I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit…
Our Lord does not say, "Apart from my doctrine ye can do nothing;" important though it is that Christian people should apprehend and receive his truth. Nor does he say, "Apart from my Church ye can do nothing;" though, if we understand the term "Church" aright, this would be manifestly true. But he says, "Apart from me." Christ is, then, himself everything to his people. He is the Power, the Wisdom, the Salvation, of God, and consequently, could we be sundered from him, we should be rendered poor and powerless.
I. TO BEAR FRUIT, IS THE END OF TRUE RELIGION, AND THE RESULT AND PROOF OF SPIRITUAL LIFE. When substituted for faith, "doing" is bad; but when it is the effect of faith, it is good and precious. Where do we look for evidence of the goodness of the tree? Is it not sought in fruit, good fruit, much fruit? The doing, or fruit-bearing, here commended by the Lord Jesus, is the performance of the will of God, is the imitation of the Master's own example, is the fulfillment of the behests of an enlightened conscience. It comprises personal holiness and active usefulness.
II. SEVERANCE FROM CHRIST RENDERS MEN POWERLESS FOR GOOD WORKS. The conduct and service which are distinctively Christian are only possible through personal union with the Savior.
1. This assertion places in a clear light the unequalled dignity of the Lord Jesus. This is a declaration which none but he could make. Yet, being the Son of God and the Source of spiritual life to men, he could justly advance a claim so vast. The disciple is nothing without his master, the servant nothing without his lord, the soldier nothing without his commander, the hand nothing without the head, the Christian nothing without Christ.
2. This assertion brings out into clear light the absolute dependence of Christians. Without our Lord's teaching and example, we, should have no conception of the highest moral excellence. Without his love, we should not feel the mightiest motive that can influence the soul to consecration and service. Without his mediation, we should not enjoy the favor of God, our Ruler and Judge. Without his Spirit, we should be strangers to the spiritual power which alone can enable feeble man to do the will of God. Without his promises, we should lack the encouragement and inspiration we need to cheer us amidst the difficulties, perplexities, and trials from which no earthly life is ever exempt. Without him, there would be no deliverance from the bondage of sin, and no prospect of what is truly the eternal life. "Neither," says Peter, "is there salvation in any other."
III. UNION WITH CHRIST IS THEREFORE UNSPEAKABLY PRECIOUS, AND FOR THE CHRISTIAN ABSOLUTELY NEEDFUL. As to the nature of this connection, there should be no misunderstanding. External privileges and professions are all insufficient. A spiritual and vital union is necessary, such as in the vegetable kingdom joins the branch to the vine-stock, such as in architecture unites the temple to its foundation. This union is effected on the human side by a believing reception of the gospel of Christ; on the Divine side by the impartation of the quickening Spirit of God. Such union is capable of increase in degree; a closer spiritual fellowship with the Divine Redeemer is the means of increased fitness for holy and acceptable service. The experience of the Apostle Paul was an illustration of this principle. He could say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." He who would work more diligently, and wait more patiently, must come nearer to Christ, and so obtain the spiritual power he needs.
1. If this union with the living Vine be not formed, let it be formed at once.
2. If it be suspended or enfeebled, let it be renewed.
3. If it be existing and vitally active and energetic, let it be prized and cultivated. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.