Sermon Transcript: Abiding in Christ 7/21/2019 Brock Graham 24 min read If you got a Bible, John chapter 15, let's get right to it. John chapter 15 this morning, let's talk about abiding in Christ. I'll be honest with you, for much of my walk with Jesus I have really wrestled with "what in the world does mean when you come to John 15 and Jesus talks about abiding in Him?" I've always kind of struggled. I'm a pragmatist. I like coming to the passages of scripture that are like, "don't steal." I'm like, "got it. I can try to not do that today." But when I come to something that's a bit, or can be a bit more abstract, like "abide in me," as Jesus says. I wrestle, what does that mean? This word abide has kind of been the theme word or the banner over wife and I's year. And I'll tell you a bit of the background why. Last labor Day, so Labor Day of 2018, my wife went into labor and she gave birth to our twins on labor day of last year. And now, twins are an awesome blessing from the Lord. Do I have any twins in the house? Right? Parents of twins, you know, double blessing and at times double overwhelming, right? And so twins in itself can be a handful, but when we drove away from our house on Labor Day to the hospital, not only was my wife about to give birth to twins. We were pulling away from a house that had a three year old and a one and a half year old sleeping in it. And so when we came back, we had a short NICU stay. And then when we came back home, we had four kids; three and a half and under. And if you talk to twin parents, they will tell you, the first year is like crazy overwhelming. And that is an understatement. The first three months, you're like, "what were they talking about? This isn't bad at all." That's because they sleep all the time. Right? And about the three month mark, it was December, the can just opened and chaos just ensued on the Graham home. And I have no idea how my superwoman wife does it all day long every day, but our house is loud, and it's chaotic and it is just crazy. And I walked through the door one day after work and on our table is this sign, it kind of think Pinterest type sign. And Erica's always putting different phrases or different words on it. And I walked through the door one night and on the sign, on the table sign is just one and the one word is "abide." And I asked her like, "how'd that make the table sign?" And she's like, "what do you mean? Like look around. We're going to lose our sanity before the year is out." And so for 2019, this word has kind of been a banner over our life, because of we've needed to just abide in the Lord. Now the truth is, I'm talking about abiding in a really, really good situation. Our life is crazy. Yes, but it's awesome crazy. We need to learn how to abide in Christ. Both when things are going really, really well. And we're kind of overwhelmed in the best sense of what it means to be overwhelmed. And all of a sudden here know, we need to learn deeply what it means to abide in Christ when life is not going so well. And when deep pain is hit, and when deep sorrow is hit, the only thing that allows us to navigate a season like that is to learn in a deeper way, what it means when Jesus invites us and calls us to abide in Him. And so that's what we're going to go after today. Let me tell you this, if you're like me and you're a pragmatist in the room and you're like, "finally, the sermon on like three ways how to abide in Christ." Not coming today. We're not going to get that today. In fact, I think there's something that would do us an injustice or a disservice to try to preach a sermon on three easy steps to abiding in Christ. And so if you're like me and you want to walk out of the sermon today with like, "just give me the three easy steps," let me just lovingly say to you, "chill." It's not going to happen. And yet here's what we are going to try to do, Jesus gives us a beautiful picture as he teaches this concept, he points to something in nature and he tries to make what can be a bit of an abstract concept, a bit more concrete for us. And we're going to try to dive down deeply in this. And here's what we are going to try to pull out of these 11 verses today. What are some five byproducts? What are some five outcomes? What are some five blessings that come from people who will abide in Jesus? And so I just want to read through this passage here. I want to pray for us and then I want to chop it up here together. So John chapter 15, verse 1, get there with me. "I'm the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the Word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 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..." Help me out church, what? Nothing. "Apart from me you can do nothing." "If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me and my words, abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide my love just as I have kept my father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you. And that your joy may be full." Pray with me, Father God, as we seek to submit ourselves under your Word right now, God, would you let your word accomplish in our hearts that which you've set out to