Written and preached by David P. Nolte

JOHN 15:4-8

There are wax fruits and there are true fruits. There are paste jewels and true jewels. There are fair-weather friends and there are true friends. There are true statements and false statements. Jesus discovered that there are disciple wannabes, false disciples, and there are true disciples. Jesus wants all who follow Him to do so sincerely, unconditionally, and truly. So what does it take according to his text to be true disciples?
    1. The word "remain" means "not to depart from." It was used in the sense of continuing to live in a place or to remain in a certain condition. We must live in continual relationship to, and in contact with, Jesus if we'd be true disciples.
    2. If we live near to Jesus and it doesn't matter whether we live on the mountain of honor or in the valley of humiliation. It doesn't matter if we live in a mansion or a hovel. What matters is that we live close to Jesus. All issues of life become secondary compared to the worth of relationship to Him. How do we stay in Him?
      1. Be an active part of His body the church.
      2. Stay in communication with Him through His Word and Prayer and Worship.
      3. Think about Him and take Him into consideration in all of life's issues.
      4. Keep every part of your life connected to Him and His will.
    3. How does this play out in life? How does it benefit us?
      1. Living in Jesus keeps us close to God and in His constant care.
      2. Living in Jesus means putting ourselves under His authority. If you live in Canada, you are under Canadian law; if you live in England, you are under English law; if you live in Christ, you are under His governance.
      3. Living in Jesus means that we disallow anything or anyone to separate us from Him.
      4. Living in Jesus means that we do not simply enjoy an interview now and then, but that we can always enjoy His company. Jesus is not just us a friend who calls upon us now and then, but one with Whom we walk, and talk, and live forever.
      5. Living in Jesus allows us to draw constantly from the grace, mercy, strength, power, wisdom and peace He alone can give.
    4. I read recently an article by Charles Simpson. He wrote that one of the most popular aquarium fish is the shark. He wrote that if you confine it, it will stay a size proportionate to the aquarium. Sharks can be six inches long yet fully matured. But if you turn them loose in the ocean, they grow to their normal length of eight feet. That also happens to some Christians. Some remain little six-inch Christians who swim around in a confining pool - the pool of materialism, or pride, or lust, or anger. But when they live in a larger milieu - constant and abiding relationship with Jesus - they can become true disciples.

So, to be a genuine, tried and true disciple, remain in Jesus.

    1. His word is to remain or abide in us. You see, it is one thing to have a Bible in your home; it is another thing to have the Bible in your hand; it is yet another thing to have the Bible in your head; but it is a totally different thing to have the Bible in your heart, the center of your willing, feeling and acting. Listen to these texts about internalizing God's Word:
      1. "How can a young person stay pure? By obeying Your word and following its rules. I have tried my best to find You - don't let me wander from Your commands. I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You." Psalms 119:9-11 (NLT).
      2. "My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store My commands in your heart," Proverbs 3:1 (NLT).
      3. "Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise." Colossians 3:16 (NLT).
      4. "Salvation that comes from trusting Christ - which is the message we preach - is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, 'The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.'" Romans 10:8 (NLT).
    2. Have you considered the benefits of God's Word abiding in and working through you?
      1. It will give us victory over sin: "I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You." Psalm 119:11 (NLT).
      2. It will make us wise: "Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise." Colossians 3:16 (NLT)
      3. It will lead us to salvation. Paul said to Timothy: "from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 3:15 (NASB).
      4. It will show us the way to live, rebuke us when we stray, show us the way back, and train us in godliness. Paul wrote, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right." 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT).
      5. It will equip us to do the work God calls us to do. "It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do." 2 Timothy 3:17 (NLT).
      6. It produces and deepens faith. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Romans 10:17 (NASB).
      7. It is the way to know Jesus. "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; John 5:39 (NASB).
      8. It is the litmus for all teaching. The Bereans were noble because when Paul taught them, "they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so." Acts 17:11 (NASB.
    3. Deliberately and carefully let the Word remain in you. There are things that, if you let them, will strip the Word from you. Jesus told a parable about that and explained it. "The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the Good News about the Kingdom and don't understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the seed away from their hearts. The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But like young plants in such soil, their roots don't go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced. The good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God's message and produce a huge harvest - thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted." Matthew 13:18-23 (NLT).
    4. One man represents misunderstanding of retaining God's Word in himself. He was a ruler in Africa. He developed the surrounding kingdoms into modern Ethiopia with himself as emperor. The emperor had one strange eccentricity. Whenever he was feeling ill, he would eat a few pages of the Bible, insisting that this always restored his health. One day while recovering from a stroke and feeling extremely ill, he had the entire book of Kings torn from a Bible, ate every page of it - and died. You don't get the Word into you that way! You read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, apply it, and make it the rule of your life. Then it dwells in you richly, and you can become a true disciple.

So, to be a genuine, tried and true disciple, remain in Jesus, and you must retain His Word.

    1. Jesus wants us to be fruit bearers. But what is this fruit?
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      1. On the one hand, it is the works and deeds we perform for Him. Paul wants us to be filled with wisdom, so that we "may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work" Colossians 1:10a (NASB).
      2. On the other hand, it is the kind of language or speech we utter. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." Matthew 12:33-34 (NIV).
      3. On another hand, it is to lead others to Christ; other disciples are the fruit. Paul wrote, "And I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented thus far) in order that I might obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles." Romans 1:13 (NASB).
      4. Yet again, it is the product the Holy Spirit brings forth in us: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Galatians 5:23 (NLT).
    3. A fruitless Christian is like a lightless lamp or an odorless scent. A fruitless Christian is an anomaly, a cull, a waterless spring.
    4. Think about it. When have you been the most fruitful? Isn't it when you have lived closest to Jesus, when you have been faithful in prayer, when you have lived by the simplicity of your faith, when your mind has focused on the Lord, and you have remembered where your strength comes from - has not it been then that your fruit has increased?
    5. My dad used to love growing figs. Now, personally, I hated those fig trees. They smelled bad, they attracted wasps and figs don't taste really good unless they are dried. But dad loved them. I used to think he was goofy, though. He'd whack those trees back until they were mostly stumps. He'd killed them for sure. But next spring, they would grow rapidly and produce figs like crazy. Dad wanted trees that produced a lot of fruit. So does Jesus.

I challenge you today to determine to be a true disciple, not just a wannabe. That means remaining in Jesus, retaining His Word and producing much fruit. Everybody wants to live a life that means something. Jesus calls us to that kind of life. He offers us life that is abundant here and eternal hereafter. But He offers that only to those who become His disciples; to those who follow Him in faith and obedience; to those who surrender their wills to His. To be a disciple means it is not all about us, it's all about Him; it is no longer what we want but what He wants; it is no longer our way, but His. If you choose to be His disciple, then stand and sing to Him, "Have Thine Own Way!"

Man eating Bible story from Christianglobe.com

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