John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
These are the blessed words spoken by our Lord in His parable of the Vine and the Branches.
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
The union between the vine and the branch is the closest possible. One only needs to look at the branch to see how it is grown in and woven into the parent stem; in fact, the branch is part of the vine. The life which is in the vine, the sap that circulates there, is also in the branch and produces the fruit. If the branch is separated from the vine, it withers away and dies.
This union is used by our Lord as an illustration of the intimate union of the true believer with Himself. Our union with Him is as close, and just as real, as the union of the branch with the vine.
John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
When the Lord Jesus speaks of the branches that bear no fruit, that are cast forth to wither and be burned, He does not mean true believers in Himself, but such who profess to believe, who signify thereby identification with Him, but who, in reality, have never been joined to the Lord by His Spirit. A man may appear outwardly to be a branch, may profess to be one with Christ, when he is actually no such thing. A true branch in the Vine witnesses to its vital union with Christ by bearing fruit. Well has it been said: "Two principles we must never let go. One principle is that no one can be a branch in Christ, a living member of His body, who does not bear fruit. Vital union with Christ not evidenced by life is an impossibility, and a blasphemous idea. The other principle is that no living branch of the true Vine, no believer in Christ, will ever finally perish. They that perish may have looked like believers, but they were not."
But oh! How we need to be reminded constantly of His Word: "Without Me ye can do nothing." He tells us by these words: "You need Me every moment, every step of the way." And what is the answer of our hearts, hearts that know Him? "I need Thee, Lord! I crave greater dependence upon Thee, a closer walk with Thee, a more real enjoyment of that union into which Thy grace has brought me!" Such is our desire and prayer. It is the longing of the new nature.
"Without Me ye can do nothing."
We must realize our dependence upon the Lord. In all our spiritual life, in fruit-bearing, in conflict, in everything-- we need Him. Apart from Him we have no strength, no power, no joy, no peace, no happiness. Therefore He exhorts us: "Abide in Me." What does it mean? It means that we must remain in Him by a living faith that casts itself upon Him as a living Lord. It has been transcribed in the following manner: "Cling to Me! Stick fast to Me! Live the life of close and intimate communion with Me! Get nearer and nearer to Me! Roll every burden upon Me! Cast your whole weight on Me! Never let go your hold on Me for a moment! Be rooted in Me! Do this-- I shall never fail you."
John 15:7-8 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
May His grace help us daily to do this, and we shall find more and more that all our springs are indeed in Christ, that without Him we can do nothing, and that with Him we can do all things.
All that Thou hast, Thou hast for me, All my fresh springs are hid in Thee; In Thee I live, while I confess I nothing am, yet all possess
O Savior, teach me to abide Close sheltered at Thy wounded side; Each hour receiving grace on grace, Until I see Thee face to face.
Please note that Dr. Gaebelein was not writing about being saved by works but rather makes the emphasis that when one gets saved (by grace through faith), that person is joined to Christ Jesus and thus produces fruit. We cannot produce any fruit apart from Christ. The closer our relationship is with Jesus, the more fruit will be produced. The more that we yield to God, the more fruit is produced.
How do we get closer to the Lord? Through prayer and by reading His Word.
James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
The vine supports the branches. The branches live because of the vine. So it is with our life in Christ. We are in Christ. He saved us and He keeps us saved. We cannot maintain our salvation by our good works. Rather, our good works are a result of our salvation. It is Christ who keeps us because we are joined to Him. 1Peter 1:5 says: [we] Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Notice that it is the Lord who keeps us. Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us that; "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."
We, who are in Christ Jesus, are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. The word "earnest" in the Greek means, "a pledge, that is, part of the purchase money or property given in advance as security for the rest:" We were sealed with the Holy Spirit! We are eternally secure because we have the Spirit abiding within us. We did not save ourselves and so we cannot unsave ourselves.
Some Christians struggle and ask, "How do I know that my salvation won't be lost?" Philippians 1:6 gives us the answer: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" Notice that is HE who began a good work in you. The Holy Spirit took abode within your heart the instant you received Christ as your Savior.
Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Notice that we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus and because we are in Christ, we shall do good works-- not by our own power but because of His power that works within us. We are not saved by our good works, nor kept because of our good works but rather it is God who keeps us. Those in Christ Jesus will bear "good fruit" because they are attached to the Vine.
A unsaved, (professing, so-called) "Christian" tries (via his "good works") to superglue himself to the Branches but he is not a part of the Vine and therefore withers away for there is NO LIFE apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. A genuine Believer is saved by God's grace and is KEPT securely by the Holy Spirit that abides within. God's Word assures us that our salvation cannot be lost because it is the Lord who saved us and keeps us saved.
J. Vernon McGee's wrote: [The Lord Jesus] "He wants to live His life through us. That is the reason I keep saying that you are never asked to live the Christian life. You are asked to let Him live through you. No believer can live the Christian life himself. The old nature cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit...but how are we going to let the Spirit of God produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives?....We are to abide in Christ if we are to produce fruit...The fruit is produced by yielding...We are to yield to the Holy Spirit who indwells us. The Holy Spirit wants to produce fruit-- it is called the fruit of the Spirit..."
Every day, we should grow closer to the Lord Jesus. The Christian walk is a DAILY walk...every day seeking to know Jesus better. We get to know Him by reading His Word and spending time with Him in prayer and in repentance. We sit quietly and rest in Him and we know that He is everything we need and more. In church, we learn the Word and fellowship with other Believers (Branches) who are in Him as well. It is God alone who empowers us to live the Christian life and walk the Christian walk. We are kept by His power! As we yield to Him, much fruit is produced.
Jesus is the Vine and we are the Branches.
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.