Welcome To expound, our verse by verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and conversational.
Would you please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel of John, Chapter 14. We were unable to finish last week. We took the Lord's supper together. I aimed to do a chapter or so. I didn't even make it through a chapter last week, but that doesn't matter because we just pick up where we left off in the Gospel of John.
Several years ago, there was a columnist named Ann Landers. Some of you will remember her, and she got a letter that she published from a girl who was writing about her uncle and her aunt. And this girl's letter said, my uncle was the tightest man I ever have known. All of his life every time he got paid, he took $20 out of his paycheck and put it under his mattress. Then he got sick and he was about to die. As he was dying, he said to his wife, "I want you to promise me one thing."
"What?" she asked.
"I want you to promise me that when I'm dead, you'll take my money from under the mattress, and put it in my casket so I can take it all with me"
Well, he died, and his wife kept her promise. She went, got all that money the day he died, went to the bank, and deposited it, and wrote out a check and put it in his casket. If he can cash it, it's his. That's what she was thinking. She was clever. He was a skinflint. He should have thought of her instead of him, but she kept her promise.
God always keeps his promise and he's not underhanded about it. God's promises are wonderful, magnificent. Peter called them exceedingly great and precious promises. Your Bible has in it 31,102 verses, Old and New Testament. Some of those verses are law. Some of them are poetic. Many of them are prophetic. But some of them are pure promise.
There was a guy who decided to count all the promises in the Bible. He was Canadian. This is written up in Time Magazine. And Everett Storms had gone through the Bible 26 times on his twenty-seventh read through the Bible. It took him a year and a half, but he wrote down all of the promises that God made to man. He counted 7,484, I think it was, promises that God made to mankind.
So God has promised you and I an awful lot. And have you ever seen those little pocket promise books? Or those little loaves of bread with the little promises in them that you could-- I remember having one of them as a young Christian somebody gave me. You pull out a promise every day. And I was always amazed how many promises there were.
But the big question is what do you do with them. You could say, well, they sit right there on my table, that's what I do with them. They sit in that little bread thing, and I got all the promises right there. Others would say, I tell you what I do with God's promises. I put them in a nice little frame, and it's up on my wall. So I walk by and I can see that promise. Others would say, oh, I memorized the promises of God.
All wonderful if they're on your table, on your wall, in your mind. But the best thing you can do is to believe them. To believe them in your heart and to live by them. To step out and decide, I'm going to live by them. There's a great old hymn, Standing on the Promises of God Standing on the promises of Christ my Savior. Standing on the promises of God.
Some believers I know aren't standing on the promises. They're sitting on the premises. Or they're crawling on the promises, because they don't know if they're going to hold up or not, but standing on the promises.
In this section of scripture, this upper room discourse, Jesus meets with his disciples. They are bewildered. They are confused and he gives them several promises. Now I'm going to take you back to a few verses. I know I went down to around verse 25, but I was given a request this weekend to go back and comment on a verse that we went through last week. But because I didn't comment on it, I think they felt a little cheated. Even though I've talked about it before, we're going to go back a few verses.
And do you remember when I talked about the promise that Jesus gave that you'll do greater works? Well, let's go back up to verse 12 where he says, "most assuredly I say to you that he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these will he do: because I go to the Father. And whatever you ask --there's that verse-- whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it."
Now that little promise there, that little verse, the promise is given twice. I'll do it. I'll do it. Gives to us how you're going to be able to do those greater works that he promised previously. The works that I do, he will do, and greater works. How is that going to happen? You said you're leaving. Now, remember last week, Jesus was the one they turned to because of the things he did for them. He provided food for them when there were so many people who came to listen to him, and they grew hungry and he multiplied a simple lunch and made it available to everyone. So he fed them food.
He also provided tax money for them, when he said go down to the sea, get out of fish, you'll find a coin, you'll have enough to pay your taxes. He also help them do what they couldn't do themselves in their own profession. They were fishermen. And there was a time where Peter said, look we fished all night and caught nothing. But nevertheless, Jesus, because you want to go fishing, OK. We'll let our nets down. And they did at his command, and their nets were so full, they were almost breaking.
So they had become very accustomed to leaning on Jesus for everything. And Jesus gave a promise we already covered. And he'll touch on it a couple of more times, that he was going to send His Holy Spirit. Another helper. And we mentioned to you the word, another, is the word. Another of the same kind. Just like I've been a helper to you, I'm going to give you another helper of the same kind and that is the Holy Spirit.
But here he talks about how those greater works are going to be done when he says, if you ask anything in my name, I will do it. What he wants them to know is this. Absent doesn't mean unavailable. Just because you can't see me physically, does not mean I'm not available to use spiritually. And the thing that closes the gap, the thing that removes the distance between heaven and earth is simple, prayer. Prayer closes the gap.
