Connected to the vine

Albu van Eeden

In the light of the allegations against the mission: Although we strongly deny the various allegations in the media against the mission, we confirm our belief that our Lord requires us to do away with darkness by walking the light. We have thus under very difficult circumstances and short notice mandated two experienced lawyers who are totally independent practitioners to investigate the allegations. We have requested them to aim to complete their investigations as soon as possible. They have been given a wide discretion to fulfil their task and if anybody is interested in seeing their short CVs you can [email protected]. Your ongoing prayers for wisdom and discernment are welcome so that at all times we might walk in the light and respond in love and truth and so reflect our Lord Jesus.

Michael Ngubane

We greet you wherever you are. We thank God for opportunities like these. Jesus never promised that life would always be easy. He also emphasised this through His own life and example. 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. John 15:18 It is wonderful to walk God’s way and it is a privilege to experience what our Lord and Saviour did. The most difficult time in the Lord’s public ministry was at the end of His life. His purpose was always that the gospel should go into all the world and to all mankind. The message of the gospel went into all the corners of the world where it has reached you and me. Without the gospel, what would we be? If it was not for His hand of salvation, where would we be today? If it was not for the strong arm of the Lord that rescues us out of our sin, in what state would we be today? That is why I have this song which I would like to quote:

By faith we see the hand of God

By faith, we see the hand of God
In the light of creation’s grand design;
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness,
Who walk by faith and not by sight.

By faith, this mountain shall be moved
And the power of the gospel shall prevail,
For we know in Christ all things are possible
For all who call upon His name

Chorus: We will stand as children of the promise,
We will fix our eyes on Him, our soul’s reward.
Till the race is finished and the work is done,
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.
Stuart Townend

It is good to reflect on the men of God who experienced challenges in their lives of faith. Not all people will speak well of you but also evil. The word says, 26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you… Luke 6:26
A few days before our Lord faced death, He worked day and night, redeeming every moment. He made use of every minute. In the last 3 days He worked day and night to get the message of salvation out and make sure that everyone understood it. He chose three disciples to accompany Him to the mountain to pray – Peter, James and John. He wanted them to witness a surprise before His crucifixion and death. The Lord made time to pray and spend time with His heavenly Father. He was fully aware of the crisis they were in and the time.

Jesus always had compassion for people. When He fed the multitudes, He asked the disciples whether they had something to give the people to eat. This is when the little boy gave his two fish and five loaves of bread which the Lord multiplied and thousands were fed. This is the kind of work the disciples had been doing and they were exhausted. When they ascended the mountain with Jesus, they saw the glory of God. The Lord did not only mean that they would see His glory when they died but even while they were on earth. When they went with the Lord, they became weary and drowsy but Jesus did not. He did not criticise them but went on a little further and wrestled with God in anguish of spirit.

In times of difficulty, we should ascend the mountain. Difficulties draw us closer to Christ. It is a reminder that we cannot rely on our own strength and intellect, we must rely fully on Him. We must wake up out of our spiritual sleep and come to the Lord that He can glorify Himself and in our lives. Jesus is calling us, through suffering, to come out of the valleys and low places and onto the mountain where He can glorify Himself.

Jesus was transfigured before their eyes and the glory of God was seen in Him. His face and clothes changed. He was the son of God. The radiance of God was seen in Him. Two men who had died long ago, spoke to him - Moses and Elijah - and they encouraged Him. The disciples woke up and saw this amazing sight. Peter spoke like a person who had just woken up and said, “Lord, should we now build three tabernacles for you?” Jesus did not criticise Peter. They saw the glory of God in our Lord Jesus Christ. They saw something amazing that had never been witnessed. Heaven had descended. When Jesus prayed, heaven was moved. It opened and the two men came to encourage the Son of God for the time of tribulation that lay ahead. The men they saw that amazing glory. They saw Jesus transfigured before their eyes. After that a cloud covered them. What an amazing and divine experience! A voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved son whom I have chosen, listen to Him.”

If you do not have ears or your ears are stopped, let them be unstopped and obey the words of God. If you have never learnt to obey, how will you ever obey God? If you have never learned to submit to your parents, do you think you will hear God’s voice when He speaks to you? It is important to learn to obey and hear what someone else says. “This is my beloved Son whom I have chosen, hear Him.” This experience strengthened the Lord for the difficult time that lay ahead. “This is my beloved Son whom I have chosen, hear Him.”

