I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Series: Guest Speaker

August 22, 2021
Noah Leighton

Episode Notes

If you have a bible you can turn to the Gospel of John chapter 15. 

While your turning there let me just say as I always do that serving as your student pastor is the absolute joy of my life. I can honestly say that being at PVFBC has been the best time of my life. 

Ya know, when I started here as the student pastor I was 19 years old and like many that age I thought I knew everything there was to know. But looking back I realize now that I didn’t know anything! 

Which shows how loving all of you are to allow me to mature and grow (not sure how much I have) but nevertheless I’m so thankful for all of you who have been a key part in teaching me about ministry and also what it means to love and follow Jesus. 

Let’s get into our text this morning, John 15 beginning in verse 1 Jesus, speaking to his disciples says, 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Have uhhh, have you ever been lost? Of course all of us at one point were spiritually lost, but I mean like physically lost? 

Maybe you took a wrong turn somewhere, or got turned around, or whatever the case may be. 

A lot of you know that I am getting married in less than two months to my fiancé, Hanna. We’re super pumped to start our lives and serve God together and all of the great things that comes from getting married. 

And one of them is that it’s now finally appropriate to be able to use her in my sermon illustrations. And trust me… I have SO many in the archive. 

Like, when it comes to this idea of being lost…. I am now finally able to share something with the men that I have learned… Those of you men who are married, lean in real close I have some news to share…

Did you know… That you and your wife can be headed somewhere. She can be driving… While using a GPS… Make a wrong turn… Get you two lost… And somehow… It can still be… Your fault… 

“If you would have been paying attention and not been looking at your phone you could’ve helped me look and we wouldn’t have missed our turn” 


Not my fault, actually. 

When preparing for this, I asked her, “Hey, I’m trying to come up with an illustration for my sermon on Sunday. Can you maybe think of a time that I got myself or us lost, a situation where I didn’t do everything just as I should and didn’t do everything right, for the life of me I can’t seem to recall one single time?” 

She said, “There’s been so many I can’t just name one”

And I was reminded of a time that was way worse… 


All because I thought I could get us where we needed to be, all by myself… 

How many of us, want to have a fruitful Christian life? How many of us want to finally hit those spiritual markers we set for ourselves? 

How many of have tried so hard to grow in our walk with The Lord, and we grit our teeth and we pull ourselves up by our boot straps, and say: Okay. Starting today…. I’m gonna be a better Christian. 

I’m going to stop doing this. I’m going to start doing that… I am going to start taking this seriously. 

And how many of us would say that we said that to ourselves time and time again, but we never seem to get to where we want to go. 

Friend, I’ve been there so many times. And maybe that’s where you find yourself right now. 

Wanting to live a fruitful life, but feeling like your stuck. Like every turn you take just puts you right back where you started from.

What I've learned is this: Being like Jesus only happens when we lean on Jesus.

We can’t do it ourselves. 

And in our text today I believe that Jesus gives us three keys of living a fruitful life, and they all center around Himself.

First, we see that in order to live a fruitful life we must. 

  1. Accredit Jesus 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Here we see that in order to grow, there’s two area’s that we have to give Jesus the utmost credit. 

And the first is that of salvation. 

When Jesus says to the disciples here, “I am the true vine and my father is the vinedresser” what he’s doing there is using significant imagery that all of the disciples would have known exactly what he was referring to. 

In the Old Testament, God’s people, Israel were often times referred to as a vine. 

Israel is known as the vine that was planted by God in the promised land. There to be the people of God and bear fruit in a way that brings glory and fame to the God who planted the vine. 

Isaiah talks about this when we read in Isaiah chapter 5, 

Let me sing for my beloved 

my love song concerning his vineyard: 

My beloved had a vineyard 

on a very fertile hill. 

2 He dug it and cleared it of stones, 

and planted it with choice vines; 

God loves Israel, he brought them out of slavery, he helped them cross the red sea, gave them food to eat, and showed up miraculously on their behalf. 

And so one would think the Israelites would turn out to be this unstained people in perfect union with God, right? 

But look at how the text goes on…..

 “and he looked for it to yield grapes, 

but it yielded wild grapes.” 

Or best translated: God looked for Israel to bear good fruit, but bad fruit kept appearing. 

Many scholars have debated what the exact location was of these discourses of Jesus… But what we know for sure is that it was in Jerusalem. 

And what’s significant about Jerusalem, is that was where the temple was… 

Now, every famous building has something that every knows it by. The AT&T building in Nashville is known as the Batman Building, by the way it looks. The tower of Pisa for the way it leans, right? 

You know what one of the most distinct and widely known features of the temple was at this time? A golden vine that was dropped on the doors of the sanctuary. 

To signify and remind everyone that when you walk into this sanctuary to worship God, being connected to Israel is the means by which you get to do so. 

It makes a lot of since that Jesus could have been with his disciples, looking up at the golden vine and saying, “Hey, guys. I am the TRUE vine that connects you to the father…” 

One scholar says of this, 

“In the old way, union with Israel was the condition of life; in the new, union with Christ.” 

And relating to us in our modern day context, how many of us are being pulled by so many things to save us and give us meaning? Will money satisfy? Will career success satisfy? I am HAPPY and my bank account and social media following is the means by which I am able to be HAPPY. 

