Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9 (1894)


Ms 43, 1894

Sermon/Sabbath Afternoon Sermon, “The Vine and the Branches”

Ashfield, New South Wales, Australia

October 27, 1894

Portions of this manuscript are published in RC 247, 285, 355; 5MR 333-334.

John, the fifteenth chapter. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it (pruneth it), that it may bring forth more fruit.” [Verses 1, 2.] 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 1

Then let not any one of us consider because trials come upon us, poverty, sickness, the loss of property, which we have not power to control, that we are forsaken of God; because God wants you to give an evidence to the world of the power of His grace that enables the branches of the true Vine to show that patience, that forbearance, that hope, which we ought to show because we are branches of the true and living Vine. Now everyone that is abiding in the Vine will bear the same fruit of the parent stock. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 2

“Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you.” [Verses 2-4.] The very same sap and nourishment that nourishes the parent stock, nourishes the branch abiding in the vine. Christ is represented by the vine that imparts the nourishment, the vitality, the life, the spirit, the power, [so] that the branch can bear fruit, and then when affliction and disappointment comes, you are to show altogether a different character of fruit than the world. There is the evidence that you are connected with Jesus Christ, and that there is a power that sustains you in all your afflictions and disappointments and trials; and this power and this grace sweetens every affliction. [When] the cup of suffering may be placed to your lips, there is a Comforter, and Helper. The cup of consolation is placed in the hand, and it may be the happiest period of your life. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 3

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” [Verse 4.] Now, here are the most precious jewels of truth for every individual soul of us. Here is the only election in the Bible, and you can prove yourself elected of Christ by being faithful; you can prove yourself the chosen of Christ by abiding in the Vine. And He tells you that if you do not abide in the Vine, then you can bear no fruit. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” [Verse 5.] 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 4

Now you can see how foolish it is, how inconsistent it is, for those who have a special influence and a special work to perform in our world, that show capability, that show tact, that show that they have excellent qualities for usefulness and duty, how foolish it is for the human being to present them and praise them as wonderfully smart, as wonderfully capable; and the person feels that unless he can be fed with this kind of flattery and praise, that he does not really receive what is his due. Now, Christ tells us plainly that the whole power, the whole fruit-bearing quality, is in the parent vine stock. Then let them be abiding in Christ, and drawing the nourishment from Christ, and what shall we see? We shall see something, the world will see something. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 5

There is a clear line of distinction between the believing and the unbelieving, between those that obey God and those that disobey Him; there is a decided and marked difference in the fruit they bear. These that are searching diligently to know what are the precepts of Jehovah, which is indeed the representation, the transcript, of His character, [so] that they may imitate His character, will obey the precepts that God has given them. They will not seek to evade it, they will not trample it under feet, they will not be indifferent to God’s commandments. They will not say, “When I am in a favorable position, I will keep the commandments of God. I will steal from God His time for my own till I can see that He will give me His blessing and reward me for my obedience.” How much value is such a faith as that? How much value is such a trust in God as that? It is not worth anything at all, and after a little, all such branches will be taken away, because they do not draw the sap and the nourishment from the living parent stock. If they did, you would see them bearing fruit. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 6

Let us see what He says about it. Here He declares Himself to be the Vine. “Ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” [Verse 5.] Now, do you think that Jesus Christ who died upon the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty of transgression, to become a substitute and surety before the justice of God, to die on Calvary’s cross that we might become partakers of the divine nature—the sap that flourishes in the parent stock—that Jesus is going to be with us when we are walking right contrary to the commandments of God? He has given us another test, He has given us another trial, He has given us another probation, that we may prove whether we will be loyal to the God of heaven, to obey His commandments, or whether we will be disloyal because we consider that it is our privilege to be so. Because we cannot see the end from the beginning, and judge whether we are coming out all right or not, is it not best for us to believe God? Is it not best for us to be right because it is right? 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 7

