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John 15:6

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If a man abide not in me - Our Lord in the plainest manner intimates that a person may as truly be united to him as the branch is to the tree that produces it, and yet be afterwards cut off and cast into the fire; because he has not brought forth fruit to the glory of his God. No man can cut off a branch from a tree to which that branch was never united: it is absurd, and contrary to the letter and spirit of the metaphor, to talk of being seemingly in Christ - because this means nothing. If there was only a seeming union, there could be only a seeming excision: so the matter is just where it began; nothing is done on either side, and nothing said to any purpose.

He is cast forth - Observe, that person who abides not in Christ, in a believing loving, obedient spirit, is -

  1. Cut off from Jesus, having no longer any right or title to him or to his salvation.
  • He is withered - deprived of all the influences of God's grace and Spirit; loses all his heavenly unction; becomes indifferent, cold, and dead to every holy and spiritual word and work.
  • He is gathered - becomes (through the judgment of God) again united with backsliders like himself and other workers of iniquity; and, being abandoned to his own heart and Satan, he is,
  • Cast into the fire - separated from God's people, from God himself, and from the glory of his power. And,
  • 5. He is burned - is eternally tormented with the devil and his angels, and with all those who have lived and died in their iniquity. Reader! pray God that this may never be thy portion.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    If a man, abide not in me - See John 15:4. If a man is not truly united to him by faith, and does not live with a continual sense of his dependence on him. This doubtless refers to those who are professors of religion, but who have never known anything of true and real connection with him.

    Is cast forth - See the notes at John 15:2. Also Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13.

    Is withered - Is dried up. A branch cut off withers. So of a soul unconnected with Christ, however fair it may have appeared. and however flourishing when a profession of religion was first made, yet when it is tried, and it is seen that there was no true grace, everything withers and dies. The zeal languishes, the professed love is gone, prayer is neglected, the sanctuary is forsaken, and the soul becomes like a withered branch reserved for the fire of the last great day. See a beautiful illustration of this in Ezekiel 15:1-8.

    Men gather them - The word “men” is not in the original, and should not have been in the translation. The Greek is “they gather them,” a form of expression denoting simply they are gathered, without specifying by whom it is done. From Matthew 13:40-42, it seems that it will be done by the angels. The expression means, as the withered and useless branches of trees are gathered for fuel, so shall it be with all hypocrites and false professors of religion.

    Are burned - See Matthew 13:42.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Jesus Christ is the Vine, the true Vine. The union of the human and Divine natures, and the fulness of the Spirit that is in him, resemble the root of the vine made fruitful by the moisture from a rich soil. Believers are branches of this Vine. The root is unseen, and our life is hid with Christ; the root bears the tree, diffuses sap to it, and in Christ are all supports and supplies. The branches of the vine are many, yet, meeting in the root, are all but one vine; thus all true Christians, though in place and opinion distant from each other, meet in Christ. Believers, like the branches of the vine, are weak, and unable to stand but as they are borne up. The Father is the Husbandman. Never was any husbandman so wise, so watchful, about his vineyard, as God is about his church, which therefore must prosper. We must be fruitful. From a vine we look for grapes, and from a Christian we look for a Christian temper, disposition, and life. We must honour God, and do good; this is bearing fruit. The unfruitful are taken away. And even fruitful branches need pruning; for the best have notions, passions, and humours, that require to be taken away, which Christ has promised to forward the sanctification of believers, they will be thankful, for them. The word of Christ is spoken to all believers; and there is a cleansing virtue in that word, as it works grace, and works out corruption. And the more fruit we bring forth, the more we abound in what is good, the more our Lord is glorified. In order to fruitfulness, we must abide in Christ, must have union with him by faith. It is the great concern of all Christ's disciples, constantly to keep up dependence upon Christ, and communion with him. True Christians find by experience, that any interruption in the exercise of their faith, causes holy affections to decline, their corruptions to revive, and their comforts to droop. Those who abide not in Christ, though they may flourish for awhile in outward profession, yet come to nothing. The fire is the fittest place for withered branches; they are good for nothing else. Let us seek to live more simply on the fulness of Christ, and to grow more fruitful in every good word and work, so may our joy in Him and in his salvation be full.
    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 114

    I was shown that as a people we are deficient. Our works are not in accordance with our faith. Our faith testifies that we are living under the proclamation of the most solemn and important message that was ever given to mortals. Yet in full view of this fact, our efforts, our zeal, our spirit of self-sacrifice, do not compare with the character of the work. We should awake from the dead, and Christ will give us life. 2T 114.1

    With many of our brethren and sisters there is a strong inclination to live in Battle Creek. Families have been coming from all directions to reside there, and many more have their faces set that way. Some who have come to Battle Creek held offices in the little churches from which they moved, and their help and strength were needed there. When such arrive at Battle Creek, and meet with the numerous Sabbathkeepers there, they frequently feel that their testimonies are not needed, and their talent is therefore buried. 2T 114.2

