Growing God’s Forever Family

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Sermon Notes and Audio

Scripture Focus- John 15

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How can God transform my life through a relationship with Jesus?

 What is the purpose of the church?

 Is the church significant in the 21st Century?

Who is the Church? Matthew 18:13-19; Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone of the Church. The people of God are “the called out ones.”

The church- Sanctuary (indwelled by the Holy Spirit)

The church- Family (adopted, together)

The church- Body (health, unity, well being)

The Church is made up of the redeemed of God, who have been saved by grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, adopted into God’s family, and placed in the Body of Christ, to live for the glory of God and carry out His mission in the world.

 Jesus spoke these words to His disciples just hours before His death. It is the last of seven “I AM” statements in John’s Gospel. He pointed to Himself as the source of spiritual life, growth, and productivity. The imagery of the vine was familiar to Israel. They were described in the Old Testament as God’s Vine. The symbol was used on their coins, and there was a golden vine over the Temple entrance.

Isaiah 5:1-7 There is a comparison of Israel to a vine. God is depicted as planting a vineyard and expecting a harvest from what He planted. Unfortunately, the vineyard produced worthless grapes- and failed to meet expectations. God threatened to destroy the vineyard. God would ultimately graft branches into the vine through the Bride of Christ the church. There is a similar analogy in Romans 11. In Romans 11, the olive tree is the analogy. V17 Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, 18 do not brag that you are better than those branches. But if you do brag- you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you.

The Vineyard= the field of God, His Kingdom.

Jesus is the True Vine= True here, refers to what is real, and genuine.

God the Father is the Vinedresser- He owns the vineyard. The vinedresser of a vineyard would plant, fertilize, and water the vine. He would remove branches that were not fruitful and prune the ones that were, so they would bear more fruit. This is what God is portrayed as doing in John 15.

The living branches are the true children of God connected to Jesus the Vine, cared for by God the Vinedresser.

The dead branches appear as nominal disciples of Jesus, but in reality are without life and unconnected to the vine.

There are three directives in John 15, that will help us understand what it means to be a part of Growing God’s Forever Family:

The church is to love Jesus. Vv1-7

The love of God to us is undeserved, and it cannot be earned. I John 4:10 For this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son. . .v19 We love because He first loved us. We live in His love.

To love Jesus, believe and follow.

Love Jesus by remaining/abiding in Jesus- v4

To remain requires being connected in the first place. True branches are alive, because they are connected to the vine- gaining water, minerals, and nutrients to make them grow. They gather their sustenance from the vine, and thrive because they are connected to the vine. To remain is to continue. In John 1, two of the disciples who first encountered Jesus asked Him, “Where are you staying?” They wanted to know where Jesus made His residence. The word “staying” is the same word translated abide. So to abide is to reside and continue.

Love Jesus by producing fruit in Jesus- v5

The one who remains in Jesus produces fruit in Jesus, and then much fruit. There is no such thing as a fruitless Christian.

Matthew 7:17-20 . . .every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.

We bear the fruit of Christlike character-

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

 We bear the fruit of the Gospel-

Colossians 1:5 You have already heard about this hope in the message of truth, the Gospel, that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and recognized God’s grace in the truth.

 Love Jesus by trusting in Him- v7

Jesus says if we abide in Him and His words in us, we may ask of Him and it will be done. Clearly this is referring to the things that are consistent with the will of God and consistent with His glory. Part of remaining in Jesus is the pruning process. God prunes the branches that produce fruit so they will produce more fruit. Your faith walk is rooted in who you are in Jesus, and is evidenced by how you love Him and relate to Him by the Word and the Spirit.

The church is to love one another in Jesus. Vv8-17

John 13:34-35 I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

 To love one another comes to us as a commandment from Jesus.

 Romans 13:8 Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet; and whatever other commandment- all are summed up by this: Love your neighbor as yourself. 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.

Love as we have been loved- v12. Our capacity to love comes from Jesus.

Ephesians 5:2 Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

A significant part of what it means to be a part of the church, is the benefit of loving one another as family.

Serve others sacrificially as we have been served- v13

To give your life so another person can live is the ultimate demonstration of love. Jesus set the ultimate example of self-sacrifice by going to the cross. Jesus did that for you—He died in your place. In so doing, He not only proved His love for you, but He also secured forgiveness for our sins and a home in Heaven.

Bill and his wife were driving through the Rocky Mountains when a near-miss with a truck caused their car to swerve off the road and plunge into the Colorado River. After scrambling out of their sinking vehicle, they frantically treaded water in the swift current. A truck driver, who had seen the accident, ran ahead along the shore and threw a rope to them. Bill swam behind his wife and pushed her to where she could grab the rope—and the man pulled her out. Bill, however, was carried downstream and didn’t survive. He had given his life for the woman he loved.

Follow the commands of Jesus out of love- v14

John 14:15 If you love Me, you will keep My commands.

 What are the commands of Jesus? Repent, follow Me, rejoice, let your light shine, be reconciled, do not lust, keep your word, go the second mile, love your enemies, give, seek God’s kingdom, ask-seek-knock, do unto others, choose the narrow way, pray for laborers, fear not, take His yoke, honor marriage, ask in faith, love the Lord, love your neighbor, be born again, make disciples. In reality the commands of Jesus are inclusive of the entirety of the written Word of God, given to us by the living Word of God.

Just like you cannot love apart from the power of God, neither can you follow the commands of Jesus in your own strength. It only comes through remaining in Jesus, and being empowered by the indwelling Spirit.

The church is to testify about Jesus. Vv18-27

The true church has always faced opposition. It was persecution that scattered the early church. Jesus balanced the promise of comfort and blessing to the church with a reality check and a warning to the disciples of the hostility they could expect in the world. Jesus chose us out of the world.

Expect difficulties in testifying about Jesus- v19

World= the evil, fallen world system made up of unregenerate people and controlled by Satan. Satan hates God and he hates the people of God. The world hates Christians because they reject those who are not a part of the world, they hated Jesus, and the world does not know God. The world resents believers because their lives are an indictment of evil. We live in the world, but we are not of the world.

Ephesians 5:11 Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them.

There is hope here- Jesus said if they kept His Word, they will also keep ours. Jesus came into the world, and people have no excuse for their sin. They hate Jesus and the Father.

Proclaim the truth about Jesus to others- v15, v26-27

Jesus has made known to us the truth. He fulfilled His promise in v26 of sending the Holy Spirit, the Counselor who is the Spirit of truth, who testifies about Jesus. Jesus calls us to testify about Him. This was a word spoken directly to the disciples, but what is implied here is our message about Jesus that is to be shared with the world.

Matthew 28:19-20 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Be bold in the Gospel, and be compassionate toward people who need Jesus. God has chosen His people as the means to spread the message of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit works in people’s lives bringing about redemption.

How are we Growing God’s Forever Family?

In reality we aren’t doing it at all. If we want to be a part of Growing God’s Forever Family as a church we need to be surrendered to Him, obeying His Word, depending on His Spirit, seeking to make disciples. We organize ourselves as guided by the Word of God and the Spirit of God, and trust Him for the results. God gives the increase. May it be so through this fellowship of believers!