“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” (Jn 15:6-8).
“If anyone does not abide in Me” refers to those who do not have a faith connection to Jesus. These are the lost. As a believer, you never have to worry about becoming a dried up branch to be tossed in the fire. Your future as a branch connected to the vine is secure. The fire imagery in these verses takes us back to the parable of the wheat and the weeds and the end of the age.
In that story from Matthew chapter 13, we hear the sower say, “Allow both the wheat and the weeds to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the weeds and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn’ ” (Mt 13:30). Jesus later in the chapter identifies the harvest as the end of the age, the wheat as God’s children, and the weeds as the sons of the evil one. Coming back to John 15, these “branches” sent to the fire – those who “do not abide in Christ” – were never united by faith to the True Vine.
This is why in our last post we could say that “abiding in Christ” is a statement of fact, not a statement of options. It was accomplished when you embraced the gospel and were grafted into the True Vine. “Abiding in Christ” is not an imperative to do, but a promise to believe.
Next, Jesus returns to the theme of answered prayer. This verse starts with another reference to our two-part union with Christ; we abide in Christ and His words abide in us. There is no practical difference between Jesus’ words abiding in us and His personal indwelling. Jesus, as the Word itself, is the living embodiment of His teaching.
And the promise of answered prayer is the same as in John 14:13; a promise tied to God’s glory being displayed in the answer. Additionally, there appears to be a link between our answered prayer and our bearing fruit. Could it be that God’s answers to our prayers will be part and parcel of our experience of love, joy, peace, and the other fruits of His life in us?
The word “prove” that closes our passage can be troublesome. Uh-oh, are we on the hot seat having to show a certain amount of fruit-bearing to be called a disciple? Do we have to “prove” our allegiance by how much fruit we bring to the table?
No, I think the flow of fruit is more natural than that. Just as Jesus said the world will be able to identify us as true believers based on our love for each other (Jn 13:35), here we see the same concept. We will demonstrate that we are indeed Christ-followers when we abide in Him … He abides in us … He is glorified in our answered prayers … and we bear fruit in His kingdom.