifests, first of all, then, repentance. So let’s talk about what fruit is.

First of all, fruit is genuine repentance, based on Matthew 3:8. Fruit is genuine repentance – a genuine, honest, penitence concerning sin. Sorrow over sin, not sorrow over the consequences of sin. There is that kind of sorrow. But sorrow over the reality of sin. A true and real sorrow over sin – the sorrow of repentance. That, of course, is a very foundational fruit. If the Lord is at work in you, if you are connected to Christ, if His life is flowing through you, there will be an honest repentance.

In 2 Corinthian 7, Paul says, “I now rejoice, not that you are made sorrowful, but that you are made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” You know, people live in the world and they’re sorry about the way their life is going; that just leads to death.

Sorrow can overwhelm a sinner, but it’s a sorrow unto death. It sucks everything out of life; maybe leads to suicide. But a godly sorrow leads to repentance, that leads to salvation; that is life. So when we talk about fruit and we look at our lives and ask, “What is fruit?” first, it is repentance, it is repentance. That’s a good place to start. It is an ongoing repentance. It is a continual sadness, not over the consequence of sin, but over the sin itself. There is a big difference. Most people are sorry about the consequences of sin, but not about the sin itself.

Now, we are told to bear fruit in this section, to bear more fruit, and that God is glorified when we bear much fruit. There is a progression here that is very important for us to understand. There is a progression in our lives, a progression related to abiding and remaining. Perhaps, it’s illustrated well in a couple of passages that I’ll show you – most notably Colossians 1:9. Paul says this: “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Increasing.

You know, it’s really important that there be an increase. Go back to verse 5 of Colossians 1: “The hope that is laid for you in heaven, that has to do with the truth, the gospel has come to you – ” verse 6 “ – just as in all the world also, it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you since the day you heard of it.” That just connects with the idea that there’s fruit, more fruit, much fruit.

Paul’s saying to the Colossians that, “You have now begun to produce fruit, and it is increasing, it is increasing.” Never to the point of satisfaction.

Philippians, chapter 3; familiar words, the testimony of Paul, who was certainly fruitful. But he said, “I have not already obtained, already become perfect; but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet. One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” As we abide in Christ, and as we yield to Christ, and as we increase in the knowledge of Christ, our fruitfulness increases. By every means of grace, by every means of grace, our abiding is deeper and wider and higher and richer, and we become more fruitful.

Some people have suggested that we sort of do nothing. This is the “let go and let God” folks, “the quietest” they use to be called, that you don’t want to do anything at all. If you do anything, that’s the flesh. You just kind of sit there and let God do it through you. Certainly, that was not in Paul’s mind in that same text of Colossians 1:29 where he says, “We proclaim Him, Christ, admonishing every man, teaching every man, with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, work to the point of sweat and exhaustion, agonizing according to His power, which mightily works within me.” It was the power of God, but Paul was working to the point of sweat and exhaustion. He was agonizing, using every power in him, every opportunity, ever fiber of his being. Yes, it is trusting in the present power of Christ, but it also obeying every command, pursuing every spiritual discipline.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9, “I beat my body to bring it into submission.”

It’s a battle. It’s a warfare. That’s always the imagery. We don’t run as people jogging; we run as those who run to win the prize. So there has to be in our abiding an increasing commitment to Christ, which then makes us more fruitful. Applied to repentance, it means that our repentance comes as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. Our repentance comes more readily, comes more rapidly, comes more frequently. It’s a mark of spiritual maturity to be a repenter.

“If we give evidence – ” 1 John 1:9 says, “ – if we give evidence that we repent by confessing our sins, we demonstrate that He is faithful and just to be forgiving our sins,” present tense. If we are the people confessing, we are the people giving evidence that we are being forgiven. So the first thing that I would just suggest to you with regard to fruit is that it’s an attitude that basically dominates our life, resentment of the sin that is in us – not the consequence, but the reality of sin. That’s fruit that proves you’re a true disciple.

Secondly spiritual attitudes. Another kind of fruit – first repentance – another kind of fruit: spiritual attitudes. Galatians 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is – the fruit of the Spirit who dwells in us is – ” this is the product, this is the manifestation of the life of the Trinity in us, “ – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

Those are attitudes, are they not? Those are attitudes. Those aren’t acts, those aren’t behaviors, they’re what’s behind behaviors. So here, clearly, fruit is virtuous, spiritual attitudes. And, by the way, all of them, all of them were perfectly manifest in Jesus Christ. So we could say it is fruit in us to manifest the very characteristics of Christ – not in the perfection with which He possessed them, but those same virtues we pursue.

In Ephesians 5:9 it says, “Fruit is all goodness and righteousness and truth.” That’s internal: a love for goodness – being good to people; a love for righteousness – honoring God. A love for truth as revealed in Scripture. How do you know if you’re a Christian? You love goodness, you love righteousness, you love truth. Those are attitudes. Those are the attitudes behind the behaviors. So there is an attitude of repentance toward sin. We could say the first fruit is to resent sin and to confess it, turn from it. The second fruit is attitude fruit – attitudes that are virtuous, as indicated in Galatians 5.

Thirdly, another kind of fruit – and I’m just taking you to scriptures that demonstrate this – a third and very important aspect of fruit: go to the 13th chapter of Hebrews for just a moment; Hebrews, chapter 13, verse 15. Here is instruction that, “Through Him – ” that is through Christ. Without Him we can do nothing, right? Again, it’s, “Through Him.” He is mentioned in verse 12 as “the one who sanctified His people through His own blood.” “Through Him – ” who lives in us, the true vine from which we draw our life. “Through Him then, let us – ” once in awhile, every Sunday? “ – continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

That’s worship. And, by the way, that is a language that is taken from the 14th chapter of the prophecy of Hosea. Hosea says, in chapter 14, “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the Lord.” Go back to the Lord and be ready to talk, be ready to speak. “Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously.” This is a – the words of repentance: salvation. This is looking at Israel’s future conversion. And then in doing so, you “present the fruit of our lips, the fruit of our lips.” “Take away our sin, receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips.”

