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The Vine and the Branches revisited

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On one hand we have a verse like...

John 15:5; "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

This verse can be taken two ways. Some Calvinists would focus on the "apart from me you can do nothing" and take this to mean all fruit from the vine is good.
However we see this isn't really the case. The next verse shows that it takes more than being a branch, "abiding in Christ" is also a requirement.

John 15:6; "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

We see a similar parable in Luke 13.

Luke 13:6; And He began telling this parable: "A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any.
Luke 13:7; "And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?'
Luke 13:8; "And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer;
Luke 13:9; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'"

Jesus is the vine, the roots if you will. If we uproot a tree from the earth, it can do nothing on it's own ( John 15:5; ). The tree will wither and die.
A tree needs soil, water, sunshine, nourishment, and possibly even fertilizer ( Luke 13:8; ). Even so, Christians need to abide in Christ ( the true vine John 15:1; )
But even if a tree has these things, it can still bear bad fruit or no fruit. In the end it comes down to the tree itself. In Luke 13 we see the tree was tended in the vineyard.
It was even fertilized and watered. That doesn't stop some trees from bearing bad fruit or no fruit.

Matt 3:10;
Matt 7:17-19;
Matt 12:33;
Luke 6:43-44;

Matt 21:19 is interesting in that if a tree does not bear fruit for a long enough time, Jesus made sure it would never bear fruit.


  • To be a branch of the vine is to be a "Born Again" Christian with Christ in you.
  • Applying all the fertilizer you want makes no difference for a non-beleiver.
  • If you are a true branch, you bear Christs fruit and not your own. It is the same thing as without works you faith is dead; it is not your work.
  • In either case, in the end, if you do not have Christ in you are separated out for destruction.
The barren fig tree is about Israel - the fig tree was a symbol for Israel (Jer 24:2-8), and the fig tree being cursed and died is referring to the destruction of the temple and the nation of Israel. This is because they did not produce any fruit to satisfy God's plan.
The vine refers to the church.
To abide in the vine is conditional and it means to have Christ in us AND for us to be in Christ, which means to live in the Spirit.
Jesus' instruction to "abide in Christ" in the gospels and "live in the Spirit" in Paul's instructions is referring to the same thing.
According to John 15:6 it is possible for a believer to NOT abide in Christ and they are then burnt in the fire.
This is also confirmed by Romans 11:22-23 and nearby verses.
But does burnt in the fire mean loss of salvation?
No, it refers to the persons works being burnt up, but they are still saved as through fire (1 Cor 3:15, Heb 6:8).
The things which are burnable by fire are the things which are not of Christ (wood, hay, stubble).
Only Christ is the pure gold and eternal One who cannot be destroyed by fire.
So whatever is in our being or our works which is not of Christ is burnable.
As long as Christ lives in us we can have some hope that we cannot be destroyed completely.
But the unbelievers who do not have Christ in them will suffer loss of their entire being.
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