Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 66, 1897

The Vine and the Branches


June 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in 6MR 104; RH 11/23/1897.

The vine, used as a lesson to the disciples, was to be repeated or the benefit of those who should hear their words. It would be an impossibility for these messengers to give an accurate account of their Master’s words when so many things had been said and of such importance to future generations; and Christ had said to them, “There things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” [John 14:25, 26.] Those words which He had spoken to them, He would inspire holy men to write; and these things have come to us in the New Testament. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 1

Throughout the fifteenth chapter of John, Christ kept up the figure of the living connection which the branches must have with the Vine. This is presented as a positive necessity if they would be fruit-bearing branches. “Without me,” He says, “ye can do nothing” that will be acceptable to God. [Verse 5.] “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.] A vital connection with Christ is essential for spiritual life. The branch must become a part of the living vine. And there is a certainty in the words, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” [John 14:19.] 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 2

“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.] The indwelling of the words of Christ makes all men one with Him. He has the mind of Christ, the attributes of Christ, and there is perfect harmony between his will and that of the Father. Each will evidence his discipleship by his obedience to that Word. “Herein is my Father glorified,” says Christ, “that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” [Verse 8.] And again, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” [Matthew 5:16.] “That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruit of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” [Philippians 1:10, 11.] 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 3

The heavenly treasury is supplied with the goods of heaven. Would that every church member could discern their great spiritual necessity. But many are deceived. There are those who say, “I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing.” [Revelation 3:17.] They know not that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked. This is the sure consequence of neglecting to abide in the vine, of neglecting to avail themselves of a personal relation to Christ. But unless men secure this connection, as the vine branch to the parent stock, after test and trial they will be cut away from Christ. God here declares that He will spue them out of His mouth, because lukewarm, distasteful, and sickening. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 4

Can it be possible, one asks, that there can be any one in our church who feels such self-sufficiency as this? Time will answer this question. When reproof comes to them from God, if they are humbly seeking Him, they will receive the reproof as a blessing, and will at once begin to ascertain their spiritual necessities. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 5

If they feel that they are rich in knowledge and are in need of nothing, they will take offense as did the disciples who turned from Christ and walked no more with Him. There are many who need to be awakened by plain, decided testimonies to discern their spiritual deficiencies. Why are they not wise? Christ answers the question. They consider themselves whole, in no need of a physician. I am rich and increased in goods, they say, and in need of nothing. The disciples who turned away from Christ were of this class, and many who are reproved for their wrongs in this time act just as did these men to whom Christ said, “Ye have seen me and believe not.” [John 6:36.] 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 6

But the One who is mighty in counsel says, “Because thou sayest I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” [Revelation 3:17, 18.] Then they shall not reveal that they are worthless branches, separate from the true Vine, to be cast into the fire, and burned. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 7

“And anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” [Verse 18.] This is the soul’s need. The eye is the sensitive conscience, the inner light of the mind, according with a correct view of things. Upon this the spiritual healthfulness of the whole soul and being depends. The eyesalve, the Word of God, makes the conscience smart under its application, for it convicts of sin. The smarting of the spiritual discernment is necessary that the healing may follow, and the eye be single to the glory of God. The sinner, beholding himself in God’s great moral looking-glass, sees himself as God views him, and exercises repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 8

This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Said Christ, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father.” [John 16:7-10.] And the church should be electrified at every point, each member a living working agent under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 9

Self-sufficiency is the fatal danger of a lukewarm state. The Laodiceans boasted of a deep knowledge of Bible truth, a deep insight and understanding of the Scriptures. They were not entirely blind, else the eyesalve would have done nothing to restore their sight to discern the true attributes of Christ. Says Christ, By renouncing your own self-sufficiency, giving up all things, however dear to you, you may buy the gold, the raiment, and the eyesalve that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Then, to rebuke a state of things that should not have existed in the church, because of the injury done to themselves and the injury done to the church, He sends them the message of reproof, “Be zealous therefore, and repent.” [Revelation 3:19.] 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 10

The rebuke for wrong is designed for the good of the professed followers of Christ who is misrepresenting Christ by his spirit of self-righteousness and self-sufficiency. The eyesalve produces the smarting sensation when applied; but this reproof of the Holy Spirit for sin leads to the viewing of things in a different light. The man who uses the eyesalve sees, with an inward light, himself as he is. His wretchedness is discovered: he feels his imperfection, his spiritual poverty, and his need of being cleansed and purified from his spiritual malady. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 11

The Lord sees the necessities and the peril of the soul. He came to our world in the garb of humanity, that His humanity might meet our humanity. While we were in sin, He pledged His life for us. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.” [John 15:13.] There is love for the sinner, but God hates the sin. Therefore He does not leave His tempted ones with eyes that are nearly blind to their own imperfections. “As many as I love,” He says, “I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous therefore and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcome, and am set down with my Father in His throne.” [Revelation 3:19-21.] 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 12

