Bible Study Guides – The True Vine

September 7, 2008 – September 13, 2008

Key Text

“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” John 15:5.

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 674-678; Christ’s Object Lessons, 139-149.


“Do not disappoint Him who so loved you that He gave His own life to cancel your sins. He says, ‘Without Me ye can do nothing.’ John 15:5. Remember this. If you have made mistakes, you certainly gain a victory if you see these mistakes and regard them as beacons of warning. Thus you turn defeat into victory, disappointing the enemy and honoring your Redeemer.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 332.

1 How can one profess to be “in Christ,” yet bear no fruit? John 15:1, 2, 6.

Note: “Since Christ has paid the price for all the service that we should give Him, we are His servants by purchase. Although we are in Christ Jesus by His covenant of promise, yet if we stand in a position of perfect indifference, without acknowledging Him as our Saviour, we bear no fruit. If by failing to be a partaker of His divine nature we bear no fruit, we are taken away. Worldly influences take us away from Christ, and our portion is the same as that of the unfruitful branch.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1143.

2 What is the work of Christ in behalf of those who bear fruit? John 15:2.

Note: “If we do not bear any fruit, the powers of darkness take possession of our minds, our affections, our service, and we are of the world, though we profess to be children of God. This is neither a safe nor a pleasant position, because we lose all the beauty and the glory and the satisfaction that it is our privilege to have. By abiding in Christ, we may have His sweetness, His fragrance, His light. Christ is the Light of the world. He shines in our hearts. His light in our hearts shines forth from our faces. By beholding the beauty and the glory of Christ, we become changed into the same image.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1143.

3 How can we have our character purified? John 15:3.

Note: “The truths of the word of God meet man’s great practical necessity—the conversion of the soul through faith. These grand principles are not to be thought too pure and holy to be brought into the daily life. They are truths which reach to heaven and compass eternity, yet their vital influence is to be woven into human experience. They are to permeate all the great things and all the little things of life.

“Received into the heart, the leaven of truth will regulate the desires, purify the thoughts, and sweeten the disposition. It quickens the faculties of the mind and the energies of the soul. It enlarges the capacity for feeling, for loving.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 100, 101.

4 What changes will be revealed in the life of true believers? Isaiah 1:16, 17.

Note: “The selfish, money-loving man lives only to secure for himself the riches, honors, and pleasures of this world. He loses the eternal world from his reckoning. But with the follower of Christ these things will not be all-absorbing. For Christ’s sake he will labor and deny self, that he may aid in the great work of saving souls who are without Christ and without hope in the world. Such a man the world cannot understand; for he is keeping in view eternal realities. The love of Christ with its redeeming power has come into the heart. This love masters every other motive, and raises its possessor above the corrupting influence of the world.

“The word of God is to have a sanctifying effect on our association with every member of the human family. The leaven of truth will not produce the spirit of rivalry, the love of ambition, the desire to be first. True, heaven-born love is not selfish and changeable. It is not dependent on human praise. The heart of him who receives the grace of God overflows with love for God and for those for whom Christ died. Self is not struggling for recognition. He does not love others because they love and please him, because they appreciate his merits, but because they are Christ’s purchased possession. If his motives, words, or actions are misunderstood or misrepresented, he takes no offense, but pursues the even tenor of his way. He is kind and thoughtful, humble in his opinion of himself, yet full of hope, always trusting in the mercy and love of God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 101, 102.

5 How can we live a fruitful spiritual life? John 15:4, 5.

Note: “A union with Christ by living faith is enduring; every other union must perish. Christ first chose us, paying an infinite price for our redemption; and the true believer chooses Christ as first and last and best in everything. But this union costs us something. It is a union of utter dependence, to be entered into by a proud being. All who form this union must feel their need of the atoning blood of Christ. They must have a change of heart. They must submit their own will to the will of God. There will be a struggle with outward and internal obstacles. There must be a painful work of detachment as well as a work of attachment. Pride, selfishness, vanity, worldliness—sin in all its forms—must be overcome if we would enter into a union with Christ. The reason why many find the Christian life so deplorably hard, why they are so fickle, so variable, is that they try to attach themselves to Christ without first detaching themselves from these cherished idols. Testimonies, vol. 5, 231.

