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"I am the vine and ye are the branches"

"I Am The Vine And Ye Are The Branches"

by Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
April  2004


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The parable of the vine and the branches is found in John 15:1-8 where Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.  Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  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.  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.  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”
 
This parable is often used to show that the various denominations are all branches of Christianity and that it makes no difference to which one might belong “there are saved people in all churches”, they claim.  In such efforts to establish a connection between the denominations and the Lord, the main teaching of the parable is lost sight of.  The Lord was not speaking of denominations at all.  There were no such denominations then, and none of them existed for over 1500 years thereafter.  The branches in the vine were bearing fruit unto God for many centuries before the first denomination was spawned.  So the parable does not apply to them at all.

THE RELATIONSHIP OF CHRIST AND THE SAVED
Jesus refers to a branch as an individual disciple when he said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches.  He that abideth in me and I in him the same bringeth forth much fruit.... If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch...”  When the Master taught this, He was showing the  unconditional necessity of the life-sustaining connection a Christian must have with Christ.  There is no salvation without it.  One can neither be a Christian nor bear fruit to God outside of Christ.  He said for “without me ye can do nothing.”
 
This connection with Christ is formed when one is baptized “into” Him.  The Scriptures say, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Romans 6:3-7).  And again, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).  From these passages we see that not only is a person through baptism changed to walk in a new life, but there is formed a new connection to the Lord Jesus Christ.

THE CHURCH IS THE SAVED
This new relationship the convert has to Christ is shown also in Acts 2:47 when we are told that “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” or “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”  In this we see that “the church” was comprised of those who were saved, and that the adding of each one to the church was done by the Lord.  Moreover the church is “the body of Christ” (Colossians 1:18 and 24), and Christ is called “the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body” (Ephesians 5:23).  As individual Christians we are taught that each one in Him is a member of His one body (Romans 12:4,5), and “ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
 
When we understand this close relationship to Christ, we see it is absolutely necessary for a person’s salvation.  So essential is it, that without being a member of the church of Christ, the body of Christ, a person is lost.  This new bond with the Lord begins with believing the gospel about the salvation He bought with his own blood on the cross.  Jesus taught, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16), and the inspired writer in Hebrews 11:6 tells us “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”  But how does a person come to believe in Christ?  “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

TO BE SAVED
The believer is taught in the gospel to turn or repent of his past life to live anew with Christ.  Jesus said, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).  That’s why Peter told his listeners in Acts 3:19, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”  Furthermore, Jesus demands that one who believes in Him must confess that faith.  So Paul taught, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9,10).  Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32).
 
Those who believed the gospel preached on Pentecost day (A.D. 33) were told, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).  These ordinances of salvation are clearly shown in the conversion of the Ethiopian in Acts 8 where we see Philip, the preacher, approach him as he is reading the Scriptures, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.  And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:3-39).

ALL WERE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST
The believers on Pentecost, the Samaritans, the Philippian jailor, Cornelius and Saul of Tarsus, in fact all converts in the book of Acts were baptized – baptized into Christ.  They were all washed in the blood of Christ and that’s why we read that the church which is comprised of the saved is that body of people which He purchased with his own blood.  Christians are taught “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:20).  Those in oversight of the church were told, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).  Yes, God the Son, shed his own precious blood to cleanse each individual who makes up His church.
 
This is the reason why a person cannot be saved outside of the church.  The words of Jesus, "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,” refute the denominational teaching of the impossibility of apostasy.  Many religious leaders teach that if one is saved he or she can never be lost, he can never fall from this grace of God bestowed upon him.  Note that by this teaching, this vital union once formed with Christ might later be broken.  Therefore the Scriptures warn, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).  Some baptized believers in Christ, who turned back to the exercise of the law of Moses hoping to please God, were told, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

THOSE IN ERROR ARE NOT CONSISTENT
Most denominational preachers teach that the Lord’s church is comprised of many bodies or branches (denominational churches), that they all teach a part of the God’s truth and that there are saved people in all churches.  They say it takes all the churches contributing their part of the truth to the world.  This idea is never taught in the word of God.  This is the very reason passages like Jesus’ teaching in John 15 are so perverted; it’s simply an attempt to uphold this false doctrine.  Jesus promised to build one church (Matthew 16:18), and it was His one church to which he added the saved (Acts 2:47).  There was only one church in Acts 5:11.  There is only one church found in the New Testament.  The various congregations were recognized by their locality as the church in Corinth, the church in Philippi, the churches of Galatia.  Any person who was baptized into Christ, as we have already seen, was in that one church.

ARE SOME DENOMINATIONAL CHURCHES GOING TO BE BURNED?
If those who make Jesus’ words in the parable of the vine and the branches teach that denominations are simply the Lord’s branches are obligated to follow that thought throughout the parable.  It would be — “Every (denominational church) that beareth not fruit he taketh (that denomination) away: and every (denomination) that beareth fruit, he purgeth (prunes that denomination), that it may bring forth more fruit.”  Oh, oh!  You don’t ever hear these denominational preachers tell about other churches which the Lord has gotten rid of for failure to bear fruit.  If that really happened would some of the truth have disappeared and be lost?  Remember, according to them, all churches have some of the truth.  “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.  Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can (you denominational churches), except (you churches) abide in me.  I am the vine, ye (denominational churches) are the branches,” they would have it read.    This last sentence of Jesus is really all the denominational teachers want from the passage, because if you follow what it says it contradicts many their doctrines.
 
The last part of the passage shows that all the teaching is about an individual disciple.  He says,  “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  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.  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”  It is fair to ask the question of those who try to teach otherwise, “Are some denominations going to be cast forth, withered, thrown into the fire and burned?”
 
Of course, the Lord and His inspired writers warn that unfaithful Christians will be lost in the day of judgment.  This parable of Jesus is in perfect harmony with that teaching.  Everyone be warned!

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