accomplish in our hearts this morning. Lord, you speak so many promises about the power of your Word. Oh Lord, would you unleash that power right now. God, with the preacher of the Word, submit to the authority of the Word in which you get me out of the way so that Lord, what people hear are your words. And God, would you accomplish in our hearts, whatever it is you want to accomplish, in Jesus name, amen. So here's what we're going to do, we're going to try to pull out five outcomes or five blessings that come from a life of abiding in Christ. And let me just give you the first one right away. It's this, if I abide in Christ, I'll see God glorifying fruit produced in my life. Now let's talk about why in the world that is so important. Look back with me at what it says and starting in verse two, "every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes away. Every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I've spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine. Neither can you, unless you abide in me. I'm 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." And so Jesus is teaching here and he invites his followers into an abiding relationship. And yet he knows, as we said, from the outset, that can be a bit of a nebulous concept or an abstract concept. And so what he does is he points to something that his followers would've certainly seen and been familiar with. When Eric and I traveled to Israel in the spring of 2014. And as you make your way through the countryside of Israel, you understand why Jesus chose some of the pictures and the illustrations in which he chose, because they're right there. He would've pointed and said, "look" and he's painting a picture here of something that would've been readily seen by his followers. And so you go to Israel, you see a picture of an ancient vineyard, you see the wall in the foreground. You seen the tower in the background. And the followers of Jesus would've been so familiar with a vine and branches and how these branches connected to the vine, they bear fruit. They bear these beautiful lush fruit. And Jesus says, "this is how it works. When you abide in me, you will bear fruit." And now this is so important because every single one of us in here share the same purpose for our life. I don't know many of you in this room. I'm not from this city, but I can confidently stand on this stage and say, I know the purpose for your life. And here is the purpose for your life, that you bring God glory. They just make much of Him with your life. We are a bunch of spotlights walking around, shining the light on Jesus Christ. He's the hero. He's the superstar. He's the one that we were made for. All of us in this room here today are upright with breath in our lungs. Another day to bring God glory. God is glorified when we bear fruit. When we bear fruit that shows and tells how awesome Jesus is. And this passage has just told us the only way that we bear fruit that brings God glory is through an abiding relationship with Him. Abiding relationship where we really know Jesus. So for the first 19 years of my life, I grew up in a Christian home. My parents had us in church from the time I was a baby. I knew a whole lot of things about Jesus. I knew how to look Christian, talk Christian, smell Christian. I knew how to show up to church and I knew how to win every sword drill I could possibly win. I know how to show up and sing the songs and recite the verses. But here's what I didn't know until I was 19 years old. I knew a whole lot of things about Jesus, but I didn't know Jesus. And I would wonder why, growing up that it was so easy for me to act like a Christian on Sunday and why there was so little power to actually live like a Christian after the football game on Friday night. Is this Christian thing just church attendance and knowing some things? But why did I lack so much power to actually live out the Christian life of pleasing God by bearing fruit that would be pleasing to Him? And then I left home, and I went to Indiana, and I went to college and the Lord kind of stripped away everything that I knew and all of the identities stuff that I had built my life on. And when he stripped all that away, the only thing that I was left with was the solid rock that is Jesus Christ. And right there in what we call the cold dorm, I went to an all-male college, right? I don't know what I was thinking. Right? But I went to an all-male school in the middle of cornfields in Indiana. And a cold dorm was just like military style bunks in a big room. And I'm just laying in a bunk bed, in a cold dorm at Wabash College and the Lord reached down and redeemed me. And from that day in abiding relationship with Jesus began. And from that day, then everything was perfect after that and I never sinned again. Don't ask my wife whether that's true or not. But you know it, if you know Jesus Christ, you know that's not how it works. But here's what I did to start to find, my desires began to change. Life started to look different on Saturdays after football games now. There was now this weird sense of like, "man, what I used to be a complete slave to, some sin I used to