YE THE BRANCHES
"I Am The Vine, Ye Are the Branches" John 15:5
Christ had already said much of the branch; here He comes to the personal application: "Ye are the branches of whom I have been speaking. As I am the Vine, engaged to be and do all the branches need, so I now ask you, in the new dispensation of the Holy Spirit whom I have been promising you, to accept the place I give you, and to be My branches on earth." The relationship He seeks to establish is an intensely personal one: it all hinges on the two little words I and You. And it is for us as intensely personal as for the first disciples. Let us present ourselves before our Lord, until He speak to each of us in power, and our whole soul feels it: "I am the Vine; you are the branch."
Dear disciple of Jesus, however young or feeble, hear the voice. "You are the branch." You must be nothing less. Let no false humility, no carnal fear of sacrifice, no unbelieving doubts as to what you feel able for, keep you back from saying: "I will be a branch, with all that may mean a branch, very feeble, but yet as like the Vine as can be, for I am of the same nature, and receive of the same spirit. A branch, utterly helpless, and yet just as manifestly set apart before God and men, as wholly given up to the work of bearing fruit, as the Vine itself. A branch, nothing in myself, and yet resting and rejoicing in the faith that knows that He will provide for all. Yes, by His grace, I will be nothing less than a branch, and all He means it to be, that through me, He may bring forth His fruit."
You are the branch. You need be nothing more. You need not for one single moment of the day take upon you the responsibility of the Vine. You need not leave the place of entire dependence and unbounded confidence. You need, least of all, to be anxious as to how you are to understand the mystery, or fulfill its conditions, or work out its blessed aim. The Vine will give all and work all. The Father, the Husbandman, watches over your union with and growth in the Vine. You need be nothing more than a branch. Only a branch! Let that be your watchword; it will lead in the path of continual surrender to Christ's working, of true obedience to His every command, of joyful expectancy of all His grace.
Is there anyone who now asks: "How can I learn to say this aright, `Only be a branch!' and to live it out?" Dear soul, the character of a branch, its strength, and the fruit it bears, depend entirely upon the Vine. And your life as branch depends entirely upon your apprehension of what our Lord Jesus is. Therefore never separate the two words: "I the Vine you the branch." Your life and strength and fruit depend upon what your Lord Jesus is! Therefore worship and trust Him; let Him be your one desire and the one occupation of your heart. And when you feel that you do not and cannot know Him aright, then just remember it is part of His responsibility as Vine to make Himself known to you. He does this not in thoughts and conceptions no but in a hidden growth within the life that is humbly and restfully and entirely given up to wait on Him. The Vine reveals itself within the branch; thence comes the growth and fruit, Christ dwells and works within His branch; only be a branch, waiting on Him to do all; He will be to thee the true Vine. The Father Himself, the divine Husbandman, is able to make thee a branch worthy of the heavenly Vine. Thou shalt not be disappointed.
Ye are the branches. This word,
too Lord! O speak it in power unto my soul. Let not the branch of the earthly
vine put me to shame, but as it only lives to bear the fruit of the vine,
may my life on earth have no wish or aim, but to let Thee bring forth fruit
"He That Abideth in Me, and I in Him, the Same Bringeth Forth Much Fruit" John 15:5
Our Lord had spoken of fruit, more fruit. He now adds the thought: much fruit. There is in the Vine such fullness, the care of the divine Husbandman is so sure of success, that the much fruit is not a demand, but the simple promise of what must come to the branch that lives in the double abiding he in Christ, and Christ in him. "The same bringeth forth much fruit." It is certain.
Have you ever noticed the difference in the Christian life between work and fruit? A machine can do work: only life can bear fruit. A law can compel work: only love can spontaneously bring forth fruit. Work implies effort and labor: the essential idea of fruit is that it is the silent natural restful produce of our inner life. The gardener may labor to give his apple tree the digging and manuring, the watering and the pruning it needs; he can do nothing to produce the apple: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy." The healthy life bears much fruit. The connection between work and fruit is perhaps best seen in the expression, "fruitful in every good work." (Col. 1:10). It is only when good works come as the fruit of the indwelling Spirit that they are acceptable to God. Under the compulsion of law and conscience, or the influence of inclination and zeal, men may be most diligent in good works, and yet find that they have but little spiritual result. There can be no reason but this their works are man's effort, instead of being the fruit of the Spirit, the restful, natural outcome of the Spirit's operation within us.
