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The True Vine
By Andrew Murray
MOODY PUBLISHERSCopyright © 2007 THE MOODY BIBLE INSTITUTE
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Vine
I am the true vine. -John 15:1
All earthly things are the shadows of heavenly realities-the expression, in created, visible forms, of the invisible glory of God. The life and the truth are in heaven; on earth we have figures and shadows of the heavenly truths. When Jesus says: "I am the true vine," He tells us that all the vines of earth are pictures and emblems of Himself. He is the divine reality, of which they are the created expression. They all point to Him, and preach Him, and reveal Him. If you would know Jesus, study the vine.
How many eyes have gazed on and admired a great vine with its beautiful fruit? Come and gaze on the heavenly Vine till your eye turns from all else to admire Him. How many, in a sunny climate, sit and rest under the shadow of a vine? Come and be still under the shadow of the true Vine, and rest under it from the heat of the day. What countless numbers rejoice in the fruit of the vine! Come, and take, and cat of the heavenly fruit of the true Vine, and let your soul say: "I sat under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste."
I am the true vine.-This is a heavenly mystery. The earthly vine can teach you much about this Vine of heaven. Many interesting and beautiful points of comparison suggest themselves and help us to get conceptions of what Christ meant. But such thoughts do not teach us to know what the heavenly Vine really is, in its cooling shade and its life-giving fruit. The experience of this is part of the hidden mystery, which none but Jesus Himself, by His Holy Spirit, can unfold and impart.
I am the true vine.-The Vine is the living Lord, who Himself speaks, and gives, and works all that He has for us. If you would know the meaning and power of that word, do not think to find it by thought or study; these may help to show you what you must get from Him to awaken desire and hope and prayer, but they cannot show you the Vine. Jesus alone can reveal Himself. He gives His Holy Spirit to open the eyes to gaze upon Himself, to open the heart to receive Himself. He must Himself speak the word to you and me.
I am the true vine.-And what are you to do, if you want the mystery, in all its heavenly beauty and blessing, opened up to you? With what you already know of the parable, bow down and be still, worship and wait, until the divine Word enters your heart and you feel His holy presence with you and in you. The overshadowing of His holy love will give you the perfect calm and rest of knowing that the Vine will do all.
I am the true vine.-He who speaks is God, in His infinite power able to enter into us. He is man, one with us. He is the crucified One, who won a perfect righteousness and a divine life for us through His death. He is the glorified One, who from the throne gives His Spirit to make His presence real and true. He speaks-oh, listen, not to His words only, but to Himself, as He whispers secretly day by day: "I am the true Vine! All that the Vine can ever be to its branch, I will be to you."
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Holy Lord Jesus, the heavenly Vine of God's own planting, I beseech You, reveal Yourself to my soul. Let the Holy Spirit, not only in thought, but in experience, give me to know all that You, the Son of God, are to me as the true Vine.
Chapter TwoThe Husbandman
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And my father is the husbandman. -John 15:1
A vine must have a husbandman to plant and watch over it, to receive and rejoice in its fruit. Jesus says: "My Father is the husbandman." Jesus was "the vine of God's planting." All He was and did, He owed to the Father; in all things He only sought the Father's will and glory. He had become man to show us what a creature ought to be to its Creator. He took our place, and the spirit of His life before the Father was ever what He seeks to make ours: "Of him, and through him, and to hint, are all things" (Romans 11:36). He became the true Vine, that we might be true branches. Both in regard to Christ and ourselves the words teach us the two lessons of absolute dependence and perfect confidence.
My Father is the husbandman.-Christ ever lived in the spirit of what He once said: "The Son can do nothing of himself" (John 5:19). As dependent as a vine is on a husbandman for the place where it is to grow, for its fencing in and watering and pruning, Christ felt Himself entirely dependent on the Father every day for the wisdom and the strength to do the Father's will. As He said in the previous chapter (John 14:10): "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." This absolute dependence had as its blessed counterpart the most blessed confidence that He had nothing to fear: The Father could not disappoint Him. With such a Husbandman as His Father, He could enter death and the grave. He could trust God to raise Him up. All that Christ is and has, He has, not in Himself, but from the Father.
My Father is the husbandman.-That is as blessedly true for us as for Christ. Christ is about to teach His disciples about their being branches. Before He ever uses the word, or speaks at all of abiding in Him or bearing fruit, He turns their eyes heavenward to the Father watching over them and working all in them.
