John 15:1-27 NLTse “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. (2) He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. (3) You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. (4) Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. (5) “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. (6) Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. (7) But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! (8) When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (9) “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. (10) When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. (11) I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! (12) This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. (13) There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (14) You are my friends if you do what I command. (15) I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. (16) You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. (17) This is my command: Love each other. (18) “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. (19) The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. (20) Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. (21) They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me. (22) They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. (23) Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. (24) If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. (25) This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’ (26) “But I will send you the Advocate–the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. (27) And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.
Before we begin looking at this chapter, let’s remember this is the third chapter in John’s book describing the events at that dinner. Jesus could have stayed in Heaven on His throne, but He decided to come to this world to live among the only people covered in sin, and for the most part, made the decision to live in sin. A brief review of the Old Testament, especially the books of Kings, and Chronicles will show you how far sin spread. It didn’t get better by the time Jesus came to this world. Sin may have gotten worse.
One of the things men try to convince themselves of is, they are more civilized than the previous generation. They may be more prosperous, but they are closing their eyes or looking at this world with blinders on if they think this more civilized world sins any less than previous generations. To see the effects of sin, you have to carefully go back and examine what sins were committed, and look at their effects. Pollution is one example.
Remember how pollution began showing effects in the 1960’s and 1970’s? Governments passed a few laws, ordered a few clean ups, and allocated some funds to deal with the problems. By the year 2000, all of that seemed to go away. Why? Computers became an intricate part of business as well as society. The computer industry became the worst polluter the world has seen. You can search the Internet to see how many toxic substances are produced by the computer industry. Why has the pollution problem gone away as far as governments are concerned? Money. Some of the richest people in the world are involved in the computer industry. Society has been trained to look up to those men and worship them.
The manufacture of computers and their components has been mostly transferred to some of the poorest countries in this world. Why? The people are easy to control and for the most part, do not protest the effects of pollution in their environment. Look at the air quality in China. Very little is reported about the water quality, but it is far worse than anything the United States experienced during the height of the auto industry.
We can look at other examples such as the oil industry who has been responsible for the majority of wars and conflicts in this world since WWII. Not to mention new technology developed to extract oil. It is not a new technology, but one that was banned years ago. It involves pumping water into wells to force oil higher, which makes it easier to extract. The problem is, fifty years ago people realized this process not only depleted water in nearby wells, but polluted those wells once the water resettled to it’s original levels. We are seeing those effects again, but are told it is a small price to pay for progress.
Health care is another subject. It has become so expensive, people can no longer afford it. The United States created a monopoly in this industry to control prices which have only increased over the past twenty years. They’ve also passed laws making anyone using government provided health care a ward of the state. Everything those people own goes to the state when they die. The state is the only heir.
So if you think this civilized society sins less than previous generations, you had better take a long look at how nature has been raped and people have been enslaved. If you can’t see it, you are most likely a beneficiary of what this world terms success. God looks at that as the wrong choice. The Bible terms it as a slave to this world.
We also have to look back at how John led into this part of the story. Remember, this is one long story and we can never hope to understand one part of the story if we don’t look at it as a whole. “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going. (John 14:27-31 NLTse).
Here is one of the most important Bible Study steps you want to learn and use:
Always look back to see how the author led into the event at hand. Most of us know in original scripture, neither the Old or New Testaments were divided into chapters and verses. That came much later. That has little to do with this rule, but to understand scripture, we have to look for patterns. One of those is how the author lead from one event to the next.
The main theme leading into this parable about the vine is not to worry. Jesus is offering peace of mind, something this world is unable to provide. Jesus ended on a stage thought, actually a direction. “Come, let’s be going.” Where are they going? Some people may think it is a physical move to another location. John failed to include those details. The very next words John recorded was the parable about the vine. Why? The summary to this chapter may provide a clue.
This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’ “But I will send you the Advocate–the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.
We can see the theme in this chapter centers on the parable of the vine and testifying about Jesus. It also centers on the Advocate–the Spirit of truth. With all of those details in mind, we can look at the parable of the vine in the introduction. Once we understand it, the rest of the chapter should open up like a book.