Let all workers come and listen to our holy Vine as He reveals the law of sure and abundant fruitfulness: "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit." The gardener cares for one thing the strength and healthy life of his tree: the fruit follows of itself. If you would bear fruit, see that the inner life is perfectly right, that your relation to Christ Jesus is clear and close. Begin each day with Him in the morning, to know in truth that you are abiding in Him and He in you. Christ tells that nothing less will do. It is not your willing and running, it is not by your might or strength, but "by my Spirit, saith the Lord." Meet each new engagement, undertake every new work, with an ear and heart open to the Master's voice: "He that abideth in me, beareth much fruit." See you to the abiding; He will see to the fruit, for He will give it in you and through you.
O my brother, it is Christ must do all! The Vine provides the sap, and the life, and the strength: the branch waits, and rests, and receives, and bears the fruit. Oh, the blessedness of being only branches, through whom the Spirit flows and brings God's life to men!
I pray you, take time and ask the Holy Spirit to give you to realize the unspeakably solemn place you occupy in the mind of God. He has planted you into His Son with the calling and the power to bear much fruit. Accept that place. Look much to God, and to Christ, and expect joyfully to be what God has planned to make you, a fruitful branch.
Much fruit! So be it, blessed Lord
Jesus. It can be, for Thou art the Vine. It shall be, for I am abiding
in Thee. It must be, for Thy Father is the Husbandman that cleanses the
branch. Yea, much fruit, out of the abundance of Thy grace.
YOU CAN DO NOTHING
"Apart From Me Ye Can Do Nothing" John 15:5
In everything the life of the branch is to be the exact counterpart of that of the Vine. Of Himself Jesus had said: "The Son can do nothing of himself." As the outcome of that entire dependence, He could add: "All that the Father doeth, doeth the Son also likewise." As Son He did not receive His life from the Father once for all, but moment by moment. His life was a continual waiting on the Father for all He was to do. And so Christ says of His disciples: "Ye can do nothing apart from me." He means it literally. To everyone who wants to live the true disciple life, to bring forth fruit and glorify God, the message comes: You can do nothing. What had been said: "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit," is here enforced by the simplest and strongest of arguments: "Abiding in Me is indispensable, for, you know it, of yourselves you can do nothing to maintain or act out the heavenly life."
A deep conviction of the truth of this word lies at the very root of a strong spiritual life. As little as I created myself, as little as I could raise a man from the dead, can I give myself the divine life. As little as I can give it myself, can I maintain or increase it: every motion is the work of God through Christ and His Spirit. It is as a man believes this, that he will take up that position of entire and continual dependence which is the very essence of the life of faith. With the spiritual eye he sees Christ every moment supplying grace for every breathing and every deepening of the spiritual life. His whole heart says Amen to the word: You can do nothing. And just because he does so, he can also say: "I can do all things in Christ who strengtheneth me." The sense of helplessness, and the abiding to which it compels, leads to true fruitfulness and diligence in good works. Apart from me ye can do nothing. What a plea and what a call every moment to abide in Christ! We have only to go back to the vine to see how true it is. Look again at that little branch, utterly helpless and fruitless except as it receives sap from the vine, and learn that the full conviction of not being able to do anything apart from Christ is just what you need to teach you to abide in your heavenly Vine. It is this that is the great meaning of the pruning Christ spoke of all that is self must be brought low, that our confidence may be in Christ alone. "Abide in me" much fruit! "Apart from me" nothing! Ought there to be any doubt as to what we shall choose?
