Out of the Darkness Into the Light
Chapter 3 – The Fruit
Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof (1 Cor 9:7)?
In the beginning, God told man to be fruitful and multiply and replenish (to fill; to stock with numbers or abundance) the earth (Gen 1:28, 9:1). What was God’s purpose in this and how did it relate to the kingdom of God? Throughout the Word of God, the Lord speaks of his expectations of man in terms of the fruit He intends to receive. What could God possibly want that could be produced in you? The answer is what the Lord originally expected – A creation that loves the Lord from their own free-will choice and surrenders in obedience to His will. This is how God is honored and glorified. We considered Lucifer’s rebellion and the fall of man in Chapter One. Man has become thoroughly corrupted, yet God still intends to reap an acceptable harvest from the earth. Psalms 33:13-15, “The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.” Many men must be born to produce enough acceptable fruit that may be gathered for a harvest – for most will be corrupted. These fruits that are produced will be tried and proven. We discussed God’s method of reconciling man back to Himself in Chapter Two. The fact of the matter, as this book will reveal, is that only a small percentage of man will be reconciled back to the Lord. This is because God gives us the free-will to choose and most will never leave that broad way that leadeth to destruction (darkness, many travel, Mt 7:13) and enter onto the narrow way which leadeth unto life (light, few travel, Mt 7:14). The broad path is actually “your” way and the narrow path is God’s way. The broad way is the way of the flesh and denies the Spirit to seek “your” way, as per the lie. This is a denial of God’s way. The narrow way is the way of the Spirit and denies the flesh to seek God’s way, as per the truth. This is to forsake “your” way. These paths are opposite one another; they go different directions! Thus one leads toward God for the purpose of reconciliation and eternal life. The other leads away from God for the purpose of eternal separation and the second death. Obviously, to move away from God is to be separated from God. Given the “many” and the “few,” most shall choose to remain in corruption and love the darkness. They will just never see (darkness = blindness + deception) the merit of serving the Lord on a path that denies the flesh, which is their way or the seeking of self – doing what makes you feel good. The truth (God’s path) will always elude those whose eyes are on the things of the flesh or their path. A perfect example of this would be the world and what it represented before the flood in the time of Noah – all perished, but a few. Why? They all sought their way rather than to honor, worship and bring glory to the Lord. God does not desire to harvest corrupted fruit! Jesus even compares the time in which we undoubtedly live with the time prior to the flood (Mt 24:38-39, Lk 17:26). What does the Lord consider to be an acceptable harvest? The Lord desires the firstripe fruits which are the best of the tree or vine. Micah 7:1, “Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit (also Hos 9:10).” The firstfruits of the land (harvest) were always to be offered as sacrifice unto the Lord (Ex 23:19, 34:26, Lev 2:12, 14, 23:10, 17, 20, Num 18:12, 28:26, Deut 26:2, 10, 2 Chr 31:5, Heb 10:37, 12:44, Pv 3:9, Jer 2:3, Ez 20:40, 44:30, 48:14). The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God (Ex 34:26). Nehemiah 10:35, “And to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD.” This choice fruit was just a “small percentage,” yet the best, of the whole harvest. Israel was directed of God to celebrate a feast called, the ingathering - feast of the firstfruits of thy labors (Ex 23:16, 34:22) a foreshadowing of things to come. Consider the first sacrifices of man to God. Genesis 4:3-5, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” Cain brought of the fruit. Notice the absence of the word firstfruit or best. Tradition and extra-biblical writings (only implied in scripture) maintain that Cain’s offering was less than the best of what he grew – the seconds. However, Abel brought the firstlings or best of his flocks and God had respect (to regard as having worth) of this offering. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain (Heb 11:4). The firstfruits result from the labor of the Lord upon the earth (Rm 8:23). This labor is the Lord working in the hearts of men, calling us out of the darkness and into the light. In other words, calling us off of the broad way and onto the narrow way. God works in the hearts (pruning, fertilizing, etc.) of those traveling the narrow path to transform them so that they produce much fruit. So, the Lord patiently gathers His firstfruits from the earth year by year through the ages until such a time as His house is full (Lk 14:23, Rm 8:23). James 5:7-8, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” Therefore, the first fruits represent those who sincerely love and obey the Lord during their lives on the earth - the faithful. Those who seek self or “their” way are corrupted (by the devil’s lie, Satan’s nature) and their fruit is noticeably rotten. These bring forth fruit unto “self” (Hos 10:1-2). The corrupted fruit is cast away. Psalms 34:16, “The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.” Therefore: those which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, are waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body (Rm 8:23). James 1:18, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” The Holy Ghost works in us to bring forth fruit unto God – the Father is glorified when we bring forth much fruit (Jn 15:8).
The Acceptable Harvest
Let us consider more specifically what the acceptable harvest truly is. From one end of the Bible to the other, the Lord has been very consistent in His message of what He desires in man. Man must willfully (free-will choice), lovingly (sacrifice of self for God’s benefit) humbly (lessening of self, death of) and obediently (obeying Christ’s commands) surrender (totally yield) to the absolute will (commands, authority) of God with a whole heart (sincere, genuine, pure). This is accomplished through Christ in faith - a walk of faith on the narrow way. The faithful ones walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh (Jn 3:6, 6:63, Rm 8:4-6, 8-9, 12-14, 2 Cor 7:1, Gal 3:3, 4:29, 5:16-17, 6:8, Php 3:3). Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” AND Romans 8:13, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” God is reconciling a portion of creation back to Himself free from corruption - pure, righteous, and holy. God works in those who are willing to accomplish this. This is accomplished through your obedience and thus only the genuine and sincere will prevail. Only those who live consistently (practicing daily, enduring, persevering) in faith will be reconciled - by applying, changing, conforming, surrendering, yielding to God’s work in them. God works in these to conform them to the image of Christ (Lk 6:40, Rm 8:28-29, 2 Cor 3:18, 4:10-11, Gal 3:27, Eph 4:13, 15, Col 1:20, 3:10, Heb 13:21). In other words, these will reflect the image (nature, characteristics) of God - His Word, which is truth. They will bear fruit in their lives - as walked out through Christ’s example – read the gospels. Galatians 5:22-24, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” AND Ephesians 5:9, “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness (our righteousness is our faith) and truth.” These are God’s requirements in keeping with His righteous character and established truth - Word. This is what man was created to be and nothing else is acceptable. The Lord God will prevail in His purposes! The trees in the garden of Eden were known of their fruit. The tree of life produced the fruit of obedience unto life. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil bore the fruit of disobedience unto death – poison fruit. Just as these trees were known of their fruits so will we be known of that which we partake or bear. That which proceeds into the heart of a man will most assuredly proceed out again (Mk 7:21-23). That which you partake of will manifest in the fruit of your actions. Doth a good tree bringeth forth corrupt fruit or doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit (Lk 6:43)?
