Identity of Life (continued)
Now we are familiar with that truth, but that is what the Lord here lays down as the essential and indispensable basis of any satisfaction to the Father and realization of His purpose. It is basic to that; for only the Son can satisfy the Father, and only in the Son can the Father's purposes be realized. Therefore, if that is to be in any way fulfilled through a corporate instrument, there must be an absolute identity of life. We know now how that takes place; whatever there is going to be will not be from us - it will be from Him.
But I do want specifically to underline that point, that it is not our coming unto Him that has this result; it is what arises from His life within. It is the rising out from, and not the coming unto, that makes all the difference. We can adhere, we can sponsor, we can attach, we can take up a position; we can "come just as we are" and go on just as we are. We can still be in a kind of relatedness to the Lord which does not bring with it any rising out from the Lord, and it makes all the difference to what kind of life ours is going to be in the matter of God's glory. That is what the Lord is saying here, in more words. He is pointing out that there can be a kind of relatedness to Himself which does not bear this fruit to the Father's satisfaction and glory; something somewhere is lacking. Whatever the function of the branches - and that function is to bear the fruit of the vine - they can do nothing in that matter apart from this identity of life. This is a deep inward oneness with the Lord, which is not two things, but is only one thing; and that one thing is the Lord Jesus as the life.
The whole teaching of the New Testament is that union with Christ implies the end of any separateness of existence as apart from or other than Christ Himself. It is existence now as from a birth, not from an attachment; from a life imparted which has never before been possessed. It is something quite new, quite fresh, quite other than there was hitherto. That is the uniqueness and exclusiveness of Christ. So the branches become a part of something unique, something different from all that we know of mankind and creation, something that has not been before.
The Purpose of the Vine's Existence
We come now to this matter of fruit, and we note that, so far as the glory of God is concerned, it is a governing matter. It is impressive that the Lord should have chosen the vine as the symbol of this means of reaching His end. You know so well that a vine has no other use in all the world but to bear fruit. It has no by-products. There are some thing from which, if the main object is realized or even has failed, you can get other things, by-products; there are secondary uses. But you cannot even make a walking stick out of a vine. If it does not bear fruit, it is good for nothing. There is no other purpose to which you can turn a vine except to make a bonfire of it.
The whole object of the existence of Christ and His members is the matter of fruit. The Lord expresses Himself here in strong terms. If fruit is not forthcoming, He says, such branches are cast out, gathered, thrown on the fire, burned. Men do not say, Oh, well, it is not bearing any fruit, but we can turn it to this use and to that, we can make it serve some purpose. There is no alternative for a vine. And there is no alternative for your life and mine, in relation to Christ, but the glory of God. God has no secondary purposes for us, saying Oh, well, they are not bearing any fruit - we will make some other use of them. No: the glory of God in satisfaction, in the realization of His purpose - His purpose - is the only justification for our existence in relation to Christ.
That is precisely the reason why Israel was cast off and burned. An old doctrinal or theological question arises here; but I am not going to follow that out. Is Israel in the fire? Have me cast Israel into the fire, since God cast Israel off? Well, we know the answer to that. But, leaving that aside for the moment, you see the point: it is that, with God, this vine is only justified in having an existence in the satisfaction of His nature and in the fulfillment of His purposes. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit."
(continued with # 60 - "Fruit the Evidence of Life")