Ellen G. White Writings

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The Watchman

December 17, 1907

The Christian's Relation to Christ

Mrs. E. G. White

I am the vine, ye are the branches,” Christ says; “he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for severed from me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5, margin. The Jews had always regarded the vine as the most noble of plants, and a type of all that was excellent and fruitful. When Christ was about to take leave of his disciples, he gave them this cherished plant as a 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presenting before them the close union with himself by which they could maintain spiritual life when his presence was withdrawn. To impress this truth upon their minds, he illustrated it by using the vine as its most appropriate and striking symbol.

Can we conceive a closer, more intimate relation to Christ than is set forth in the words, “I am the vine, ye are the branches”? 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. Thus 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.

All Christ's followers have as deep an interest in this lesson of the vine and its branches as had the disciples who listened to his words. In the apostasy, man alienated himself from God. The separation is wide and fearful; the power of evil is so identified with human nature that no man can overcome, except by union with Christ. But Christ has made provision again to connect us with himself, and through this union we receive moral and spiritual life and power.

A connection with Christ can be established only by the exercise of a personal, living faith. When this intimacy of connection and communion is formed, our sins are laid upon Christ, and his righteousness is imputed unto 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 in the Beloved. Such a union is enduring; every other union must perish.

“Severed from me ye can do nothing,” Christ said. The branch cannot live separated from the vine; no more can we except we abide in Christ. “If a man abide not in me,” Christ says, “he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” But “he that abideth in me,” “the same bringeth forth much fruit.” We shall bring forth the fruit of righteousness, fruit that will bless men and honor and glorify God.

Christ is ever seeking to present before his followers the privileges that are offered to sinful, feeble humanity. He would teach them that only through him can it be restored to healthful growth. We are to bear in mind that the branches in the True Vine are the believers who are brought into oneness by connection with the Vine.

The connection of the branches with one another and with the Vine constitutes them a unity, but this does not mean uniformity in everything. Unity in diversity is a principle that pervades the whole creation. While there is an individuality and variety in nature, there is a oneness in their diversity; for all things receive their usefulness and beauty from the same source. The great Master Artist writes his name on all his created works, from the loftiest cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop upon the wall. They all declare his handiwork, from the lofty mountain and the grand ocean to the tiniest shell upon the seashore.

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. The human family are dependent upon God for life and breath and sustenance. God has designed the web, and all are individual threads to compose the pattern. The Creator is one, and he reveals himself as the great Reservoir of all that is essential for each separate life.

Christian unity consists in the branches being in the same parent stock, the vitalizing power of the center supporting the grafts that have united with 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.

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