All Posts in Category: (12) The Movement of Life

The Vineyard – Proof Positive

Stay joined together with me, and follow my teachings.
If you do this, you can ask for anything you want, and it will be given to you.

My Father is glorified by this:
that you produce much fruit and so prove prove to be my disciples.

John 15:7-8


This blog is the culmination of “The Vineyard” series. It’s also the climax.

It confronts the follower of Jesus with the most important issue
Here’s the verse!

 

My Father is glorified by this:
that you produce much fruit and
PROVE TO BE MY DISCIPLES.


The first question of the “ Westminster Catechism” (1648) states:
What is the chief and highest end of man? A Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever. John Calvin viewed man’s purpose similarly. “Nothing mattered more to Calvin than the centrality, supremacy, and majesty of the glory of God. His aim, he wrote, was to “set before [man], as the prime motive of his existence, zeal to illustrate the glory of God.” (John Piper)

 

 

“… That you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.” This verse is perspicuous. God’s glory is enhanced by producing much fruit. Producing much fruit is proof positive that one is a disciple of Jesus!  NOTE! The proof of being a disciple is not related to a belief system, a confession of faith like the Heidelberg Catechism. (of course, a set of beliefs is absolutely important.) However, according to Jesus it’s NOT PRIMARY! Remember who is making this declaration! Paul wrote: “When it comes to the church, Jesus organizes and holds tit together, like a head does a body.” (Colossians 1:18)

 

 

 

                   The Vineyard illustration culminates with proof positive about our status as presumed followers of Jesus! His words require no explanation as they are absolutely clear. So, I and you must ask this question:
Am I / are you “producing much fruit?”
At stake is nothing less than the glory of God!

The Vineyard – The History

PLEASE PRESS ESC WHEN ARRIVING AT THIS PAGE!

Stay joined together with me, and follow my teachings.
If you do this, you can ask for anything you want, and it will be given to you.f

My Father is glorified by this:
that you produce much fruit and
prove to be My disciples.
John 15:7-8

“…That you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.” These words are in stark contrast to the statistics noted in the last blog!  (1% of Christians today take these words seriously!

What accounts for this radical shift from Jesus’ perspicuous command? Historically, what happened that produced this incredible alteration. The answer to these questions will produce invaluable information for the renewal of the old paradigm so clearly presented in both word and deed by Jesus

In church history it’s known as the Constantine Revolution ( 306 to 337 AD). Whereas there was a plethora of changes in the church, I want to focus on a few: 1)  following Jesus was traded for going to a church building; (A poll was taken in which this question was asked: “What most distinguishes you as a Christian.” The overwhelming response was: “going to church.”);  2) worship took the place of discipleship. The action of producing fruit and making disciples, the twice repeated marching order of Jesus, was replaced with passive observation, watching the priest “do his thing“.  3) following Jesus was traded for belief in Jesus. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s comment highlights the point: “The response of the disciples was an act of obedience to follow Jesus, NOT a confession of faith in Jesus (“After Constantine emperors had a duty to help the Church define orthodoxy and maintain orthodoxy. The Church generally regarded the definition of doctrine as the responsibility of the bishops; the emperor’s role was to enforce doctrine.“) [Constantine the Great and Christianity];  4) the priesthood of all believers (following Jesus to make disciples) was replaced by the professional clergy (priests) [a glaring contrast to the motley crew to which Jesus entrusted his enterprise] ;  5) the command to all believers to “follow and produce fruit” was transferred to missionaries (the word means “sent ones“). 

 

By the end of the 3rd century the preceding was the norm! Today, visit 100 American churches of whatever flavor. In everyone you will find the effects of the Constantine Revolution! The Master’s plan has been totally replaced.

 

The Vineyard – The Statistics

 

Stay joined together with me, and follow my teachings.
If you do this, you can ask for anything you want, and it will be given to you.

My Father is glorified by this:
that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

John 15:7-8

 


Greg Ogden (Executive Pastor of Discipleship, Christ Church of Oak Brookwrote the following appraisal: The Discipleship Deficit: Where Have All the Disciples Gone?  (Knowing and Doing)  Here are a few quotes from the article.

 

 

 

 

 

“According to Barna Research, fewer than one in five born-again adults has any specific and measurable goals related to his or her own spiritual development. Barna interviewed hundreds of people, including church leaders and pastors, and yet, shockingly, he concluded,’ Not one of the adults we interviewed said that their goal in life was to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ or to make disciples of the entire world—or even their entire block.’

The Scriptures picture all believers as those who share the story of their faith in Christ with others; in reality. We are called to be storytellers. The Bible spins a love story of God’s pursuit of wayward humanity. For those who have been captured by Jesus Christ, we each have a story to tell of how God chased us down and embraced us in his loving arms. In so doing, the Lord has written us as characters into his grand redemptive drama. We each have an assigned part to play on the stage of history, which is the realm in which God writes his story. As unique as each of us is, there is a common story line written into the script for each of our lives. “You shall be my witnesses,” Jesus says (Acts 1:8). We each have our story, a story to tell. For it is in the sharing of the story that others come to find that they too have been written into this redemptive drama.