The one lesson of the parable is as surely, as naturally as the branch abides in the vine, You can abide in Christ. For this He is the true Vine; for this God is the Husbandman; for this you are a branch. Shall we not cry to God to deliver us forever from the "apart from me," and to make the "abide in me" an unceasing reality? Let your heart go out to what Christ is, and can do, to His divine power and His tender love to each of His branches, and you will say ever more confidently: "Lord! I am abiding; I will bear much fruit. My impotence is my strength. So be it. Apart from Thee, nothing. In Thee, much fruit."
Apart from Me you nothing. Lord,
I gladly accept the arrangement: I nothing Thou all. My nothingness is
my highest blessing, because Thou art the Vine, that givest and workest
all. So be it, Lord! I, nothing, ever waiting on Thy fullness. Lord, reveal
to me the glory of this blessed life.
"If a Man Abide Not in Me, He is Cast Forth as a Branch, and is Withered; and They Gather Them, and Cast Them into the Fire, and They are Burned" John 15:6
The lessons these words teach are very simple and very solemn. A man can come to such a connection with Christ, that he counts himself to be in Him, and yet he can be cast forth. There is such a thing as not abiding in Christ, which leads to withering up and burning. There is such a thing as a withered branch, one in whom the initial union with Christ appears to have taken place, and in whom yet it is seen that his faith was but for a time. What a solemn call to look around and see if there be not withered branches in our churches, to look within and see whether we are indeed abiding and bearing fruit!
And what may be the cause of this "not abiding." With some it is that they never understood how the Christian calling leads to holy obedience and to loving service. They were content with the thought that they had believed, and were safe from Hell; there was neither motive nor power to abide in Christ they knew not the need of it. With others it was that the cares of the world, or its prosperity, choked the Word: they had never forsaken all to follow Christ. With still others it was that their religion and their faith was in the wisdom of men, and not in the power of God. They trusted in the means of grace, or in their own sincerity, or in the soundness of their faith in justifying grace; they had never come even to seek an entire abiding in Christ as their only safety. No wonder that, when the hot winds of temptation or persecution blew, they withered away: they were not truly rooted in Christ.
Let us open our eyes and see if there be not withered branches all around us in the churches. Young men, whose confessions were once bright, but who are growing cold. Or old men, who have retained their profession, but out of whom the measure of life there once appeared to be has died out. Let ministers and believers take Christ's words to heart, and see, and ask the Lord whether there is nothing to be done for branches that are beginning to wither. And let the word Abide ring through the Church until every believer has caught it no safety but in a true abiding in Christ.
Let each of us turn within. Is our life fresh, and green, and vigorous, bringing forth its fruit in its season? (See Ps. 1:3; 92:13, 14; Jer. 17:7, 8.) Let us accept every warning with a willing mind, and let Christ's "if a man abide not" give new urgency to His "abide in me." To the upright soul the secret of abiding will become ever simpler, just the consciousness of the place in which He has put me; just the childlike resting in my union with Him, and the trustful assurance that He will keep me. Oh, do let us believe there is a life that knows of no withering, that is ever green; and that brings forth fruit abundantly!
Withered! O my Father, watch over
me, and keep me, and let nothing ever for a moment hinder the freshness
that comes from a full abiding in the Vine. Let the very thought of a withered
branch fill me with holy fear and watchfulness.
WHATSOEVER YE WILL
"If Ye Abide in Me, and My Words Abide in You, Ask Whatsoever Ye Will, and it Shall be Done Unto You" John 15:7
The Whole place of the branch in the vine is one of unceasing prayer. Without intermission it is ever calling: "O my vine, send the sap I need to bear Thy fruit." And its prayers are never unanswered: it asks what it needs, what it will, and it is done.
The healthy life of the believer in Christ is equally one of unceasing prayer. Consciously or unconsciously, he lives in continual dependence. The Word of his Lord, "You can do nothing," has taught him that not more unbroken than the continuance of the branch in the vine, must be his asking and receiving. The promise of our text gives us infinite boldness: "Ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
The promise is given in direct connection with fruit bearing. Limit it to yourself and your own needs, and you rob it of its power; you rob yourself of the power of appropriating it. Christ was sending these disciples out, and they were ready to give their life for the world; to them He gave the disposal of the treasures of Heaven. Their prayers would bring the Spirit and the power they needed for their work.
