Explore the Bible Study: Remain in Me

8:30 PM

When it comes to pruning grapes, the most common mistake people make is not pruning heavily enough. The Explore the Bible Study: Remain in Me, focuses on John 15 where Jesus uses the portrait of a grapevine, branches in need of pruning, a gardener, and the production of good fruit. Jesus explains how one who remains in Christ will provide evidence in the way that they live.

Remaining in Christ produces fruit – John 15:1-8

During this part of the conversation, Jesus described Himself as the TRUE vine. This refers to the Old Testament passage where the vine came to symbolize Israel. Sadly, Israel could never be the TRUE vine because they were corrupt. Jeremiah 2:21 states this about Israel, “I planted you, a choice vine from the very best seed. How then could you turn into a degenerate, foreign vine?” 

Jesus addresses his listeners in this context. He was explaining to them that He was not like Israel but was the True Vine and God, the Father, was the Vine Dresser or Gardener. The disciples would have recognized this reference.

Jesus also contrasted two types of branches – branches that bear fruit and branches that don’t bear fruit.

Notice how the branches that bear fruit are described in verses 2, 5, and 8. Jesus describes the fruit-bearing branches as remaining in Him. Those who remain in Christ are like these branches. They are trimmed and pruned so that they will produce more fruit. When the branches that are grafted into the vine are pruned by the Gardener (God), they will produce more and better-quality fruit. 

As much as the Father does through the Son to bring about fruitfulness in those who abide in the vine, it’s hard to comprehend that some have no desire to produce fruit. Look what the Gardener (the Father) does for those who are fruitless.

The term “does not remain in me” in verse 6 is not a reference to someone who loses his salvation. It is about someone who never truly received Christ. They may have even made a profession of faith at some point but have no evidence of fruit. 

Keep in mind the events of that night. Judas was one who appeared to be a part of the vine. He walked with Jesus, followed Jesus, listened to Jesus, but in the end, he rejected and betrayed Jesus. Earlier Jesus also taught Peter that most in the room were already clean, but there was one who was not, Judas. He repeats this reminder in this passage, 3 “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” 4 “Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.” As Jesus discussed the importance of abiding or remaining in Him, He declared the disciples clean. 

Jesus states that the branches that don’t bear fruit are taken away, allowed to wither, picked up, thrown in fire, and are burned. He is referring to those who reject the message of Christ; thus they don’t remain in Him. They are the ones who have only known superficially the ways of Christ or who have dabbled with God but have never been grafted into the vine.

While the fruitless branches are set aside and destroyed, the gardener prunes the ones that are fruitful. The act of pruning was not intended to punish these branches. Rather, pruning stimulates growth and leads to more fruit. 

How would you define the fruit to which Jesus is referring? What type of fruit do you desire for your life as a believer to produce? How do you think the Father prunes you so that you can produce this kind of fruit? 

Jesus did not go into specifics about what the fruit would be, but it could include some of the following:

  • Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • The fruit of evangelism.
  • The fruit of thanksgiving.
  • The fruit of generosity. 
  • The “fruit of righteousness” (Hebrew 12:11). 

In any case, we can surmise it relates to following Christ and obeying Him. Jesus knew that if His disciples would keep that strong connection to Him, they would naturally produce fruit that pleases Him.  Finally, Jesus didn’t only say we’d be limited if we didn’t remain in Him. He said we could do nothing without Him.

Truly remaining or abiding in Christ not only produces fruit; it brings joy.

Remaining in Christ Brings Joy – John 15:9-11

When you read the phrase, “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you,” what are your thoughts about the way God loves?

Jesus focuses on the topic of love—both His love for us and our love for others—and how that love produces joy. That joy is only made complete through the joy we have by remaining (abiding) in Christ. His joy in us, makes our joy complete!

How would you define complete joy? Why is it important to define what joy really is? What kind of approaches might we be tempted to take to pursue what we believe is complete joy? What did Jesus say was the criteria for experiencing His joy? (Love and obedience)

Here is the progression. Keeping Jesus’ commands keeps us in His love, which keeps us connected to Him, which leads to much fruit, which produces joy. Like dominoes, if something is missing along the way, the whole chain stops.

Considering the dominoes described, is there something missing along the way that is robbing you of the joy that Christ desires for you to have?

The joy we have in Christ, while centered in remaining in Christ’s love, produces love for others.

Remaining in Christ Means We Can Love as Christ Loved – John 15:12-17

Why did Jesus say He called them His friends? Do you have this kind of friendship with other believers? Is it difficult for us to have this kind of friendship today? If so, why? How difficult is it for us to obey the command to “love one another”?

The only way we can have this kind of friendship with others, especially believers, is to remain or abide in Christ. This is something we will work on our entire lives as we continue to learn how to remain in Christ.

Are You Remaining In Christ?

Remaining in Christ for one who claims to follow Christ is not something we do because we seek justification before God. As believers we are justified because of salvation that only comes through Christ. What we are doing as believers when we are striving to remain in Christ is something called sanctification. We are daily striving to become more like Christ. If this isn’t taking place, then one must ask oneself if there is any evidence that they are truly a fruit-bearing branch or rather a branch that isn’t truly connected to the vine.

Consider your walk with Christ. Are you:

  • Producing good fruit?
  • Experiencing joy that is only complete in Christ?
  • Loving others as Christ loved you?

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. 

Download PDF Version

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LifeWay Explore The Bible Resources

These teaching helps are intended to be used as a supplement to your study of Lifeway's Explore the Bible curriculum resources. Portions of this material are taken directly from content copyrighted to Lifeway Christian Resources Explore the Bible and is used with permission.  This material has not been reviewed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 

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