Man lives in a fallen, corrupted world. This world is fashioned in disobedience and rebellion - the nature of the lie. What does man consider to be the best of the best or firstfruits, cream of the crop – the successful? In other words, what are the characteristics that man finds most admirable and teaches in society and reinforces? Man considers those that are powerful, famous and celebrities to be due great respect, honor, attention, reverence and worship – tremendous envy. These would be movie stars, sports heroes, musical stars, political leaders (president, governor, congressman, etc.), religious leaders (Pope, exalted ones), wealthy influencial people, or corporate leaders (CEOs, leaders of large companies, etc.). These are looked up to as almost godlike by the public at large. To achieve these positions, these individuals must be very outgoing and assertive. In other words, they must be prideful (self exalting) and self seeking. To achieve these positions they must sacrifice others for the benefit of self - opposite of love. Don’t be to quick to dismiss this (in defending your idols), think about it a bit and what it takes to achieve and be successful. To achieve this popularity, these must routinely disobey (violate, disregard) the Word of God (truth). They are seeking foremost, the things of the world to realize “their” way. 1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Now perhaps you are starting to understand that the world loves those who are in the image of the lie - the nature of Satan, the darkness, the rebellion, it’s own. The first part of these verses (1 Jn 2:15-17) reveal what fallen man (the majority, those on the broad way) are seeking after (foremost) – selfish things. The last part of these verses reveal what God expects if you want to abide forever. You must actually “do” the will of God (Eph 5:17) which is clearly the opposite of what man seeks. Those few who actually obey will live (eternal life) and dwell with God forever. Fallen man reflects the nature of Satan (his lie) which manifests as corrupted fruit or characteristics. Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (additional fruits of the flesh in Rm 1:24-32).” Those who live in the lie, which is opposite of the truth, will not receive the promise of eternal life (1 Jn 2:25). Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” To these “truth” is found in “the lie” which is unrighteousness. Unrighteousness is defined as the violation of the will of God – His divine law or commandments. This may consists of a single unjust act. Our righteousness must be found in faith toward God. This is the continual process whereby we surrender our will to the purposes of God and are transformed into the image of Christ (God’s truth, nature, expectations) as we yield to the Spirit’s workings in our lives. These trees of righteousness bear good fruit and are the planting of the Lord (Is 61:3). The planting of the Lord means that God cultivates (plants, plows, tends, nurtures, promotes, encourages, fosters) His will in your heart and brings forth His good pleasure in you. Iniquity is unrighteousness which is violation of the will of God. Many think they can profess Christ and then continue to seek self (their way) under a godly covering which they re-define as God’s grace – they continue to walk in darkness. These will be very shocked one day - taken by surprise, greatly startled. Let us consider why: Matthew 7:21-23, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Notice that many said “Lord, Lord,” meaning they said their sinner’s prayers or made some “belief” statement – they had an association with Christ. Further notice that they did religious things and had wonderful works. Jesus tells them He doesn’t know them (shock) – their profession (unsubstantiated belief and not practice) and their works did not save them - double shock! Jesus told them that they work iniquity. What did we just say “iniquity” is? It is “unrighteousness,” which is violating the will of God - not keeping or disobedience. Now notice what Jesus said to begin with: the ones that enter into the kingdom of heaven are the ones who “doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Can this be any more plain? These religious ones had an association with Christ’s name and a form of godliness (religion), but were still walking in their own will or ways. They were still living in the darkness – the nature of Satan’s lie. It is incredibly important that we understand this! Those who walk in iniquity or darkness will find out: Lamentations 3:42, “We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned.” Jesus would say to them: Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Jesus said: Matthew 12:50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” In other words, Christ’s family are those who actually practice or live the will of God - daily. Jesus also said: Luke 11:28, “But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” Jesus is talking about obeying the truth, which is God’s Word, which Jesus is incarnate - bodily manifestation of, personified, embodied (Jn 1:1-3, 14, Rev 19:13, 1 Jn 1:1-2). This is why Jesus could say: John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
Now let's consider why the world has no appreciation for those who actually do the will of God. The Lord God requires that you live under His law of love. Jesus said: Mark 12:30, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment (also Deut 6:4-5).” This is saying that God must be foremost in everything in your life. To place the Lord “foremost,” you must obey His Word and walk in His truth in every area of your life – a submission of the will in obedience. You cannot seek “your” way (selfish wants, needs, desires, lusts) and also place God first – these things are opposed to each other. This means no exalting of self nor seeking of the things of this world. To love God is to sacrifice self for His benefit - truth’s sake, glory, honor. Jesus said it like this: Luke 9:24-25, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” Those who save their lives now are the ones seeking their way to make place for themselves. These seek all the glory of the world and what it has to offer. Those who lose their lives for Jesus are the ones who have forsaken “their” way and love the Lord God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength (Lk 10:26-28). These die to self daily in placing God foremost in their lives (1 Cor 15:31). So, what about all the aforementioned who have triumphed in their flesh and the multitudes that envy and seek to be like them? These have gained the whole world (the good things it has to offer), but in doing so have lost their very souls – oh the vanity. Jesus next said: Mark 12:31, “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” We are next to sacrifice self for the benefit of others - all the people around us. 1 John 4:21, “And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” You cannot climb to the top in this world without disregard for others. These two great commandments sum up how we must be! We must place God foremost in our lives and then the others around us. Self comes last! This is the opposite of what Satan’s lie tells us. This is opposite of how the multitudes on the broad way live or practice. The world is prideful and rich (Lk 6:24); Christ says we must be poor in spirit (Mt 5:3). The world celebrates and laughs (Lk 6:21); Jesus says we must mourn – over our sinful condition (Mt 5:4). The world is popular, assertive and harsh (Lk 6:24); Christ says we must be meek (Mt 5:5). The world seeks its full - pleasures, lusts, riches (Lk 6:25); the Lord says we must hunger and thirst after righteousness (Mt 5:6). The world is hard - callous, harsh; Jesus says we are to be merciful - loving and forgiving (Mt 5:7). The world is disingenuous - hypocritical, deceitful, dishonest; Christ says we are to be pure in hear - sincere, genuine, truthful (Mt 5:8). The world is full of hate (sacrifice of others for self) and violence (cause harm for selfish benefit); Jesus says we must be peacemakers - love all, even our enemies (Mt 5:9, Lk 6:27). The world will hate those who follow Christ; Jesus says that we will be persecuted, but to rejoice in it (Mt 5:10-12, Lk 6:22-23). Followers of Christ will be hated by the world (Mt 10:22, 24:9, Mk 13:13). Believers will become a great reproach in this world (Mt 5:11-12, 10:21-22, 24:9, Lk 6:22, 12:11-12, 2 Cor 4:8-9, 12:9-10, 2 Thess 1:4-8, 2 Tim 3:12, Php 1:29-30, 3:10, 1 Pt 1:7, 2:21, 3:14-16, 4:13, 16, 19, 2 Tim 2:12, Heb 11:26, 13:13, 1 Jn 3:13, Rev 2:10, 12:11). Therefore, a sincere follower of Christ must live in a way completely opposite of the ways of this world. More specifically, a “follower” must die to self and forsake all - flesh, entertainments, pleasures, riches, etc. (Mk 10:21, Lk 14:33, 18:22) in surrender to God’s way – The Way (Jn 14:6). Nothing can come before Christ in your life (Lk 14:26). On top of this, you will suffer the reproach of the world and enter into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (Php 1:29, 3:10, 1 Pt 4:19). Who would ever dare to tread such a path? The answer is a very few and it is a narrow way (Mt 7:14). This is God’s way of determining the true and sincere - those He will choose. No fake or phony would ever walk such a path that will destroy the flesh. In other words, no one who loves the darkness (Jn 3:19) or holds to Satan’s lie would ever venture such a way. No, only the sincere will ever find and walk this path – those who love God more than life itself. Once more, you can only traverse this path as led by the Spirit with your eyes upon Jesus. Its very narrow and you do not know the way. Jesus went before and forged the path (back to God) and the sheep are to just obediently follow (Jn 10:2, 27). The path is by way of the cross, which is death to the old way (Rm 6:6, Eph 4:22) and coming out of the darkness into the light. Does the flesh delight in a cross in any way? - death and suffering to the flesh. We must take up our crosses and “follow.” If we do not explicitly follow, then we will not arrive.
