I wanted to share a sermon with you. This is not my sermon but one that I have read from a book, and perhaps you have too. It was from one of the famous holiness ministers of the past, Bona Fleming. The message was preached to the students at God’s Bible School I think, and it called Abiding In Christ. You may read the whole book, Truth on Fire or purchase a real copy from Schmul Publishing Co. Please read and be blessed as I was with this wonderful message. Let me know what you think.
Bible reading John 15:1-11.
The eleventh verse of this chapter says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy
might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” This is not my text but it is a good one. You
find the person that has no joy and you have found a powerless person. You find a person with joy
and you have found a person with power; for the “joy of the Lord is your strength.” You may be a
physical giant but not a spiritual one. Find a person that never smiles, never praises the Lord, and
you will find a powerless person.
“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth
fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
If Jesus were to preach today as He did while He was here upon earth, and if He used the
same illustrations and got points from the same source, they would say that He could not preach.
He did not tell us anything about the planets or the stars. He could have, but He preferred to get
right down to earth for His illustrations.
He was going along one day and He told His disciples to stop. He preached them a sermon
about the sower going forth to sow. He went a little farther and saw the sparrows flying overhead.
He stopped again and preached to them about the sparrows. He said, “Are not two sparrows sold
for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father Fear ye not
therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” If your Heavenly Father takes care of the
sparrows He will take care of you. He made them feel as though they were worth something.
A few steps farther on Jesus looked into the field and saw the lilies, and He preached
another sermon to His disciples that the world has not got over.
Then He went a little farther and saw the sheep going into the door, and He stopped and
preached a sermon about the sheep. He said, “Verily verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by
the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.”
He preached about the old hen and her chickens. If a man were to preach about chickens
today they would say, “He is in the poultry business and that is all he knows about.”
He could have taken His illustrations from the stars, the sun, and heaven, but the crowd
would not have understood them. He preferred to talk about things of everyday life. They had been
walking along where they saw rocks and the vines hanging down over them and they saw the fruit
on the branches. He stopped them again. You see a branch has no power to bear fruit but the vine
must bear the branch. The branch must bear the fruit. They all could see that. “Now,” He said, “I
am the true vine.” That indicates there must have been a false vine that looked almost like the real
vine. He said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” He told them they could do nothing without
Him. He was showing them spiritual things.
David said, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth
in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord:
and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of
water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season: his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he
doeth shall prosper.”
He said his leaves should not wither. Whether folk are going to pat us on the back or not,
look cross-eyed at us, push us, or whether folk boost us, we have been planted by the rivers of
When I was a little boy, we did not have Christmas trees as we have now. They usually
had one large tree in the church. The first one that I remember seeing was when I was just two
years, five months, and twenty days old. It was in a country church and there was the green tree on
the platform. We had those beautiful cedars in our yard which looked like the Christmas tree. This
tree had all kinds of fruit-apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, etc., hanging on it. Later I found out
that those things did not grow on Christmas trees. The usher took the fruit down the aisles and
distributed it. The fruit was all borrowed. It grew in the far south where the snow never comes and
the icicles never hang over the roof of the house. It was all tied on.
Now you know many people are like that. They are just tied on, as far different from being
a part of the true vine as this fruit on the cedar tree. People can borrow. They learn how to testify
and shout and pray and how to conduct themselves, and how to sing and how to lead singing and
preach, and do all of that without the Spirit. Just a lot of people have a good memory and they
know nothing about walking with the Lord. Perhaps they attend good spiritual services often and
hear people testify and pray so much that they can imitate to the very tone of the voice. This is a
true Christmas-tree experience. But we want something more than that.
Many go to the store and buy a new piece of furniture. Some will look like walnut, others
like maple, but you look only at the veneer. You find caskets that cost two and three hundred
dollars, but if you could see them made — see the rotten pieces of wood and worm-eaten boards
they put in those caskets — you would not think you were getting so much for your money. It is the
same way with religion. We are satisfied with almost anything today.
My mother used to plant flowers around the porch so that they would climb up on the porch
and keep the afternoon sun out. When the sun went down at night and the dew fell, the flowers
would open up. They were morning-glories. You never saw a morning-glory in full bloom at
twelve o’clock noon because under the heat of the sun the morning-glory closes up. What causes it?
It has no depth. The hot sun would kill it.
There are a lot of people like that. They get up in the morning, wash their face in cold
water and fix themselves up and feel quite religious, but feeling religious and being a branch of the
True Vine is altogether a different thing. Under the pressure and crushing influence and tests of the
day they go down as they have no depth.
Then we have another flower called the four o’ clock. It never blossoms until after four in
the afternoon because it has not depth. It comes out after sunset and stays open all night.
There is another one called the touch-me-not. There are touch-me-nots all around us —
touch-me not, for if you touch me I will go to pieces and there will be something doing.
We were out visiting and my brother’s little girl was with us. The lady had flowers all
around the porch. The little daughter stepped off the porch and picked some of the flowers. She
came and said, “Touch it.” We went to touch it and it fell all to pieces. She said, “That is a
We have plenty of those around us, but we want something better than that. We have
another called the snap-dragon.
There are some people who talk about others, find fault about them and talk about them
behind their backs. If you have something to say, say it to their faces; do not be guilty of snapping
at them behind their backs.
On one of my trips I stopped in a depot in St. Paul, Minnesota. I had a few hours to wait
and was walking around in the station. I saw a nice looking man with his wife and two children.
He was smoking a cigarette in the depot, which he had no right to do. I watched him as he stepped
up to the window and bought his ticket. He had a clergy book but he was smoking a cigarette. I was
thinking that I preached against cigarettes. Just then something said, “Why not go to him face to
I did. I said to him, “Why don’t you give your wife and daughter and little son a cigarette,
then you could all smoke together?”
He said, “Man, are you crazy?” Do you think I want my wife and little children to smoke
cigarettes? How can you speak to me like that?”
I said, “I see you are a preacher. I saw you take your clergy book out there by the window.”
He said, “I am. Who are you?”
I told him it did not matter who I was. He said, “Where I preach all the men smoke
I told him he was a minister and should be an example to those to whom he preached. His
wife was nodding her head to all I said and seemed to agree with me. He said, “Man, you have no
right to talk to me like this.”
I told him I had already talked to him. He walked around, still smoking. Directly he
stepped out the door, and when he came back he came and sat by me and said, “Where are you
from, and who are you?”
I told him my name and my occupation. He said that he never had a man talk to him like
that. He said, “I got angry and thought you had no business to do so. You are the first man who ever
spoke that way to me. I went outside and cleaned my pockets of all the tobacco. I told the Lord I
would never smoke another cigarette while I live.”
I helped that man by going to his face. Do not go around to people’s backs talking about
them, but go to their face. I believe what I am preaching.
We have another plant called the everlasting plant. It is a beautiful little plant. A lot of folk
believe in that and they call it “Everlasting Security,” but it has been known to die. We have
something different. What is it? It is called the old-fashioned rose.
I found this rose in a flower book in my home. It said that the old-fashioned rose was hard
to find. I went to the library to find why it is so hard to find. The book said this — “It does not have
to be watered, you can walk over an old-fashioned rose and its fragrance will be upon you
wherever you go.” It does not seem to care whether it rains or not, whether it is planted in Arizona
or New Mexico where nothing grows but jack-rabbits and sagebrush, its roots go down to find the
water. It will never stop with shallow underground streams, it goes on down and strikes the hidden
rivers that never run dry. One of those roses had roots which were found eighty feet beneath the
surface. It went after water and got it. It had touched a hidden spring that the morning-glory, the
four-o’clock and the touch-me not knew nothing of. This may be why the old-fashioned rose is so
hard to find. They have taken this rose and grafted on to it and put it in hot-houses until it has been
made much more beautiful than before, but it lost its fragrance, and the fragrance of the rose is the
soul of the rose.
I have walked through many gardens of flowers in this nation. They looked beautiful but
they had lost their old-fashioned fragrance. We can live on the surface and go to church and instead
of going on down and striking the hidden springs, we are satisfied with something less. God wants
us to get the old-fashioned fragrance in our souls.
I was reading about some girls who, as they walked down on the farther side of the street,
the perfume from them reached to the other side. They were not trying to send out the fragrance;
they were not conscious of the fragrance. The girls worked in a perfume factory where the
windows and doors were closed and their clothing and hair were saturated with perfume and the
fragrance filled the air. I believe God can so fix us that we will not need to have a sign on to tell
folk who we are, but there will be a spiritual fragrance in our lives that will make folks recognize
we have learned of Him and that He dwells within.
I was in a large city and picked up the Saturday paper, as I always do, and looked over the
subjects the preachers were using for Sunday morning. I read the subject of a preacher who had
seventeen hundred members. What do you think his subject was? “Better Streets for the City.”
Later, I inquired what he preached on and was told that he preached on street improvement. Now
you bring in a blind man or blindfolded person and let him listen. Ask the blind man where he is,
and he would think he was listening to the Mayor making a speech to the Council. But you bring a
man in God’s house and with God’s man in the pulpit and God’s people in the pews, and he will not
be there long until he will be sensible of an old-fashioned fragrance. Someone will praise the
Lord. Someone will say Amen. Many people will not be able to understand.
I was up in the north a few years ago, where the snow was deep, and they were coming to
church in sleds. One man came to me and said, “I want you to go home with me for dinner.” I told
him I would like to go to the farm, but I was afraid I would catch cold riding so far.
He said, “I will put you on a feather bed, cover you with blankets, and you will not even
smell the cold.”
I told him all right, I would go. He did just as he said he would do. After dinner we got to
talking about the farm. He said, “Let’s go out to the barn.” It was a big barn with horses and cows
and sheep. On one side of the barn was a big tank and water was just rolling into the tank. “Where
does this come from?” I asked.
“Down in the field I have an artesian well.”
“Let’s go down and see it.”
He said, “The snow is deep. It will be drifted in and we will be up to our knees.”
I told him I did not care, we would go down there.
He said, “All right, since you are determined we will go.”
He took a large wrench and down through the field we went to the artesian well. He took
the big wrench and unscrewed the cap and the water shot up fourteen feet in the air. The snow all
around and the water going up into the air made it look like a million diamonds. It got hold of me
and I said, “Brother, that is what I have in my soul.”
“What do you mean, Brother Fleming?”
“I mean what I say.”
He said, “You will have to explain that.”
“I mean there is a well in my heart.”
He said, “Man, I never heard anybody talk such stuff as that.”
You read it over and over in the Bible. In the fourth of John what does it say? You
remember when Christ’s disciples were gone to the city and He was tired and sat down by the side
of the well, and the woman came to draw water? He told her that if she would drink of the water
from that well, she would thirst again, but if she would drink of the water of life she would never
thirst, but it would be in her a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. She got the well and
then went back to the city and many believed on Him through her testimony. Jesus used this figure
of the well — not a pump, nor a pond, but a well of water springing up.
I was down in Texas preaching, and one day a man took me to a river. He tried to show me
that no bottom had been found. He said he did not know where it came from, the whirling, whirling
pool. If a person placed anything dead in it, it would whirl it away; it would not keep anything
dead around it. I said, “That is what I have in my soul.”
He said, “Where do you get that?”
I told him in the Bible. John speaks of rivers of living water. He said that all believers
should have rivers of living water. When a sinner repents he gets a well of living water; when the
believer is sanctified the Scriptures say, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But
this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was
not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”
Isaiah said, “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” This was under
the law. The water had to be drawn, but Jesus said the well would spring up, and when the Holy
Ghost comes in the river will flow out.
The oil men in Oklahoma drilled a little deeper a few years ago and struck such a gusher of
oil that it blew the machinery out and threw oil into the air for eleven days, and sprayed people’s
houses and farms for miles and miles around.
The reason people fail to get a gusher today is because they do not go deep enough.
Brother, there is a gusher coming. You can have it tonight. All the people in the world cannot keep
you from striking a gusher, if you will go deep enough. You do not have to wait, you can have it
tonight. Look up to God, and tell Him you are not going to stop until you strike the hidden streams
of living water that He wants to put in your heart. Don’t you want it? Don’t you want to strike the
hidden river? Don’t you want to be a branch of the Living Vine? He will come to your soul and
start the birds to singing and the flowers to blooming. Will you accept Him?”