Vine Principle

Lesson One

In these series of lessons our goal is to communicate the spiritual principles and the fruit bearing cycle we all must endure in order to be prepared by God to do the work of His ministry. Throughout this study we will ponder the transformation that John Mark endured. We will see the zeal of youth, the pain of failure, and the preparation needed in order to be pruned for ministry.

John 15:1-11 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. (2) 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. (3) Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. (4) 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. (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. (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. (7) If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (8) Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (9) As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. (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. (11) These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

The principles Jesus taught in these verses are profound, but yet simple. In verse 11 the goal of the vine principle is defined, and that goal is to provide the spiritual fertile ground that will allow the joy of Jesus to grow and mature in us. Lets consider for a moment this concept of joy.

Remaining Joy

The first principle we learn about the Joy of the Lord is the fact that the joy we experience is not our personal expression, but it’s the essence and presence of Jesus Christ. When we remain in the vine we interact with the joy of Jesus, and this interaction transforms our lives. The life of Christ that we encounter while we abide in the vine is Spirit of Jesus, and that Spirit is the Spirit of Joy. Consider with me for a moment the two Greek words used in this verse to translate this concept.

might - e (ay/2228); a primary particle of distinction between two connected terms; disjunctive, or; comparative, than: KJV-- and, but (either), (n-) either, except it be, (n-) or (else), rather, save, than, that, what, yea. Often used in connection with other particles. Compare especially 2235, 2260, 2273

 

e- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

either, or, than

remain - meno (men'-o/3306); a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): KJV-- abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), X thine own.

meno- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) to remain, abide

a) in reference to place:

1) to sojourn, tarry

2) not to depart

a) to continue to be present b) to be held, kept, continually

b) in reference to time: to continue to be, not to perish, to last, to endure; used of persons, to survive, live

c) in reference to a state or a condition: to remain as one, not to become another or different

2) to wait for, to await one

As we consider these Greek words we should consider an interesting point. As long as we abide in the vine we abide in the joy of Jesus. If this is true then why is the body of Christ frustrated with discouragement, confusion, and depression? We can only conclude that the problem is with us and our abiding in the vine with Christ. The occasional joyous experiences we have with Jesus only confirms the fact that we only occasionally abide in the vine. Should we hunger to walk in the joy of the Lord then we must realize that this joy is found in the vine of Christ. To abide in the vine of Christ is not a vogue doctrine we memorize its an experience we have with Jesus. In this study we should realize that the abiding process with transform our lives into the image of Jesus Christ.

Fullness of Joy

Joy - chara (khar-ah'/5479); from 5463; cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight: KJV-- gladness, X greatly, (X be exceeding) joy (-ful, -fully, -fulness, -ous).

chara- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

joy, gladness

  1. the joy received from you
  2. the cause or occasion of joy; used of persons who are one's joy

The question before us is simple, but yet complex. What is joy? Is joy happiness? Is joy peace of mind? Is joy a good sense of humor, a cheerfulness or delight? The answer to these questions is also just as confusing; the answer is "Yes" and "No". The Bible has much to teach concerning joy, but I think its true substance and purpose can be summed up in one verse.

Ps 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (KJV)

King David realized that true joy could only be found in the presence of God, therefore we can conclude that God’s manifest presence is the true essence of joy. Is joy happiness, joy peace of mind, a good sense of humor, or a cheerfulness and delight? The answer is No, joy is not these qualities, because joy is the presence of God. All of these characteristics are the benefits of our interaction with the Holy Spirit.

might be full - pleroo (play-ro'-o/4137); from 4134; to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.: KJV-- accomplish, X after, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply.

pleroo- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) to make full, to fill up, that is, to fill to the full, to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally; I abound, I am liberally supplied

2) to render full, that is, to complete

    1. to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, to fill to the brim
    2. to consummate (a number):
    3. 1) to make complete in every particular, to render perfect

      2) to carry through to the end, to accomplish, to carry out, (some undertaking)

    4. to carry into effect, to bring to realization, to realize

1) used of matters of duty: to perform, to execute

2) used of sayings, promises, prophecies, to bring to pass, to ratify, to accomplish

3) used to fulfil, that is, to cause God's will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God's promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfillment

Again we see from this verse in Psalms that our joy is full in the presence of God, therefore Jesus taught that the vine principle is rooted in the manifest presence of God. The Greek word "Pleroo" has several different applications. Lets briefly consider these different applications.

