Ellen G. White Writings

<< Back Forward >>

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»

The Signs of the Times

December 10, 1896

Union with Christ

By Mrs. E. G. White

“I am the True Vine, 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.”

Every true believer must have a living connection with Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being. Just as the body needs the vitalizing air at all times, so the soul needs divine grace. Apart from Christ, we are helpless, without hope, and without God in the world; but truly united to him, we are a power for good.

In the parable of the vine and the branches, Christ presents the necessity and advantage of a vital union with him. And what symbol so simple, and yet so striking, could he have used to show the need of entire dependence upon him? Separated from the vine, the branch is dead and worthless. United to the vine, it receives the nourishment drawn from the roots, and thus is enabled to bear fruit. Such is the relation of the believer to Christ. On our part, we must have implicit faith in Christ as our personal Saviour. The result of this faith is seen in the fruit we bear. Christ constantly supplies us with grace, and in our turn we impart this grace to others, thereby revealing that we receive our nourishment from the True Vine. God acknowledges this union, and our petitions are accepted through Jesus Christ. One with him, as he is one with the Father, we are accepted in the Beloved. Christ is not ashamed to call us brethren, and heavenly intelligences co-operate with us in our efforts to serve him.

By the nature and abundance of the fruit it produces, the branch proves that it is a part of the vine, and by the fruit which we bear, we show whether or not we are truly united to Christ. The true branch bears rich clusters of genuine fruit, and if we are truly united to Christ, we reveal in our lives the fruits of the Holy Spirit. “Herein is my Father glorified,” said Christ, “that ye bear much fruit.”

The branch which does not derive its nourishment from the vine, is unable to bear fruit. Having no real, vital connection with the vine, not receiving the sap which flows through the parent stock, it is fruitless. So it is with those who are not truly united to Christ. They may claim to know him, their names may be on the church roll, but unless they are living branches of the True Vine, this is of no value. There is a union with the church that avails nothing with God. Their profession will not save them, for their want of faith, their lack of fruit, proves that they are false branches. They are hearers, and not doers, of the word of God, and their future is shown in this parable. Their separation from Christ involves a ruin as complete as that represented by the dead branch. “If a man abide not in me,” said Christ, “he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

Those who claim to know Christ, and yet indulge a jealous, fault-finding spirit, sowing seeds of dissension by word and action, reveal only too surely that they are not branches of the True Vine. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” “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.”

As the husbandman prunes the branches of the fruit-bearing trees, that they may bear more fruit, so the Lord prunes those who are endeavoring to serve him. Often by pruning away the unhealthy growth of temporal and secular interests which endanger heart and character, he causes pain. But he works with no wanton hands and indifferent heart. It is in love to his children that he cuts away the growth which threatens to destroy the health and life of the soul.

The Lord permits trials to come to us in order that we may be cleansed from earthliness, from selfishness, from sharp, unchristlike traits of character; that we may be led to look to him as the source of all strength. He suffers the deep waves of affliction to pass over our souls in order that we may have deep heart-longings to be cleansed from all defilement, and come forth from the trial purer and holier, with a deeper knowledge of him.

“As many as I love,” God says, “I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent,” In order that we may die to self, we are called upon to endure trial, and when the chastening hand of the Lord is laid upon us, we are not to fret and complain, not to rebel, not to worry ourselves out of the hand of Christ. We are to humble ourselves before God, pleading with him to give us rest and peace. We enter the furnace of affliction with our hearts darkened by selfishness; but if patient under the crucial test, we shall come forth reflecting the divine image, as gold tried in the fire. “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Christ left his heavenly home, and came to this world, to show that only by being connected with divinity can man keep the law of God. In itself humanity is tainted and corrupted; but Christ brought moral power to man, and those who live in communion with him overcome as he overcame. We are not left in this world as orphans; Christ has united fallen man to the infinite God. He has opened a way for our prayers to ascend to God, and the fragrance of his righteousness ascends with the prayer of every repentant sinner.

Before men and before angels, by a life of perfect obedience, Christ represented the character of God. Today he is calling upon us to unite with him, that we may partake of his divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. “I, if I be lifted up from this earth,” he said, “will draw all men unto me.” His gracious invitations of mercy are going forth to all mankind. He is inviting all to come into close connection with him; and those who respond will find life and salvation. As we connect with him, unbelieving fear is swept away before living faith, and humble, grateful confidence becomes an abiding principle in the soul.

The result of a vital union with Christ should make all willing to give up everything if only we may be united with him. As the nourishment of the vine is carried to every true branch, so Christ's righteousness is imparted to every one who unites with him. “He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” As our substitute and surety, our sins are placed to his account. His grace is given us in large measure, and this vitalizing power makes us channels of blessing to the world. “If ye abide in me,” he said, “and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

The Lord is at hand. Heavenly angels wait to co-operate with God's children in sounding the message, “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” The angels can not take our place, but they stand ready to co-operate with us in drawing souls to Christ; and they are soliciting us to work in fellowship with them. These angels survey the ground occupied by those who claim to follow Christ. They see the advantage gained by the enemy when men and women refuse to unite with Christ, and neglect their God-appointed work, and they sorrow over the souls lost in consequence of this neglect.

Those who are truly striving to honor God will be laborers together with him. Truly united to Christ, they willingly wear his yoke, and bear his burdens. They realize that they are not their own, but that Christ has purchased them at an infinite price; and their own ambitious prospects are lost sight of in their desire to work for God. To all such God can say, Child, come up higher. I have tested you, and I know that I can trust you to enter heaven's courts and not rebel. But those in whose hearts selfishness is cherished, who have no connection with Christ, can never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Shortly before his crucifixion, Christ prayed for his disciples: “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.” O that these words might be written with the finger of God upon every soul. When God's children surrender all to him, when they are willing to be pruned of all selfishness and worldliness and to be united to the True Vine, when one interest predominates—to be one with Christ as he is one with the Father—then they can indeed bear witness for the truth. True branches of the living Vine, they will bear “much fruit” for him, “being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the honor and praise of God.”

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»