6 How is it possible to preserve our union with Christ? Hebrews 12:1, 2.

Note: “After the union with Christ has been formed, it can be preserved only by earnest prayer and untiring effort. We must resist, we must deny, we must conquer self. Through the grace of Christ, by courage, by faith, by watchfulness, we may gain the victory.

“Believers become one in Christ, but one branch cannot be sustained by another. The nourishment must be obtained through the vital connection with the vine. We must feel our utter dependence on Christ. We must live by faith on the Son of God. That is the meaning of the injunction: ‘Abide in Me.’ The life we live in the flesh is not to the will of men, not to please our Lord’s enemies, but to serve and honor Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. A mere assent to this union, while the affections are not detached from the world, its pleasures and its dissipations, only emboldens the heart in disobedience.

“As a people we are sadly destitute of faith and love. Our efforts are altogether too feeble for the time of peril in which we live. The pride and self-indulgence, the impiety and iniquity, by which we are surrounded have an influence upon us. Few realize the importance of shunning, so far as possible, all associations unfriendly to religious life.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 231, 232.

7 What are the key conditions for obtaining answers to our prayers? John 15:7; I John 2:3–5.

Note: “Many are forfeiting the condition of acceptance with the Father. We need to examine closely the deed of trust wherewith we approach God. If we are disobedient, we bring to the Lord a note to be cashed when we have not fulfilled the conditions that would make it payable to us. We present to God His promises, and ask Him to fulfill them, when by so doing He would dishonor His own name. …

“One of Christ’s last commands to His disciples was ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ (John 13:34). Do we obey this command, or are we indulging sharp, unchristlike traits of character? If we have in any way grieved or wounded others, it is our duty to confess our fault and seek for reconciliation. This is an essential preparation that we may come before God in faith, to ask His blessing.

“There is another matter too often neglected by those who seek the Lord in prayer. Have you been honest with God? By the prophet Malachi the Lord declares, ‘Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from Mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings.’ Malachi 3:7, 8.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 143, 144.

8 With what other conditions must we comply before God can answer our prayers? Psalm 66:18; Mark 11:24.

Note: “If we regard iniquity in our hearts, if we cling to any known sin, the Lord will not hear us; but the prayer of the penitent, contrite soul is always accepted. When all known wrongs are righted, we may believe that God will answer our petitions. Our own merit will never commend us to the favor of God; it is the worthiness of Jesus that will save us, His blood that will cleanse us; yet we have a work to do in complying with the conditions of acceptance.” Steps to Christ, 95.

“The beloved John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, speaks with great plainness and assurance: ‘If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.’ I John 5:14, 15. Then press your petition to the Father in the name of Jesus. God will honor that name.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 148.

9 On what condition can we abide in Christ’s love? John 15:9, 10.

Note: “Always kind, courteous, ever taking the part of the oppressed, whether Jew or Gentile, Christ was beloved by all. By His perfect life and character, He answered the question asked in the fifteenth Psalm: ‘Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.’ [Verses 1, 2.] In childhood and youth His course was such that when engaged in work as a teacher, He could say to His disciples, ‘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.’ [John 15:10.]” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 402.

10 How did Christ summarize the law and reveal its essence? John 15:12, 13.

Note: “Christ has given us an example of pure, disinterested love. You have not as yet seen your deficiency in this respect, and your great need of this heavenly attainment, without which all your good purposes, and your zeal, even if it be of that nature that you could give your goods to feed the poor and your body to be burned, is nothing. You need that charity which suffereth long, is not easily provoked, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Without the spirit of love, no one can be like Christ. With this living principle in the soul, no one can be like the world.

“The conduct of Christians is like that of their Lord. He erected the standard, and it is left for us to say whether or not we will rally around it. Our Lord and Saviour laid aside His dominion, His riches and glory, and sought after us, that He might save us from misery and make us like Himself.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 169, 170.

