Why God Will Not Cast You into the Fire
Branches are Not Sticks (John 6:37)
Whoever comes to me I will never cast away. (John 6:37)
Jesus promised he would never cast away those who come to him, yet some people fear he might. Why? Because Jesus is fickle and he changes his mind a lot.
Of course, that’s not true, yet some worry that it might be true, because of what he said here:
If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. (John 15:6)
How do these words make you feel? Read them again, then see which of the following responses best describes your reaction:
- “I’m in trouble. I don’t know if I’m abiding, so I’m in danger of being cast into the fire.” This is the response of the uncertain or lukewarm mind. It’s the response of someone who has not fully understood the good news of grace.
- “These words aren’t for me because I’m a good Christian. I’m not perfect, but I’m at least better than 50% of the people reading this.” This is the response of the self-righteous. Again, it’s the response of someone who has not understood the good news of grace.
- “I’ve got nothing to fear because God loves and he will never leave me. Since I am one with the Lord, it is impossible for him to cast me away.” This is the response of those who have been set free by the gospel and are growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.
If your response was an insecure (1) or a self-righteous (2), don’t worry; you’ve come to the right place.
To the self-righteous and those of you who think you are good enough for God, I have some liberating news: you are wretched, poor, blind, and naked. God’s law says so.
Okay, so that wasn’t good news, but this is: Jesus gives grace to the wretched and he clothes the naked. Put off your filthy rags and put on the spotless garments of his righteousness.
No one is good enough for God, but God is more than good enough for us. His best is better than your worst. His grace is greater than your self-righteousness. Believe it.
And now some good news for the insecure and anxious. In the parable of the vine and the branches (John 15:1-8), Jesus talks about two kinds of people:
- Those who abide in him
- Those who don’t abide in him and are cast away
Question 1: Who abides in Jesus?
The believer. “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15).
A believer, by definition, abides in the Lord. They are not merely branches, but “branches in me” (John 15:6). Because a believer is in union with the Lord, they bear his fruit, and if they don’t, God nurtures them and lifts them up. He doesn’t cut them off.
Question 2: Who doesn’t abide and is cast away?
The unbeliever. Reject the life that Christ offers, and you will have no life in you. You will be a dead stick rather than a living branch.
This is what happened to the religious Jews who rejected Jesus. They “were broken off for their unbelief” (Rom. 11:20). Who broke them off? Not God, but themselves. “They stumbled… they sought to establish their own righteousness … they killed the prophets” (Rom. 9:32, 10:3, 11:3).
Some think that God cuts off unfruitful branches because God cut off the Jews, but “God did not reject his people” (Rom. 11:2); the Jews rejected God. And by Jews I mean the Jews as a nation rejected Jesus, while many individual Jews accepted him.
Question 3: What’s the takeaway?
Abide in the love of God.
Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; abide in my love. (John 15:9)
We don’t abide to get into the love of God; we get to abide because he loves us. Notice the order in the verse above. There is a proclamation (unconditional love from God to you through Jesus) followed by an invitation (abide in that love; agree that Jesus is the Son of the God who loves us).
When you know how much God loves you, you’ll stop striving to earn his love. You will not fear that he may cut you off and cast you away. (He promised he wouldn’t.) You will be at home in his love.
Your heavenly Father loves you. There is nothing you can do to make him love you more, and nothing you can do to make him love you less.
“Abide in the vine” is both a statement of your union with Christ and an exhortation to live from the pleasant security of that union.
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Truly an annointed message of God. Thanks for such edifying messages. God’s grace and peace be multiplied to you, brother Paul.
Thank you so much Paul! I deal with insecurity. The churches I attended as a child taught that you could lose your salvation. Of course they believed the branches were believers. 1 John 4:15 was so liberating for me! When I saw that verse I was like YES!
What about Verse 2: every branch in me(believer) that bear no fruit? and verse 10: If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love. This exhortations are to the disciples. I liked your point on the order of verses (God loved us first) and that love and grace flows in us to enable us to love others. Thank you!
I unpack the good news in John 15:2 in this article.
Brilliant as always.
I was blind, then saw my spiritual bankrupt life, and knew how poor I was.
