I am the Vine, you are the branches

Series: Face-to-face with John, by Rosie Moore.

I think it’s apt that we are finishing off our series in John’s gospel with Jesus’s seventh and final “I am” statement: “I am the vine and you are the branches” (John 15:5). Christ was addressing his disciples shortly before His final high priestly prayer, just a few days before He laid down his life for his friends. Let’s read it carefully together:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 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.

“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. 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. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 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.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  This is my command: Love each other.

A transplanted vine.

God used a vine as a symbol of his people in the Hebrew Scriptures. The metaphor is used to describe how God took his people out of Egypt and transplanted them in the fertile land of Canaan:

You transplanted a vine from Egypt;
    you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it,
    and it took root and filled the land. (Ps 80:8-9).

That’s why there was a large golden vine on the front of the temple symbolizing that Israel was God’s vine. But, despite God’s tender love and care, we know that this vine was not always faithful and true. Look how Isaiah describes his unfaithful people as a fruitless vine:

I will sing for the one I love
    a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
    on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones
    and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
    and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
    but it yielded only bad fruit. (Isa 5:1-2)

The faithful, fruitful vine.

In contrast to fruitless, faithless Israel, Jesus calls himself the true vine. In John 15:5, Jesus is making it clear to his Jewish disciples that if they are to bear fruit for God’s kingdom, they must now be rooted in Him, not in Israel or their old traditions. Similarly, as a new covenant community, Christians must identify first and foremost with Christ Himself, not with Israel, our own culture or even the church. Christ alone is the true vine for believers.

Complete dependence.

Reading this passage, it struck me again how vital our relationship with Christ is. The verbs “remain” and “abide”, are repeated over and over again, for this is Christ’s formula for living in this world as a believer and as a community of believers.

Just as a baby in the womb is totally dependent on its mother, so too, there is a relationship of complete trust and unity between a believer and Christ. The branch is utterly unable to survive on its own.  It depends entirely on the vine for its life, growth and fruitfulness.

Just as the lamb depends on the shepherd, and the hungry person craves bread, so too a believer must remain connected to Christ, as intimately as a branch is connected to a plant. Our Christian lives depend on our abiding in Christ, and He in us. As Jesus was preparing his followers for his departure, this was vital encouragement for them as they confronted the world with the gospel, laying down their lives in the process.

The vinedresser.

The Old Testament picture of Israel as the vine depicted God the Father as the vinedresser. The vinedresser plants, cultivates and protects the vine. God does this for his children in the new covenant too. He doesn’t just save us and then leave us. He continues to be our loving gardener.

We see from this chapter that if we are true followers of Christ, we have a relationship with the vine (the Son); with the vine dresser (the Father), and with the Counsellor (the Holy Spirit) (John 15:1-24-59-1026). God’s people are nourished, disciplined and helped by the triune God of the universe, who abides in us personally, as we abide in Him. Do we appreciate this immense privilege that belongs to each and every Christian?

Two kinds of pruning.

But notice the two kinds of pruning in Jesus’s metaphor:

First, there’s the pruning that involves separating the fruitless branches from the vine and burning them. These branches are cut off at the trunk by the vinedresser (God), because they are worthless and will cause infection for the rest of the vine if they remain.

These fruitless branches represent people who were never true believers, as they were never properly attached to the vine. They are people who appear to be part of the church, but because they don’t trust Jesus personally, they do not bear fruit for the kingdom. Often they try to block the efforts of believers and divide God’s people. We are warned that God Himself will cut them off from Christ’s life-giving vine. Judas was a fruitless branch. So were most of the Pharisees.

Secondly, there is the pruning that cuts back fruitful branches to promote further growth and productivity. “Every branch that bears fruit he prunes.” God disciplines his true followers to strengthen our faith and character. While sometimes painful, this pruning is an act of great love by a Father towards his children (John 14:9).