You can’t worship until you’ve been redeemed. You can’t worship until you’ve repented and been saved. That’s what Hosea’s saying. A time in the future is going to come. Israel’s going to come repent. They’re going to take words back to God. God doesn’t want to hear those words of praise and worship and adoration unless there has been true repentance and true salvation.

“So let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” See that little phrase “give thanks”? That’s probably not the best translation of the Greek. The Greek is the word homologeLogeó is a Greek verb meaning “to speak” or “to say,” from which we get logosHomo, H-O-M-O in English means “the same,” the same. Homogeneous, the same.

So what it’s saying is this: “Offer God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that save the same, to His name.” What does that mean? What do we do in worship? We give back to God the very same things that He has reveals to us about Himself. This is what worship is. It is saying back to God everything that He has revealed to us as being true about Himself. All of that is in Scripture.

We don’t make up things. True praise then is saying back to God all His attributes as revealed in Scripture. You go through the Scripture from beginning to the end; the attributes of God are scattered all across the pages of Holy Scripture. The more you know the Bible, the more you know about the nature and character and essential being of God. The more you know who He is and what His attributes are, the more you can say back to Him, “God, you are the Creator, You are the Sustainer, You are the Redeemer. You are all-wise, all-knowing, all-sufficient, all-powerful. You are unchanging. You are gracious, loving, kind. You are just, holy, pure.”

What is worship? It is saying the same things back to God that He has said are true about Him; and that is the only worship that God accepts. He doesn’t want you inventing Him, recreating Him, coming up with your own notion of God, but rather to say back to Him what is true about Him as revealed by Him.

The second thing is to say back to God not only what He has revealed about His nature, but what He’s revealed about His works. So when you go through the psalms, you read things like, “You are the God who did this. You are the God who brought Your people out of Egypt. You are the God who parted the Red Sea. You are the God who led Israel through the wilderness. You are the God who brought us into the Promised Land. You are the God who protected us at the Passover,” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

You come into the New Testament: “You are the God who has redeemed us through the offering of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom You put on the cross and then raised from the dead.” In other words, that is the sum and substance of praise. It is to say back to God with a grateful, thankful heart, all that God has revealed He is and all that He’s revealed He has done; that’s praise. So your praise then is essentially confined by the divine revelation. The more you know about the Word of God, the more you know about God and what He’s done. And the more you know about what He is and what He’s done, the purer your praise is. That’s fruit. That’s the fruit of your lips – worship.

What is fruit then in your life as a believer, that manifests the Trinity is in you? One, it is continual repentance. Two, it is attitudes that are Christ-like attitudes: love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. And it is praise that really gives back to God a true representation of who He is as the God revealed in the Old Testament, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ revealed in the New, the triune God; and praising Him and thanking Him and glorifying Him for all that He is and all that He has done.

Let me give you another component, a fourth – Philippians, chapter 4 – and this just kind of digs down a little deep in a more specific way. In Philippians, chapter 4, the apostle Paul was obviously in need, very difficult times for him, and dear friends sent him gifts. They sent him supplies, food; and he was extremely grateful. In fact, in verse 16 of Philippians 4, he reminds them that when he was in Thessalonica, they sent a gift more than once for his need. They were very, very generous and loving toward him.

In verse 17, he says this: “Not that I seek the gift – ” this is the pure heart of Paul. “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit – ” NAS says, “ – for the profit which increases to your account.” That word “profit” is not the word profit in Greek. It is karpon. It is the word “fruit.” It is the word karpon, which is just the Greek word for “fruit.” “Thanks for the gift. I’m so glad you sent the gift, not because I want the gift, but I want the fruit that increases to your account.”

He saw that gift, that expression of love, as spiritual fruit produced through them by the indwelling God. It is the similar significance of chapter 15 of Romans: “Macedonia and Achaia – ” 15:26 “ – have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.” These Gentile churches were sending money to Jerusalem for poor believers. They were pleased to do so. They’re indebted to them; for if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they’re indebted to minister to them also in material things.

In other words, the gospel came through the Jews and came first to them, and then through them; and so the Gentiles are sending a gift. Verse 28: “Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I’ll go on my way to Spain.” He saw the Gentiles sending money to poor Jews in Jerusalem as spiritual fruit. So we could add something else to the list: spiritual fruit is contributions to those in need, contributions in those in need.

Second Corinthians 9 sees this as “seeds sown which produces fruit. Sow sparingly, reap sparingly,” a money gift. So what is fruit? It is repentance, it is spiritual virtue, it is praise and worship, and it is expressions of love meeting needs. In fact, John asks in 1 John, “If you see your brother have need and you don’t meet his need, how does the love of God dwell in you?” How can you prove you’re a Christian if you don’t love your brother? That’s a big part of 1 John.

Then we give you a fifth element of fruit: 1 Corinthians 14, 1 Corinthians 14. Yeah, you know what’s going on in 1 Corinthians 14 – some of you do – chaos in the Corinthian church with tongues and all kinds of chaos, as everybody was doing whatever they wanted in the services. Paganism had encroached in the worship, and so Paul wants to call a halt to all this nonsense, all this meaningless talk. So he says in verse 14, “If I pray in a language, another language, my spirit prays, my mind is unfruitful. If I’m praying in a language I don’t know, my mind is not engaged.”