As soon as you pray, the gap between heaven and earth is closed. It removes the distance, and it opens the floodgates for the resources of God. That's how the greater works are going to be accomplished. But this verse has been greatly misunderstood. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it. Some people read into this like it's a magical formula. That you just tack the words, in Jesus' name, at the end of a prayer and it's like Abracadabra. Here go da da da in Jesus' name. It's like some magical formula. He didn't necessarily mean that you just tag a phrase on at the end of a prayer, and expect, like waving a wand, things are going to happen.
To pray in someone's name, it's like the song we just sang. Here in your presence, Lord, I surrender to your glory, for your glory. As I was listening to that song, I thought, we've captured it right there in that little worship song. That's what it means to pray in the name of Jesus. To pray in the name of Jesus means that you pray according to all that his name embodies. It's to pray in the character of Jesus. To seek the glory and the will of Jesus. It just doesn't mean you add his name at the end so that the father, OK, you said the magic words. Now I'm going to do it. It's like it's a blank check.
No. When you pray, Lord, I want to find out what you are up to in this world, and I want to be a part of what you're up to. I want to find out what you're about, what you want, and I want to tap into that. Now, you're praying according to the name because that's the character and the will of Jesus. And as we go through this you're going to see how we do that. But this is a qualifying statement. It's a qualifying statement. If you ask anything --didn't say that-- in my name, according to my will, with my purpose, with my character and reputation and glory in mind. And I tell you what, our prayers would dramatically change.
If we say Lord I'm praying this for your sake, for the glory of God to be expanded. So there's certain things that you would just maybe have a hard time praying. You say, Lord, I need a brand new television for the glory and sake of your kingdom, to be expanded in your name, to be upheld. I don't know about that. So the qualifying statement, if you ask anything in my name, for my sake. So what this will do when you grasp the concept of this, is this will counteract all those give me prayers that we pray. Give me this, give me that, give me the other thing. Because now your focus is on his will, his glory, his character and that's the qualifier. So if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.
Now, let's go back down since we covered around several of those verses. Verse 25 Jesus continuing. These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the helper --he's already mentioned the Holy Spirit but he again-- but the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
See, there's that phrase again-- in my name. So Jesus is going to ask the Father for the Holy Spirit to be sent. I hope you know that there is an ongoing ministry right now that Jesus has. He has a ministry in heaven, and he has you in mind in this ministry. Do you know that his work is not done. His work on the cross has done. You can add to it. It's completed. That's done.
But there is an ongoing work as an intercessor. He's at the right hand and he ever lives, the book of Hebrews tells us, to make intercession for us. His first work of intersession was to ask the father to send the Holy Spirit as the other helper. One of the same kind because he was leaving and the Holy Spirit was going to take over. So I'm going to go to the Father. I'm going to pray whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance the things that I said to you.
I'm glad Jesus said that. I'm glad because this explains for me how 12 fishermen were able to pull off the New Testament. How do you get 12, well, 11 because Judas has already flaked out --later on the Lord will add Paul the Apostle, and he will write books of the Bible-- but how do you get these guys holy uneducated fisherman from Galilee, first of all, to remember all of the events that happened in 3 and 1/2 years and to be able to record all of the profound truth as they did in the New Testament gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?
You know, I have problems remembering my own sermons. I'll have somebody come up to me and say, hey do you remember that sermon you preached last year? And they look at a blank stares. I look at them I have a blank stare. I'm looking at them, like, I preach sermons every week. Which one? Well, you remember that one --they try to describe it-- I go, yeah, vaguely. Well do you remember what you said about that? Well, where did you-- what page of what book did you find-- would to God I had that kind of a memory. I can't remember all that goes on.
Now, I had a guy here last week that I introduced, and he prayed before the service. John Ritchie from Scotland. Now, he can remember what I preached. He listens to every message I preach four or five at least times, up to eight times, every single one. Goes deep, listens to it again, goes deep four or five times. So he'll say six months ago, and he'll give me the text, give me the illustration, how many minutes he was in the sermon. He's like a walking dictionary. I need him around just to tell me when and where. Of course, you couldn't understand him. You'd have to get translation, nonetheless.
But this helps me understand how these guys were able to put down what Jesus said and what Jesus did. And why? Because the Holy Spirit would be able to do that. He's going to bring these things back to your memory. He's going to give you the power to recall that, and to put that down accurately. Now, that's very important. One of them is named Peter. Peter was there. As we know, the apostle Peter was with Jesus during that ministry.