Well now, He says, “Without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” [Verses 5, 6.] Well, what shall we do about the matter? Shall we consent to open the heart to Jesus and let Him come in? Shall we hear His knock at the door of our hearts and His voice saying that He has the gold, and He has the white raiment, and He has the eyesalve, and here are His goods that He wants us to buy of Him? Will we do it? It is our privilege to do it if we will; it is the greatest privilege and blessing that could ever be granted to the human being. In obeying God, shall we become fools and idiots? We may in the sight of the world. They may say it, but is it so? “The entrance of thy word giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple.” [Psalm 119:130.] Do we believe it? God wants us to arouse, and to exercise that living faith that shows our dependence upon Him entirely. Where is your faith? God help us that we may not think that after a time we will keep God’s commandments. We must keep them now if we would represent Christ in character. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 8

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” [John 15:7.] Disconnect from Christ because you think you will have a fairer chance outside of Him? Disconnect from Him, and then where are the rich treasures of heaven that when God gave us Jesus, He shows to the world, He shows to the universe of heaven. He testifies to the worlds unfallen—what? That He could not do more for man than He has done. That there was no reserve power greater that He could give to man, because when He gave Jesus He gave Himself, the God of heaven, and He gave all the treasures of heaven. Here we may draw from the heavenly resources of our strength. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 9

If you think in yourself you can take the case in your own hands, and can treat it better than the great Physician, you can try it; but I have decided I could not do it. I decided that I was sick, and that I knew not the extent of my disease nor its danger; but I came to Jesus, and I said, “Forgive me my sins, and give me Thy righteousness; pardon my transgression, forgive my sin.” This is the very work every individual has to do. And do you think you will ask Him to do it in vain? Do you think He will [hear your] call and not answer you? You call, and He will answer you. Why, He says He will. Don’t you believe it? Now He is testing us to see if we will trust Him, if He can take us to the heavenly courts above as members of the royal family and children of the heavenly King. He is testing us to see if He can make us heirs with His Son Jesus Christ, joint heirs with Christ, heirs with God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. And what does that involve? Obedience. It was the disobedience of Adam that lost Eden. It is God’s obedience to His commands that will gain for them Eden. It will be restored to them if they will obey the commandments of God. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 10

Now we have the promise. Whatsoever we ask, we shall receive, because we abide in Christ, and we are obedient children to all the commandments of God. “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me,” (now you know how God must love His only begotten Son) “so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” [Verses 8, 9.] So you see that the election that is for every one of us depends on our obedience. You can be disobedient and separate from God, and you can be obedient and continue in His love. “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.” Here is the condition of continuance. “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” [Verse 10.] 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 11

So you see, He places Himself—having taken the garb of humanity, having laid aside His royal crown, His royal robe, and [having] clothed His divinity with humanity He came to our world—[so] that humanity might touch humanity, that He might encircle the human race with His human arm, while with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite, that He might link finite man with the infinite God, and that He might connect this world, that has been divorced because of sin from the continent of heaven, that He might connect it through His own merits, with the universe of heaven. This is His work. Will you help Him in it? Will you labor together with God? Now, the Lord is watching us. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 12

The whole universe of heaven is looking upon this earth while the great conflict is being carried on between Christ, the Prince of life, and Satan, the prince of the world. And the same conflict was taken up by His disciples when Christ left our world, so that we are to work and carry the plan of the battle and the contest after Christ’s devising, after the pattern. We are to imitate the example of Jesus Christ in obedience. “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.” [Verse 10.] “These things have I spoken unto you”—to make you have just as hard a time as you could in this life, to take away from you all the pleasure and gratification that you can have in this world that I have created. Is that what He means? Not a bit of it. But let us see. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 13

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” [Verse 11.] Do you think the butterfly has any joy that is of any real value or desirable? I answer, No. What is the joy that is of any value? It is that which comes from the eternal source of wisdom, that which comes from Jesus Christ, our what? What is [He]? [Our] Saviour. [He] saves us from all the temptations, the trials and difficulties that we shall meet here, as He met them. And He has promised that His joy shall remain in us and our joy should be full. Now what is His joy? “Who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is forever set down at the right hand of God.” [Hebrews 12:2.] 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 14

