The Vine – the true source of Christianity !

When in the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel account Jesus calls himself “the vine”, he was taking an image from every day life to illustrate a very real and fundamental truth to his disciples.

Jesus told them that he is just like the vine;  that his disciples are like the branches; that the fruit of the vine – the grape – grows on the branches; that God wants the fruit of Christ’s life in believers.

But of course, no grapes will grow on a branch which is cut off from its life source, the main stem of the plant itself.  A broken branch broken will just wither and die. It will be useless because it cannot bear fruit, which is the whole point of the process: the vine grows to reproduce itself in its fruit; to bear grapes which contain the precious seeds; those seeds then fall into the ground, grow and in turn produce more vines and then more fruit.

And that is the role of the Christian community, what we call “the church”. It is to produce the fruit of Christ and to reproduce that fruit by being planted in the soil of a local community and then grow to produce a mature plant.

That plant must of course produce and represent the life of Jesus Christ in all its grace and truth. That can only be done by obeying what Jesus says.

It is by obeying what Jesus says that his disciples can manifest the love of God. The very real spiritual life of Jesus Christ is manifest and transmitted by human lives which are obedient to his teaching. And that teaching is, in essence, contained in the summary  Jesus himself gave:

Love God, and love others. In that order.

Abiding, living, growing in Christ is the essential, central process which the Christian believer goes through. It is a daily, real and life changing process, and a process which will have an impact on others.

It comes from obedience to his teaching, continual obedience to his teaching, and the growing pains can be severe at times.

And the individual branch – or believer – is connected to other branches by virtue of being in the vine of Christ by obedience to his teaching.

It is the work of the local presence of Christ – the local church – to manifest this life.

So how does that work ?

People with a real spiritual knowledge of Jesus Christ in their lives associate together to promote that life.

Their priority must be teaching God’s word from the Bible, in order to encourage both existing believers and those who will become believers to obey Jesus Christ.

The teaching of the Bible must be the foremost work of the local community of believers, the church.

All else depends on that. All that is done must be done on the basis of what the Bible teaches. And by the Bible I mean the New Testament teaching and the New Testament interpretation of the Old Testament because the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament [thus it is the Old Testament].

That means the way people behave towards each other, and the way they organise their worship and proceedings.

There is a false notion among many believers that the organisation and the way to do things are secondary,  and therefore they do not  matter as long as we all believe the primary, essential doctrine about Jesus dying for our sins.

That notion arises from a man centred and religious perspective, and it conflicts with Christ’s explicit teaching here in John 15. Such “Religious” fruit becomes obvious. In one way or another obedience to the requirements of religion is  actually harmful to spiritual life.

There are many examples of what is done without sanction from Jesus teaching. And if not ordained by Christ, then the question must arise as to where its inspiration comes from.

One is the construction of ornate buildings with all sorts of symbolism which people associate with Christianity. Such too often distract people’s minds from the centrality of Christ; worse, the upkeep and concern for these buildings diverts both time, attention and resources from what is really important –  living out and transmitting to others the teaching of Christ.

The professional ministry too is often a snare or distraction: there are titles, the hierarchy; the special training programmes – which today have all too often absorbed the wisdom of this world and have forsaken the all important and vital wisdom of God expressed in the New Testament.

God’s true ministers are obvious to all. You know them when they open their mouths to speak ! Their theme is Christ and how to honour him. The rest is rubbish, or worse a hindrance and distraction.

God will endorse what is done in obedience to him with his presence and his power.  What God ordains is spiritually inspired by him. And when a human being aligns their will with God’s will, they too will experience that spiritual inspiration.

If they don’t obey God’s teaching, at best they will experience the inspiration of their own sinful, fallen hearts. At worst, they will experience demonic influence – and sad to say too much in this world today is thus inspired, and indeed too much in the professing church is also thus inspired.

The principle that God requires obedience to his ways, in his time, is illustrated in the Old Testament when God ordained the exact pattern, fabrication and construction of the Tabernacle.

There are many examples of belief and practice in the confessing church in recent times which demonstrate the failure to appreciate the vital importance of abiding in the vine of Christ himself. People have believed that by absorbing the wisdom of this world, they can rejuvenate the church today, or somehow make it appealing to non believers.

That is not just false, but disobedient.

Disobedient practices are many and include

  • alpha courses
  • covenanting
  • shepherding
  • praying to the ‘holy spirit’

Why are so many ‘churches’ dying or dead today ?

They don’t abide in Christ.

By Christianity

The personal icon photograph shows God's creation, the world. It reminds us that God is the Creator of all - the almighty, the all knowing and all present - the one who is most important of all. The one to whom we owe all, and the one to whom we will answer for all. The site's header image of the Bible [King James Authorised Version], a map, a light and a compass represent to us that God's word in the Bible is our spiritual map, illumination and guide through this life. Those who obey his teaching will know his presence and power - Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 23

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