If you Abide in Me -- By Nell Berry

"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." (John 15:5 NIV)

This scripture passage tells me that as a plant cannot survive unless it remains rooted in the soil, so I cannot survive unless I remain rooted in and connected to my source or in my Creator. If a plant does not flourish and bear fruit, it is pulled up and thrown into the fire. If I do not flourish in Jesus Christ; bearing fruit; being what He wants me to be; doing what He wants me to do, I will be cast into the fire.

Only a plant that has good roots, firmly planted in the soil, can flourish and bear fruit. Only a Christian, who has good roots, planted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ can flourish; giving help to those who are in need; ministering to those who do not know Christ; discipling new baby Christians in the Word of God; being a good example, a testimony to Christ, a witness to His glory bearing fruit.

If a fish does not remain in the water, it will die because that is the source of life for a fish. If we as Christians do not remain or abide in Christ, we die spiritually, because He is our source of life.

Abiding in Christ gives us the power to do the impossible. Impossible only to those who do not believe; all things are possible with Christ. Believers can ask anything of Him and it shall be done by our Father in Heaven.

We have an old apple tree in our back yard which has produced mighty fine apples in the past. As with anything with age the tree has begun to lose limbs each year till now it is just a fraction of what it was when we first moved here. When the person who dug our basement was digging the area for the basement, he used a backhoe and he pushed the dirt instead of digging it. He somehow managed to push one of the apple trees down, and scraped the one that is still remaining. It caused it to bleed and it has slowly begun to decline ever since.

The apple tree is leaning nearly perpendicular to the ground. At the bottom of the trunk there has sprung up new growth. It had blossoms on it earlier in the spring and the blossoms fell off and there were tiny apples developing. The new growth grew till it was pretty tall this year, about five or six feet. In the past several days the wind was so strong it broke the new tree growth off at the root. The root system was no longer strong enough to support the small tree.

That is what happens to us when we are not rooted and grounded in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are broken off and because He is our source of life, we cease to grow; our source cannot supply life to us. Our spiritual life ceases to exist. We will be gathered up and cast into the lake of fire.

If however, a man is spiritually grounded in the Word of God and in the true Vine, he will flourish and grow and produce fruit. The fruit may not be the visable saving of a man's soul, as when one gives his heart to the Lord, but as a pebble thrown into a pool of water produces ripples that are far reaching, the example of a Christian life produces ripples in the lives of so many people, we will never know just how many have been influenced by that one whose life is exemplary in that he lives his life in the presence of Jesus, seeking how he may live according to God's Holy Word.

There is an old hymn that says, "They'll know we are Christians by our love". Since God is love, we cannot be Christians; cannot be His if we do not have love.

As Jesus is the true Vine and we are the branches, we must abide in Him or we are not His diciples.

Jesus said, "now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you". Till we abide in Him and He abides or lives in us, we are dirty. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. Our "good works" are in vain because we do them in the spirit of trying to earn our way into Heaven. But living in Jesus and He in us, we do good works to glorify Him, not ourselves. We can never be good enough to get into Heaven. Jesus is our goodness, He is our righteousness. Without Him, God cannot look upon us, because God cannot look upon sin. It is only through the blood of the perfect Lamb of God that He can look upon us. He sees Jesus blood and His righteousness instead of our filthy rags, our sin.

I heard an old preacher say one time, "I don't want to go to Hell. There is no way out. There is only one way in and no way out. I want to go to Heaven, and the only way to Heaven is through the blood of Jesus Christ."

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father except by Him. People think they can go to Heaven just because they are good. They think God is a kind and merciful God and He won't send anyone to Hell. No, He doesn't send anyone to Hell. They send themselves there by their sinful deeds and by not repenting and asking forgiveness for their sin.

The true Vine is Jesus. That means He is the one true God. We are the branches, which means we are forever attached to Jesus, if we are to grow spiritually. When we go off and do our own thing and do not keep the connection to Jesus, we are bound for failure. If we stay connected to the true Vine, it is in Him we move and have our being. By this our Father is glorified that we bear much fruit, leading people to the Lord, witnessing to His goodness, His mercy and His Salvation; the Salvation which is by Jesus, by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior; abiding in Him and He in us.

Nell Berry