But we know that Peter said some pretty dumb things. Well, so how can we trust what Peter is going to say? Well, Peter tells us. He said, no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophets didn't speak on their own, but they were moved by the Holy Spirit, he said. Moved or carried along by the Holy Spirit, so that what we have, the end result we have, is that the Holy Spirit moved the author to that destination in a literary sense, an accurate sense, to the destination pre-determined by God using the words, the very words, the contacts, the syntax. So it's accurate And that is the explanation
The Holy Spirit. He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things I said to you. And then he tells this bewildered troubled confused bunch. We gave you all the reasons for that last week. He says, peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
If you go to Israel today, and you meet anyone, they're going to say peace to you. That's how they greet you. Shalom, peace. It can mean hello goodbye, but it literally means peace. It's that common greeting that embraces and wishes that a person will experience the peace of God. It's a beautiful, beautiful introduction salutation. So Jesus says to these disciples, peace I give to you. But then he says, my peace. Literally, my own peace. It's my peace and I'm giving it to you. The peace that I experience myself. I'm the manufacturer of it and the distributor of it. It is mine, I enjoy it and I'm conveying that to you. That's the idea of it. It's my own personal peace and I'm giving that to you.
Can you picture Jesus as frenzied and fretful, and worried and biting his nails, and flipping out? No, you picture him, you read about him as calm and in control, and predicting all things, even his own death. He says, no man takes my life from me. I lay it down and I take it again. Total control, absolute power, never worried, never worked up, never fretful, never frenzied. Peaceful. And he's saying now, that's available to my followers. My own piece of which I manufacture, I also distribute it and I'm giving it to you. The peace that I experience. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Now, again, he is addressing the disciples who were troubled because of the announcement that he has made at the Last Supper, that he is leaving them he's going to die. That Peter is going to deny him. That Judas is going to betray him. And they're worked up and worried. And He says, I'm giving you my peace.
I've always loved the illustration that seafarers, sailors give to us about what they call the cushion of the sea. It seems that in the ocean, no matter what is going on top of the ocean --the wind the waves can be a huge storm-- you can get to a depth in the ocean where it's absolutely calm if you go deep enough. It's the cushion of the sea. It's calm. No matter what's going around you on the surface, let me take you down to the cushion, my peace. I'll give it to you. I'll convey it for you.
You have heard me say to you, I am going away and coming back to you. If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said I'm going unto the Father. For my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes that when it does come to pass, you may believe. Now, be careful how you interpret verse 28. That has been a favorite verse of cultists who want to deny the deity of Jesus Christ. They love to pull this out, and what they aimed to do is to show you why Jesus never claimed to be God, never claimed to be a deity. Because it goes look, he said, my Father is greater than I. Of course he is.
In terms of position at this point in the incarnation where Jesus has left heaven, come to the earth, and voluntarily submitted himself to the father. The position of the Father as calling the shots and the Son submitting to the Father as a servant, the father is greater. Does not say, however, my Father is better than I am. My father is superior to me. But my Father, in terms of his position, and in terms of my position with the incarnation becoming man, Philippians tells us abdicating the outward manifestation of my glory, I've submitted myself to the will of the Father. In that case, my father is greater than I and that makes perfect sense, because he did submit himself to the perfect will of the Father. And then he says closing out the chapter, I will no longer talk much with you for the ruler of this world is coming. And he has nothing in me but that the world may know that I love the Father. As the father gave me commandment so I do arise, let us go from here.
Jesus said, I'm not going to talk much longer with you and it's true. There's only two chapters left of the red letters. Can you see if you have a red letter Bible? So, boys, we got two chapters left, he's telling them. I'm not going to talk much with you and after 15 and 16 he's done in this final discourse to his disciples. And here's why, I will no longer talk much with you for the ruler of this world is coming and has nothing in me. Now, who is the ruler of this world? It's Satan. That's a reference to the devil.
Second Corinthians Chapter 4, Paul calls him Satan, the god of this age, or the god of this world. Now, why is the devil spoken of by Jesus and by Paul with these terms? The ruler of this world. The prince of this world. The god of this age. The god of this world. Why is he called that? He is called that because way back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve listened to this suggestion of Satan, they abdicated the control, their control, over to the devil they surrendered. They listened to what he had to say. And he forfeited, Adam forfeited, that authority over to him.
So when, here, when he says the prince. Of this world is coming, I believe it's a reference to his betrayal by Judas Iscariot. Judas has already gone out he has already pre-arrange the betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. So he knows that it's dark and the powers of darkness are against him, and the Roman government and the chief priests have conspired along with Judas. But what's interesting is Jesus doesn't say, and Judas is coming, or my human betrayer is coming.
What he does is, he takes you behind the veil, behind the curtain, backstage, and shows you the real spiritual power behind the human plot. This is the power behind the plot. There is a human plot, that's Judas. The human plot, that's the chief priest. The human plot, that'll be the Romans and the temple police. But the power behind the plot is the ruler of this world. Satan is backing it. Satan is thinking, I've got to get rid of the seed. The promise seed. I've got to I've got to destroy this seed, less these promises that God made will come true. Of course, he didn't read the fine print, did he? Did know that it was the plan of the Father that He goes to the cross.
