Joh 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Joh 15:2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
Joh 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
Joh 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
Joh 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Joh 15:6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
Joh 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Joh 15:8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
Joh 15:9 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
Joh 15:10 “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.
Joh 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
Joh 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
Joh 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
Joh 15:14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you.
I sat and watched this given as a presentation for a children’s talk about 8 months ago. As Christians we are told if we abide in Christ he will abide in us. Abide has various meanings which refer to enduring in, remaining in, resting in and to dwell in. All of these definitions are appropriate descriptions of how we should see our relationship with Christ, and also say something significant about what our attitude be in regards to our commitment to Jesus Christ.
My heading poses the question is Jesus speaking literally or metaphorically? I don’t presume children can’t make the connection between the illustration used here and how it relates to what Christ is trying to say. However as I pointed out in my first blog some Christians think the bible doesn’t use allegory or metaphor and should be interpreted literally. Obviously Jesus isn’t literally a grapevine of a tree and we aren’t literally branches and pieces of fruit.
The intent is clear from what is said that Jesus is likening our relationship with Him to a tree or a vine in which he is the root or cause and we are the result and extension of His work.. We don’t exist in a vacuum, Christ is the first cause or object from which all things result. Likewise our faith (belief) doesn’t exist in a vacuum either. Our faith is an extension of what Christ has done for us.
There is a movement within the church that has been growing for some time that says all that is required for salvation is a child like belief. In other words faith in Christ is a simple child like belief that assures one of eternal life. They argue that nothing more is required because we can’t earn our salvation and even our fruit is not evidence of faith. To put it another way, our works can’t save us, our works cannot merit favor or helps us accumulate brownie points that will outweigh all the bad things we have done in life so we will get in to heaven; so purely and simply all we need to do is ask Jesus into our life and confess him and we will be saved. So the opposing views here are Lordship verses no Lordship salvation.
No Lordship salvation advocates argue what I have just stated above. They argue that repentance is not required for salvation, that no change is required on the part of the believer all they simply need to do is believe and they have eternal life. They accuse Lordship salvation advocates of teaching a works salvation or to put it another way, Lordship advocates are encouraging believers to pull themselves up to heaven by their boot straps or that they teaching salvation by merit or works. No Lordship advocates argue that when teachers such as Paul Washer, John F. MacArthur and James R. White talk about deep commitment that requires change on the believers behalf, that it may cause some to fall away especially newborn Christians. No Lordship advocates criticize the above for telling people that their behavior has to change, that maybe they should not be listening to rock music or wearing the style of clothes they wear.
Oddly enough I have been present when some of those self same No Lordship advocates have jumped up and down in the pulpit damning rock music, demon drink and clothes styles while they wear their three piece suits and ties and say how evil the world is! Where is the consistency? If all we need to do to receive salvation is repeat a prayer or respond to an invitation to receive Christ as our savior but not Lord why bother with Church or the call to be Holy? If what No Lord advocates say is true then discipleship and fellowship are meaningless and redundant. In fact why bother reading the bible at all? All that is required is a simple prayer and it will all be okay nothing else is really required.
So what does the passage above mean? From a No Lordship perspective (which is where I heard this illustration used) it doesn’t mean squat unless they are saying that it doesn’t really matter if you grow in Christ. Abiding in Christ means you prayed are prayer and no matter what happens you’re okay. No that is not what the passage is saying at all.
The branches of a vine or a tree don’t just exist in isolation, they don’t just appear out of nowhere without being connected to something. The fruit cannot exist or even survive without the root system being connected. What happens to fruit that is taken off the tree? It will eventually rot, it will die!
So what is Jesus not saying here? Works will not save you. What is Jesus saying? He is saying that our works are a result of faith in Him. Our fruit (works) is the result of faith. Jesus is the first cause and only cause of any work that pleases the Father because it is an extension of our belief in Christ
Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
Eph 2:9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Eph 2:11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands–
Eph 2:12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Nowhere in scripture does the bible say that salvation is based on merit in any way or form it says the exact opposite!
Rom 3:19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;
Rom 3:20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
Rom 3:22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
Rom 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
Rom 3:26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Rom 3:27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.
Rom 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
The Problem to me is that Zane Hodges and other No Lordship advocates simply can’t deal with context. When you provide a wider periscope through which scripture should be interpreted it doesn’t always line up with what you want it to say. The bible is God’s revelation, the bible is God telling us what is required of us. It’s not us telling God what conditions we will meet Him on, there is no negotiating what the truth is where God is concerned. Look at the example of Abraham where the Lord God made a covenant with him.Please note how I stated this!
Abraham did not make a covenant with God. God made a covenant with Abraham . Abraham was put into a deep sleep and only the Lord passed through the pieces that were set down for sacrifice. The Lord made an agreement by himself, Abram believed and it was credited to him as righteousness (see Genesis 15 ). Abram was the recipient of the promise not a partner. In the same way God initiates salvation towards us, There isn’t much in the way of support that man seeks after God. But I digress!
My point is that abiding in Christ is an act of God, our works are an act of God, our salvation is an act of God, none of this is an act of the will of man.
Some of those that I have formally discussed this with nod their heads in agreement and say of course its all the work of God amen brother! What they don’t see is the logical fallacy or inconsistency of their own position. They agree right up to the point where I say if someone truly belongs to Christ they will bear fruit. their will be good works as evidence they are true followers of Christ. Then their eyes glaze over and they go into mantra mode where the brain no longer connects with their mouth, they start quoting all the scriptures that support their argument and validate their position.
Regardless of how much evidence they bring to the fore the premise from which they defend their position is false. Their premise isn’t even biblical, its philosophical and even worse its humanists. Why can’t they make the connection based on the evidence?
To any of you guys I have had this discussion with, (or versions thereof) All I can say is that some of you need to grow a spine and stop seeking the approval of men or popularity etc. You claim that you are are not but you simply can’t defend or wont defend your position intelligently. What was the implication of my last blog? Take a tiny snippet of what has been said and make it say something it didn’t and add a bold introduction and you have character assassination. Don’t come to me and act like a friend or say you are concerned for my spiritual welfare when you act this way . You are doing exactly what the Jews did to Christ before they crucified Him. Why would I fellowship in a place that has moved so far from where it began?
You started out well I heard the preaching of repentance unto salvation. Not now! Where do you go once you sell out?