Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The purpose of pruning: to make you fruity John 15 Part 1| Navaz D Cruz

his message was preached by Navaz D'Cruz at Word of Grace Church on September 1st, 2018. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here.

Would you consider the last words of a dying man important? You might say it depends on who and for whom. Absolutely right!! The last words of my father mean a lot to me but not that of a stranger.
Connection gives weight and meaning to words.

John15 :1-3 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

The chapter divisions in the Bible are not always helpful as I find in this case. As I was reading John 15 I realized there are RED letter words preceding John 15. Therefore,  this is a continuation of a talk Jesus is having with His disciples.

 Chapter 13 is also a very important chapter because it’s the Passover meal Jesus shares with his disciples before his crucifixion; commonly referred to as the “Last Supper”. He talks to them about serving each other, Judas’s betrayal, Peter’s denial. This is heavy stuff. He goes on in Chapter 14 to comfort them with the future hope of being with him forever. He is giving them the promise of the Holy Spirit
We then come to Chapter 15 where he transitions from talking union between the Father and him to the intense union between Jesus and us.

VERSE 1. “I am the true vine”.  
 It means there are many vines that I could be a part.  However, the only true vine is Jesus. Am I in the true vine? Do I belong to Jesus? Have I made Him the center of my life, my Lord, my Saviour? Am I a branch attached to the true vine?

To be fair there are a few interpretations of this verse. I’ll just mention them. Some say it refers to the new order of things Jesus is ushering in. Israel was also referred to the Vine in Is 5:1-7 that was now a fruitless branch that was being cut off. While this may also be true this is not the focus of today. Nor was it the focus of Jesus’ chat with His disciples.

Jesus made some great “I AM” declarations during his 3 ½ years of ministry. This was the last one. To name a few: I am the door, I am the way, the truth the life, I am the resurrection and the life, I am the good shepherd, I am the light of the world, I am the bread of life, etc.

Now he is saying I am the true Vine
As Christians, we need to remind ourselves that our union with Christ is something special we enjoy. It was not always so.  We were not connected to the TRUE VINE.

There was a time we were enemies with God, hostile to his ways. We were outside His kingdom. Then a miracle happened. We heard the life-giving words of the gospel and we in /his great mercy and loving-kindness were drawn to repentance. We made a confession of faith in Jesus and we were born again. From that moment on, we were made New Creations in Christ, we were transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. We were given a new identity and a new community.

Therefore, once we are born again, we are in Christ, in His Kingdom though still in this world. We have been grafted into the true Vine that is Jesus. Rom 7:21

VERSE 2-3    2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you

Fruit bearing, This is a kingdom principle set in motion right in Gen 1:28 – “Be fruitful and increase.” This is the first command God gave mankind.  

Fruitfulness is a part of God’s DNA. Being productive is a recurring theme with Jesus. You see it in the parable of the Talents, Minas, the fig tree etc. Jesus said you will be known by your fruit. Eph2:10, James 2:17

You are not saved by works but for works. 

We will be known by our fruit. Are you fruity? Are you bearing fruit?

while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.
Many get confused with this verse.
Bible scholars say this is referring to someone who has not truly put their faith in Jesus. They could be just pretending or going through the motions.

They may look like a believer, talk like one but they have no fruit. They are just a twig. The Gardner will cut this off.
These are not true believers

 We could attend Sunday after Sunday after duty but have no relational or connection with Jesus. 
Judas was with  Jesus for three and a half years and look what happened! Not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom Matt7:21.
If you have never put your faith in Jesus today is a good day to repent and confess your sin and make Him the Lord of your life.

It is not referring to believers losing their salvation. This is about unbelievers who think they are.  Once you are Christian you are saved forever!! 
This is a sobering verse. We need to examine ourselves and ask ourselves whether we are truly grafted in. The test of this is fruit.

We are called to be a blessing to be fruitful. That means we have to make an impact and change the culture around us. We need to leave a legacy of lasting fruit. 

This is one of our core values at Word of Grace – changing lives.  
Heb12:1 encourages us to throw off everything/ the weight that hinders and the sins that so easily entangles.

Every branch that bears fruit He prunes
How is this different from cutting? You cut way at dead branches. Healthy branches are pruned in order to be more fruitful. You cut the branch back so that the foliage and the flowering is dense therefore more fruit. 

Pruning is not punishment as some people might think. When we are growing we need adjustments in our life, in our attitudes, values etc

Do we have unproductive areas in our lives or areas that are hindering our growth? Are there areas robbing our energy and our focus? Has it resulted in a stunted growth in our Christian calling? God is always looking for an increase. The ones who buried their talents/minas were judged for it.

The disciples needed some pruning too. They had just come back from a successful evangelism tour where they saw some great miracles. And immediately after that, they were arguing about who will be the greatest, then two smarties wanted to know who will sit on Jesus left and right. Jesus saw how he needed to check their heart before it blew up in their faces. 

Sometimes a branch may be all leaves and no fruit. It has an appearance of being healthy and fruitful but its not. It is only ornamental. It is not doing the job it should which is bear fruit. This is when pruning is needed.

What is God putting his finger on this morning? How are we pruned? Is there something that needs to be cut off?

VERSE 3 you are already clean by the Word I have spoken to you.
The word “cleaned” is the same as “pruned” or already prepared by pruning.

Verse 3 tells us through His WORD they have been cleaned or pruned.. When we read and reflect on His word it is like holding a mirror up to our hearts and we allow God to cut away things that are not helping me be fruitful.

When I know His Word, I know His will and heart for me. The Gardener guides the branches on the trellis. His Word in us will guide and shape our lives. Jesus is not interested in dressing up Christianity but the real deal. He said we are known by our fruit.

  • We don’t want to hear another message and not be inspired or challenged by it.
  • What do you feel the Holy Spirit putting his finger on this morning?
  • If you are not truly born again today is a good day.
  • If you need something to be cut off from your life – a habit, an addiction, a relationship, a behavior, surrender it to God. His grace comes to empower us
  • Is there some heart attitude or even behavior that needs to be pruned back in order to make you more fruitful?
  • Is the Word shaping and guiding my life? Make it your mirror, your compass today.

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