John 15:5-6  “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches, that he shared with his disciples on the night before he died, provides an excellent picture of the relationship between JUSTIFICATION and SANCTIFICATION.  The two main points made by the parable are these: the only way we can have spiritual life, and therefore fellowship with the one true God, is by being ‘grafted into Christ’ (justification); and, the way we can be sure that this grafting is real, and not just a figment of our imagination, is by the evidence of authentic ‘fruit’ in our lives (sanctification).

Justification and sanctification are two distinct and different aspects of our salvation, but they constitute a ‘package deal’ – we can’t have one without the other.  The only way we can ever be acceptable to a holy God is to be clothed with the righteousness Christ earned FOR US by HIS perfect obedience to the Father’s will; and to have our sins forgiven through HIS SUBSTITUTIONARY, SACRIFICIAL DEATH; Jesus refers to this as being a branch that is grafted into the vine.  Jesus is the [only] True Vine; there is no other.  “Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).

The fruit that grows on the vine contributes nothing to the success of the graft, the melding together of the vital plant cells that are the source of the vine’s life and fruit-bearing.  Nevertheless, when the farmer wants to discover if the graft is REAL he doesn’t have to dig into the graft and use a microscope to see if the cells are all connected together; he only has to see if there is FRUIT on the vine.

In other words, fruit=successful graft; NO fruit=graft failure!  James could well have had this parable in mind when he wrote about ‘faith that works’ (James 2:14-26): his challenge to us all is valid: “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (18).  This statement makes it clear that FAITH is the ONLY basis of our salvation (sola fide); but there can be no assurance of the validity of that faith if genuine fruit is ABSENT.

What fruit can you see that AUTHENTICATES your faith?