Standing on the Promises
Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7
My friend’s brother (when they were both children) assured his sister an umbrella had enough lift to hold her up if she would only “believe.” So “by faith” she jumped off a barn roof and knocked herself out, suffering a minor concussion.
What God has promised, He will do. But we must be sure we stand on God’s actual word when we claim a promise, for only then do we have the assurance that God will do or give what He’s promised. Faith has no power in itself. It only counts when it’s based on a clear and unambiguous promise from God. Anything else is just wishful thinking.
Here’s a case in point: God has promised, “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit” (John 15:7–8). These verses are not a promise that God will answer every prayer we utter, but rather a promise that He will respond to every longing for personal righteousness, what Paul calls “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22–23). If we hunger and thirst for holiness and ask God for it, He will begin to satisfy us. It will take time; for spiritual growth, like human growth, is gradual. Don’t give up. Keep asking God to make you holy. In His time and at His pace “it will be done for you.” God doesn’t make promises He doesn’t keep.
Read about the promises of God at discoveryseries.org/q0105.
The context of abiding in the vine (John 15:1–8) is vital to understanding this passage, but it’s even more helpful to take a step back and look at the entire scene. It’s the night before Christ will be crucified. Judas has already gone to betray Jesus (John 13:30). Jesus and His disciples have just departed the upper room where they shared the Last Supper. As they walk, the Lord refers to two metaphorical groups: branches that bear fruit and those that don’t. The good branches abide in the vine and are pruned (disciplined). Unfruitful branches don’t abide and are cut off.
Bible scholar William Hendriksen points out the significance of Judas’s recent departure in light of Jesus’s words here. Judas did not abide in the vine. Jesus encouraged the remaining disciples to abide and “bear much fruit” (v. 8). Significantly, the eleven who remained were all persecuted for defending the faith. Ten of them died for it (tradition says John died peacefully in his old age after returning from Patmos). Yet God kept His promise to them. Although He did not deliver them from physical attacks, He gave them boldness to proclaim the truth.
We who “abide in the vine” will be “pruned.” What might that mean for us?