But the ruler of this world is behind this horrible betrayal and plot. What Jesus says, and he has nothing in me. In other words, no demonic power, no human plot can manipulate me into this. I'm doing it voluntarily. Again, John Chapter 10, no one takes my life from me. I lay it down of myself. I have the power to lay it down and take it up. So he's saying I'm not being manipulated. He has nothing in me. Has no power, no control, no authority over me. But that the world may know that I love the Father.
They're going to know by the crucifixion that I will submit myself to the will of the Father even to that point. Philippian tells us that's the very language he uses. Humbling himself and become obedient to death, even the death of the cross. The world may know that I love the Father. And as the Father gave me commandments, so I do. And then notice this, arise, let us go from here. That's the last phrase of Chapter 14. Arise, let us go from here. Where's here? The upper room somewhere in Jerusalem. If we go to Jerusalem together, I can show you where traditionally, has been the area of the upper room. Maybe that's the spot, maybe not.
But it's been that tradition for hundreds of years. Even 1,000 years or so. So in that area of Jerusalem, somewhere in an upper room, they were having Passover. When the meal was done, Jesus said, OK. Let's get up and go. Now, where are they going? Garden of Gethsemane. That's where Jesus will be arrested. So he says, arise, let us go from here. So since Chapter 15 begins by saying, I am the true vine and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes away every branch, that bears fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit
I can only guess that these words, beginning in Chapter 15 verse 1, were not given in the upper room, but on the road to the Garden of Gethsemane. On the way. They probably got up and started walking. Now, I love when I go to Jerusalem. The first night I'm there, I love to take a walk out of one at the gates of the city by the Western Wall the Upper City. And walk down toward the Kidron Valley, and cross it, and go over to the Garden of Gethsemane. Sort of take the same route that Jesus took. I love doing that.
So as they were walking, Jesus begins by telling them a metaphor of vine and branches. Why? I believe that probably he was using something that was familiar to them spiritually, as well as physically, visibly. I think probably when you, in fact I know, that if you go down today you can see terrorist hillsides around Jerusalem with olive trees and vineyards. You see grapes growing. You see trees growing. Those plantings were very familiar.
So as they were walking from the upper room down toward the Kidron Valley, maybe just brushing up against the vineyards, some of the grape plants, the grape leaves the vines. That perhaps using that, Jesus launched into something they were familiar with spiritually. I'll describe that in a moment. So he used something they could see to launch into a spiritual metaphor of what it means to have a relationship with God. A connection with God.
Something else, perhaps it wasn't the grape vines around the city which were visible, but as they were to go around that area of the Temple Mount, they can look up and see the big huge massive bronze doors that had been built in Greece and sent over to Jerusalem to divide one of the courts of the temple. And on the bronze gate, embossed embedded and embossed on the bronze, was gold, and it was a vine. Beautiful and ornate vine, Josephus tells us. Why a vine? Because in the Old Testament, several passages refer to Israel as God's vineyard. God's vine, that is to bear forth fruit to God. That was the intention of the nation.
Perhaps the most famous is Isaiah Chapter 5. In Isaiah Chapter 5, The prophet says, now let me sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved about his vineyard. My well-beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. He dug it up he cleared out its stones he planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in it. He also made a wine press in it, and he expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes.
The prophet continues, what shall the Lord of the vineyard do? And he says he's going to decimate it he's in take away its hedge. Take away its tower. He's going to let others come in and take over that vineyard. It's going to be destroyed. And then he explains the Parable. This is all in Isaiah Chapter 5. For the vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant plant. Israel had become unfruitful. Israel as a nation had become unprofitable. They rejected their Messiah. Prophesied by the prophets. Predicted in the Old Testament.
They were to bring forth fruit to God. They were to be a light to the Gentiles. They didn't do that. They become very close minded. Their embrace was very narrow and tight. And they excluded so many people. And it wasn't what God intended. , So yes, they're the vineyard of God, but an unprofitable vine. And so in contrast to Israel the vines, Jesus said, I'm the true vine. I'm the real deal. I'm the fruitful one. I'm the one that the father has entrusted this mission to, and I am fulfilling it to the end as your Messiah and as his son. I am the true vine. And my father is the vine dresser, or the viticulturist if you were in modern scientific terms.
A viticulturist is somebody who walks through a vineyard and clips and cuts and grows, and takes care of a vineyard. Takes care of grapes. Every branch in me, he says, that does not bear fruit, he takes it away. Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes it that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word that I have spoken until you. It's a staggering truth that God cares so much for his people that it's like somebody who's really into grapes man. And he's out there, and he cuts and he spends his time, and he's into it. And he reads grape grower magazine. And his bumper sticker is I hard grapes, I mean, he's just into it.