be a slave to, it wasn't perfect. It wasn't overnight, but all of a sudden sensing, wow there's actually power, there's victory over this sin." And all of that comes from an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. And so I just want to say to you, especially... Come on, if you're in junior high, or you're in high school, or you're in college, just please look at me right now. I beg you to hear this right now. There's a vast difference between knowing some things about Jesus and knowing Jesus. A vast difference. And if what I just said about the first 19 years of my life is like, "yeah, that's what it is right now." I pray today, before you walk out these doors, you would hit your knees and you'd say, "Jesus, I don't want you to just some like insurance policy out of hell. I want you as Lord. I want you to lead my life. I want you to lead every aspect of it." And today you would just completely surrender to Him because there's a vast difference between knowing some things about Him and having an abiding relationship, his spirit dwelling in you. Pace yourself Brock, still got four more points to go. I'm passionate about that though. So we'll see God glorifying fruit in our life when we have an abiding relationship with Jesus. Now I don't want us to miss something about how the Lord produces fruit in our life. And look back with me at verse 2, "every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every branch that does bear fruit, He" What? "He prunes." I prefer the non-pruning seasons of walking with Jesus. Like I'm not a master gardener by any stretch of imagination, but here's what I know about pruning, it involves things like scissors and saws, and it evolves cutting away. Every one of us in the room who you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, coming to know Him doesn't mean that painful seasons are never ahead. In fact, sometimes I think based on this passage right here, there's pain that sets in that the Lord in His goodness starts cutting away at us to prune some things. And I just say to you in the room here today, if the Lord is pruning you and you walk in here in one of those seasons, don't despise the pruning. To say it like this, this pruning may be painful, but it's not without purpose. And I want you to see right at the end of this verse, what it tells us, the purpose of pruning is, "every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." And so I showed you the picture of the kind of lush healthy grape vine earlier. This is the same plant left un-prune, that's what it looks like. The same plant that has the power to produce such healthy, luscious, thriving fruit, left unpruned looks like that. When there's no master gardener to cut away on it and to remove the branches that have gotten a little too long, and to remove the branches that just need to be cut away, the plant begins to choke out its own fruit. The pruning may be painful, but it's not without purpose. And if you're sitting in this room here today and you're like, "yep, that's it." That's what the Lord is doing in this season. He is pruning. I just want you to know don't despise it, you have a master gardener cutting away on you right now and He knows exactly what He's doing. And he knows exactly the fruit that's going to be born from that cutting. And so for some of you, maybe the only reason you showed up at this, church this morning for this message is just to hear, "I'm not going to despise the pruning season anymore. In fact, I'm going to rejoice in the pruning season. I'm going to walk out of here and say, 'Lord, cut away. Do what you got to do, because I want to bear fruit to your glory.'" When we abide in Christ, we'll bear fruit. We'll see God glorifying fruit produced in our life and that fruit will bring Him glory. That's the purpose of our life. Second point I want to pull from this passage is this, if I abide Christ, I'll see answered prayer in my life. Now, I want to read a verse out to this passage and it's really important that we unpack this verse in the right way. Verse 7, "if you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you." You like that verse? Anyone have questions about that verse? Lord, can we circle back on that one? Ask whatever I wish and it will be done for me? This is one of those examples all through the Bible, that it's so important that we keep John 15 :7 within the context in which Jesus is teaching this verse. To take John 15:7 and to pull it out and to slap it on a coffee mug, it can get misapplied in a whole lot of ways. Okay? John 15:7 on the coffee mug, "Lord, I want to walk back into my driveway in Indianapolis and a sweet new Ferrari sitting right there. I'm asking whatever I wish, do it, Lord." And yet that's... If you've walked with the Lord anytime at all, you'll know that's probably not the promise Jesus is making us. In fact, let's unpack this verse a bit. "If you abide me," that word, the very start of this verse starts with a conditional word there. "If you abide me." And then He kind of subconditions this, "and my words abide in you." "If you abide me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you." Here's the deal, when