Entering Into Your Privileged Place
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: John 10:10, John 15:1-8
Sunday 26th February 2017
As we round up the series, ‘Living In the Overflowing Abundance', today, here is the final message in this series: ‘Entering Into Your Privilege Position’.
Our foundation scripture for this series is from John 10. Here is John 10:10, which reads: ‘The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)’ (AMPC). Today’s main text is from John 15:1-8; ‘I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.’
Over the last couple of weeks, we have taken a close look at three aspects of the life of the Shepherd and the sheep, which Jesus talked about in John 10:14 and 27: ‘I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me’. The aspects/stages are: hearing the Shepherd’s voice, knowing the Shepherd and following Him. Following the Shepherd is simply discipleship, which we began to study in the last message. A disciple is called to become, think, act and live like Christ. Beside discipleship, there is a place of privilege which we will be studying closely today – this is a place of the ceaseless supply of Christ’s life to his disciples. Jesus described this position as abiding.
So far, we have come across metaphorical descriptions of Christ in this series, such as ‘The Good Shepherd, ‘The door’, ‘The Gate’ and the ‘Bread of life’. In John 15, Jesus describes himself as ‘The Vine’. He simply used what we can relate to, to reveal who He is – as the Sustenance, the Source of life, the Provider, the Security and all that we need. He went on to describe who we are as believers – Branches. He spoke about unfruitful branches; these ones are taken away by the vinedresser. The grape-bearing branches are pruned by the Vinedresser so that more fruit can be produced. Without the vine the branches cannot produce fruit, hence the need to abide. In order to experience consistent fruitfulness, perpetual abiding is vital.
To abide is to continue, to be present, to remain, to tarry, and to endure. If we understand what abiding entails, then we are guaranteed exceeding fruitfulness and overflowing abundance.
Here are seven insights into abiding in Christ:
(1) Know the Vine: Jesus invited his disciples and by inference, each of us to abide in Him, as branches in the Vine.
(2) Know who you are: We sometimes erroneously overestimate ourselves. Rather, our dependence must be on Christ, to do what He has called us to do.
(3) You qualify to abide because you have been justified by grace: Our qualification is simply as a result of Christ’s prerogative – the gift of righteousness, which the Lord has endowed on us (See Romans 3:24).
(4) Abiding In Christ is an invitation to you: This cannot be achieved by our own strength, experience or efforts. Abiding can simply be achieved by our faith in Christ. In His word is the fulfilment, similar to Peter’s experience when he walked on water after Jesus’ command (See Matthew 14:29). Whatever Christ gives you to do will require your faith, and not your strength.
(5) Abiding is for Believers who are seeking rest: Abiding is an invitation to those who are weak enough to admit their need for Christ – trusting and depending on Him. Isaiah 55:1 reads: ‘Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free!’ (Also see Matthew 11:28-29). Christ invitation by inference excludes those who are self-assured and feel independent of God – quite a disadvantaged place to be. We need to give Christ our consent, so that He can do his work in us.
(6) The connection between the Vine and the Branches: As the branch connects to the vine, the life, power and fruitfulness of the vine is transferred to the branch through the Holy Spirit. John 6:63 reads: ‘It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life’.
(7) Overflowing Abundance: The daily inflowing of the power of the Holy Spirit causes the branch to bring forth fruit. All that the branch possesses belongs to the vine. The branch does not bear fruit of itself, but does so in order to proclaim the excellence of the vine. Jesus is the real Vine, bearing and nourishing the branches, so that it can bear fruit, showing forth the riches of the glory of the vine.
This metaphor is played out in the life of Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan. 2 Samuel 9 gives us the full picture of this story. Here is verse 6-11. ‘So David sent for him and brought him from Makir’s home. His name was Mephibosheth; he was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect. David said, “Greetings, Mephibosheth.” Mephibosheth replied, “I am your servant.” “Don’t be afraid!” David said. “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!” Mephibosheth bowed respectfully and exclaimed, “Who is your servant, that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?” Then the king summoned Saul’s servant Ziba and said, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and servants are to farm the land for him to produce food for your master’s household. But Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, will eat here at my table.” (Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) Ziba replied, “Yes, my lord the king; I am your servant, and I will do all that you have commanded.” And from that time on, Mephibosheth ate regularly at David’s table, like one of the king’s own sons.’
Mephibosheth represents the branch offered an invitation to the Vine (to the palace). It was simply an act of grace, not out of what He did, or merited. He simply showed up at the palace. From that point onwards, he enjoyed the benevolence that was offered to him perpetually. In the same way, the Vine offers us all that we need to live a life of overflowing abundance. All we need to do is to totally depend on the Vine, by faith. Trust in the Vine as you receive the abundance of His blessings through the ministry of the Spirit.
Here are 4 hindrances to abiding in the Vine: A sinful lifestyle, Guilt, Unworthiness and Lack of revelation. We can overcome each of them by (a) Avoid a lifestyle of sin: The devil often uses the platform to attack us with condemnation. The blood of Jesus has dealt with past sin. Now live in the righteousness of God (See 1 John 1:9-10). (b) If dealing with guilt, be rest assured that the blood set you free from guilt (See Romans 8:1-3). (c) If feeling unworthy, spend time renewing your mind in the word (See John 15:3), and receive the love of God (Romans 5:7-10) and lastly, (d) Give time to God’s word: He is the source of all knowledge and revelation (see Hosea 4:6).
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