The Lord God desires fruit to be produced in man. What could man possibly produce that God would desire? Psalms 89:11, “The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.” God possesses all things! The Lord states to man: Psalms 50:10-12, “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.” What could man possibly offer to God? The answer is that which the Lord originally expected – a loving surrendered obedient heart to do the will of God. The Lord wants us freely submitted to His purposes and to uphold the truth of His Word. What man may offer God is the sacrifice of “self.” To bring God the glory, praise and honor that the Creator is due – your love and devotion. Now the Lord is not interested in words, but rather actions. In other words, the Lord does not want an apple tree to tell Him it is an apple tree – God wants to see apples on the tree and thereby know - proof, evidence. Let us understand how this fruit is produced. Jesus said: John 15:1, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.” Jesus is “the truth” - the Word of God personified – incarnate. God the Father is the cultivator or one who labors to improve, to promote and advance in good qualities or in growth. John 15:2-4, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” The branches are men that are found in Christ - “in me” - have made a commitment to the Lord to walk in His truth. God works in the branches to produce the qualities the He desires - the fruit – that which is outwardly manifested on the branches. Those branches that do bear fruit, God purgeth that they may bring forth more fruit. To purge is to cleanse or purify by taking away whatever is impure. This cleansing is done through the application of Christ’s Word - “clean through the Word.” The iniquity (which is transgressing God’s Word) is purged and thus one is cleansed. The unfruitful branches are totally removed from the vine. These are no longer found in Christ Jesus. The fruit is definitely not religious works – things that we do to gain God’s favor. The fruit is gained through yielding to God’s working in your life through His Spirit and Word - obedience (Php 2:13). The fruit that is produced is the characteristics of God’s nature in you – you become a reflection of Jesus who is the Word. Jesus said: John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” Fruit is only produced by abiding in Jesus. To abide is to stand firm in; continue with permanently in the same state as; dwell with; to be firm and immovable and to endure and be sustained by. The branch is sustained by the vine! The branch cannot survive apart from the vine. Thus, you can do nothing in and of yourself. Jesus is the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). Apart from Christ is the lie and death. The lie says that you can exist apart or independently from the vine (ye shall not surely die, and will be as a god - Gen 3:4-5). You cannot approach God apart from the truth – which is Christ. John 15:6, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” Those who do not abide in the truth, but hold to the lie shall surely die (Gen 2:17). These are cast into the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt 25:41). This is telling you what John 15:2 said – that a fruitless branch is removed from the vine and cast into the fire! These do not “abide” in Christ and thereby produce no fruit. You must abide in God’s truth! John 15:7-8, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” If we abide in the truth and the truth abides in us, then God hears us. God is glorified in the fruit we produce. The Lord God expects much fruit for His labors! The Lord will not continue with a branch that refuses to yield (stubborn, disobedient) and thus produces no fruit. We “know” that we are Christ’s disciples when our lives reflect the example that Christ set for us when He walked upon the earth. John 15:9, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” How do we continue in Christ’s love? John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” What are Christ’s commandments? Foremost, you love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength (you do His will, Deut 6:4-5, Mt 22:37, Mk 12:30, Lk 10:27). Secondly, you love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18, Mt 22:39, Mk 12:31, Lk 10:27). Love is self sacrificing for the benefit of another. Love is found in self denial which is opposite of the lie. In conclusion: John 15:10, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” Jesus (the vine) set the example by perfectly doing the will of the Father and totally denying self. Jesus always placed others first. We must “follow” our Lord and we shall abide in His love. We must now understand that God EXPECTS fruit and the fruitless shall be cast away into the fire. The righteous need this fruit, it is as the tree of life (Pv 11:30).
Consider what John the Baptist said: Matthew 3:10, “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Jesus said: Matthew 7:19-20, “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” The consistent message is that we must walk in the truth and our fruit (actions) must reflect this truth. Most will produce corrupt fruit (actions) which will also reveal their nature. To further illustrate this point: Luke 13:6-9, “He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” God is looking for fruit. The Lord is longsuffering, but there does come the day of the axe and the fire. Matthew 12:33, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.” Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem: Matthew 21:18-20, “Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away (also Mk 11:13-14, 20-21)!” In this case the fig tree represented Israel and it was fruitless. Notice that the fig tree had leaves or an outward appearance of being a fig tree. Israel made great profession of serving God and had a tremendous religious system, but no fruit. Jesus came looking for fruit! Similarly, Christ will one day come seeking fruit on us - pray that you do not suffer rebuke such that you wither and are thrown into the fire. Perhaps you have leaves or an outward show suggesting you “profess” Christ, but no real fruit?
The Parable of the Seeds
Matthew 13:3, “And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow.” Mark 4:14, “The sower soweth the Word.” This is God speaking His eternal Word – the truth. God’s message has always been consistent and proclaims that we are to turn from our wickedness (our way, forsake it) and turn to God with a willing mind and a whole heart in submission and love - faith. We are to come out of the darkness (lie) and into the light (truth). The “Way” to God is through Jesus Christ. John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The soil that the Word is being placed into is the hearts of individual hearers. Mark 4:4, “And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.” The gospel of Luke adds that the seed (Word) was trodden down (Lk 8:5). The way side would represent those individuals who do not have hearts prepared to receive the Word because they were strictly seeking their own way. They had no appreciation to hear or understand the great significance of what was being said because they had higher priorities to self. 2 Corinthians 4:4, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Their feet tread it in the ground as they went about their way – these disregard God’s Word (truth). Jesus said: Matthew 7:6, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” The pearls would be the precious things of God. They had no use for the Word and brought dishonor to God by their disregard. Men love the darkness (Jn 3:19); by nature men love the lie. God is not in their thoughts and they do not want to know His ways. Psalm 10:4, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” Job 21:14, “Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” The fowls of the air represent the devil (the wicked one, Mt 13:19, Mk 4:15). Jesus said: Luke 8:12, “Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” The devil does this the way he always has. He appeals to their desire to seek their own way by telling them: “ye shall be as gods” (Gen 3:5) and “ye shall not surely die.” (Gen 3:4). Their eyes are on their own path and certainly not God’s. They live in the flesh and the things of God are as foolishness to them. They become blind to the truth. 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Therefore: 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” The cross means death to self (your selfish way). These do not believe and thus they are not saved. The devil takes them captive at his will (2 Tim 2:26). Therefore, these seeds never even sprout much less produce fruit. To be fruitless is to be cast away!