Some Bibles translate this pruning as “cleansing”. The vinedresser cleans up the fruit-bearing branches so that they will bear more fruit. Jesus tells the 11 disciples that they are already clean. They’d heard and received much of his teaching already. They were already Christ’s followers, cleansed from sin and being sanctified day-by- day.

“God removes the dead wood from his church and disciplines the life of a believer so that it is directed into fruitful activity.” (Tenney)

The cleansing of the word.

So, how does the word of God cleanse us? Paul (Ephesians 5:26) helps us understand this when he writes: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.

The word of God sanctifies us by showing us what sin is. God’s word convicts and inspires holiness in us. It promotes growth like a gardener’s pruning shears. In the power of the Holy Spirit, the word enables us to have victory over sin. Jesus is still washing his people through His word, the Bible.

Abide in Me, and I in you.

When Jesus spoke about his death, his first disciples were mostly concerned about themselves. If Jesus went away, what would become of them?

These words “Abide in me”, were spoken in the context of a scary future. As their Master who said, “I am the truth”, Christ didn’t lie to his followers or give them false assurance of an easy life. He didn’t give them tips on how to edit their words so as not to offend their culture or jeopardize the preaching of the gospel.

To the contrary, Jesus told them that because they were His, they didn’t belong to the world. It was inevitable that they would be hated by the world because of His name. Some would listen to their message, but many would respond with great hatred towards God and his anointed Son. He warned them that they would be hated, rejected, marginalized, thrown out of the most cherished places in their culture (like the synagogue), and even killed.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you…‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

 In just a few hours, Jesus would be arrested and led away from his frightened disciples. Soon they too would be persecuted, just as their Master was.

We will never understand how important Christ’s promises are, unless we hear his warnings to his followers too. You can read them for yourself in John 15:18-16:1-4. If we view Jesus’s claim about the vine and the branches as a kind of platitude, we will miss the tremendous comfort of his promises.

Mutual abiding.

What are these promises? Just think for a moment of the three assurances Jesus gives to his disciples, and all future believers:

  1. “I am the vine; you are the branches…
  2. Remain in me, and I will remain in you…
  3. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”

Christ offers believers firm assurance in a hard and hostile world. He focuses on the mutual relationship between Himself and his followers: Christians don’t only abide in their Master. He abides in us too.

It makes me think of the mutual love relationship that Solomon describes between God and His Bride: “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (Songs of Solomon 6:3)

It’s not just about us abiding in Jesus, but also about Him indwelling us by his Holy Spirit. There’s nothing static or one-sided about this relationship. In no way is the responsibility for abiding only upon us as believers. Isn’t it a huge relief that it’s not all up to us to keep abiding?

What a beautiful picture of the continued mutual relationship that we have with Jesus, even though He isn’t physically with us. But, there’s also an element of personal responsibility and effort on our part. Abiding is something we must choose to do. Abiding is an act of the will on our part. We can abide or go astray (John 16:1).

We must actively abide with Christ if we want to be fruitful in our faith. And fruitfulness is not an optional extra. Fruitfulness is the proof that we are His disciples.

Bearing much fruit.

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)

Jesus has appointed each one of us to bear fruit—fruit that will last (John 15:16). Not just an odd grape here and there, but “much fruit”! God’s work in us and our connection to Him will be demonstrated by fruit, perhaps by much fruit.

But it’s easy to talk about bearing fruit in a vague way, isn’t it? What exactly did Christ mean when he spoke about bearing fruit? Obviously he was preparing his disciples for a life of evangelism and preaching the gospel to the world. But is fruit limited to gospel preaching and soul winning?

Fruit pursuit.

There is so much talk in our culture about fulfilling your purpose and ‘doing the work’. But being driven, shamed or guilt-tripped into building a legacy of good works is not from Christ. It leads only to condemnation and burnout.

In my women’s Bible studies, I often hear sincere, godly Christians ask, “How do I know the good works God wants me to do? What if I get to the end of my life, and discover that I’ve missed my God-given purpose?” We all dread living a fruitless and barren life, don’t we? Perhaps that’s why Rick Warren’s “Purpose driven life” was such a hit.

