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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1366

The True Vine
Part One

December 9, 2018

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— Brother Phil Enlow: I don’t know, my mind went to a familiar scripture and all I can do is pray the Lord will help to open it up. But I don’t want to just preach on a subject, I want to just kind of go through a passage, kind of what we did last week, I guess, and I wasn’t really thinking about it in those terms.

John chapter 15 is in the middle of a discourse that Jesus is carrying on with His disciples and at this point, they have come through what we call the Last Supper. Judas has gone out to meet with the priests and to basically carry out the betrayal that led to the cross. Jesus is traveling, whatever the short distance was between the upper room, or where they had the Last Supper, and the garden, where they eventually arrested Him.

And so, He’s doing some teaching on this occasion and we have about three chapters of it followed by a long prayer. And this is kind of in the middle of it. And, there’s a lot in this. I wouldn’t even begin to think that I could unpack it. But I just pray the Lord will kind of focus a little bit on what He wants to say, so that we will, particularly those that are really His, we’ll get our minds straight. We’ll see things through God’s eyes.

And so, a very simple truth here that we’ve heard so many times, He says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” (NIV). And I’ll go ahead and read this, I guess. “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

“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. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” How many are discovering that?

“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. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Praise God!

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.”

I mean, you can go on and on, but those are powerful, simple words, aren’t they? And I just feel a need in my own heart to kind of focus on some of these simple things and ask the Lord to kind of, really rejigger our thinking, just really get it focused on what God is about.

Now, think about the simplicity of how He begins this. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” So, here’s something where God has planted something, isn’t it? And the way He has worked to reached out to us is not through religion. It’s a point we’ve made many times, but God has not sat up in heaven, giving us a religion to practice, and said, you do this and you will qualify to be part of My Kingdom one day. It’s not that at all.

What He sent was not a religion, but a Person, because the need is not to reorient out deeds. It’s not that we do bad stuff and we need to learn how to do good stuff. The need is much deeper than that! The need is what we’ve been saying, I guess, a lot lately, and I think the Lord really wants to focus on this.

The problem with humanity is not that we do bad stuff, it’s that we ‘are’ bad. There is nothing good about this nature. And you know, we have but to look to — well, the Word is very plain about it, but you have but to look to Paul. And, here was a man whose religion taught him how to be good in God’s eyes, and boy, in his own mind, he was one of the cream of the crop. Man, he had it licked. He had it nailed!

He was way up here and to the point where he really, really looked down at everybody else that was beneath him and anything that came against his religion, he was ready to kill them believing he was doing God’s service! Until one day he met Jesus! See, he didn’t encounter a different religious doctrine, he encountered the Person of Jesus Christ and in the light of that encounter, all of a sudden, he saw himself. Jesus didn’t have to say, hey, you’re a bad guy. He knew it!

( congregational amens ).

He knew it! All you have to do is really meet Jesus, not just hear about Him, but I mean have a genuine, spiritual person-to-person encounter with Jesus Christ and you will know why you need Him!

( congregational amens ).

In His presence, we realize we are just, we are energized, we are maintained, if you will, the life force that is in us is so corrupted that there is nothing you can do about it! You can’t fix it! And when Paul tried his best to serve Jesus, even after he came to the Lord, the Lord had to teach him the lesson.

And he came to the point where he said, there is nothing, nothing good in here! Not one thing! And he saw himself as a slave! There was a law operating in here and he couldn’t beat it! He couldn’t do anything about it! He needed something.

So, you see the wisdom of God! Now, He’s looking down and seeing us in this condition and He says, hey, I can’t just explain how to live better and get this job done. I have got to give them a source of life that’s different! There is only one thing that will absolutely enable anybody to be free from what’s going on on this planet that has gone the wrong way. It’s My life! I have got to be able to share the life that I have!

God is the ultimate source of life and love and being, and all that is right and all that is good! And you know, I think we’ve made this point a lot lately, and I want to just reiterate it again. Here’s God saying, My ultimate goal, where I’m going with everything has to do with this simple fact. When I’m done, there will be none of this; nothing here will last!

People who live for this, you better get all you can, because that’s it. You’re done! God says, there’s going to be a brand new creation. It will be filled from top to bottom with My life! There will be not one iota — not one atom, is what I started to say — not one atom of sin, or death, or sorrow, or — in fact, does not Revelation say we won’t even remember this? Wouldn’t it be nice if we’d learn how to forget stuff here?

( congregational response ).

Good Lord! People just live with all the burdens and the hurts and all the stuff they carry around! We won’t even remember that over there! It won’t be relevant! Everything we experience here for God’s people is meant to do one thing! It’s to prepare us for that! This is not gonna last! Nothing here will last!

And so, here is God saying, I’ve got to make My life available. And so, I’m not just going to somehow magically disburse it, I’m going to plant My Son in the world. And so, He came, He took on the flesh that you and I have to contend with and He overcame, didn’t He? Praise God!

( congregational response ).

He lived a sinless life! And He went to the cross and He took the punishment you and I deserved! Praise God! He opened up a channel, a way that we could actually be connected spiritually with the very life of God! That’s what matters!

