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5 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.
Attached directly to him, as part of him, looking constantly unto him, drawing continual strength from him -- we bring forth fruit unto holiness and righteousness.
On our own, no matter how hard we try, no matter how good our intentions, we struggle vainly, and flounder, and sink.
Bro Growcott - The Shepherd of the Sheep.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Many are out of Christ who were once in Christ, as Christ recognises in saying, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth," (Jno. xv. 6.)
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
The Spirit is love, and patience, and giving, and service to others, and forgetfulness of self, and contentment with little, and helping all, and speaking ill of none, and sober wisdom at all times.
The Flesh is thinking of self, and wasting God's time getting this world's goods, and hoarding, and seeking pleasure and amusement in the mindless toys and games of the world, and laziness, and drifting.
The spiritual mind is always thinking about God and spiritual things, and will lead us to eternal joy with God.
The flesh is easy and downhill, with no effort, and lots of empty-headed company and will lead us to eternal death. Only a fool will choose the flesh. Most are fools.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Mankind has been divided by God into two classes. Men try very hard to make a third, but the effort is futile. The names by which the two classes are designated are very expressive: wise-foolish; friends-enemies; saints - sinners; obedient - disobedient; believers - unbelievers; children of light-children of darkness; seed of the woman-seed of the serpent; children of God-children of the devil. Exaltation from the one to the other class is entirely dependent upon the attitude taken to that form of doctrine delivered by Christ and the apostles (Rom. vi. 17; Gal. iii. 26: Rev. xii. 17; John xv. 14; Col. i. 21-23).
The man who receives a part and not all of that doctrine is a spiritual abortion. To die not far from the Kingdom of God is practically the same as dying ten thousand miles off. A hearty belief of the truth and a ready submission to its requirements form the only passport to life eternal. How slow are men to accept this truth!
They seem afraid to take God at His word! Why this unbelief? The popular cry of "unreasonable" and "uncharitable" reveals the cause. Men esteem their own imperfect sin-biassed intelligences to be wiser than the Scriptures of truth. This is the secret of the Scripture-wresting of the day.
How few are they who logically and sincerely receive the Bible as the Word of God.
TC 07 1887
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
No longer servants but friends if - 'ye do whatsoever I command you.'
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
The ways of God and the ways of men are necessarily different to the roots...
"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord: for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah lv. 8).
For a man, then, to sympathise with "the thoughts of men" as opposed to the thoughts of God, is to be "Satan" in Bible speech. This is a rule of judgment that not only excludes the supernatural devil of pulpit theology, but condemns the vast mass of mankind now upon earth. In all departments of their "world-life," high and low, they do exactly what made Peter Satan for the time being. "They savour not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." For "the things that be of God" they have no taste...
The world is not changed since the days of John and Paul. The "Spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience" is "the Prince of the Power of the air" to the present day -- more literally defined by John as "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life" (Eph. ii. 2; 1 Jno. ii. 16).
It is impossible to live in this social "air" or atmosphere without doing homage to its Prince -- the ruling spirit -- incorporate in society as "the desires of the flesh and of the mind." For this reason, it is impossible for a friend of God to be a friend of the world at the same time (James iv. 4)...
The world "savours not" -- cares not for -- has no interest in "things that be of God, but those that be of men." Therefore, as Jesus pathetically said to the Father in prayer, "I have given them Thy word: therefore the world hath hated them." The world dislikes all who "savour" -- who like -- care for the things that be of God. Such is the truth, however unpalatable.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 37.
22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
It is rejection of the gospel that makes men 'unjust'. 'The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished' (2 Pet 2:9).
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
The apostles did perform a part. If we realise this part in its true relation to the controlling influence of the Spirit that employed them, we shall get a key to the things that prevent some from recognising the work of the Spirit in the work of the apostles. We shall apprehend this in a general view of the work to which they were called. The Spirit of God employed the apostles as witnesses to testify conjointly with itself the things pertaining to Christ, as saith Jesus:
"The Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me, and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning" (Jno. xv. :26-27). The apostles were to be witnesses (that is, testifiers) of the "things they had seen and heard" (Acts xxvi. 16; i. 8; ii. 32; iv. 20; v. 32, &c.). Hence the qualification of an apostle was that he should have been a companion of Christ from his baptism in the Jordan till his crucifixion and resurrection (Acts i. 21-22), or at the least that he should have seen Christ after his resurrection (1 Cor. ix. 1).
A witness is one who speaks from personal knowledge. The apostles, as witnesses, spoke from personal knowledge, and to this extent their personal characteristics would affect their personal testimony, not only as to the sound of their voice, but as to their literary peculiarities, as evidenced by the authorities perceiving that the inspired and boldly-speaking Peter and John were "unlearned and ignorant men"
But then, we must not judge of their work by this view alone. The spirit of God was upon them to guide them in the what to say and how to say it. Their natural endowments were employed in the work, but they were employed by the Spirit of God, and in strict subordination to the purposes aimed at by the Spirit.
Even their actions were checked and guided in harmony with these, as when Paul and Silas "essayed to go unto Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not" (Acts xvi. 7), or as when John was about to write certain things that he heard, and a voice from heaven said "Write them not" (Rev. x. 4).
When, therefore, we read an apostolic writing, we read a writing which, though humanly written, has been shaped by the Spirit for its own ends. When we peruse the apostolic testimony to the sayings and doings of Christ, we peruse testimony which, though theirs, is only so much theirs in the characteristic sense, as the Spirit permits. This is a duality in the production which accounts for every feature in the case.
The apostles and the Spirit both had to do with the production, but the apostles were under the strict control of the Spirit. This accounts for so much of the human peculiarity of the writer, as may be visible in the productions, which is a very faint element in the case. The Spirit permitted it for its own end At the same time it accounts for the superhuman tone and attitude that are their most conspicuous and striking features. In this view, it is impossible to discriminate between words permitted and words dictated. They are all equally authoritative, and therefore practically the same.
Being all either endorsed or prescribed by the Spirit, they come to us as the Spirit's words by apostolic instrumentality, and therefore free from error.
The Christadelphian, March 1887. p127