This is one of the most important Bible Study rules of context you want to learn and use:
The introduction and summation of each chapter establishes the main theme, thought, and lesson on the chapter. Themes may be established by key words, thoughts, or contrasts.
John 15:1-8 NLTse “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. (2) He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. (3) You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. (4) Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. (5) “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. (6) Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. (7) But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! (8) When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
Considering everything that’s been written about this vine, you would think it’s difficult to see anything new in this simple parable. But here is the power of prayer. Not a one way communication with God, but a heart felt request for a vision from the Creator of the universe.
We can first consider the physical attributes of a vine and how they are achieved. At the beginning of the parable, Jesus pointed out, “my Father is the gardener.” That would be the person responsible for all aspects of the vine. He protects it, waters it in times of drought, and what we see in the parable, trims the vine. It’s always interesting to look at the Greek meaning of some of the words. In this case, the Greek word used for gardener comes from a root word indicating a person who works with soil. This reminds us as well as links us back to God forming Adam. The Greek word shows a close connection between the man and soil he is working with.
Wild vines grow in all directions. Their goal is to produce leaves to gather in more sun to make more branches and leaves. The only problem is, new leaves filter out, or block sun from leaves under it. That’s also the reason vines spread out. If they have room to spread, the vine is not hampering itself. If it is restricted, the vine will eventually kill off older leaves and branches by literally starving them to death. Why does a vine grow that way? It’s original intent is to cover and kill off competing vegetation. Man has learned to control that growth and use it to his advantage.
The wild vine illustrates this world showing how it competes for an advantage over every living thing. We can see how this lesson is a contrast to Jesus washing the disciples feet. Jesus is using a new illustration, or examples to show what God does to eliminate those competitive attributes we humans seem to thrive on. This shows how important it is to look back at the conversation as a whole. John’s book is a great example showing not only how the lessons build, but how previous lessons and stories reveal details we would have missed.
We can continue to look at a physical vine. This time we’ll look at a vine trained to produce a crop of sweet grapes. The wild vine produces wild, sour grapes. A vine that is trained and cared for produces sweet grapes. I’m not sure how it happens on the inside of the vine or what produces the transformation. It may be due to chemicals produced within a wild vine. Dying branches could produce toxic substances the vine transfers to the fruit. When we look at this from a spiritual aspect, we can see how a vine is a perfect illustration of how one part of this world or society effects, in this case poisons others.
Rich oppressing poor like the top leaves killing off lower leaves is an illustration of how this world has been conditioned to operate. We can’t see exactly what is happening inside the vine to understand what turned the grapes sour. The same is true in society. We have to look below the surface to understand how oppression produces sour or poisonous results in business, society, and effects our spiritual fruit.
The experienced gardener knows exactly how to work with a vine. At a certain stage in the vine’s growth, the top is cut off and side branches trimmed. The gardener knows how many branches and leaves the vine requires to survive, and thrive. At a certain height, two main branches are developed. They are supported by a structure that determines the height and growth pattern of the vine. Two main branches develop along the structure. Some people point out the shape resembles a cross. But that’s not it. That’s not what this parable is pointing out. This parable is pointing out aspects introduced in previous stories and lessons. One branch representatives spiritual growth. The other is physical in a sense. While we are growing spiritually, we have to learn to cope with this world. That is the part that needs to be trimmed.
Once we turn to God and put our lives in His hands, like Jesus was teaching, using His life as an example, God cuts off branches of greed, deceit, covetousness, lies, slander, hatred, and other aspects in life that lead to not only sour fruit, but destruction. Those examples grow on the branch representing the physical side of our life in this world. Once we belong to God we can no longer be one type of person in church and other the rest of the week in the business world. God will not stand for a Christian to live life with a split personality. That is why Jesus used the illustration of cutting off a branch.