we are abiding in Jesus Christ, when His Word is abiding in us, the Lord has a way of aligning our hearts with what's on His heart. And so then what we pray, we pray in accordance with the things that are on God's heart. Our heart is aligned with His heart. And when our heart is aligned with His heart, the Lord love. We have a prayer answering God. And I know this church more than so many knows that because this church is built on a foundation of prayer, but He loves to answer prayer. And He loves to answer prayer that's in alignment with His will and what's on His heart. And here's how when we're abiding in Christ and His word is abiding in us, it begins to change the way we pray. So when you live in a house of four kids, four years and under, you don't sleep. For 10 months I have cried out to the Lord for sleep. I have told the Lord what the latest studies find about the average adult needing a minimum of seven hours of sleep. I have Googled it at two in the morning and I... "Lord, look, you created it. You know, I need to seven hours. At least, I can maybe function on six." And so every single night without fail, we have kind of the same routine we do with the kids every night. And I come to the same part of the prayer every night and I'm like, "Lord, now, will you let sleep come over this house tonight, Lord Psalm 127:2 it says, 'you grant your beloved sleep. Lord, it says you grant your beloved sleep.'" And my wife, my aweso... My wife is way more godly than I am. But she started saying, or I'd come to that point she said, "Brock don't pray it. Don't pray it." She said, "I swear, the nights you cry out for it the most are the worst nights. Please don't." And I said, "that's heresy, we're praying it." And then one night a couple months ago, we're in the nursery and we come to that part of the prayer and I just said, "Lord, if there's something in my heart you're trying to reveal or show me because my heart at two in the morning was screaming 'twins is ugly, sleep.' If there's something in my heart you're trying to show me Lord, do it quickly." And my wife from the rocking chair right there was just like, "hallelujah, it's you. It is you. The Lord is trying to do something in your heart." She is home with all four all day long and the Lord has totally drained all the selfishness of her. I am still so selfish. And she's like, "I just think the Lord is trying to do something in your heart." And I'm like, "the Lord's trying to do something in your heart." But I think she was so right. And a lighthearted example about, isn't it true when we begin to change the way we pray? When we just start to say, "Lord, I'm no longer going to hold you hostage for seven hours of sleep. And instead I'm going to go, 'Hey, if in the midst of the sleeplessness you're trying to do something and sanctify it, Lord, I want to go that route. I want to go that path.'" "If we abide Him and His words abide in us, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you." We begin to pray in accordance with the things that are on God's heart, or God delights in answering those things. So when we abide in Christ, we see God glorifying fruit produced in our life. We see just the beauty of answered prayer. Thirdly, is this, "when we abide in Christ, I'll keep Christ's commands, showing I abide in His love." Look what it says in verse 8, "by this, my Father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciple. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 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." I want to start just with this point right here by saying, if you're in the room here today, and you have any doubts, any questions, any wonderings of how much God loves you. You have a God who loves you so much that He saw you in your sin and your hopelessness, and He didn't turn His back on you. Instead, He drew near to you. He sent his one and only son who took on flesh and came to this earth and lived a perfect life that we could never live, and died an innocent death that we deserved to die. Who went to the cross, nailed to it, raised up on it, died, taken down, buried, and then rose victorious over sin and death. And then this God who loves you so much says, "I invite you into relationship with myself." The moment you call out on Jesus Christ by faith you will be saved. "For God so loved the world, He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." That's how much this God loves you. He's the one who created you. He's the one your heart longs for. He's the one who, if you're in this room today and you're wondering, "why do all of these things I'm chasing after, why are they just like empty Wells? I just keep drinking of it. And I'm just left more and more thirsty?" Because your heart was made to know its creator. And the way you know this God who loves you is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Call out on the God who loves you by faith. And do it today. And yet this tells us here, "if you keep my commandments, you'll abide in my love." Now let's not get this backward. What Jesus is not teaching here is, you better keep my commandments if you want me to love you. Better keep my