So what is the outcome? “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also. I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.” I’m not going to be engaged in things that I don’t understand and you don’t understand. What’s the point? “Otherwise, if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the ‘Amen’ at your giving of thanks, since he doesn’t know what you’re saying?” This would be, according to verse 14, unfruitful, unfruitful.

So you want to be fruitful, say things that edify. That’s another kind of fruit – communication that edifies, communication that blesses, communication that instructs. It may be in a prayer, it may be in a teaching environment, it may be in a conversation, it may be in a counseling or discipling setting. What they were doing was what people do today, going off in a corner and mumbling gibberish to themselves in some kind of nonsense language they didn’t know about. It didn’t help them; it certainly didn’t help anybody else. It was selfish, and gave them some kind of fleshly gratification without edifying anybody, including them.

Now, if the real gift was used – and there was a real gift in the apostolic era – then verse 13 says, “If you’re going to actually speak in a language given by God, then pray that it may be interpreted.” Don’t ever let it happen if it’s not interpreted, because understanding is everything. So when you communicate truth to someone, that’s fruit. When I preach to you, teach you, that’s the fruit of the life in me.

Now, another one – I’ll give you two more quickly – pure conduct, pure behavior. We’ve got to get to behavior, all right? We’ve talked about repentance internal, and we’ve talked about virtues internal, we’ve talked about worship that starts in the heart and reaches out. Now we’re starting to reach out – a communication that blesses others.

And then pure conduct, just pure conduct – righteous behavior. Philippians 1:11, “Being filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ.” Or, Colossians 1:9-10. It says essentially the same thing, “so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respect, bearing fruit in every good work, bearing fruit in every good work.” Hebrews 12:11 essentially says the same thing: general conduct. So now we’ve talked about repentance, we’ve talked about the idea of manifesting Christ-like virtues on the inside, worship, contributions of love to the people in need, communication that blesses others, a life of righteous behavior and conduct – this is fruit, and this is how you prove you’re a real disciple.

One final one: bringing people to Christ – that’s fruit, that’s fruit – bringing people to Christ. John 4, when Jesus was talking to the woman at the well in Samaria, He was speaking to the disciples as the Samaritans were kind of coming out of the village toward Him. In verse 34, He said, “My food is to do the will of the One who sent Me and accomplish His work. Do not say, ‘There are four months and then comes the harvest.’” That would have been the agricultural calendar. “Don’t say that. Look, lift up your eyes, look on the fields, they’re white for harvest.”

And I think He saw the Samaritans coming across the field. “Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal, so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.” Sometimes you get to sow, sometimes you get to reap, sometimes you get to sow and reap, right? Or, in the language of 1 Corinthians: “One sows, one waters, and God gives the – ” what? “ – the increase.” This is fruit. This is fruit.

The apostle Paul wanted to go to Rome, in Chapter 1 of Romans, for one purpose – Romans 1:13, “that I may obtain some fruit among you, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. And I’m under obligation to the Gentiles, barbarians, wise, foolish. For my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you who also are at Rome because I’m not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, the Jew first, and also the Gentile.”

“I want to come and have some fruit.” What did He mean? Some people who had come to Christ, by the power of God, through the apostle Paul – spiritual fruit, spiritual fruit. In Romans 15:18 he said, “I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed.” That’s spiritual fruit, spiritual fruit.

That is, I think the most wonderful fruit because it’s the end product of everything else. If you live a life that resents and resists sin, if you live a life that pursues holiness, if you live a life of worship, if you live a life with the right kind of spiritual attitudes, if you live a life that does good to others, shows love to them and manifests general righteousness, your life will have a powerful testimony. And when you say the triune God lives in you, there will be something to support that claim. That makes the gospel attractive, and the Lord will use you to lead others to salvation.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 16:15, “I urge you, brethren – you know the household of Stephanas, they were the first fruits of Achaia.” He saw the folks that came to Christ under his ministry, his fruit: repentance, Christ-likeness, spiritual virtues, worship, expressions of love, righteous behavior, and winning souls to Christ. And, as we read from what Peter said, “If you see these things, if you see these things, you will know that you are a true disciple.”

“If these qualities are yours – ” 2 Peter 1:8 “ – and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you lacked these things, you’re blind, short-sighted, forgotten your purification from your former sins. So be diligent, brethren, all the more, to make certain about His calling and choosing you. And as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; but you will know that an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” Now, there are a whole lot of other benefits for abiding, but that’s for next week.

Lord, thank You again for the richness of Your word and truth. Thank You for blessing us with this gift above all gifts, more precious than anything. Thank You for giving us opportunity to worship You today, to life up Your praise. Now may we go and live the things that we know to be true, for Your honor and glory we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

VIDEO The Benefits of Abiding in Christ, Part 1

By John MacArthur Aug 16, 2015

Open your Bible now to the fifteenth chapter of John, John chapter 15.  It is pretty popular to refer to one’s relationship to Jesus as a personal relationship.  That seems to be kind of a contemporary, common, evangelical vernacular.  In fact, it may be how you view the distinction between some kind of nominal Christian and a genuine Christian.  You might say to someone, “Well, you may go to church, and you may carry out some of the ordinances, but do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?”  That’s the pretty common language. 

