Understanding John 15

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by steaver, May 25, 2008.

  1. steaver

    steaver
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    This scripture has come up in the "Are you saving Yourself" thread and since that thread is nearing the end of it's life span I am beginning this new thread to respond to Matt's last post where he asked... "And what does one have to do to 'stay' 'in Christ'?" (refering to John 15)

    The short answer is "bear fruit".

    However, it would be misleading as a bible teacher to apply this in a way that leaves the student with the misconception that doing good works or bearing fruit is what saves them or keeps them saved.

    Bearing fruit gives evidence that the person is allowing the word of God to work and be effective in their life. Jesus said, "...for without me ye can do nothing." One cannot bear fruit without allowing Jesus Christ to work in them and through them.

    Yes, we can apply all scripture to our own Christian lives. However, many passages have very intentional targets. Such is the case with John 15.

    Jhn 15:1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

    Off the top of your head, real quick, what is Jesus speaking of? Have you taken the time to research this? This is the only passage of scripture where you will find Jesus Christ being refered to as the "true vine".

    Who did Jesus come preaching to? Answer is Israel. And in this passage Jesus is speaking of Israel. Israel is called a vine in the OT. You can read this in Psalm 80:8.

    Jesus declares that it is He who is the "true vine". It is He who raised Israel up and all that are Israelites are "in Christ". This passage has nothing to do with the "in Christ" that comes with the new birth (Holy Spirit indwellment). The new birth is a post ressurrection experience which the disciples have not yet experienced as of the hearing of this teaching.

    Jhn 15:2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.


    Here the error is taught that this passage proves that one can be born-again saved in Christ and then be removed from Christ for not bearing fruit. The error comes from applying what is said to those who become born of God post ressurrection rather than rightfully applying it to the nation of Israel.

    This is illustrated more vividly in Matt 3. John the baptizer warned the Pharisees about their bearing of fruit....

    Mat 3:8Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

    Again, keep in mind that Jesus Christ came for His own (the Jews, all of Israel) first.

    The Jews Had fallen into a nationalistic form of salvation. They believed that just because they were of the line of Abraham they were automatically saved and was in need of nothing more. John put them straight on this point...

    Mat 3:9And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.


    This brings us to the cutting off of the branches that bear no fruit...

    Mat 3:10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.


    Every Israelite is considered a tree, or a branch, from the vine (Israel, Psalm 80) but Jesus then clarified in John 15 that it is He who is the true vine and that every branch, or Israelite, in Him that does not bear fruit is taken away by the Father.

    Now the bearing of fruit is directly connected to belief. No belief equals no fruit. If the word is not allowed to cleanse the soul and settle in then no fruit is the sign.

    Jhn 15:3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.


    The disciples were deemed "clean" because Jesus spoke the word to them and they "believed". Jesus spoke the same word to Judas but he did not believe in his heart and Jesus knew this....

    Jhn 13:10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash [his] feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
    Jhn 13:11For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.


    Back to John 15....

    Jhn 15:5I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.


    Can this be applied to Christians post ressurrection? Of course. Those who are in Christ through rebirth, the same bringeth forth much fruit. However, this passage is dealing with the nation of Israel first and foremost. Israelites are the branches and Jesus is the vine. All those branches that bear no fruit will be cut off from Christ.

    What is really behind the fruitlessness? Romans 11 teaches us this...

    Rom 11:20Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:


    And in the same breath Paul states...

    Rom 11:21For if God spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest he also spare not thee.



    Just as the nation of Israel was not all individually saved through Abraham, for many had unbelief, neither will those claiming to have Christ be saved if they be found to have unbelief.

    Hbr 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

    Rom 11:22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in [his] goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
    Those who continue stedfast unto the end will be manifested as truly having faith in Christ.

    Rom 11:23And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.


    Unbelief is the focus for the cutting off. If this verse was saying that these branches were once saved and then cut off and then graffted in again or saved again it would go against clear teachings that say this is impossible. (Heb 6). You would have to conclude that one could be cut off and still saved at the same time.

    Both John 15 and Romans 11 are speaking of the nation of Israel, each branch being an Israelite who is in the true vine Jesus Christ, not by faith, but by election, God's chosen. Each branch must allow God's word to wash them and bring them to faith in Christ or each branch will be cut off. "The axe is laid unto the root". Choose this day whom ye will serve.

    The branches that continue not in unbelief will be grafted back into the vine, Jesus Christ, and will stand by faith. Not by works.