We have the concept that to make something full is to fill that object to the brim, and we should have that concept because it is part of the Greek translation. But the Greek word also has shades of meaning that put this concept into a brighter light. Its apparent that the maturing process of the Holy Spirit is to allow our joy to nurture and grow. The fullness of our joy can be expressed in several ways. When the Holy Spirit nurtures and matures us in spiritual matters, then "Pleroo" has occurred with our joy. The Holy Spirit will lead us to execute the duties of our ministries, and at the same time inspire us to do God’s will.

The fullness of joy is the fruit produced in our lives when we abide in the vine, and allow the nurturing process to occur. Now lets consider the principle of the vine.

Vine Principle

In John Chapter Fifteen, Jesus provided us with a vivid metaphor that describes our relationship with Him. Lets examine the principles presented by Jesus.

Jesus is the Vine

Jesus taught that He is the true vine that came from God. In the Old Testament Israel was considered the vineyard of God (Isa 5:1-7). The Prophet, Hosea used the symbol of the grape vine to describe Israel’s lack of spiritual fruitfulness. According to Hosea, the fruit of their union with God was used for selfish gain (Hosea 10:1). Jeremiah took this concept one step further, God used him to rebuke the Pastors of his day for their destruction of His holy vineyard (Jer 12:10). In the midst of this traditional dogma, Jesus taught that He was the true vine. This concept was controversial and profound, when compared to the Old Testament teachings. The Old Testament clearly taught that Israel was considered by God to His vine (vineyard). How do we solve this paradox? Jesus never said that Israel was a false vine, but they were considered to be God’s vineyard as long as they functioned in union with God. Jesus wanted His disciples to understand that He was the true, genuine vine of God. Israel only symbolized the true relationship God desired with humanity. This point must be made perfectly clear. Being part of the vineyard of God cannot be a mere doctrinal belief we maintain. The vine principle is descriptive of our personal union with God, and the legal authority He has over our lives as the owner of the vineyard.

 

The previous paragraph presents the historical concept concerning this statement made by Jesus. He used the metaphor of a vine to describe our relationship to Him and God, the Father. The use of this symbol to describe our relationship with God is very profound. We cannot pick and choose the portions of the vine symbol that fits our doctrine. We must use this symbol in all of its seasonal expression. The vine is the roots and stump that protrudes from the earth. Never loose sight of the fact that Jesus is the vine. The life source that nurtures and sustains the branches must come from the vine.

The Branches

Jesus taught that He is the vine, but we are the branches that sprout from the vine. According to this metaphor the branches are the natural expression of the vine. All (spiritual) fruit that glorifies the Father will grow in the lives of these branches. Even though the branches produce the fruit it’s the responsibility of the vine to provide the branches with the necessary vitality and sustenance to bring it’s fruit to fruition. Simply stated, the fruit is the product of the vine, while the branches are the conduit for the life force of the vine. Consider this thought. Where does the vine end and the branches begin? Does the vine end at ground level, or does it end several feet aboveground? Is the vine the roots, and everything visible being part of the branches; or is the vine and the branches one expression? I am convinced that every facet of the vine, from the root to the fruit is an expression of the vine. To make a distinction between the vine and the branches is dangerous, because we are subtly stating that our identity is in the branch but not in the vine.

Seasonal Symbol

It is natural to read this chapter and think of fruit and lush green vines, but the principle Jesus taught clearly indicated that the vine was subject to seasons. The grapevine is not an evergreen that produces fruit throughout the year, but it has a clearly defined season of fruit bearing. As surely as the vine will have a season of harvest it will have a season of pruning. Since Jesus used the grapevine as His symbol to communicate to us the maturing process His disciples would experience. We must take into consideration all the seasons and how they affect the vine, because each spiritual season (i.e. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) is designed to work in our lives a special work of righteousness.