In fact, that has become sort of the typical approach to people.  “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?”  I just want to kind of qualify that, if I can, for a moment.  Every human who has ever lived has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and for most of them it’s not a good one.  It’s a relationship between one who is judged and the Judge.  Jesus knows every human being personally and intimately – every thought they’ve ever had, every word they’ve ever spoken, every deed they’ve ever done, every relationship they were ever engaged in.  All of that is on record in heaven, and on the basis of that will come eternal judgement because apart from believing in Him, the record of their thoughts and motives and words and deeds and relationships only consigns them to eternal hell.  It is very personal.  Every person will be judged on a personal, individual basis by the Judge, who is the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Maybe there would be a better way, then, to refer to the legitimacy of a genuine relationship to Christ than to say, “Do you have a personal relationship with Him?”  I understand what you mean by that, but we need to go beyond that, that is not a biblical term.  You’re not going to find that kind of phrase used in Scripture.  But it then poses the question: What is the true nature of a Christian’s relationship to Christ?  What is the true nature of a Christian’s relationship to Christ?  How do we understand the spiritual reality of our union with God, our union with Christ?  How do we understand that? 

The Bible helps us by giving us a series of analogies.  The Bible refers to the relationship between a believer and the Lord as the relationship of a sheep to a shepherd.  The Bible also refers to that relationship as the relationship between a child and a father, between a subject and a king, between a slave and a master, and it even refers to that relationship as the relationship between a body and its head.  And Scripture delineates these things.  In particular, the New Testament focuses on the body metaphor, but all the others appear both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.  And they all convey some aspect of our relationship to the Lord: a shared life, shared characteristics, sovereign power, control, direction, obedience, provision, protection, feeding.  All of those things are bound up in those metaphors.

Now, before us today in the fifteenth chapter of John is another of those very instructive metaphors – pictures, images – so that we can define our relationship to Jesus Christ in biblical terminology; and it is the relationship between branches and a vine.  I want you to go back to chapter 15, and I’m going to read verses 1 through 11, even though we’ve already covered the first three verses – that was a few weeks ago – and I want to make it all clear in your mind. 

Chapter 15, verse 1, Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so 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 bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.  Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

Ten times in those verses that I read to you, really starting in verse 4, you see the word “abide.”  So we’re talking about what it is to abide in Christ, to abide in Christ.  That’s a familiar term to people who have been Christians for a long time.  It’s a term that has been much used.  It has been given lots of spiritual connotations, but we’re going to dig down into this text and find out precisely what our Lord intends to say by this.  But let’s back up to the opening three verses and sort of set the scene.  There are four identities here.  There is a vine.  There is a vinedresser. And there are two kinds of branches.  There’s no mystery about who is the vine.  Our Lord Jesus says, “I am the true vine,” verse 1, and again in verse 5.  There’s no question about who is the vinedresser, the One who cares for the vine and its branches.  Verse 1, “My Father is the vinedresser.”  This is about God through Christ working with people.  The question is about the branches, and in verse 5 our Lord said, “You are the branches.”  He was talking, essentially, to his apostles.  “You are the branches.”  But there are two kinds of branches.  There are branches that abide and produce fruit, and there are branches that do not abide, do not produce fruit, are cut off, dried up, and burned. 

The question is, How are we to understand these branches?  Who are the fruitless branches mentioned in verse 2, the branch that doesn’t bear fruit?  And then in verse 6, the one that is thrown away, dried up, gathered, cast into the fire and burned?  Who are the fruitless branches, and the other, who are the fruitful branches who bear the fruit, verse 2, verse 5, and verse 8?  Who are they?  Well, let me recreate for you the context.  The context is a very simple context.  This isn’t our Lord among many people.  This isn’t our Lord in the midst of the crowd.  When He says “you”, He’s directing His words at the Twelve.  In fact, in particular at this point, He’s directing His words at the eleven remaining, Judas having been dismissed. 

Now, where are we in the life of our Lord in John 15?  It’s Thursday night in the Upper Room, celebrating the Passover with His disciples the night before He is crucified.  And on that night He gives many promises to His disciples.  They start in chapter 13, run all the way through chapter 16.  Then in chapter 17 He prays a prayer to the Father that the Father will fulfill all the promises He’s made in those previous chapters.  It’s a significant, really an incomparable, unparalleled section of Scripture.  Nothing like it anywhere in the Bible because it’s loaded with promises to our Lord’s people.  That means us.

Now, as He comes to chapter 15, the drama of Judas has already taken place.  Judas has been exposed.  Satan has entered Judas – that’s what the text says – and Judas has left, dismissed by the Lord.  He has gone to set out the details for the betrayal of Jesus, the arrest of Jesus in the middle of the night, which leads to the execution of Jesus on the cross the next day.  The eleven are left.  One has defected.  It is a massive defection.  Judas is the branch that doesn’t stay.  Judas is the branch that doesn’t remain.  Judas is the branch that doesn’t abide.

Now, in all honesty, if you looked at the twelve apostles up to this point, and somebody told you there is one of them that is fruitless, that produces nothing, that is going to be cut off, withered, burned – Who is it?  If you were just looking at the behavior of the Twelve, you might assume it could be possibly Peter.  Peter seemed to stumble more than the rest, at least there’s more revelation about his stumblings than anybody else.  Peter seems to have a kind of dominating self-confidence that makes him tell the Lord, the Lord is not going to do things that He says He’s going to do.  Peter overstates his affection, overstates his strength, overstates his commitment.  Could it be that Peter is the one who is the fruitless branch? 

The point being, you wouldn’t have necessarily picked out any of the others.  It was Judas all along.  But from the superficial viewpoint even of the other eleven, they all said when this was announced, “Is it I?  Is it I?  Is it I?”  There was nothing about Judas that manifested the fact that he was fruitless and headed for hell.  But that’s how it is with some branches because perceivably they are attached.  Judas was attached visibly to Jesus.  It was a superficial attachment.  It was an attachment with no life, and that became obvious when he no longer was abiding in Christ. 

