Fruit Tree

What is the purpose of a fruit tree? Well the answer is quite obvious of course. The purpose is to bear fruit. This fruit will then be enjoyed by the tree’s owner. The farmer rejoices at the sweet taste of the juice flowing from the first ripe orange which he cultivates each year. Quite similarly scripture tells us that we are a fruit yielding tree[2]  (Matt. 7:16-20, John 15:5, Phil. 1:11, Hos. 14:8). By Christ’s saving work we have been renewed that we might now produce good fruit. We have not by our strength sunk our roots into Christ so to imply that we made ourselves Christ’s. Rather, we have been by God “baptized into Christ” and “grafted in” and “our sufficiency is of God” (Gal. 3:27, Rom. 11:19, II Cor. 3:5). What is our purpose now as grafted branches, or rather as a fruit tree? Christ tells us His desire, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8). We must understand these works as our purpose as God’s saved children, the natural fruit as those engrafted into Christ, and especially those works flowing out of a gratitude for love so undeserved from our heavenly Father.

First, we observe that we have been “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Eph. 2:10). “What shall we say [of righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord]? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid” (Rom. 6:1, Rom. 5:21). Of course not!! We have not been saved to now abound in transgression, but rather “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Scripture reveals to us Christ’s desire in saving us. We are not saved to be able to enjoy a life of sin, but saved unto good works or newness of life. God gave His Son that whosoever believed should have life not death (John 3:16). Shall they then walk in death? No, but they will walk in life. What is it to walk in life? That branch in which Christ abides bears fruit (John 15:5). We have explained that God wills a regenerated man to walk in faith and bear fruit. All this work of sanctification by God is ultimately for His glory and His delight. “These works, as they proceed from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God” (Belgic Confession Art. 24). They may be mere filthy rags and certainly “are of no account towards our justification”, but yet Samuel tells us that God has great delight in the obedience to the voice of the Lord (I Sam 15:22).

Secondly, these fruits are those “before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). This fruit is the natural product of a child of God. “It is impossible that this holy faith can be unfruitful in man” (Belgic Confession Art. 24). These are organic results of those who have been saved. James says that he will “shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18). He is insisting that anyone with faith will of course show fruit of this faith in their lives. Christ sends His Spirit to work in the hearts of His believers. James goes even further to emphasize his point and says, “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). Those engrafted into Christ will bear fruit.

Thirdly, though ordained by God and achieved by the strength of Jesus Christ yet these works are performed by us out of a heart overflowing with gratitude. The purpose of these works is not meritorious. So then why must we do good works? “Because Christ…delivered us by His blood…that so we may testify by the whole of our conduct our gratitude to God for His blessings” (Heidelberg Catechism Q.A 86). What greater blessings could we possibly imagine as God’s people? We have fellowship with Jesus Christ and the promise of life everlasting in heaven in His presence. Our thanks ought to be so painfully obvious in our lives that even others ask, “What is the reason for the hope that is in you?” (I Pet. 3:15).

We rejoice that God’s salvation over death and sin is so complete that even now on this earth life is worked within us. We are not dead branches cast aside, but God takes us wild olive branches and grafts us into Jesus the tree with roots that have real life (Rom. 11:17). What amazing work of Christ to take dead sinners and make us into fruitful trees. May our hearts jump for joy at this wondrous work. In gratitude, may we be strengthened each day to perform the good works flowing from faith[3] , which works God has ordained for us.

Luke Christian Potjer

Evangelism Workshop #3

Our third workshop on personal evangelism will be held on Sunday, Oct. 17 at Trinity PRC at 8 pm! We’ve covered why evangelism matters and summarized the gospel. In our next workshop, we’ll discuss how to have conversations in meekness that lead to the gospel message.

Click here for a brief study guide for you to use to prepare for the upcoming workshop.

It was wonderful to see so many people at our last workshop, and we can’t wait to see you all again!

Why?

Why?

Read Psalm 42

The psalmist asked “When?” in verse 2, and “Where?” in verses 3 and 10. We now direct our attention to several verses which ask “Why?” the first of which is verse 9.