Additional Reading

“Jesus and the disciples were on the way to Gethsemane, at the foot of Mount Olivet, a retired spot which He had often visited for meditation and prayer. The Saviour had been explaining to His disciples His mission to the world, and the spiritual relation to Him which they were to sustain. Now He illustrates the lesson. The moon is shining bright, and reveals to Him a flourishing grapevine. Drawing the attention of the disciples to it, He employs it as a symbol.

“ ‘I am the true Vine,’ [John 15:1] He says. Instead of choosing the graceful palm, the lofty cedar, or the strong oak, Jesus takes the vine with its clinging tendrils to represent Himself. The palm tree, the cedar, and the oak stand alone. They require no support. But the vine entwines about the trellis, and thus climbs heavenward. So Christ in His humanity was dependent upon divine power. ‘I can of Mine own self do nothing,’ He declared. John 5:30.

“ ‘I am the Vine, ye are the branches,’ [John 15:5] Christ said to His disciples. Though He was about to be removed from them, their spiritual union with Him was to be unchanged. The connection of the branch with the vine, He said, represents the relation you are to sustain to Me. The scion is engrafted into the living vine, and fiber by fiber, vein by vein, it grows into the vine stock. The life of the vine becomes the life of the branch. So the soul dead in trespasses and sins receives life through connection with Christ. By faith in Him as a personal Saviour the union is formed. The sinner unites his weakness to Christ’s strength, his emptiness to Christ’s fullness, his frailty to Christ’s enduring might. Then he has the mind of Christ. The humanity of Christ has touched our humanity, and our humanity has touched divinity. Thus through the agency of the Holy Spirit man becomes a partaker of the divine nature. He is accepted in the Beloved.

“This union with Christ, once formed, must be maintained. Christ said, ‘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.’ [John 15:4] This is no casual touch, no off-and-on connection. The branch becomes a part of the living vine. The communication of life, strength, and fruitfulness from the root to the branches is unobstructed and constant. Separated from the vine, the branch cannot live. No more, said Jesus, can you live apart from Me. The life you have received from Me can be preserved only by continual communion. Without Me you cannot overcome one sin, or resist one temptation.” The Desire of Ages, 674, 675.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

A Root out of Dry Ground

God’s Word contains the word of life. When Jesus was in the wilderness, He said to the tempter, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. Every word of the Bible is pure and true, but there are some portions that we are especially admonished to memorize. One such chapter is Isaiah 53. In this chapter we see a picture of Christ, the Lamb of God, and His great sacrifice for us.

It begins with these words: “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Isaiah 53:1. A news report that is unbelievable is in this chapter. Here the story is told of the manifestation of the power of God to save humanity. And this unleashing of God’s power through humanity is unbelievable! The arm of the Lord is a symbol of His power. He said, “My arm is not shortened that it cannot save. Neither is My ear heavy that it cannot hear. But your sins have separated between Me and you so that I cannot reach out and save you.” (See Isaiah 59:1, 2.)

In this chapter, Isaiah gives a description of this Person and the qualifications He has that allow the power of God to work through Him. The first one is tenderness: “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant.” Verse 2. Are we tender? Are our hearts soft towards each other? Jesus’ heart was tender. He was not hardhearted. His heart was touched with the feelings of others.

How did people respond to Christ’s tenderheartedness? Isaiah says He was “as a root out of a dry ground.” Ibid. Jesus did not fit in. He was misplaced like roots growing on top of the ground.

“He hath no form nor comeliness and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” Verse 3.

Jesus lived on this earth with people like you and me. He went to a synagogue, He worked in a carpenter’s shop and He worked and talked with people. But, despite all that He had in common with these people, He was not accepted. They rejected Him and scorned Him. (See The Desire of Ages, 84–92.)

