Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Vine and the Branches

What a coincidence that my 14th of February Valentines Day post deals with Love. John 15 talks about our command to love each other.
1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Notice the theme throughout the whole Bible? No other means of salvation but Jesus. It might sound intolerant, but it is what it is. Jesus didn't leave room for him to be just one of many options. Jesus makes it clear here as well that none of us can be good (bear fruit) without His help.

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

Poetic language to be sure, but make no mistake, if you are a follower of Jesus, you will bear fruit. If you do not bear fruit, you will be cast into the fire. This is the New Testament clearly saying that God will punish those who does not put their trust in Jesus Christ.

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

You can re read this last paragraph. Each verse is so full of truth you might miss all of it with just one reading. Jesus is the epitome of Love and he is telling you the truth about God sending people to hell so you may be full of joy. What is that saying? Meditate on this for a while.

People (usually professing Christians) tell me all the time that to talk about God's judgment is "un-loving" when the very example Jesus gave is right here doing just that. Jesus didn't say, "Repeat this prayer", or "Ask me into your heart." He said, if you are truly my follower, you will bear fruit. If you do not bear fruit, my Father will cut you off and cast you into the fire.

Love. Judgement. Friend. Fire. Life layed down. Cut off. Clean. Pruned. In Christ. Obey. All of these words are in the Bible, in fact in this very chapter. A complete understanding of the gospel comes when you don't cut out the parts of God's word you don't like.

To love someone, to really love them, is to tell them the truth. Go tell someone you love today the truth. Happy Valentines Day.

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