Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Stay Close to Christ (John 15)

Scripture: John 15
Translation: John 15.1I am the True Vine and My Father is the Gardener. 2Every branch in Me that doesn’t produce fruit, He will take it away. And every branch that does produce fruit, He will prune it, so that it will produce more fruit. 3Already you are pruned because of the message that I’ve been speaking to you. 4Stay with Me, and I will stay with you. Just as the branch can’t produce fruit from itself unless it stays on the vine, in the same way you can’t either unless you stay with Me. 5I am the Vine, you’re the branches. The person that stays with Me, and I with him—this person will produce a lot of fruit, because without Me, you can’t do anything! 6Unless someone stays with Me, he will be thrown outside like the branch, and it will dry up, and they are gathering them and throwing them into the fire and the dead branches will are burning. 7If you stay with Me and My words stay with you, ask for whatever you want, and it will happen for you. 8By the following My Father is glorified: that you would produce a lot of fruit and become followers for Me.
9Just as the Father loves Me, I also loved you. Stay in My love. 10If you obey My commands, you are staying in My love, just as I really am obeying My Father’s commands and am staying in His love. 11I’m emphasizing these things to you, so that My joy would be in you and that your joy would be filled up. 12This is My Command: Love one another just like I love you. 13No one has greater love than this kind of love: someone who gives up his life for his friends. 14You are My friends, if you do what I’m commanding you. 15I’m no longer calling you slaves, because the slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. So I’m really calling you friends, because all the things that I heard from My Father I made known to you. 16You definitely didn’t choose me; instead, I chose you and I appointed you, so that you would go and produce fruit and so that your fruit would last, so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name, He would give to you! 17I’m commanding these things for you, so that you would love one another.
18If the world is hating you, know that first it was really hating Me. 19If you were a part of the world, the world wound be loving its own. But because you’re not a part of the world—instead I chose you out of the world, because of this the world is hating you. 20Remember the message that I told you: “a slave is not greater than his master.” If they persecute me, they will persecute you too. If they obey My message, they will obey yours too. 21Instead, they will do all these things to you because of My Name, because they don’t know the One Who sent Me. 22If I didn’t come and speak to them, they wouldn’t have sin. But now they don’t have a valid excuse for their sin. 23The person who hates Me also hates My Father. 24If I hadn’t done the things among them that no one else did, they wouldn’t have sin. But now they have really been seeing and hating  both Me and My Father. 25Nevertheless, it is so that the message that was truly written in their Law which says “they hated me for no reason” would be fulfilled. 26Whenever the Helper that I will send to you from the Father comes—the Spirit of Truth that proceeds from the Father—That Spirit will testify about Me. 27And you will also testify that you were with Me from the beginning!

1.      Structure
a.       The Metaphor of the Vine Given and Applied (vv.1-17)
                                                              i.      The Metaphor of the Vine Given and Applied (vv.1-8)
                                                            ii.      The Metaphor fleshed out with love and obedience (vv.9-17)
b.      The Hatred of the World for Jesus and His Father and His Disciples (vv.18-27)
                                                              i.      The world will hate Christians as it hated Christ (vv.18-21)
                                                            ii.      The world stands guilty of sin as the Scriptures foretold (vv.22-25)
                                                          iii.      The Spirit and Christians will testify about Christ to the world (vv.26-27)
2.      Themes
a.       Gardening/farming motif
b.      Producing fruit
c.       Necessity of staying with Christ
d.      Love coupled with obedience
e.       Friends vs. slaves
f.       Love vs. hate
g.      Message/speaking/talking
h.      Commanding and obedience
i.        World vs. disciples
j.        Selection by Christ
k.      Fulfillment of the Scriptures
l.        Sin and guilt
m.    Holy Spirit coming
n.      testifying
3.      Doctrines
a.       The Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit
b.      Possibly the eternal procession of the Spirit
1.      Outline
a.       Stay Close to Christ, because you NEED Christ
                                                              i.      We need Christ to produce fruit (vv.1-7)
1.      We can only produce fruit when we are connected to Christ
2.      We can only produce tons of fruit when we are pruned by God the Father
a.       Facing problems, difficulties, pain, suffering, and the like doesn’t mean that you can’t produce fruit, or even that God doesn’t want you to produce fruit. No God puts us through hard and painful situations and experiences, because He loves us and wants us to be able to not just be fruitful, but crazy fruitful!
b.      Scarier than pain and problems is if we fail to produce any fruit. What we as Christians should be scared of is not whether we suffer or face opposition or experience pain or hardship. Instead, we should be scared if we look at our lives and we can’t find any fruit, because that means we are not really connected to Christ, and soon we will dry up and be destroyed.
                                                            ii.      We need Christ to do everything (v.5)
b.      Stay Close to Christ, through love and obedience
                                                              i.      To stay close to Christ we need to obey
1.      If you want to experience the love of Christ, you have to obey Christ.
2.      If you want to be happy, you have to obey Christ
                                                            ii.      To stay close to Christ we need to love
1.      We need to love each other
a.       Emotions
b.      Actions, to the point of self-sacrifice
2.      We need to love Christ
c.       Stay Close to Christ, because you ARE close to Christ
                                                              i.      We are the branches of Christ the Vine
                                                            ii.      We are friends of Christ, assuming we obey and love Him
                                                          iii.      We are chosen by Christ; We don’t choose Christ
                                                          iv.      We are destined by Christ, to go out and produce lasting fruit
d.      Stay Close to Christ, through hatred and opposition
                                                              i.      Don’t let being hated because of Christ make you walk away from Christ
                                                            ii.      Don’t let being opposed because of Christ make you fail to work for Christ
e.       Stay Close to Christ, because you REP Christ
                                                              i.      You represent Christ to the World in your Identity
                                                            ii.      You represent Christ to the World in your Activity
                                                          iii.      You represent Christ to the World in your Testimony
                                                          iv.      You represent Christ to the World by the Holy Spirit
2.      Discussion Questions
a.       If Jesus was speaking today in our culture, what metaphor do you think He would have used instead of the Vine and Branches and Gardener? Try to come up with a metaphor that expresses almost the same ideas Jesus’ original metaphor did.
b.      What is the biggest thing that keeps you from staying close to Christ? Why does it have that effect? What could you do about it?
c.       Discuss the fruit you see in your own life and in the lives of others in our church. How much fruit do you have? Some, a little, a lot, none?
d.      What areas of your life need to have more obedience to Christ? What areas of your life could be expressing more love to others?
e.       Do you feel close to Christ? If so, how close? If not, why not? Do you think it is possible to be close to Christ without feeling close to Christ? Why or why not?
f.       Do you ever get hated or haters for following Christ? What about opposition to your being a Christian or living a Christian life? If so, does it ever make you want to stop being a Christian? Is there anything else that makes it difficult to stay close and committed to Christ?

g.      Discuss how your personal identity, activity, and testimony is doing at repping Christ. what about us as a church? How does the Holy Spirit come into play in repping Christ? 

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