The promise is given in direct connection with the coming of the Spirit. The Spirit is not mentioned in the parable, just as little as the sap of the vine is mentioned. But both are meant all through. In the chapter preceding the parable, our Lord had spoken of the Holy Spirit, in connection with their inner life, being in them, and revealing Himself within them (14:15-23). In the next chapter He speaks of the Holy Spirit in connection with their work, coming to them, convincing the world, and glorifying Him (16:7-14). To avail ourselves of the unlimited prayer promises, we must be men who are filled with the Spirit, and wholly given up to the work and glory of Jesus. The Spirit will lead us into the truth of its meaning and the certainty of its fulfillment.
Let us realize that we can only
fulfill our calling to bear much fruit, by praying much. In Christ are
hid all the treasures men around us need; in Him all God's children are
blessed with all spiritual blessings; He is full of grace and truth. But
it needs prayer, much prayer, strong believing prayer, to bring these blessings
down. And let us equally remember that we cannot appropriate the promise
without a life given up for men. Many try to take the promise, and then
look round for what they can ask. This is not the way; but the very opposite.
Get the heart burdened with the need of souls, and the command to save
them, and the power will come to claim the promise. Let us claim it as
one of the revelations of our wonderful life in the Vine: He tells us that
if we ask in His name, in virtue of our union with Him, whatsoever it be,
it will be done to us. Souls are perishing because there is too little
prayer. God's children are feeble because there is too little prayer. We
bear so little fruit because there is so little prayer. The faith of this
promise would make us strong to pray; let us not rest till it has entered
into our very heart, and drawn us in the power of Christ to continue and
labor and strive in prayer until the blessing comes in power. To be a branch
means not only bearing fruit on earth, but power in prayer to bring down
blessing from Heaven. Abiding fully means praying much. Ask what ye will.
O my Lord, why is it that our hearts are so little able to accept these
words in their divine simplicity? Oh, give me to see that we need nothing
less than this promise to overcome the powers of the world and Satan! Teach
us to pray in the faith of this Thy promise.
IF YE ABIDE
"If Ye Abide in Me, and My Words, Abide in You, Ask Whatsoever Ye Will, and it Shall be Done Unto You" John 15:7
The reason the Vine and its branches are such a true parable of the Christian life is that all nature has one source and breathes one spirit. The plant world was created to be to man an object lesson teaching him his entire dependence upon God, and his security in that dependence. He that clothes the lilies will much more cloth us. He that gives the trees and the vines their beauty and their fruits, making each what He meant it to be, will much more certainly make us what He would have us to be. The only difference is what God works in the trees is by a power of which they are not conscious. He wants to work in us with our consent. This is the nobility of man, that he has a will that can cooperate with God in understanding and approving and accepting what He offers to do.
If ye abide Here is the difference between the branch of the natural and the branch of the spiritual Vine. The former abides by force of nature: the latter abides, not by force of will, but by a divine power given to the consent of the will. Such is the wonderful provision God has made that, what the power of nature does in the one case, the power of grace will do in the other. The branch can abide in the Vine.
If ye abide in me...ask whatsoever ye will If we are to live a true prayer life, with the love and the power and the experience of prayer marking it, there must be no question about the abiding. And if we abide, there need be no question about the liberty of asking what we will, and the certainty of its being done. There is the one condition: "If ye abide in me." There must be no hesitation about the possibility or the certainty of it. We must gaze on that little branch and its wonderful power of bearing such beautiful fruit until we truly learn to abide.