“I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” Psalm 42:9

It is appropriate that we examine this question last, as the culmination of all that has been said before. For with each of these questions, we have had the privilege of entering the inner sanctum of the psalmist’s heart. We have taken a tour through the gloomy halls and lonely rooms, hearing the “When?” of unsatisfied desire and the “Where?” of daily oppression. All the while, we have learned about our own heart when the disease of doubt creeps in. But now we are led to the stairs, and we take them down. Surely, we have reached the bottommost pit of the psalmist’s despair when he cries out, “Why hast thou forgotten me?”

First, this is the most serious of the three questions because of the very nature of the interrogative used. We asked “When?” but that only deals with time. We asked “Where?” but that only deals with place. However, Merriam-Webster defines “why” as referring to cause, reason, or purpose. “Why?” gets to the heart of the matter. In this case, it gets to the heart of God.

Second, being forgotten is a terrible experience. Sometimes friends or even family forget about us.  Perhaps your experience is that of Psalm 142:4: “There was no man that would know me… no man cared for my soul.” But now consider that this is nothing compared to being forgotten by God, the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth from whom all blessings flow.

Third, the psalmist supports this question by repeating the “Why?” with proof in the second half of the verse: “Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” It is as if he is saying, “God my rock has certainly forgotten me, and the proof is that I am mourning under my enemy’s oppression.” Even more than that every single despairing word in the psalm is as one of the steps into the pit. Each one leads us to the bottom and to this question, “Why?”  

Have you ever asked God why? Why did He make me this way? Why did He make this my way? Why the pain? Why the loneliness? Why the constant trials day after day with no apparent end and barely the strength to endure one? And isn’t it easy to find answers to our questions? The cause: my sin. The reason: God does not love me. His purpose: to punish me temporally and eternally in hell as a just reward for my sins. Then we conclude that God my rock has forgotten me.

But this question is directed toward God. Only He can reveal His heart.

Go to the Bible. Let Him speak.

If there was ever one time and one place where God spoke most loudly, it was one Friday afternoon on a hill called Golgotha. If ever he revealed the cause, reason, and purpose of His heart, it was when He poured out the wrath due to us upon His Son during those three hours of darkness. If ever he gave an answer to our most despairing question, it was with the question of our Lord Jesus Christ when he “humbled himself unto the deepest reproach and pains of hell, both in body and soul, on the tree of the cross, when he cried out with a loud voice, ‘My God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me?’” (Baptism Form)

The cry of Jesus on the cross is very similar to the one we study today, and if anything, more emphatic. And we know without a doubt that his suffering was far greater than anything we will ever experience. Truly his was the bottomless pit.

Is your soul cast down? Have you gone down the steps, until hitting rock-bottom you ask even this same question? Then notice what is below your feet. When Jesus suffered the wrath of God for our sins, there was no bottom to his pit. But below every believer, there is bedrock. There is “God my rock.” Christ is “that spiritual Rock,” from which we drink streams of living water. (I Cor. 10:4) He is the “rock of offense” over which our enemies stumble. He is the “chief corner stone, elect, precious” on which we are “built up a spiritual house” (I Pet. 2:5,6,8).

And so we can picture that atoning work of Jesus Christ as the Rock upon which our heart is built, and the impenetrable barrier separating us from the bottomless pit of hellfire. Though Satan, as the accuser of the brethren, tries to take our sins and break through that Rock, he cannot so much as cause a crack.

Now don’t you see the guiding hand of God in bringing us into this pit? Up there, we thought we stood on a rock. Only down here do we realize that was nothing more than the sinking sands of favorable circumstances. Then the words which must arise from our lips are the words of the psalmist in verse 5 and repeated in verse 11:

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 42:11

Notice that the question is now directed inward to the psalmist’s own heart, because the problem is never with God. He is immovable, unchangeable. It is when we search our own heart in the light of God’s sovereign grace that we say, “So foolish was I, and ignorant” (Psalm 73:22). In his wisdom, He uses these trials to lead our wayward hearts back to “my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation” (Psalm 94:22).

Only resting on that rock, hoping in our God, can we then declare, “I shall yet praise him.” This is God’s great work of salvation bearing fruit. This is the regenerated believer committed to a life of good works in gratitude for the work of Jesus. This is the psalmist with a healthy countenance, revived by living waters. For it is impossible to ponder this most extraordinary display of his infinite love for us, and not resolve to live for Him who “brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalm 40:2).