Sermons and Talks, vol. 1


I Am the True Vine

(A sermon based on John 15, preached on Sabbath, October 16, 1909, at San Jose, California.)

“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, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:1-2). 1SAT 397.1

Jesus is speaking of the fruitless Christian, the professing believer, who, because he does not comply with the conditions of discipleship, departs more and more from Christ. He does not in his life bear the fruits of righteousness; he does not copy the life of Christ. But the true follower of Christ can have no lower standard than His perfect life. 1SAT 397.2

“And every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” “He purgeth it.” Christ suffers trial to come upon His followers that they may be led to seek the Lord more earnestly. Then when trials come, do not think that the Lord is your enemy. He purges for a reason. He does not want you to be discouraged, but He would prove you, to see if you will be true to Him and will conduct yourselves circumspectly under every circumstance. He does not want to drive you away, but to drive you nearer to the Lord. In God is the Christian's only hope in time of perplexity. 1SAT 397.3

Do not talk to others about your trials, for they have enough of their own to bear, and our human friends cannot always understand. It is your privilege to go to One who will always understand, because His life on earth was one of constant trial and perplexity, borne without failure and sin. 1SAT 397.4

“Abide in Me,” Christ says, “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” (John 15:4). Christ would not tell us this if it were impossible for us to abide in Him. He shows us the possibility and the importance of a close relation with Himself. “He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). 1SAT 398.1

What is the “much fruit” that we must bear? It is fruit of a heavenly nature, the result of lives sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God. When we abide in Christ, and Christ abides in us, we shall be men and women of prayer, of truth, men and women who carry themselves circumspectly before God and before the world. Daily we shall draw from Christ the strength we need to work the works of God. This is what the world needs—a manifestation of the power of truth in Christian characters. What we need is faith in the Word of God, and with true faith we shall have the living witness that our ways please God. Of what worth is religion to us if when we approach God we cannot have the evidence in ourselves that He hears and answers prayer? 1SAT 398.2

“Without Me,” He says, “ye can do nothing.” Then let us press close to the bleeding side of Christ. In Him our humanity is provided for. In Him we may become partakers of the divine nature, and overcome the corruption that is in the world through lust. 1SAT 398.3

“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. If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples” (John 15:6-9). 1SAT 399.1

It is not enough that now and then you offer a prayer, and now and then deal righteously. You are to have the attributes of an abiding Christ working out in your life constantly. How many of us have this experience? Yet we may have it, and having it, we will be the happiest people on the face of the earth. With Christ's word abiding in us, we shall give evidence that we have wholly received Him who in His humanity lived a sinless life. In the strength of divinity we shall overcome every tendency to evil. 1SAT 399.2

But if men abide not in Christ, “they are cast forth as a branch,” and are withered. Man may make great claims to piety, but if in his business transactions he does not reveal that the Holy Spirit of God is governing words and actions, he had far better make no profession. Christ's life and death does not avail for him who chooses to do as he pleases, who follows his own imaginations and carries out on his own way and will. 1SAT 399.3

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 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” (John 15:9, 10). Let us thank God that this is our privilege. Though we are sent out into the world, we can keep before us the example of the pattern Man, and in His strength carry out the principles of overcoming. It is only the overcoming Christian who will reach the kingdom of heaven. May God help us in this matter, is my prayer. Let us see that we keep His commandments in all our dealings with one another. When we not only talk, but live our religion, we shall show that we are branches of the living vine. 1SAT 399.4

“These things have I spoken unto you,” the Saviour continued, “that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). I think there was something said when the disciples heard that. Do you not think that if we had that full joy, we would do as we did when we first felt the sanctifying power of God upon our hearts? When we were looking for the coming of the Lord in the early days of this message, we would praise Him in our prayers and in our conversation. There was not one particle of fanaticism among those who truly loved the Lord and were seeking His glory. 1SAT 400.1

True religion does not demand great bodily demonstrations such as some of you have had the misfortune to witness here. These are no evidence of the presence of the Spirit of God. In 1843 and 1844 we were called to meet just such fanaticism. Men would say, I have the Holy Spirit of God, and they would come into the meeting and roll just like a hoop. Because some would not receive this as evidence of the working of the Spirit of God, they were looked upon as wicked people. The Lord sent me into the midst of this fanaticism though I was not more than sixteen years of age. Some would come to me and ask, Why do you not join with them? I said, I have another Leader than this, One who is meek and lowly in heart, One who made no such demonstrations as you are making here, nor such boasts. These demonstrations are not of Christ, but of the devil. 1SAT 400.2

Every particle of selfishness is to be purged from the character. We are to show the difference between the lovers of pleasure and the world, and the lovers of Jesus. “This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:12-14). 1SAT 401.1