    Ok, i shortened this up, it could have been a three page study. there is much more that could be referenced. But I believe we have the heart of the problem exposed.

    God Bless! :thumbs:
     
  2. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    Are you positing two soteriologies - one for Jews and one for Christians?
     
  3. BobRyan

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    1. God never describes the lost as "a vine IN ME" those who are "IN CHRIST" are "A NEW CREATION" 2Cor 5. The idea that "IN CHRIST" means LOST, unsaved and in need of bearing better fruit is not supported in scripture AND is works-based salvation.

    2. In Romans 11 we see the same picture of those in Christ being cast out and the bible says "HE is able to renew them AGAIN if they do not CONTINUE in UNBELIEF".

    Clearly it is a case of "Falling from Grace" and being "Severed from Christ" Gal 5:4.

    3. As Matt 18 points out - the real warning about "Forgiveness revoked" was proclaimed by Christ himself to HIS followers.

    in Christ,

    Bob
     
  4. steaver

    steaver
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    No.

    God Bless! :thumbs:
     
  5. steaver

    steaver
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    This is correct.

    Jesus said that He is the "True" Vine. The Israelites are the branches or "trees". Many Jews had wrongly believed that they were automatically saved through God's promise to Abraham (nationalistic salvation) . But John informed them that this is not so. Romans 11 expounds on this declaring that they were cut off for "unbelief".

    Jesus taught the disciples that it was not Israel the nation that was the vine but rather Jesus Himself was the "true" vine and the Father was cutting off those branches (those Israelites) in Christ who did not produce fruit. The reason they did not produce fruit though is because of unbelief. The fruit itself does not save.

    This is correct.

    This is incorrect.

    You are mixing up "born-again" post ressurrection "in Christ" with John 15's teaching about Israel as a nation being in Him.

    This is correct.

    God Bless! :thumbs:
     
  6. Matt Black

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    Steaver, you do seem to be suggesting one way of being saved for Jews and another for Christians - in what way is that not positing two soteriologies?
     
  7. steaver

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    No, not at all.

    It has always been faith. Lack of fruits reveals a lack of faith.

    John told the Jews that they would be cut off if they did not bear fruit meet for repentence...

    Mat 3:10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

    "meet for repentence" is saying the same as James... Jam 2:18 .......shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.


    Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God (Jas 2:23).

    Paul explains why the Jews were cut off in Romans 11.... Rom 11:20Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

    Jud 1:5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

    Faith in God, the only and true God of Abraham and God's promise of salvation is the only thing that will save whether ye be Jew or Gentile.

    God Bless! :thumbs:
     
  8. billwald

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    There is no objective test for faith i.e. regeneration except continuing good works, as 1 John teaches. Can a person who is owned by Satan do good works?
     
  9. steaver

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    Correct, You will know them by their fruits (Matt 7)

    Jesus said, for without me ye can do nothing (John 15:5).

    So from God's perspective, no works will be counted worthy except those works done with Christ.

    God Bless! :thumbs:
     
  10. BobRyan

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    I certainly agree that the branches IN CHRIST get cut off for unbelief as Romans 11 states and those branches IN CHRIST that fall into unbelief would also cease to bear fruit.

    I also do not believe that the default condition for mankind is "IN CHRIST".

    I believe people are OUTside of Christ and are LOST until they accept Christ and become saved -- thereby being considered IN CHRIST.

    Notice that in 1Thess 4 Paul carries this idea forward "the DEAD IN CHRIST rise first -- then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the air".

    the "IN CHRIST" attribute is one for the saved -- not the lost.

    But when a saved person fails to continue in belief - they are cut off.

    "You too should FEAR for you stand only by your FAITH if HE did not spare them NEITHER will he spare you" is the warning to those who are IN CHRIST in Romans 11.

    in Christ,

    Bob
     
  11. steaver

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    I believe the same. My OP point is not contesting the NT teaching of "IN CHRIST" through regeneration, through faith, a new creature.

    The OP points out the context of the "IN ME" apart from regeneration by the Holy Ghost (born-again).

    Jesus did not say "I am A vine" but rather He said "I am the TRUE vine".

    Why do you believe He said "TRUE vine"? Did not the Jews error in the belief that they were automatically saved through God's promise to Abraham? Did they not error in the belief that all Israelites would be saved just for being "God's chosen people"?

    Read the OP and point out the errors you find.

    One might say Judas "believed" and then stopped believing. But Jesus knew Judas' heart from the beginning and even though it appeared to others that he believed he really did not. He was a fake, a phoney.

