This is an excerpt from the sermon I preached this past Sunday at Fairview Baptist Church. You can watch the whole thing here.

If anyone ever told you that the Christian life was easy, they were mistaken. The Christian life is not easy, in fact – it is impossible to live in our own power.

However, do not hang your head in despair. Though your fruitfulness in the Christian life will waver, Jesus’ faithfulness has not – and will not ever waver. When we struggle with fruitfulness, we can rest assured that He remains faithful. Remember the words of Jesus in John 15:5.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 

The Old Testament frequently uses the metaphor of the vine as a symbol for Israel, God’s covenant people (Psalm 80; Isaiah 5 and 27; Hosea 10). And it is usually not good imagery. It’s used of Israel’s rebellion and sinfulness rather than her fruitfulness. In other words, corporate Israel could not produce fruit consistent with their calling.

The fruitlessness of Israel should be held up in comparison to the fruitfulness of Christ. Jesus is the only Israelite that lived a perfect life – producing the fruit that God desired of the His people. Where corporate Israel failed, Jesus “the true vine” succeeded. And as Jesus’ followers abide in him they will produce fruit.

This is a simple agricultural analogy: one of the obvious realities about pruning is that a branch cannot bear fruit unless it is connected to the vine. No branch has life in itself, it is utterly dependent on the vine.

For Jesus, the call to abide in Him means to continue in a daily, personal relationship with Him, characterized by prayerful trust, dependence, and reliance. The good news is that He has not left us alone. While we are called to abide in Him, He also abides in us. Moreover, He is faithful to produce fruit in and through us.

As Christians we must recognize their dependence on Jesus Christ. We are not perfect – and we will fail. This is why Jesus says that God the Father is the vinedresser (John 15:1). Left to itself, a grape vine will produce large quantities of foliage. So the vine dresser will do a great deal of pruning to ensure maximum fruitfulness. The pruning may hurt, but it is for our good.

We must remember, that where Israel failed, where we have failed, Christ has prevailed. He is our only hope! The process of sanctification involves pruning, and recognizes that He who began a good work in you will complete it.

Our fruitfulness is tied to Jesus’ faithfulness. And God will be glorified when you bear fruit.

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