All that was communicated to Him by His Father, Christ makes known to His followers. “Henceforth I call you not servants;” He says, “for the servant knoweth not what His Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15). How was this done? By words merely? No; by character; by the daily life. It was thus that Christ represented His Father. My brethren and sisters, let us make it known that we are branches of the living vine in that we represent the character of Christ. By a life of fruitbearing we are to make known the truth of the Word. You may profess a religion that is as high as the heavens; but unless you do the commandments of God, you are certainly not recommending the love of Christ to the world. 1SAT 401.2

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me” (John 15:18-21). 1SAT 401.3

“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth Me hateth My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated Me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning” (John 15:22-27). 1SAT 402.1

The difference between the character of Christ and the character of other men of His day was everywhere apparent, and because of this difference the world hated Him. It hated Him for His goodness and His strict integrity. And Christ declared that those who manifest the same attributes would be likewise hated. As we near the end of time this hatred for the followers of Christ will be more and more manifest. 1SAT 402.2

Christ took humanity and bore the hatred of the world that He might show men and women that they could live without sin, that their words, their actions, their spirit might be sanctified to God. We can be perfect Christians if we will manifest this power in our lives. When the light of heaven rests upon us continually we shall represent Christ. It was the righteousness revealed in His life that distinguished Christ from the world and called forth its hatred. 1SAT 402.3

We are nearing the close of this earth's history. Let us ever remember that there is a heaven to win and a hell to shun. There are some among us who refuse to purify their souls by obedience to the truth, and they bring forward their sophistries to show that those who adhere strictly to a thus saith the Lord are altogether too particular. They seek to divert the mind from purity and truth and holiness and the development of Christian character; but such souls stand on Satan's side of the question. 1SAT 402.4

Shall those who refuse to be converted, who reject the right of entrance through the gates into the city, charge God with severity and harshness? The result of allowing one sinner to enter heaven would be a second rebellion, and God cannot permit another. All who enter the heavenly city must be sanctified through the grace of God. Their weaknesses must be brought into such relation to truth that truth shall be their strongest point of character. Only those who have kept the truth—kept it in practice—can enter through the gates into the city of God. 1SAT 403.1

The words of Christ are spoken for His people in all ages—for us upon whom the ends of the world are come. The test that will come to us will be upon the commandments of God. Only as we become partakers of the divine nature shall we learn to overcome. I pray that none in this congregation may lightly regard this great privilege, but that each may be a living branch of the true vine, bearing fruit to the glory of God. 1SAT 403.2

In the life of Christ a perfect pattern has been given to every child of humanity. From infancy to manhood the life of Christ was perfect, teaching us that in everything we should seek perfection. To His work at His father's bench He brought the same principle. Some would laugh at Him for the pains He would take, but He would not be turned from His purpose to bring out of that which was imperfect something that would stand the test of proving. 1SAT 403.3

And in His spiritual as in His temporal life Christ was perfect. Did He not have temptations? We know that He did. We know that temptation came to Him in every form. He knew what trial was. He spent whole nights in prayer to His Father. He wrestled with the powers of darkness until He overcame. And how fully the glory of the Father was revealed through Him! 1SAT 404.1

Should we not honor the One who gave His Son to a life of trial and reproach for us? In giving His Son to a life of suffering God would teach us that because we suffer we have no reason to feel that we are not children of God, and thus lose faith in Him. When we are in trouble, let us think of this. If we would have more faith, we would see more of the glory of God than we do. 1SAT 404.2

I think of the children in our families. Are we teaching them to live so that the gates of the city of God will be opened to them? Let fathers and mothers feel the solemn obligation resting upon them to teach their children the way of the Lord in kindness and tenderness and love. The mother should be the first teacher of her child. Parents, be kind and gentle with your children, and they will learn gentleness. Let us demonstrate in our homes that we are Christians. I value as worthless that profession that is not carried out in the home life in kindness and forbearance and love. Let us seek to form characters after the divine similitude. Let us maintain a living connection with heaven. 1SAT 404.3

Consider the blessed reward in the kingdom of God awaiting those who in this life seek for the divine similitude. There there will be no more trial, no more affliction or pain or death. There we shall receive the crown of the overcomer and the harp of gold. Not for a few short years, but from everlasting to everlasting, we shall live to sing the song of praise to the Lamb. Will you engage in the effort to win these eternal blessings? Will you give your hearts unreservedly to God? He wants you. He stands ready to accept you, ready to forgive when you repent and turn from your sins. You may fail again and again, but again and again He will forgive if you truly repent, and He will bring you off more than conqueror at last through Him who has loved you and washed you in His own blood.—Manuscript 97, 1909. (MR 900.47) 1SAT 405.1