You have a Father in Heaven who cares meticulously for you, his child. Like a grape farmer would to bring forth good fruit. But notice every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes away. Now what these viticulturists do, is they do two things. Now, this is the main job of the grower during one season, is to go find the dead wood that's on the grapevine that there is no SAP in. It's connected, but it's dead. They take that away. And they take that away because deadwood breeds disease. It harbors disease, so you cut it off.
But they even go into the live tissue and cut it, because they want to make sure that the sap is not spent extraneously for no good reason. It needs to be concentrated to bear the right kind of fruit. So that's the kind of care that your Father has for you. Now, what does he do? He prunes you. You go, I don't like the sound of that. Now, when he says that he prunes you, this is a loving father. Doesn't say he'll make you into a pruney person, or a prune faced person, or a prune like person. Look at that prune like person. Must be a Christian.
No, he'll cleanse you. The Greek word is katharizo, to clean, to cleanse you. He'll cleanse you. Hell cut away the dead wood. He'll manicure you. he'll I'll cut away some tissue, but he does it for fruitfulness. How does he cleanse you? Two ways. By scripture. That's one way. You're already clean by the word I've spoken to you.
Remember what it says in Hebrews 4. The word of God is alive and powerful, and sharper than a two edged sword piercing even to the division of soul and spirit joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts, and of the intents of the heart, so he uses his word. And have you ever had the word of God confront you? Oh, daily, I hope you would say. I'll read certain passages of scripture and I'm comforted by them. Others I'm not. Others I read them and I go, uh oh. I'm not comforted, I'm confronted. And I've discovered the word of God is given to comfort the afflicted, but also to afflict the comfortable
We need stuff cut out of our lives. And the word of God powerfully does that. And that's the value of slowing down when you read and mulling over the text and thinking about. It more than just getting through a chapter in the morning, but just contemplating on it. Because you're letting it have its full effect. Let it confront you. Don't close the book don't walk away. Don't run away. Let it cut. That's one way he cleanses. That's one way he prunes.
Another way, we all know, is by trials and you're going, yeah, I knew you were going to say that. And if you're honest, you're going, I hate trials. I hate them. I think we all do. Let's not try to be over spiritual. If we could take a vote in trials today, we'd all vote, affirmative. Get rid of them. They hurt. We don't like them. But Jesus prunes us by scripture and by suffering. Scripture and by suffering, if you want to keep the s's in it.
David in Psalm 119 said, before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I keep your word. I love how C.S. Lewis used to put it. He said, God through pain, he said, pain plants the flag of truth in the fortress of a rebel soul. God will get your attention with suffering. More people that I've met, because of some tragedy, some painful circumstance, that's when they look up. OK, God what do you want?
Now, it's better not to live that way. It's better to give God your full attention every day and let him cleanse you through the word. But if the scripture won't get your attention, maybe suffering will. But please, I don't want you to think of, oh no. I don't ever want to be fruitful because if I'm fruitful then he's going to prune me so I get more fruitful. That didn't sound good. Maybe if I don't bear any fruit at all. No, he loves you too much to leave you that way. He's the hound of heaven. He's committed to your growth. He's the vine dresser. He's going to be walking past your plant going, oh, deadwood. Ooh fruit. If I clip there, though, it's going to hurt. But if I clip they're, better grapes
So here's what I want to warn you be careful that you don't call something bad that is really sent by God for good. So we have to be careful. Why would God look bad things happen to good people? First of all, you need to get a better definition of good people, when you are pointing to yourself. Because Jesus said no one's good, but / so that leaves you and out of it.
Also be careful what you call bad. Joseph was sold into slavery by jealous brothers. He was put in prison for years. He suffered as a slave. But then he became prime minister of Egypt. All that bad stuff was used by God to bring him to a different kind of a place, so that when his brothers finally met him again. And they were all panic that Joseph was going to come after them. He goes, don't worry you guys. What you intended for evil, God meant for good.
So be careful that when you start assigning something as --I don't why that happen to me. It's bad.-- Feels that way. It hurts when the pruning shears come. But wait. Just wait you see the grapes. Just wait till the fruit starts popping out. Because you've got a viticulturist, a vine dresser, a husbandman, who's after your best interest. That's why all things work together for good to those who love God.
Verse 4, abide in me, and I and you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine. OK, you ready for this? This is where you come in. You're about to be introduced, and you're the branches. That's where you are. I am the vine, Jesus said. You are the branches. You know what you are? Ready? You're a twig. Wow. You're so impressive. You're a twig. How impressive is a twig? Not too impressive. So you go, do you know who I am? I'm a twig That's just not going to happen. That's nothing to brag about. In fact, twigs in a vineyard are only good for two things, burning, or bearing fruit.
You see, grape wood is so bad, nobody builds anything with it. You won't find statues made out of it in Israel, like they do olive wood You won't find grape wood because it's like useless. It falls apart. It's soft. It's bad wood. It's good for nothing except kindling. You burn it. So it's good for burning or for bearing fruit.
