Can Authentic Christians Deny Jesus? Part 5

January 14, 2016 at 8:53 AM

denyjesusJohn 15 can really be summed up in three words: Abide, love, and testify. In John 15, Jesus speaks of the fact that He is the Vine and we are the branches. Branches cannot survive when they are removed from the source of their nourishment – the vine itself.

Clearly, Jesus is referencing Israel here because as Constable and other conservative scholars point out, “Jesus often used a grapevine to describe the nation of Israel (cf. Matt. 20:1-16; 21:23-41; Mark 12:1-9; Luke 13:6-9; 20:9-16). The vine as a symbol of Israel appears on coins of the Maccabees.” [1] It is also clear from the passage itself that Jesus is referring to Himself as the Vine. The Father here is the vine dresser or farmer. It is His job to ensure that the Vine remains healthy and branches attached to the Vine bear fruit. If they do not, He has a remedy.

In essence, what Jesus is referring to here is being in the place of blessing or being and remaining in fellowship with God. He is not talking about salvation itself, in my opinion, but the relational aspect of our union with Christ via salvation. Those who believe that Jesus is talking about salvation here conclude that Jesus is teaching that salvation can be lost.

Jesus taught that some believers in Him do not bear fruit (cf. Luke 8:14). Fruit-bearing is the normal but not the inevitable consequence of having divine life. This is true of grapevines too. Grapevines have branches that bear fruit, but they must also have some branches that presently bear no fruit, but are growing stronger so they will bear fruit in the future. [2]

When we lived in California, we went to a winery to see how they planted, grew, and harvested grapes. It was actually a fascinating project. I was not aware that only one type of grape-vine grows in California, yet there are many types of grapes. How do they do it? They simply graft in other branches once the main vine is firmly established in the ground. Those grafted in branches receive their nourishment from the main branch – the vine – and grow so that they ultimately bear fruit.

There can be genuine life without fruit in a vine, and there can be in a Christian as well. No plant produces fruit instantaneously; it takes time for a plant to grow strong enough to bear fruit. The New Testament teaches that God effects many changes in the life of every person who trusts in Jesus for salvation. [3]

Also interesting is the fact that if a particular branch isn’t producing fruit, several things can happen. The vintner workers might check to ensure that the individual branches are not lying on the ground. If they are, they can become cold and moldy, keeping them from bearing fruit. In this case, the workers might lift the branches off the ground so air can flow freely around them, keeping them from becoming moldy. If that doesn’t work, the workers may then remove the branches and throw them into the fire.

I agree with Constable here when he says that the mention of casting branches into the fire is merely incidental. This is simply what vine dressers do when pruning vines in the fall of each year. Constable states, “The point is their uselessness, not their judgment.” [4]

I believe it is also clear from the context that the use of the word “abide” essentially means fellowship. Jesus wants us to be in fellowship with Him and He is encouraging us to do so.

Christians who deny Christ one way or another – through omission or outright lies – fall out of fellowship with Him. Denying Jesus is a Sin because it is ultimately lying about our relationship with Him.

There are many sections of Scripture that encourage us to be bold for Christ, to not faint or shrink, and certainly not give up. I believe these all have to do with entering into and continuing to fellowship with God in Christ.

Christians who hide their Christianity are denying Jesus. When we have opportunity to tell others about Him and we don’t we ate in denial. When we keep silent because we are afraid of repercussions, we are Denying Jesus.

Once we become saved, God keeps us here in this life for any number of reasons, chief of which is the need to evangelize. Certainly, we are to “know” God while here, but that only makes our job of evangelizing easier because as we know God more and more, we receive greater strength to fulfill our job of the Great Commission. This is what it is all about.

The commands of Jesus to His followers – those who have received salvation – are summed up in abidingloving, and testifying. We are to abide in Him. This means that we are to remain in fellowship with Him at all times. Clearly, because of our sin nature, this abiding will not be uninterrupted in this life, but it is what we are to shoot for while here. Whenever we fall through sin, we are to immediately recognize it, confess it, and move on in Christ (1 John 1:5-10). God wants us to get back into fellowship with Him as quickly as possible so that our hearts do not become hardened.

