Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

April 18, 1892

The Conditions of Fruit Bearing

[Sermon at Sydney, Australia, December 11, 1891.]

By Mrs. E. G. White

The Saviour said: “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. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

What great reason we have to praise God for the wonderful promises contained in these words; and shall we not let gratitude spring up in our hearts as we meditate upon the provisions that have been made for our salvation? Shall not all distrust and doubt be banished from our souls, that we may give evidence that we have indeed been grafted into the living Vine? Jesus says, “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.” In all the teachings of Christ he seeks to unfold to us the relation he sustains to us, and the relation we should sustain to him, by revealing his relation to the Father, and the Father's love to him.

“These things,” said Christ, “have I spoken unto you,” that you should be sad and discouraged, wavering and distrustful?—No; but “that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” Christ desires that we should be happy, and he points out the way in which we may have fullness of joy. Is there anything more that we can desire? Is not this completion of joy, the joy of Christ, fulfilled in you? God has made provision that this joy may be yours.

Jesus saw that man was plunged in sin and misery, and had not moral power to overcome in his own strength, so Jesus gave himself, that he might unite man with himself, and make provision that sinners might lay hold of his strength and make peace with God. When Adam and Eve transgressed, Jesus said: “I will take upon me the sin of the fallen race. I will bear the penalty of sin, that I may impart to men my strength and righteousness.” When Jesus came to the world it was as our substitute and surety. He passed through all the experiences of man, from the manger to Calvary, at every step giving man an example of what he should be and what he should do. Behold him on the banks of the Jordan, asking for baptism at the hands of John. “But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him; and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

What does this scene mean to us? How thoughtlessly we have read the account of the baptism of our Lord, not realizing that its significance was of the greatest importance to us, and that Christ was accepted of the Father in man's behalf. As Jesus bowed on the banks of Jordan and offered up his petition, humanity was presented to the Father by him who had clothed his divinity with humanity. Jesus offered himself to the Father in man's behalf, that those who had been separated from God through sin, might be brought back to God through the merits of the divine Petitioner. Because of sin the earth had been cut off from heaven, but with his human arm Christ encircles the fallen race, and with his divine arm he grasps the throne of the Infinite, and earth is brought into favor with heaven, and man into communion with his God. The prayer of Christ in behalf of lost humanity cleaved its way through every shadow that Satan had cast between man and God, and left a clear channel of communication to the very throne of glory. The gates were left ajar, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit of God, in the form of a dove, encircled the head of Christ, and the voice of God was heard saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

The voice of God was heard in answer to the petition of Christ, and this tells the sinner that his prayer will find a lodgment at the throne of the Father. The Holy Spirit will be given to those who seek for its power and grace, and will help our infirmities when we would have audience with God. Heaven is open to our petitions, and we are invited to come “boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” We are to come in faith, believing that we shall obtain the very things we ask of him.

Christ would have his joy fulfilled in us. He would have us abide in him, that we may bring forth much fruit. The only thing for which each should have anxiety is to know how it is with his soul. The question to put to ourselves is, “Am I fighting the good fight of faith? Am I a living graft in the True Vine? Am I a branch of the parent stock, drawing sap and nourishment from Jesus?” How shall we know how to answer this question? Jesus has said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” And our fruits are dependent upon our abiding in Christ. Jesus says, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

What is it to bear fruit? It is not all comprised in coming to meeting once a week, and bearing our testimony in prayer or social meeting. We are to be found day by day abiding in the Vine, and bringing forth fruit, with patience, at our home, in our business; and in every relation in life manifesting the Spirit of Christ. There are many who act as though they thought an occasional connection with Christ was all that was necessary, and that they can be accounted living branches because at times they make confession of Christ. But this is a fallacy. The branch is to be grafted into the Vine, and to abide there, uniting itself to the Vine fiber by fiber, drawing its daily supply of sap and nourishment from the root and fatness of the Vine, until it becomes one with the parent stock. The sap that nourishes the Vine must nourish the branch, and this will be evident in the life of him who is abiding in Christ; for the joy of Christ will be fulfilled in him who walks not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Our professions are worthless unless we abide in Christ; for we cannot be living branches unless the vital qualities of the Vine abound in us. In the genuine Christian the characteristics of his Master will appear, and when we reflect the graces of Christ in our lives and characters, the Father loves us as he loves his Son. When this condition is fulfilled in those who profess to believe the present truth, we shall see a prosperous church; for its members will not live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and they will be flourishing branches of the living Vine.

If Jesus is with you, all the heavenly intelligences will minister unto you. The apostle says, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” All heaven is interested in the salvation of men. Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Then when we bow in prayer, let us remember that Jesus is with us. When we go into the house of God, let us remember that we are not going into the place of worship alone. We bring Jesus with us. If the people of God could have a realizing sense of this fact, they would not be inattentive hearers of the word. There would not be a cold lethargy upon hearts, so that those who profess his name cannot speak of his love. If we had a realizing sense of the fact that all heaven is bending over us, anxious to bless us, we would not see the indifferent, listless worship that so much characterizes the service of our churches in this day. We have altogether too low ideas of what it means to be Christians, of what the service of God requires. Jesus came to be our example, to teach us that the Father seeketh those to worship him who worship him in spirit and in truth.

Jesus came to the world not as an angel of light; we could not have endured his glory if he had come thus. One angel at the tomb of Christ was of such exceeding brightness that the Roman guard fell powerless to the ground. As the angel came from the heavens, he parted the darkness from his track, and the sentinels could not endure his glory; they fell as dead men to the earth. Suppose that Jesus had come in the glory of an angel, his brightness would have extinguished the feeble life of mortal men. For our sake Jesus emptied himself of his glory; he clothed his divinity with humanity that he might touch humanity, that his personal presence might be among us, that we might know that he was acquainted with all our trials, and sympathized with our grief, that every son and daughter of Adam might understand that Jesus is the friend of sinners. But he left not his divinity without a witness. Again and again in his sojourn on earth, divinity flashed through humanity, and the glory of God was manifested among men. At one time the priests and rulers, who hated Christ and who were studying how they might put him to death, sent the officers to take Jesus; but when the officers came into his presence, they were spellbound at his words. They listened entranced to the gracious utterances of his lips, and when they returned without taking him prisoner, the priests and rulers asked, “Why have ye not brought him?” The officers replied. “Never man spake like this man.” They had been charmed with his words, which had seemed to them as precious jewels. They had listened in utter forgetfulness of their errand, and had returned pondering his teaching. Divinity had flashed through humanity, and they had been deeply impressed, and would not lay hands upon him.

This was the Saviour who had come to fight our battles for us; for he alone could conquer the powers of darkness. “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” “For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

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