At the very root of all Christian life lies the thought that God is to do all, that our one work is to leave ourselves in His hands, in the confession of utter helplessness and dependence, in the assured confidence that He gives us all we need. The great lack of the Christian life is that, even where we trust Christ, we leave God out of the count. Christ came to bring us to God. Christ lived the life of a man exactly as we have to live it. Christ the Vine points to God the Husbandman. As He trusted God, let us trust God, that everything we ought to be and have, as those who belong to the Vine, will be given to us from above.
Isaiah said: "A vineyard of red wine. I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day." Before we begin to think of fruit or branches, let us have our heart filled with the faith that as glorious as the Vine is the Husbandman. As high and holy as is our calling, so mighty and loving is the God who will work it all. As surely as the Husbandman made the Vine what it was to be, will He make each branch what it is to be. Our Father is our Husbandman, the surety for our growth and fruit.
Chapter ThreeThe Branch
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Every branch in me that beareth not fruit the taketh away. -John 15:2
Here we have one of the chief words of the parable-branch. A vine needs branches: Without branches it can do nothing, can bear no fruit. As important as it is to know about the Vine and the Husbandman, it is to realize what the branch is. Before we listen to what Christ has to say about it, let us first of all take in what a branch is and what it teaches us of our life in Christ. A branch is simply a bit of wood, brought forth by the vine for the one purpose of serving it in bearing its fruit. It is of the same nature as the vine, and it has one life and one spirit with it. Just think a moment of the lessons this suggests.
There is the lesson of entire consecration. The branch has but one object for which it exists, one purpose to which it is entirely given up, to bear the fruit the vine wishes to bring forth. And so the believer has but one reason for being a branch-but one reason for his existence on earth-that the heavenly Vine may through him bring forth His fruit. Happy the soul that knows this, that has consented to it, and that says, "I have been redeemed and I live for one thing. As exclusively as the natural branch exists only to bring forth fruit, I too; as exclusively as the heavenly Vine exists to bring forth fruit, I too. As I have been planted by God into Christ, I have wholly given myself to bear the fruit the Vine desires to bring forth."
There is the lesson of perfect conformity. The branch is exactly like the vine in every aspect-the same nature, the same life, the same place, the same work. In all this they are inseparably one. And so the believer needs to know that he is partaker of the divine nature, that he has the very nature and spirit of Christ in him, and that his one calling is to yield himself to a perfect conformity to Christ. The branch is a perfect likeness of the vine; the only difference is the one is great and strong, and the source of strength; the other little and feeble, ever needing and receiving strength. Even so the believer is, and is to be, the perfect likeness of Christ.
There is the lesson of absolute dependence. The vine has its stores of life and sap and strength not for itself, but for the branches. The branches are and have nothing but what the vine provides and imparts. The believer is called to, and it is his highest blessedness to enter upon, a life of entire and unceasing dependence upon Christ. Day and night, every moment, Christ is to work in him all he needs.
And then there is the lesson of undoubting confidence. The branch has no care; the vine provides all; it has but to yield itself and receive. It is the sight of this truth that leads to the blessed rest of faith, the true secret of growth and strength: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." What a life would come to us if we only consented to be branches! Dear child of God, learn the lesson. You have but one thing to do: Only be a branch-nothing more, nothing less! Just be a branch; Christ will be the Vine that gives all. And the Husbandman, the mighty God, who made the Vine what it is, will as surely make the branch what it ought to be.
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Lord Jesus, I pray, reveal to me the heavenly mystery of the branch, in its living union with the Vine, in its claim on all its fullness. And let Your all-sufficiency, holding and filling Your branches, lead me to the rest of faith that knows that You work all.
Chapter FourThe Fruit
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Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away. -John 15:2
Fruit. This is the next great word we have: the Vine, the Husbandman, the branch, the fruit. What has our Lord to say to us about fruit? Simply this-that fruit is the one thing the branch is for, and that if it bear not fruit, the husbandman takes it away. The vine is the glory of the husbandman; the branch is the glory of the vine; the fruit is the glory of the branch. If the branch bring not forth fruit, there is no glory or worth in it; it is an offense and a hindrance; the husbandman takes it away. The one reason for the existence of a branch, the one mark of being a true branch of the heavenly Vine, the one condition of being allowed by the divine Husbandman to share the life of the Vine is bearing fruit.