But this kind of ‘fruit pursuit’ can be a cause of great stress and disappointment. It can be especially daunting to think of producing “much fruit”, when you’re surrounded by so much death, suffering, poverty and need, as we’ve seen in 2021.

But Jesus said very simply, yet profoundly, “He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit.”

This is such a liberating assurance to believers who long to fulfill Christ’s commission to bear fruit that will last. Jesus says that good fruit is inevitable… on condition that we abide in Him and He in us. The Holy Spirit will produce the fruit in us.

And so, we don’t have to stress out wondering where to find the good works that God has planned for us! The quality and quantity of our fruit, as well as the exact type of fruit, will differ from person to person. But there will always be good fruit produced, and reproduced, in a disciple who is abiding in Christ. We do not have to pursue good fruit like it’s a holy grail.

In chapter 15, Jesus gives us a kaleidoscope of what Christian fruit looks like. They’re not spectacular fruits, but very practical and accessible, wherever we are, whatever our personality type. We could call them ‘low lying fruit’! Let’s do a simple inventory of good fruit from Christ’s own words in John 15:

Are you BELIEVING and trusting Jesus as God’s Son, the true vine, who has cleansed you from all your sin and unrighteousness (John 15:13)? Then your faith is good fruit that gives glory to your Father in heaven.

Are you praying? Then your answered PRAYERS are good fruit (John 15:716b).

Do you have JOY that transcends your circumstances and is contagious to others? Then your JOY is good fruit (John 15:11).

Are you laying down your own wants and convenience to love other Christians in ordinary ways, like hospitality, helping, encouraging, giving, listening, visiting, caring, feeding? Then your LOVE is good fruit (John 15:12-13.)

Are you deeply ASSURED that Christ loves you? Do you remind others of His love for them too? Then you are producing good fruit (John 15:9-10).

Are you reading the Bible and obeying what Christ shows you? Then your OBEDIENCE is good fruit (John 15:1410).

Are you representing the gospel accurately with your words and deeds, with whoever you happen to meet? Then your TESTIMONY is good fruit (John 15:27).

According to Jesus, good fruit is made up of the ordinary, natural stuff of life. It can never be coerced, contrived or manufactured.

The fruit that will last.

Being fruitful glorifies our heavenly Father! (John 15:8) When a vine is heavy with juicy grapes, God is glorified, because He sent the rain and He provided the sap and He nurtured each tiny plant, pruning it to be even more productive. What a great advert for the Lord of the harvest when disciples of Christ are bearing fruit—the character and deeds of Christ. It glorifies the Lord because He made it all happen!

Lasting fruit is the fruit of Christian character which Paul spells out for us in Galatians 5: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things, there is no law.”

The fruit of good relationships will last into eternity, long after our bodies have died and our so-called legacies are just a distant memory.

The Apostle Peter also lists the fruit of faith: Goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. Peter says that if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, “they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of the Lord Jesus” (2 Peter 1:5-8). These traits are what make our ordinary days fruitful and productive in God’s sight.

Yes, it’s true that we’ve been called to be effective and productive. We are saved so that we can look more like Christ, grow in Christian character, make disciples, and serve others in love. We have been chosen and appointed by Christ to bear good fruit (John 15:16).

But there is nothing stressful or guilt-inducing about bearing the fruit of the vine. Kingdom fruit is not another heavy load to bear. Our productivity isn’t patterned on what our culture defines as ‘doing the work’—those endless acts to atone for our guilt and be seen as righteous in man’s eyes. We are already clean! Just as Christ’s first disciples were already clean when they heard and received the gospel of grace (John 15:3).

Without the sap of Christ’s love in our veins, we cannot possibly translate our good intentions into actions. If we do not bear fruit in our lives, it is because we have forgotten what Christ has done for us and are not depending on the power of the Holy Spirit.