On the spiritual side God cuts off the preconceived ideas we carry with us. We’ve seen how His disciples had such a difficult time learning and why. God cuts away at those man made traditions and doctrines contrary to His personality. The things that will kill other branches and leaves. The things that lead to sour fruit.
God works both sides at the same time. Trimming one side, than the other so there is always a balance. This is very important. God does the trimming. Not us. Not a pastor. Not a committee. God is the gardener. This shows how people and man made concepts can ruin or kill a vine when they try to do the job themselves.
Once a branch is cut off, that’s it. “For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” A dead branch can’t do anything. When God cuts the desire to use underhanded methods to do business, that fruit it gone. When God cuts out spiritual misconceptions, don’t go back to them. They are dead. And don’t pick up those dead branches to beat people over the head with. That is just as dangerous.
“You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.” Jesus pointed us back to review what we should have learned. I mean, He pointed His disciples back. We have the chance to review details because they’ve been recorded for us. The disciples had to rely on memory. We can see how much good their memories served them.
“Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” There is something about remaining in Jesus. After all, Jesus repeated the word remain four times in this short parable and continued to repeat it throughout this entire lesson. We can make a list to see if it will reveal something important.
you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me
Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away
Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.
if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.
When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love
obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love
What do we see here? This list shows a transition. It begins with a choice. Remain with Christ and you’ll produce fruit. If you don’t, well read the list and see. There is a reward. Once you are in Christ, He will give you anything you ask. In other words, you’ll know what to ask for. Of course they will be things to help produce more fruit. And remember that we’ve learned about that trimming. Don’t bother asking for things that will have to be trimmed. There are a few conditions. You have to know Jesus’ love, which is linked to God’s commandments. God’s commandments and Jesus’ are the same.
We see the phrase about asking for things repeated. The first attached a condition. Jesus and His words have to be a part of you. The second time it is mentioned, Jesus added a few more details and conditions. “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.” Now that doesn’t seem so difficult does it?
That verse kind of struck a cord. Being single, I run into women looking for a relationship. All they want to be is loved. They want to be loved for themselves. It doesn’t surprise me, Jesus linked loving one another with asking God for things. I’ve noticed on profiles and in conversations, single women tend to ask things for themselves. I want this…. and a long list of what they want God to produce in a man. In conversation it is usually what they like to do, or what they didn’t like about their ex spouse. The topic of what branches need to be removed doesn’t seem to come up. They usually refer to their ex husband as the only branch they needed cut.
The most important point to this parable is the conclusion where Jesus explains how happy it make His Father when He sees someone producing good fruit. They become His disciples. I wonder why Jesus didn’t tell us to make God happy by producing good fruit. He makes us disciples, then He will give us whatever we ask for. Isn’t that how it actually works? Maybe God’s trusts us enough to give us something first and sees what we are going to do with it. Maybe that’s how it works?
Love Each Other
John 15:9-14 NLTse “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. (10) When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. (11) I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! (12) This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. (13) There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (14) You are my friends if you do what I command.
This is one set of verses everyone should understand. But how does it relate to the parable of the vine? If you look, you’ll see how that parable is flanked by texts about love. God’s love. “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.” (John 14:30-31 NLTse). Now that we’ve moved past the parable of the vine onto the next lesson, we can see how the phrase, “Come, let’s be going,” refers to a spiritual movement towards love. Now we can see how that trimming Jesus talked about refers to removing branches with leaves blocking out the Light. That explains the love Jesus is teaching.
Jesus pointed out the love between Him and His Father is equal. Jesus wants our love for Him and His Father to be equal. He wants us to get there and remain in that position. How do we remain in that position? It’s more difficult than most people think. We have to obey the commandments. We’ve all failed to one extent or another. Does that mean we can only feel a portion of that love? Is there a relationship or sort of scale between God’s love and how we keep His commandments? I think you have to take that up in a private discussion with Jesus.