Matthew 13:5-6, “Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.” These are individuals that hear the Word and receive it, but have no depth of understanding (life in the Spirit) or heart to apply the Word to their lives and actually live it. Jesus said: Mark 4:16-17, “And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.” The gospel of Luke adds that the sprouts withered away because they lacked moisture (Lk 8:6). Water or moisture has always been symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said (in submission and obedience, Jn 14:15, 21, 15:10), out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (Holy Spirit, Jn 7:37-38).” This is the anointing or baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire that John the Baptist said Jesus would bring (Mt 3:11, Lk 3:16, 1 Jn 2:27). The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Christ (Acts 5:32). Obedience is synonymous with “living the Word” which is “faith.” We are told to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh (Rm 8:1, 4). Galatians 5:16, 25, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Concerning this parable, the gospel of Luke adds, “for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away (Lk 8:13).” Those walking by the flesh will be quick to fall in times of temptation. Temptations appeal to the lusts of the flesh and apart from the Spirit, the flesh will dominate. Temptations entice one to seek their way rather than obey God’s way. Jesus was led of the Spirit to be tempted of the devil, but overcame the temptations through submission and obedience to God’s Word (Mt 4:1-11, Lk 4:1-13). Jesus denied His flesh during these temptations to uphold God’s will (truth). Denial of the flesh means a sacrifice of something the flesh wants. You can be very religious (hearing and believing), but if you are fleshly and are not living God’s Word in the Spirit, then you will surely fail. The flesh will always compromise God’s Word for it’s desires. Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” The Holy Spirit gives us boldness, direction and understanding in the Word of Christ. John 16:13-15, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” Through the Spirit we have access to God’s wisdom and Christ’s direction all the time – to the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:10, 16, Eph 2:18). We are sealed in the Spirit and if we do not have the Spirit we are not Christ’s (Eph 1:13, Rm 8:9, 2 Cor 1:22, 1 Jn 4:13). God’s Word is found in the Bible. The Spirit and the Word will always agree. If one reads God’s Word through the flesh (without the Spirit) then one will interpret God’s Word through the flesh and certainly apply it wrongfully and under their own strength (hence, endure but for a time). Jesus said these had no root in themselves. The roots are developed when one correctly understands God’s Word, submits to it, and is led by the Spirit to actually lives the Word. These heard the Word and received it with gladness (believed, maybe said a sinner’s prayer), but didn’t do (apply, live) the Word. James 1:22, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” It is only when we start doing the Word that the blindness and deception of the flesh will start to lift. One can be the most religious man on earth and yet be totally lost (not Christ’s) through one’s own blindness and deception. Many are living religiously (professing Christ) in the flesh (for its desires). Matthew 7:24-25, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock (firm foundation): And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock (foundation of Christ).” In the parable of the seeds, the root is the firm footing of the plant and the conduit for the water and nutrients (Spirit and Word). Having root in yourself is to be firm in your faith as lived out in your life - i.e. doeth these sayings of Christ. The sun represents the afflictions and sufferings that will come. You must walk as Jesus walked. You actually live this Word by walking in Christ’s steps - following Him. However, these had no depth of soil - stony ground; they received the Word (seed), but were not willing to walk the Word. They didn’t take this Word fully to heart in actually applying it to their lives. When testings and trials came along (scorching sun), they quickly compromised rather than suffer sacrifice or reproach for the Word’s sake and withered in their faith. It’s like this: Matthew 7:26-27, “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” They heard the sayings, but did them not. In the parable of the seeds, they heard, but didn’t do, and were withered by the sun. They were offended (fell away). Jesus said: Matthew 11:6, “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me (also Lk 7:23).” Therefore, these seeds actually sprout (they receive Christ’s Words and believe) but due to the hardness of the soil (their hearts are unwilling to live the Word), the root does not grow and establish itself. There is a lack of nutrients (no understanding due to blindness and deception) and water (Holy Spirit), and they quickly wither (give in, do not overcome) under the sun (persecution, suffering, temptation). These bear no fruit and are thus cast away!
Mark 4:7, “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.” Jesus explained: Mark 4:19, “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” The gospel of Luke adds, “pleasures of this life (Lk 8:14).” These are seeds that landed in soil (willing hearts) suitable to take root in and they start to grow - have some application of the Word in their lives. However, the cares (necessary things), riches, pleasures, and lusts of this world compete with the Word. We are going to live in the flesh or in the Spirit, but not both. Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary (opposed, divergent) the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” You cannot love Jesus and also flirt with the world. “…Friendship of the world is enmity (hostility) with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (Js 4:4).” Your heart (i.e. soil) cannot sustain both – they oppose each other. The thorns and the seed sprung up together (Lk 8:7). Many will seek God and the things of the world together. You cannot have dual loyaltites - cannot serve two masters (Mt 6:24, Lk 16:13), God will not allow it. God says that you must love Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mk 12:30, Lk 10:27). This means that God is your priority and is the center of your life. This is all encompassing and total devotion – there is room for nothing else. Many want to live with the devil’s nature (seeking self), yet say they have Christ’s nature (Profess Jesus). How dishonoring to a righteous God. Many are religious, but are living just like those in the world - minimal difference. Most do not consider that “their” day to day life could be a great violation of God’s will. Jesus said, “the flesh profiteth nothing” (Jn 6:63). All that glitters is leading you away from God. You are either seeking self (flesh) or God. Christ’s great sacrifice and death does not give “covering” or “license” to do that which opposes God. You are either submitted to God’s will or you are in rebellion to God’s will - seeking the things of the world. These are covered over in weeds and have no testimony or witness. They seek the world and are in it’s image. Consider what God says: 1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Many want to serve Christ, yet live for the things of the world – they do not even see their own shame. Proverb 30:20, “Such is the way of an adulterous woman (unfaithful to Christ, adultery with the world); she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.” The message of this parable is that if you seek the flesh, you will be unfruitful (no fruit). Why does this matter? Consider carefully what will follow: Throughout the Bible we are told that God desires fruit - comes looking for. What is the fruit that God is looking for? Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance (self control): against such there is no law.” Ephesians adds “truth” and “righteousness” (Eph 5:9). Recall from above that we must not only “receive the Word and believe it,” but must “live the Word.” When we live the Word, God works on us to produce acceptable fruit. Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” It is God working in us as we submit and obey Him, that produces this fruit. You cannot bear acceptable fruit while seeking the things of the world (Gal 5:19-21). You will not be abiding in Christ, religious or not. Therefore, these seed actually sprout (hear the Word and believe) and start growing (have some application of the Word in their lives), but are choked by the weeds (things of the world) and yield no fruit (die). Those who produce no fruit are cast away!
