The Review and Herald

420/1902

December 13, 1887

Union With Christ

EGW

“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. 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.” RH December 13, 1887, par. 1

There is a wide difference between a pretended union and a real connection with Christ by faith. A profession of religion places men in the church, but this does not prove that they have a vital connection with the living Vine. A rule is given by which the true disciple may be distinguished from those who claim to follow Christ, but have not faith in him. The one class are fruit-bearing; the other, fruitless. The one are often subjected to the pruning-knife of God, that they may bring forth more fruit; the other, as withered branches, are to be severed from the living Vine. RH December 13, 1887, par. 2

“I am the vine, ye are the branches.” Can we conceive of a more intimate relation to Christ than this? The fibers of the branch are almost identical with those of the vine. The communication of life, strength, and fruitfulness from the trunk to the branches is unobstructed and constant. The root sends its nourishment through the branch. Such is the true believer's relation to Christ. He abides in Christ, and draws his nourishment from him. RH December 13, 1887, par. 3

This spiritual relation can be established only by the exercise of personal faith. This faith must express on our part supreme preference, perfect reliance, entire consecration. Our will must be wholly yielded to the divine will; our feelings, desires, interests, and honor, identified with the prosperity of Christ's kingdom and the honor of his cause, we constantly receiving grace from him, and Christ accepting gratitude from us. RH December 13, 1887, par. 4

When this intimacy of connection and communication is formed, our sins are laid upon Christ, his righteousness is imputed to us. He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. We have access to God through him; we are accepted through the Beloved. Whoever by word or deed injures a believer, thereby wounds Jesus. Whoever gives a cup of cold water to a disciple because he is a child of God, will be regarded by Christ as giving to himself. RH December 13, 1887, par. 5

It was when Christ was about to take leave of his disciples that he gave them the beautiful emblem of his relation to believers. He had been presenting before them the close union with himself by which they could maintain spiritual life when his visible presence should be withdrawn. To impress it upon their minds, he gave them the vine as its most striking and appropriate symbol. RH December 13, 1887, par. 6

The Jews had always regarded the vine as the most noble of plants, and a type of all that was powerful, excellent, and fruitful. “The vine,” our Lord would seem to say, “which you prize so highly, is a symbol. I am the reality; I am the true Vine. As a nation prize the vine; as sinners you should prize me above all things earthly. The branch cannot live separated from the vine; no more can you live unless you are abiding in me.” RH December 13, 1887, par. 7

All the followers of Christ have as deep an interest in this lesson as had the disciples who listened to his words. In the apostasy, man alienated himself from God. The separation is wide and fearful; but Christ has made provision to again connect us with himself. The power of evil is so identified with human nature that no man can overcome except by union with Christ. Through this union we receive moral and spiritual power. If we have the Spirit of Christ, we shall bring forth the fruit of righteousness—fruit that will honor and bless men, and glorify God. RH December 13, 1887, par. 8

The Father is the vine-dresser. He skillfully and mercifully prunes every fruit-bearing branch. Those who share Christ's suffering and reproach now, will share his glory hereafter. He will not be “ashamed to call them brethren.” His angels minister to them. His second appearing will be as the Son of man, thus even in his glory identifying him with humanity. To those who have united themselves to him, he declares, Though a mother may forget her child, “yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands. Thy walls are continually before me.” RH December 13, 1887, par. 9

Oh, what amazing privileges are proffered us! Will we put forth most earnest efforts to form this alliance with Christ, through which alone these blessings are attained? Will we break off our sins by righteousness, and our iniquities by turning unto the Lord? Skepticism and infidelity are wide-spread. Christ asked the question, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” We must cherish a living, active faith. The permanence of our faith is the condition of our union. RH December 13, 1887, par. 10

