“You’re not good enough to be saved” (and other things Jesus never said)

you're not good enough (and other things Jesus never said)I don’t have time for you right now.

It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re basically a good person.

What can you do for me?

There are lots of ways to God. I’m just one of them.

I’m too busy.

God just wants you to be happy.

Love straight people, Caucasians, and Republicans, as I have loved straight people, Caucasians, and Republicans.

And lo, I will be with you most of the time.

I think God will understand if …

Just put me somewhere near the top of things that are important to you.

Keep those people away from me.

Nothing is more important to the Kingdom than winning elections.

Sorry, but I didn’t pick you before the beginning of time, so no salvation for you. “Whosoever” doesn’t mean everyone.

Go ye therefore into all Nations and make a stink about social issues.

After what you’ve done?

For God so loved the religious that He gave his only begotten son …

Don’t worry about hell.

Sell something you don’t need and give it to the poor.

The people I love the most don’t have any problems.

Just do your best. That’s all that matters.

By this they will know you are my disciples, if you don’t have drums in church.

Your sins are forgiven. Now go do whatever makes you happy.

I don’t love you.

Jesus is (7) the True Vine – Part 1

apart from me you can do nothingIt has been about 2000 years since Jesus was born, lived on earth, died on the cross, rose again, and ascended into heaven to be with the Father. As we’ve studied, the Bible says he is going to come again, and it could be any time, but we do not know when.

So Jesus walked the earth some time in the past, and he will come again in the future. But what about now? Can we have a relationship with him today, and what kind of relationship is it?

Jesus is not someone distant, someone just historical or future.  He died for us in the past, but that doesn’t mean He is not with us now. We wait on his second coming, but we don’t have to wait to have a relationship with Him. Jesus is now, with us. Aithout him, we have no life in the present.

On Thursday night, before Jesus died on the cross on a Friday, Jesus knew he had only moments more to teach his disciples. He knew they would be frightened when he was no longer with them. During these last moments, Jesus taught his disciples about how they had to be connected to him at all times in order to fulfill their essential purpose – to bear fruit. As they walked from the upper room  to the Garden of Gethsemane, they would have passed by vineyards outside Jerusalem. Using those grapevines as an object lesson, Jesus showed the disciples how even after He returned to the father, He would be – he must be – their life-source.

With Christ, you can bear fruit

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. … Remain in me, and I will 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.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

(John 15:1, 4-5)

Old grape vines that have been pruned and cared for are not large plants. The vines grow up just a few feet from the ground, and new, fruit-bearing branches sprout out from the knobby top of the vine.

In Jesus’ analogy, He is the vine and God the Father is the vinedresser. We are the branches, and we are the ones whose job it is to bear fruit. And if Jesus lives in us and works through us, we can.

Do you get how amazing that is? That as rotten as we can be, God can work through us and accomplish works that last, that lay up treasures in Heaven? We can draw others closer to Him. We can show the work of the Spirit in us through our character. Our lives can have meaning and significance if we are attached to the vine.

But only if.

Without Christ, you can do nothing

No branch can bear fruit by itself. A branch gets its water and nutrients through the vine. A branch that is not connected to the vine has no life at all, and certainly cannot bear fruit.

How do we – the branches – become connected to Jesus the vine? By becoming saved and entering into a relationship with Jesus as Savior and Lord. If we have not entered into that relationship, we have no hope of a fulfilling life or ever bearing fruit. We must first be in a relationship with Jesus.

However, as we will see next week, every branch connected to the vine is not a healthy fruitful branch.

We were created to bear fruit

We can look in every corner of this world for fulfillment. No matter what we turn to, though, apart from God the satisfaction will not last. The longing will return.

Our purpose in life is to bear fruit. If you’re looking for the answer to the meaning of life, it is this: to have a relationship with God and bear fruit. If you are not connected to the vine and bearing fruit, you will not be satisfied, because this is why you were created.

What is this fruit? Many people think it is leading others to Christ, and that certainly is part of it. The Bible discusses fruits in many places, and in the letter to the Galatians, Paul talks about the “fruit of the Spirit”:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

If these are not the fruits of your life, are you connected to the vine? If not, then the good news of the Bible is that you can enter into a relationship with Christ by trusting in Him.

But as we will see next week, not every branch connected to the vine is a healthy, fruitful branch. Those branches may come under the Vinedresser’s pruning shears. That can be a painful process, but Jesus promised that if we remain in Him, our joy will be made complete.

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. (Rom. 8:10)

~~~

More posts in this series:

Jesus is (1) the Son of God
Jesus is (2) the Son of Man
Jesus is (3) our Savior
Jesus is (4) Lord
Jesus is (5) risen. He is risen indeed!
Jesus is (6) coming again

Jesus is (6) coming again

behold I am coming soon

Funerals stink. Death is part of this world, but it’s a part that doesn’t fit with the way our souls know it should be. The brokenness of it all feels off, on top of the sadness and loneliness that so often goes with a funeral. But the next time … [Continue reading]

Jesus is (5) risen. He is risen indeed!

for I know that my redeemer lives

Almost all self-professed Christians (96%) said they believe that Jesus died and rose again as the Bible says. That’s according to a 1998 Harris poll. The only surprise to me is that it wasn’t 100% (why do the other 4% bother?) What did surprise … [Continue reading]

Why did Jesus talks so much about work?

As a Bible Study teacher, I've made it my business to learn as much as I can about the way that Jesus taught. I found this blog post by Andrew Spence interesting: Why did Jesus use the language of vocation and economics in his teaching? By using … [Continue reading]

Jesus is (4) Lord

why do you call me Lord

Words mean things. To call Jesus “Lord” is more than a sign of respect. It is to acknowledge His authority over us. If our drives and impulses say one thing and Christ says another, we follow Him, not our desires. If His word expresses truth … [Continue reading]

Jesus is (3) our Savior

i have come that they may have life

My friend Jim Rives asked it this way: “If God asked you why he should let you into Heaven to live with him for all eternity, what would you say?” (In other words: What do you rely on for your salvation?) Would you point to your good … [Continue reading]

Jesus is (2) the Son of Man

hand4

Somehow, some way, Jesus is fully God and fully human. As we saw last week, Jesus gave up none of his deity when he became flesh. We must have faith in that divinity to be saved. But it is also critical to believe that the crucified and resurrected … [Continue reading]

Jesus is (1) The Son of God

we have seen his glory

Jesus has been called many things. His followers called him Prophet, Rabbi, Master, Lord, Savior, and Son of God. Those opposed to him have called him criminal, blasphemer, demon-possessed, deceiver, troublemaker, insane, and imposter. But he’s … [Continue reading]

Five things to remember when it seems like the world is going down the tubes

rend your heart and not your garments

A lot of people are saying that our country is falling apart. That our world is falling apart. We complain about immigration, the crime rate, the economy, and instability in the Middle East. We look at social issues such as abortion, marriage, … [Continue reading]