commandments if you want to earn my love. We know that the teaching of all of scripture, we know the teaching of all the gospels teaches that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The Lord has loved us before we've done anything lovable. And yet, what this does teach us is that when we have experienced this transforming love of Jesus Christ, personally, in our hearts, we have a brand new desire. His commands are no longer burdensome, but they're joy. And we long to follow after Him. "If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love." It's in the keeping of His commandments that reveals to us that we are abiding in Christ. And we're abiding in the love of Christ. Jesus said elsewhere, "if you love me, you'll keep my commandments." And it's just a good kind of heart check for us to take inventory of our life, look at our life and certainly, not perfectly, we have a saying around our church that we use all the time, "sanctification. We're not talking perfectly. We're talking patternly.""Patternly" is a word we made up. But as you look at the pattern of your life, do you see, yes, there is a growing desire to obey the commands of Jesus Christ? It reveals to us that we know the love of Christ and we're abiding in that love. When we abide in Christ, we keep His commandment showing we're abiding in His love. Fourthly, and I love this. It's this, when we abide in Christ, I'll have Christ joy in me. All in favor of that, say, "I". I. Verse 11, "These things I have spoken to you." You're like, "Where do you get that point, huh? Where do you get that point?" "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you." And then when the joy of Jesus Christ is in us, your joy may be full. You want to know one of the greatest ways that I think a Jesus follower impacts the culture that we live in? It is through this little three letter word called joy. Sometimes, no doubt you have too. But sometimes I've run into Jesus followers and you're like, "man, it seems like you don't have a ton of joy." And they're like, "I'm joyful!" And you're like, "tell your face that then, I mean, you just... Where's the joy?" And know, listen, I'm not saying that if anyone sells you... If you're not a Christian in the room and anyone sells you a bill of goods, like "come to Jesus and your life will never have any pain trials, hardships ever again." It's not true. Come to Jesus. He is a rock in refuge. He is an ever-present help in trouble and your life will still have trouble. But here's the deal, your refuge will guide you through it. Your feet will be firmly planted. And this is why the Christian can be joyful in any circumstance. We define joy at our church again, it's a definition we made up, but we talk about joy like this, "a non-circumstantial delight." Joy for a Christian is a non-circumstantial delight. To say it differently, it's a delight that does not depend on the circumstances in which I'm navigating. Why can we still have joy even the circumstances of our life go from peaks and valleys? When they ebb and flow? When the circumstances rollercoaster? We can still navigate those times with joy because though the circumstances have changed, the one we are delighting in will never change. And when we're abiding in Christ, intimately in relationship with the savior our heart longs for, His joy is in us and our joy will be full. So now, these first four points are just beautifully awesome blessings of what it means to abide in Christ. But there's a couple hard things in this passage here. And we can't skip over the hard things. We got to address the hard things. When scripture brings up hard things, we got to preach hard things. And I know you have a pastor who preaches the hard things of scripture. But the fifth thing I want to bring out today and from these passages right here is this, if I abide Christ, I'll avoid God's judgment on me. Look at what it says in verse 2, "Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away." Jump down to verse 6, "If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned." I was a religion major at a really small secular liberal arts college in Indiana. And as a religion major at a non-Christian college, basically I was taught a lot of things of who Jesus was and things Jesus said that aren't really who Jesus was and aren't really things Jesus said. One of the things in kind of the vain of scholarship that I did my undergrad in that was taught us, Jesus never talked about an eternal judgment. Jesus never talked about the reality of a hell. Jesus never would've said something like that. And I look at us, church and I say today, because He loved us and because the reality of an eternal judgment is true. Jesus did teach on that. And we see that right here. We see in the words of Jesus, He bring out a stark contrast between the luscious fruit produced from someone abiding in Him, who is connected to Him and the total opposite picture of the one who is not abiding, not relationally connected to Him, that branch is cut away and it's piled up and it is burned. And I just say it to us in the room here today as I've been pleading throughout this sermon, if you are in this