John 15:4 should be memorized.
Lord Jesus: I am the vine, you are the branches.
He who takes The Teacher’s words seriously will from this day forward consider himself to be a branch, a branch attached to our precious Christ, The Vine.
You are a branch, I am a branch, every christian is a branch. We became a branch that instant we were “born of the Spirit”. We were born a branch, we will die a branch, we will be a branch for eternity. The only way to cease being a branch is to stop abiding in The Vine….
Lord Jesus: Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [the Father, “the vinedresser”] takes away.
What did our Lord mean, “He takes away”?
May we never find out.
Every evangelical (etcetera) abides in Christ. Relative few evangelicals (etcetera) abide in Christ substantially. Jesus taught, “Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) The NLT translates Christ’s words this way: “What you say flows from what is in your heart.” And the NAS: “His mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
So the heart filled with Jesus speaks Jesus. And the heart that isn’t doesn’t. To know the heart of evangelicalism simply monitor evangelicals. Rare is the evangelical, new converts excepted, who speaks the name of Jesus frequently.
So once more….
Every evangelical abides in Christ; few abide in Christ substantially.
And that is christianity’s major dilemma. And that is also the dilemma of “the world”, because their eternal future is largely determined by Christ’s church.
It is so obvious a branch must have a healthy connection to its vine to have healthy fruit. Why is it less obvious to the christian that she too must be well bonded to her vine, The Vine, to have abundant fruit?
You have just read, “Few abide in Christ substantially.” Does this statement shock you, challenge you, upset you, anger you? Or did it, like one of many birds decorating your world, fly overhead unnoticed? Saint, are you able to (are you free to) consider…. to determine…. to see and hear?
Those abiding in Christ observe freely. Church business is relevant to the one subject to His lordship, to he who is cognizant of Him being here, to she who sits at the Master’s feet. One does not love Christ devoutly while being indifferent to the plight of christianity. The mature observe and inspect, and are duly concerned.
It is right to be troubled; it is wrong to not care. Martin Luther dared to observe, and then dared to care, and then dared to challenge.
There is a weight on the abiding born-again. He is concerned. She hurts. But caring is insufficient; two truths must be equally relevant to be effectual for Christ:
Truth # one: Without Me [Lord Jesus] you can do nothing.
We think we can, but we can’t. Jesus said so.
Truth # two: He who abides in Me [Lord Jesus], and I in him, bears much fruit.
We must know: Without Him we can’t; with Him we can. All that we accomplish can be credited to our connection to Jesus, God’s holy Christ.
“The heart is deceitful above all things.” The one relationally distant to our Lord Jesus presumes to be close, and would be ticked at anyone hinting otherwise. Because the evangelical has commonality with his contemporaries – walking their walk and talking their talk – and because he is too ‘humble’ to critique the group’s spirituality, he is confident all is well.
Being accepted is crucial to the child, the teen and the post-teen. Few outgrow the urgency to fit in. Acceptance is the measurement of worth and success. That’s why the pagan rejects Christ’s Great Invitation to be one with Him; if all believed, he would too.
And that’s why the evangelical ignores Christ’s Great Invitation to go deeper in Him; if all were passionate she would be too. Being a radical for Christ isn’t fashionable in a christian society worshipping a distant Jesus. Therefore less of them is the price of more of Him.
The Lord Jesus Christ beckons you higher. To come up you must come away. And if you do embrace that Great Invitation and do attain a better life, the Great Invitation is still in effect, beckoning you still higher.
Higher and higher – that’s healthy christianity. Higher and higher translates into more and more of every good thing. Higher and higher adds pleasure to pleasure unto your King and your God. He loves you so.