Tom: We’re continuing with the gospel. We are in the Gospel of John 15, and last week we covered at least the first three verses, but Dave, I would like to go back to verse 3. All these verses are wonderful but this: ”Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” The cleansing of the word reminds me of a Psalm, but I can’t remember where it is, but, “How is a young man to cleanse his way?”
Dave: Psalm:119:9, “By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” It’s amazing how the Bible hangs together everywhere—the washing with water by the word.
Tom: That’s Titus, right?
Dave: That is Titus:3:5, I think—
Tom: I’m getting better at this.
Dave: ...somewhere around there, Tom. Yeah. And Jesus had said in chapter 13, remember that “if you know my Word, you are clean. We don’t have to wash you again, just your feet, because they get polluted, contaminated, in the world.” And the Word of God should have a cleansing effect in my life. I don’t come to the Word of God to try to impose my view on it; I come to the Word of God to be corrected, to be taught, and to be cleansed. It speaks to my heart; it speaks to my conscience.
Tom: So it isn’t just a matter of reading it, it’s a matter of doing it; and even in the doing of it, it’s not a matter of doing it in the flesh: “It’s not by might nor by power, but it’s by God’s Spirit.”
Dave: I don’t think Jesus is saying: “Well, I spoke to you, and now you are clean for the rest of your lives.”
Tom: As the positive confession people might say. He spoke the Word.
Dave: Yeah, but I don’t think He is even saying that…”Well, you’ve got it made, you’re clean.” I think He is saying, “You are clean through the word which I have spoken” In other words, “If you heed my word, you are and you will be clean. You will continually be being cleansed by my words,” and that’s what we need daily in our lives.
Tom: Well, John:8:31-32: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Not just a platitude, that’s a reality.
Dave: And just speaking to people out there, maybe some son or daughter, you are going against what your parents have commanded you or asked you kindly to do, you do not honor your parents—you could be cleansed if you would take heed to the Word, “Honor thy parents, honor thy father and mother,” the scripture says, which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with thee and you may live a long life while on this earth,” or, husbands and wives may not be getting along out there, and you think it’s supposed to be a fifty-fifty deal but you can’t agree on what’s fifty-fifty, so you are angry with one another. There are husbands and wives who won’t talk to one another; sometimes it goes on for days. You could be cleansed of that attitude through the Word of God if you would deny yourself, pick up the cross, follow Christ. If husbands would love your wives, even as Christ loved the church.
Christ doesn’t stop speaking to us even though we disobey Him. So, we can be cleansed in many, many ways. Homosexuals could be cleansed if they would give heed to the word of God, because it very clearly condemns such behavior. You would only have to heed the first commandment in the Bible: “Be fruitful and multiply,” to realize you can’t then be a homosexual or a lesbian because they don’t have children. If you adopt that lifestyle and if the whole world adopted it, that would be the end of the human race. And if you adopt that lifestyle, you are disobeying God.
And so David talks about “abiding in the word” and “searching me with the word,” and so forth. So, verse 4, Jesus says: “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.” So He’s using this vine: “I am the true vine, you are the branches.” He’s using that as an illustration of the fact that if we don’t abide in Him—and to abide in Him, of course, would mean that we are walking in perfect harmony with Him, or walking in fellowship with Him. And He is our life, and as the vine pushes its life through the branches—we talked about that; the branches don’t bear fruit, although the grapes hang on them— it’s the life of the vine that goes through the branches that brings fruit.
Tom: Dave, not a very flattering example here for those who have tried to take something on for themselves—a branch. What’s a grape branch worth? What can you do with it?
Dave: Well, it doesn’t have to worry about the weather. It doesn’t have to cultivate the soil around the vine.
Tom: I mean you can’t make anything out of it, that’s my point. It’s of no value whatsoever except…
Dave: …as a building material…
Tom: Exactly—from which the vine can flow.
Dave: So the branch has to just allow the vine, the life of the vine, to course through it and produce the fruit. And again, we’ve—well Tom, I guess we have mentioned everything several times because everything is interrelated, but the old saying—how many times have we quoted it? “The Christian life isn’t difficult, it’s impossible. No one ever lived it but Jesus Christ.” I would have to say one of the greatest days of my life was when I stopped trying to live the Christian life in my own strength and said, “Lord, I can’t do it, you’ve got to do it.” And the branch can’t bear fruit itself—it has to be connected with the vine.
And I would say another one of the greatest days of my life…you know, I spent so many years trying to master the written word. when what I needed was to be mastered by the living Word, which is Christ himself. That means—it relaxes you. You’re not carrying the burden anymore of trying to be this straight-laced, narrow-minded, sober and sad, self-denying Christian, who’s given up all the fun in order to live this holy life. The life that will be lived through me is Christ, Christ who is my life—He is going to live that life in me. You say, “Well, that doesn’t make sense, I don’t understand it. How do you do it?” Well, trust Him, abide in Him, rest in Him and allow Him to have His way.
Tom: Take his word for it. Verse 5 you read, “I am the vine, ye are the branches;” but it goes on, “He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” Now isn’t that what life is really all about, to be fruitful and productive to the glory of God? Isn’t that why we were created? To bask in His love and to please Him? That’s our purpose, that’s what we’ve been created for. But then look, it says, “For without me ye can do nothing.”
Dave: Tom, that’s maybe difficult for people to understand. Well, have I told the story of—I’m sure I must have, but it must be years—of the old gentleman who had the street meeting, do you remember that?
Tom: I do, but I don’t believe you’ve ever told it on the program.
Dave: Okay. Well, this old gentleman had this street meeting. He wasn’t the greatest preacher but he was faithful—he was there every day. Sometimes a few people would listen, now and then someone got saved, but one day he was joined by a couple of young guys that were just fantastic. They had such talent—one of them was a silver-tongued orator. He could preach—Wow! He could gather a crowd. The other guy had a fabulous tenor voice—he could gather the crowd. That street meeting—wow! It really mushroomed, it blossomed, and this orator could get all kinds of people to come forward and kneel down and pray and so forth. Very shortly after these two men joined him, the Lord took the old gentleman to heaven. And one day up in heaven, as the story goes, he said: “Lord, how is that street meeting going?” The Lord said: “Street meeting? There is no street meeting.” “What do you mean, no street meeting?” “Well, it stopped the very day I brought you up here, that was the end of it.” The old gentleman said: “You mean those two young men didn’t carry it on?” The Lord said: “What two men?” “Well, the guy who has the fabulous tenor voice and the other guy who was such a great speaker.” Jesus said: “I never knew them.”
So, “without me you can do nothing.” We may think, “Oh yeah, I could do a lot.” But not for eternity, and if the Lord is not in it, if He is not doing it through us, it may please men, it may seem impressive, but it is not anything for eternity,
Tom: Dave, we’ve just got a few seconds left. Sounds like a commentary on what’s currently going on in the church with regard to seeker sensitive, church marketing, all that stuff. For all of what is seemingly success and great growth, you have to wonder.
Dave: Well, if the Lord is in it, it will last for eternity; if not, it won’t.