    Some choose Battle Creek because of the religious privileges it affords, yet wonder that their spirituality decreases after their sojourn there a few months. Is there not a cause? The object of many has been to advantage themselves pecuniarily—to engage in business which will yield them greater profits. Their expectations in this particular may be realized, while they have dearth of soul and become dwarfed in spiritual things. They take no special burden upon themselves because they think they would be out of place. They do not know where to take hold to labor in so large a church, and therefore become idlers in their Master's vineyard. All who pursue this course only increase the labor of those who have the burden of the work in the church. They are as so many dead weights. There are many in Battle Creek who are fast becoming withered branches. 2T 114.3

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    Ellen G. White
    The Desire of Ages, 739

    Looking upon the smitten Lamb of God, the Jews had cried, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” That awful cry ascended to the throne of God. That sentence, pronounced upon themselves, was written in heaven. That prayer was heard. The blood of the Son of God was upon their children and their children's children, a perpetual curse. DA 739.1

    Terribly was it realized in the destruction of Jerusalem. Terribly has it been manifested in the condition of the Jewish nation for eighteen hundred years,—a branch severed from the vine, a dead, fruitless branch, to be gathered up and burned. From land to land throughout the world, from century to century, dead, dead in trespasses and sins! DA 739.2

    Terribly will that prayer be fulfilled in the great judgment day. When Christ shall come to the earth again, not as a prisoner surrounded by a rabble will men see Him. They will see Him then as heaven's King. Christ will come in His own glory, in the glory of His Father, and the glory of the holy angels. Ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of angels, the beautiful and triumphant sons of God, possessing surpassing loveliness and glory, will escort Him on His way. Then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory, and before Him shall be gathered all nations. Then every eye shall see Him, and they also that pierced Him. In the place of a crown of thorns, He will wear a crown of glory,—a crown within a crown. In place of that old purple kingly robe, He will be clothed in raiment of whitest white, “so as no fuller on earth can white them.” Mark 9:3. And on His vesture and on His thigh a name will be written, “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Revelation 19:16. Those who mocked and smote Him will be there. The priests and rulers will behold again the scene in the judgment hall. Every circumstance will appear before them, as if written in letters of fire. Then those who prayed, “His blood be on us, and on our children,” will receive the answer to their prayer. Then the whole world will know and understand. They will realize who and what they, poor, feeble, finite beings, have been warring against. In awful agony and horror they will cry to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:16, 17. DA 739.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 300-1

    The only safety now is to search for the truth as revealed in the word of God, as for hid treasure. The subjects of the Sabbath, the nature of man, and the testimony of Jesus are the great and important truths to be understood; these will prove as an anchor to hold God's people in these perilous times. But the mass of mankind despise the truths of God's word and prefer fables. 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11: “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” 1T 300.1

    The most licentious and corrupt are highly flattered by these Satanic spirits, which they believe to be the spirits of their dead friends, and they are vainly puffed up in their fleshly minds. Colossians 2:19: “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God,” they deny Him who ministers strength to the body, that every member may increase with the increase of God. 1T 300.2

    Vain philosophy. The members of the body are controlled by the head. Spiritualists lay aside the Head and believe that all the members of the body must act themselves and that fixed laws will lead them on in a state of progression to perfection without a head. John 15:1, 2, 4-6: “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.” “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.” 1T 300.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 354-5

    Those who will walk closely in the footsteps of their self-sacrificing, self-denying Redeemer will have the mind of Christ reflected in their minds. Purity and the love of Christ will shine forth in their daily lives and characters, while meekness and truth will guide their way. Every fruitful branch is pruned, that it may bring forth more fruit. Even fruitful branches may display too much foliage and appear what they really are not. The followers of Christ may be doing some work for the Master and yet not be doing half what they might do. He then prunes them, because worldliness, self-indulgence, and pride are cropping out in their lives. Husbandmen clip off the surplus tendrils of the vines that are grasping the rubbish of earth, thus making them more fruitful. These hindering causes must be removed and the defective overgrowth cut away, to give room for the healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness. 4T 354.1

    God purposed through Christ that fallen man should have another trial. Many misunderstand the object for which they were created. It was to bless humanity and glorify God, rather than to enjoy and glorify self. God is constantly pruning His people, cutting off profuse, spreading branches, that they may bear fruit to His glory and not produce leaves only. God prunes us with sorrow, with disappointment and affliction, that the outgrowth of strong, perverse traits of character may be weakened and that the better traits may have a chance to develop. Idols must be given up, the conscience must become more tender, the meditations of the heart must be spiritual, and the entire character must become symmetrical. Those who really desire to glorify God will be thankful for the exposure of every idol and every sin, that they may see these evils and put them away; but the divided heart will plead for indulgence rather than denial. 4T 354.2

    The apparently dry branch, by being connected with the living vine, becomes a part of it. Fiber by fiber, and vein by vein, it adheres to the vine till it derives its life and nourishment from the parent stock. The graft buds, blossoms, and produces fruit. The soul, dead in trespasses and sins, must experience a similar process in order to be reconciled to God and to become a partaker of Christ's life and joy. As the graft receives life when united to the vine, so the sinner partakes of the divine nature when connected with Christ. Finite man is united with the infinite God. When thus united, the words of Christ abide in us, and we are not actuated by a spasmodic feeling, but by a living, abiding principle. The words of Christ must be meditated upon and cherished and enshrined in the heart. They should not be repeated, parrot-like, finding no place in the memory and having no influence over the heart and life. 4T 354.3

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