Sabbath, June 8, 2013

“Christ pointed to the vine and its branches: 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, that they might understand His connection with them.” –The Upward Look, p. 182.

Life in Christ

1. Why is it essential to be connected to Christ?

1 John 5:11, 12 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

“This 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 by any mechanical process or artificial fastening. They are united to the vine and have 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….

“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 placed on the church rolls, yet the heart may be unchanged. Hereditary and cultivated tendencies may still work evil in the character.” –The Upward Look, p. 182.

Connection of the Vine with the branches

2. How did Jesus intercede with His Father so that this connection between the Vine and the branches may exist?

John 17:20-23 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.  

”Christian unity consists in the branches being in the same parent stock, the vitalizing power of the center supporting the grafts that have united to the Vine. In thoughts and desires, in words and actions, there must be an identity with Christ, a constant partaking of His spiritual life. Faith must increase by exercise. All who live near to God will have a realization of what Jesus is to them and they to Jesus. As communion with God is making its impress upon the soul, and shining out in the countenance as an illuminating light, the steadfast principles of Christ’s holy character will be reflected in humanity.” –(Review and Herald, November 9, 1897) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1143.

3. What will happen to the Lord’s vineyard (the church) when Christ’s true disciples carry out the instructions contained in His intercessory prayer?

Ephesians 4:1-6 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  

“Harmony and union existing among men of varied dispositions is the strongest witness that can be borne that God has sent His Son into the world to save sinners. It is our privilege to bear this witness. But, in order to do this, we must place ourselves under Christ’s command. Our characters must be molded in harmony with His character, our wills must be surrendered to His will. Then we shall work together without a thought of collision.

“They are to be one in Him, even though they are scattered the world over….

“When Christ’s prayer is fully believed, when its instruction is brought into the daily life of God’s people, unity of action will be seen in our ranks.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 242, 243.

4. Why is it impossible to have an on-again, off-again relationship with Christ? What danger is there for one who lets his attention be diverted from a continual walk in Him?

John 15:2, first part Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:…

John 15:6 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.

“‘Abide in Me, and I in you.’ Abiding in Christ means a constant receiving of His Spirit, a life of unreserved surrender to His service. The channel of communication must be open continually between man and his God. As the vine branch constantly draws the sap from the living vine, so are we to cling to Jesus, and receive from Him by faith the strength and perfection of His own character.

“The root sends its nourishment through the branch to the outermost twig. So Christ communicates the current of spiritual strength to every believer. So long as the soul is united to Christ, there is no danger that it will wither or decay.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 676.

The branch that bears fruit

5. How will the world see that we are bound to the divine Vine?

John 15:4, 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. 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.

Matthew 7:16, 17 Ye shall know them by their fruits. 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.

“The regenerated man has a vital union with Christ. As the branch derives its sustenance from the parent stock, and because of this bears much fruit, so the true believer is united with Christ, and reveals in his life the fruits of the Spirit. The branch becomes one with the vine. Storm cannot carry it away. Frosts cannot 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. As the branch derives its nourishment from the vine, so all who are truly converted draw spiritual vitality from Christ.” –The Upward Look, p. 182.

“Now that we are branches of the Living Vine we will be nourished by the sap that flows from the Vine. It flows all the time to every branch, and every branch will bear fruit to the glory of God. ‘It is your Father’s good pleasure’ ‘that ye bear much fruit.’ ” –Faith and Works, p. 65.

6. What fruit will be produced by those who are united to the living Vine?

Galatians 5:22, 23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

“He who is united to Christ, partaking of the sap and nourishment of the Vine, will work the works of Christ. The love of Christ must be in him or he cannot be in the Vine. Supreme love to God, and love to your neighbor equal to that which you bear to yourself, is the basis of true religion….

“As the branch must abide in the vine to obtain the vital sap which causes it to flourish, so those who love God and keep all His sayings must abide in His love. Without Christ we cannot subdue a single sin or overcome the smallest temptation…. All who are really in Christ will experience the benefit of this union. The Father accepts them in the Beloved, and they become objects of His solicitude and tender, loving care. This connection with Christ will result in the purification of the heart and in a circumspect life and faultless character. The fruit borne upon the Christian tree is ‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.’” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 353, 355.

7. What will the divine Gardener do so every branch will bear more fruit?

John 15:2, last part … And every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  

“Jesus with solemn tenderness explained the purpose of the husbandman. The pruning will cause pain, but it is the Father who applies the knife. He works with no wanton hand or indifferent heart. There are branches trailing upon the ground; these must be cut loose from the earthly supports to which their tendrils are fastening. They are to reach heavenward, and find their support in God. The excessive foliage that draws away the life current from the fruit must be pruned off. The overgrowth must be cut out, to give room for the healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness. The husbandman prunes away the harmful growth, that the fruit may be richer and more abundant.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 676.

For meditation

“The Holy Spirit, which proceeds from the only-begotten Son of God, binds the human agent, body, soul, and spirit, to the perfect, divine-human nature of Christ. This union is represented by the union of the vine and the branches. Finite man is united to the manhood of Christ. Through faith human nature is assimilated with Christ’s nature. We are made one with God in Christ.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 251.

For personal study

“The branches of the vine cannot blend into each other; they are individually separate; yet every branch must be in fellowship with every other if they are united in the same parent stock. They all draw nourishment from the same source; they drink in the same life-giving properties. So each branch of the True Vine is separate and distinct, yet all are bound together in the parent stock. There can be no division. They are all linked together by His will to bear fruit wherever they can find place and opportunity. But in order to do this, the worker must hide self. He must not give expression to his own mind and will. He is to express the mind and will of Christ.” –(Review and Herald, November 9, 1897) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1143.

  • Colossians 3:12-15

“When men are bound together, not by force or self-interest, but by love, they show the working of an influence that is above every human influence. Where this oneness exists, it is evidence that the image of God is being restored in humanity, that a new principle of life has been implanted. It shows that there is power in the divine nature to withstand the supernatural agencies of evil, and that the grace of God subdues the selfishness inherent in the natural heart.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 678.

“Brother will be bound to brother by the golden bonds of the love of Christ. The Spirit of God alone can bring about this oneness. He who sanctified Himself can sanctify His disciples. United with Him, they will be united with one another in the most holy faith. When we strive for this unity as God desires us to strive for it, it will come to us.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 243.

“There are conditions to meet if we would be blessed and honored by God. We are to separate from the world, and refuse to touch those things that will separate our affections from God. God has the first and highest claims upon His people. Set your affections upon Him and upon heavenly things. Your tendrils must be severed from everything earthly.” –(Review and Herald, January 2, 1900) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1102.