So your value doesn't come in you being a twig. Your value comes in you being connected to the vine. When you are connected to the vine, then the life of Christ flows through you and you will produce fruit. So your value is in your connectedness to Jesus. And when you're connected to Jesus, he'll change the world through you. Become so valuable connected to him. Sky's the limit. That's why Jesus said greater works than these. Think about that. Stay connected to him. How? He says, abide in me. The word in Greek is, meno.
Meno means have a close intimate constant living communion with me. Now, I know you have heard the term personal relationship with Jesus. That's become a modern, evangelical, buzz phrase for, are you saved. People who go to church yeah I know you're a church buddy do you have a personal relationship or are you're not going to find that term like that in the Bible. You're not. Because, truth be told, everybody on earth has a personal relationship with Jesus. It's just that it's not a good one. They're in line for God's judgment.
Every person on earth has a personal relationship with Jesus. A better way to look at it is this a connection of vital intimate connection with Jesus. You can tell somebody who has a connection with Jesus. You know how you can tell? Fruit. You're producing stuff. It's not like you have to guess. Is that our real grape twig? I don't know. Let's look and see if there's grapes on it. Oh, there's grapes. It is . So it's self-evident by what it produces
So you abide in me and I in you, as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides of the vine. Neither can you, unless you abide in me. I'm the vine you're the branches. He who abides in me and I and him, bears much fruit. For without me, you can do nothing. Oh I wish we'd believe that, because, frankly, a lot of us think, well, there's a few things I can do without him. OK, there's a few things I can do without him. That's all. I really have to call on his name because I'm in a real pickle, and I can't pay my bills. So I can't do that. So I got to call on him. You can do anything. You couldn't breathe without him. You wouldn't be here without him. But if you want a fruitful life, connection, the connectivity of abiding.
Now, here's the deal. Fruit is natural. It's produced naturally. Have you ever seen a grape. Vine of grapes, or an apple tree. Just think of any fruit bearing tree. Anybody have an apple tree or pear tree? nobody does? You have an apple tree? OK. I've seen apple trees around here. I know you have orange trees. But have you ever seen a fruit tree strive, struggle, work hard to produce an apple? Have you ever seeing an apple tree? Every walk by it hear it grunting? Apple. Awesome. Awesome. I worked hard for that.
No, you know what that branch does? It just hangs in there. Just hangs in there. Just stays connected. Just stay connected. I don't want you to take this wrongly, like I'm abusing grace but, just relax and stay close to Jesus. Just relax enjoy him. Enjoy the Christian walk. Don't get worried about-- just hang in there. Hang in there. Stick close to him Abide in him. You'll bear forth much fruit. If anyone does not abide, and he's cast out as a branch and is withered. And they gather them and throw them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you , will ask what you desire and it will be done for you.
Now, that verse you need to tack on to the verse we started with tonight Chapter 14, verse 14. If you ask anything in my name I will do it. Now, after that, plug this verse into it. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you can ask whatever you want. It will be done you. You know why? Because when you abide in his word, will ask for the right stuff. You'll know what to pray for as you abide in his word. As you're close to his word, and you're getting nourishment, the sap of energy and from the truth of scripture, that's going to form for you the right balance and template. So when you come before him, you're going to be praying for his, will for his character, in his name, you can ask whatever you want to because you're praying for the right thing.
By the way, I do want to say this. I know you know this, but it has to be said. There are some who are going to read these verses and say, I have a dispute with that because I've prayed for things and I've believed they're the will of God. And I never got an answer. Yeah you did. He said no. That's an answer. He answered your prayer. Well it wasn't the way I want it. Exactly, because last time I checked, he's God, you're not. But that's an answer.
What's the solution to that kind of praying abide in his word. Abide, stay close, hang in there with him. Abide in his word. Ask what you will and it will be done. By this, my Father is glorified that you bear much fruit so you will be my disciples. Now, notice the progression. He's spoken about fruit, more fruit, much fruit.
That's the normal progression of our walk. Now, sometimes we're not always there, right? Sometimes we bear fruit, and then more, fruit then no fruit. Then much fruit. Then a little fruit. But the progression is that God is committed to you being fruitful, bearing more fruit, and then bearing much fruit. That's why there's the pruning because that's his commitment.
As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I've spoken to you that my joy might remain in you and that your joy may be full. What a wild thing to promise disciples who are frustrated, anxious, worried, agitated, troubled. He's already said I'll give you my peace. Now, he says, I'll give you joy. When you are cared for by my Father, and you abide in me so that you are consistent, you're going to have a fruitful life but you're going to have a joyful life. My joy. My peace. My joy.