And what is its secret? Be wholly occupied with Jesus. Sink the roots of your being in faith and love and obedience deep down into Him. Come away out of every other place to abide here. Give up everything for the inconceivable privilege of being a branch on earth of the glorified Son of God in Heaven. Let Christ be first. Let Christ be all. Do not be occupied with the abiding be occupied with Christ! He will hold you, He will keep you abiding in Him. He will abide in you.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you This He gives as the equivalent of the other expression: "I in you. If my words abide in you" that is, not only in meditation, in memory, in love, in faith all these words enter into your will, your being, and constitute your life if they transform your character into their own likeness, and you become and are what they speak and mean ask what ye will; it shall be done unto you. Your words to God in prayer will be the fruit of Christ and His words living in you.
Ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you Believe in the truth of this promise. Set yourself to be an intercessor for men; a fruit bearing intercessor, ever calling down more blessing. Such faith and prayer will help you wonderfully to abide wholly and unceasingly.
If ye abide. Yes, Lord, the power
to pray and the power to prevail must depend on this abiding in Thee. As
Thou art the Vine, Thou art the divine Intercessor, who breathest Thy spirit
in us. Oh, for grace to abide simply and wholly in Thee, and ask great
THE FATHER GLORIFIED
"Herein is My Father Glorified, that Ye Bear Much Fruit" John 15:8
How can we glorify God? Not by adding to His glory or bringing Him any new glory that He has not. But simply by allowing His glory to shine out through us, by yielding ourselves to Him, that His glory may manifest itself in us and through us to the world. In a vineyard or a vine bearing much fruit, the owner is glorified, as it tells of his skill and care. In the disciple who bears much fruit, the Father is glorified. Before men and angels, proof is given of the glory of God's grace and power; God's glory shines out through him.
This is what Peter means when he writes: "He that ministers, let him minister as of the ability that God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ." As a man works and serves in a power which comes from God alone, God gets all the glory. When we confess that the ability came from God alone, he that does the work, and they who see it, equally glorify God. It was God who did it. Men judge by the fruit of a garden of what the gardener is. Men judge of God by the fruit that the branches of the Vine of His planting bears. Little fruit brings little glory to God. It brings no honor to either the Vine or the Husbandman. "That ye bear much fruit, herein is my Father glorified."
We have sometimes mourned our lack of fruit, as a loss to ourselves and our fellow men, with complaints of our feebleness as the cause. Let us rather think of the sin and shame of little fruit as robbing God of the glory He ought to get from us. Let us learn the secret of bringing glory to God, serving of the ability which God giveth. The full acceptance of Christ's Word, "You can do nothing"; the simple faith in God, who worketh all in all; the abiding in Christ through whom the divine Husbandman does His work and gets much fruit this is the life that will bring glory to God. Much fruit God asks it; see that you give it. God can be content with nothing less; be you content with nothing less. Let these words of Christ fruit, more fruit, much fruit abide in you, until you think as He does, and you be prepared to take from Him, the heavenly Vine, what He has for you. Much fruit: herein is my Father glorified. Let the very height of the demand be your encouragement. It is so entirely beyond your power, that it throws you more entirely upon Christ, your true Vine. He can, He will, make it true in you.
Much fruit God asks because he needs.
He does not ask fruit from the branches of His Vine for show, to prove
what He can do. No; He needs it for the salvation of men: it is in that
He is to be glorified. Throw yourself in much prayer on your Vine and your
Husbandman. Cry to God and your Father to give you fruit to bring to men.
Take the burden of the hungry and the perishing on you, as Jesus did when
He was moved with compassion, and your power in prayer, and your abiding,
and your bearing much fruit to the glory of the Father will have a reality
and a certainty you never knew before. The Father glorified. Blessed prospect
God glorifying Himself in me, showing forth the glory of His goodness and
power in what He works in me, and through me. What a motive to bear much
fruit, just as much as He works in me! Father, glorify Thyself in me.