Mark 4:8, “And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.” This is the group of individuals that God is interested in. These are they that hear the Word and take it to heart and bring forth acceptable fruit – they produce! Jesus said: Mark 4:20, “And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” The gospel of Matthew adds the words “understandeth it” (Mt 13:23). Jesus further explained: Luke 8:15, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” So we can conclude that those who are going to produce fruit: hear the Word, understand the Word, receive the Word (accept, lay hold of), and keep the Word (live it everyday). They do this with an honest (sincere, genuine, upright, trustworthy, faithful) good heart (willing, perfect, whole). God is longsuffering - patient in working in their heart. These are things that cannot be legislated. Rules and laws will not produce the fruit which God requires. The “patience” is God working on your heart to conform you to the image of Christ. This is that daily walk in “following Christ.” God’s work in you produces the fruit He desires. The amount of fruit is relational to your surrender and obedience to God. Mark 4:24-25, “And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” We must be faithful with the knowledge we possess. Those that walk in Christ will be given more and more as they yield and obey. There is no such thing as serving God too much. You cannot be too righteous or holy. Some will say, “lets not be too extreme or fanatical,” but where does God set the limits? God desires those who are zealous and devoted with love in their hearts – their joy. Man sets limits, God will embrace those who cling to Him.
Now, with the parable of the seeds in mind, let us consider: Mark 4:26-29, “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” The Lord God sends out His Word. Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” This Word or seed will find or land in some good soil – meaning men with good hearts. The Word will then root and put forth the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. This is the fruit which the Lord intends to harvest. If there is no fruit (that falling along the wayside, stony ground, or among weeds), then there can be no harvest. The fruit is what is gathered to the barn – back to God. No fruit, no harvest! When God’s Word is sent out, the Holy Ghost ensures that it does not return void and that the Word accomplishes what the Lord pleases. The Holy Ghost will work in the good hearts to produce the fruit that God desires. The good soil is conducive (favorable or beneficial) to producing fruit. This is a heart that surrenders and yields to the Spirit’s working. The stony heart will not yield to the Holy Ghost’s workings. These are hard-hearted and unyielding and no fruit is produced. The heart that is full of weeds or other desires and devotions is not conducive to producing fruit. The Holy Ghost has to compete with too many other interests (lusts, desires, self-centeredness, etc.) and is shunned or greatly hindered such that no fruit is produced. Usually “self” is always given priority. God does not force your free-will and only works through your obedience. Choose whom you will serve (Josh 24:15). If you quench or grieve the Holy Ghost, it is to your great and tremendous personal loss (1 Thess 5:19, Eph 4:30).
Parable of the Pounds
The following parable relates the condition of man and God’s expectations. There are also some similarities with the parable of the seeds which will be noted. Luke 19:12-13, “He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” The nobleman is Jesus and the kingdom is the kingdom of God. The servants are those who trust in Christ - those who profess to believe. The ten pounds are representative of that which they were entrusted with to bring God glory – the gospel of Christ. We are to occupy this fallen world and walk in Christ’s will until He returns (Second Coming). This gospel is to be ever manifested in our lives and thus a light for others. We are to improve our lives through the application of God’s Word in them. Luke 19:14, “But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” The citizens are analogous to man in general. Man does not want their actions to be ruled by God, but had rather seek self (as per Satan’s lie). Man wants to be as a god and seek his own way and has rebelled against God’s authority to do just that. These are quite content to seek their own apart from God’s will. This is also representative of the Word (truth) becoming flesh and dwelling among us (Jn 1:14). Jesus came unto His own, and His own received Him not (Jn 1:10). Man continually rebels against God and rejects His authority (Sovereign will). Luke 19:15-17, “And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” This servant was faithful with what he was entrusted with (God’s Word) and produced acceptable results. Those who are faithful with little shall be faithful in much. Your greatest testimony is the life you live for others to see. Luke 19:18-19, “And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.” The second servant was faithful like the first. Both showed varying increases which resulted in improvements. Luke 19:20-21, “And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.” This servant provided no increase. He produced no fruit in his life. He knew the Lord was looking for such fruit, but must have just thought things would somehow work out for him in the end. Luke 19:22, “And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow.” This man lost all for it was taken and given to those who were faithful (Lk 19:23-25). Luke 19:26, “For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.” We must have a life in Christ whereby we have yielded to the Holy Spirit’s working and abided in Christ such that fruit has been produced in us. Matthew 13:12, “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” – and so it shall always be! Lastly: Luke 19:27, “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” Those who wanted to seek their own way and have their own life free from God’s Lordship will suffer the great condemnation – thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17). The unfruitful will be cast away and the rebellious will be put down. Let us all be very mindful.
There are Weeds in God’s Garden
A parable is a simple story dealing with a very real circumstance (situation, fact, event) in which the principal subject is described by another subject resembling it in its properties and circumstances. Matthew 13:24-25, “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.” The man is Christ, the field if the world and the good seed are those who sincerely “follow” Him (Mt 13:38, Eph 5:1). The enemy is Satan and the tares or bad seed are those who are “following” him (children of the wicked one) in his lie that you can exalt and seek self (Mt 13:38-39). These are the men whose hearts have been corrupted and disregard the will of God. A tare is a “weed” that grows among the grain. The wheat grain represents the good seed of the harvest that God expects to reap from His efforts. This is the fruit resulting from the life of the plant that is fit for use (life giving). The weeds grow up amongst the wheat and their lives have no redeeming value, and they actually hinder the growth and productivity of the wheat. The world is God’s garden that was to be filled with those who loved and served the Lord, but is now interspersed (mixed together, intermingled) and mostly full of weeds or tares. Matthew 13:26, “But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.” The wheat and the tares look just alike until the fruit appears. This is how you will know them – by their fruits (Mt 7:20). The fruit is not what the plant “professes” to be, but is what the life of the plant produces! The actual “deeds” (that which is done of effected, good or bad, great or small, what is achieved in a life) of one is what the Lord will consider. Weeds or tares soak up the water, and exhaust the nutrients of the soil, and spread all about seeking their way, but produce nothing useful – just more of their kind which are rebellious transgressors. The man’s (Christ’s) servants (angels) inform him of the situation and request to remove the weeds (Mt 13:27-29). He tells them to let both grow together until the end of the harvest lest in uprooting the weeds, the good grain should be harmed or destroyed (Mt 13:29). Matthew 13:30, “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Until such a time, God sends the rain and the sun on the good and the bad, the just and the unjust (Mt 5:45). The weeds will be gathered at harvest and cast into the fire. Matthew 13:41-42, “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Those that offend and do iniquity are those who seek their own way and thus disregard the will of God in their daily lives. Matthew 13:43, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” The wheat shall be gathered to eternal life to dwell with the Lord.