And what is fruit? Something that the branch bears, not for itself, but for its owner; something that is to be gathered and taken away. The branch does indeed receive from the vine sap for its own life, by which it grows thicker and stronger. But this supply for its own maintenance is entirely subordinate to its fulfillment of the purpose of its existence-bearing fruit. It is because Christians do not understand or accept this truth that they so fail in their efforts and prayers to live the branch life. They often desire it earnestly; they read and meditate and pray, and yet they fail, and they wonder why. The reason is very simple: They do not know that fruitbearing is the one thing they have been saved for.
Just as entirely as Christ became the true Vine with the one object, you have been made a branch, with the one object of bearing fruit for the salvation of men. The Vine and the branch are Equally under the Unchangeable law of fruitbearing as the one reason of their being. Christ and the believer, the heavenly Vine and the branch, have equally their place in the world exclusively for one purpose: to carry God's saving love to men. Hence the solemn word: Every branch that bears not fruit, He takes away.
Let us especially beware of one great mistake. Many Christians think their own salvation is the first thing; their temporal life and prosperity, with the care of their family, the second, and what time and interest is left may be devoted to fruitbearing, to the saving of men. No wonder that in most casts very little time or interest can be found. No, Christian, the one object with which you have been made a member of Christ's body is that the Head may have you to carry out His saving work. The one object God had in making you a branch is that Christ may through you bring life to men. Your personal salvation, your business and care for your family, are entirely subordinate to this. Your first aim in life, your first aim every day, should be to know how Christ desires to carry out His purpose in you.
Let us begin to think as God thinks. Let us accept Christ's teaching and respond to it. The one object of my being a branch, the one mark of my being a true branch, the one condition of my abiding and crowing strong, is that I bear the fruit of the heavenly Vine for dying men to cat and live. And the one thing of which I can have the most perfect assurance is that, with Christ as my Vine, and the Father as my Husbandman, I can indeed be a fruitful branch
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Our Father, You come seeking fruit. Teach us, we pray, to realize how truly this is the one object of our existence and of our union to Christ. Make it the one desire of our hearts to be branches, so filled with the Spirit of the Vine as to bring forth fruit abundantly.
Chapter FiveMore Fruit
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And every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. -John 15:2
The thought of fruit is so prominent in the eye of Him who sees things as they are, and fruit is so truly the one thing God has set His heart upon, that our Lord, after having said that the branch that bears no fruit is taken away, at once adds: and where there is fruit, the one desire of the Husbandman is more fruit. As the gift of His grace, as the token of spiritual vigor, as the showing forth of the glory of God and of Christ, as the only way for satisfying the need of the world, God longs for and fits us for more fruit.
More fruit.-This is a very searching word. As churches and individuals we are in danger of nothing so much as self-contentment. The self-satisfied spirit of Laodicea-we are rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing-may prevail where it is not suspected. The divine warning-poor and wretched and miserable-finds little response just where it is most needed.
Let us not rest content with the thought that we are taking an equal share with others in the work that is being done, or that people are satisfied with our efforts in Christ's service, or even that they point to us as examples. Let our only desire be to know whether we are bearing all the fruit Christ is willing to give through us as living branches, in close and living union with Himself, and whether we are satisfying the loving heart of the great Husbandman, our Father in heaven, in His desire for more fruit.
More fruit.-The Word comes with divine authority to search and test our life. The true disciple will heartily surrender himself to its holy light and will earnestly ask that God Himself may show what may be lacking in the measure or the character of the fruit he hears. Let us believe that the Word is meant to lead us on to a fuller experience of the Father's purpose of love, of Christ's fullness, and of the wonderful privilege of bearing much fruit in the salvation of men.
More fruit.-The word is a most encouraging one. Let us listen to it. It is just to the branch that is bearing fruit that this message comes: more fruit. God does not demand this as Pharaoh the taskmaster, or as Moses the lawgiver, without providing the means. He comes as a Father, who gives what He asks and works what He commands. He comes to us as the living branches of the living Vine and offers to work the more fruit in us, if we but yield ourselves into His hands. Shall we not admit the claim, accept the offer, and look to Him to work it in us?
Excerpted from The True Vine by Andrew Murray Copyright © 2007 by THE MOODY BIBLE INSTITUTE. Excerpted by permission.
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