by Toli Bohonik
Jesus is the Messiah. He alone is the Savior of all of mankind. He came to this earth almost 2,000 years ago to save men and women from their sins and to offer them salvation. He has had an enormous impact on all nations, a worldwide impact. But His influence is especially strong in the Democracies of the Western World. In the Western Christian World each and every one of us will have the opportunity to choose whether to believe in Jesus or not. We can’t avoid the question or the person of Jesus Christ. There are Bibles everywhere, there are preachers everywhere, and He is preached everywhere.
Jesus Christ is the one most fundamental element of Western culture.
At some strategic point in each of our lives, each one of us will have to choose whether to accept Jesus as our personal Savior. And we will also have to decide to what degree we will follow His teachings. Will we follow in name only, or will we be obedient to His words?
Most of us are born into Christianity. Our parents were Christians and so we too become Christians. We grew up in some form of the faith, in one of many denominations. Some of us grow up very devoted to the denomination of parents, and others of us become converted and we move to a new and different denomination.
This normally happens when we mature and move into adulthood. It is as adults that we generally choose to follow Jesus. We accept Him as our personal savior, we repent of our sins, and in the Churches of God we are baptized into Jesus Christ. We follow the pattern set by the apostle Peter in the book of Acts, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.’” (Acts 2:38, New Authorized Standard Version)”.
We are the “children” and we are the ones who were “far off”.
That is how a Christian society works. There is no getting around this most fundamental of all choices in our Western Christian Democracies. We will all have to choose whether to become a Christian and to what extent we will live a good Christian life.
Once we accept Jesus and embrace Christianity our choices continue. We are then compelled to choose whether to live as Jesus taught us to live. We must choose to what extent we literally follow Jesus. There are varying levels of commitment in Christianity and there are varying levels of commitment to follow Christ.
In the Churches of God we have tried, to some degree, to embrace first century Christianity. We have embraced the Sabbath, Feast Days, clean meats, and other customs that they kept, but Church of God groups typically get their format for services and gospel preaching methods from modern-day churches. But most of us in the Churches of God have made a life-long commitment to follow Jesus Christ.
That commitment changes us.
If we are truly committed to follow Jesus, to live as He lived, we become a new person in Christ:
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2Cor 5:17–19, New Authorized Standard Version).
As committed Christians we have a relationship with the very Family of God, with God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son. We are tied to both of them through the Holy Spirit.
God the Father has reconciled us to Himself by and through His Son. It took Jesus’ death and the forgiveness of our sins to allow us to come before the Father and to allow us to be accepted by the Father. The entire world is slowly being reconciled to the Father. As Christianity continues to spread, as people accept Jesus and have their sins forgiven, the world continues to be reconciled to God the Father. This is still Satan’s world. He is still its present ruler.
We worship two divine beings. We worship and serve Jesus Christ and God the Father. It is important to remember that without Jesus we would not have access to the Father in the same way. We have been reconciled to the Father by the blood of Jesus.
After conversion, did you ever wonder what Jesus does for us and what the Father does for us? We have a special relationship with each one, but that relationship is different with each one. They both help us in different ways. They do different things for us.
Jesus explains the relationship that we have with Him and the Father in a very simple and easy to understand parable. He uses the analogy of a vine. Jesus tells us that He is the vine, we are the branches, and the Father is the vinedresser.
In a wonderfully simplistic analogy Jesus tells us how He interacts with us and how the Father interacts with us. Jesus defines our relationship with each of them. We read the details in John 15:1–5:
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 it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.
We are the branches and we are attached to Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us in verse 4, we are to abide in Him, just like a branch is attached to a vine and abides on the vine. When you think about the analogy of a vine, you realize that the strength and life of the branch comes solely through the vine. A branch can not live apart from the vine. It will quickly wither and die.
The same is true for those in Christ. Our life, our strength, and our help come solely through Jesus Christ, just as the strength of the branches comes solely through the vine.
A branch can’t live apart from the vine. The same is true for a Christian. He or she must abide in Christ. They can’t live apart from His strength. When there are storms, when there are draughts, when there is any sort of tumult, the branch is safe as long as it is attached to the vine. The same is true for Christians. We are attached to Jesus Christ and we must stay attached to Him.
As Christians our strength comes solely through Jesus. Paul wrote “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philipians 4:12–13, KJV).
Jesus is an ongoing Messiah, an ongoing Savior. That is His function and role. He is the vine. He is our strength. We have life through Him.
The Father, on the other hand, is the vinedresser.
A vinedresser plants the vine. Then he watches it grow. He will occasionally prune it. He seeks to improve the vine and the branches so that they bear as much fruit as possible.
The Father does the same thing for us. Once we are reconciled to Him through Jesus’ blood, He watches over us. He nurtures us. He allows trials to come. He corrects us. We are His very sons and daughters, and He makes us better sons and daughters.
The vinedresser does very different things than the vine. The vinedresser has a very different role than that of the vine. The Father and Jesus both love us, but they each help us in different ways.
When Jesus walked upon the earth He was the vine and the Father was the vinedresser. Jesus suffered many things just like we do, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18, NASV). The Father allowed trials to come upon Jesus. The Father taught Jesus and Jesus learned.
Jesus learned many things when He walked this earth. It was the Father, the vinedresser, who was His teacher, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:8–9).
The relationship of the vine and the vinedresser was the same in Jesus’ day as it is with us today. It was the Father’s intent to help Jesus grow, to teach Jesus, to have Jesus understand those things that Messiah needed to know. So Jesus went through many trials, just like us. Then He ended up dying on a cross. These were very difficult things to go through. The Father, the vinedresser, was teaching His Son.
When Jesus walked the earth the Father dealt primarily with the vine, our Lord Jesus Christ. Today there are branches. We are those branches. The Father deals with us in the same way he dealt with Jesus. Jesus provides for his branches through the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you (John 16:7).
Today the Father, the vinedresser, is pruning and teaching us. We are being corrected, we are being taught, and at times we are even “scourged”. Through all of our trials we must abide in Jesus and we must stay attached to the Him. He is the vine.
This correction from the Father can be quite hard. But Jesus is Messiah, He is there to help and strengthen us. That is the role of the Messiah once we are converted. He is our help and our strength. He is the vine and we must abide in Him.
The Father is the vinedresser who corrects us:
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (Heb 12:2–7, KJV).
Once we accept the Christianity of our parents or once we are converted, if we truly want to be Christian we must abide in Jesus just as a branch abides on a vine. “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” (1Jn 2:28).
The Father is the vinedresser who loves, nurtures and corrects us. The process continues with us. We, as branches, hold on to Jesus and look to Jesus the author and finisher of our salvation. Jesus is our strength. Jesus provides the help and strength we need to weather any trial we may encounter.