If we are wearing ourselves out with our efforts, it’s time to listen to the Counsellor’s voice and pray for guidance and wisdom from the Spirit of truth (John 15:2616:13.) Jesus will show us the good works He has prepared for us to do (Phil 2:10). There are simple things that we can do right now, where we are, by His powerful Spirit.

The only way to live a truly good and fruitful life is to stay close to Jesus, like a branch attached firmly to the vine. “Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Without me you can do nothing.

As we go into the holiday season, may we remember Christ’s final words to his disciples. “Without me, you can do nothing!” Nothing, nothing at all, without His Spirit.

Abiding in Christ is much more than hanging from a tree like a sloth! It’s much more than believing in certain facts about Jesus. It is drawing joy and love from the deep well of a consistent relationship with our Master and our friend (John 15:14). “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Can you believe that Christ actually calls us “friends?” Friendship is the nature of our abiding relationship with Him.

Prayer, Scripture and gathering with God’s people are some of the wonderful channels of grace that the Lord Jesus has provided to us, so that we may keep abiding in Him, and He in us. May we never neglect these precious gifts.

If our lives are attached to Christ, we will be able to walk through every adversity without sliding into despair. We will be able to manage prosperity, pleasure, good deeds and Christmas celebrations with a cheerful spirit, without making them our idols. We will be empowered to live a good and fruitful life wherever God has placed us. But apart from Him, our best efforts will be fruitless.

“All our sap and safety is from Christ. The bud of a good desire, the blossom of a good resolution, and the fruit of a good action, all come from him” (Trapp).

Are you fully convinced that Christ is the Way?

Series: Face-to-face with Jesus, By Rosie Moore.

No claim of Christ is as controversial as his “I AM” statement in John 14:6“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It’s no surprise that many people are offended or embarrassed by Jesus’s dogmatic words, especially the second half.

A few years ago, my son attended confirmation classes led by the chaplain of his Anglican school. Towards the end, one boy asked a direct and sincere question to the chaplain: “Sir, how do I make sure that I will go to heaven to be with God when I die?”

My son was waiting with baited breath for the chaplain to explain the beauty of the gospel to the 24 captive boys who heard this excellent question. He was waiting to hear the truth about our sin and Christ’s sacrifice to provide the way to God. He was waiting to hear the chaplain describe the resurrection of Christ, which guarantees us a sure hope of everlasting life. But instead, this is how the chaplain replied:

“Whatever you choose to believe, and whatever path you think is best for you, do it with all your heart, and you’ll go to heaven one day.” At the end of the confirmation service, he pronounced all 24 boys, “good Christian gentlemen.”

Truth vs false assurance.

But if this ‘I AM” statement of Christ is true, then with all due respect, the chaplain’s answer provided false and dangerous assurance for these precious young lives. John 14:6 is as exclusive and culturally provocative as you get, and there’s no way to dodge its implications. The reason why Christ’s claim is so offensive is that it defies the many ‘gods’ of our age, which seem so loving, attractive and tolerant, but are false nevertheless.

Firstly, Christ’s claim confronts the god of evolution, erected on the false assumption that there is no sovereign Creator or personal, knowable God. Secondly, His claim also defies the untouchable gods of inclusion, equity (equal outcomes), tolerance and religious pluralism.

Confronting the ‘gods’.

No wonder Christ’s claim is confrontational! If Jesus is the only way for us to approach God as Father, it follows that those who reject the Son as their mediator will be excluded from God’s presence and the home that He is preparing for those who love him (John 14:2-4).  This outcome is far from equitable.

And if Jesus is the only source of truth, then it’s only reasonable to conclude that when we try to construct our own truths; our own sexual identities; our own cultural categories; our own methods of redemption, and our own personal preferences, we are in error and confusion. This confusion and disorder has far reaching consequences for our lives on earth and in eternity.

So, if Christ’s truth claim is true, it’s only logical that every other way is just an empty mirage and a dead end street. It means that all alternative paths to discover God and understand ourselves are like the crumbs that Hansel and Gretel threw on the ground to show them the way home. Sadly, the birds ate the crumbs and the siblings were left lost and alone in the forest. There they fell captive to an evil witch who lived in a seductive house made of gingerbread, cake and pastries.