Seeing of the travail of His soul, He is satisfied. Satisfied that He should come to our world, that He should become poor for our sakes [so] that we through His poverty might be made rich. And yet we are unwilling to make the venture of enduring of His trials, of His difficulties, for His name’s sake. Why, what does it mean? Shame and reproach, and the shameful spirit, for humanity whom He created and for whom He paid the ransom of His own life and sufferings, and yet they mocked Him and they smote Him in the face, and they clothed Him with an old purple robe, and cried out, “Prophesy unto us who it was that smote thee.” [Matthew 26:68.] They bowed to Him in mockery as though bowing to a king. For our sakes He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. For our sakes He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with His stripes we are healed. Well then, what is this joy that is coming to us? Why, He suffered all this that He might bring many sons and daughters to glory, that He might elevate humanity, that He might place humanity in an elevated scale with God. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 15

Every temptation that Christ endured in our behalf places man on vantage ground with God. Every suffering, every stroke that fell upon our Redeemer, was paying the debt of sin that man had incurred because of transgression. And will we continue to bruise the heart of the Son of God? Will we cling to sin as a precious acquisition, a precious treasure, when the voice is heard sounding down along the lines from century to century from John, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world”? [John 1:29.] How will He take it away? Why He is drawing you to Himself. You cannot approach one step toward God unless He draws you, and as He draws you to Himself, why then, you are to lay off your burden as you see the crucified Redeemer. What is He there for? What is He dying upon the cross for? The sinner in anxiety asks the question as the gospel of truth is presented to him. Why, it is because of sin. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 16

Well, what is sin? Every minister in our land is obliged to tell him, if they are true shepherds, what sin is. John says, “Sin is the transgression of the law,” and the Word of God declares that where there is no [law], there is no transgression. [1 John 3:4; Romans 4:15.] God wants every one of us to have a living connection with Jesus Christ, and if we have a living connection with Him we shall be saved, “for God so loved the world that he gave.” Now you see He did not love the world because He gave, “He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not”—oh, that word is of immense value, “should not perish, but have everlasting life”—a life that measures with the life of God, and runs parallel with the life of Jehovah. [John 3:16.] Can we ask more than this as our reward of obedience? Well then, what are we to do? We say, I believe in Him; I accept Him as my Saviour. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 17

Many have a casual faith, but that will not save them. That will not heal them from the wounds and the bruises of sin. But we want that living faith that lays hold upon a living God, that connects us with the Divine, and believes Him to be my Saviour. Individually He is your Saviour. So you take Him as your Saviour. How? You roll your sins upon the Sin-bearer. Satan will tell you there is no hope for you; it is no use for you to pray because you are a sinner. He tells thousands of poor souls, so he will tell individual souls, “Here, there is no use for you to pray. God will not hear you, you are a sinner.” Let us hear what the Lord Jesus Christ said Himself when they accused Him of eating with publicans and sinners. He turns to them and said: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. They that are whole” (in their own estimation) “need not a physician, but those that are sick.” [Luke 5:31, 32.] 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 18

So, poor, sinsick souls, come to Jesus just as you are. Come to Him with all the wounds and bruises that the bite of the serpent has made upon you, and look and live by living faith. Take your position that you are a child of God; take your position that He will do just as He said He would, that if you take Him as your personal Saviour, He will take away your sins, and then what? Why, then it is to believe in God that brings the joy to the soul, and His joy makes your joy full. Then what does that mean? Why, you go without the camp; you bear the reproach for Christ’s sake, you deny self for Christ’s sake, you obtain an individual experience for Christ’s sake, and if you are scorned at, and derided as people that do not know anything, do you think you have need to believe it? No. You have no need to believe it at all because God puts all the value there is upon humanity. All that he has obtains as the branch from the living stock Vine. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 19

Then God wants us to appreciate the value of the human agent. God wants us to make the very most possible of ourselves, and to do our very best with the capabilities and the talents He has given us, and if we keep in exercise the graces He has given us, He will give us grace for grace. We impart the grace to those that are around us; we do not fall out and say, I am happy, my joy is full in Christ. It won’t remain for a very great while unless you impart that grace and knowledge to the world who are in darkness. We are in a world of sin and temptation, and youth are perishing out of Christ all around us, and He wants you to labor for the youth in every conceivable way that you can. If you have a house, and a pleasant home, then invite the youth that have no homes, invite the youth that are in need of help, that are in need of sympathy and kind words, courtesy and respect. They want all this. If you want to bring them to Christ, you must show your love and respect for the purchase of His blood, the souls whom He has ransomed by the infinite cost of His own precious life; and is not that enough to lead us, as soon as we are a branch in the vine, to bear fruit? 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 20