Jesus wants us to feel that love He shares with His Father and the joy. We can see the word joy is not repeated here, but is located between love. I know when I talk to Jesus, I can feel that joy and His love. I wish I could keep all the commandments, but I am weak. No wonder Jesus showed we are only branches on that vine that represents Him. If it wasn’t for Jesus, we wouldn’t even know what we do wrong. He has His own personal way of telling you. It’s something you have to experience on your own. It’s not something I, or anyone else can explain. I’m not even sure if we find that love, or it finds us. When I look back on the parable of the good shepherd, he is the one who goes out and looks for that lost sheep.
No Longer Called Slaves
John 15:15-17 NLTse I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. (16) You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. (17) This is my command: Love each other.
Looking back at how Jesus explained your sins in a personal manner, we have an example to examine. Not an example of how Jesus discusses sins, but how He has a way of explaining details. Jesus has a way of making people feel comfortable. “ I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves.”
The topic of slavery is usually not a happy one. In this case, the lesson followed Jesus’ explanation of love and joy. Jesus is not teaching about slavery, but freedom in love. Jesus showed, we are not slaves only taking orders and speaking only when being spoken to. We have the right and obligation to approach Jesus in Heaven once we learn to free ourselves from this world. Jesus gives us the keys. Listen to the way God says Jesus is our link to God’s voice. “Obey God’s commandment and live in love and joy.”
We’re not only asked to produce fruit, but appointed. It is a position of great honor that places us in God’s presence, in His love. When we learn to move from this world to an understanding of Heaven, God, and His love, He gives us what we need to produce fruit.
What is that process? How do we ask God for what we need? How do we know what we need? How do we pray? How do we listen to instructions? How do we know when prayers have been answered? How do we know when to plant seeds that to produce fruit? It all starts with learning to listen to God’s voice. Jesus told us He will help. “I have told you everything the Father told me.”
When you pray don’t use the shotgun or machine gun methods, asking for one thing after another, or asking one question after another. Ask one question and wait for an answer. Pray to God throughout the day. Tell Him about the good and bad. Talk to Him out loud. That helps most people to hear when they listen. Study God’s Word and pray about lessons in the Bible. Ask Jesus what He was thinking when you pray about a story from the Gospels. Take your time and hone your listening skills over time. Soon you’ll feel God’s love in ways you never expected.
The World Hates You
John 15:18-21 NLTse “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. (19) The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. (20) Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. (21) They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me.
Jesus quickly moved from love to hate. An experienced Bible student can see the long pause Jesus took between His explanation of love and the commandments, leaving slavery to the world that hates you. Jesus often paused to give time for His disciples to think. To reflect upon scripture and lessons He referred to. Jesus often used lessons designed to make them think about previous lessons. We don’t have to rely on memory, we can page back a few verse or chapters to look at what was recorded. “The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil.” (John 7:7 NLTse). Looking back, we can see why the world hated Jesus.
When Jesus used the word remember, He sent us back in John’s book. A simple search using the word hate can quickly locate the proper texts. It’s not that difficult. It only takes a little time, and we’ve been given the tools to do the work. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” I hope your beginning to understand now.”
Talking about hatred, I can tell you, it’s on it’s way. You can’t avoid it. As soon as you study the Bible on your own, you’ll find all kinds of people exhibiting all kinds of hatred. The Bible turns some people off. There are people who’ll oppose you because they see something in you they don’t have. Look back at the previous chapters to see how people opposed Jesus. Why? It’s evident they didn’t understand what He was talking about. It’s just as evident, they refused to look at scripture Jesus pointed them to. What can you do about it? You can look at those stories to see what Jesus did. Nothing. He kept right on teaching. He repeated Himself a lot. That didn’t help. So He continued teaching what God’s Spirit told Him to teach.
If you follow the rules, keep your mouth shut, produce sour grapes like the rest of the world, they’ll love you. As long as you fit in and conform to the world, they’ll love you with the temporary worldly love they know. The kind of love that will one day be less than smoke.
Jesus repeated the word remember. He’s making it clear we need to look back. Back at what? What He taught. Since all we have is scripture, that is what Jesus is pointing to. We have to remember we’re no longer slaves ,so remember we’ve not part of this world. We wouldn’t want to be once we see how they persecute us.
