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Gospel of John - Chapter Fifteen
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Pastor Ovid Need
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Now we come to an almost totally spiritual chapter. In this chapter, Jesus tells His disciples of the absolute necessity of their abiding in Him, if they are going to have the Holy Spirit work through them and if they are going to accomplish anything for God (i.e., do the greater workssee lesson 14). This chapter, as is 16 and 17, is almost purely doctrinal; therefore, is extremely difficult (if not impossible) for the natural man to understand. On the other hand, the rest of the book of John is mostly historicala record of the historical acts Christ accomplished, as well as a record of his messages.
We will hit the more obvious points of these three chapters.
1. What does Jesus call Himself, v. 1?
a. What is the Father called, v. 1?
b. What is the born again believer called, v. 2?
c. What is expected of the believer, v. 2?
d. What will happen if the believer does not live up to this expectation, v. 2?
e. What is the purpose of Christ choosing a person, v. 15?
Now a note of explanation: Gal. 5:22-24 describes this fruit. Also, as we saw in chap. 4, the fruit would include winning or influencing others for the Saviour, more commonly called soul-winning. However, we saw from chapter 6, it is the Holy Spirit who must "win" the soul to Christ. Man's responsibility is to present the gospel through words and actions, and the Holy Spirit must do the rest.
We must also keep the context in mind. Christ is talking to the eleven, for Judas had left to betray Christ.
V. 3, we have already seen the comparison between water and the word of Godthe word cleanses. (Ps. 119:9-15.)
2. V. 4, how does one abide in Christ, v. 10?
a. How does Christ abide in the believer, v. 7, (Ps. 119:11)?
Of course it goes without saying that this is based in salvation, conversion.
3. What is the promise of v. 5? (Actually, there are two promises: one positive and one negative?)
As Christ lives in a person (through salvation and through His word in our thoughts), and as the person lives in Christ (through salvation and study of and obedience to His word), Christ promises a "fruitful" life, just as sure as a branch bears fruit.
Notice the importance of v. 10. Our Lord almost restates this word for word from 14:21-24. We do need to keep in mind that chapter 15 was spoken to the eleven disciples because Judas had already left. (Paul was not added until some time after Christ rose from the dead and ascended on high.) Thus some of these sayings must be understood as for these eleven men, and some can be understood as for all who have believed upon Christ through their words. (Jn. 17:20.)
4. Why has Christ told them these things about love, abiding in Him and fruitfulness, v. 11? ________________
(Remember, He is preparing them for His departure as well as for to soon come.)
5. What is the greatest test of friendship, v. 13?
a. How does a person become a friend of Jesus, v. 14?
V. 15, Christ restates that He has only told these men what He has heard from His Father.
6. This is chapter six again. Who did the choosing, v. 16?
a. Not only is a person chosen for the reason listed in v. 16, but we see this further stated elsewhere. Why is a person chosen according to Eph. 1:4, (see I Pet. 1:15)?
b. What is an assured benefit of fruitfulness, vv. 7, 16?
Vv. 12, 17, etc., we see the command again. As mentioned in chapter 14, this is not a reference to a good feeling one toward another, but it is a command to treat one another according to God's instructions, regardless of how we feel. Not only does 1 Cor. 13 explain what God requires in this action (love), but so do passages like Eph. 4:1-4 and Ex. 20. Thus commands such as "continue ye in my love," (v. 9) mean to continually keep His word toward Him and toward others.
7. He gives a promise to His people who obey the requirement of v. 10. What is this promise, v. 18, (we saw this quite some time ago)?
a. Why will the world do this, v. 21?
Worldthose who live after the flesh and/or who are controlled by the natural man. The natural man (the "man" who controlled us before the Spirit came in upon conversion) hates God and good as defined by God. He (the natural man), will do all he can to oppress, hinder or destroy the new man, who desires to please God by doing v. 10. (See 2 Cor. 5:17.) Not only are most of those around us controlled by this old, natural man, but he is still alive within the believer. Now there is an inward war between the old man and the new man, who is created in the image of Christ Jesus. The Spirit of God (through the study of His word and prayer) strengthens the new man, giving the person power over the old sinful nature, so he can now do v. 10 and please God.
Notice also that once a person is born again, it is his responsibility to study God's word and develop its implications into every area of his involvementhome, vocation, church, etc. He is now required to subdue all things according to the word of God, which is involved in fruit-bearing. (1 Cor. 10:31.) Actually, conversion not only requires His people to do 1 Corinthians 10:31, but it provides them with the power to it.
b. If a person hates Christ (rejects Him), who does he really hate, v. 23?
V. 24 again reminds the disciples that His works were the Father's works, and rejecting those works as being from God the Father actually rejected the Father.
8. Christ gives them a prophecy. Why did the Jews hate Christ, (Ps. 69:4), v. 25?
Again, Christ is dogmatic in giving this final message to His disciples. Love is not equated with feelings, but actions. Christ knew human nature very well, so He continually emphasized that love is action, regardless of emotions and feelings. Also fruit-bearing is based in action (love).
We also need to point out here that everything claiming to be of God is not of Him. Just because a person claims to be of God and the ministry he may be involved in is "growing" in men's eyes, does not mean it is of God. Every ministry must be firmly grounded in the total teaching of God's word and in the love of God as defined in John 15:10. If a ministry is not grounded in the faithful application of His commandments as found in the Father's commandments, then, according to the words of the Lord here in Jn. 15, it cannot be the genuine fruit of the true vine.
9. What are we to do towards to those who equate gain with godliness (in other words, they point to their gain in numbers and/or finances and say, "This proves that God is blessing us"), I Tim. 6:5?
However, we must add that according to John 15, godliness will result in fruitfulness. Note that the Lord was the most godly man ever to live, yet, as we will see, He finished His ministry without one follower.
Finally, as we follow through the Lord's last instruction to His disciples, we are struck with the command to love God and one another. We must keep in mind that love is action according to the total of God's word. Our first responsibility lies in Matthew 6:33, and any emotional attachment will follow as we do what He has commanded us to do in every area. One area cannot be emphasized more than anotherthe balance of God's Word must be adhered to.
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