When I was young, my mother taped a hand-written note to the refrigerator door: “God doesn’t love us because we are good. He makes us good because He loves us.”
As a teenager growing up, I couldn’t believe those words. They seemed too wonderful—too amazing. I wanted to believe them, but I just couldn’t.
But now I know they are true! This is the freeing truth our souls long to know; it allows us to become the good people God created us to be. Incredible as it sounds, God makes us good as we live in His love.
In His love we become good and right from the inside out. As we dwell in God’s love—as we abide in it—the love of God we know in our Spirit-to-spirit relationship with Him becomes real to our soul as well. We believe the love God has for us, and our soul—our mind, will and emotions—comes into alignment and agreement with our belief. Then our body manifests the soul’s loving nature to the world. In this way, God’s love pours through our spirit-soul-body channel, flooding the earth with His goodness.
God designed us to abide in His love—to let His love permeate our being so that it flows out of us to others. When we remain in His love, we bear fruit—we radiate the nature of Christ. Fruit of the Spirit is God’s nature expressing itself through us. Scripture tells us, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22–23). In this way, as God’s nature bubbles from us, the world sees Christ through us—just as it saw the Father through the Son.
In the verses for this lesson, Jesus uses the analogy of the vine and the branches to illustrate how God planned for us to live. We are branches; we live and bear fruit only because of our connection to the vine—Jesus. The Old Covenant is about abiding by the law. But the New Covenant is about abiding in love. Jesus says, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9, NKJV).
Read John 15:1–13, below.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Q. 1. In this illustration, who is the vine? The gardener? The branches?
Q. 2. Verse 2 says, “every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” In what ways have you experienced God’s pruning in your life?
Q. 3. What fruit is promised to branches that remain in the vine? (See Galatians 5:22–23 in the introduction to this lesson).
Q. 4. Think about the difference between abiding by the law and doing “good” things and abiding in Christ and bearing fruit. In what ways might you be doing “good” things while not really abiding in Christ?
Q. 5. In verse 8, Jesus speaks about “bearing much fruit” and “showing yourselves to be my disciples.” In what ways does this relate to John 13:35 from the previous lesson?
Q. 6. In verse 9, Jesus says, “Now remain in my love.” What do these words means to you personally?
Q. 7. In verses 9 and 10, Jesus draws a parallel between our lives and His. What is that parallel?
Q. 8. In verse 10, Jesus mentions commands that we are to keep when remaining in His love. What commands is He referring to (see verse 12)?
Q. 9. If we believe that Jesus is referring to the Old Covenant commandments, what problems arise?
Q. 10. In verse 12, Jesus says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Think of an incident you personally experienced or heard about of someone living out this command. What did they do?
Q. 11. What is verse 13 saying to you personally?
Q. 12. As you remain in God’s love, in what ways might His love radiate from you?
Get alone with God. Imagine yourself as a branch. The vine is strong and supportive. Hear Jesus saying to you, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
Imagine the life-giving sap flowing from the vine into you. You are coming alive and flourishing in the life of the vine. There is no greater love. Feel yourself receiving the continual flow of God’s love and all it brings to you. See yourself giving the same. Others are nourished by the fruit of the Spirit coming through you.
to God’s love as He guides.