Now one and another may judge of character; they may think that this and that one has a lovely character, but we want to test it. The tree is known by its fruit, and the fruit is known by the tree, and the fruit is the character. “Ye are,” says Christ, “the light of the world,” and now what? “Let your light so shine before men that they by seeing your good works shall glorify your Father which is in heaven.” [Matthew 5:14, 16.] Now here are the souls that we shall rejoice in. In heaven we shall see those youth that we helped, those youth that we invited to our house, those youth that we led from temptation, those youth that we tried to win away from being drunkards and tobacco users and wine drinkers and all these habits which are taking the underpinning out of the house, befogging the brain, and taking away the reason, and leaving men without a sound mind and a sound body. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 21

You can spread your table with the simple foods God has provided for us. You can have the music, the amusement, the giddy laugh. Why it is like the crackling of thorns under a pot. Proverbs says there is nothing to it heaven can respect. What do we want instead of the giggle and the titter? What do we want? A face that will reflect the sunshine of the glory of God; we want a face that reflects the likeness of the divine. We want a character reshaped. We want that the image of Christ should be restored to us. May God help us that we may every one of us do our best in our lifetime. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 22

You have no time to devote to the theater or the dance hall. You have no time to grumble. It is lost, lost. You have no time to play cards. You have no time to attend horse races. You have no time to attend shows. How is it with my soul? That is the live question with you. Have I a living connection with God? If I have, I must seek to win these souls that are attracted with these outward pleasures. Satan has managed it. Satan has devised it that one pleasure should crowd on the heels of another, a feverish excitement. No time to contemplate God, no time to think of heaven or heavenly things, no time to study the Bible, no time to put forth interested efforts for those that are out of Christ. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 23

But those that do this, that are giving themselves to Jesus, why then, you can hear that voice that shall pronounce the benediction, “Come ye blessed of my Father; enter the kingdom that was prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” [Matthew 25:34.] There you see, that is election. Yes, it is election. It was prepared for every soul that would be obedient to God and that would work in Christ’s lines, because when they obtain the treasure of heavenly reward, they enter into the joy of their Lord, because their joy was full of Christ’s joy which was to win souls to the Saviour. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 24

And now every ability that you have, every power that you have, your reasoning powers, every talent that you have, every capability that you have, is to be brought right into the religious life, and the kindness, the compassion, the pitifulness, the love of God, is the fruit borne upon the branch that is grafted into the living Vine. And then as the rich clusters of fruit are upon the boughs, the vine stock, that is introduced and grafted into the living Vine, why the rich clusters bow down that branch, showing that those that bear the most fruit, the richest clusters, have the true humility of lowliness like Christ. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 25

He says, “Learn of Me. Come unto Me.” Now let us every one hear it. It is the invitation not from the speaker, but it is the invitation from Jesus Christ Himself. “Come unto me, all ye that are weary in your worldly pursuits, your worldly transactions, and ye shall find rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” [Matthew 11:28, 29.] Will you try it? It takes something besides a novice. You may say these people that claim to believe the binding claims of God’s law, they are novices, they do not know what they are talking about. But we claim something entirely different. We claim that we are wise in keeping the commandments of God, and we want that every soul should become wise. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 26

Well, Christ says, “Take my yoke upon you. I have kept my Father’s commandments. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” [John 15:10; Matthew 11:29.] Then what? “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Verse 30.] Now, if you are complaining of the heavy load, and all you can hear from your lips is complaining and murmuring for the self-denying you have to make for Christ, you do not know anything about self-denial. Everything you can do for Jesus is such a pleasure and gratification. You never talk about the great sacrifices you are making, no, because you are one with Christ, and you feel it is very, very little you can do if you do your best, and you are doing all you can with your entrusted capital of money He has put into your hands, and with your influence. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 27

