Thursday, February 25, 2010

118) All true believers bear fruit

John 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

Because of the word that Jesus spoke to his true disciples, they were clean [pruned]. His word was truth and his true disciples believed his teaching. This knowledge and acceptance of his doctrinal truth meant they were in Christ, clean [pruned], and already bearing fruit due to his grace. The branches that do not bear fruit have obviously been given time to bear fruit, but they didn’t and are removed rather than pruned. These branches are false professors of faith, because the very act of faith is a guarantee of fruit [John 7:38]. Therefore, if they were believers they would have borne fruit and been pruned rather than taken away.

Focus on Christ # 118

Sunday, February 21, 2010

117) Two kinds of branches

John 15:2 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.

Many that claim Christ are not truly in Christ. They may appear to be fruit bearing branches of the vine because of their rhetoric and profession, but they are hypocrites and are still dead in their sin. This verse makes a distinction between the fruit of true believers vs. false professors of Christ. The false professors are unregenerate and incapable of bearing fruit, whereas, true believers bear fruit. God removes the false believers who bear no fruit, and the believers who bear fruit are pruned in order for them to bear even more fruit.

Focus on Christ #117

Thursday, February 18, 2010

116) The true vine

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.”

In this parable Jesus compared himself to a vine and talked about the fruit and branches of that vine. Jesus stated that he is the true vine and that his Father is the vinedresser. The branches of the vine are human beings and the fruit is the good works that are acceptable in the eyes of God. Since only believers can produce good fruit in the eyes of God, the pruning refers to the work of God in believers. Jesus is the true vine; so all other vines are false vines and cannot bear acceptable fruit in the eyes of God. Just as there are not many ways to “get in touch with the divine” as our modern pluralistic world claims, there are not many vines that bear this fruit.

Focus on Christ #116

Thursday, February 11, 2010

115) Peter’s Reminder

2 Peter 1:12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.

In verse 12 Peter clearly states his reason for mentioning these qualities. It is to remind believers of qualities they already know and have. They are established in the truth and are not like the unbelievers he mentioned in verse nine that profess Christ but are blind and lack these qualities. Peter is reminding them of qualities that true Christians have been given by the power of the new covenant promises through grace. They have been given a new heart and are led by the indwelling Spirit. In this passage [v. 3 thru 15] Peter is not advocating a works salvation through learning and practicing these qualities. He is reminding them of qualities true believers already have and is exhorting them to be diligent in practicing these qualities. The most effective Christians could be more diligent, but the least effective Christians do not lack these qualities altogether.

Focus on Christ #115

Sunday, February 7, 2010

114) For in this way

2 Peter 1:11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“For in this way” is referring to those who practice these qualities. It is those who have these qualities that will enter into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Does this mean eternal life is based on works and depends on whether or not a person practices these qualities? Absolutely not! Peter is just giving the characteristics of Christians. These qualities are present in all that are led by the Spirit of God and all true believers are led by the Spirit [Rom. 8:14]. Christians are not perfect, but they are new creations in Christ that God has made alive even while they were dead in their trespasses and sin. This truth points to the much more excellent new covenant that is enacted on better promises than the old covenant. “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts,” is the way Jeremiah puts it and the author of Hebrews explains in chapter 8. The new covenant gives the power that was lacking in the old covenant. Practicing the qualities Peter cites is not the cause of redemption, it is the result of redemption through the power of God. Praise God that Christianity is an internalized religion of the heart that is powered by God.

Focus on Christ #114

Thursday, February 4, 2010

113) An exhortation to be diligent

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

Calling and election are accomplished by God apart from anything a man has done, is doing, or will do. Therefore, there is nothing people can do to affect their calling and election. So, what does Peter mean? In verse 12 [two verses later] Peter stated he wanted to remind his brothers of these qualities even though they were established in the truth. Thus verse 10 is teaching and reminding Christians to continue in practicing these qualities. He is exhorting them to continue doing what their God given new nature has brought about in their lives. Except for knowledge, all of the qualities Peter mentioned in this passage spring forth from regenerated Christian hearts. Peter is giving that knowledge and reminding Christians to be diligent in their love, self control, steadfastness, virtue, etc.

Focus on Christ #113

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

112) True believers are not blind

2 Peter 1:9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

In this verse Peter is referring to someone who has professed faith in Christ for a while but is blind and lacks these qualities. Since throughout the NT being unsaved is characterized by being blind, it is unlikely that a born again Christian would be described by Peter as blind and lacking all of these qualities. No, Peter is describing someone who is unsaved and has not been given the gifts of the new covenant listed in Hebrews 8. All who are redeemed by the power of God are given a new nature that includes these qualities although these qualities may be in a stage of immaturity. Even though Christians may backslide from these qualities at times, they still have the qualities and will pick themselves up and press on in their Christian walk through the power of the indwelling Spirit.

Christians never forget they were forgiven and cleansed from their sin. Therefore, anyone who has forgotten the principle of forgiveness from sin was never a true believer. Christians are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, and are described by Jesus Christ as sheep that know Him, hear Him, and follow Him. The solution for those who are blind and lack these qualities is to turn to Jesus Christ in prayer and repentance for mercy, and place their faith and trust in Him alone for their salvation. When they do this they will find these qualities bubbling up from their new regenerated heart of flesh. They will not ever approach sinless perfection in this earthly life, but they will grow in grace as they follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.

Focus on Christ #112