“Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.”
Yesterday I mentioned that God uses various kinds of shears to prune the fruitful to the end that they might bear much fruit: he will use discipline, various sorts of tests and trials, suffering, the Word of God, the Body of Christ, and whatever else he deems necessary and appropriate (see Hebrews 12:3-11, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 4:12-19, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, Romans 12:1-2). But in John 15:3 Jesus explicitly mentions one of these shears, namely, his word. In the original language of the Bible this verse literally reads, “Already you are pruned because of the word that I have spoken to you.” Good enough, but specifically how does the word of Christ prune us?
Although Jesus probably had in mind here the words he used to call and teach his disciples, it is fair to apply his comments to the whole of the Word of God, the Bible, because Jesus is the ultimate author of those words and he daily uses them in the lives of those who follow him. With this in mind, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 shows us four ways that Jesus uses the Word of God to prune us. The Apostle Paul writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
First, the Word of God prunes us by teaching us the will of God and the difference between right and wrong. It prunes us by guiding us, by showing us the way we should go, and then shedding light on our path so that we will not stumble.
Second, the Word of God prunes us by reproving or convicting us of our sin. It rebukes and disciplines us and leads us back into the way we should go.
Third, the Word of God prunes us by correcting or restoring or improving us. When we have gone astray but not purposely or consciously so, the Word of God grabs ahold of our shoulders and gently leads us back into the way we should go.
Finally, the Word of God prunes us by training us for action, for obedience to the commands of God, for zealously walking in the good works which God has prepared beforehand for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
What, then, is the end result of this good, necessary, painful, and loving process of pruning? That every man and woman of God, by means of the Word of God, becomes “competent and equipped for every good work.” Or to put it in the language of John 15, that every man and woman of God, by means of the pruning shears of the Word of God, will be made to bear much fruit to the glory of Christ.
Prayer Focus: Pray that, by his grace, God will use the pruning shears of his Word in our lives that we might bear much fruit to the glory of Christ. Pray that he will give us passion for his Word and a practical plan for being in his Word for 2016 that he might have the daily opportunity to do his loving work in us.