The Review and Herald

190/1902

September 20, 1881

The True Vine

EGW

“I Am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.” Our Heavenly Father planted on earth a goodly vine, whose fruit would impart to the children of men eternal life. But this precious plant appeared to human eyes as a root out of dry ground, seeming to have no form nor comeliness. When it was claimed to be of heavenly origin, the men of Nazareth became enraged, and cast it from them. The inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem took this vine of God's own planting, and bruised it, and trampled it under foot, hoping thus to destroy it forever. But now the Husbandman removed his precious vine, and planted it in his own garden, beyond the spoiler's reach. The stock and root were concealed from human sight, but still “the branches run over the wall.” Thus grafts could be united to the vine, and, partaking of its nourishment, these became branches, and flourished and brought forth fruit. RH September 20, 1881, par. 1

This figure of the vine is a perfect symbol. God sent his Son from the heavenly courts to a world seared and marred with the curse. In Christ was righteousness, peace, life—every blessing necessary for man's happiness. But the world hated the Son of the infinite God. The world saw nothing attractive in him. The best gift of Heaven was slighted and spurned. Christ was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Yet “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.” Christ was hated by evil men because his character was spotless, his works righteous. He came to be the Redeemer of the world, yet he was taken by wicked hands, and shamefully entreated, and crucified. God raised him from the dead, and he ascended to Heaven to present his blood as the propitiation for our sins. RH September 20, 1881, par. 2

Though hidden from mortal sight, Christ still lives as the world's Redeemer, the representative of man in the heavenly courts, and the medium through whom all blessings flow to the fallen race. Said the Saviour to his disciples, “I am the vine, ye are the branches. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” In this vine is all spiritual life. From Christ's fullness alone can we obtain nourishment unto eternal life. The vine stock is unseen; but the branches,—members of his body,—are visible. The scion which before was leafless and apparently lifeless, becomes, when grafted into the vine, a partaker of its life and fatness. Fiber by fiber, and vein by vein, the graft adheres to the parent stock, till the life-giving sap flows to the adopted member, causing it to bud, and blossom, and bear fruit. RH September 20, 1881, par. 3

The scion becomes a part of the living vine by forming a perfect union with it. Thus it is with the sinner. By repentance and faith, he becomes connected with Jesus Christ, and lives in him. This connection joins soul to soul,—the finite with the infinite. But, contrary to nature, the branch which has been united with the true vine brings forth, not fruit of its own kind, but the fruit of the vine of which it has become a part. The Spirit of Christ, flowing into the hearts of all who are indeed united with him, makes them partakers of the divine nature. They become pure, even as he is pure. Yet true disciples are the last to claim as their own this precious fruit. “Accepted in the Beloved,” objects of their Heavenly Father's constant care and unfailing mercy, they feel unworthy of the divine favor, and have too vivid a sense of utter dependence upon God to boast of their exalted position. RH September 20, 1881, par. 4

Every branch of the vine, subjected to the pruning of the wise Husbandman, will bring forth clusters of precious fruit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” The branch can maintain its connection with the living vine only on condition that it bear fruit. Said Christ, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.” And to each disciple is addressed the solemn warning, “Every branch in me [every one who claims connection with me] that beareth not fruit, he taketh away.” Such a one is after a time overcome by temptation, and at last wholly separated from Christ. RH September 20, 1881, par. 5

It is a sad fact that many who profess to be branches of the true vine show by their lives that they have no connection with it. Their words and actions, destitute of grace and meekness, resemble the stinging branches of the noxious thorn-tree, rather than the lovely, fruit-laden boughs of the precious vine. Love to God and love to our neighbor is the sum and substance of true piety. Those who are destitute of this love, and yet claim high attainments in spiritual things, may for a time deceive their fellow-men, but they cannot deceive God. Says the True Witness, “I know thy works.” And in the great day of final accounts, God “will render to every man according to his deeds.” RH September 20, 1881, par. 6

Many who claim to be followers of Christ are withered branches, that must ere long be separated from the living vine. The love of the world has paralyzed their spirituality, and they are not awake to the precious theme of redemption. The impression made upon the world by these professed Christians is unfavorable to the religion of Christ. Such dull, careless ones manifest ambition and zeal in the business of the world, but they have little interest in things of eternal importance. The voice of God through his messengers is a pleasant song; but its sacred warnings, reproofs, and encouragements are all unheeded. Eternal interests are placed on a level with common things. The Holy Spirit is grieved, and its influence is withdrawn. RH September 20, 1881, par. 7

Fruitful Christians are connected with God, and hence they are able to place a right value upon eternal things. The truth and the love of God are their meditation. They have feasted upon the words of life, and whenever they listen to the “message of glad tidings,” they can say, as did the disciples to whom Christ explained the prophecies on the way to Emmaus, “Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” It is the duty of every child of God to store his mind with divine truth; and the more he does this, the more strength and clearness of mind he will have to fathom the deep things of God. And he will be more and more earnest and vigorous, as the principles of truth are carried out in his daily life. RH September 20, 1881, par. 8

That which will bless humanity is spiritual life. He who is in harmony with God, will constantly depend upon him for strength. “Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.” It should be our life work to be constantly reaching forward to the perfection of Christian character, ever striving for conformity to the will of God. The efforts begun here will continue through eternity. The advancement made here will be ours when we enter upon the future life. RH September 20, 1881, par. 9

Those who are partakers of Christ's meekness, purity, and love, will be joyful in God, and will shed light and gladness upon all around them. The thought that Christ died to obtain for us the gift of everlasting life, is enough to call forth from our hearts the most sincere and fervent gratitude, and from our lips the most enthusiastic praise. God's promises are rich, and full, and free. Whoever will, in the strength of Christ, comply with the conditions, may claim these promises, with all their wealth of blessing, as his own. And being thus abundantly supplied from the treasure-house of God, he may, in the journey of life, “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing;” by a godly example blessing his fellow-men, and honoring his Creator. While our Saviour would guard his followers from self-confidence by the reminder, “Without me, ye can do nothing,” he has coupled with it for our encouragement the gracious assurance, “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” RH September 20, 1881, par. 10