Now I have eyes of Life, a son in Grace with love lavished through me! I am accepted, secure, and unqiue.
Thank you Paul and team for your work!
I seem to have an ability to manifest death from time to time. I am still one with the Lord and in no danger of being cast out, yet the fruit of His life is temporarily out of view. I don’t think I’m abiding in His love every minute of every day. This does not change the fact that He loves me unconditionally for eternity, but sometimes I’m receiving it and sometimes not so much. I think this is true of anyone who has accepted Jesus.
I love that you explain verses that seem to contradict each other. I know someone who gave up on reading the Bible and feels like it’s all lost in translation and not accurate because of contradictions they don’t understand. What a shame. Thank you for making a difference in our lives!
I too know people who have given up on the Bible. It makes me sad. It’s like throwing away heavenly treasure.
Amen to that!
Thanks Paul. Such a misinterpreted verse. We need your clarifying teaching. Bless you!
Lovely and encouraging. Truth heals.
Thank you Paul.
Thank you for this post. It is the best when we build each other up and remind each other of the truth. Thank you again for this reassuring word from the scriptures.
It continues to amaze me that people take what is good news – in fact Grace is great news! – and they drag it back down to the level of bad news again. It seems that most Christians interpret the Bible through a pessimistic lens. I wonder why this is?
tonycutty – re: your inference to, through what lens do Christians interpret the bible? You asked the question: “… Why this is”?
Ever wonder why Paul is saying, “insiders vs outsiders”, when he makes a distinction between the Saints (in his day) & those he considered as “just others”, who happen to attend the many Gatherings or Assemblies of his day?
Was he not referring to the fact that Saints are insiders – where he actually uses the word, “outsiders”, to distinguish those others in the same meetings? (i.e.) Mk 4:11, 1 Cor 5: 11, 1 Cor 6: 1-5.
In essence, there are many people in the Body; true Followers of Yahusha (Jesus) [for the sake of making the point here, call them, Christians] but there are a number of people who are not Branches in the Vine (part of the Body) – the same today.
In some cases, the people (here in this string) interpreting the bible are not regenerated, Revelation given – a dead spirit made alive. They cannot know the significance of, what is the truth, given by the Truth. So, would not understanding from Wisdom say – that many will only receive (actually hear) parables (stories), but not the Revelation of the truth re: their eternal security by the promise of Yahusha (Jesus)? Yet, they look like true believers because this is what is common amongst the Gatherings of the Saints – even today.
We don’t abide to get into the love of God; we get to abide because He loves us!
This is fantastic stuff Paul!
Thank you, Peter.
There are scriptures that seem to indicate God loves some more. I read them but I’m questioning it because it involves keeping score which can be innocent but usually isn’t. God is too good to resort to that although it seems to fuel religion. Is there any knowledge that can fill people with pride and hatred for evil at the expense of the Friend of sinners?
Another gem Paul. The more I read and study His Word the more I see how secure the believer in Christ is. I also see the importance of ministering the truth of eternal security. I think at some point or another most believers have wondered if they missed it once too often or sensed they had or come real close to crossing the proverbial line. Under mixture it seems the seems the message, salvation: He starts it you finish it.
The term “to abide” then seems to be saying like the Apostle Paul wrote “reckon yourselves dead to sin”. It is so. Thanks for words that build me up.
There seems an absence here of [not suggestions of]: “What is the fruit”? What do the Branches in Him actually produce? A chestnut tree forms seed, resulting in the production of chestnuts. Would the fruit of the Branch in the Vine not be, the resulting active; increasing numbers of disciple makers? Thus the fruit are disciples (the seed) producing disciple makers (the chestnuts)?
Our new nature then as disciples, is to continually teach others, who are grafted in to the Vine – to personally (continually) be that True Follower of Yahusha (Jesus) – who then assist in encouraging others who are also grafted in to the Vine to live the same way… teaching & encouraging – making disciples.
What happens when we as grafted in Branches to the Vine – judge the world yet, do not judge (sin) those in the Body of the Vine (those we have regular, ongoing life with)? Are we not going to receive judgement from the Father (Yahuah), GOD – for our (judging the world) disobedience? Surely the bible tells us otherwise.
Then why would we not also receive judged for, “not bearing fruit”, as grafted in Branches to the Vine?
