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09 April 2009

Chopping Down the Whole Tree

Are you waiting on something to happen before getting "really serious" about following Christ? You may find this passage interesting. I don't recall having ever heard it in a sermon, possibly because it would take some 'splaining on doctrine:

About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”

Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’

“The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”
- Luke 13:1-9 (NLT)

This passage makes me think of a couple of others:

(Jesus, speaking to a crowd of people...)
A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.
- Matthew 7:18-19 (NLT)

(Jesus speaking to the church at Laodecia...)
“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!"
- Revelation 3:15-16 (NLT)

I'm not arguing that one can or can't lose his salvation. The point I'm trying to bring out here is that our relationship with Christ had better be marked by genuine repentance, and it should be making a visible difference in our lives (and by extension, in the lives of other people) -- our love for God should be producing good works.

7 comments:

Preston N said...

Salvation is simply defined as to be in right relationship with God, to be reconciled from our sins. As with any relationship (human or divine) man must calculate what is required or entailed to be in right relationship with the other party. Paul says this requires on our part to die to self daily and to pick up our cross daily. (NOTE: This does require something on our part!) God doesn't pick up your cross for you, we must conscientiously do so everyday. So the reality is we can decide one day to stop dying to self and stop carrying our cross. Salvation is not a thing we can lose, but is a relationship we can decide we no longer want to be a part of.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not arguing that one can or can't lose his salvation. The point I'm trying to bring out here is that our relationship with Christ had better be marked by genuine repentance, and it should be making a visible difference in our lives (and by extension, in the lives of other people) -- our love for God should be producing good works."

100% agree, Dean. If our lives are not marked by genuine repentance was there ever a genuine repentance? Preston quoted Paul as saying, "I die daily", that is just so true. Christ is not going to do for you what he has commanded you to do. He isn't going to love your wife for you as He commanded you do to, you have to do that.

However, where I think it gets a bit difficult is the part Preston mentioned, "Salvation is not a thing we can lose, but is a relationship we can decide we no longer want to be a part of." I don't think that God, as a loving Father, would let us get too far without obeying His commands. There is no doubt in my mind that God will discipline His children. Hebrews tells us that if we are without discipline we are illegitimate children and not sons of God.

Like you Dean, I only want to make the point that God loves us with an infinite love; He keeps us! Great post!

Anonymous said...

I meant, like you, Dean, I only wanted to make one point. You made another point and I wanted to make specifically one point as well. I'm a dork, haha.

Dean Lusk said...

I don't like anonymous comments -- I can't make fun of a specific person for being a dork. :-)

Actually, none of that was dorky. Your second comment made me laugh out loud, but since I hate trendy internet abbreviations, I had to just say that the long way.

Excellent clarifications and extensions of the points, both of you. Thank you!

Preston N said...

Agian, I don't want this to turn into a debate about Eternal Security, but rather about what is required in relationship.

True relationship must be maintained through the mutual consent of those involved. Eternal security advocates are quick to point out that we are talking about salvation and not relationship. This type of thinking leads one to believe in a technical theology apart from a relational theology.

It is our responsibility to discover God’s conditions in the matter of salvation(relationship), and then fulfill them! Continual commitment as a condition of salvation is well established in both the OT and NT:

Old Testament

But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You shall not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. Deuteronomy 30:17–18 (NASB)

If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you. Joshua 24:20 (NASB)

If you will fear the Lord and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the Lord, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God. And if you will not listen to, the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you …. 1 Samuel 12:14–15 (NASB)

New Testament

Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’ Matthew 16:24 (NASB)

Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who hadn believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” John 8:31 (NASB)

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. John 15:10 (NASB)

Colossians 1:21–23, 1 Timothy 4:16, Hebrews 3:6–14,6:4–8,10:38–39, James 1:25,2 Peter 1:10,2 Peter 3:17,1 John 2:3–5,1 John 2:24,Romans 11:21–24

God’s gift of salvation can certainly never be earned nor merited. We are saved as a result of God’s decision to offer us something we didn’t deserve: Grace! This however in no way negates the biblical insistence that salvation is also conditional. No condition will save us. However, fulfilling a condition merely allows God to exercise His loving grace, without which we would have perished. The conditions of salvation, repentance, faith and continuance are important because God has emphasized them and they are what HE requires for right relationship.

Anonymous said...

"God’s gift of salvation can certainly never be earned nor merited. We are saved as a result of God’s decision to offer us something we didn’t deserve: Grace! This however in no way negates the biblical insistence that salvation is also conditional. No condition will save us. However, fulfilling a condition merely allows God to exercise His loving grace, without which we would have perished."

I like that, Preston. Paul tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Jude tells us to keep ourselves in the faith. Jesus gave many frightening examples in His parables of those that heard the gospel call, responded and then fell away. I think one of the greatest fruits of repentance is continuing repentance and as a Christian, to be continually examining myself to see whether or not I am in the faith. John the Baptist commanded the people to repent and bear fruits worthy of repentance.

I definitely don't want to beat a dead horse. I believe as Christians our lives should be marked by our fruits.

Okay, anonymous is totally done commenting ; )

Lamarr said...

I had this discussion just the other day - I asked someone if they 'loved the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength' and they answered that it wasn't 'required' - that all that was required was to 'believe with your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord' - but I asked then and I ask now - can you confess and believe Jesus as Lord without love?

I do know (from past experience) that it's possible to be in a marriage without love... you're still classified as 'in that relationship' legally, even when there is no relationship... hmmm

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