Jesus also told us He wanted us to feel His joy. That joy consists of comfort. Jesus reminded us, they wouldn’t listen to Him. If we look back a few chapters, we see examples John recorded. We can’t expect to have much better luck than Jesus had, or more success. We have to be comfortable in the fact, we are just like Jesus when we fail, if we take it with the same attitude. We can’t be upset or vengeful like the world. Those branches should be trimmed off.
Hated Without a Cause
John 15:22-27 NLTse They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. (23) Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. (24) If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. (25) This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’ (26) “But I will send you the Advocate–the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. (27) And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.
When we look back at previous chapters, we see how Jesus’ family tried to direct His ministry. We see how people ate bread He blessed, doubted Him, then turned away. People He grew up with doubted Him. And many factions of the religious leaders tried to arrest and kill Him. His ministry wasn’t easy. Jesus was attacked on may sides. The enemy was always plotting ways to trip Him up, delay, and eliminate Jesus.
The enemy has the same plans for us. We’ll always have people turning away, questioning what we’ve learned, opposing what we teach, and trying to redirect us. In business the enemy will always try to remain at least one step ahead of us, using any means at his command to waste time, starve us, steal business, and generally make life impossible. Jesus knew all those details before we saw them coming. That’s why He encouraged His disciples and us. That’s why He reminds us of what He had to go through.
The world at large is an evil place. The enemy knows how to manipulate people in our paths, in business, our social life, family, and spiritually. I lost count of the opportunities I’ve seen fall apart in business. I have no idea how many spiritual situations have been altered by the enemy. I do know, not many people know how to connect with God on a spiritual level. When people learn how to connect with God, the world looks at them as if they are strange. That’s when God sends in the reinforcements. You’ll meet new friends who’ve had similar experiences with God. You suddenly see a new world open up and your vision of Heaven is clear. You know when God gives you a message and have no problem knowing who the right person is.
At first your a messenger, which is sort of a prophet. You take a message, deliver it, and move on. The role is simple. If you prove yourself worthy and reliable, you move onto higher levels. Next is a teacher. You learn the process so well as being able to explain it to others. God puts people in your life who know communication with God is possible, it is supposed to be an everyday way of life. They may have heard God’s voice or seen visions. They may have felt His warmth, or been close enough to hear His heart beat, but they aren’t sure how to get back there. They are like the disciples who told Jesus they don’t know the way. A teacher can tell them the way to God’s throne.
Everyone has their own way of meeting with Jesus. Some pray all day. Some pray in the morning, others in the evening. When it’s really time to listen to God’s voice, they get away from the world. When they are alone, they concentrate on a single subject and let God speak.
People have their own way or path to approach God’s throne. God’s mountain has many paths. You want to pray, confess your sins, ask forgiveness, ask to be cleansed by Jesus’ blood, and ask to sit at God’s throne to listen and learn from the Infinite source of wisdom. Suddenly the Heavens open up., Scripture links itself to scripture like you’ve never seen before. You see Jesus’ life in ministry in a new light and wonder why no one ever saw those simple details before. After a while you begin to see how your life fits into God’s plan of salvation. You hear assignments. Then, when something is important, you see the condition of the world and a list of scripture describing its course and place in prophetic history.
The branch of prophecy is trimmed from the vine. You no longer care about prophecy or follow the course the world is traveling. Prophecy is now something you trust to God. You know Him well enough to see, if something important is going to happen, God will let you know, and will verify it.
God uses the same sources to verify messages and events. At first you don’t trust God’s messages. Don’t worry, God is patient and He’s seen it a million times. He already has His plan in place to verify the message. If we paid attention to the story or Jesus going to Jerusalem, we would have noticed the process. Jesus’ brothers told Jesus to go to Jerusalem, and Jesus told them it wasn’t time. Later that week, Jesus received marching orders from God and went to Jerusalem. Notice how the message came from God. Jesus didn’t need His message verified. His communication channel to God was wide open and functioning properly. With us it’s a little different. But we should keep in mind, God always comes to us before He sends verification.
