Archive for June, 2008

Abiding Produces Rewards

WEDNESDAY

NAU John 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.

NIV John 15:6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

NKJ John 15:6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

There is a danger for NOT abiding in Christ. Jesus says that the branch that does not abide is separated from the life of the vine. Some have taken this to mean that a Christian can lose his salvation! But elsewhere in Scripture we are told this cannot happen (John 10: 28, 29; Romans 8:31-39) and since Scripture will not contradict Scripture, John 15:6 cannot refer to the loss of relationship with Jesus or the Father! Instead it must be referring to the ‘fake’ branches that are allowed to identify with the real branches for a while before being separated from the vine.

True branches bear fruit:

NAU John 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.

NIV John 15:2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes {2 The Greek for prunes also means cleans.} so that it will be even more fruitful.

NKJ John 15:2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Fake branches do not bear fruit.

It’s that simple! The one who remains confident in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for the needed ‘declared righteousness’ from God will demonstrate the reality of that confidence by remaining confident in that truth. And God will demonstrate their true status by producing fruit in their life.

NAU John 15:8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

NIV John 15:8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

NKJ John 15:8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Not abiding has a consequence. Abiding has a reward. Remain dependent upon Him.

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ABIDING: An Attitude of Dependence Upon God

TUESDAY

NAU John 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.

NIV John 15:4 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.

NKJ John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

The analogy of the vine and branch is very appropriate when discussing what it is to abide. The image is one of dependence. The branch of a vine or a tree cannot survive on its own. It is incapable of independence. It has life only as long as it remains attached to the body of the vine or tree. Once that relationship is severed, life in the branch is done.

Jesus uses this analogy masterfully to demonstrate the believer’s dependence upon Him in order to be productive spiritually. We will not come to Him on our own for salvation, we cannot initiate our own salvation, we cannot live victoriously over sin without Him and we cannot be productive spiritually without Him. We must remain in Him. And unless He grafted us into the vine not only would we not have life but we would not be able to remain grafted.

The importance of this truth about abiding is that we are dependent upon Jesus for every aspect of our spiritual life. And the mark of a true follower of Jesus is that he will remain acknowledging his dependence on Him for salvation, sanctification and ‘fruitification’! So, at the start, abiding is an attitude that (as we will see) will express itself in action.

NIV John 15:4 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.

ABIDING: A COROLLARY TO REPENTANCE

MONDAY

Last weekend I attended with my family the 4th Annual Resolved Conference. It is aimed at collegians but benefits all ages. The topic was Heaven and Hell and concluded Monday night. I would highly recommend next year’s conference. But this only explains why I am late in posting my blog.

Last week we looked at repentance and saw that the Greek word for repentance means to ‘change your mind’. This primarily refers to ‘changing your mind’ about the Person and Work of Jesus, but we concluded the week by seeing that repentance is an attitude the follower of Christ will embrace in all areas of His walk with God.

This week’s post is about Abiding in Christ. The Greek word for ‘abide’ means to ‘remain’ or to ‘continue’. The follower of Christ first repents or changes his mind about the Person and work of Jesus, and then remains or abides with this changed view of Jesus. This is the very command of Jesus to those who repent in their attitude toward Him:

NAU John 15:4Abide in Me, and I in you….

NIV John 15:4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you….

NKJ John 15:4Abide in Me, and I in you….

It is obvious we will be looking at the John 15, specifically verses 1-10. But we must begin by identifying the key characters of the passage. They are: the vinedresser, the vine and the branches.

NAU John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

Jesus identifies Himself in verse 1 as the vine and calls His Father (God) the vinedresser. This is clearly established in verse 1. In verse 2, the branches and their care are introduced but not identified – the identification comes in verse 3! The branches are identified with a personal pronoun – you – and refer in the immediate context to the disciples but will have an expanded identification to include those who follow Jesus.

As we close today, we must notice the work of the vinedresser – taking away or pruning! The literal meaning of the two words used are ‘lifting up’ and ‘cleansing’ respectably! Two of the issues we will examine in relationship to abiding this week are ‘lifting up’ and ‘cleansing’ in addition to looking at the Source,, the Result, the Proof and the Demonstration of Abiding.

THE CONTINUITY OF REPENTANCE

FRIDAY

When you think about it, the follower of Christ is in a constant attitude of repentance. You are constantly changing your mind. You begin following Christ by changing your mind about who He is and what He did for you (He is the Son of God who took the punishment for your sins). You change your mind about the Bible (it is the Word of God that teaches us about the Person of God, the nature of our salvation and convicts us of sin). And when you change your mind, it manifests itself by changing your behavior out of appreciation for His work on the cross – you turn away from doing that which is displeasing in God’s sight as revealed in the Word of God, the Bible. In fact, as we expose ourselves to God’s Written Word, His Spirit will convict us of our wrong thinking and behavior and prompt us to repent in our thinking and behavior. We repent because we appreciate His sacrifice on our behalf. So repentance is not a one time act, it is an ongoing mark of the follower of Jesus. We should repent everytime God’s Word and God’s Spirit convicts us of sin.