    John states this; Jhn 8:31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples indeed;


    About three minutes later these "believers" were picking up stones to kill Him. Would you say these Jews were "saved" and then stopped believing?

    "Saved" is a NT teaching and goes with regeneration, born-again. John 15 is about OT Israel the "vine" (Psalm 80) which God planted and grown "in Christ" not being the NT "in Christ" of regeneration. Israel was "in Christ" the "true vine".

    We could extend this to all Gentiles as well even. All are the "offspring" of God. Not all are "born of God".

    Act 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

    There you have God's word stating that all people are "in him". So there is a difference between "in Christ" as having our very life sustained by Christ (whether lost or saved) and "in Christ" NT regeneration, born of God.

    John the baptiser began the preaching of the New Covenant. The entering into the Kingdom of God through rebirth and the pruning or cutting off those who reject Jesus as Lord. This has begun and continues to this day.

    Mat 3:10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.


    God Bless! :thumbs:
     
  12. trustitl

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    Actually John began preaching about the kingdom of heaven and the coming of the Messiah to the Jews. It is true that "This has begun and continues to this day", but when did preaching this begin?

    Have you ever considered if there is a difference between the two kingdoms?
     
  13. Matt Black

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    But your OP appeared to be implying that these verses pertain only to Jews...?
     
  14. Thinkingstuff

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    What fruit: good work or conversions?
     
  15. Matt Black

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    Both, surely? The former is implicit in the latter
     
  16. steaver

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    I have considered this in the past when my brother who is caught up in the heresy of two salvations, one for the spirit and one for the soul, presented this same question to me.

    My study shewed forth that the Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God is one in the same. Matthew uses 'kingdom of heaven' 49 times and never uses 'kingdom of God' while Mark, Luke and John in the gospels uses 'kingdom of God' a total of 91 times and never uses 'kingdom of heaven". Paul never uses 'kingdom of heaven' either but always 'kingdom of God'.

    There is no secret spiritual mystery to be found in this for many times the same teaching found in Matthew stated as 'kingdom of heaven' is found in the other authors as 'kingdom of God'.

    Mat 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    Jhn 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

    This is just one example. There are many. Kingdom of God verses kingdom of heaven is nothing more than the writers preference.

    You asked, "when did preaching this begin"? As far as I can read it was with John the Baptist.

    God Bless! :thumbs:
     
  17. steaver

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    You will have to get more specific. I believe I clarified this to satisfy your question but give me a quote and I will try again.

    God Bless! :thumbs:
     
  18. Matt Black

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    This seems pretty plain evidence to me: you are here explicitly applying this passage to Jews not Christians, that there are some Jews who are 'in Christ' but that this is different to Christians who are 'in Christ'. Hence you are proposing two separate soteriologies - one for Jews, and one for Christians.

    <snip>

    But this again at least implies that there are Jews who are 'in Christ' but without undergoing the 'second birth' (as per Christians). Again, then, two soteriologies.

    <snip>
    So, two soteriologies: for the Jews, you are saying, salvation is by election into the true vine, Jesus Christ (possibly plus the 'works' of bearing fruit); for Christians, salvation is by faith (posssibly plus the 'works' of bearing fruit).

    Those comments quoted in particular above led and still lead me to the conclusion that you are putting forward two methods of salvation.
     
  19. steaver

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    I have not proposed two seperate soteriologies. I have fully explained in the OP what is meant by "in Christ" as spoken in the context of John 15 about Israel and the difference there is in the post ressurrection "in Christ" born again regeneration.

    The "in Christ" is what is confusing you. John 15 is not speaking about "in me" as through rebirth, this type of "in Christ" does not even take place until after the ressurrection, but rather the "in me" as He is the true vine that has been sustaining Israel which is called the vine in the OT.

    The "election" I speak of is the election of a people (Iraelites) to be God's portal for delivering His word and salvation plan to all peoples. Not "election" unto salvation apart from faith. Many Jews died in unbelief and were lost.

    Hope this clarifies a bit.

    God Bless! :thumbs:
     
  20. D28guy

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    The answer to that last question..."What does one have to do to 'stay' in Christ"...is....

    NOTHING.

    Once we have been born of the Spirit and placed "in" Christ, that is permanent. We can never be outside of Christ again. Its an impossibility.

    We are eternally secure in our place "in Christ".

    The "fruit" will continue to flow as Gods directs for the rest of our lives. We dont "do", we simply let it happen.

    Praise the Lord for our wonderful and eternal provision!!!

    God bless,

    Mike
     
    #20 D28guy, Jun 5, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2008

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