So, here’s this picture. I am a true vine. Now, you can sort of see the wisdom in using that illustration. Now they may have well been walking along and seeing grapevines, I don’t know.

You know, many times in the Prophets, there is a reference to God having planted Israel and the imagery used is of that of a vine. He brought a vine out of Egypt. He planted it in the beautiful land and it spread and all those things. But then, in every case there is this — the fact is made note of that that vine has become corrupt. That vine is producing evil fruit and this is not what God intended.

There’s one thing that Jesus talked about where there was a wonderful vine that was planted and there was a wall built around it and it was tended. Everything was given to it that should have been given and yet, there was no fruit.

But I’ll tell you, God planted His Son and God has done something that absolutely — you want to know the one thing that will last? It’s the life of God that comes to us through Jesus Christ. Everything else will be gone! Man, we better be connected to Him! That better be the definition of our life! God has done this!

And who’s the husbandman now? This is not God standing back to see what’s gonna happen. This is the sovereign working of God! God is cultivating — God enabled His Son to do everything that He did while He was here! It was by the power of His Spirit that He was able to offer Himself without spot to God, we’re told in Hebrews.

And so, we see, in fact, in our Lord the very model of what we are called to. He came in a totally dependent relationship upon His Father. He didn’t just come up and say, I want to do something for God. I love Him so much, I’m gonna go out and do great stuff for Him. No, He didn’t do that! He found out what His Father wanted. There was a close communion so that He walked according to the will and the plan of His Father.

He didn’t just go where He wanted to go. He would go into one place and heal one person and go on. I mean, there was a step-by-step allowing His vessel to become the very means by which the life of God and the will of God was expressed in the earth! That’s the model for every single one of us.

But here is God — let’s come back to this. This is the sovereignty of an awesome God who is overshadowing every aspect of this process. I’m gonna plant someone here and I’ll tell you, what comes out of Him is eternal. Everybody who gets vitally connected to Him is going to live forever.

Everyone who isn’t, isn’t. I mean, let’s just be straight. Now it’d be nice to preach some nice sounding, come to church, and — you can build great churches that way, outwardly. You can engage people in all kinds of stuff and make them feel good. I’ll tell you, I want the feeling good that comes from knowing Him. I want the joy that He talks about in this passage, because all of this is pointing to our getting to a place where we can just — there’s a joy that flows out of His soul!

I mean, you think about what is said about the crucifixion itself. It says, “…for the joy set before him….” I mean you think about what He was facing and yet on the inside there was this — yes, I know this is terrible, and I need God’s help, but I see where it’s going! It’s worth everything to lay down My life for the will of the Father that I might share His life with people and bring forth a family that will last forever.

But you know, if we see things through God’s eyes, we can see even the difficulties of life as stepping stones, as ways to get to where God is going with all of this and we don’t have any reason to complain.

The thing that causes us to complain is when our hearts and our focus is here! When the thing that matters most to us is getting our way, having things happen the way we want them to, for our purposes, our comfort, our enjoyment, all of these things, it’s so selfish! That’s the very nature from which God is delivering us!

But oh, what an amazing thing He did, to plant His Son in this world! Do you get it? Do you see what God did for you and for me? Man, I want to be plugged into Him. I want to have that relationship that He describes in this passage.

“I am the true vine….” See, there was a false vine. There was a vine that couldn’t help people. It had become corrupt. But this is the true one—this is the one, this is the one you need to pay attention to. There’s no other way.

He’s already said, “I am the way and the truth and the life….” He just said that in the passage right before this. So anyway, now He’s — having described Himself as the true vine, His Father is the Gardener, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit.”

Now what in the world is that about? Okay, now He describes a branch that’s in Him and yet it bears no fruit. So what does that tell you? What it tells me is that there are people who are outwardly attached to Christ in some fashion, but there’s nothing going on on the inside.

Doesn’t that describe an awful lot of religion in our world where people have absolutely, somehow they have — in their minds, they have maintained an attachment to Christ, but it’s in the realm of religion. It’s what they do! It’s the practices! It’s even the zealous works that they perform! It’s all of this stuff on the outside but nothing has ever really, really been changed down here. It’s somebody ‘being’ religious and believing that in their religiosity they are going to be accepted!

Do you have any evidence that this is the case in the scriptures? Anybody think of the scriptures? What about Matthew chapter 7? Jesus talks about two ways—two gates, two ways. There is a wide gate and a broad road. Where does it lead?

( congregational response ).

Destruction…and do very many people go that way?

( congregational response ).

Yeah, it says, “…many there be which go in thereat.” (KJV). Go that way. But He says, there’s a narrow gate—a narrow way that leads to life, and of course, you’ve got some people that say, oh yeah, this is a very legalistic kind of — you’d better watch, you’d better — every little thing in your life better be perfect!

No, that’s not what it’s talking about. What it’s talking about is the willingness to lay down our lives. It is the opposite of the way the Devil paints it! The Devil paints it as losing your freedom! Losing all the joy, all the meaning out of life! Well, all the meaning out of life that this world has is a lie…

( congregational amens ).