I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where fruit is supposed to indicate numbers of people / disciples.
Thanks Michelle for reaching out to me. I concur, the fruit of a True Follower (TF) is never about numbers [as in Evangelism]. My attempt at showing a separation between – what makes a mature Saint [Branch in the Vine} re: their security, being in the Vine vs those who look as thought they are part of the Body yet, are not even new converts – kinda flopped.
The fact, there will be those cast away – must be fodder for a conversation going forward for any in the string here. That to me is as much or more an issue for contemplation than our surety of Salvation.
Thus: my inference to mature Saints (TF), Disciples – being disciple makers in the Body. There are several verses ([i.e.] Mk 4:11, 1 Cor 5: 3. 1 Cor 6: 1-5) helping us to understand the importance – Paul puts on the differences; those inside & outside the Body. And still today, this is a reality in our local Gatherings/Assemblies. Our (TF) surety is complete because of the promise from Yahusha (Jesus) yet, the Saints need encouraging & strengthening to be making disciples – more perhaps than sharing the Good News with the world outside the Body.
I do believe she meant that fruit in scripture is neve connected with getting others saved. Fruit in scripture is a word picture for Spirit given character qualities and their connected behaviors. While evangelizing is an related action the new believers that result are not the fruits we Christ followers manifest.
There is something amazing about the free gift Jesus bled and died to give us. A person who has believed for one second is just as secure and saved as a dedicated, mature believer who has know Jesus for forty years. Why? Because the security is based upon the gift giver not the maturity of the disciple. We should reach for maturity but not because we expect that to seal our eternity.
This reminds me of a part in the book of Hebrews. The writer expresses that the readers should be teachers by now or able to teach by now. A person might not be able to teach what they do not know. Most teaching that occurs (that I understand in the NT) is that we live from the indwelling or fusion we have with God. An encouragement consistently to be fully dependent upon that and not systems (I am not saying your into systems) seems weird but where I am headed. So proving God’s fulfillment of His promise to Abraham and that righteousness (meaning full fulfillment of covenant) is only available by belief not works. Belief (bread) mixed with the works (leaven) of any reasoning that believes we have to fulfill a covenant produces all manner of independence from God. Belief that God totally fulfilled the covenant without us but for us produces works dependent fully on God. Your heart that see here to see works is encouraging and not shamed by me at all. I pray you see the works of God more and more and do the works with God more and more.
I wonder if context is also important to clarifying this verse. Jesus’s audience was the Jews. They all thought they were “in.” We tend to interpret these things from a modern perspective of two kinds of people – believers and non-believers. It seems obvious who they are – professed Christians and professed non-Christians.
But that is not who He was talking to. His audience was two kinds of people – Jews who believe and Jews who think they’re “in” because they’re Jews. Everyone in his audience thought they were a branch. Look at all of the gospels, Jesus doesn’t juxtapose believers and reprobates, he juxtaposes believers and religious people.
Here, He is taking their image of themselves and using it. The ones who don’t really believe, THINK they are part of the tree, and maybe in some sense they are since they are Jewish. The real point of this metaphor is to say that just being a Jew is not enough to save you; you will be cast out. It’s only the believing Jews who will be saved. Abiding in Him MEANS being a believer.
This should lead us to apply this to ourselves not as believers trying hard to make sure they are “abiding.” In our day, the message here is to religious people. Your works will not save you, only believers get to stay.
AllenW – Great get__ Yes, since the beginning [in this case AD 33, approx.] & still today, folks (professed True Followers [Believers] & professed non-Followers [others]) were intermingled in the meetings of the Saints. Most in “churches” today, would most likely say, they themselves, are all-in too. As in, when asked… I “think’ I am going to Heaven”.
Yahusaha (Jesus) did speak to separating Believers from others. He also literally often kept the truth veiled to those who were not regenerated Saints – adopted in to the Kingdom. By the power of HS He even inspired Paul with the same messaging after His Death & Resurrection. Parables were used to keep certain messaging from the un-regenerated.