These are things the world craves. People crave peace. People crave joy. You're going, well, I've got a bad day today. Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is contingent upon the happenings. When the happenings go your way, you're happy. When the happenings don't go your way, you're not happy. Joy is something constant that the Lord does in you. That's the cushion of the see part of it. Peace and joy.
I'm sorry that for years, Christianity has been portrayed as something that is sad and dullfull. And so for years, it was thought that the clergy should wear black, and speak in somber tones. God bless you my child. Go away. Jesus said, I'm giving you my joy that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another I've loved you. Did you notice he said that's a commandment? It's not a feeling. Now, if it's a commandment and not a feeling, that means you can do it. That means, listen carefully, love is not an emotion. It's a volition. It's not something you have to feel, it's just something you have to do.
Now, this is a transforming truth. I've met couples who are married for 10 years who haven't figured this out yet. It's not a feeling. Jesus doesn't say you have to feel love. it's impossible to always feel love. He just said, I want you to do it. You have did you have to love. So love is not an emotion. It's a volition. Now, once you act on the volition, the emotion follows. I've discovered that to be true when you commit to showing love, whether you feel like it or not, the emotion will follow eventually.
That's how you can love your enemies. You can pray for them. Pray for them. Pretty soon you're not going to feel an animosity toward them anymore. So I've heard people say, well, I just don't feel like, love and I'm not lovable. They said, they're mean to me. Love them. That's the commandment. Not feel it, just do it. Is that hypocrisy No, it's obedience. Greater love has no one than this than to lay down his life for his friends. Who is doing that? Jesus.
Did he feel like it? You think he felt warm fuzzy feelings as he knew he was going to be crucified. And his back split open and his head bleeding? You think that felt really good to him? No. That's why it's a volition. Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants. For a servant does not know what His master is doing. But I've called you friends. For all things that I heard from my father I've made known to you. You did not choose me. I chose you. And appointed you that you should go and bear fruit. And that your fruit should remain.
That whatever you ask the Father and my name, he may give you. These things I command you that you love one another. Now, this bothers some people. And what bothers them is the thing that God chose people to be saved, predestined people to be saved. That bothers some people. They just want to argue it. They want to get worked up about it. For me, I'm stoked because you chose me. I'm pretty elated. I'm pretty honored that I've been chosen by God.
Ephesians 1, you were chosen in him before the foundations of the earth. I'm sure this came as a shock to the disciples, because they're thinking back. Now, I distinctly remember the day in Galilee when I decided I'm going to follow this rabbi. I chose you. But Jesus said, yeah, I know you think that, but I actually chose you first. Now, if that's true, and this was brought to my attention this last weekend as third service gave an alter call. There is a pretty sizable one. It upset somebody, that I would call people to make a decision to follow Christ.
If Christ is the one who makes the choice why would you ask people to choose to follow Christ? Because both are true. Not only does Christ choose people for salvation. He chooses the means by how they will hear and how they will agree, and allow themselves to be loved by God. There is human choice involved in it. So I am not an ardent hardcore Calvinist saying that nobody has any choice whatsoever.
All of a sudden, one day I was just swept up and saved. You have a choice in it. It's like, it's the analogy I've given is that if you're drowning in a river or a lake and there's a rope thrown out to you, the rope alone can't save you . You have to grab a hold of the rope. But even you grabbing a hold of the rope won't necessarily save you unless somebody is at the shore bringing you in. So by God's grace, he throws out the rope. By your cooperation, you grab a hold of it. But it was always predestined that that day would happen for him to pull you in.
So that might bother you. I'm sorry if it does, it never has bothered me, I've never had a problem with predestination, I'm honored he chose me. Now, some people go, well, that's not fair. Maybe he didn't choose me because I'm not a Christian tonight. Oh really? Well, why aren't you a Christian? Well, I've heard this stuff before, but I don't know about it. OK, so what are you barking about What do you mean what am I barking about? I can prove that you're chosen by God. I can prove it. You received Jesus Christ tonight, and you will discover he's been there all along. And it was tonight predestined from eternity past and you'd be saved.
I don't know if I want to do that. Okay, well, maybe he didn't choose you. But know this. Pre-destination will never preclude you from being saved. It only proves when you cooperate by your choice that you were chosen by him. Think of it this way. This scripture reveals the human side and the divine side. The human side, the day comes and you make a decision to follow Christ. The divine side, your chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Both are true at the same time. And there are several scriptures that do that. Don't have enough time to get into it because time's almost up.
Sorry talking fast but the time is almost up. If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. Notice how that passage will turn. It goes from love, peace, love, joy, to hate. And here's what you have to understand. When you love God, and when you discover God loves you, and the world finds out about it, they're going to hate you for it. Both are also true. If the world hates you, it hated me before it hated you.