How are we doing in telling the story? When believers are asked if they have intentionally built a relationship with someone with the hope of being able to lead the person to Christ, only one in ten could affirm that they had. “Fewer than one in five said that they knew a nonbeliever well enough that they could share their faith with an individual in a context of trust and credibility.”

Relative to “producing fruit” and “making disciples“, there’s a “Discipleship Deficit” in the churches of the US. This is the “cold, hard” fact! Let’s make it personal. Have you or a fellow follower of Jesus discipled one nonbeliever to maturity in Christ?

I have previously written about this situation. However, the implications of John 15:8 are radically important for those who profess personal attachment to Jesus!

The Vineyard – Principles of Remaining

Remain in Me, and I in you.
Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in Me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches.
The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit,
because you can do nothing without Me.
If anyone does not remain in Me,
he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers.
If you remain in Me and My words remain in you,
ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:1-5

 

REMAINING! We have learned that remaining, staying at home, staying connected to Jesus, the vine, is absolutely indispensable for a life of multiplication that magnifies the Father’s glory! John 15 is my focus in that it records Jesus’ last words to the Eleven hours before his death. You may think this melodramatic. So, I ask: IF you knew the precise time of your death, what would you say to those whom you love? 

There’s no more vivid illustration of remaining than baby in a mother’s womb, the place of connection and attachment. It’s the ultimate home! Padded by sponge rubber of flesh, baby is able to endure the most shocking bump. And, given the mother’s health, baby receives a constant flow of gourmet nourishment. No need for anything outside the home!

So, how does one “stay at home“?

It’s not that difficult. Jesus said: “The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be (home).” (Matthew 6:21) Why do we say, “There’s no place like home“? Because home represents everything we value most!  heart and home go together.

 There are three fundamentals, two of which I’ve alluded to before. (Maintenance of Life: Intimacy with Jesus). Interestingly, Step 11 of the Big Book outlines two steps: “Sought through prayer and mediation to improve our conscious contact with God.”

What’s the purpose of the womb? GROWTH … a secluded, private, comfortable place for growth.

The Vineyard – Peter, A Pruned Branch

 

Jesus was standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret,
teaching the people as they crowded around him to hear God’s message.

Near the shore he saw two boats left there by some fishermen
who had gone to wash their nets.
Jesus got into the boat that belonged to Simon
and asked him to row it out a little way from the shore.
When Jesus had finished speaking, he told Simon,
“Row the boat out into the deep water and let your nets down to catch some fish.”
“Master,” Simon answered, “we have worked hard all night long and have not caught a thing.
But if you tell me to, I will let the nets down.”

They did it and caught so many fish that their nets began ripping apart.
Then they signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them.
The men came, and together they filled the two boats so full that they both began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this happen, he knelt down in front of Jesus and said,
“Lord, don’t come near me! I am a sinner.”

Peter and everyone with him were completely surprised at all the fish they had caught.
Jesus told Simon, “Don’t be afraid!
From now on you will bring in people instead of fish.

The men pulled their boats up on the shore.
Then they left everything and went with Jesus.
Luke 5:1-12



And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock.
This is the rock on which I will put together my church,
a church so expansive with energy
that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.

Matthew 16:17-19

 

Then Jesus made it clear to his disciples
that it was now necessary for him to go to Jerusalem,
submit to an ordeal of suffering at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed,
and then on the third day be raised up alive.
Peter took him in hand, protesting, “Impossible, Master! That can never be!
Matthew 16:20-22

 

 Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me,
like chaff from wheat. Simon,
I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out.
When you have come through the time of testing,
turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.”
Luke 22:31-32

 

 Peter told Him, “Even if everyone runs away, I will certainly not!”
“I assure you,” Jesus said to him, “today, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times!”
But he kept insisting, “If I have to die with You, I will never deny You!”
And they all said the same thing.
Mark 14:29-31

 

They seized Him, led Him away, and brought Him into the high priest’s house.
Meanwhile Peter was following at a distance.

They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together,
and Peter sat among them.
When a servant saw him sitting in the firelight,
and looked closely at him, she said, “This man was with Him too.”
But he denied it: “Woman, I don’t know Him!
After a little while, someone else saw him and said, “You’re one of them too!”
Man, I am not!” Peter said. About an hour later, another kept insisting,
“This man was certainly with Him, since he’s also a Galilean.”
But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.
Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter.
So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him,
“Before the rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.”
And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Luke 22:54-62

 
 
When Jesus and his disciples had finished eating, he asked,
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than the others do?”
Simon Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know I do!”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus said.
Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you!”
“Then take care of my sheep,”
Jesus told him.Jesus asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus had asked him three times if he loved him.
So he told Jesus, “Lord, you know everything. You know I love you.”
John 21:15-18