Thursday, April 23, 2015

Richness of Fruitfulness in the Christian life - Preserved in salvation

John 14:23 "Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him."

God has called the Christian to a fruitful life that ought to be characterized by growing onward and upward in Him. This type of life is not guaranteed immunity from trouble (see John 16:33) nor seasons of challenge and trials (1 Peter 1:6-7). Nonetheless, the fruitful life is empowered by God to bear forth fruit in the midst of troubles, challenge and trials and learns to be a blessing to others. Frutifulness ought to be desired by all Christians, however it seems so often that we would rather settle and get by the skin of our teeth than bear forth fruit. Thankfully, the Father's task of bearing forth fruit has not been left entirely in our hands. By His Sovereign work and illuminating the Christian's will to desire spiritual growth, fruitful Christianity can turn out to be the type of life that is rich in joy and faith in the Lord. Today's post will be dedicated to unfolding the richness of fruitfulness in John 14:23-15:16. What is there about fruitful Christianity that makes it truly enriching? 

Fruitfulness is enriching because the Christian is preserved in their salvation
As Jesus continues on his his final remarks and teaching of his disciples in the Upper Room on the eve of his crucifixion, the topic with which He is concerned about unfolding is that of fruitfulness. Fruitful Christianity is enriching because of the fact that God has guaranteed the preservation of salvation. Notice three reinforcing thoughts that demonstrate the richness of being preserved in one's salvation.

1. God preserves us to be a home for His presence. John 14:23-25
 John 14:23 reads - "Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." The word underlined "abode" is found in only one other place in the New Testament, John 14:2, and is translated by the phrase "dwelling places". John 14:2 reads - "In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you." The words underlined in both passages speaks of a "permanent dwelling place". Henceforth whenever the Father and Son take up residence inside the Christian by way of the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit, that work is permanent, preserving and persevering.

2. God preserves Christians by the Helper - the Holy Spirit
As Jesus is outlining His teaching on the fruitful Christian life, He is careful to bookend His discussion with this major truth about the preservation and perseverance of the Christian to the end. Popularly known as "eternal security", preservation of salvation speaks of God "preserving" all true believers to the end. Some Christian groups teach that it is possible for a Christian to lose their salvation and have even appealed to Jesus' teaching here in John 14 and 15 as proof. Is that true? To attempt to prove their point, such teachers will appeal to passages such as John 15:2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit." But is Jesus speaking about loss of salvation or is He teaching about someone who never had salvation?" The point of the wider context of fruitbearing in John 14:23-15:11 is summarized well by Dr. Wayne Grudem: "The point of the imagery is that those who bear fruit thereby give evidence that they are abiding in Christ. Those who do not (bear fruit) are not abiding in Christ." If Christ is in me, and I in him, then I will bear fruit. The argument of this blogger and the scripture is that the nature of Christ's abiding is a permanent one.

The Christian is not left alone to fend for themselves. Jesus teaches this point in John 14:26-27  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." The Person of the Holy Spirit is God in us as Christians. Because of this Mighty "Helper", all true Christians are guaranteed preservation in their salvation. Other texts speak of the Holy Spirit sealing the Christian until the day of Christ's return. (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30)

To know that as a Christian that I am preserved in my salvation and will persevere to the end does not give license for sin, but rather a license to avoid it at all costs. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 states: "
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." The fact that God in the Person of the Holy Spirit is indwelling the Christian as a permanent resident is the clear teaching of John 14:23-31. So the believer's preservation of salvation is truly what makes fruitfulness rich. God preserves the Christian to be a home and His preservation of the Christian is due to the Helper, the Holy Spirit. Now let's consider one final thought...

God preserves the Christian to have a fruitful life to the end
As we noted a moment ago, the preservation of Christian salvation functions as book ends in this text. John 15:16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you." The underlined phrase in John 15:16 reinforces this first rich truth of fruitfulness in the Christian life - namely that no matter how tough seasons of life may go, the Christian will ultimately abide and remain due to the promise of their fruit remaining. God preserves every Christian to have a fruitful life to the end. Having something means you have received it at some beginning point and that it is your. With regards to how this works in the teaching of eternal preservation of salvation, Dr. Adrian Rogers notes: "Somebody once said, if you could have it and not know it, you could lose it and not miss it. But the truth is, if you have salvation, you know it; and if you have it and know it, you can never lose it."

When Jesus said He chose the disciples prior to their choosing him, that means then His choosing of them was the basis for their preservation. The Lord saw these disciples as completed and perfected already, even though they throughout the course of their lives were being pruned and going through process. Included in God's election or choosing of the Christian are the details of their bearing fruit and producing good works. Ephesians 2:8-9 is typically quoted as a standard biblical definition of salvation - "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." However, very few go on to the next verse, which speaks of the richness of fruitbearing and the eternal salvation of the believer. Notice Ephesians 2:10 - "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." To demonstrate how Ephesians 2:10 shows the preservation of the believer's salvation as being related to fruitbearing to the end, consider the following logical argument:

God's knowledge of future events is 100% guaranteed

God planned good works for every Christian and knew already their future outcome

Hence, the guarantee of the Christian persevering to the end in fruitbearing is 100%. 

Closing thoughts
Today we considered the richness of fruitfulness in the Christian life as it relates to preservation in salvation. We noted three headings from John 14:23-30 that underscores how we know that Christians are preserved in their salvation.

1. God preserves Christians to be a home for his presence. John 14:23-25

2. God preserves by the Helper - the Holy Spirit. John 14:26-27

3. God preserves Christians to be fruitful to the end. John 14:28-30; 15:16

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