God has never been in a numbers game. The Lord desires “quality” and not quantity. God is longsuffering and patient, but is unyielding in His purposes (Is 55:11, Rm 9:22, 1 Tim 1:16, 2 Pt 3:9). We mentioned the generation prior to the great flood. The whole world laid in wickedness and every man’s thoughts were evil continually (Gen 6:5, 11-12). God repented of ever creating man and decided to destroy him from off the face of the earth (Gen 6:6-7, 13, 17). God found only one righteous man on the face of the earth - Noah (Gen 6:8). So, God preserved Noah, and his family by virtue of him (Gen 6:18), yet the multitudes perished. 1 Peter 3:20, “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” Noah became the heir of righteousness which is by faith (Heb 11:7, 2 Pt 2:5). He obeyed God in building an ark when from the flesh’s perspective there was no need. He “believed” (the meaning of “believe” is discussed in Chapter Four) God and most likely incurred much reproach and ridicule from rebellious man – what a truly unique individual! There are many other examples throughout scripture concerning how God delights in the faithful – the few. Consider Moses; how many of the children of Israel were disobedient and rebellious (disobedient to God’s verbally given commands which were later written on tables of stone -through golden idols, lusting for things, refusing to enter the Promised Land) when Moses sought God with a “full” heart? The answer would be the vast majority. What did God say of them (1 Cor 10:1-12)? Among a multitude of less than complimentary comments, the Lord said: Numbers 14:35, “I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.” Of this great multitude that came up out of Egypt, how many actually entered into the Promised Land? The answer is two men, Caleb and Joshua, out of over two million (Num 32:12, Deut 1:36, Josh 14:14). How about Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image - Daniel Chapter Three? How many people do you suppose were down on their knees bowing before this idol when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were called to task? The answer would be everyone.
The Lord likens the nation of Israel as His vineyard which He planted on a very fruitful hill (good soil, Is 5:1). God then speaks of all the care and attention He gave His vineyard (Is 5:2). However, the vineyard did not bring forth good grapes, but poison berries (Is 5:4). The Lord ponders the question: “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it (Is 5:4)?” This is very analogous with God’s creation of man. The Lord created man for His good pleasure to serve Him (Rev 4:11). Man was suppose to produce love, surrender, obedience and trust toward his Creator. However, man brought forth poison fruit of pride (self exaltation) and rebellion - disobedience, transgression of God’s will. The Lord will do away with such a vineyard (Is 5:5-7). Isaiah 5:10, “Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.” This is saying that in this corrupted vineyard, ten acres of vine will only produce 8.5 gallons of fruit. This is a very small amount given the whole. Similarly, on earth, the whole of mankind will only produce a small amount of acceptable fruit. The reason is because of the corruption resulting from widespread disobedience. A small percentage of the whole will be harvested as acceptable fruit.
The predominate thought in today’s form of Christianity is that great multitudes of people are heaven bound. Religious men believe that as many as can be coaxed into repeating or parroting a sinner’s prayer formula (profession, not faith) shall be instantly and irrevocably saved (having eternal life) – it's just that easy. Just say this little prayer and, “ye shall not surely die” (the lie - Gen 3:4). This is in keeping with their philosophy of an “unconditional” love God - discussed in Chapter Four. It’s much like the bumper sticker that states, “I’m not perfect just saved.” Meaning, I’m not really different from the next guy, it’s just that I have a profession of Christ - mental acknowledgment - in word, not deed (Js 2:19). This is just another form of seeking self and is called “self-righteousness.” This is where you believe it is valid (God approved) for you to seek “your” own way because of some religious thing you have done that justifies you to, but it's not alright for others to – you think Jesus gives you license? This is a very valid point of sifting concern. Just what makes you any different from the next guy? – from the multitudes around you? Do you have a slightly better morality? Maybe you attend church occasionally - some religious type gathering? Perhaps you do religious things? Let’s look at the other side - how much are you just like the other guy? Do you watch the same ungodly television? Do you rent the same vile movies? Do you read the same worldly newspapers? Do you celebrate the same holidays? Do you seek after the same things - money, possessions, cars, homes, careers, hobbies, etc.? Do you fit in well with the pride (self exaltation) of life? In other words, have you overcome the world or has the world overcome you (1 Jn 5:4)? Does your life reflect the image of the “Jesus” described in the Bible in your daily walk? We are not talking about the Jesus of your “opinion,” but the real Jesus (the Word, truth and life) described in the gospels. Perhaps your life more accurately reflects the image of the world in your daily walk? Maybe you are living and not dying. Perhaps your living for “your” way and dying to the way of the Spirit? Perhaps you are increasing and God is decreasing in “your” life (Jn 3:30)? Meaning that you are seeking your way and the good things of the world (however you justify it), rather than dying to your way in fully seeking God (Mt 10:39, 16:25, Mk 8:35, Lk 9:24, 17:33, Jn 12:25). Do you ascribe your justification to seek self (violating God’s will) to a belief in Christ? Is Jesus your minister of sin (Gal 2:17)? Jesus said: Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Also consider - 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (lifestyle, way of living); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” Christ first walked and then said, “follow Me” (walk as Jesus walked, 1 Jn 2:6). This is only accomplished through yielding to the Lord’s work in your life, which is definitely a dying to self or your way. This can never be accomplished by continuing in “your” own way – religiously or not. We should all seriously consider from God’s Word, not religious opinion, what “just saved” really means. The author suggests reading God’s Word from cover to cover often.