We are also to love as He loves. This is seen differently depending upon the group; the lost or the saved. In 1 John, John repeatedly talks about loving our brothers. He is referring to those who are also “in Christ.” We should go out of our way to love them because of the common bond we share. This is evidenced in our commitment to pray for one another and to support one another. We may have something that someone else needs and we can share with them. We may be in a position where God has blessed us financially that allows us to share some of that financial blessing with our brothers or sisters in Christ. Praying for other Christians and filling their needs is a definite indication of our love for them.

We love the world by testifying to them, evangelizing the lost. We do this at work, at dinner, and at other venues where the lost of the world gather. If we fail to witness to the lost – in word and deed – we are proving that we really don’t love them and that we are more concerned for our own welfare and potential embarrassment than their salvation. Need I remind that when we fail to evangelize as we see opportunities, we are literally denying Jesus?

I hope I’ve shown that true Christians can and do deny Jesus on multiple levels, tragically. This should not be but it is so because we are far more concerned about the ramifications to ourselves than on the ramifications of people dying without Jesus. Christians who think like this have not gotten past serving self.

The New Testament especially is filled with epistles and letters that emphasize the Christians’ need to never give up, never surrender to the enemy of our souls, and to constantly persevere in Christ. The goal for the Christians is to continually walk away from self because only as we move away from self-will we stop denying Jesus.

Let’s face it, many of us have excuses for everything don’t we? We didn’t mention Jesus here because it “didn’t fit the conversation,” or because “it wasn’t the right time,” or something else. Paul tells us that “today is the day of salvation,” (2 Corinthians 6:2). In other words, it is always the right time to tell people about Jesus.

I realize that you have to be careful at work. I realize that in certain situations, great care must be used in broaching the subject of Jesus and the salvation that is only available through Him. Yet, this should not put a complete stop to our evangelization efforts. There were times when Jesus Himself was very careful, but in general, He taught the truth and the truth made people free. We are under the same command.

We need to stop thinking that the meaning of denying Jesus only refers to a legal situation where the Christian stands before judges and magistrates and faces death. That certainly is one example and it is happening in various places throughout the world right now, today. But there are many ways in which Christians deny Jesus in their daily lives for one reason or another. In the end, it all comes down to denying Him if we do not share the good news or refuse to mention Him for fear of the world.

We are fast approaching a time when we will have to make a decision for Jesus. I appreciate what one writer recently stated about the global situation.

The spiritual atmosphere all across this earth is only going to grow darker, more lawless, violent and corrupt. World leaders are bowing to the demands and plans of the Globalist elite who are feverishly working behind the scenes to establish their wicked heart’s desire, the tyrannical New World Order. It’s coming, for sure.

This same writer goes onto note the following.

The persecution of true Christians is only going to increase in days to come. You’d better make up your mind about this and cover yourself with prayer and the Word of God. You’ll need the Lord to give you supernatural courage and faith to face every circumstance with peace and calm conviction.

Folks, we have been living under the blessing that God has certainly provided but the time is soon coming when Christians will be forced to publicly decide whom they serve. Whom do you serve? Are you willing to stand with Him as He stands with you?

You can only do that by being strengthened through the fellowship that you enjoy with Him. If you have salvation, you need to have fellowship and that is not automatic. It is something you must work toward. It is found in keeping His commands: abide, love, testify.

If you truly love Him, He’s not asking much at all. He’s asking that you turn your back on the world and begin fellowship with Him. You cannot do both. I firmly believe that once a person decides to fellowship with God in Christ, they will begin to see a boldness that they never knew existed. He will guide. He will empower. He will sustain.

Enter into His fellowship.

 

[1] Dr. Thomas L. Constable’s Notes on John (2015 edition), p. 256
[2] Ibid, p. 258
[3] Ibid, p. 258
[4] Ibid, p. 258

Entry filed under: christianity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , .

Can Authentic Christians Deny Jesus? Part 4 What Does John Mean by Knowing God in 1 John, Part 3


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