BRANCHES OF CHRIST
"You are the branches." John 15:5
This is one of my most blessed relationships to God. The only-begotten Son has consented to become a Savior for lost sinners. He has given himself in death for them. He has received the fullness of Divine grace in their behalf. All that they can need or possess, is laid up in him. They receive from his fullness grace upon grace. They are united to him by the renewing power of his Holy Spirit. By faith in Christ, and love to Christ, through this Holy Spirit, they become one with him. They are thus grafted into him, as branches into the vine. They live by his power and through his grace. They derive all their life and strength from him. This, then, becomes a very precious title, "I am the vine, and you are the branches." Am I truly a branch of Christ?
1. Then all my spiritual life depends upon my Savior, and I must maintain my personal union with him. This is only to be maintained by living faith; a constant, watchful trust in him. I must seek him daily. I must think of him often. I must avoid whatever opposes him. I must go directly to him, and keep my constant fellowship with him. Nothing must be between the graft and the stock. My life is hidden in Christ. My spiritual personal union to him is everything. No other power must come between us. No other agency is to be sought than his own Spirit to bring me and keep me there. I must not deny him, nor neglect him, nor wound him, nor undervalue him. Let me maintain an unceasing spiritual communion, by faith and love, with him. Thus shall I bring forth fruit to his glory.
2. Then all my fruitfulness must come from him, and I must constantly seek his power and strength. If I am separate from him, I can do nothing. If I abide in him, I may bear much fruit. The fruit which he asks from me is the fruit of his own Spirit. Love, patience, beneficence, faithfulness to him, faithfulness to others for his sake. These are the blessed fruits of his Spirit. Fruits which will adorn my profession and honor his name. Let me be anxious upon this subject. I would glorify him. I would be among his recognized and chosen flock. I would bear his cross and follow him. Thus only can I make my calling and election sure. Thus only can an abundant entrance be ministered unto me into his heavenly kingdom. Thus only can I glorify my Father who is in heaven.
3. Then my responsibility is great, and I must labor to fulfill it. To be grafted into Christ is a great privilege. I have everything there. All laid up in him. I must have much expected from me. I must render up a full account. To live an earthly and sinful life, or a self-indulgent and useless life, cannot be consistent with my relationship to Christ my Savior. The fruit which I must bear, must be like his. What he was, I must be in the world. And though I can never attain the same degree, I must walk in the same steps. I must mind the same thing. The mind which was in him must be in me also. How else can I fulfill my responsibility, or accomplish the purposes of my mission? Let me often think of how much I have received. What free forgiveness! What full redemption! What perfect acceptance! What forbearing aid! What tender guidance! What a glorious hope! For all these I must account to him. No creature can be more highly blessed. No one ought to be expected to be more faithful and useful in his daily practical life. Oh let not my blessings become my condemnation!
4. Then my hope is most precious, and I must prize it. Where he is, there I shall be also. He has gone to prepare a place for me. He will come again, and receive me unto himself. In his presence is the fullness of joy. Endless pleasures are at his right hand. Let me daily consider it, and rejoice in the hope which he bestows. Let me value this precious hope, and strive to live according to its demands. This is a glorious hope. It can support, encourage, animate, refresh me in every trial. It can make me happy in every condition. No one can touch the Great Being to whom I belong. That heavenly vine can never be rooted up. If I am one with him, he will keep me in perfect security and in perfect peace. My season of trial will soon be passed. My provided glory will soon appear. Oh let me be watchful and faithful, that no man take my crown.
5. Thus ought a branch of this heavenly vine to live. Deriving life from union with Christ; obtaining fruitfulness by the power of Christ; feeling responsibility for the mind and example of Christ; rejoicing in the hope of the glory of Christ. Upon these principles, let me live, striving constantly to honor the holy name by which I am called, and to adorn the blessed gospel which I profess. Happy will it be for me, so to be found, and so to appear when my Master shall come to call me before his throne.
When shall the day, dear Lord, appear,
That I shall mount on high,
And view your matchless beauties there,
With never-ceasing joy.
Angels shall listen to my song,
And seraphs join the praise;
For none among the happy throng
Shall louder triumphs raise.