God’s prophet once told the children of Israel: Romans 9:27, “Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved.” Joel adds: A remnant whom the Lord shall call (out of the darkness and into the light, Joel 2:13). This was a foreshadowing of God’s entire dealing with man. The children of Israel all “identified” with the one true God, but only a remnant were saved. Many “identify” with Christ, but only a remnant will be saved. Why? Most of the children of Israel did not surrender to God in love and obedience (1 Cor 10:1-12, Rm 10:21) – the righteousness of faith (Rm 9:30). Many of those who profess Christ are not walking in faith (love, surrender and obedience to God’s will), but are seeking their own way (Rm 9:33). You must be “doing” the will of God (Mt 7:21). The remnant keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev 12:17). God would have all saved, but man is obstinate in his will and will not repent – a condition for salvation (2 Pt 3:9, Rm 10:21). The remnant is according to grace (Rm 11:5, grace was discussed extensively in Chapter Two, “Putting Things Together”). Consider what Jesus said about the matter: Matthew 22:14, “For many are called, but few are chosen (also Mt 20:16).” Who are the many that are called? Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is true love - God sacrificing self for the benefit of those who are just plain undeserving. This is Christ’s invitation: Revelation 22:17, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The “many” are “whosoever will,” which is an invitation to all men (1 Tim 2:4). This is the Father’s love and His longsuffering that none should perish, but all come to repentance (2 Pt 3:9). God makes it possible for the “many” to be saved. The “many” are called, but to where? Out of the darkness and into the light. They are called out of Satan’s lie, which is the transgression of God’s will through the seeking of self, into God’s truth - fear of God and to abstain from all wickedness. They are called to repent (forsake the darkness) and do the will of the Father (Mt 7:21, 12:50, Mk 3:35). Why are only a “few” chosen? Because men love the darkness and will not come unto the light (Jn 3:19-21). The vast majority of men will not “do” the will of the Father. Most men will continue to seek their way unto damnation – maybe even in a religious context, known as being deceived. Revelation 17:14, “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” Those who live in darkness are opposed to Christ. The few are faithful! This means that they have lovingly yielded in obedience to the will of God – they trust in the Lord. Jesus said of these few: Luke 12:32, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Remember: Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” In other words, God works His will in the few who shall respond (come out of the darkness) for the purpose of giving them the kingdom, which is His good pleasure. The true flock will be very small when compared with the majority in the world. These are those who actually yielded to God working His “good pleasure” in them. A disciple once made an observation: Luke 13:23-24, “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” What is the strait gate? Jesus is “the way” back to the Father – the door or gate that one must enter - restoration and reconciliation with the Father (Jn 10:9, 14:6). Having entered the strait gate, where do the “few” go? Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The “few” enter the strait gate and travel the narrow way. This a way that does not look to the left or the right, but focuses all attention upon Christ. The majority are following the broad way which is akin (same as, analogous) to “their” way which is founded upon Satan’s nature or the lie. The narrow way is the way of truth that the Lord has provided that leads back to God. Therefore, the “many” are on a way, their way, that leadeth to destruction. The “few” are on a way, God’s way, that leadeth unto life. Many are called, but few are chosen. Luke 21:36, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Many sought to enter, but were not able. This suggest a religious connotation - nuance, association, or implication. These are those who cried Lord, Lord (repeated some prayer, made a confession) and identified with Christ in some way – even working many religious works (Mt 7:21-22). Jesus tells them He doesn’t know them (great shock!) and that they are workers of iniquity – meaning they disregarded God’s will (Mt 7:23). Jesus says the ones who enter into the kingdom of heaven are those who actually “do” (have high regard) the will of the Father (Mt 7:21). Many are being taught to say Lord, Lord, when they should be taught to do the will of the Father who art in heaven - Thy will be done.
Take Heed !
The fruitless will be separated eternally from their God and Creator into an indescribably horrendous place. Matthew 13:41-42, “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Those which offend bring dishonor to the Lord – perhaps taking God’s glory for self? Those that do iniquity not only do not the will of God, but violate it constantly and with no regard. Iniquity is unrighteousness which is violation of divine law or wickedness. To “do” iniquity is to walk in unbelief or darkness. Unbelief is to believe not the truth (light) and certainly not walk therein. Unbelief would be to accept the opposite of the truth or Satan’s lie – the only alternative! Every transgression of the law is unrighteousness – a single act or habitual course of transgression. If you feel (opinion) that you are not required to walk in God’s law or commandments, known as God’s truth, then you walk in the darkness or the lie – even if you religiously attempt (presume – take the liberty) to smear Christ’s good name to allow you license. Matthew 13:49-50, “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” The furnace of fire is the lake of fire (Rev 19:20, 20:10, 14-15). Wailing is loud weeping and violent lamentation – deep sorrow and moaning. Lamentation is expression of sorrow and cries of grief. Gnashing is the grinding or striking of the teeth together in great anguish and pain. Anguish is extreme pain of body and mind – agony (pain so extreme as to cause writhing or contortions of the body). This results from sorrow, remorse, distress, despair and present suffering. No one has to face such a near future. The author pleads with you to consider the truth of God’s Word – read and apply it to your life daily.
Consider that you are at the start of two paths. These paths lead off in opposite directions. You must journey on one or the other, but which one to choose? The one path is labeled “the broad path,” often referred to as the way of the flesh (Mt 7:13). Looking into the distance from your vantage point, you can see a comfortable downhill path of leisure filled with fleshly delights along the way traversing a beautiful countryside. There seem to be many people traveling this path, but it is broad and there is plenty of room for all. This is very attractive to the flesh – by design. Those living for self will find comfort here. The other path is labeled, “the narrow way,” and is often referred to as the will of God (Mt 7:14). The view of this path is quite the opposite of the other. Whereas the “broad way” is downhill, this “narrow path” is uphill for as far as one can see. Whereas the “broad way” is smooth, this “narrow way” is rugged full of rocks, dips, holes and crags. There are also thorns and obstacles in the way because this path is very narrow. It doesn’t even appear that this path has been traveled often. This path does not appeal to the flesh! Which path to choose? Most will seek the way of the flesh; the easy way – everydody’s doing it. This is a downward journey to hell traveled by “your way.” The flesh rules this path. Your own exaltation of “self” blinds you to any other possibility. By the time you reach the end of the “broad way” your flesh is full and rebellion toward God is fully blossomed such that you are eternally useless and must be cast away – the spirit is weak and worthless. Conversely, the “narrow way” spells death to the flesh. This is a path whereby you must reach beyond “self” (known as faith) and be led daily by the power of God to even make it. The Spirit rules this path and the flesh has no power – it is humbled and cast down. The strength of this path is to have no reliance on self. By the time you reach the end of the “narrow way” the flesh is dead (the seeking of your way) as you are surrendered and obedient to the will of God - the spirit is strong. These have born fruit and are gather to everlasting life. Its not about what you do for “self.” Its about how you die to self and “do” for God. The broad way will accommodate your big expensive car filled with the things of the world as you seemingly travel in ease – some may fill a moving van. The narrow path must be walked and is a real struggle for the flesh. All the things of the world that you carry along will quickly be cast aside – for they are burdensome. The only thing you will want to carry on this path is another – lifted up in love.
