I am the Vine

Dear Brethren,

Who is the head of the Church?  You might say, "That's easy, Jesus is the head of the Church."  Do you fully know and believe that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church?  We could venture to say that every apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher today would agree, "Yes, Jesus is the head of the Church."  There is a problem with this scenario.  Some church leaders see themselves as, "The Leader (head) of the Church."  They actively teach that Christians need to have a man between them and Christ.  Some groups place their Council of Elders in a position between the brethren and Jesus Christ in an improper way.  What is a Christian to do when an authority directs them in a way that violates their conscience?  Is it safer to just obey the minister?  What if going against headquarters might result in your being disfellowshipped?

The apostle John, writing near the end of the first century, explained our dependence directly on Jesus.  He recorded these words of Jesus for us.  "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."  (John 15:1-2)

The question arises, who makes decisions for a Christian?  Can a pastor decide who you should marry?  Should a pastor decide if you are unequally yoked.  Can a pastor tell you which job you should take, or what kind of car you must drive?  Can a pastor put you out of the congregation for making choices he does not agree with?  Does a pastor have dominion over your faith or salvation?  The straightforward answer from the scriptures is that a Christian must make those decisions for himself - the pastor does not have authority or power over your faith.  "Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand."  (2Corinthians 1:24)

We mature, only when we learn to make Godly decisions for ourselves.  The emphasis is on "Godly" decisions, because when we make wrong choices there are penalties to pay.  We must become skilled at making our own decisions which effect our lives, because when others make our decisions for us - we remain as babes.  We grow in spiritual fruit as we mature in grace and knowledge.  John goes on to show in a dozen verses that it is only by abiding, remaining or dwelling in Christ that we are able to grow and increase spiritually.  Jesus said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."  (John 15:5)

Paul was using a similar analogy when he wrote, "He [Jesus Christ] is the head of the body, the church."  (Colossians 1:18)  That clear statement does not allow for another authority to come between church members and Jesus Christ.  What does Paul mean by the "Lord's body?"  Paul was speaking of the Church of God!  "The Body of Christ" was a common term meaning all the converted people of God.  "For [Christ's] body's sake, which is the Church."  (Colossians 1:24)

All the brethren who are in the Church of God are the "Body of Christ."  There are numerous examples.  "You are the Body of Christ, and members in particular."  (1Corinthians 12:27)  "The church, which is His body."  (Ephesians 1:22-23)  "Ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."  (Colossians 3:15)  "We, being many, are one Body in Christ, and every one members one of another."  (Romans 12:4-5)  "The bread which we break, is it not the [fellowship] of the Body of Christ?  For we being many are one bread, and one body."  (1Corinthians 10:16-17)  "For the perfecting of the saints…for the edifying of the Body of Christ.”  (Ephesians 4:12)

It is abundantly clear from these Scriptures that Paul is referring to all the members of the Church of God - as the Lord's Body, of which Jesus Christ is head.  (Colossians 1:18)  Jesus is the head of all the individual members of  the "church," the called out ones.  Who is a part of this church?  Let's use the Biblical definition of  who these church members are.  "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."  (Romans 8:14)

In the past, far too many brethren were taught to allow the pastor to make major decisions in their lives.  That was a wrong practice.  Jesus Christ is our Head, our Leader, our Savior... the list of His titles would go on and on.  We are to apply His teachings and His way of life in every decision we make.  We must learn to rely on Him - and Him alone.  We are responsible for our own decisions, and we cannot be held responsible for the decisions of others.

If we hope to reign and rule as kings and priests with Jesus Christ in the millennium, now is the time for all of us to stand on our own two feet as spiritually mature Christians, look to Christ, and learn to make decisions based on His law, statutes, judgments and principles.  "[Jesus Christ] hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."  (Revelation 5:10)


Sermon:  "I am the Vine"