Thus: to my point throughout the string here__ Believers are not only (Abiding from the day they first believed) commanded to tell the God News to the un-regenerated world but to be diligent in helping mature Believers be actively involved in Disciple making – teaching one another what is, living (abiding) in Him look like. The Law of Yahuah (GOD) carries great insight. The Sabbath is a good example.
Steve, I was in ” The Church of Christ ” for almost two years and realized there was something wrong. The most important thing to them was bringing in new disciples. If you weren’t inviting enough people, then you must not be a good Christian. Now that I am resting in God’s magnificent grace, I just automatically want to tell others about Him.
What was the path that found you in the C of C – then realizing something was wrong, gave you cause to leave & find a Gathering / Assembly else where?
Your inference to, ” I just want to tell others about Him”__ This is the gist of my writing you twice. Sharing the Good News (the History of Yahusha Jesus’ Earthly days) is an important thing to be engaged in but isn’t that just what the Church of Christ was also doing? Isn’t bringing in new people, the point of your telling the Good News too – where ever you find yourself now?
Remember: Where ever you are, in what ever circumstance – what others think of us, is non of our business. The best we can be – is to be who we are in Yahusha Jesus, regardless of what we are doing at any point in our lives.
My point was to expand on the fact that true Followers are commanded also to be disciple makers (that doesn’t mean having anything to do with new converts to faith in Yahusha Jesus). Disciple Makers are not “new disciples:, as in very new believers. They are maturing believers, having been in the Body for a time. They are those that Paul says, need encouraged & strengthen to go & make true Followers (Disciples)… reproducing themselves along the Way. Ref: the verses provided in my last email above.
Momzilla – I do concur with every point in your last entry: Aug 8 2018; @ 9:39
Susan Prey, Paul Ellis – Yes & Amen! He, Yahuah is the Person, “Awesome”. In Rom 8:13-16: How might [AP] Paul make it any clearer? The fear Paul Ellis references in the above opening statement is absolutely shown in Rom 8:13-16 to be the opposite of, “what is false” – fear of the second death. Be it only though, a person is led by the Spirit of Yahuah. He does not prevent a person from living in the flesh, who presently have not a regenerated spirit (he clearly, gently – informs us – those adopted in to sonship [vs 15b] in Him; “when we”, are led by His Spirit & not the flesh).
And so, to those who are led by the Spirit of Yahuah. You no longer live by the flesh, fear of the second death is not at issue.
Steve, I do agree that members of the body of Christ need to encourage each other continually, with all the gifts and all the fruit given to us.
Is not the problem with fear (cast away, in this case), really a problem with too many people believing lying spirits? Perhaps, what is the gift of, “Discerning of spirits?” – might be a very good title for a future Escape from Reality, post?
It is time for the relatively few maturing Saints in the world to be encouraged & strengthened – to be equippers of the other Saints around them. No longer living by a fear (am I or am I not, adopted in to sonship in Yahusha [Jesus]?) that keeps them from reproducing true Followers of Yahusha (the Son-man, in the flesh, now the Glory) – but disciple makers.
The question (re: cast away – there is no such thing. “Cast away”, are those who are not born of the Spirit; those whose dead spirit is not made alive in Yahusha [Jesus]) can be put to bed by all who are in Him & He in them__1 Jn 5: 11-13.
HalleluYAH – Praise-you-YAH
I believe Jesus is not talking about casting away the backsliding believers nor the non-believers. Imagine Jesus was leaving the disciples, and he talked about casting the branches into fire? There was a mistranslation in Jn 15:2: Every branch that bears no fruit, he *lift it up* (and not ‘takes away’). Jesus was talking about 2 different season. Jn 15:2 is the preparation work before the harvest. Jn 15:6 is the work carried away in post harvest season (before winter), where unnecessary branches & leaves are cut away for hibernation. Jn 15:6 is talking about those who don’t abide in Jesus is like the thrown branches: unuseful for God (it’s like salt which has lost its saltiness). The take away?
1. God will lift us up when everytime we fail
2. People who trust their own strength cannot be used by God.
How relieving, huh?! God is good. All the time. Hallelujah!
You may be interested in this older article, “Are unfruitful branches lifted up?“
Thanks Paul! I didn’t know that you had already written about it. James Montgomery Boice also thought that it was mistranslated. Blessings!
I needed to read this. Thank You Jesus.