I'll be preaching from John 15, the text that Brother Anthony read.
This sermon I prepared actually for a series of meetings in Rhode Island two weeks ago
and it was supposed to be the first sermon and it ended up being all five. So I don't think I'll get through my notes today
unless you're willing to stay for about ten hours. And the reason why it took so long to get through this text
is that it's like looking through a keyhole. I want you to think about this. It's like looking through a keyhole
into an entire universe. Because in this text is summed up exactly the purpose
and the means that God is using to achieve that purpose in you for His own glory.
That God has called you to bear fruit and you can bear fruit. You will bear fruit.
He has called you to stand in His presence clean and without spot.
Jesus Christ did not shed His blood for you so that the very first thing you see when you walk into glory
is a scowl on His face because of all your failures.
I want you... Well, let me put it this way: As a servant of Christ, I will not have you condemned.
As a representative of Jesus Christ, I will not tolerate a believer walking in condemnation.
Why? Because of what Christ has done. There is a true humility in Christianity. A true humility.
There is a true recognition of our sin, a true brokenness, a true repentance.
But it is not onto death. It is not onto defeat. It does not drive a believer to wallowing in some mire.
Those who claim to know Christ and bear no fruit are unconverted. I'm not speaking of them. I'm speaking to you.
Many of you who've come to know Christ, your lives have been changed and you are bearing fruit but when you look in the mirror, you feel so dark.
You feel like such a shadow. You feel so dirty.
And there is a voice. There is always a voice taking everything you think about yourself and using it to drive you away from Christ.
Any voice that under any circumstance drives you away from Jesus Christ
is the voice of the deceiver. Every aspect of your life,
every victory and every failure has an intention and that is to drive you harder to Christ.
You're walking in victory? Then know that it is not your own. Let it be a reminder to you that it would drive you to Jesus Christ.
You're sensing a defeat? You've been swallowed up in a besetting sin once again?
Do not stay there! Let that drive you to Christ.
Because you have been bought with a price in order to bear fruit.
Now, I say "bear fruit" instead of saying "do great things". "Do great things" has become a cliché in western evangelism.
It means all sorts of unbiblical things for the most part. God has not called you probably to do great things as the world sees it.
Or called you to do great things as most evangelicals would see it today.
God has called to bear fruit that when He walks by your tree it is a beautiful aroma.
It pleases Him. And that's really all you're concerned about, isn't it?
Pleasing Him. And if you're pleasing to Him, what more do you need?
If He loves the fruit on your tree, let every other person turn up their nose and walk away,
it should not diminish your joy. It's for Him.
Now we'll look at this text. He says, in verse 1 of chapter 15:
"I am the true vine." Now, I'm not going to get finished with this, I can see that right now.
"I am the true vine." Here comes these statements. These "I AM" statements.
Why are they so important? Well, I know that those "I AM" statements identify Him with deity.
They identify Him with the Yahweh statements - "I am who I am." But let's put it a little bit lower on the shelf.
Why is Jesus saying "I am so important"?
Because you're not. Because I am not.
You see, every time you look in the mirror of God's word, if you're an honest man, if you're an honest woman,
you have to sit there and go: "I am not." Paul even said it in Philippians chapter 3.
He had not attained it. He had not come to perfection. He had not come to be exactly like Christ.
Even in his own life to the very end there were some deficiencies. He was not, but that's OK when He is.
When Christ is. That "I AM" is another one of those keyholes, isn't it?
You look through it, you think it's just two tiny words but then all of the sudden it opens up into the full revelation of who Christ is.
See, one of the things that I believe that Anthony has been seeking to do over this last year
is to get you to look though a keyhole.
Because there's really only one thing that can fill you, that can feed your hunger.
And it's not a thing, it's a person. It's Christ. Let me put it this way, in the way the Puritans used to speak.
Since you have been converted, you have become a creature - good language -
you have become a creature of such a sublime nature
that you can no longer be satisfied with anything other than God.
And if you can be satisfied with something other than God,
you ought to tremble because that may be an evidence that you are not converted.
You see, when you begin to understand this, it changes everything. You go: "My life's not complete." Of course it's not. You live in the fallen world.
"My job doesn't fulfill me." And if it could, you'd be lost.