In John 14 we’ve seen Jesus relate his union to and dependence upon the Father with our union and dependence upon the Son. In John 15, Jesus will use the metaphor of the vine and branches to explain how to live life. “To live is Christ” is what Jesus will describe as “abiding in Christ.”
John 15:1-5. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-dresser. 2 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. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 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. 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.
“I am the true vine.” This is another of Jesus’ 7 “I Am” statements. He is declaring himself to be our source of life. He is our source of zoe. The result of this life, is what Jesus calls “fruit.” Think this through with me. If Jesus is the source of life, then the “fruit” of life must also be Jesus- his life, character, obedience, love, and holiness (more on this tomorrow).
The branch (that’s you) must abide in the vine (that’s Jesus). “Abide” means to stay, remain, or dwell. The branch has to live attached to the vine in order to bear fruit. We have to constantly draw on the life of Jesus in order to live like Jesus. We cannot manufacture the life of Jesus within ourselves through our self efforts or good works. True change can only come organically, not mechanically. Or to say it another way- true change comes by faith in Christ’s saving life, not by behavior modification.
Is most of your “spiritual growth” organic or mechanical? Is it through behavior change or through abiding in Christ (faith). For example, do you measure your spiritual growth only by behavioral markers, like “I read my Bible everyday.” This is mechanical growth, not organic.
Spiritual growth through abiding in Christ would sound more like, “I find that I have peace even in the middle of this hard situation.” This is growth that comes from abiding in Christ; the organic growth of faith. This is the growth of heart change. This is the growth of an empowered life. It is Christ’s peace at work in your heart and mind. And don’t misread what I am saying about reading the Bible. Bible reading is not a measure of spiritual growth. But it can definitely be the cause of true spiritual growth, if we read it in order to abide in Christ.
“To live is Christ” is to abide in Christ. To allow his life to be my life. His love my love. His power my power. His acceptance my acceptance. His dependency my dependency. His faith my faith.