Now, this is a very common reality, and I think you know it today.  You know there are people in the church with us this morning who are fruitless branches, who are here, who make some profession of interest in Christ to one degree or another, but their lives do not manifest His power and His life.  You know that.  And you could go from here, the microcosm to the macrocosm of other churches and denominations and fellowships to the church at large, and you know that Christianity is this massive kind of reality in the world that is filled with all kinds of people, many of whom have no genuine, fruit-bearing power.  This is a concern of our Lord. 

Go back to John chapter 2.  You remember in chapter 2, verse 23, He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, and during the feast He was doing all kinds of signs, wonders, miracles.  And it says in verse 23, “Many believed in His name.”  That sounds hopeful.  It sounds good.  “But Jesus,” verse 24, “on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.”  He knew it was a false faith.  He knew it was a superficial faith.  They believed in Him, but only superficially.  At that point, one of those men, one of those superficial-interested sort of quasi-believers, was a man named Nicodemus, who then poses questions to Him in chapter 3, who later came to be a true follower. 

But there were lots of superficial followers of Jesus, lots of those who were attached outwardly.  Go to chapter 6, at the point where Jesus does this massive miracle, feeding as many as 20,000 to 25,000 people by creating food.  This is a wonder that is inescapable as an act of God.  And there were many followers that Jesus drew up to this point and from this event, but in verse 66, Jesus was speaking, and in response to the words He said – not the miracles He did, but the words He said – “Many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.”  They left.  They did not abide.  They did not remain.  They did not stay. 

“So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also do you?’  Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have words of eternal life.  We have believed and come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’”  And yet, “Jesus answered, ‘Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’  Now, He meant Judas…[who] was going to betray Him.”  There in their own midst, not only were there many who defected openly, but there was Judas whose defection had not happened. 

In the eighth chapter and verse 30, “As He spoke,” again, “many came to believe in Him.”  Many make some kind of profession that allows for some kind of attachment to Jesus, to which He responded in verse 31, “Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed in Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.’”  Mathts alths, “genuine students, genuine learners, genuine disciples.”  And then “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  They hadn’t yet come to know the truth.  They hadn’t been set free from the search for the truth and from the bondage of sin.  Whether or not they were true disciples would be manifest, because they would continue to obey His word.

In chapter 12, and a very interesting group is mentioned in verse 42. “Many…of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” 

Listen, superficiality tracked Jesus through His entire ministry, as it does today, as it does today.  Chapter 13, again, in the incident of the washing of the feet, verse 10, Jesus says to Peter, “‘He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’  For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’”  And, again, they had no idea who this was.  Judas was not exposed. 

Now, just a reference again to something else that John wrote over in 1 John chapter 2 and verse 19 – very important statement, speaking of people who defect, who do not abide, who do not stay – “They went out from us, but they were not really of us.”  John knows this now from what he learned about our Lord’s words in John 15 and the experience of Judas and others.  “They went out from us,” and it’s still happening in his experience as an apostle, “but they were not really of us; if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”  And then down in verse 24, “As for you,” he writes – he says now the same thing that our Lord said to the disciples that night – “As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning.  If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.  This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.”  “You abide in Me, and I’ll abide in you.”  John is reiterating what he heard on that Thursday night and is recorded for us in John 15. 

The command then that I want you to notice is in verse 4, “Abide in Me,” “abide in Me.”  Let’s not get too mystical about that, too spiritual about that.  It’s simply the Greek word  men, which means “to stay, to remain.”  Don’t leave, don’t forsake Me, don’t walk away.  This could speak to the issue of what theologians call the perseverance of the saints.  Stay.  Don’t do what Judas did.  Don’t do what many other Judas-like persons do. 

Hebrews 4:14.  Hebrews, the book of Hebrews, written to a Jewish community of believers – and attached to that Jewish community of believers were some fence-sitting non-believers who were attracted to Christ.  They were associating with those believing Jews, but they weren’t making a full commitment to Christ.  And so in Hebrews 4:14, the writer of Hebrews says, “Let us hold fast our profession.”  If you make any profession of Christ, hold on to it.  And all the way through Hebrews there are warnings to this group of Jews, attached to the true believers, who have not come all of the way to Christ.  You’re warned over and over and over.  Chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 6, chapter 10 – warning, warning, warning, warning.  “Don’t leave.”  “Don’t go away.”  “Don’t defect.”  “Don’t apostatize.”  “Hold fast that profession.” 

Now, that is all our Lord is saying in verse 4: stay.  “You’ve made a profession.  You’ve made an association.  Stay, remain, abide.  Don’t leave.”  There is an Old Testament moment that I think elucidates on this.  Turn to Deuteronomy 31; Deuteronomy 31 and verse 14.   This is a final word from Moses – really to the people as the leadership of Israel has transitioned from Moses, who can’t go into the Promised Land because of what he did – and Joshua, who will lead them into the Promised Land.  Moses has been their leader for 40 years. 

The Lord comes and says to Moses, Deuteronomy 31:14, “‘Behold, the time for you to die is near; call Joshua, and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.’  So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the tent of meeting.  The Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood at the doorway of the tent.”  This is the Tabernacle.  “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and’ – listen to this – ‘this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land.’”  They’ve been wandering 40 years.  They’re about to go into the land, and God says they’re going to play the harlot with the strange gods of the land.  They’re going to go into idolatry.  “‘Into the midst of which they are going, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.  Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?’  But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods.’”  And they did – massive defection.

