Dale Offutt

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

     Greetings in the name of our Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus desires that the relationship between himself and his followers be one that is not nominal or artificial. He has given life to his own so that there will be and should be a living union. The life of our Lord should be lived in and through every Christian every day.

Oh, my friends, Jesus is full of the noblest life. He, through the Holy Spirit nourishes and develops life in every child of God. Because he lives, we live also.  His affairs are our affairs. Our affairs should be his affairs when we claim to have a relationship with God through Jesus. Our Lord is interested in every one of his followers. No step we take, no decision do we make, no success do we gain but what he regards us with an anxious eye. He loves all of us, the worst of us. Yes, as well as the best of us.

In the upper room Jesus taught these practical truths to his disciples.  In so doing he stressed that he was the source of real life by teaching them that he is the true vine. Will you share with us as we read from the gospel of John? We shall be reading chapter 15 verses one through 11.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit.  Already ye are clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples.

“Even as the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you: abide ye in my love.  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

We, first of all, must notice that Jesus taught his followers that there is a relationship with him. I am the vine. Ye are the branches. He was defining a most intimate relationship. And so it is with his followers of today. Jesus was also stressing that branches are a vital part of a vine. The branches receive sustenance or nourishment from the vine trunk. And if they are broken off, they die. Jesus said that same is true of his followers. Apart from him a life in vital relationship with Jesus one can do nothing. Our whole life comes from the flow of power from him. His power is directed to us.  For a Christian life to be vital it must be related to or connected with Christ.

As the apostle Paul would say, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Now we must notice just what our Lord is teaching about this very dear and intimate relationship.  He did not teach his followers the importance of mere profession or claim, nor did he say that apart from my doctrine you do nothing. It is very important to have the doctrine of Jesus, but mere doctrine without a personal relationship with Jesus is in vain.   Jesus did not say that apart from my Church you can do nothing. We certainly need to be a part of his Church, his body. However, he did not say that Church membership would establish the relationship which would be full and rich and productive. Jesus said apart from me, the true vine, you can do nothing.

Fellow Christians, we would do well to ask ourselves a very important question at this point in our study. Do we know this kind of relationship of which Jesus spoke? Is our relationship with Jesus our Savior an intimate one? Do we know the rich and full life that Jesus gives to those who truly follow him? Some one made an estimate with regards to our question and we quote.  “Ninety percent of the social problems for Christians in the home, at work and for personal concerns would cease to be in existence if we had a vital relationship with our Lord,” end of quote.

My friends, this is probably a conservative estimate. Oh, my God draw us back to himself even though the true vine Jesus. We believe that it is possible to have Bible knowledge and attend worship services and yet not know the close relationship with our Lord, the relationship that he desires and the relationship that we should long for in greater depth and reality every day as we profess Christianity.

The story has been told of the late Lord Tennyson as he was walking in his rose garden with a friend who was a believer.  His friend was a good witness for the Lord. He took Lord Tennyson by his arm and softly asked, “What do you think of Jesus Christ?”  Tennyson, without any hesitation pointed to a flower blooming in all its beauty by the pathway and said, “As the sun is to that flower so Jesus Christ is to me.”

Of course, my friends, sun means everything to the life of a flower. It makes the difference between a life and death. May we take this opportunity to ask our listeners the question that Tennyson’s friend asked him. Friends, what is Jesus Christ the true vine to you? He came to this earth to be the Savior of all mankind. Indeed, he makes the difference between life and death. We are speaking of that life now which is eternal and that followers of Jesus know and, my friends, we are speaking of that death which is called the second death, even the lake of fire.

The Word of God teaches that only followers of Jesus, only those who have put on Christ in baptism after the repentance of sin will have the full life now and the eternal rich life in eternity. A vital life with Jesus is a must if one expects to be saved for all eternity.

Oh, my friends, Jesus is everything to true followers of Jesus. It is Jesus who gives his followers the power to overcome temptations, to endure trials. It is Jesus who gives fulfillment for life in every situation. When one lives apart from Christ his life is a poor, feeble and powerless one.  But,  oh, how wonderful it is to note that those who are truly followers of Jesus abide in Christ and he abides in them. They are productive people for the Lord.

Jesus said, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, so neither can ye except ye abide in me.”  Yes, our relationship to Christ must be as vital as a branch is to a vine. This can only be realized when one knows a commitment to God with a faith sustained by God.

Jesus said regarding the vine and branch relationships, “My father is the husbandman. God the Father is the vine dresser. It is he who does the pruning, cutting out fruitless branches and committing them to the burning and the purging or the cleansing of the branches that remain in order to bear more fruit.”

Jesus simply said that the care of the vine is in the Father’s hands. He and he alone will do the pruning. He will do the cleansing necessary to produce fruit. But Jesus would have had his followers to know then and now that there is a very important condition of fruitfulness.

“Abide in me and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, so neither can ye except ye abide in me. Then I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit. For apart from me, severed from me, cut off from me, ye can do nothing.”

My friends, the condition is that of abiding. Oh, yes, how important it is that we fellow Christians see the importance of not only making a profession of our faith, not only attending worship services, not only claiming to be a Christian, but oh, how important it is that we realize a constant faithful abiding in Christ. And we would be very honest to admit sometimes this is very, very difficult, because our chief adversary the devil himself, does not want loyalty, does not want faithfulness.  Oh, yes, the devil has no problem with those who just claim to be a Christian and do not live the Christian life. The devil has not problem with those who are just immersed into Christ, but forsake following Jesus from the time they leave the baptistry until the end of their life.  Faithfulness, my friends, is so important.  We cannot stress this too much today in this particular type of study.

Yes, the condition is that of abiding in Christ, that kind of relationship which not only says I am a Christian but the kind of relationship that has perseverance of faith, the endurance of hardship, the kind that says, “I will follow Jesus. I will know self denial. I will know the experience of endurance for Christ’s sake, even persecution and dying for Jesus.”

Thank God for those who are so faithful this day. Yes, Jesus would stress. He is the vine. We are the branches.

“He that abideth in me and I in him the same beareth much fruit. For apart from me, severed from, cut off from me, ye can do nothing.”

May God help us to have the grace, the strength to abide in Christ. And then how very beautiful and how valuable is this relationship with Christ. Oh, my friends, note. God is glorified because of much fruit bearing.  And then followers who know this vital relationship with Christ know the joy of praying and having their prayers answered. Jesus said a beautiful love relationship is constant because followers of Jesus obey the love commandments of their God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Hear these precious words, again, of Jesus.

“Even as the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

Oh, what a beautiful picture we have here, my friends. We have a beautiful picture of one who is the true vine and his followers who know the one who is the true vine.  And they know the beautiful union with Christ.

Yes, the nature of the union, that of a love mastered life which demonstrates our loyalty to our Lord and allows him to express himself through us in fruit bearing lives.

Now Jesus had a purpose for such teaching and example of the true vine. What was his purpose? Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full.” What then is the purpose of the union with the true vine? As far as his followers are concerned, my friends, the purpose is that we may have his joy and only those who know Jesus have this kind of joy.  Union with Jesus means that we have his joy.

My friends, life is fulfilled when we know Jesus, the only one who can say, “I am the vine.”

-Dale  Offutt lives in Sellersburg, IN