A Word for Today | John 15:1-4
From 1958 to 1978, Samuel Lamb was imprisoned with hard labor for preaching the gospel in China. Lamb spent these twenty years, during which he had no contact with his wife and family (his wife and father died before his release) and despite increasingly poor health, praying for the gospel in his native land. Immediately after his release, Lamb got a job as a teacher, converted many of his students to Christ, and then formed a church. Soon, his house church was so numerous that he needed a closed-circuit camera system so that people gathered in different rooms could see and hear his preaching. “The more persecution, the more the church grows,” he explained. There is, in fact, no explanation for the remarkable power of the gospel in China apart from the persecution of the church, by which God pruned his servants to make their lives more fruitful.
What is true for the church as a whole is true for individual believers. Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 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” (Jn. 15:1-2). This tells us that when we endure trials in life – when we find biblical parenting to be wearying, when loving our spouse is difficult, when integrity in the workplace is hard, or when a pandemic isolates us from fellowship and recreation – we should lift our faces to the Lord and ask Him to do His work in our life that we might bear the fruit that He desires. Mark Johnson comments that while “the process may be painful…, it will always be worthwhile as it leads to a better and more profitable life in Christ.”
Jesus went on to state the key to growing spiritually under trials: “Abide in me, and I in you” (Jn. 15:4). To “abide” is to dwell in, with close communion and fellowship. The basic idea, Gordon Keddie writes, is “the active cultivation by every professing Christian of a living spiritual relationship to Christ.” As Paul put it, “For me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). He explained, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). I pray that during these trying times that we are living through, God’s people will grow more fruitful, not only as we apply our faith to trying times but also as we take this opportunity to draw nearer to Jesus. He is the “true vine,” and if we connect our lives to His, we will, He said, “bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (Jn. 15:8).
In Christ’s Love,
 David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2003), 64.
 Mark Johnson, Let’s Study John (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2003), 202.
 Gordon J. Keddie, A Study Commentary on John, 2 vols. (location: Evangelical Press, ), 2:156.