Chapter 19, Continued from Chapter 18
“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
An Email Ministry for the Glory of God
A series of Bible studies on
SALVATION IN CHRIST
THE ISSUE OF THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER
PART C’: Which believer does not risk losing his salvation… (#4)
We are going to examine henceforth the next group, which represents the “good ground”, of the ‘Parable of the Sower’, that is, the fourth group: Its examination is equally important as compared to the third group that we have already examined in the previous chapter.
A. FOURTH GROUP: Receptive or true Christians
The only group in which the Word of God, the good seed, brought forth fruit (we will see later what the fruit is), is the fourth group! Worthy of our attention is the description which is given to us for this group by Matthew, Mark and Luke:
- Matthew writes, “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundred times, some sixty, some thirty” (13:23).
- Mark tells us, “and with those they are what are sown on the good ground; as hear the word, and receive it, and produce the fruit of it, approximately thirty times, approximately sixty, and hundred” (4:20).
- And Luke says, “but with that on the good ground they are, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and produce the fruit with patience” (8:15).
Their characteristics are, in general, the following:
- 1. God – as those people love what is true and right and live in the fear of God – opens their heart or their spiritual eyes so that they can understand His Word, just as it happened in the case of Lydia (Ac.16:14) and of the “honest” criminal on the cross (Luke 23:40-43) in order to be saved and be built up. When we see a man who does not have the light and who is unable to discern things, we should do well to put a question mark about his inner spiritual state… When I say “light”, I do not mean if he has the knowledge of spiritual things but if he has a deep and personal insight into them and if he applies them in his daily life. Otherwise, we could say that all those who know the Bible by heart and preach it, implies that they have the true personal spiritual knowledge of them. Nowadays, there are many theological books and books of Christian literature, which can make those who preach impressive preachers, without, however, being true and strong spiritual men/workers, able to really lead people to salvation and to edify those who hear them.
- 2. God reveals His secrets to those who fear Him: “What man is he that fears the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose… The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant” (Ps.25:12-14). HE teaches them by words taught by the Spirit (1Cor.2:13) and which His servants communicate to their fellow men by words taught by the Spirit: “… comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” This is the basic reason for which the words of God taught by God can penetrate into the heart of those who hear them or read them, so that they can be understood by their heart for salvation and edification! In other words, it has to do with men with spiritual receptivity and productivity.
- 3. The third characteristic of such people is that they admit that they judge “faithful who had promised” (Heb.11:11). That means that the Word of God that they have received puts them in action as a moving force, in order to do the will of God so that they can but speak the things which they have seen and heard (Ac.4:19-20). Because they believe, they speak and do the will of God (Ps.116:10), in order to please Him. Then, God does with them that which is agreeable in His sight by Jesus Christ (Heb.13:21) and gives them His Holy Spirit (Ac.5:32).
- 4. The fourth characteristic of such people is that they “keep the word”. That means that since they have accepted that God’s Word is faithful and worthy of all acceptation (1Tim.4:9), they keep it as the pupil of their eye, independently of what happens around them. This is why they resist unto blood, striving against sin (Heb.12:4). They do not let the desires of the flesh and of the mind as well as the attractions or the threats of Satan remove the Word and push them into sins. On the contrary, when they feel that such a thing might occur, they keep the Word ever more carefully resisting through their faith. They put themselves in the front line of the battle, they are not afraid of being persecuted and they do not tolerate any kind of sinful compromises. I want to emphasize the expression “by faith”. They abide faithfully in what they have believed and they do not give up the position of confidence in the promises of God. They are blind to the world and they have their eyes wide open towards God (Isa.42:19).
- 5. Now let us pay attention to another characteristic: That they keep it “in an honest and good heart”. What else does that mean but that their heart walks in a transparent way before God and does not let sin stain/cloud it? But that they keep their boldness before God because they promptly admit their shortcomings and errors; they let the light of the Word reprove them? What else does it mean, but a heart that judges itself with equity before God and before men? What else does it mean but a heart that is humbles himself before God and depends always on Him in all things? What else does it mean but a heart that knows how to forgive just as it was forgiven from God?