"Herein is My Father Glorified, that Ye Bear Much Fruit: So Shall Ye Be My Disciples" John 15:8
And are those who do not bear much fruit not disciples? They may be, but in a backward and immature stage. Of those who bear much fruit, Christ says: "These are My disciples, such as I would have them be these are true disciples." Just as we say of someone in whom the idea of manliness is realized: That is a man! So our Lord tells who are disciples after His heart, worthy of the name: Those who bear much fruit. We find this double sense of the word disciple in the Gospel. Sometimes it is applied to all who accepted Christ's teaching. At other times it includes only the inner circle of those who followed Christ wholly, and gave themselves to His training for service. The difference has existed throughout all ages. There have always been a smaller number of God's people who have sought to serve Him with their whole heart, while the majority have been content with a very small measure of the knowledge of His grace and will.
And what is the difference between this smaller inner circle and the many who do not seek admission to it? We find it in the words: much fruit. With many Christians the thought of personal safety, which at their first awakening was a legitimate one, remains to the end the one aim of their religion. The idea of service and fruit is always a secondary and very subordinate one. The honest longing for much fruit does not trouble them. Souls that have heard the call to live wholly for their Lord, to give their life for Him as He gave His for them, can never be satisfied with this. Their cry is to bear as much fruit as they possibly can, as much as their Lord ever can desire or give in them.
Bear much fruit: so shall ye be My disciples Let me beg every reader to consider these words most seriously. Be not content with the thought of gradually doing a little more or better work. In this way it may never come. Take the words, much fruit, as the revelation of your heavenly Vine of what you must be, of what you can be. Accept fully the impossibility, the utter folly of attempting it in your strength. Let the words call you to look anew upon the Vine, an undertaking to live out its heavenly fullness in you. Let them waken in you once again the faith and the confession: "I am a branch of the true Vine; I can bear much fruit to His glory, and the glory of the Father."
We need not judge others. But we
see in God's Word everywhere two classes of disciples. Let there be no
hesitation as to where we take our place. Let us ask Him to reveal to us
how He ask and claims a life wholly given up to Him, to be as full of His
Spirit as He can make us. Let our desire be nothing less than perfect cleansing,
unbroken abiding, closest communion, abundant fruitfulness true branches
of the true Vine. The world is perishing, the church is failing, Christ's
cause is suffering, Christ is grieving on account of the lack of wholehearted
Christians, bearing much fruit. Though you scarce see what it implies or
how it is to come, say to Him that you are His branch to bear much fruit;
that you are ready to be His disciple in His own meaning of the word. My
disciples. Blessed Lord, much fruit is the proof that Thou the true Vine
hast in me a true branch, a disciple wholly at Thy disposal. Give me, I
pray Thee, the childlike consciousness that my fruit is pleasing to Thee,
what Thou countest much fruit.
THE WONDERFUL LOVE
"Even as the Father Hath Loved Me, I Also Have Loved you" John 15:9
Here Christ leaves the language of parable, and speaks plainly out of the Father. Much as the parable could teach, it could not teach the lesson of love. All that the vine does for the branch, it does under the compulsion of a law of nature: there is no personal living love to the branch. We are in danger of looking to Christ as a Savior and a supplier of every need, appointed by God, accepted and trusted by us, without any sense of the intensity of personal affection in which Christ embraces us, and our life alone can find its true happiness. Christ seeks to point us to this.
And how does He do so? He leads us once again to Himself, to show us how identical His own life is with ours. Even as the Father loved Him, He loves us. His life as vine dependent on the Father was a life in the Father's love; that love was His strength and His joy; in the power of that divine love resting on Him He lived and died. If we are to live like Him, as branches to be truly like our Vine, we must share in this too. Our life must have its breath and being in a heavenly love as much as His. What the Father's love was to Him, His love will be to us. If that love made Him the true Vine, His love can make us true branches. "Even as the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you."
Even as the Father hath loved Me And how did the Father love Him? The infinite desire and delight of God to communicate to the Son all He had Himself, to take the Son into the most complete equality with Himself, to live in the Son and have the Son live in Him this was the love of God to Christ. It is a mystery of glory of which we can form no conception, we can only bow and worship as we try to think of it. And with such a love, with this very same love, Christ longs in an infinite desire and delight to communicate to us all He is and has, to make us partakers of His own nature and blessedness, to live in us and have us live in Himself.
