Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Day Four - The Fate of the Fruitless

“Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
John 15:2

Yesterday we learned that the phrase “every branch of mine” literally reads “every branch in me,” and that every branch thus connected with Jesus will bear the fruit of Jesus. Indeed, the proof of our actual relationship with Christ is revealed in the fruit of our lives. Today we turn our focus to the next few words, specifically, "Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he [God the Father] takes away." 

What do you think: does this passage teach that a person can lose his or her salvation? Does it say that when someone is rightly connected with Jesus and then fails to bear fruit that the Father will cut them off, take from them the life of the vine, and then cast them away? My answer is “no,” and here’s why. 

It is possible to name the name of Jesus and seem to be rightly connected with him but all the while drawing life from false vines. In this way, a person can over time seem to know Jesus but finally fail to bear the fruit of Jesus. 

As the Lord said elsewhere, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23; see also the parables of the sower and of the wheat and weeds in Matthew 13:3-9 and 13:24-30). 

To be rightly connected with Jesus is to be submitted to God the Father along with Jesus; and to be submitted to God the Father is to do his will; and to do his will is to be in the Son; and to be in the Son is to bear the fruit of the vine. Indeed, it is impossible to be rightly connected with Jesus and fail to bear the fruit of Jesus. 

So if John 15:2 is talking about those who only seem to be in the vine but are not, what is it saying about them? Answer: the fate of the fruitless is that God the Father will cut them off, remove all vestiges of their hypocrisy from the vine, reveal them for what they are, and punish them for what they have done (see verse 6). 

Friends, this truth should strike an appropriate fear into all of our hearts. For, on the one hand, our God is long-suffering, merciful, patient, and steadfast in love. Indeed, “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench.” And from the words of a parable, “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down” (Matthew 12:20; Luke 13:8-9). 

But, on the other hand, God the Father will not tolerate impostors forever. In due time, he will punish the wicked. He will pull up the weeds. He will cut off every fruitless branch. He will declare, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” And those are words we never want to hear spoken to us. 

“Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off” (Romans 11:22). 

Prayer Focus: O Friends, join me in earnestly praying that God will reveal to us the true state of our relation with him, and give us eyes to see whether or not we are bearing the fruit of the vine. For even if the answer is, “No, you are not,” he may yet be gracious and grant us repentance.

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