A union with Christ by living faith is enduring; every other union must perish. Christ first chose us, paying an infinite price for our redemption; and the true believer chooses Christ as first and last, and best in everything. But this union costs us something. It is a relation of utter dependence, to be entered into by a proud being. All who form this union must feel their need of the atoning blood of Christ. They must have a change of heart. They must submit their own will to the will of God. There will be a struggle with outward and internal obstacles. There must be a painful work of detachment, as well as a work of attachment. Pride, selfishness, vanity, worldliness—sin in all its forms—must be overcome, if we would enter into a union with Christ. The reason why many find the Christian life so deplorably hard, why they are so fickle, so variable, is, they try to attach themselves to Christ without first detaching themselves from these cherished idols. RH December 13, 1887, par. 11

After the union with Christ has been formed, it can be preserved only by earnest prayer and untiring effort. We must resist, we must deny, we must conquer self. Through the grace of Christ, by courage, by faith, by watchfulness, we may gain the victory. RH December 13, 1887, par. 12

Believers become one in Christ; but one branch cannot be sustained by another. The nourishment must be obtained through the vital connection with the Vine. We must feel our utter dependence on Christ. We must live by faith on the Son of God. That is the meaning of the injunction, “Abide in me.” The life we live in the flesh is not to the will of men, not to please our Lord's enemies, but to serve and honor Him who loved us, and gave himself for us. A mere assent to this union, while the affections are not detached from the world, its pleasures and its dissipations, only emboldens the heart in disobedience. RH December 13, 1887, par. 13

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” He feels that he is the purchase of the blood of Christ, and bound by the most solemn vows to glorify God. The love of sin and the love of self are subdued in him. He daily asks, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” The true Christian will never complain that the yoke of Christ is galling to the neck. He accounts the service of Jesus the truest freedom. The law of God is his delight. Instead of seeking to bring down the divine commands, to accord with his deficiencies, he is constantly striving to rise to the level of their perfection. RH December 13, 1887, par. 14

God has made ample provision that we may stand perfect in his grace, wanting in nothing, waiting for the appearing of our Lord. Are you ready? Have you the wedding garment on? That garment will never cover deceit, impurity, corruption, or hypocrisy. The eye of God is upon you. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. We may conceal our sins from the eyes of men, but we can hide nothing from our Maker. RH December 13, 1887, par. 15

Such experience must be ours if we would be prepared to stand in the day of God. Now, while probation lingers, while Mercy's voice is still heard, is the time for us to put away our sins. While moral darkness covers the earth like a funeral pall, the light of God's standard-bearers must shine the more brightly, showing the contrast between Heaven's light and Satan's darkness. RH December 13, 1887, par. 16

To talk of religious things in a casual way, to pray for spiritual blessings without real soul-hunger and living faith avails little. The wondering crowd that pressed close about Christ, realized no vital power from the contact. But when the poor, suffering woman, in her great need, put forth her hand and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, she felt the healing virtue. Hers was the touch of faith. Christ recognized that touch, and he determined there to give a lesson for all his followers to the close of time. He knew that virtue had gone out of him, and turning about in the throng he said, “Who touched my clothes?” Surprised at such a question, his disciples answered, “Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?” RH December 13, 1887, par. 17

Jesus fixed his eyes upon her who had done this. She was filled with fear. Great joy was hers; but had she overstepped her duty? Knowing what was done in her, she came trembling, and fell at his feet, and told him all the truth. Christ did not reproach her. He gently said, “Go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” RH December 13, 1887, par. 18

Here was distinguished the casual contact from the touch of faith. Prayer and preaching, without the exercise of living faith in God, will be in vain. But the touch of faith opens to us the divine treasure-house of power and wisdom; and thus, through instruments of clay, God accomplishes the wonders of his grace. RH December 13, 1887, par. 19

This living faith is our great need today. We must know that Jesus is indeed ours; that his Spirit is purifying and refining our hearts. If the followers of Christ had genuine faith, with meekness and love, what a work they might accomplish! What fruit would be seen to the glory of God! RH December 13, 1887, par. 20