Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bible Study John 15:1-8 Vine & Fruits - Keys to Success

This passage is commonly known as the parable of the vine. But I feel it lacks the punch. I use parable in my teaching of Corporate Performance Management. It holds the keys to creating sustainable performance and growth both for an individual and a corporation. I prefer to name it "The Parable of Vine and Fruit - Keys to Success".  Jesus is telling us how to bear fruits. The key is connecting to the source the vine. Let's start from the beginning.

A key verse is John 15:2, most translations have it as:
(KJV) Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away G142 airo

A check with the Strong Concordance gives it two possible meaning:
   1. take up or lift up
   2. take out or take away.

Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abund...

see Heb 12:6-8.

Q2 Describe what the Gardener does to the different types of branches. What do they signify?

Type 1 Branch: Does not bear fruit.
  • Action: Lift it up.
  • Meaning: 
    • Branch on the ground covered with dirt, blocked from the sunlight, may not grow well and bear no fruit. They need to be lifted up from the dirt, be exposed to the sun, that they may grow well and bear fruit.
    • The Gardener Father first investigate the cause and then take corrective action. Hence, I prefer the lift-up rather than the take-out translation. 
  • Application:
    • Don't be too quick to fire your non-productive staff. Find out the reasons why they are not productive. Apply the 6M thinking - Man, Machine, Method, Measurement, Materials and Environment. Man is only one of the factor of production. The staff who is not doing well could be due to factors beyond his control like poor materials, machine that break down often, or may be he was not even trained well for the job etc.
Type 2 Branch: Bear some fruit with potential to bear more fruit.
  • Action: Prune it.
  • Meaning:
    • The branch is producing some fruit. But the branch is also producing lots of leaves. The energy are not channeled to producing fruit but to produce other things for show. A management guru said that "good is the enemy of best". God may take away what we think is good now only to give us and to bring us to something better.
  • Application:
    • Energy not channel to producing the objective - the fruits, are called waste. We may be very busy doing all kinds of things. But not all activities are contributing to the 'making fruit' objective. Such activities need to be cut off so that the energy and other resources can be used to produce the strategic mission of producing fruits. We are good at doing what we think is good for God without consulting God. Then we turn around and blame God for not blessing our work for Him! Activities that promote our own selfish agendas against God's will are waste and need to cut off. Pruning creates focus and alignment towards achievement of God's objective - bearing fruits.
    • Being too comfortable in our present situation will cause us to stagnate and regress. It is good that we are 'pruned', given a jerk, a new challenge, so that we may continue to grow up to be better. If a papaya is not bearing fruit, a recommended procedure is to drill a hole through its stem!
Q3 How do we know what and how to prune?
v3 tells us that by Jesus' Word we are clean. We are pruned by following His teachings. 2Tim 3:16 tells us the various uses of Scriptures (See Bible Study 2Timothy 3 Living in the End Times.). Psalm 1:1-3 tells us the fruitfulness of keeping God's Words.

v4 Abide in Jesus.  Be connected to Jesus. Be in His presence - to talk to Him and to gain direction from Him. He will guide us and coach us about what are the important and useful things (from God's perspective and not us) to do.

v5 Tells us if we are not connected to and directed by Jesus, we cannot do anything useful for God. See We can do Nothing apart from Jesus.
v7 tell us abiding include abiding in Jesus' words (ie. study and practice the Bible and not just praying only).  There is the assurance that in abiding, we can ask anything and it shall be done for us. Vine, the source, also provide the energy and resources for us to do the work that He wanted. That is the grace power of God. see "Grace is Unmerited Favor" - This common definition is wrong.

Q4 What happen to those that are not connected to the Vine?
Branches not connected to the Vine will eventually withered, died and dried up. They are only useful for burning. 

The original purpose of the vine is for producing fruits and not for burning.
If we do not connect to the Source and abide in Him, we loose our purpose, become used to Him, and deviate and degrade our purpose and become firewood. Even worse, vines are poor firewood being not created for it. We can see this lost of our purpose and our value in Matt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. In 2Tim 2:20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Our works will be like woods and hays that are burnt off as in 1Cor 3:12-15.

Perhaps, we can extend a further bit and said that Jesus used this illustration in v6 to tell us that men without Jesus will go to hell.

However, this verse is not about loosing our salvation. Some people use this verse to show that Christians not obeying the commandments will loose their salvation and be cast to hell. But this is not what Jesus is saying. We are saved by Jesus while we are yet sinners. On the other hand, if we say we are saved and yet not abiding in Jesus and His words, then we need to examine our heart and intention. Are we believing rightly and are connected to the true vine of Jesus?

Q5 What is the Father's objective?
v8 tells that our Father is glorified by the fruits we bear. If we are truly Jesus' disciples, then we should bear fruit to glorify our Father.

In summary, we have the following key words

Mission: Glorify God by Producing Godly Fruits

(John Piper said that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. Please note that God is glorified through us - we are the glory of God!)

Strategy: Abide in the Vine - Jesus
- be connected to Jesus
- get guidance
- follow His words

Development & Growth:
- Measure: quantity and quality of fruits.
- Develop the weak
- Prune the Capable
   - Cut Waste
   - Focus resources on growing fruits

   Lots of fruits that bring glory to God.

No comments: