I am going to be posting bible study questions that I am producing for our church’s house groups. We are working our way through John’s gospel on Sunday mornings and have reached chapter 15. My first study guide is listed below:
John 15v1-17 The True Vine.
This passage brings us to the heart of Jesus’ relationship to his disciples. These verses express the nature of the relationship between the Trinity and the church – the Father working as the master gardener, the Son being the fruitful & faithful vine and the Spirit indwelling and filling the branches, that is, the church. The church is invigorated by the life-giving sap and in return displays the characteristics or “vital signs” of spiritual life – fruitfulness.
- The vine was a common feature of life in first century Israel, what image might Jesus have used today in 21st century Scotland to communicate the truths of this passage to a modern audience? What does it say to our instant communication & permanently online society?
- What are the benefits of remaining in the vine? What are the results? Think of a time when you were particularly aware of this connection to Jesus – how did this make you feel? How do these experiences help us in the hard times?
- If “a Christian is someone who is united to Christ, and reveals it in a fruitful life”, how can we know that we are connected to the vine? How does this challenge a shallow understanding of what is means to be a Christian? What does it mean for those times in our lives when we struggle to see our fruit?
- What role do we play and what role does God play in growing more fruit in us? (see Philippians 2.12-13 & Matthew 7.24-27)
- What does it mean to “remain” or “abide” in Christ? How can we ensure that Jesus’ words (v 7), remain in us? What would we say to someone who understood this to mean a purely intellectual belief in the truth of Christ’s teachings?
- How do we maintain a healthy approach to discipline in our daily devotions? How can we avoid legalism and stale routine whilst maintaining a close walk with God? Share some practical pointers that have helped you personally.
- Have we felt the pruning of the gardener? How can we turn this painful pruning into an opportunity for growth? What is the difference between pruning and punishment (see Hebrews 12.4-11)? Why is it worth the pain? (see Romans 8.18)
The call to fruitful, loving, joyful union with Christ “is simultaneously a mandate to Christ’s followers and a summons to those who do not yet know him. That is why the union of love that joins believers with Jesus can never become a comfortable, exclusivistic huddle that only they can share” (Don Carson). Take some time to pray for those who are not yet joined to the vine and ask God that we would always have this outward-looking, open-handed enjoyment of his love. Renew your commitment to the vine in the words of Frances Havergal in his hymn Take My Life:
“Take my love, my Lord, I pour, at Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.”