Agonizomai: Heb 6:7-8 - Christ - The Fruit Giver and Judge

Monday, December 21, 2009

Heb 6:7-8 - Christ - The Fruit Giver and Judge

Heb 6:7-8 - Christ - The Fruit Giver and Judge

Heb 6:7-8 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

And here is the anecdotal representation of this apparent difficulty (in Hebrews 6:4-6). Is there fruit? That is the question. And more than that, since fruit itself can, in the short term seem to be at the very least imminently promising, even though it ultimately never appears. So the question needs to be refined..."Is there abiding or lasting fruit?"

And this fruit is not inevitably nor even necessarily always works, when those works are activity performed in the self-righteous strength of the flesh. Good deeds are performed every day by countless pagans and by myriads of apostates or false believers. Jesus says, "Let them alone, for whoever is not against us is on our part." God will still get the glory and He is still to be thanked for them. But those who do them in the hope of justifying themselves to God will themselves be cast into the outer darkness, unless they repent.

But fruit of abiding in the Vine - that draws its all from the Vine alone and owes its all to the Vine - such fruit is pleasing to God, for Christ’s sake; and it is pleasing to Christ’s own, for God’s sake.

But there remains, in the final analysis, the prospect that some people upon whom God has rained down His graces of enlightenment and knowledge and experience will prove to be utterly fruitless. Outwardly, at least, and from the strictly human perspective, there will be a seemingly indistinguishable mass of people who come under the gospel - all receiving the same graces externally. But only some will experience those graces internally, metabolizing them and bringing forth fruit. All those who hear are responsible for obeying, but only those who are specially graced with repentance and faith will actually exhibit the genuine obedience of faith that results in fruit. This is the difference between what is known as the general call that goes out to all who fall under the proclamation of the gospel - and the special or effectual call by which God Himself works according to His own elective will and grace to bring His chosen people to salvation.

However, we do not take a passive view. The secret operation of God’s Spirit upon the hearts of men through the gospel is not open to us to know with absolute certainty - not even after a person professes faith. We accept their profession, if credible, absent the infallible knowledge that God Himself has, both as to His omniscience and His irresistible secret decree. We judge the fruit because we are commanded to be at least that discerning - but we never pronounce that sort of judgement of final disposition that is open only to the Judge of all the earth.

Because God has reserved to Himself the absolute knowledge of the detailed outcome of His decrees it would be foolish for human beings to sit like bumps on a log and wait for God to do whatever God has ordained to do. Certainly, what he has ordained will inevitably come to pass but, since we don’t know what that is, the universe is designed in such a way that we are obligated to live out our lives and to work out our own salvation (with fear and trembling), understanding that, if we are being saved at all, God is at work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

In other words, regardless of what end God has ordained, we ourselves are always responsible to God for if, and how well, we seek to cooperate in His revealed will. There is much about God’s will that has been revealed. That revealed will is contained both in the written word from of old, and in the Living Word. The secret things belong to the Lord, but what has been revealed is for us and for our children. So today, when we hear His voice, we must repent, knowing that when we do, it is entirely by His grace alone, and on account of Jesus Christ Alone.

Nevertheless, the awful fact remains that some (Jesus says "many") will prove to be fruitless thorn bearers, even under the dispensation of the gospel and, on account of their own intransigence, will ultimately be bound up with the tares and cast into the fire. But note even here the tender patience of God is at work, for He says that, though the crop is worthless it is only near to being cursed. As long as there is life there is hope. As long as God forbears there is the possibility of grace leading to repentance and faith. Thus He is to be sought while He may be found. We cannot oblige Him by our seeking - but we can hear His Own promise that, if we do seek Him, we shall find Him because He will never cast away those who come to Him. When we are found, we will have time enough to understand that it was God who sought and drew us - and not the other way around.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even these sobering words have a promise. God gives us the ability to repent, and He will never cast out those who come to him. Such a marvelous mystery that we are walking in. The prophets longed to look into such things as we have. This is so awesome!

8:20 am  

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