Wine from carefully tended vines

Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider recently used the wine-growing process as an image to give some very clear indications regarding our life of faith.

“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 bears fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit.” This passage from John 15,1.2 was what the Chief Apostle based his sermon on in Güstrow in Germany on 6 December 2015. A total of 14,600 brothers and sisters saw and heard the Chief Apostle either directly or via video transmission.

Fruit secures future life

“The image that the Lord Jesus gave us is a familiar one, and one that the French like especially,” the Chief Apostle said. “It is still current and relevant today.” Every believer and every congregation is to bring forth fruit,” he explained. The fruit is that part of the plant that contains the seed, in other words, that part of the plant that ensures its propagation,” he said.

“Our future is eternal life,” and in order to reach that we have to produce three-fold fruit.

  • “One of the seeds of eternal life is faith in Jesus Christ. And this faith becomes visible in us when we manifest trust in God.”
  • “Those who love Jesus Christ have the seed they need for eternal life. Love is manifest in our preparedness to sacrifice and to serve.
  • “Another seed of eternal life is perseverance. Even if I have ten reasons to give up, I will still carry on!”

No growth without a connection to the vine

“The fruit that we bear must absolutely grow forth out of our connection to Jesus Christ, otherwise it will have no effect for our future, for eternal life,” Chief Apostle Schneider made clear. He used an example to illustrate this. Those who sing in the choir usually do so because they enjoy singing. They do it for themselves. But if the primary motivation is to glorify God and proclaim our love for Him, then this will also be conducive to eternal life.

“Without Christ we cannot bring forth this kind of fruit. For this we need fellowship with the Lord. We can only bring forth fruit if we absorb the word of God, something that is only possible through the effects of the sacraments. And for this we need the gift of the Holy Spirit and Holy Communion.”

The purpose of the congregation

“The vine is also an image for the congregation, which too has to produce fruit.” Here too we are talking about a seed for the future. “What purpose does the congregation serve? Why is there such a thing as a church?” the Chief Apostle asked and listed three points in response.

  • “When the congregation comes together it serves to worship God and profess His greatness, His power, and His love, and to glorify Him. That is the purpose of the congregation, and it has to produce fruit.”
  • “Another kind of fruit is unity, something the congregation can only bring about if its members understand themselves as the body of Christ. Each of us is in the service of Christ and in the service of his or her neighbour.”
  • Prayer is an important task of the congregation. We pray for the most important thing, namely for the coming of the Lord. And we pray that the bride may be prepared.”

A cleansing process

Those who know a lot about wine know that the wine-grower has to prune the grape-vine from time to time to optimize its growth and potential to produce good wine. Today God is preparing His spiritual harvest by subjecting the believers to a kind of pruning, a cleansing process. This occurs

  • through His word: “Do I reflect and call myself into question when I hear the word from the altar?”
  • through His grace: “A new start. That is the whole point of grace. Otherwise it would be absolutely useless.”
  • through trials: “Suffering, pain, and need have never been the cause for anyone’s salvation. Trials only benefit us if we accept the word and grace of God at such times and work with it.”

“The Lord wants us to bring forth even more fruit,” Chief Apostle Schneider said in conclusion. For this the Lord subjects us to a cleansing process. “May this wish and desire be found in all of us: ‘Yes, Lord, I am in agreement with everything You decide! I want to yield even more fruit!’”

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Andreas Rother
Germany, Chief Apostle, Divine service