Or, there are many gods. Bhudda, Jospeh Smith, Muhammed, scientology, all roads can lead to God.

But Jesus says to us as he said to his disciples in John 14:6, 

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

In order to live a fruitful life, no matter what we’ve been told, we must know that hope has a name, joy has a name, purpose has a name, love has a name, and salvation has a name and that name is Jesus!

So, we accredit Jesus because he’s the only one who can bring us salvation, and secondly we accredit him cause he brings us sanctification

Look at verse 2 when Jesus says, 

2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

I’m a lot of things, but a gardener is not one. If the apocalypse happens I’m gonna have to come live with one of y’all cause if it were up to me to grow my own food I would starve. 

But one thing I do know about is the fact that in order for the good stuff to grow, you have to cut off the bad stuff. 

The word prune that Jesus uses there, in the original language literally means, “to cleanse, or purify” 

So, through every situation and season imaginable, The Father uses everything to purify us, so that we will grow in Christ and bear even more fruit. 

I love what CS Lewis says of this. It’s a bit lengthy, but listen to this and you’ll appreciate what he says. 

When I was a child I often had a toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother—at least, not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this. I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. 

I knew she would take me to the dentist next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain: but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists: I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. They would not let sleeping dogs lie, if you gave them an inch they took a mile.

Now, if I may put it this way, Our Lord is like the dentists. If you give Him an inch, He will take a mile. Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of or which is obviously spoiling daily life. Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment.

That is why He warned people to ‘count the cost’ before becoming Christians. ‘Make no mistake,’ He says, ‘if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect— until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.

You’ve heard this saying before, and while its chliche its also true — Jesus loves you just as you are, but loves you too much to leave you like you are. 

Therefore, we must give Jesus credit that him purifying us and helping us grow in Him is what we need, and ultimately what we want. 

Not only is accrediting Jesus a key of the fruitful life, but secondly we must. 

2. Abide in Jesus

Look at verse 4 when Jesus says, 

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

If abiding is the key, then what does it mean to “abide” ?

Right here we see that when Jesus uses the word abide, he’s using the verb “abide” which communicates to the disciples, and to us, that what Jesus is talking about is a continuing active decision to love him. 

So how do we do that today?

We decide to be people who stay in his word, in prayer, in fellowship with other believers.

But how many of us never pick up our bibles, never have a time where we fully commune with God. 


After a while you just kinda get used to your walk with Jesus just being kind of whatever. 

How many of us would say, “Hey Noah, that’s me. I am saved, I know Jesus, but It just seems like I don’t get any joy out of having a relationship with Him” 

Could I ask if your abiding in Jesus? 

Don’t miss what im about to say, lean in real close: Union with Christ without communion with Christ, equals joyless Christianity. 

Psalm 16:11 says, “In the presence of The Lord, there’s fullness of joy.” 

On the flip side of that we could say that in the absence of The Lord, there’s dulness of Joy. 

“But hey! At least I get to go to heaven when I die right.” 

If the early church knew that much of the modern day western church thought like that, they would look at us and say: You’ve missed the whole point.” 

Jesus tells us just a few verses later why he is telling us these things, when says, 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.“

I have a friend in the ministry, and if he hears me say this he’ll know I’m talking about him, but oh well. 

He used to always say, “God cares more about your holiness than your happiness” 

Which I mean, ultimately we could say is right. God probably does care more about us being holy than us being happy. 

But he would say it in a form of, ”Having no joy what so ever, but being content with that because one day we’ll get to be in heaven.” 

But the more that I have learned about God, the more I’ve studied his word, and ultimately the more I realize that I was an enemy of God, but because God loved me he sent His son to die for me, so that I could be holy, that sure makes me pretty happy!

As the Westminster Catechism says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever” 

And we might get stoned for doing so, but if we were to change that statement, we could say “the chief end of man is to glorify God, BY enjoying him forever.

Or as John Piper puts it, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him” 

So abiding in Jesus means we chose to stay close to him and by doing so we bear fruit and joy, but also we must stay dependent on Him. 

Which leads us to our third key of a fruitful life, which is to: 

3. Acknowledge Jesus

Look at verse 5 when Jesus says, 

“apart from me you can do nothing.”

These last two years have been really tough on all of us, including me. 


I’ve always been the person to want to fix everything myself. But it seems the past 2 years everything has been 100% out of my control. 

And it was only recently that I realized that feeling out of control and needing help was where God wanted me to be all along. 

See, so many people out there will say, “Christianity is about being STRONG! And standing up! And being right, and being invincible and un touchable. 

The Gospel is about being STRONG!!!!

But friend, the gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t about thinking we’re strong, it’s about admitting that we are utterly helpless and weak. 

In order to live a fruitful life, which is what I believe we all want, we must be willing to accredit Jesus for who He is, we must abide in Him by choosing to stay close to Him, and we must realize that apart from him none of that is possible.

So, this may seem different than what we’re used to, but I’m gonna ask Rob to come up and play as we have a time of invitation. 

And I just want to give you a change to pray and seek The Lord, and I’m gonna pray over you. 

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