Focal Passages: John 15:1-8; Romans 6:1-14; Galatians 2:11-21
When it comes to living the Christian life every believer must come to the place wherein they realize it is impossible to live the Christian life. Why? Only Jesus can live the life that the Father requires. He lived once and He will live it again through His own. This is good news of the good news — Jesus will live the life that God demands and that our heart yearns for, He will live it through us. He alone makes the impossible Christian life to be lived out of the context of our lives. This life is made possible only by our union with the Lord Jesus. This is the point of our Scripture portions for this lesson. How can this union take place?
In John 15 Jesus gives a picture of a vine bearing fruit. He explains why the fruit comes. A vine buds and develops fruit due to its connectedness. As in a vine the branches must be vitally attached to the root to bear fruit, so must a believer be vitally attached to the Lord Jesus if they are to produce fruit. If a branch is not vitally connected the caretaker of the vine will cut off the branch which does not produce fruit, even though it is a part of the vine system.
Was Jesus saying we lose our salvation? No, He was saying that we indeed lose many things due to not being vitally connected with Him, but it is not salvation. The saddest of all is that it means that our life is useless to our Lord and His kingdom when we are not vitally connected. All the while we may be a part of the vine system (the true church) there was possibility for our life to bear fruit for His glory, yet no fruit comes due to the lack of our union with Him.
In Romans 6 Paul draws attention to lifestyle, that is, the way we live. He asks if it is right and proper for a believer to presume on the grace of God by living to please self and the flesh. He notes that God forbids this kind of lifestyle. He elevates the newness of lifestyle for the believer. It is noted that this new lifestyle comes as we reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God through our connectedness to our Lord Jesus.
In Galatians 2:11-21 Paul draws attention to a life situation between him and Peter. Peter was socially treating those with favor who believed that physical circumcision was important for coming into a relationship with God. He was then disrespectful to those who did not believe that circumcision was important. Peter was not living the gospel. To do so requires a vital relationship with God. Peter did repent and come into union with the Lord Jesus.
He points out how we have this union and vital relationship with the LORD – it is by taking our place alongside our Lord on His cross. It is crucifixion, a dying to our self and God raises us. We live a new life due to His life in us.
Paul gives a challenging comment at the end of the chapter. He says he did not frustrate the grace of God in his life. The word, frustrate, means to make void. We make void God’s grace in our life when we are not vitally connected to our Lord Jesus. Is He living in and through you? Are you bearing fruit for His glory? If not, why not, if you claim to be His?
— Hartley is pastor of First Baptist Church, Jamestown.