They were attached to the covenant people, Israel.  They were only superficially attached to the covenant people, Israel.  That became manifest when they did not remain, when they did not stay faithful, when they did not continue, when they did not persevere.  “Don’t be like them.”  The apostle Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, warns the Corinthians not to do that – “Don’t be like those in the wilderness who defected.”  There are all kinds of warnings throughout the New Testament to be faithful, to remain, to stay.

That is what is going on here.  Stay.  We all know people who were around a while, and then they left, and it wasn’t because they left town.  They left God.  They left His people.  They left the Scripture.  “Don’t do that.  Stay, remain, abide.”  Why?  Starting in verse 4, there’s an unfolding of the blessings of abiding, the promises of abiding.  Profound blessings come to those who stay.  Blessing number one: salvation; salvation, eternal salvation.  Now, how would you describe your salvation?  If somebody says to you, “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” and they say, “Well, what does that mean?”  What do you say?  Do you say, “I go to church”?  A lot of people do that.  You say, “Well, you know, I worship.  I go to a Bible study.  I believe the Bible.”  Is that what you would say?  Let me give you the baseline, bottom line, irreducible minimum, which at the same time is the eternal, infinite maximum.  If you’re a Christian, here is what you say: “Abide in Me and I in you.”  What does it mean to be a Christian?  It means – listen – God lives in you.  Yes, the Creator God of the universe, the infinitely holy triune God lives in you.  That is the essence of what it means to have a relationship with God in salvation: God lives in me.  And that may be the best way that we can explain our own lives and our own identities. 

Rather than saying, “I have a personal relationship with Jesus,” which sounds kind of like you’re somebody special, you would be better off to say, “Well, God, the eternal God, holy God, the Creator God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit live in me.”  What!?  But that is essentially exactly what our Lord is saying, and it’s a trinitarian presence, staggering reality.  Now, I grant you that the glorious manifestation of the children of God of Romans 8 has not yet been manifest, has not yet been made visible.  That won’t happen until we’re glorified.  So in the meantime, we are veiled, right?  We are veiled.  The world doesn’t see us.  It is important to know who we are, so I am, I am literally a body in which God lives.  He lives in me.  The Lord has come to live in me. 

In the fourteenth chapter, our Lord was talking to the disciples on the same night.  In verse 23, He says, “If anyone loves Me” – “if your love is real, you will obey.”  Love and obedience go together.  “He will keep His word; and My Father will love him,” and how much will he love him?  He will love him so that, “We will come to him and make Our home with him.”  “This is who We are.  This is absolutely who We are.”  It’s just a truth that gets repeated and repeated.

Go back to verse 17 of John 14, talking of “the Spirit of truth,” the Holy Spirit.  “You know Him because He abides with you and will be” – Where? – “in you.”  So verse 23 says, “We” – the Son and the Father, – “will make our home with him.”  And verse 17 says the Holy Spirit will make his home in us, and verse 20, “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”  The Trinity lives in a believer.

It is really stunning and our Lord affirms this in His High Priestly Prayer in John 17:23, “I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”  What manifests our transformation to the world is the presence of God in us.  Really an astonishing thing, absolutely an astonishing reality.  If you stay, it’s evidence your faith is real, and if it is, then God takes up residence in you. 

Romans 8:10 says, “Christ is in you.”  “Christ is in you.”  First Corinthians chapter 3, verse 16 – Paul loved this truth – “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”  Then over in chapter 6, verses 19 and 20, “Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price.”  Tremendously stunning truth.  Second Corinthians 6:16, “We are the temple of the living God.”  Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”  “Christ lives in me.”  Ephesians 2:22, “You are built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”  Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 

How do you talk about yourself as a believer?  You talk about yourself as the residence of God, the temple of God.  Listen to what John says over in 1 John, building on these truths.  “You are from God, little children,” verse 4, 1 John 4:4, “and have overcome them;” – Listen to this – “because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  You worry about Satan in the world?  Don’t worry about Satan in the world.  “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”  Verse 13, “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us.”  How do we know that?  “Because He has given us of His Spirit.  We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him.”  Verse 16, “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

I wish we’d start talking like this, right?  To abide is to remain, and for all who remain, they give evidence of a genuine salvation, and how is that defined?  It is defined as God living in us.  God living in us, taking up residence.  Colossians 1:21 says, “You were formerly alienated” – from God – “hostile, engaged in evil deeds.  He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel.”  If you remain, if you stay, if you abide, He abides in you.  This is an incredibly stunning reality.  You think about the condescension of our Lord to take on a human body, but He took on a sinless human body. What kind of condescension is it for the triune God to take on a sinful body, take up residence in us? 

Now, I want you to look at 1 Peter chapter 1, 1 Peter chapter 1, verse 3.  This is a doxology really, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  All right, we’re born again, which means we have new life, divine life.  We have obtained, verse 4, “an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” And we “are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 

On the one hand, we persevere and remain and stay and endure.  On the other hand, God keeps us.  And then this most significant section, verse 6, “In this you greatly rejoice” – What?  What are you rejoicing? – “for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.”  Why?  Why would we rejoice in trials?  Why is James telling us, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials?”  Why is Peter saying this?  Because, that’s the proof of your faith.  Your faith isn’t proven until it’s tested when something goes wrong.  What happened in the parable of the soils?  Tribulation, distress; the plant died out, fruitless.  Deceitfulness of riches, cares of the world, trouble with problems, that’s the test. 

The best thing that could possibly happen in your life as a believer is to have your faith tested, because when it’s tested and it holds, this proves its reality.  The best thing that could happen is to have a disaster that is beyond your control, something outside of your power that is a trial of grave difficulty, because that’s what reveals the false.  Their faith can’t survive; it collapses.  But when you are distressed, who have a true faith, your faith is proven to be, “More precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, and it may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; though you have not seen, you love.” 