…Designed to lead people to hell in the end. Oh, I’ll tell you, I want the freedom that comes from getting rid of that, being willing to lay down my life.

But you go on through that passage and you will see the connection between false teachers, the broad way, and those who produce good fruit, which you’re gonna see in this passage, and those who are teaching that Jesus Christ is Lord! He is Lord!

And so what happens down at the end, you’ve got a large group of people who arrive at the Judgment and are shocked to realize that they’re not accepted! I mean, a lady who’s there and she’s taught Sunday School for 50 years, never missed a Sunday! What do you mean, I’m not accepted?

Do you believe there’s gonna be cases like that? According to the Word of God there’s gonna be many of them. That’s a sober thing! We need to find out about that now, not then.

( congregational amens ).

We need to realize where God’s going with this, again. He is not after simply getting outward conformity to a religion. That never touches the real issue! The real issue is in the heart! I don’t need to have — I guess I keep saying this, but I want to get this across. I don’t need my behavior modified, conformed to some religious standard so I look real good. I mean, that’s just gonna produce a hypocrite, because that doesn’t change a bit what goes on in here and, man, it ain’t pretty.

How many of you are discovering that as you go along. Yeah, you find out, like Joni said the other night, we’re not the paragons of virtue that we would like to think we are. God has ways of showing us that.

But He doesn’t do it to condemn us or to tear us down, but so that we’ll let go and say, oh, I need You, Lord. I need to surrender all that I am and just let You have my life! Oh God, I just thank You for showing me what’s wrong, because You’re doing it so You’ll set me free from that! Oh, that thing has a hold on me and I didn’t realize the bondage I was in to my own nature, and I need You to help me and to set me free, Lord! Thank You for showing me!

But you’ve got people here that are described as branches but they don’t bear any fruit. And so, you see a purification process. Again, remember where He’s going with this. He’s not gonna take a bunch of people and suddenly magically transform them into that. There’s something that’s happening now that’s leading to that.

How does somebody who practices an outward form of Christianity but never surrenders their heart? How do they fit into that? Somewhere, God’s gonna have to do some separating. There is a separating that takes place in this world and many times we see it happen.

And I’ll tell you, you look at the one parable, particularly, I think it is in Matthew chapter 13. I’m not gonna turn over there. But you remember the one where — in this particular parable, Jesus used the illustration of a field. And there was a farmer who sowed good seed in that field and it grew up and then later on, though, people were sleeping and everything was fine and dandy, but an enemy went out and sowed some seed. And when it all came up, there was good wheat and there were weeds.

And they’re trying to figure, why did this happen? He says, an enemy did this. And how He explained that was that the good seed in this case, were the children of the Kingdom. God has planted His children in the world. He has called people to Himself. They’re really His. They’ve got the real thing on the inside. They’ve received the real life from God and they’re real! But Satan has planted his people!

We might as well just tell the truth. Satan has planted his people. So, what’s God gonna do about that? Well, his servants said, let us go out and tear them up! Let’s get rid of the weeds—get rid of the weeds! He said, no, let them grow together. You root up the weeds, you go trying to root up the weeds, you’re gonna root up the wheat, too. You’re gonna mess things up. Just wait. I’ve got this.

And the Lord says at the end of the age He’s going to send angels, and those angels will sever, they’ll make a division between the just and the unjust. God’s gonna take care of all the separation. He’s gonna have a pure church when He’s done. But He’s gonna be the One to do it. Our job is to seek Him, to preach His Word and to be faithful, and to let God — the chips are gonna fall where they will. Isn’t that what Jesus did?

You know, there’s a part of me that would love to make a show and love to have full crowds and everybody saying, oh, isn’t that wonderful? Jesus didn’t have that, did He? I mean, there were times when there were crowds because they were amazed by the miracles, but all He had to do was say the right thing and they all left.

See, Jesus knew, He understood — something sovereign — God is doing something! And the only reason anybody can really see who I am and what this is about is if God shows them. And if God doesn’t show them, sooner or later, they’re gonna go their way.

So our job is simply to say, God, do Your work. First of all, do it in me. I want to be totally on board with what You’re doing, but I want to also be an instrument to that end.

So here you’ve got these branches that seem to be in Him, in some sense, they’re in Him, but they’re not bearing any fruit, He’s gonna do some cleaning. In this case, the cleaning is separating. He cuts off the branch itself.

But now, you’ve got another category here, and, boy, this affects everybody who knows the Lord. “…Every branch that does bear fruit…” (NIV), what does He do? He prunes it! Anybody been pruned lately?

( congregational inaudible ).

Feel like a prune — no —

( laughter ).

Use a different metaphor here. No! Everybody, every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes, why? “…So that it will be even more fruitful.”

The reality is, as long as we’re in the world, there will be growth, there will be things in our lives that are not eternal! They don’t pertain to that, at all! And, they result from our own nature and our own ways of thinking and our own ways of doing things.

We need some changing! Didn’t we sing about that this morning? There’ll be some changes made. I need them. Boy, the more I go, the more I realize how much of me is really still in operation. And so, God, do what You’ve got to do.