Gospel Values: Spiritual Growth (John 15)


What were the first words God said to man?

“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…” Genesis 1:28

What were the last words Jesus said to man before returning to Heaven?

“Go and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:18

What is the purpose of life and salvation?

“Everyone who is called by my name…I created for my glory” Isaiah 43:7

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

Jesus said, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples… You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (John 15:8, 16).

The grand purpose of life is to multiply our lives (produce fruit) for the glory of God.

EXAMINE                         John 15:1-17

We have been looking at GOSPEL Values – priorities for us as Christians and church members. So far we have examined teachings on [Knowing] God and [Loving] Others. Today’s is on valuing Spiritual Growth. This passage will help us understand meaning and methods of spiritual growth.

Spiritual growth is not salvation.

This section of Scripture is known as Jesus’ farewell teaching. These are important teachings and words for all followers of Jesus. John 15 contains the last of Jesus’ “I Am” statements[1], with this one “I am the true vine.” Jesus then tells the disciples they are branches in need of pruning, but that they are already clean (v.3; “katharoi: pure, without spot). They are clean because of the word spoken to them. It is not that they are without sin but that their sins have been cleansed because of their reception of the word – Jesus. Remember, in John’s theology, Jesus is associated as the Word becoming flesh (1:1-3, 14).

At this point, it is helpful to understand the difference between theological terms justification and sanctification. Wayne Grudem defines the former as “an instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight.”[2] In other words, justification is our permanent position of acceptance in Jesus Christ before God. Additionally, sanctification is defined by Grudem as “a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.”[3] In other words, sanctification is the practice of living out the spiritual truth of justification. Justification is immediate and complete; sanctification is a process of growth.

What is important is that though these doctrines are to be distinguished from each other; neither is to be separated from one another. Justification leads to sanctification. The Christian life and church are not museums of sainthood but hospitals for broken sinners to receive healing and be sent out in health and as givers of hope.

*Illus. silly: It’s like chocolate and peanut butter. Individually they are good but together present a delightful blend of tastes never meant to be separated!

To Remember:

ð      Acceptance with God is by grace not spiritual growth. Church attendance, spiritual disciplines, righteous living are all good things but they are not salvific. Only faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ provides salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).

ð      Justification leads to salvation. It’s not a works salvation but a salvation that works. In other words, if you are not growing in your walk with Jesus (hating sin, loving God) and producing fruit then your salvation is questionable (Ephesians 2:10).

  • Jesus said, “every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away and prunes… If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.” 15:2, 6
    • Note: This is not affirming you can lose salvation, but rather showing it never existed!
  • James said, “’You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works…You see faith [is] active along with works and faith [is] completed by works.” (2:18, 22)
  • Does your life reflect the character and commands of Christ?


Spiritual growth is surrendered living.

Throughout this passage the word and instruction repeated (11X) for the disciples is to “abide”. The word implies continuation and to progressively remain. Jesus reminds the disciples that if they are to exemplify His life, produce fruit and glorify the Father then they must abide in Jesus. If they do not abide they can do nothing (v.5) or even worse, they could possibly be those that are rejecting Christ, standing in condemnation and judgment.[4] To abide in Jesus is to surrender all for the glory of God.

“unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:24-25

µ      God seeks disciples who are dead to this world but alive to Him. They understand that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Php 1:21). Surrender and submission to Christ are not viewed as second class living but is where fulfillment and joy are found. Jesus says:

15:7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.”

15:11 “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.”

15:14 “You are my friends if you do what I command.”

Surrendered – Abiding living results in fruit. Observations of fruit: 1) Visible. 2) Others Consume & Enjoy its benefits

Visible & Other-Enjoyed Fruit

ð      Are you abiding through fellowship? (accountable small group relationships)

  • Loving others, end suffering both physical (ministry) & eternal (evangelism)
    • Each Small Group adopt a partner mission (school/nursing, SPAN, SPPC, OBD, BCMD/NAMB/IMB)

ð      Are you abiding through serving? (Discover SHAPE for serving – Wednesdays)

ð      Are you abiding through giving? (treasure = heart, Matt 6:21)

µ      God prunes disciples who are alive to this world but asleep toward Him. It is interesting that the same word Jesus used to describe the disciples as clean is the same word in verbal form, meaning to purge or cleanse. God’s cleansing is both for justifying and sanctifying. In fact, those whom belong to Christ should expect such cleansing; it is called discipline.
Hebrews 12:5-12 “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”

  • Corrie Ten Boom “I’ve learned to hold everything loosely, because it hurts when God pries my fingers apart and takes them from me.”



TESTIMONY on sanctification & spiritual growth

I have been struggling with a “cold” heart or maybe desensitized is a better way to think of it, towards God and His Spirit. I think for so long I have been doing the “justification” for decisions I have made that eventually I stopped hearing the Spirit and His guidance in most situations. I also have been struggling with the questions, how do I get to know You better (speaking of God), why don’t You make Yourself known to me, and how do I see You with the eyes of my heart… in reality I was looking for God to do all the work in mine and His relationship. What I have really come to realize is; Obviously, relationships aren’t a one way street, why should I expect my relationship with God to be one?I struggled with studying the Bible and the idea of meditation, I think mainly because I didn’t really understand the Bible or the idea of meditation… Every time I am at [SPBC], God confirms to me this is where I am suppose to be. I am being drawn to Him more and more. I am starting to be motivated to really get to know God, not just have all the “right” answers anymore (because of growing up in such a heavy Christian influence), but really know who God is in my life and know who I am to

Him. I want to fill my heart with His love and be secure in Him.


ð      Will you join with persons like this testimony in spiritual growth and abiding in Jesus?

  • It starts, continues and ends through faith in the gospel
    Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

[1] Here are all 7: I Am the bread of life (6:35); I am the light of the world (8:12); I am the gate (10:7); I am the resurrection and the life (11:25); I am the way, the truth and the life (14:6); I am the true vine (15:1).

[2] Bible Doctrine, 316.

[3] Ibid.,       .

[4] Cf. 3:18; 8:21, 24; 12:25, 48; 15:6; 17:12.

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