The best thing that could happen to a believer is to have something go wrong in life, something go wrong.  And the more that goes wrong, and the more times things go wrong, and the more years you experience the things that go wrong, the more your faith is tested.  The more your true faith is tested, the stronger it becomes.  If it’s a false faith, it collapses.  So, I love that phrase, “The proof of your faith, which is more precious than fine gold.” 

The greatest gift you could possibly have is to know your faith is real, right?  That keeps the hope of heaven bright.  That keeps the knowledge of forgiveness clear.  That brings joy into your life.  That takes the fear out.  New Christians struggle with that.  You lead someone to Christ.  They’re new in the Lord, maybe days, months, years.  Life is going on pretty good.  They don’t have a lot of issues.  They don’t have a lot of struggles.  Their faith is not tested.  Maybe they feel insecure.  “Lord, save me.  I don’t know if I’m saved.  I wonder if I’m saved.  Maybe I’d better pray again, try to make sure this is real.”  People may do that frequently.  Then a major test comes, which could shatter a false faith, a superficial confidence in God.  And they go flying through that, and their faith is not weaker.  It’s what?  It’s stronger, and that becomes the proof that it’s a saving, enduring faith. 

So the first benefit of staying is everlasting salvation.  You’re on your way to heaven.  You’re on your way to be found, 1 Peter 1:7, “In praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  Verse 9, “You will obtain as the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  I don’t want to go through life worrying about whether I’m saved, but I can’t necessarily get that confidence on my own.  Some of it comes from reading Scripture, which tells me that a true faith is a lasting faith.  But how do I know I have a true faith?  You know you have a true faith when you have a proven faith.  And the more your faith is proven, and the more you have the tests, the stronger your faith becomes, and you get this pure gold gift of the full knowledge that you’re headed for heaven.

So you say, “Abide in Me.”  Why?  Because, “If you abide in Me, I abide in you.”  That’s how to define yourself.  “I’m a Christian.”  Well, what does that mean?  “God lives in me.  Father, Son, Holy Spirit live in me, not only in me, but in every other Christian.  But in me, personally, in me.”  This is beyond comprehension.  This is a condescension even beyond the condescension of our Lord into a perfectly sinless body.  Were it not for grace, this wouldn’t happen.

So that’s the first benefit.  The second – and we’ll be able only to introduce this – is fruitfulness.  Sticking with the metaphor, fruitfulness.  Go back to verse 4, “Abide in Me, and I in you.”  “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.”  Don’t forget that.  “He who abides in Me and I in him” – there it is again – “in him” – I in him, I in him – “he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

All right.  This is sequential, isn’t it?  If you’re a true believer, if you’re an abiding branch, then Christ is in you.  He is in you.  He lives in you, and the result of that is manifest fruit.  You will bear fruit.  Verse 2, you will bear more fruit when you are pruned.  What’s that?  Providential trials, troubles, tribulations that we talked about.  You will bear fruit.  You will bear more fruit.  Verse 5, you will bear “much fruit.”  Verse 8, “The Father is glorified when you bear much fruit,” and look at verse 8, “and prove to be My disciples.”  So, what’s the proof that you’re a true branch?  Fruit.  Part of that fruit is the fruit of endurance, patience through trials. 

There’s a negative in verse 4, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”  That’s stating it negatively.  Then it’s stated positively, the same thing, in verse 5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit,” and then back to the negative as a warning, “apart from Me you can do” – What? – “nothing.”  Because you can’t accomplish the work of God in human strength.  The weapons of our warfare are not fleshly. 

Romans 7, Paul picks up this same idea in verse 4: “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” – that we might bear fruit for God –  “for while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”  If you are in Christ, you bear fruit for God.  If you’re not in Christ, you bear dead fruit – lifeless, useless. 

Fruit is everywhere in the Bible.  There’s a simple sort of summary statement in Philippians 1:11, I think, that tells you what it is.  Paul talks about living lives that are abounding more in real knowledge and discernment and approving things that are excellent, being sincere and blameless.  And then in verse 11, he says, “Having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ” – who is the vine – “to the glory and praise of God” – who is the vinedresser.  So what is fruit?  It’s righteousness.  It’s righteousness.  Can’t do that without the presence of God.  “In my flesh, I can do no good thing.  Even my righteousness is filthy rags.” 

Fruit is righteousness; and when the Trinity takes up residence in us, necessarily fruit will be produced.  Righteousness will manifest itself because righteousness has taken over inside.  Hosea 14:8 says, God says, “From Me is your fruit found.”  “From Me is your fruit found.”  Luke 6:43-44, our Lord said a good tree doesn’t bring bad fruit.  A bad tree doesn’t bring good fruit.  “By their fruit, you” – What? – “you know them.”

How do you prove to be a disciple?  Go down to verse 8.  How do you prove to be a true disciple? How do you prove you’re not a fake?  How do you prove you’re not a fraud?  Well, we saw: one, you remain even through the trials; but two, you bear much fruit.  You bear much fruit.  Fruit, yes.  More fruit, verse 2.  Much fruit, verses 5 and 8.  Now, let me move that idea of abiding in Christ, remaining in Christ, from salvation into sanctification for a moment, and let me just kind of draw it out a little bit.  You are, as a matter of reality, abiding in Christ and He is in you.  But if we look a little deeper into that relationship from a sanctifying aspect, the more you abide in the presence of and the knowledge of and the love of and the obedience to Christ, the more fruitful you become. 

