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For the Week of July 21, 2019


Secrets Of The Abundant Life   


Outlines based upon Jesus' discourse in John 15 and related passages pertaining to the abundant life Jesus offers.

   Over the next five weeks we will look at the following lessons


Lesson Number Two: The Secret Of Bearing Fruit Is Abiding 


INTRODUCTION 


1. In our previous lesson we saw that "The Secret Of Living Is Bearing Fruit"...    

a. As disciples of Jesus, we are to Him as branches are to the vine    

b. Bearing fruit is our primary responsibility as branches    

c. In the very act of bearing fruit, we experience the "abundant  life" that Jesus offers:       

1) "Joy" for those who win souls to Christ       

2) "Happiness" for those who share with the less fortunate       

3) "Assurance" for those developing Christ-like qualities       

4) "Peace" for those offering the fruit of prayer and praise  


2. In contrast, those "branches" that do not bear fruit are in danger of    becoming cut off from the vine...    

a. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;" - Jn15:2a   

b. In other words, those disciples who do not bear fruit will be "cut   off" from Jesus by the Father! - Jn 15:1-2a   

c. How then can we be sure to be fruitful as branches of the vine? 


[We have seen that the secret to living is bearing fruit...what is the  secret of bearing fruit?]  


I. DISCERNING THE SECRET OF BEARING FRUIT 


A. NOTICE HOW OFTEN JESUS USES THE WORD "ABIDE"...      


1. In ten verses, he uses the word ten times! - Jn 15:4(3),5,6 7(2),9,10(2)      


2. Why is this word mentioned over and over again?  Because...     


B. THE SECRET OF BEARING FRUIT IS ABIDING!      

1. A branch does not bear fruit by struggling, but by abiding in  the vine...          

a. When you walk through a vineyard, do you detect tension and   struggle among the branches as they bear fruit?          

b. No!  Instead there is a calm & confident resting - an   abiding - as branches draw their life from the vine in order    to bear fruit       


2. In the Christian life, we experience first a "union", then a "communion"...          

a. When we become Christians, there is first a "union" with  Christ             

1) Paul describes this union as taking place in baptism - cf. Ga 3:27; Ro 6:3-5           

2) Having "put on Christ" and being "united together" with   Him, our union with Him is like that of a branch to a   vine - Jn 15:5a         

b. As we "abide" in this union, we have "communion" or   fellowship with Christ in a very close and personal way -   Jn 15:4a      


3. This "communion" or mutual abiding with the vine (Christ)  enables the branches (disciples) to bear fruit!          

a. The branch receives from the vine the strength necessary to   bear fruit; so the Christian receives from Christ strength  to do what he could not do on his own - Jn 15:4-5         

b. Of the strength or power available to those in Christ, Paul  often wrote...             

1) In his own life, and in the lives of others - Php 4:13,  19; Col 1:29           

2) He wanted others to know of the great power available to   them - Ep 1:18-20; 3:20            

3) He often gave examples of how this power could transform   people                

a) E.g., the Corinthians - 1Co 6:9-11               

b) Even himself - 1Ti 1:12-16; 1Co 15:9-10 [So the secret of bearing fruit is abiding in Christ and He in us.   Through such communion and fellowship, we benefit from Christ's strength so that we may be able to bear fruit and in turn experience the  "abundant life."  Are we abiding in Christ, and He in us?  We need not wonder, for there are several things that will be manifest in our lives when we are  abiding in Christ...]  


II. EVIDENCES OF ABIDING IN CHRIST A. BEARING MUCH FRUIT - Jn 15:5b      


1. This is the most obvious sign       


2. When one is consistently bearing the sort of fruit described in   the previous lesson, that is certainly good evidence of a close          relationship with Christ!       


3. Whereas the lack of fruit can be an indication of one of three   things...          

a. Either there never was a "union" to begin with          

b. Or there was a union, but "communion" is not taking place,  leaving one in jeopardy of being "cut off"          

c. Or there was a union but the branch has already been cut    off!     


B. THE FATHER'S PRUNING - Jn 15:2b      


1. We should expect to see evidence of the Father's work in our   lives, in which...          

a. Things that would hinder us are being "cut away"          

b. We are ever being developed so as to be more "fruitful"      


2. One way that the Father does this is through the Word...          a. Notice Jn 15:3 - "clean" (katharos) is closely related to   "prune" (kathairo)  

b. The Word of God can be a very powerful instrument in the   hands of the Lord - cf. He 4:12-13; Ep 6:17         

c. As we read or hear it, it can expose us for what we really    are, and when received properly, help us make great changes   - cf. Jm 1:22-25      


3. So if we are not constantly growing through the influence of  the Word of God, clearly we are not abiding in Christ!     


C. A GROWING SENSE OF DEPENDENCE - Jn 15:5c      


1. We will come to realize that apart from Christ we can do  nothing (of real, lasting value)       


2. But those who abide in Christ will become like Paul, who    realized the true source of his strength:  his union with   Christ! - cf. 2Co 3:5; Ga 2:20; Php 4:15 


D. OUR PRAYERS BEING ANSWERED - Jn 15:7,16      


1. As we abide in Christ, we will find our prayers being answered       


2. Of course, such answered prayers will depend upon several  

factors:          

a. That we keep His commandments and do the things that please    Him - 1Jn 3:22         

b. That our requests be according to God's will - 1Jn 5:14         

c. That our requests not be for selfish gain - Jm 4:3      


3. But one who abides in Christ should be able to look back and   see evidence of answered prayers (though not always answered in  the way we expected)     


E. LOVE FOR CHRIST AND HIS PEOPLE - Jn 15:9,12      


1. Since God is love (1Jn 4:8) and Christ is God (Jn 1:1),  those who abide in Christ will abide in love - 1Jn 4:7-8      


2. Indeed, Christ commands us to love one another - Jn 15:17      


3. And those who do not love the children of God , have not known   God - 1Jn 3:14; 4:8,20-21 F. AN INNER JOY - Jn 15:11      


1. Not the absence of trial or trouble, but a joy borne of the  assurance that Christ has overcome the world, and that we can  also through Him - Jn 16:33; cf. Php 4:4      


2. Indeed, one of the first visible signs of backsliding (of not           abiding in Christ) is the loss of joy, especially about things  spiritual! - cf. Ps 32:3; 51:12 


CONCLUSION 


1. These, then, are just a few of the evidences that we are abiding in     Christ...    

a. Bearing much fruit    

b. The Father's pruning    

c. A growing sense of dependence    

d. Our prayers being answered    

e. Love for Christ and His people    

f. An inner joy  


2. To be sure, not every believer who abides in Christ will have ALL these blessings in the SAME DEGREE at the same time...    

a. But they will be present in some measure, and they will be strong  enough to be evident (to ourselves at least, if not always to        others)    

b. And they should always be INCREASING! - Jn 15:2; cf. 2Pe 1:8 


3. It is good for us as branches to examine ourselves regularly to see    if we are truly abiding in Christ - cf. 2Co 13:5   

a. For the secret of the abundant life is bearing fruit    

b. And the secret of bearing fruit is abiding in Christ    

c. And so if we are not abiding in Christ, we cannot enjoy the  abundant life!  But what's the secret of abiding in Christ?  Our next lesson will examine THAT secret...