John 15:7
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.

PRACTICAL LESSONS.

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.







If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you.
I. WHAT IS REQUIRED OR SUPPOSED.

1. What is meant by our abiding in Him? This is called partaking of Him (Hebrews 3:14), and implies in it our —(1) Being in Him (Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

(a)By faith (Philippians 3:8, 9).

(b)Obedience (Galatians 5:24).

(c)Being members of His mystical body (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:30).(2) Continuing in Him as a branch in the vine (vers. 1-6). Continuing in the profession of His doctrine (John 8:31), and hearty endeavours after perfection (Colossians 1:28).

2. What is meant by His words abiding in us?(1) His words are that doctrine that He came to deliver in His Father's name (John 7:16; John 12:49; John 17:8; Mark 1:22; Luke 4:23).(2) These words abide in us by our —

(a)Knowing them (chap 10:4, 5).

(b)Believing them (John 8:45; John 13:19; John 17:8; Matthew 24:35; Romans 10:10; Hebrews 4:2).

(c)Remembering them (ver. 20).

(d)Persevering in the observance of them (Mark 13:13; Luke 8:15; Revelation 2:26).(3) The effect of their abiding in us.

(a)They purify us (John 15:3; John 17:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

(b)They bring forth fruit in us (Matthew 13:23; John 15:5).

II. WHAT IS PROMISED (Matthew 7:7). Such as abide in Christ shall be sure not to meet with disappointment, because —

1. They will only according to God's will (1 Samuel 3:18); herein following the example of their blessed Lord (Matthew 26:39, 42); submitting with those in Acts 21:14; and praying as our Lord directs (Matthew 6:10).

2. They ask according to His will, and so are sure to be heard upon this account (1 John 5:14, 15). Particularly, they ask —(1) Nothing but what is lawful (Matthew 7:11); avoiding the folly mentioned in Psalm 50:21, 22.(2) And only to a good end (James 4:3).

3. They take a right method in asking: praying —

(1)In faith (Matthew 21:22; James 1:5-7).

(2)With fervency and devotion (Romans 1:9; 1 Corinthians 6:20).

(3)In humility (Luke 18:9, etc.; Psalm 138:6).

(4)From a clean heart (Isaiah 1:11, 16-18; 1 Timothy 2:8).

(5)With constancy and perseverance (Luke 18:1; Luke 11:8-10; Ephesians 6:8).

(6)In the name and through the merits of Christ (John 14:13, 14).

(Bp. Beveridge.)

I. THE NATURE OF THE CONDITIONS LAID DOWN.

1. "If ye abide in Me," as the branches abide in the vine: union with and reception of the whole Christ by faith, as Saviour, Teacher, Example. If we accept Him in one aspect and not in another, we fail to fulfil the condition.

2. "If My words abide in you."(1) Christ's words are His whole teaching, not the part of it which we most like.(2) These words are to abide in us — not merely in our memories as words, nor in our understandings as facts, nor in our reasons as truths, nor in our feelings as sentiments; but pervading our whole spiritual being as principles of life and action, just as we assimilate food, which does not profit unless changed into blood, bone, sinew, etc. If we have Christ's words thus abiding in us, we shall have Christ Himself, and that being so we shall breathe His Spirit and be transformed into His likeness.

II. THE CERTAINTY, IN THE FULFILMENT OF SUCH CONDITIONS, THAT ALL OUR PETITIONS WILL BE GRANTED. If we fulfil such conditions in the very fulfilment all our best desires are already granted. What more can we have than to be in Christ and to have Christ in us? The branch is already most fruitful if it is actually the branch of the most fruitful vine. But note the grounds on which this certainty rests.

1. God honours simplicity of trust. For what is this trust? It is to feel that truth cannot lie, that faithfulness cannot deceive, that wisdom cannot err, that power cannot fail, that holiness cannot blight the hope that perfect love has inspired. On the contrary, unbelief is absurd. Think of casting a shadow of doubt on infinite excellence, omnipotence, and wisdom. Let a man doubt that there is not enough light in the sun to enable him to see, or enough water in the sea to float his vessel. Besides, trust has naturally a drawing power on the heart of love.

2. Only such blessings will be sought for as are within the range of God's promise. All the Christian's hopes and yearnings are bounded by this. What lies beyond? Unholy honours, pleasures, etc.; but the Christian does not want these, he has done with these trifling or injurious toys. What lies within? Whatever is calculated to make us wiser, holier, happier, and more useful.

3. There is purity of desire in supplicating spiritual blessings. Prayer for other things necessarily arises from mixed motives.

4. We have further in this state of soul complete submissiveness to the Divine will.

(J. M. Charlten, M. A.)

Sir Walter Raleigh one day asking a favour from Queen Elizabeth, the latter said to him, "Raleigh, when will you leave off begging?" To which he answered, "When your Majesty leaves off giving." Ask great things of God. Expect great things from God. Let His past goodness make us "instant in prayer."

(W. Baxendale.)

All the promises in the Bible are so many bills of exchange drawn by God the Father in heaven upon His Son Jesus Christ, and payable to every pious bearer, — to everyone that comes to the mercy seat, and offers the promise or bill for acceptance, and pleads in the way of obedient faith and prayer. Jesus, the High Treasurer of heaven, knows every letter of His Father's handwriting, and can never be imposed upon by any forged note. He will ever honour His Father's bills: He accepts them all. It is for His Father's honour that His bills never fail of acceptance and payment.

(J. Beaumont, M. D.)

In order to be prevailing our prayers must be pointed and personal. The old woman who interrupted an "eloquent" supplication, in which the attributes of God were being stated at great length, by saying, "Ask Him for something," may teach us a much-needed lesson.

(S. Pearson, M. A.)

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