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How important are good works after salvation?
One of the most misunderstood teachings from the Lord Jesus is this one. It could be rightly called his fruit or fire teaching! This passage is clear and to the point, but false teachers have twisted these Scriptures and denied their clarity to preserve the heresy of eternal security. You are about to be stirred. Jesus said:
●I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:1,2)
Jesus is the vine, Christians are the branches and the Heavenly Father is the gardener. The Father cuts away the fruitless branches from the life-sustaining vine because of not bearing fruit and prunes the branches that are fruitful so they can be even more fruitful. (Clearly, God wants fruit and such is a vital requirement of remaining in the vine—staying saved. Remember, it's fruit or fire.)
NOTE: Jesus said the fruitless branches were in me. Hence, they were saved at one point. This should end the once saved always saved slogan in His grip, referring to an unconditional security and being safe in sin, fruitlessness, etc. Clearly, that is not an accurate understanding of the Heavenly Father.
●You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. (John 15:3)
Jesus is clearly speaking to those who had been forgiven (spiritually cleansed). It is the same ones who got this life or death warning about bearing fruit. The forgiven are the branches. The word of God brought that about. We are born again through the word of God. Peter wrote:
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Pet 1:23)
God’s word is imperishable, living and enduring. It must go forth for others to get born again.
● Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)
God's sovereign will is for all the branches to remain in the vine, but the same God will also cut those same branches off if, through their own negligence, they become unfruitful.
If we remain in the vine, the vine will remain in us. It is up to us to remain in him and for our benefit to obey this command to remain. A Christian must remain in Christ (the vine) to be fruitful—the only source of spiritual life.
● I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
Again, Jesus mentions his relationship to his followers is as a vine to branches which can be cut off. For the branches to get pruned by the gardener will enable them to bear more fruit. In other words, if a branch survives the gardener’s inspection and doesn’t get cut off but just pruned, it will be very fruitful.
If a pruned branch could speak, certainly it would say the pruning was painful. Perhaps some of the painful things that occur to fruitful Christians are part of the pruning process.
● If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:6)
Jesus is clearly speaking about those who don’t remain (or continue) in Christ—the Christians who don’t produce good fruit, and therefore, get cut off by the Father. They died spiritually. The ones cut off were not never really saved people, as the once saved always saved teachers might want us to believe. Instead, they were initially in the vine, that is, in Christ, the same as the other branches which continued in the vine. Both types of branches had the same opportunity to be fruitful.
The cut off branches withered after being severed from the vine, just like what we would observe in the natural. See also Lk. 8:6. For a branch to wither (or die) shows it had life in it before then or it would be impossible for it to wither. Things that are dead and lifeless, such as a rock, cannot wither.
Those branches are sustained by their connection to the vine. The cut off branches (Christians who lost their salvation over fruitlessness) die spiritually and get thrown into the fire. Remember, it is fruit or fire. Their destiny is much different from the branches who remain in and with the vine. The branches remaining in the vine continue to live because of the vine. This is just like:
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:12)
Jesus is eternal life. It is impossible to have eternal life if we are don’t have Jesus.
● If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. (John 15:7)
Verse 7 is a special prayer promise for the fruitful Christians—the ones who don’t get cut off. Such are commanded to ask (God) and it will be given to them. (A Christian who has God’s word remaining in him is not going to ask for things outside God’s will.)
● This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8)
The Father is glorified by fruitfulness. That is also how one can be recognized as a disciple of Christ. This alone destroys the teaching of once saved always saved. Heretic Charles Stanley teaches the opposite of the Lord Jesus:
... a Christian who at no point in his entire life bore any eternal fruit. And yet his salvation is never jeopardized (Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure, p. 121).
A fruitless person will be damned to hell, according to Jesus. It's fruit or fire! Do NOT be deceived.
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