A healthy Christian can only exist by a vital connection with Christ. In the human body, the efficiency of life is found in the blood and nerve system. The heart is the reservoir from which the body receives its nourishment through the provision of the blood. The food is assimilated and supplies the necessary nourishment to the blood: and the air we breathe is the constant purifier of the blood. The body is kept by thus treasuring its vital action. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 13

“And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” [Leviticus 17:10, 11.] 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 14

As the blood is the life of the human body, so the spiritual life is maintained through faith in the blood of Christ. He is our life just as in the body our life is in the blood. In vital connection with Christ, in personal contact with Him, is found spiritual health for the soul. It is the efficacy of the blood of Christ that supplies its every need and keeps the soul in a healthful condition. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 15

All need to understand this. Many who profess to be Christians are not Christians and are not in vital connection with Christ. He is our life. He is made unto us wisdom and sanctification, and righteousness, and redemption just as the bone and sinew, and muscle are nourished and the whole man built up and made healthful by the circulation of the blood through the system. Christ cannot endure pretentious Christians—those who do not live His character. He will spue such out of His mouth as utterly distasteful to Him. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 16

There is no part of man for which Christ has not made ample [provision] for every son and daughter of Adam. All who believe on Him shall have everlasting life. A soul without Christ is like a body without blood; it is dead. It may have the appearance of spiritual life; it may perform ceremonies in religious matters like a machine; but it has no spiritual life. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 17

“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” [Galatians 2:17-21.] 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 18

These words give us a better understanding of the wonderful prayer of Christ. As the blood is formed in the body by the food eaten so Christ is formed within us by the eating of the Word of God, which is His flesh and blood. He who feeds upon that Word has Christ formed within the hope of glory. The written Word introduces to the searcher the flesh and blood of the Son of God and through obedience to that word he becomes a partaker of the divine nature. And as the necessity for temporal food cannot be supplied by once partaking of food, but must be eaten daily, so God’s Word must be daily eaten. The entrance of that Word giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple. That Word must be our meat and our drink. We must feast upon its precious instruction that we may be renewed in the spirit of our mind and grow up in Christ the living Head. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 19

It is by reason of the waste and loss that the body must be renewed with blood, by being supplied with food. So there is a constant need of feeding on the Word, the knowledge of which is eternal life. The branch becomes a withered stalk, frail and weak, producing no fruit unless it becomes firmly united to the vine stock, fiber by fiber and vein by vein, unless its channels are supplied with the nourishment it receives from the parent stock. Thus we may see where is our dependence and our sufficiency. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 20

As the Word of God is received into the soul, we partake of the flesh and blood of the Son of God. As it enlightens the mind, the heart is opened to receive the engrafted word that we may grow thereby. The reception of the Word, the bread from heaven is declared to be the reception of Christ Himself. Then encourage the appetite for the Word of God, for this will nourish a healthful piety. It is the Word of God that must be studied if the soul would find its nourishment and vitality. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 21

If we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we will be obedient to the Word. He enjoins upon His followers, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” [John 15:9.] By your course of action show your faith in Me and let the world and the heavenly universe witness your enjoyment of My love. When obedient to My words you will glorify Me. “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.] 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 22

Christ stands at the head of humanity. There was in Christ a subjection of the human to the divine. He clothed His divinity with humanity and placed His own person under the obedience of divinity. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to believe that they should be as gods. Christ requires that humanity shall obey divinity. In His humanity Christ was obedient to all of His Father’s commandments. And now He says to His disciples, “These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you.” [Verses 11, 12.] “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you that ye also love one another.” [John 13:34.] Christ had expressed His love for man in that He had given His life for the ransom of the world. And this love is to measure the love that His disciples should ever evidence for one another. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 23

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” [Mark 12:30, 31.] This is the obedience required to the claims of the law of God. On these two commandments—love for God and love for man—“hang all the law and the prophets.” [Matthew 22:40.] 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 24

“Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” “By this shall all man know that ye are my disciples”—disciples of Him who laid down His life for those whom He loved. “Ye are my friends,” He says, “if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye may ask the Father in my name He may give it you. These things I command you that ye love one another.” [John 15:13-17; 13:35.] 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 25

This chapter is very simple in its illustrations, and every one should seek to understand its lessons. They should bear in mind that the branches in the true Vine are the believers who are brought into oneness by being connected with the Vine stock. There must be unity in their diversity. Individuality is preserved, for one branch cannot blend into another in the same stock; yet every individual branch must be in fellowship with the other if they are united to the parent stock. If they draw nourishment from the same source they draw nourishment from the same spirit. They drink in the same life-giving properties. Thus unity is preserved, and there is love one for another But this does not make the branches an identity although it constitutes them a unity, nor does this mean uniformity in everything. Christian unity consists in the branches being in the same parent stock, the vitalizing power of the Center supporting the grafts that united to the Vine. 12LtMs, Ms 66, 1897, par. 26