We could never have any influence in our world if it were not for Christ. We never should have any light [lack?] for anything to place on our tables if Christ had not provided it for us by giving the sacrifice of Himself. Then everything is borrowed capital, and had we not better use it for the glory of God, and send our treasure beforehand to heaven? Had we better not look after the needy, and in that great day when there are two classes on the right hand and on the left, and He says of one, “I was hungry, and ye fed me; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick and in prison, and ye visited me.” And they answer, Lord, when saw we thee thus? They have no knowledge of doing anything only that which was a pleasure for them to do, and they say, When saw we thee thus? Says He, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” [Matthew 25:35-40.] Thus you will see that Christ identifies His interests with suffering humanity. Any slight, any disrespect, any neglect of Christ’s position, His inheritance, any neglect on this part, is the neglect of Jesus Christ in the purchase of His blood. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 28

You say, shall we help those not of our faith? Do not go by them. Did He not purchase them? Is it not the very way to bless them, that you should impart to them of the goods that He has left you in trust? He has given to some abundance; He has given to others but little. You are to watch your opportunity, and you are to help those that are needy and suffering, and in this very way you are bearing fruit to the glory of God, and then if you are connected with Jesus Christ, you are talking of His love, you are telling of His power, you are beholding His character, you are delighted to behold His character, and by beholding Jesus, you will become changed into the same image. Now, I am not going to hold you any longer. My time is up, but I want to say just a few words. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 29

Who in this congregation will give their hearts to Jesus? Who will take Christ’s yoke upon them, and wear it yoked up with Christ? He bears the heaviest end of the yoke, and yoked up with Jesus, we can draw all the loads that He puts upon us with joy and with gratification, and you will go singing all the way to Mount Zion. Instead of complaining, it will be gratification and thankfulness. You are praising God, you are educating your tongue. Why do you murmur? Why do you complain? Why do you fret from day to day? The voice is a wonderful organ. It is a wonderful blessing; let us use it wholly on Christ’s side, and not praise the devil by complaining of the hardness of the way to heaven. Suppose we give to the world a living example of the beauty there is in religion and Jesus Christ by the offerings we present to God, talking of His goodness, and telling of His power. If you feel disposed to murmur, let it die before you give it breath, and let your voice and tongue be educated, and then when you open your eyes in the morning the very first thing will be, “I thank the Lord; He has kept me through the night. I thank Thee, Jesus Christ, for the peace that is in my heart,”—and morning, noon and night you have a gratitude offering. It comes up before God as sweet perfume. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 30

Jesus said He would give us the Comforter. [John 14:16.] What is the Comforter? It is the Holy Spirit of God. What is the Holy Spirit? It is the representative of Jesus Christ, it is our advocate that stands by our side and places our petitions before the Father all fragrant with His merits. There He accepts the petition of the humblest saint. He doesn’t ask you how much money you have, or how heavy you are loaded with property, but [He accepts] the very humblest saint that brings his petition to God, and [his] thank offering is made fragrant with the riches of His grace, and the Father accepts it as your offering, and the blessing comes to you, grace for grace. As you pour out your thank offering, God is glorified, and He gives you more. As you pour out thanksgiving He gives you more joy. We learn to praise God from whom all blessings flow. Shall we not begin right here to turn over the page and forget our murmurings and complainings and faultfinding, and educate the tongue to courteous words, and loving words, and sympathetic words, and tender kindness for one another of His children? Let us show Christ formed within, the hope of glory, by the fruit that we bear, and thus we can evidence to the world a living Saviour. He is not in Joseph’s new tomb. No, He is risen. He has risen a live, not a dead, Christ. We have a living Christ. He arose. He broke the fetters of the tomb. In triumph He rejoices over the rent sepulchre of Joseph. “I am the resurrection and the life.” [John 11:25.] Glory to God! I praise Him, the resurrection and the life! You have got a living Saviour. Then hang your helpless souls on Jesus Christ. Abide in the vine, and bear fruit to His glory, and His joy shall be in you, and your joy shall be full. May the blessing of God rest upon these hearers. May the Holy Spirit of God impress the heart, and may the character reveal the loveliness of Jesus Christ, because you are His representatives, is my prayer. 9LtMs, Ms 43, 1894, par. 31