Exclusivism is part and parcel of historic Christianity and there’s no logical way that we can blend it with our culture’s pluralistic worldview or make it more palatable. They are irreconcilable. And so, in answer to Thomas’s confused question: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we find the way?” Jesus gives a straight and profound answer that goes to the essence of who He is and what He came to earth to do:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him”. Phillip said, “Lord, show us the Father…Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Phillip, even after I have been among you for such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work” (John 14:6-10).

Jesus sets us an example of grace and truth in his interactions with his disciples. See how directly and patiently he engages with Thomas and Phillip’s sincere questions. But at the same time, His claims were as confrontational to his first century hearers as they are to us today, in our re-imagined world.

Let’s survey the landscape of our 21st century world:

A re-imagined world without God, the Bible or churches.

A recent study, the American Worldview Inventory 2021, surveyed the philosophy of American adults, assessing the worldviews of four generations: millennials (born 1984-2002), Gen X (1965-1983), baby boomers (1946-1964 and builders (1927-1945).

The researchers reported that the beliefs and behaviours of young Americans, even those who call themselves Christian, are causing a radical spiritual revolution. This revolution has created a generation “seeking a re-imagined world without God, the Bible or churches.” Basic ways of life are continually being redefined, without any objective source of truth as the standard.

Similarly, an earlier 2020 study by Barna, (“Gen Z: Volume 2”), found that two thirds of teens and young adults agree that “many religions can lead to eternal life” compared to 58% of teens and young adults surveyed in 2018. The researchers described Gen Z as the first truly ‘post Christian generation,’ and the drift is rapid.

Moreover, 31% of teens and young adults “strongly agree” that what is “morally right and wrong changes over time, based on society,” compared to just 25% in 2018. Another 43% agree “somewhat”. Only a tiny percentage—10%– disagree with this basic assumption that truth and morality is relative.

The researchers concluded from their surveys that 43% of millennials ‘don’t know, don’t care, don’t believe’ that God exists.

There are many manifestations of how this worldview affects behaviour and the laws governing our countries. For instance, one in six Gen Z adults in the US identifies as LGBT, and that number is likely to continue to increase (News gallup). Last week in Sweden, a new bill was introduced allowing legal gender change from age 12, without any examination or contact from healthcare authorities.

Spiritual revolution.

Although I’m not aware of any worldview studies in Africa, raising children in South Africa over the last 26 years has convinced me that the same spiritual revolution has swept over us. It is global rather than localized. Since the earliest days of our parenting in the late nineties and early 2000’s, there has been a massive shift in thinking and ideas. Even established words have been given new meanings and children are compelled to celebrate choices that are contrary to God’s truth.

If every value is considered fluid, no amount of tradition or religion will halt this drift, although a strong family and church can provide a much needed anchor. It’s important for us to understand that the majority of young adults believe that morality, justice and truth shift as society shifts. They are mere constructs of our personalities and cultures.

This relativistic belief is entrenched by the constant barrage of media. Facts have been discarded in favour of narrative. Gen Z is particularly susceptible, as 42% admit they are addicted to social media and can’t stop even if they tried.

Without God as our source of truth, it’s no surprise that so many people are constructing their own identities in search of freedom. Truth has become no more than personal desires, preferences and experiences. Justice is no longer based on true facts and objective evidence as the Bible defines it (Deut 19:15Lev 19:15Heb 10:28). Instead of worshipping God as the ultimate authority, we are ordered to bow to the ‘consensus’ of science or the ‘public good’, which changes from day to day.

As a result, Christ’s truth claims sound increasingly bizarre and offensive to our culture’s ears. Surely he can’t be the only way, the only truth?? It might not be long before foundational Christian beliefs, such as John 14:6, are considered more than controversial. They may be construed as hate speech.

How to respond to our post-truth culture.

And so, how should we, as Christians, engage with those who have a completely different worldview than our own? That may include our children, grandchildren, colleagues and friends who have been led to believe that all paths are equally valid, and reality is something that we invent for ourselves.

Shall we abandon Christ’s exclusive truth claims to keep in step with our culture and keep the peace? This seems to have been the tack of my son’s chaplain.

Or shall we cherry-pick the non-confrontational stories about Jesus and focus on his love and mercy in an attempt to sidestep his unpopular truth claims? Shall we just portray him as meek and lowly?

Or should we hunker down in Christian-only communities to avoid confrontation altogether? After all, no one wants to risk being labelled a narrow minded, phobic bigot these days!

I struggle with these questions too, but I know for sure that there’s plenty at stake in how we engage with our post-truth culture, or we will lose our saltiness. The apostle Paul warns the Colossian Christians, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col 2:8). Christians have never had the option of blending in with society!

A desire to blend in and keep the peace will render us silent, lukewarm and useless to God’s kingdom, like the Church in Laodicea (Rev 3:16). How can we expect people to find God unless we share the wonderful, countercultural truth of the gospel? (Rom 10:14).  We certainly can’t be complacent with our children, hoping that they’ll find truth on their own or learn it in their schools. The social current is simply too strong.

But complacency and compromise aren’t our only pitfalls. If we are full of indignation and anger with our confused culture, we will start to believe the worst of people, leading to sinful bitterness and withdrawal. Without love, we will have no positive effect on our culture at all.

I have come to realize my own need to ask the Lord daily for a combination of meekness and courage: “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy to all people” (Titus 3:1-2). But, at the same time, to speak bravely and truthfully, like Peter in his Pentecost sermon, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

A Christian who is complacent, indifferent or afraid to risk offense is as useless to Christ’s kingdom as a cynical, self righteous or hopeless Christian. Let’s avoid both pits!

Fully convinced.

Before we engage with any unbeliever, may we be fully convinced in our own minds that Christ alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In the Old Testament, only Yahweh could say, “I the Lord, speak the truth, and I declare what is right” (Isa 45:19). Yet, here is Jesus is claiming that He is the truth. He is therefore claiming to be God himself.

In our lostness, Jesus never expects us to follow blindly an unreasonable religion or ideology. He invites us to interrogate the data for ourselves and to view his miracles as objective evidence that his claims are true (John 14:11). But He does not merely offer us cold facts and evidence. He offers us Himself.

The Jesus of the Bible offers us personal truth in the form of a relationship with the God who made us. He reaches out to us individually. He satisfies our real needs and connects us with the God who loves us and made us for a purpose. As Abdu Murray writes,

“He is the truth our minds seek and the person our hearts embrace” (Saving Truth, p33).

Are you fully convinced that Christ has made God known to us, and He alone can give clarity in our cultural confusion? His Word, the Bible, is without mistakes and the final authority for determining what is true (what we must believe) and what is right (how we must live).

Do we test all our feelings, practices, experiences, preferences and choices against the claims and ethical standards of God’s Word? God’s Word is true for all time, for all situations, for all people. May we be set apart as Christ’s people, even as we try to be salt and light in the world. As Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). The Bible is the supreme standard of truth. If we aren’t fully convinced of this, we will be far from convincing.

Do we see clearly that every other ‘way’ leads to captivity and death; that every other ‘truth’ is a lie; that every other promise of happiness is a seductive mirage? Christ alone gives life its meaning. He alone offers freedom from sin, so that we can live, not as we want to, but as we ought. He frees us to enjoy life at peace with the God who made us. If we are not convinced of this, we too will be adrift in the sea of confusion.

May we be fully convinced that there is hope for us and our children in this post-truth world, because Jesus has promised that He will continue to make God known to every generation until He returns to take us home (John 17:2614:3). But we must be on our knees every day, asking the Holy Spirit to turn hearts of stone into flesh. Then we must believe Him without compromise, and let our speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt so that you will know how to answer each person (Col 4:6).