If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. I remember when I first discovered this truth with my own friends. I love them. They loved me until they found out I was a Jesus freak. You did what? You gave your life to Christ? It was to them like a catastrophic tragedy. Oh no. Why did you do that? Because I didn't want to go to hell. What are you better than us? No, but I'm saved. But they were so angry, and I was excluded from their company.
Remember, the word that I said to you, a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for my name's sake, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had come if I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin. But now, they have no excuse for their sin. Jesus showed up on Earth, the only person who lived the perfect life and paid the atoning death. So they have no excuse. He who hates me, hates my Father also.
If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin. But now, they have sin, and also hated both me and my father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled, which is written in their law, they hated me without a cause. But when the helper comes, that's the Holy Spirit, whom I will send to you from the Father the spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify of me. And you will also bear witness because you have been with me from the beginning.
And next week we will pick up more of what he says finishing out all along the way toward that Garden of Gethsemane and the Kidron valley and Jesus will be arrested. Let's pray together. Father thank you for the opportunity to gather together to take the middle of the week and set it aside as holy . And to push things aside on a Wednesday evening. To come and hang out with friends or meet new people, and to hear your word. The words of Jesus, the word of God, to abide in Jesus by abiding in his word. To be comforted and to be confronted. To be cleansed and to be cut. So that we might bear fruit, more fruit, much fruit, because you are glorified that way Lord. We do pray like Jesus said we should for greater works than these.
We pray, Lord, that you would expand your kingdom through us. We pray in the name of Jesus by his character for his glory that you would use us to reach a lost world. Lord, we think of these incredible perks that Jesus gave to his followers. The promise of his own peace. The promise of joy as well as fruitfulness. Lord, I just want to pray for anyone who may have just come, because they've been invited, or they just decided they'd show up, but they're not connected. They're not connected. They're hanging around the plants in the vineyard, but they're not themselves connected to that sap. That life-giving relationship is not there.
Grasp them in, Lord. Plug their life into Jesus. Choose them Lord as they make a decision for Christ. Show them that you have chosen them in Christ from before the foundations of the world. That you have planned that they would be here for this night, so that the truth could be planted in their heart, and would bear fruit in a decision to follow Jesus Christ.
As our heads are bowed, our eyes are closed, we're closing the service, I want to give you an opportunity. If you've never given your life to Jesus Christ. You may have grown up in a religious home, like I did. You may have gone to church every week, like I did. But there wasn't that abiding close connection with Christ. You don't have that right now. You want it. You want his piece. You want his joy. You want your life to be fruitful, and meaningful, and count for something. It begins by saying yes to Jesus. By inviting him into your heart. If you have never done that personally, or maybe you walked away from him, and you need to come back home to him, I want you just raise your hand up. And you're saying. Skip, here's my hand. Pray for me tonight. I'm going to give my life to Jesus.
Keep it up for just a moment God bless you and you and you right down the middle right toward the middle anyone else. Raise those hands up high. God bless you to my right. Who else? Right over there.
Raise your hands up. In the balcony, a couple of you. Awesome. Father, thank you for these. We do pray that the plan of God would be fulfilled in them so they will experience that cushion of peace, that fountain of your joy. Wash them of their sins. Cleanse them as they become a part of the church. The body of Christ. Your expression on this earth of who you are. In Jesus' name we pray Amen.
Stand to your feet please. Stand on our feet and as we sing the final song, I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hands to do something else. And that is to find the nearest aisle and come and stand right here in the front, I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ as your savior. Jesus called people publicly. We never to do this to embarrass people. We do it to encourage people, to welcome people, and so you'll know this is the time I gave my life to Christ.
I surrender all. and all to the, my blessed savior I surrender.
You may not have held your hand up at, all but your heart is crying out for peace. You want to be forgiven, you want a new start, you want a new life. Won't come from a preacher. It won't come from a church. Nor will not come from a religion. It will come from Jesus. And he is here to meet you. He's here to give it to you get up and you come. Here on the balcony. I saw a couple hands please come down those steps will wait for you might be in the family room. Please come to those doors. Come join us.
Know this. You're not here by accident. This is all God's setup you realize that he chose you and he brought you here to hear this message to bring you up here to say a prayer, because new life for you happens right now, tonight. Anybody else. We're going to give you just another moment. Well, for those of you who have come, I'm going to lead you now in a prayer. And a prayer is simply talking to God. And I'm going to ask you to say this out loud, after me. I want you to say this from your heart to God. This is you giving your life away.
You're asking God you control your life now. So it's like, Lord I'm giving you the pink slip and the keys to. Me you are now in control. I want you to be in control of my life. So I'm going to pray. You pray these words out loud, OK? Say Lord, I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus. I believe he died on a cross. I believe he shed his blood for me. I believe he's risen again. I turn from my sin. I turn to Jesus as my Savior. I want to follow him as my Lord. Help me. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. He answer the prayer. That is his will. Absolutely That is his will.