And now, if Christ loves us with such an intense, such an infinite divine love, what is it that hinders it triumphing over every obstacle and getting full possession of us? The answer is simple. Even as the love of the Father to Christ, so His love to us is a divine mystery, too high for us to comprehend or attain to by any effort of our own. It is only the Holy Spirit who can shed abroad and reveal in its all conquering power without intermission this wonderful love of God in Christ. It is the vine itself that must give the branch its growth and fruit by sending up its sap. It is Christ Himself must by His Holy Spirit dwell in the heart; then shall we know and have in us the love that passeth knowledge.
As the Father loved Me, so have I loved you Shall we not draw near to the personal living Christ, and trust Him, and yield all to Him, that He may love this love into us? Just as he knew and rejoiced every hour the Father loveth Me we too may live in the unceasing consciousness as the Father loved Him, so He loves me.
As the Father loved Me, so have
I loved you. Dear Lord, I am only beginning to apprehend how exactly the
life of the Vine is to be that of the branch too. Thou art the Vine, because
the Father loved Thee, and poured His love through Thee. And so Thou lovest
me, and my life as branch is to be like Thine, a receiving and a giving
out of heavenly love.
ABIDE IN MY LOVE
"Even as the Father Hath Loved Me, I Also Have Loved You: Abide Ye in My Love" John 15:9
Abide in My love We speak of a man's home as his abode. Our abode, the home of our soul, is to be the love of Christ. We are to live our life there, to be at home there all the day: this is what Christ means our life to be, and really can make it. Our continuous abiding in the Vine is to be an abiding in His love.
You have probably heard or read of what is called the higher, or the deeper life, of the richer or the fuller life, of the life abundant. And you possibly know that some have told of a wonderful change, by which their life of continual failure and stumbling had been changed into a very blessed experience of being kept and strengthened and made exceeding glad. If you asked them how it was this great blessing came to them, many would tell you it was simply this, that they were led to believe that this abiding in Christ's love was meant to be a reality, and that they were made willing to give up everything for it, and then enabled to trust Christ to make it true to them.
The love of the Father to the Son is not a sentiment it is a divine life, an infinite energy, an irresistible power. It carried Christ through life and death and the grave. The Father loved Him and dwelt in Him, and did all for Him. So the love of Christ to us too is an infinite living power that will work in us all He delights to give us. The feebleness of our Christian life is that we do not take time to believe that this divine love does really delight in us, and will possess and work all in us. We do not take time to look at the Vine bearing the branch so entirely, working all in it so completely. We strive to do for ourselves what Christ alone can, what Christ, oh, so lovingly, longs to do for us.
And this now is the secret of the change we spoke of, and the beginning of a new life, when the soul sees this infinite love willing to do all, and gives itself up to it. "Abide ye in my love." To believe that, it is possible so to live moment by moment; to believe that everything that makes it difficult or impossible will be overcome by Christ Himself; to believe that Love really means an infinite longing to give itself wholly to us and never leave us; and in this faith to cast ourselves on Christ to work it in us; this is the secret of the true Christian life.
And how to come to this faith? Turn
away from the visible if you would see and possess the invisible. Take
more time with Jesus, gazing on Him as the heavenly Vine, living in the
love of the Father, wanting you to live in His love. Turn away from yourself
and your efforts and your faith, if you would have the heart filled with
Him and the certainty of His love. Abiding means going out from everything
else, to occupy one place and stay there. Come away from all else, and
set your heart on Jesus, and His love, that love will waken your faith
and strengthen it. Occupy yourself with that love, worship it, wait for
it. You may be sure it will reach out to you, and by its power take you
up into itself as your abode and your home. Abide in My love. Lord Jesus,
I see it, it was Thy abiding in Thy Father's love that made Thee the true
Vine, with Thy divine fullness of love and blessing for us. Oh, that I
may even so, as a branch, abide in Thy love, for its fullness to fill me
and overflow on all around.