Yesterday, the experience of mountain climbing illustrated that a connection to Christ is the basis of all church life. What image of being connected to Christ do we find in John 15:1-8? Compare the church to this image.
"The branches in the True Vine are the believers who are brought into oneness by connection with the Vine....
"The branches of the vine cannot blend into each other; they are individually separate; yet every branch must be in fellowship with every other if they are united in the same parent stock....
"Christian unity consists in the branches being in the same parent stock, the vitalizing power of the center supporting the grafts that have united to the Vine. In thoughts and desires, in words and actions, there must be an identity with Christ, a constant partaking of His spiritual life." - Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1143.
What evidence do we have that we are connected to Christ? John 15:5; Gal. 5:16-26.
When the branches abide in the vine, they take on the life of the vine. When we abide in Christ, we will develop a character like His.
To say that we are Christians and members of God's family is meaningful only when we recognize our complete dependence on Christ and live by faith in Him on a daily basis. This is what it means to "abide." Then individually and as a church we will mirror the graces and character of our Saviour. Then "we shall see a prosperous church; for its members will not live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and they will be flourishing branches of the living Vine." - Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1144.
Maintaining a close connection with Christ enables us to have a healthy religious experience on both a personal and a corporate level. But how can the following elements of church life actually help us to abide in Christ individually and as a church family? the Sabbath, baptism, Communion, stewardship, active involvement, church attendance, and Christian standards.
How do we avoid legalism, the attempt to obey in our own strength?