Speculation Concerning the Few
The following section has some speculation (assumption, conjecture, supposition), but with scriptural basis. As such, it cannot be taken literally, but is profitable to generate some thought and make some valid points along the way. The author will state upfront that only God knows who are His and how many that may be (2 Tim 2:19). How many angels are in heaven? Daniel 7:10, “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” AND Revelation 5:11, “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands (all the angels, Rev 7:11).” Notice how consistent these two books (written in different ages) are in their numbers. Let us assume the numbers of angels (after the fall of Lucifer) are literal and would thereby be approximately 100 million plus 1 million which is 101 million - perhaps several million more. Now let’s consider the approximate numbers of men that have lived upon the earth. The world’s population is now about 6.4 billion. The number of people alive today roughly equals the estimated numbers that have lived before (over the last six thousand years) – due to exponential growth. If anything the total numbers of men is erred toward the conservative side, meaning there were actually many more people - making the following estimated percentage even less. So, the total number of men that have lived (alive and dead) is approximately 12 billion. At some point in the near future the Lord is going to consider His house full and deem this work upon the earth finished (Lk 14:23). Romans 9:28, “For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.” It is quite likely that God will bring things to a conclusion when the number of the “faithful” men equals the number of the “faithful” (perhaps “loyal” would be a better word) or “elect” angels (1 Tim 5:21). Jesus said that in the world to come men would be equal unto to the angels (Lk 20:36, Mt 22:30), and it seems logical that this would also include numbers (population). This of course is total speculation based upon God’s equity and is assumed for the point of this exercise in thought. This assumption would mean that only less than 1% (0.84%) of all men would be reconciled back to God. Now this is all conjecture and many would argue endlessly about the assumptions made. However, the point is that given the numbers of people that have lived, it takes only a very small percentage to generate a very large number. In this case, less than 1% generates 101 million men. God is interested in those individuals that truly have a demonstrated (tried, tested and proven, Deut 8:2, 13:3, Ps 7:9, 11:5, 17:3, 66:10, 105:19, Pv 17:3, Jer 12:3, Dan 12:10, 1 Cor 3:13-15, 1 Thess 2:4, Heb 11:17, Js 1:12, 1 Pt 1:7) heart for Him. Those who are genuinely faithful (loving, surrendered, obedient, trusting and loyal) – His irrevocable (unalterable, unchangeable, immutable, binding, final, permanent) Word demands it. God’s Word is truth and He will not change it. In other words, the Lord does not want any more self seeking rebellious ones. Thus, it may take an extremely large number of men to produce an acceptable harvest, which is determined by God alone. God is looking for the “few” who will come forth from the “many” - those that will genuinely forsake the darkness and come to the light - the ones who will actually “do” the will of God. The truth of the matter is that the author’s assumed number may be very much on the high side. Consider that throughout the Bible (from end to end) the majority of men have always been wicked (unrighteous, disobedient to the will of God) and rebellious. God’s own chosen people (Israel) were nothing but stubborn and idolatrous. Consider that just a few hundred years after the death of Christ; what usurped itself as the “church” was consumed with holy wars, crusades, inquisitions, spiritual idolatry and reigns of terror - self seeking and death – whose nature? Finally, consider the world today: roughly half of all the people that have ever lived upon the face of the earth are alive today - 6.4 billion. The world today easily rivals the world before the flood, being exceedingly wicked – filled with violence and evil (Gen 6:5-6, 11-12, 17, 2 Pt 3:6) or like Sodom and Gomorrah. God judged the wicked of the first generations with a flood (Lk 17:26-27). The Lord judged Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone (Lk 17:28-29). God judged His people Israel with the four sore judgments: sword, pestilence, famine and noisome beasts (Jer 15:2-3, Ez 5:8-12, 6:10-14, 7:15, 14:21) and exile to Babylon (Jer 4:18, 5:13, 16:12-13). The Lord will judge this generation with the Great Tribulation. Now honestly look at the world today and consider the wickedness of man and the ignorance and disregard for the truth of God’s Word - as applied to one’s life. Realizing that about half of all the people ever born exist today and applying the numbers from the above conjecture (assumptions): 6.4 billion times 0.84% would equate to about 53.8 million people. Only God knows who are really serving Him in the world today – 53.8 million??? These numbers certainly are not factual, but irregardless, the point is that “few” will travel that very narrow way. Few will generate “many” (that no man can number, Rev 7:9) from the total multitudes of men which have lived. The author’s great hope is that you the reader will be one of them. 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Your self-will (governed by one’s own will; not yielding to the will of God; not accommodating or compliant; obstinate) shall most likely be the limiting factor. Seek the Lord with all your heart!
The Lord God expects to find fruit in our lives. This fruit can only be produced by “abiding” in Christ Jesus (Jn 15:4-5). Jesus sent the “promise” of the Holy Ghost to work in the lives of those who follow to produce such fruit. Most have a total misconception about what fruit really is. The religious man will surely equate fruit with regular church attendance or being a Sunday school teacher or in the choir/band – perhaps an usher or nursery worker. They might equate fruit as a large donation to the never ending building programs or a check to support a missionary. Perhaps fruit is perfect attendance at vacation Bible school or a church mission trip to the beach – to uh, pass out some tracts. In other words, most will think of fruit as “religious works.” God calls us (out of the darkness) to His own purpose and grace (2 Tim 1:8). Our accomplishments and religious works are the things of man and are founded in the flesh and thus gain no favor with God. Anything of self will only be torn down by God as he restores us to His image. Fruit is actually your surrender to the Holy Spirit working in you to bring forth God’s nature or characteristics in you. The Holy Ghost wants to tear down all the things of the flesh, including: your way, lusts and desires. The true fruit will be your self denial and yielding to the will of God – dying to the ways of the flesh and obeying the commandments of Christ. Fruit would be to walk in love and thus sacrificing self for the benefit of others – God foremost and then others. This love would extend to those who hate you and will be demonstrated through your meekness and forbearance under injuries – your forgiveness when wronged. Fruit would be a demonstration of patience and longsuffering in your life toward others. Fruit would be your sincere “fear” of God and eschewing of all evil. Fruit will be very evident in your daily choices – you will be known by it (Mt 7:16, 20). Your fruit will be your absolute faith toward God in your daily walk – your righteousness. Fruit will be when you suffer persecution by not compromising with the evils in the world. You will not watch, read, participate or dialog in the wickedness of the darkness. Your fruit will be revealed by what you forsake and what you embrace – think about this. Your fruit may be most evident by what you do when tempted and no one is around to see you. In short, fruit is the daily manifestation of the “born again” nature of God within you. Now consider this: you can be wicked and walking in darkness and still do the religious works mentioned at the start of this section. However, you cannot walk in darkness and manifest the divine nature of God in your daily life. No one who walks in darkness will suffer tribulation, persecution and suffering for righteousness sake. No one who walks in darkness will consistently deny self for the benefit of others. No one who walks in darkness will surrender to God’s will and obey His commandments. You can easily be a religious pretender – there are so many, they abound! Those who die to “self” are the ones who are real and sincere. The power of darkness is upheld through the exaltation of “self” – pride. The sincere and truthful will be recognized by their fruit.
Most have placed their hope in the presumption that whatever light is in their lives will one day outweigh the darkness when standing before the throne of God. This is not so much in thought, but rather surfaces in deed. These settle for the status quo of the murky gray rather than embracing the light. They consider what will be tolerated rather than forsaking what is questionable. How many make sacrifices and deny “self” such as to err on the side of righteousness? How many have devotion to God beyond what is expected (Lk 17:10)?
Colossians 1:10, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:22, “But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.”
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