Another way of discussing this topic is to use the term conformity. We are chosen to conform to the image of Jesus:

NAU Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

The followers of Jesus are NOT to be focusing on themselves and conforming to their desires:

NKJ 1 Peter 1:14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;

Instead we are to allow ourselves to be transformed by the renewing our minds through God’s Written Word:

NIV Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will.

It is interesting to note that the word used in both 1 Peter 1:14 and Romans 12:2 means to be shaped by. Our own desires and the world system is not to continue shaping our thinking and behavior. Rather, we are to be shaped into the image of Jesus. Although perfection is not obtainable in our thinking and behavior here in this life, it is certainly the hope we will attain when we enter the presence of God as believers in the Person and work of Jesus.

NEXT WEEK – ABIDING: A COROLLARY TO REPENTANCE

EXPRESSING REPENTANCE

THURSDAY

While repentance begins in the heart, it will express itself in behavior – changed (repentant) behavior.

NAU Acts 26:20 but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

NIV Acts 26:20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

NKJ Acts 26:20 “but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.

First, the changed mind and heart believes differently about the Person and work of Jesus. But then, the changed heart will want to prove this new internal attitude about God by performing deeds consistent with the teaching of Jesus. No longer will a follower of Jesus insist upon doing things his or her way, but the follower of Christ will seek to discover what is pleasing in His sight!

NAU Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

NIV Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

NKJ Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

This must involve an attitude of repentance toward the Bible – it is no longer a book of writings sourced by men that we can pick and chose what to believe and do, but it is a book of writings sourced by God, and delivered authoritatively and inerrantly through men to tell us what to believe and how to perform appropriate repentance.

BELIEF – THE FOUNDATION OF REPENTANCE

WEDNESDAY

Yesterday we saw that we need to change our minds about who Jesus is and what He has done. He is not merely a son of man but also the Son of God. He did not merely suffer and die but rose again from the dead demonstrating His power to overcome that which causes death – namely sin! It is not merely putting our confidence in Him as the Son of God BUT also in what He did as the Son of God! It begins within us and expresses itself outwardly. Look at what Romans 10:9 says:

NAU Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

NIV Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

NKJ Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

When a person repents in this manner, the results are instantaneous:

NAU Acts 3:19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

NIV Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

NKJ Acts 3:19 “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Changing your mind about who Jesus is and what He has done is the foundation of repentance. Tomorrow we will look at the challenge of repentance.

CHANGE YOUR MIND RE: JESUS!

TUESDAY

If we are commanded to ‘change our minds’ about Jesus, then how is it to change? We must first put ourselves into the shoes so to speak of a 1st century Jew. As a Jew living in Israel (especially Nazareth) during the earthly ministry of Jesus, how would you have looked at Jesus? As the Son of God? Probably not. He looked like a man, He was born like every other man, and He died just like every man must do (although not in the manner of most). The natural conclusion when looking at Jesus would have been to conclude that He was an ordinary man.

Yet, during His almost four years of ministry, He claimed to be the Son of God. That would have been difficult to accept by anyone who was merely acquainted with the person of Jesus. But He did something no other person could or was able to do – He proved that although He looked like a man, He could do what no other ordinary man was able to do as the Son of God – He performed miracles!

A few of the many claims by Jesus to be the Son of God:

NAU John 5:18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

NIV John 5:18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

NKJ John 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

NAU John 10:36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God ‘?

NIV John 10:36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?

NKJ John 10:36 “do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

NAU John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

NIV John 8:58 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

NKJ John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

A few of the claims about the work Jesus was doing as the Son of God and man:

NAU John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

NIV John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

NKJ John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

NAU Matthew 26:2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”

NIV Matthew 26:2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away– and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

NKJ Matthew 26:2 “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

NAU John 8:28 So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.

NIV John 8:28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.

NKJ John 8:28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.

A clear statement from Jesus connecting His actions with His claims:

NAU John 10:37 “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.

NIV John 10:37 Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.

NKJ John 10:37 “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 “but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”

So, to a 1st century Jew (and to Gentiles as well), the command to repent would have been to stop thinking about Jesus as merely a man! Accept His claim to be the Son of God, a claim He demonstrated to be true through His miracles.

Tomorrow, the next expression of biblical repentance.