What is so very amazing is that the Scripture says, “He hath borne our grief and carried our sorrows.” Verse 4. He carried the grief and sorrows of the very ones who mocked and derided Him. And what did He receive in return? “Yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Ibid. Seeing Him burdened with the heavy load of our sins, we looked at Him and scoffed, saying that God must have given Him this heavy burden to carry to punish Him! But it was not His burden; it was ours.

“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes, we are healed.” Verse 5. I need to be healed from the scars of sin, and there is healing through His stripes. That is a promise that each one of us can claim. I do not understand the working of the divine agency, but I know it works because I have experienced it. He heals the broken hearted and brings comfort and joy.

“All we like sheep have gone astray.” Verse 6. Who is this chapter written to? It is written to all of us, because we have all gone astray. Do not let the devil tempt you into thinking that you are in such a bad condition that Christ’s stripes cannot heal your sins. His stripes can bring each one healing and joy—no matter how low we have fallen. What wonderful news!

“We have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.” Verse 6, 7. When you are oppressed and ridiculed do you give a quick and angry reply? Whenever you are tempted to do this, think of Jesus before His persecutors. He did not open His mouth to speak a word in retaliation.

“He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken. And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death.”Verses 8, 9. How was this Scripture fulfilled? The wicked was the thief on the cross who never repented. The rich is described in a beautiful passage in The Acts of the Apostles, 104: “At this time of peril, Nicodemus came forward in fearless avowal of his faith in the crucified Saviour. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin and with others had been stirred by the teaching of Jesus. As he had witnessed Christ’s wonderful works, the conviction had fastened itself upon his mind that this was the Sent of God. Too proud to openly acknowledge himself in sympathy with the Galilean Teacher, he had sought a secret interview.” Nicodemus asked for a secret interview because he was proud. He did not want anyone to see him, one of the top leaders in the nation, associated with Jesus. “But when at last Christ had been uplifted on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the words that He had spoken to him in the night interview on the Mount of Olives . . . and he saw in Jesus the world’s Redeemer.” Ibid.

Another man, who before Christ’s death had been too proud to associate with Him, was Joseph of Arimathea. “With Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus had borne the expenses of the burial of Jesus. The disciples had been afraid to show themselves openly as Christ’s followers, but Nicodemus and Joseph came boldly to their aid. The help of these rich and honored men was greatly needed in this hour of darkness. They had been able to do for their dead Master what it would have been impossible for the poor disciples to do; and their wealth and influence had protected them, in a great measure from the malice of the priests and rulers. Now, when the Jews were trying to destroy the infant church, Nicodemus came forward in its defense. No longer cautious and questioning he encouraged the faith of the disciples and he used his wealth in helping to sustain the church at Jerusalem and advancing the work of the gospel. Those who in other days had paid him reverence, now scorned and persecuted him.” Ibid.

Nicodemus was experiencing the steps in Isaiah 53. He, too, became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And besides being scorned and persecuted, “he became poor in this world’s goods, yet he faltered not in defense of his faith.” Ibid.

All the prophecies about the life of Christ were fulfilled just as the prophets gave them. “And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.” Isaiah 53:9.

The next phrase stuns your mind. It is the type of passage that I often feel that the angels should read, because it is far above mortal humans to understand the great love of God it portrays. It reads: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.” How can this be? The Father and Son were closer than any human beings have ever been on this earth. They loved more because they had more to love with. And yet, the Lord loves you and me so much that it delighted Him to send His Son to save us. He made a way of escape for us through the only way possible—the death of His precious Son. This is what our Redeemer did to save us.

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” Isaiah 53:10.

What is the pleasure of the Lord? Jesus said, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32. In other words, in His hand there is all the power that is needed to bring you and me into a condition to inherit His kingdom.

“He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:11, 12.

What a touching representation of Christ’s love is given to us in this chapter. No wonder inspiration tells us: “This chapter should be studied. It presents Christ as the Lamb of God. Those who are lifted up with pride, whose souls are filled with vanity, should look upon this picture of their Redeemer, and humble themselves in the dust. The entire chapter should be committed to memory. Its influence will subdue and humble the soul defiled by sin and uplifted by self-exaltation.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 4, 1147.

