October 22, 2023
Guest Speaker: Deanna Margel
Service of the Word: Twentyfirst Sunday after Pentecost
Psalm 96:1–9 (10–13)
1 Thes 1:1–10
Law: Faith Beyond Belief Blog entry: Necessary Medicine But No One Wants to Take It
Gospel: From Martin Luther Faith Beyond Belief Devotional
Remaining on the Vine
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I
in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
By saying that believers remain in him and he in them, Jesus is making it clear that Christianity is not something we put on externally. We don’t put it on like clothes. We don’t adopt it as a new lifestyle that focuses on our own efforts, as do those who practice a holy lifestyle they have invented themselves. Rather, Christian faith is a new birth brought about by God’s Word and Spirit. A Christian must be a new person from the depths of the heart. Once the heart is born anew in Christ, these fruits will follow: confession of the gospel, love, obedience, patience, purity, and so on.
In this passage, Christ warns his disciples that they must remain in his Word. Remaining in the Word leads to genuine, newborn Christians. These true Christians produce much fruit. They guard themselves from the teaching that perverts God’s Word and that tries to make grapes from thistles and thorns. This will never happen, however, because each kind produces its own kind. Even if you teach about, strive for, and pile up good works, your nature won’t change. You must first possess a new nature. You won’t accomplish anything by striving and exhausting yourself.
The two types of works remain vastly different. The one type of work is produced by human effort, while the other grows naturally. The works we make up always require us to strive harder, but they never do as well as natural growth. In contrast, natural growth stands, moves, lives, and does what it should naturally. So Christ says, “All other human teaching cannot succeed, because it instructs people to make up works. But if you remain in me, as natural branches remain on the vine, you will certainly produce good fruit.”