The Vine And The Branches
may find a watermelon, but it isn't a cinch. But there are various other things that we will find for sure. On one stem or branch of this vine we will find a cluster of cucumbers; on another a cluster of grapes; on another we will likely find some sour lemons; and on another, some sugar-coated plums, maybe. "All are separate, and yet all one in the watermelon vine." Burbank would have had heart failure had he ever developed anything like this. He spent a lifetime in the development and improvement of plants and vines, but he never accomplished anything that even bordered on the above. Yet with some of our religious professors and preachers it is merely a simple twist of the wrist, or mind should we say ? With them it isn't difficult at all to conjure up a vision of Christ as the vine, and on this vine see Catholic Christians, Mormon Christians, Methodist Christians, Baptist Christians, and so on down the line; some sugar-coated, some sour, some hard, some soft, some dry, and some juicy.
God's law is that everything should bear fruit "after its kind." This is the reason Burbank could never develop the monstrosity we have just mentioned. He didn't even try, for he knew it was against all the laws of nature and heaven. But some of our religious "leaders" would have you believe that God will gather "grapes of thorns and figs of thistles" from His vine. Can anyone visualize the "true vine" giving life and sanction to a sect teaching and enforcing celibacy, and the same true vine granting life and sanction to a sect teaching polygamy? Or, can anyone visualize a God who would "call and send" one person to preach and tell all the mothers to bring their babies for baptism, and then the same God call and send another person to preach the unscripturalness of baby baptism ? That is the conclusion that such a conglomeration of error as the above will ultimately force one to.
Now let us look at the plain and simple teaching of Jesus in John 15. Since there is no misunderstanding as to who the "vine" is we will turn our attention to the "branches." Did Jesus mean that denominations, societies, and organizations are the branches? Let us see. In verse 5 of John 15 he says, "I am the vine, YE are the branches." He was speaking to His disciples. And I am certain there were no Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, etc., present. The disciples as "individuals" were the branches. He said "YE" are the branches. As further proof of this notice the rest of the verse. "HE that abideth in me, and I in HIM, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me YE can do nothing." Then he states in verse 6, "If a MAN abide not in me, HE is cast forth as a BRANCH . ." A MAN is a BRANCH if he abides in Christ.
God and Christ are not the authors of "organizations" and "great denominations." They have sprung from some other source than the "true vine"; also they sprang up long after God had planted the "true vine."
The apostles, by the authority of Jesus, went "into all the world" and preached "the gospel to every creature," (Mark 16:15,16), and taught the observance of "all things" whatsoever he had commanded. (Matthew 28:19,20) All of them at all times preached the same gospel, taught the same thing, produced the same fruit, and never once formed anything but the pure, simple church of Christ. Not one of them ever organized a denomination; but, on
(See VINE, page 9)
How anyone can get the above from the figure of the vine and the branches is beyond me. Indeed it would seem to me a laborious task to conjure up and piece together the conglomeration of error the above depicts. It is the direct opposite of what Jesus teaches; and if one will look at the construction carefully he will see a parallel of a divided monstrosity instead of the "unity in Christ" which it claims to explain.
Notice — it says, "organizations, societies, churches, great denominations — all separate, and yet all one in Christ." It will not be denied by anyone that said churches, societies, denominations, etc., are all separate, but it would necessitate a strange twist of one's mind to understand how they can all be "one." Anyone knows that these denominations, societies, and organizations, are in doctrine and practice as far apart as the poles. Among them we my find such contrasts as the Roman Catholics, who forbid their priests and other high dignitaries of the church to marry, then we find the extreme in the other direction by looking toward the Mormon apostles, prophets, and elders, who in theory at least, teach the plurality of wives. Then we have the Universalists, who say that everyone will be saved regardless, then over against that we have the teaching of predestination which says that a certain number that is definite and fixed will be saved, and all others will be lost regardless of their life and character. These are some of those which the above quotation says, "have the same spirit and life and loyalty and love, and they all bear the same heavenly fruit." They are all "branches," mind you, of the same "vine." The "divided monstrosity" which we mentioned earlier that such construction parallels would be something like this:
Here we have a watermelon vine. "Each twig and branch has its individuality, and is really a miniature vine. No two are alike." On this watermelon vine we the contrary, Paul condemned any division among Christians anywhere, and on the first apparent efforts to divide into denominations by declaring that such are carnal and sinful and that Christ is not divided nor the author of confusion and division. (1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 3:3) To assume that denominations are branches, with their beginning and life resting in Christ the true vine, is to assume that Christ authored and upholds division. It goes against every divine and Spirit inspired declaration of the Lord, His apostles, and others of the New Testament era who taught by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
But not only is each individual Christian a branch, but no one can be a branch who is not a Christian. Not some kind of a Christian, but just a Christian. Not a pretender, but one who has given his all — one who has forsaken all; his fame, his fortune, his own self, yea, his family if necessary to become such. A pretended or hypocrite was never a branch; for without sincerely and truly becoming a Christian and receiving strength and life from Christ, and individual can never become a branch. Too, one who becomes a branch may become fruitless. Note in verse 2 he says, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away..." When a Christian ceases to be a Christian — becomes a hypocrite, a pretender, God takes him away. He is no longer a branch. There are many fruitless members of the church who God has long since cut off, but whose names are still on church rolls. The test of a Christian is bearing fruit, and the fruit he bears is the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22,23) Read it.