South Africa, the world, listen to Him, the One whom God has chosen! It is so important to hear what He says to you. If we do not hear and obey Him what will happen to us? We will perish. If we obey Him, His words contain life. He himself is full of life and the one who meets with Him meets with life. We do not tell you a fabricated story, we tell you our personal experiences of what Jesus Christ has done for us. We heard the word of God, it pierced our hearts, we repented, and He changed our lives. All these years we have experienced the goodness of the Lord, His love and mercy changing, sustaining and saving us. We have seen people’s lives transformed – drug addicts, alcoholics - who met with Christ and the old became new. Through 50 years, we have seen hundreds and thousands of people entering the mission on a daily and weekly basis, coming and going. Would you call that a sect? We have seen people whose lives have been renewed and whose own families have been rejected but they have been restored. When that cloud came down, the voice said, “This is my beloved son whom I have chosen, hear Him.” Many have heard that voice and chosen Him. I do not think any person who has opened their heart to Christ has regretted doing it when they saw what He did in their lives and how He restored them to their families and communities.

Friend, have seen the glory of God?  Have you seen Jesus as the Son of God? If you have not, what is withholding you from experiencing that grace? If you have not, that invitation is still extended. You can experience His mercy, forgiveness and deliverance today. He can change your life and save you from destruction. John later witnessed about what he had seen on that day when he was taken by surprise by the Lord onto the mountain top. James was martyred early, but John lived and recorded the book of Revelations on the Isle of Patmos. He says of himself that he was the beloved disciple of the Lord who lay on the bosom of Jesus because he was still very young at that time. With their own eyes they witnessed that Jesus was not like any other person. They saw His glory. The glory of the only begotten Son of God.

John recorded in his gospel where Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. John 15: 1-4

There are different types of vines. But Jesus says that He is the true vine. Jesus introduces Himself as the true vine. The one who comes to Him can never be the same. A farmer expects a crop and he works to harvest a crop. He watches over his vineyard to make sure nothing will cause him to lose his harvest. He does what is necessary to reap the best harvest. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. These are words of Jesus that John recorded when he walked with Jesus – what Jesus would do when people came to Him and continue to do when they walked with Him. When you come to Christ and He does his work in you, He transforms you more and more into His own image. He deals with sin. He eradicates sin - hatred, grudges, bitterness, unforgiveness, that you can forgive the next person. It does not help to continue walking with a burden of sin which will weigh you down and depress you. The Lord invites us to bring our sin to Him and lay it down that He can remove it and set us free. The poison of bitterness will destroy the person who carries it. He thinks he will be happy once the person who has caused the bitterness is dead. The root of bitterness of which we read in Hebrews is a poisonous, bitter root. Come to the Lord Jesus with your bitterness. He can forgive you, heal you, take it away and give you peace in your life.

The Lord says that every branch in Me that remains in Me will bear much fruit. But if a person does not abide in Him, he will bear no fruit and be thrown into the fire. What kind of branch are you? Are you connected to Jesus? It is vital that a branch that remains in Him will bear much fruit. If a branch does not bear fruit, it will be cut off, thrown into the fire and burned. Every branch that bears fruit, will be pruned and certain things will be cut away so that the branch can bear more fruit. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. God is working hard. He is the farmer who discerns what is good and what is not. He is the expert farmer and He knows what He must do to be successful. When He does His pruning work, it can be painful. Discipline is never pleasant but when it is applied with a godly attitude and accepted with a godly attitude, it produces life. It results in a love for the person who applied the discipline. You realise that it was for your own good. When you are pruned, it is not done with an evil intention. The outcome will be more abundant fruit. When God does that work, let us not harden our hearts and rebel because in the end it will bring good fruit. If you submit it will make you a man. If you are not prepared to submit, you will go your own way and the outcome of such a life will come to nothing. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. We can work hard but to no avail if Jesus is not in it. Jesus is calling us to true fellowship with Him. There is no progress if you do things without Christ. If we remain in Him and abide there, no matter what happens, you will see the fruit thereof.

What kind of a person invites us to surrender to Him? There is no way to life except through Him. “This is my beloved Son whom I have chosen.” He invites us to abide in Him and receive life. This call means you should take up your cross and die to your ego, your will and way of doing things. The branch cannot be independent and think it will achieve anything. It must be connected to the vine and draw that life-giving sap from the vine, only then can it bear fruit.

There is no growth unless there is downward growth and roots. Something can look beautiful, but it will not last long unless there are roots. When the sun comes out, it will die. Sometimes you must dig deep for the roots to go deep and you may think that it is a mess but Jesus says abide in Me. There is no other way. All that which is good can only come forth if a person abides in Christ. You will never experience the life of Christ and full salvation unless you are prepared to bow and submit to God’s will. You will never experience life in Christ unless you die with Christ and then you can be raised to a new life. Jesus said If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. Every branch does not have the same outcome. There is a place where you see a difference. The one who submits to the principles that bring about life and growth, who allows the roots to go deep, good fruit will be visible. The results of the branch that takes the shortcut, will also be seen.