If you are struggling to follow the meek and lowly Savior, then memorize this chapter and let your mind contemplate it word by word. If the truth it contains becomes a part of your life, your heart will be melted and changed into the likeness of our meek and lowly Savior.

Water From a Different Source

In the remainder of this article I would like to focus on just one phrase from this chapter. It is found in verse 2. It says that Christ was as “a root out of a dry ground.” Consider this carefully. When you pull up a weed, throw it on the ground and leave it in the sun for a few hours, it wilts. Why does it wilt? Because, it no longer has a water supply, and the cells in the plant begin to wither and die.

Jesus was looked upon as a root out of dry ground because He did not draw His nourishment from earthly sources. Jesus’ source of nourishment was streams of heavenly origin. Streams that those who were blinded by worldliness did not want to see. Because they could not see, they could not understand where He derived His strength. To them He was as “a root out of a dry ground.”

What characteristics did Christ have that showed that His nourishment did not come from earthly sources? “Our Redeemer did not come to our world with outward display.” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, July 19, 1887. He was not trying to dress, eat, live or to speak so as to draw attention to Himself. The people who rejected Him saw nothing of heaven in His appearance. “They could not see hidden beneath the humble disguise of humanity the world’s Redeemer. They saw before them a ‘Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.’” Ibid. And that is not what they wanted to see.

What is it that they wanted to see? Luke 17:20, 21, records a conversation that Jesus had with the Pharisees on this very subject. “And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation (outward show, margin), neither shall they say, Lo, here! or lo, there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” These people were looking for something on the outside of Him, but Jesus came to do something to the inside of us. He said, “My kingdom is not with outward show.”

“The afflicted, suffering ones who saw Christ as their helper, were charmed with the divine perfection, and beauty of holiness, that shone forth in His character. But the Pharisees could see no beauty in Him that they should desire Him. His simple attire, and humble life, devoid of outward show, rendered Him to them as a root out of dry ground.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1111.

They wanted a king, dressed with the latest and the most expensive clothing as they were. But this was not Christ’s way. “Through all the lowly experiences of life He consented to pass, walking among the children of men, not as a king to demand homage, but as One whose mission it was to serve others.” The Mount of Blessing, 14.

Unless you accept in your own life the principle of self-sacrificing love, you cannot know God. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14. “The kingdom of God comes not with outward show. The gospel of the grace of God with its spirit of self-abnegation can never be in harmony with the spirit of the world. The two principles are antagonistic.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 14.

Each one of us will have only one of these two principles (roots) operating in our lives. The root is the foundation of a plant. From the root, moisture and nutrition are gathered for the plant to give it life. While the plant is growing, you cannot see the root, you can only see the leaves and the fruit. But it is the root that determines the character of the plant. Each one of us will be one of two kinds of roots. We have our choice. Either we will be self-denying and thinking of the good of others or we will be self-serving.

The Tie of Worldly Associations

There was another reason why the Jewish people rejected Jesus, and the same influence causes many today to reject Him. “Worldly associations attract and dazzle the senses so that piety, the fear of God, faithfulness, and loyalty hath not power to keep them steadfast. The humble, unassuming life of Christ seems altogether unattractive.” Adventist Home, 461. If our lives are knit with worldly associations, the life of Christ will not appear attractive to us. It does not make any difference what theory we claim to believe. If we associate with those who love the world, His life of self-abnegation will be to us as a root out of dry ground. We will not want Him, because the people we are associating with have not accepted His invitation. They love the things of this world just as the Pharisees loved pomp, power, fancy clothes, and the admiration of other people. They have the root of the Pharisees instead of the root of Christ.

What is the root of the Pharisees? Evangelism, 633 says, “There is nothing that so much retards and cripples the work in its various branches as jealousy and suspicion and evil surmisings. These reveal that disunion prevails among the workers for God. Selfishness is the root of all evil.” The root of the Pharisees produced a plant with lots of pretty leaves. But that root built up self at the expense of others.