Our Lord acknowledged this in the parable of the soils.  The good soil, the seed went in, and it produced fruit, but not everybody had the same, right?  Some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, some a hundredfold.  We could all say, “Well look, the Trinity lives in me.  The Trinity lives in me.  I possess the life of God, and God manifestly demonstrates the fruit of righteousness.”  And that would be true of all of us, but not to the same degree.  That is why there are so many commands in the Bible, because the assumption is that we can disobey.  We can cease to keep the Word, cease to love the Lord, cease to honor the Lord, cease to do His will at points in our lives that restrict our fruit bearing.  Yes, we all bear the fruits of righteousness, but we don’t all have much fruit, and we all need to have more fruit.

We say, “How do you do that?”  Well, it’s not a matter of human effort.  It’s about abiding in Christ.  Now, let me make a simple point out of this.  The more you focus on Christ, the more fruitful you become.  The more you focus on yourself, the less fruitful you become.  Lose yourself in the glory of Christ.  That’s 2 Corinthians 3:18.  As you gaze at His glory, you move from one level of glory to the next to the next to the next by the Holy Spirit, until you literally become like Him.  Yes, yes, we battle against sin.  Yes, we war against the flesh.  Yes, we beat our body into submission so that we’re not cast away. Yes, we’re zealous for virtue and holiness and purity.  But all of that is in response to the vision of Christ that keeps expanding and becoming larger and richer and more glorious. 

I just don’t know how Christians sitting in churches where Christ is not constantly exalted, I just don’t know how they survive the shallows of their sanctifying experiences.  Fruit comes by abiding.  All Christians, true Christians, abide.  All who abide have Christ and God and the Spirit abiding in them.  They all then become fruit-bearing trees.  They produce deeds of righteousness, attitudes of righteousness, words of righteousness, but not all to the same degree.  The degree depends upon the level of our commitment, which depends upon our affection for understanding of Christ. 

Let’s pray. Lord, we’re very grateful for the opportunity to be together this morning and to worship You and to fellowship with each other.  So thankful, thankful for our church, thankful for all You’re doing here, for children, young people, adults, senior adults, families, single people, for all the truth that rings through this church all day, every day – and especially on this day.  And Lord, we pray that it would all lift up Christ, that it would all exalt Christ, that we might find our all in all in Him; that we might be able to say, “Christ is all in all to us.”  Therein lies the key to more fruit; much fruit is being lost in wonder, love, and praise, seeing the vision of Christ in all His beauty and glory. And putting on display that fruit, we assure our own hearts of salvation, and we assure others of your transforming power.  We pray that we might be a people of much fruit, much fruit, that the world may see and know and glorify You.  Enrich us by Your Word as it settles in our hearts.  Father, help us, help us to abide in such a way that we bear much fruit so that You receive the glory.  These things we ask for the sake of the One who loved us and gave Himself for us, even Christ.  Amen.

Do you hunger and thirst for Righteousness?

November 26, 2019 Nehemiah Zion

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

Jesus calls those hungry and thirsty for righteousness blessed. Who are these who hunger and thirst for righteousness? Believers are created in righteousness and holiness. We are born again as righteous, there is a need to grow, therefore the need to hunger and thirst for it. A born again believer needs to grow from milk stage to meat stage and further, everyday.

“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 

First, a putting off is required before you put on. There needs to be a renewal of the spirit of the mind daily! What needs to be put on? The breastplate of faith and love. We are soldiers wearing the armour of God after all.

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:8)

Both God and Satan fill hearts.

What does Satan fill our heart with? Lies. 

“But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?” Acts 5:3 

What does God fill our hearts with? Truth.

“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31 

The Spirit of Truth fills us with the word of truth to live out the truth in Jesus mighty name.

Righteousness is actioning the Word of God in life. It is one thing to be right, another to do what the Word of God instructs. For e.g. Water Baptism, by immersion to a mature person, is an act of righteousness. It is the word of God. All those who understand and decide to follow Jesus are Water Baptised. When we follow the Word of God in our lives, we will grow in righteousness.

“And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.” Matthew 3:15 

Abraham believed and he was counted righteous by God. Abraham’s belief was not devoid of obedience to God’s Word. Satan believes in God too, difference is, he did not obey.

And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us. (Deuteronomy 6:25)

Christians are called to be doers of the Word of God. It’s not about adhering to a set of rules, but loving God that will enable the rules in our lifestyle. Love enables us to obey. Never forget, Jesus came to fulfil the law and prophets.

The world understands right living to a level, but nothing about righteousness. Righteousness comes from God. The knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong, is already known by man because of what happened in the garden of Eden. God have mercy on the seared consciences of today!

God will fill anyone who seeks His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). The question is, how hungry are you? When you are hungry you eat. You’re full, physically. If you are not hungry you won’t be able to eat much. Food will be wasted. As sin increases in the world and love grows cold, Christians are losing their hunger for the word of God and being distracted by family (earthly), fun and fashions. It’s becoming more about pleasing men, rather than pleasing God.

If you love your father and mother or son or daughter more than Jesus, you are not worthy of God (Matthew 10:37). What is happening to families today? They aren’t training their children in the way of God. Parents are scared of losing their children. Children are carried away by the latest gadgets because of the lack of discipline at home. It takes praying parents to keep the child in control. It is God who controls. Children are a gift from God, shall we trust God with our children?

What’s happening in church? Modernity that is worldly, not Godly. Gods word doesn’t need a salesperson or “expert”. The House of God needs people filled with the Holy Spirit. 

We are in the last days. The end is near. Redeem the time to get right, seek His kingdom, and righteousness. Nothing can ever fill or satisfy us, but Jesus. Jesus is coming. Prepare yourself to meet God.

Original here

%d bloggers like this: