Abide in the Vine, or abide in eternal fire…which will you choose?
Jesus gave His disciples and all of us a dire warning when He said the following – “’If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.’” (John 15: 6) We are all born under the condemnation of Adam and Eve’s original sin. We are born with a fallen or sinful nature. In ourselves, in our fallen human nature, we cannot work our way out of the physical and spiritual death penalty we are under. We are in need of outside intervention – redemption. God, the Almighty Eternal Spirit, humbly came to earth, veiled Himself in human flesh, and became the only eternal ransom and sacrifice who offers us freedom from our eternal bondage. We read in Hebrews – “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” (Heb. 2: 9) Consider what a loving and caring God we have that He would rescue us – “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb. 2: 14-15)
Paul taught the Romans a vital truth – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6: 23) What is sin? The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary defines it this way – “Sin is anything contrary to the character of God. Since God’s glory is the revelation of His character, sin is a coming short of the glory or character of God.” (Pfeiffer 1593) From Romans 3: 23 we learn the true harsh reality about everyone of us – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So what does all of this have to do with John 15: 6? Why did Jesus say that those who did not abide in Him would be cast out and thrown into the fire? Jesus, after His death and resurrection, revealed to the apostle John the following vision of the great white throne judgment (the judgment of those who rejected Jesus’ gift of redemption) – “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20: 11-15) Their rejection of what Christ did for them, leaves them standing before God pleading their own works for their redemption. Unfortunately, no matter how much good they may have done in life, if they rejected the gift of grace (complete payment for complete redemption through Jesus Christ), they reject any hope of eternal life. They instead choose the second death, or eternal separation from God. For all eternity they will dwell in the “lake of fire.” Jesus spoke of this separation when He told the self-righteous Pharisees, who were attempting their own justification before God – “’I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come…You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.’” (John 8: 21-24)
Jesus said before He died – “It is finished.” Our eternal redemption is complete. We just need to accept it by faith in what Jesus did for us. If we do not accept it, and continue to pursue our own salvation, or follow instead the spiritually deadly teachings of Joseph Smith, Muhammad, or many other false teachers, we may by our own choice choose eternal death. Where do you want to spend your eternity? Today is the day of salvation, won’t you come to Jesus, surrender your life to Him and live!
Pfeiffer, Charles F., Howard F. Vos, and John Rea, eds. Wycliffe Bible Dictionary. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1998.