‘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 so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.’ (John 15:1-4)
Lesson: Repentance and faith are the way that we are joined to and remain in the vine.
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Jesus, in this passage, is urging us to remain or abide in Him as the source of fruitfulness. So, how exactly do we do this? During the 'lockdowns' of the Covid pandemic, we were told to 'remain' indoors for our own good and the good of others. This type of 'remaining in' was simple to understand, so how are we to 'remain in Christ'? Today, I simply want to emphasise that the most basic and fundamental way of remaining in the vine—in Christ—is by putting and keeping our faith in Him.
We are joined to the vine and saved through faith
Firstly, becoming a Christian requires both repentance and faith. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin: repentance is the negative aspect—it involves a change of mind that leads to turning away from sin and selfishness. Faith, on the other hand, is the positive side; it entails turning toward Jesus and placing our trust in Him and His work on the cross for us. To become a Christian means turning away from a life without Jesus and turning toward a life with Jesus at the centre. This act of repentance and faith connects us to the vine, to Jesus.
We remain in Jesus each day through faith
We are joined to the vine and saved through faith in Jesus. However, we are to live each day by faith. To remain in the vine, we must continuously keep our faith in Him and practice repentance as a central part of our lifestyle. This lifestyle is expressed in Paul's words to Timothy:
‘But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.’ (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
This act of 'fleeing,' 'pursuing,' 'fighting the good fight of faith,' and 'taking hold' is another way of expressing that remaining in the vine requires us to steadfastly keep our faith in Jesus. This faith is constantly under attack from the world, the flesh, and the devil, all seeking to undermine our love and trust in Christ. We are consistently tempted by 'false vines,' which try to lure us away from finding life and salvation in Christ. Therefore, we must 'fight the good fight of faith,' continually repent, and unwaveringly put our faith in Christ, who is the 'true vine'.
Repentance and faith are the way that we are joined to and remain in the vine. Let’s be alert and aware of when our hearts are being tempted away from love and faith in Jesus. Let’s keep turning from sin and turning toward Jesus so as to remain joyful and fruitful in the vine.
Together in September
In September, we are having two Together Evenings, on Wednesday the 6th and Wednesday the 13th from 7p.m. (When there will be a light meal provided).
We will be using this time to come together for worship, teaching and prayer with a view to re-launching community groups afterwards.
Please put these dates in your diary, we would love to see as many people there as possible.