We have a tendency to question or doubt God. That’s when He puts His plan into action. God will verify the message He gives you through people who serve Him. Also through His Word. Some times it may be verified through a vision or dream. And it may be verified by events in or related to your life. Did that ever happen to you? Something happened and you had that feeling, you knew it was going to happen?
Some people think they are teachers but they don’t know the process. I’ve talked to a number of people over the past weeks who feel they have a message and as they say, are not afraid to share it. They usually pick a topic they feel strong about. They’re sure they’re right. The message they claim usually involves a sin. Be very careful. God will not send you with any message to convict anyone of any sin until you are ready and totally reliable.
People will cling onto one particular sin they don’t like. They may be right, it is a sin. People should know it’s a sin, but Jesus is the only One authorized to deal with sins. We’re not. Only Jesus knows how to reach that person. All we know how to do is stab in the dark. Those people cling onto their own message. They do not know God’s voice and will not follow His process. They are neither messengers, prophets, or teachers.
Teachers are given the ability to see, learn details in a process, and teach them to others. A teacher has to know and respect the fact, people are at their own level. They must begin at their level and learn at their own speed. A teacher knows how to ask questions and pause. Then wait for an answer from God and instructions on how to proceed. Teachers will always respect a person’s ability to develop their own pattern and technique to communicate with God. Everyone is a little different. Teachers can show people the process of connecting with God, so the individual and God can work out a comfortable format between themselves.
An evangelist is a little different than a teacher, because a teacher is normally a one on one experience, or small group basically on the same level. But an evangelist has to have his act together and lines of communication open to God. It is not an easy task to reach a group. Evangelists deal with group problems. Jesus was both a teacher and evangelist. Look at the problems Jesus had. If your an evangelist, you’ll see the same problems.
I’ve been able to learn a few things about evangelist. One pastor told me, “if your an evangelist when you walk into a room full of people, or a church, and you can’t see their needs in ten minutes, your in the wrong business. I can’t argue with that.
Another pastor shared how he prepares for an meeting, or some people call it a sermon. God provides the topic, then expands on it, and expands, and expands. Having been a teacher, I know how important it is to prepare to answer any and every question on a subject. Students can come up with the strangest questions. Now place that in the spiritual arena where the enemy is working behind the scene using people to trip you up. God sends a great detail of time preparing and drilling an evangelist. Then the evangelist has to take all that material and narrow it down to a twenty minute presentation. Which spells more prayer. An evangelist is able to see bits and pieces of the personalities they will be dealing with, to a certain degree. Then they go through the process of preparing their presentation in prayer. As an evangelist prepares, he can see the reactions, know when to pause, and know there may be times he has to add or subtract a little during the presentation. He prays during the presentation as angles watch over him and the people he is speaking to.
I’ve recently been put in the position of an evangelist with a small group of eleven other men. It didn’t take long to see their need. They brought up the subject and basically said, “this is what we need to learn.” They know they can talk with God. They know He answers. They know it is important to listen, but their not sure how. It sounds like an easy task to accomplish. Just tell those men the details I’ve already written here. But it is different in a meeting made up of people from different walks of life, even though they are basically all at the same spiritual level. The conversation and topic seems to break down when you bring up a subject people are not sure about. Human nature wants to interject, ask questions, and unknowingly, alter the subject. We saw that happened to Jesus, and we know the world is not going to treat us any different.
I’m not sure about being an evangelist. So far, I feel I’m up to the challenge, I had a week to pray before the first meeting and now a full week to pray before the second. I think I prefer teaching. One on one is a lot easier. But God is with me. At least I am learning.
That’s the way it seems to be with God. A few branches are cut off and others take their place. When you look back, you can see how over grown some of those branches were and how harmful they actually have been in your life. Those new branches are what brings new growth and fruit. It’s a pretty simple process. The most important step is to listen to Jesus, the best teacher ever.