Do We Know About Being
Partners In The Lord's Work?
The task before us is great; but we do not face it alone. We are partners with Jesus Christ in this great work. Jesus died on the cross so we could join with Him in the greatest work in the world. Once we are saved we become partners in the Lord's work of seeking and saving the lost. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
The greatest event in history was God sending His Son in order that we might have life through Him. "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:30-31) Man's response to God's great demonstration of love should be that we become partners in the Lord's work. In the gospel of John chapter 15 John describes those who are partners with Jesus in His work.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” (John 15:1-8)
We know that partners with Jesus in His work recognize the rightful place of the Lord. Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser." (John 15:1) In the Old Testament Israel was described as God's vine. "You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it." (Psalm 80:8) Christ is the true vine and each Christian, as a branch, derives their life from Him. "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4) In Paul’s great Mar’s Hill sermon the same truth was set forth in the words, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” (Acts 17:28) As partners with Jesus in His work we must recognize that our life, both physically and spiritually, is totally dependent on Jesus Christ.
Recognizing the place of Jesus also means recognizing the place of God. God is eternal (Psalm 90:2), God is all-powerful (Genesis 1:3), God is good (James 1:17), God is near (Acts 17:27), and God is love. (1 John 4:8) How tragic that our great God is so often ignored.
The Father is the owner of the vineyard. He planted the vineyard and He is the vinedresser. He cares for His vineyard to the end that it may bear much fruit.
We know that partners with Jesus in His work must be pruned branches. Jesus said, "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." (John 15:2) As Christians we must be fruitful branches. From a grape vine we look for grapes and from a Christians we likewise look for fruit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.’ (Galatians 5:22-23) Christians must bear fruit because the fruitless branch will be taken away. The fruit bearing branch will be pruned. Anything that would hinder fruitfulness must be removed. God is working and we must be working to remove from our lives all that will hinder growth and fruitfulness.
We know that partners with Jesus are clean through His word. Jesus said, "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." (John 15:3) This is the cleansing that takes place as one hears the word (Romans 10:17), believes the word concerning Jesus (John 8:24), repents of sins as taught in the word (Luke 13:3), confesses the faith in Jesus which was produced by the word (Romans 10:9-10) and is baptized in obedience to God's word. (Mark 16:16) "In Christ" a person has been cleansed and forgiven of sins. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) The faith by which they received the word of God purified their heart. “And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:9)
There is cleansing power in the word of God as it works corruption out of our lives.
We know that partners with Jesus abide in Him. Jesus said, "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." (John 15:4) A branch detached from the vine will be both fruitless and unable to survive. Even after becoming a Christian a person must abide in Christ. Man has freedom of will. He must choose to abide in Christ. The branch is helpless without the benefit of the vine. It cannot bear fruit. Without Jesus in our lives we too will be fruitless.
We know that partners with Jesus bear much fruit. Jesus said, "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." (John 15:5) Separated from Christ we can do nothing. We must abide in Him in order to do much good. Those who bear "much fruit" maintain that precious relationship with Christ. They "abide" in Him and thus bear fruit.
This verse is talking about an individual Christian. Some have tried to use this verse to refer to denominations as different branches. This is in direct opposition to plain Bible teaching. The New Testament teaches that there is one church, the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:4) Christ is head of that one church and every individual Christian is a member of that one church. (Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27) There is one church just as there is one true vine!
We know that partners with Jesus are protected from destruction. Jesus warned, "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." (John 15:6) The consequences of failing to be a partner with Jesus are fatal. Without Christ we wither like a broken off branch. The cause of the unfruitfulness is a failure to abide in the vine. It is the personal responsibility of each branch to abide in the vine and be fruitful. A failure to do so leads to a horrible end. There are just two choices, bear fruit or burn.
We know that partners with Jesus are blessed with answered prayers. Jesus said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." (John 15:7) Our relationship with Christ is maintained through the word of God abiding in us. When the word of Christ dwells in us richly, then Christ dwells in us. (Colossians 3:16) In Christ we can have our hearts desire because those truly in Christ will want nothing but that which is good. James writes, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." (James 4:3) Those who live pray according to God's will and pray according to God's will are heard when they pray. "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." (1 John 5:14)
We know that partners with Jesus glorify the Father by bearing much fruit. Jesus said, "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." (John 15:8) God is the vinedresser and His desire is that we bear much fruit. Our Heavenly Father is glorified when we manifest godliness in our daily living. There must never be a day in life when we fail to think about Jesus and to act to His glory.
If you are not a Christian the most urgent thing for you today is gospel obedience. To become a Christian hear the gospel (John 6:44-45), believe in God and in His Son Jesus (Hebrews 11:6), repent of sins (2 Peter 3:9), confess Christ as Lord (Matthew 10:32-33), and be baptized into Christ. (Romans 6:3-4) Once in Christ abide in Him and bear much fruit. In doing this you will glorify God and be prepared for heaven.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA