What This Popular Verse REALLY Means

Posted on July 13, 2022


By David Ettinger

A Sad Practice
One of the saddest practices among Bible readers – saved and unsaved – is taking select verses or passages and giving them a meaning the Holy Spirit never intended.

Much of these selections include the word “prosper” and are twisted to mean that God will give you anything and everything you want for merely claiming it. The immensely popular Jeremiah 29:11 is one of these, and so is the almost-as-popular Joshua 1:8.

Though wealth is sometimes included, such promises are speaking of the spiritual blessings given because of obedience to God. To “prosper” spiritually is the best kind of prospering imaginable.

Another popular verse which falls into this category is John 15:7: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Mistaken Meaning
Wrenched out of context, this verse makes our Sovereign God out to be a heavenly genie granting us any wish we desire. Prosperity Doctrine preachers are particularly fond of this seemingly God-give-me-everything-I-want verse.

Of course, those who love the Lord Jesus, love reading His Word, and seek to emulate Him as best we can. We sense on a surface level that John 15:7 is spiritual in meaning. As believers, this spiritual connotation of John 15:7 is crucial to our walk and work in the Lord Jesus, and it is vital we comprehend this.

The Meaning in Context
Fortunately, the key to understanding this verse is clearly given in the first two verses of John Chapter 15: “I [Jesus] am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

The words “fruit” and “fruitful” appear three times, and the words “bears” and “bear” two times. Clearly, this verse is speaking of “bearing fruit” – that is, serving Christ in that which He has given us to do.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God has equipped believers to do specific works of faith during our time here on Earth.

 Therefore, John 15:7 focuses EXCLUSIVELY on you and me bearing fruit for Christ: serving Him in that which He calls us to do, whether preaching the Gospel next door or the other side of the world; teaching a Sunday School class; praying for someone in need; or in a bevy of other callings. Yes, the key to comprehending John 15:7 really is that simple.

When the Lord says, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you,” He is not speaking about giving you the physical desires of your heart, but equipping you for the job He has given you.

If it is to preach in Iran, He will equip you for that. If it is to do street evangelism, He will give you the ability to do that if you remain faithful to Him. If your walk with God is solid, and you pray for enabling in the ministry for which He called you, “it will be done for you.”

A Reminder
But please remember the Lord’s admonition: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (v. 4). This is so important that Jesus repeats it in verses 5, 6, and 16.

So, if you remain faithful to God, will He give you “whatever you wish”? The answer is “yes” – if you are asking Him to equip you to serve Him in that for which He has called you.

May the Lord make you a fruitful vine for His kingdom as you diligently seek to serve Him!

David Ettinger is a writer/editor at Zion’s Hope, Inc., and has written for Zion’s Fire magazine since its inception in 1990.