room and you don't know if you've ever called out on Jesus, you're like, "I'm so confused about this" or the Holy Spirit is so at work in your heart, and there's a weight on your chest right now to say, "I need Jesus Christ," Today is the day you call out in faith on Him. There's a prayer team that's going to be up here at the end of this service. I'll be right over here. I'd love to talk to you, but don't walk out of these doors today without knowing that you know, that you know Jesus Christ. The one your heart was created for and the one who gives you all the blessings of what it means to abide in Him. And so wrapping it up now, and as I said at the outset, here's the time where you drive home application in this sermon and you might be ready for me to go. And now the three easy steps to abiding in Christ. Write the blog post on that. Give me three easy steps. I'm not going to do it. In fact, I'm going to leave you today with maybe one of the weirdest applications of a sermon that you'll ever hear. You ready for it? Four of you are ready for it? This week, because there's something Jesus is doing here is he's trying to make this abstract concept more concrete. He says, look at the vine, look at the branch, look at the fruit, this week, go and study a tree. Seriously. If you got a vineyard in your backyard, even better, go study that. Just go and, sit and look at it. I know some of you're like, "I'm not doing that." I knew you would say that. Just do it. Okay? Just do it, trust me. Because there's something Jesus is getting at by using this tangible picture that I think is we just go sit... I did this, the first time I preached the sermon archery. I'm just in our front yard, looking at a tree. If you're like, "that'll look so weird." We're Christians, we're already weird. Okay? Watch the branch come out of the trunk. If it's a fruit tree, even better. Look at the fruit coming off it. Look at what happens to any branches that have fallen off, how they've withered and they've died. And just sit there and just tell the Lord, "Jesus, teach me more about what it means to abide in you. Teach me more about the blessings of your life flowing into me, I'm just a branch. You're the life source. The branch is doing nothing to keep life in its own. It's just staying connected. I just want to stay connected. I just want to let your love and your life flow through my life, that fruit would be born from it. And you would be brought glory." That's the beautiful reality that happens when we know Jesus Christ. If you're in the room and you've just known things about Him and you've never really had a personal relationship, you're probably so worn out right now, trying to live out the Christian life in your own strength. Trying to live out the Christian life without the abiding presence of Jesus is absolutely exhausting. Why? Because there's no power source to do it. And yet our good and loving savior has not laid out out for us these moral dos and don't and saying, "now go try your best to do it." He's laid out for us His beautiful commands, and he said, "Now, guess what? Just abide in me and I'll give you the power and the life to live this out." And that is what He invites us to. Abiding in Christ will produce God glorifying fruit through me. And as God glorifying fruit is produced out of our life, the joy of Jesus will be produced in us. So church in Denver would just stand to your feet and I just want to invite you to stand as I pray for us, and as we get ready to worship again. But I'll just say, if you're in the room and you've never called out on by faith on Jesus Christ this morning's the morning, don't walk that way before you walk this way and talk to someone about that. If you're a believer in Jesus and you find yourself in a season of pruning, don't despise the pruning. You got to master gardener cutting away on you and he knows exactly where to cut. He knows exactly where to put his finger and he knows exactly how to prune us so that we'll bear more fruit to the glory of God. And if you're just absolutely exhausted trying to live out the Christian life in your own strength, or ghosted under a tree for a really long time this week, and just say, "Jesus, teach me that. Teach me how to abide. Teach me how to rest and let your life flow in me. And then fruit flow out of me." Father God, please will you do this by the power of your spirit now. Anything I've said in this time right here, that's not of you just let burn away out of people's minds right now, anything that is accurate and of your Word drive deeply into our hearts today. Change us because of your Word today. Get glory from our lives today. I pray for discouraged in the room right now, would you encourage them through John 15 today. I pray for the one who needs to repent, would he repent today. I pray for the one who doesn't know you, would they walk in and step into an abiding relationship today. And I pray for the one who is just full of joy this morning, just on a mountaintop experience in their walk with you, would they leave with even greater joy over the truths of abiding. We love you, Jesus. Thank you for these truths and your name. Amen.