- 6. Another characteristic of this group of people is that they are fruitful. Jesus Christ ordered us to bear fruit, much fruit, and that our fruit may remain. These people produce fruit even in their old age (Ps.92:14). “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16).
B. Conditions for the production of fruit
For a tree or a plant to be able to produce fruit, certain conditions must be satisfied:
a) The seed must fall onto the ground and sprout;
b) The ground must be fertile and the tree or plant must be healthy and disease free;
c) It needs to be irrigated;
d) And, if needed, to be pruned.
If we transfer these conditions across to the case of man, we will discover that man in order to be productive must:
- Let the seed of God, the Word of God, enter into and sprout in the field that is in the “soil” of a man’s heart.
- Not allow sin, anxiety and the desires of other things to enter into and suffocate his spiritual life. That means that he had died to himself in order to be fruitful in Christ (John 12:24). This is the meaning of “abide in Christ”. That also means resisting to blood, striving against sin (Heb.12:4).
- Be fed by the means of the grace that God has placed at his disposal. The Word of God (Ps.1: 3; Eze.47:12), through prayer and true brotherly fellowship.
- Accept being pruned by God’s chastening for his sanctification and fruitfulness.
C. What is the true spiritual fruit?
Fruit is not what you do for God, but what you are in Him… Does God count your “good works” when you live in sin? The fruit of the Spirit is without sin, without defects! He who really believes is inhabited by the Holy Spirit who governs his walk; he governs his walk; and he does not satisfy the lust of the flesh (Gal.5:16). Being led by the Spirit, he is not under the Law (Gal.5:17-18).
Moreover, the power of the Spirit abiding in man produces his character (Gal.5:22-23). The character, in the dispensation of grace and of the Spirit, is produced and expressed by “… the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, 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” (Gal.5:22-24). His character is not the product of an effort, but it is the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is the spiritual personality that God shapes in us on the basis of our good choices as well as the good works that our spiritual personality produces…
The fruit of the spirit is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (Jas.3:17-18). The good works, the preaching, running to and fro, and doing hard work on your own initiative is not the work of God. The work of God is the good works which God before ordained that we should walk in them… (Eph.2:10). Work is that which a holy heart produces. Amazing! “He that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, truly I say to you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Mat.10:41-42). The fruit is but the cleansing that the Word of God describes in Isa.27:9 and 2Tim.2:21, respectively:
- “By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he makes all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten asunder, the groves and images (the idols) shall not stand up” (Isa.27:9)
- “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared to every good work” (2Tim.2:21).
Fruit is everything which is worthy of repentance. The fruit is the manifestation of the Christian virtues when sins and idols do not exist anymore… God has prepared good works in which we are called to walk in (Eph.2:10). And if it is HE who has prepared them all, then you and I must be prepared to do them. Our preparation for their application is not, however, something which can be done in a moment’s time, but it is the result of a purification process firmly applied… God has prepared our way… Whatever is required of you, have the courage to believe it and to carry it out. This is why you were created by God… The only thing you have to do is to make a step each and every time WITH HIM. Whatever God asks of you, God your Savior has promised to provide you with the means to do it. “Who goes a warfare any time at his own charges? […] (1Cor.9:7) and, “Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it” (1Thess 5:24). HE will, because he loved you, HE has forgiven you by His mercy, HE has added countless blessings of His grace and HE has destined to be fellow citizens with the saints, member of the house of God (Eph.2:19)!
Finally, have you paid attention to what the Word of God says? WITH PATIENCE… How many things this word means! Paul used to say: “in much patience” (2Cor.6:4). It is the most “productive” virtue producing good works in God’s work. “Because you have kept the word of my patience…” (Rev.3:10). The lack of patience is what destroys the work that God has worked in your life… A man without patience is not appropriate for the work of God. Impatience and haste as well as anger destroy much that has been built. Notice what the Word of God says: “… they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul” (Ps.106:13-15).
Which group do you belong to? If you do not belong to the fourth group, know that you are not ‘a priori’ predestined to be lost, but that you can become good ground through repentance producing works worthy of repentance… including the rejection of the sins you know that are in your life. The Lord can change your heart; He can transform it from a stony heart and make it a heart of flesh!
He who sincerely repents and commits his life in Christ, he will not only be saved but he will also be fruitful.
To be continued…