The Church, in the New Testament, is described many different ways. We have been looking at the various names and expressions for the Church in the past week and a bit. Let’s jump in and continue…
11> A Vineyard
See: John 15
Jesus Christ is the Vine and we are the branches. The vine and the branches cannot be separated from one another. In a real sense, the branch is in the vine, and the vine is in the branch. When the branch is in the vine it bears fruit. The branch is the assembly of believers that we call the Church.
In any cluster of grapes, some grapes will be green. These green grapes will not bear fruit until they ripen or mature. But, these green grapes must remain in the cluster in order for them to ripen. If a grape is removed from the cluster and left on its own, it will crinkle and wrinkle. That is, it will become a raisin. So, the vine is Jesus, the branch is the Church, and the gapes are believers who are relationally connected to Christ and to one another. This then is the Church.
Our fruitfulness as a church (the branch that bears fruit – grapes) is directly connected to the depth of our personal relationship with the vine – Jesus. So, we must focus on Jesus and take the time and make the effort to have a deep, personal, intimate, ever-deepening, daily, unique love relationship with Jesus (the Vine). We must never let anything hinder the development and deepening of that intimate relationship.
Romans 6:23b “The gift of God is eternal life”
John 17:3 Defines the gift called ‘eternal life’…
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
So, in your local church … Is your church like a vineyard where the cluster of grapes lives and grows together? Or is it made up of ‘raisin Christians’ who live outside the cluster? Is your church extending outside of itself to influence others or is it insular and ingrown?
12> A Sheepfold
See: John, chapters 10 and 21;1 Peter 2
Jesus Christ is the Great Shepherd, and we are His beloved sheep. Sheep are the only animal that requires the existence of a human being for their survival. Sheep are the most helpless of God’s creatures. A sheep left on its own will die. Sheep also travel together. If one of them moves independently from the flock, they will be raw meat for predators.
So, in your local church … Do the members of your church seek and follow the direction of the one Shepherd together? Or do they blindly follow a human being? Do they all move together as a flock with one mind? Or do they move independently and individualistically, as sheep without a Shepherd?