Christ’s own disciples were influenced by this root of selfishness. Inspiration tells us: “Even His disciples were so blinded by the selfishness of their hearts that they were slow to understand Him Who had come to manifest to them the Father’s love.” The Mount of Blessing, 25.

They could not understand the nature of Christ because they still had the root of selfishness in their hearts. With this mindset it was easy for them to accept the theory of the Pharisees that told of a great kingdom where they would rule the earth. This should be a warning to us. We cannot understand the Word of God in its fullness until selfishness is rooted out. If it has not been, then we can interpret any part of the Bible to build ourselves up.

Roots and Their Fruits

How deceptive the devil’s kingdom can be. Since the root is buried, how do you know the root of the situation? “For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.” Romans 11:16.

You cannot have a holy root that grows thorns and thistles. If the root is holy, then the fruit is holy.

How can we know for certain what is good fruit and what is bad? Have we been told exactly what Jesus’ root is, so that there can be no mistake? In Christ’s Object Lessons, 128 we read: “Many who claim to believe and to teach the gospel are in a similar error. They set aside the Old Testament Scriptures, of which Christ declared, ‘They are they which testify of Me.’ John 5:39. In rejecting the Old, they virtually reject the New; for both parts are of an inseparable whole. No man can rightly present the law of God without the gospel, or the gospel without the law. The law is the gospel embodied, and the gospel is the law unfolded. The law is the root.”

With the law as the root, the gospel is the fruit. In the new covenant, Jesus said, “I will write them [My laws] in their hearts.” Hebrews 8:10. “I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26.

If the law is written in our heart and is the foundation of our life, then the fruit will be humility and meekness. David said, “Oh, how I love thy law. It is my meditation all the day.” Psalm 119:97. If we want the root of selfishness and pride uprooted from our hearts, we must love God’s law as David did and allow it to purify us completely.

John the Baptist told the Pharisees how the root of selfishness could be removed from their hearts. He said, “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Matthew 3:10.

A tree cannot be changed by picking off its bad fruit. The axe of God’s Word needs to be laid to the root of the problem. (See Hebrews 4:12.) The root of selfishness needs to be removed. There is no reformation program for the Pharisees plan of action that will make it acceptable to God; a total change must be made.

John the Baptist told the Pharisees, “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father.” Matthew 3:9. They claimed to be the heirs of His kingdom. Let us call them the Seventh-day Adventists of their day. When these leaders came to John he looked them straight in the eye and he said, Do not even think of calling yourselves Seventh-day Adventists. Until the root is taken out, you can call yourself whatever you want, but profession is nothing. It all depends on the fruit.

John the Baptist continued: “For I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now, also, the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Matthew 3:9–11.

Here is a promise you can claim if you want the root of selfishness taken out of your heart. This prophecy of Christ says, “Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:12.

Get down on your knees with this verse under your fingers and say, “Lord, I want the floor of my heart clean. I want the axe laid at the root of selfishness. I want selfishness, covetousness and the love of money pulled out.” God will answer your prayer. However, when you surrender your sinful self to God you must understand that you will be treated as Jesus was. Do not look for worldly acclaim, for it will not come to you.

On the hills of Palestine, our heavenly Father planted a goodly vine and He Himself was the husbandman. He had no remarkable form that would at first sight give an impression of its value. It appeared to come up as a root out of dry ground and attracted but little attention. But when attention was called to the plant, it was by some declared to be of heavenly origin. The men of Nazareth stood entranced as they saw its beauty. But when they received the idea that it would stand more gracefully and attract more attention than they could, they wrestled to uproot the precious plant and cast it over the wall.

The men of Jerusalem bruised the plant and trampled it under their unholy feet. Their thought was to destroy it forever. But the Heavenly Husbandman never lost sight of His plant. After men thought that they had killed it, He replanted it on the other side of the wall and hid it from the view of men. May you be as humble as Jesus was, and may you have joy as Jesus did. And when you are persecuted, may you endure it as Jesus did, and someday may your future be as glorious as His.