The church must check whether its roots are deep and rooted in love and the message of salvation. Are you rooted in Christ or are your roots shallow? A little breeze or hot wind shrivels and kills you. If your roots are deep in the water, a drought or even a hurricane will not uproot the tree. It will remain firm. If you have not been deeply rooted, a wind uproot you and you will become an enemy of the gospel and the children of God. It is wise if anyone hears anything that they get both sides of the story. Do not be quick to judge otherwise you will be shown to be a fool if you only take one side. You should listen to both sides and thereafter make a balanced judgement and see where the problem lies. A tree may look healthy and green, but it suddenly wilts and withers. Why? A dry wind came and there were no roots.

Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” What can you do without Christ? What is there of heaven that we can ever hope to achieve unless Christ intervenes and works in our lives. There is no time to sleep now! If you are tired, wake up! If you have got used to things, wake up! Your ear should be sharp, and your response should be, “Lord, what are you saying to me? What should I do?” If your ear is sharp and your roots are deep, you will be able to make the correct decision. Peter and the others had to wake up when they saw the glory of the Son of Man displayed. Don’t you desire to see that glory? Don’t you want to get to heaven and see the wondrous salvation that Jesus has procured for us? The curtain of heaven was opened, and they experienced heavenly things. They saw things other had never seen. These were selected because He trusted them. He trusted that they would not let it out before the time. Jesus said at that time that they should not tell others about the experience but only when He had risen from the dead. They were faithful until the appointed time came for them to speak. What would you and I have done? Blessed is the brother who can reign his tongue to speak at the right time and not before. They did not keep quiet about something because they hid it. They listened to what Jesus had said to them. He said that the time would come when they could speak about it. They were faithful and at the right time they spoke about it. We know that Peter was impulsive but in this instance, when Jesus commanded them not to speak, Peter remained dead quiet. He was obedient. He was faithful and kept the secrets of God which were not to be revealed before the time. There was a reason why Jesus said this. One of the reasons would have been that some would argue about it. There will always be those who deny things. But when they did speak, there was no one who could refute their testimony. No one can deny your testimony about yourself because you know what you have experienced. If you do not want to believe it, that is your issue.

When Moses was in the desert in Sinai, he had fellowship with God but he desired to see God as he was. God said to him that Moses did not know what he was asking for. No one could see God and live. No one could see His face and live. When Moses descended with the ten commandments, his face was so bright with the glory of God that the people could not look at him. How glorious then is the One who is truly glorious? God said that He would show Moses His back. He had to stand in the crevice of a rock, and he glimpsed God’s back when He passed. Moses said that it was enough. Just imagine how awesome the glory of God is if there is so much glory when only His back is seen.

This is the time to be one with God so that He can show His glory and reveal it at the right time. This is the time when we need to sanctify ourselves before God so that we can see His glory and show forth His glory and power. We want His presence and grace, nothing else. We need to be united with God and with one another so that God, through His grace, can reveal His glory. Remove the sin that separates you from God so that there is nothing in your life to hinder His glory. God can never show forth His glory if there is iniquity and unrighteousness. It must be dealt with.

We need to abide in Jesus and Jesus must abide in us then the amazing love of God will be poured out into our hearts so that we will have the strength to go forth and propagate this message. If you abide Me and I abide in You then this will happen. This will not happen unless we depart from all iniquity.

Conclusion Albu van Eeden
If God has spoken to you through his Holy Spirit, obey Him no matter what the price is going to be. Live before God. Do not fall into the trap of living before people. Whether people kiss you or kick you, live before God. Realise that one day we will have to stand before the great white throne of God who is omnipresent, whose eyes can see into your heart where no man can see the deepest secret motives. All these things we have heard about will come true whether you have heard the voice of God during your conversion, or you have never heard the voice of God and He has convicted you of your sins today or during the process of sanctification you hear the voice of God as He works on your soul.

Let me give this example to demonstrate what it means to live before God. Before Mr Ngubane met with God he was involved in a fight. He was under the influence and he stabbed a man and killed him. He was taken to prison. He met with God and he was convicted of the great evil he had done. God convicted him to speak the truth about what he had done, not to duck and dive, give excuses and tell lies to cover things. This is what happens when the all-seeing eye of God reveals to you what you have done, and His spirit convicts you of your sin. He wanted to make it right. Things that people had seen had to be made right but what does it mean to live before God who goes deeper than man can see? He had a vision where God showed him corpses and said, “These are the people that you have killed.” He said, “No, God, this is not true I have only killed one man.” God said, “You have killed all of these people with your tongue. You need to go and put that right and apologise.” God forgave him. He made right what people had seen but friends, if you live before God He goes deeper than what people see and He will expect you to walk in the truth before Him whether it makes you popular with people or whether it makes them hate you. Obey God if He has spoken to you today. If he has convicted you of something, bring it to Him, acknowledge it and confess it so that He can wash you pure and clean in His blood. If He tells you and you need to, go and make restitution.

Thank God for this gospel. It does not only give you peace while you live in the world, it gives you eternal hope after death one day. Just obey God. Remember He said that you cannot do a thing without Him. Do not try and do your own thing. Just obey God. Call out for strength because you cannot do it in your own strength.