The Review and Herald

1086/1902

September 18, 1900

“Abide in Me”

EGW

By the parable of the true vine, Christ explained to his followers the relation that must exist between him and his people. “I am the true vine,” he said, “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.... Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch can not bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 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. 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.” RH September 18, 1900, par. 1

Christ used the figure of the vine that, as we look upon it, we may call to remembrance his precious lessons. Rightly interpreted, nature is the mirror of divinity. Christ pointed to the vine and its branches, saying, I give you this lesson that you may understand my relationship to you, and your relationship to me. There was not the least excuse for his hearers to misunderstand his words. The figure he used was as a mirror held up before them. RH September 18, 1900, par. 2

His lesson will be repeated to the ends of the earth. All who receive Christ by faith become one with him. The branches are not tied to the vine; they are not joined to it by any mechanical process of artificial fastening. They are united to the vine, so as to become part of it. They are nourished by the roots of the vine. So those who receive Christ by faith become one with him in principle and action. They are united to him, and the life they live is the life of the Son of God. They derive their life from him who is life. RH September 18, 1900, par. 3

Baptism may be repeated over and over again, but of itself it has no power to change the human heart. The heart must be united with Christ's heart, the will must be submerged in his will, the mind must become one with his mind, the thoughts must be brought into captivity to him. A man may be baptized, and his name be placed on the church roll, and yet his heart be unchanged. Hereditary and cultivated tendencies may still work evil in his character. RH September 18, 1900, par. 4

The regenerated man has a vital connection with Christ. As the branch derives its sustenance from the parent stock, and, because of this, bears much fruit, so the true believer, united with Christ, reveals in his life the fruits of the Spirit. The branch becomes one with the vine; storm can not carry it away; frost can not destroy its vital properties. Nothing is able to separate it from the vine. It is a living branch, and it bears the fruit of the vine. So with the believer. By good words and good actions, he reveals the character of Christ. RH September 18, 1900, par. 5

There are many who get above the simplicity of Christ, supposing that they must do some great thing in order to work the works of God. Things of a temporal nature absorb their attention, and they have little time or thought for eternal realities. Wearied with cares that draw their minds from spiritual things, they constantly ask themselves the question, How can I find time to study and practice the word of God? Christ is acquainted with the difficulties that try every soul, and he says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch can not bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.... He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” RH September 18, 1900, par. 6

Our first and highest duty is to know that we are abiding in Christ. He must do the work; but we are to seek to know what saith the Lord, yielding our lives to his guidance. When we have the spirit of an abiding Christ, everything will take on a changed aspect. The Saviour alone can give us the rest and peace we need; and every invitation he gives us to seek the Lord, is a call to abide in him. It is an invitation not merely to come to him, but to remain in him. RH September 18, 1900, par. 7

Christ's object in presenting before his disciples this parable was to show them how necessary it was for them to have the moral excellence revealed in his character. He longed to create in them a desire for the Holy Spirit. He reproached them for their dullness of comprehension; for many of the truths he sought to teach were lost to them because of their lack of spiritual intuition. After his resurrection he said to them, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.” The Bible now seemed a new book to the disciples, containing definite instruction. They saw that the events which had taken place in the suffering and death of their beloved Master were a fulfillment of prophecy. RH September 18, 1900, par. 8

“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you,” Christ said. In receiving and obeying his word, the disciples were cleansed and purified. Praying for them to his Father, he said: “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.... Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” RH September 18, 1900, par. 9

In no other way can Christ's disciples be cleansed but by obedience to the truth. The apostle Paul writes: “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” And Peter writes: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently; being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” RH September 18, 1900, par. 10

As the branch derives its nourishment from the vine, so all who are truly converted draw spiritual vitality from Christ. “Verily, verily, I say unto you,” he declared, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.... RH September 18, 1900, par. 11

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” RH September 18, 1900, par. 12

Thus Christ presents the false union with himself in contrast with the true. Those who have not a living connection with Christ may to outward appearance be in fellowship with him. Their names may be enrolled on the church books, but they are not members of his body. They do not bear fruit to the glory of God. “Ye shall know them by their fruits,” Christ said. “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree can not bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” RH September 18, 1900, par. 13

Christ has provided means whereby our whole life may be an unbroken communion with himself; but the sense of Christ's abiding presence can come only through living faith. There must be a personal consecration to him. Self must be hid with Christ in God; then the grace received will be constantly imparted as a grateful offering to God. In this union Christ identifies himself with man before God and the heavenly universe. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Our sins are reckoned to Christ. His righteousness is imputed to us, and we are made the righteousness of God in him. Because of his atoning sacrifice, our prayers go up to the Father, laden with the fragrance of Christ's character, and, one with Christ, we are accepted in the Beloved. RH September 18, 1900, par. 14

Christ's connection with his believing people is illustrated by this parable as by no other. We should study the lesson, that we may know what the parent stock is to the branch, and in what light the Lord regards those who believe and abide in Christ. Let all contemplate the completeness it is their privilege to have, and ask themselves the question, Is my will submerged in Christ's will? Is the fullness and richness of the Living Vine—his goodness, his mercy, his compassion and love—seen in my life and character? RH September 18, 1900, par. 15