Psalms 1:1-3 is clearly states that righteous men and women have seasons which produce fruit. Every Christian has a season when he or she will be fruitful, but, also they will have a season of pruning (Eccl 3:1 Heb 13:8). Ponder this thought. What is happening in the lives of righteous saints when the season of fruit bearing has past? The answer should be obvious, we are being prepared by the Lord for another season of fruitfulness. When we are not in a season of fruit bearing, then the Lord is nurturing our lives with great patience and faith in a future harvest yet to come. A fruitful saint is fruitful in every season of life, but he or she may not be producing fruit. Fruitfulness is a process not a product; a vine being pruned is just as fruitful as a flourishing vine laden with large clusters of vintage grapes. We must change our point of perspective, and stop seeing fruitfulness as a product we produce but a process of seasonal change. Each season what we experience is an integral part of the fruitful process. A frigid winter season is just as valuable to the vine as a summer season filled with the sweet fragrance of a soon coming harvest. We are so busy trying to produce the product that we fail to recognize and endure the fruit bearing process.

Once we understand that this process is part of our Christian walk then we should yield to the nurturing of the Lord even in the midst of our winter season. God has designed each cycle of the seasons to produce in us deeper dimensions of abiding in His presence. Let me personalize this last paragraph. The Lord is concerned for His people, they are suffering in a state of confusion trying to produce a product, but frustrating the process by their pride and fear. Many of God's people have endured long frigid winters with no end in sight, and have fainted in their faith because they frustrate the grace of God in ignorance. You and the vine are one person, envision the branches as your personal growth in the Lord, and the fruit being the image of Christ reproduced in your personality.

Pruned of the Lord

One thing John chapter fifteen made clear; every fruitful Christian will endure seasons of pruning. The cutting back of unnecessary growth in order to prepare the saint for a new season of fruit bearing. The cutting away of this growth, the pruning of the Christian life is the revelation process — removing the cover —referred to in Romans 1:17. Hebrews 12:11 also indicates that a pruning process is necessary in order to yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness: let's return to Hebrews and study this point.

Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (KJV)

chastening = paideia (pahee-di'-ah/3809); from 3811; tutorage, i.e. education or training; by implication, disciplinary correction: KJV-- chastening, chastisement, instruction, nurture.

 

paideia (3809)

  1. the whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment). It also includes the training and care of the body
  2. whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, especially by correcting mistakes and curbing passions.

a) instruction which aims at increasing virtue

b) chastisement, chastening, (used of the evils with which God visits men for their amendment)

We often think that chastisement is some form of corporal punishment that is administered to disobedient children. Padeia, the Greek word used in this verse has that application, but it's only one small part of it's definition. It's interesting to note that the word has the application of "Tutorage, education or training, also instruction which aims at increasing virtue. The applications do not necessarily indicate disciplinary correction. A tutor is a private instructor whose primary goal is to increase the knowledge or virtue of his or her pupil. When we apply these thoughts to Hebrews 12:11 we realize that God has provided us with a private instructor, a tutor whose primary goal is to mature our virtue in God. John 14:16, 26, and 15:26 identifies our private tutor as the Holy Spirit, the great comforter of the Lord, the Spirit of Truth, whose primary responsibility is to reveal to us the person of Jesus Christ.

The tutorship of the Holy Spirit is designed to nurture us through the fruit bearing cycle. He is the life force that flows from the vine to the branches, that matures the fruit, and He is the pruning agent who judges our life, and removes the cover of our carnal human nature. The pruning process is the judgment of God in our lives. It's the cutting away of our self-willed human nature. It's the cross alive and active in our lives. Now we come to the concept of divine judgment. Christians fear divine judgment, they see it as the heavy chastenings of the Lord. But the Bible provides a different picture of divine judgment.

Ps 7:11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day (KJV)

Ps 11:5-7 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. (6) Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. (7) For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the uprigh (KJV)

We read that God judges the righteous, but He is angry with the wicked every day. King David also recorded the fact that the Lord tries (tests, proves) the heart of the righteous. When we correlate these two verses with Hebrews 12:11 we should realize that the judgment and trial of the righteous is the tutorship of the Holy Spirit instructing us, curbing our passions, correcting our mistakes, and increasing our virtue.

Ps 25:9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way (KJV)

Ps 22:26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever (KJV)

Ps 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (KJV)

Zeph 2:3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD's anger. (KJV)

The meek are the blessed of the Lord, and they shall be guided into the paths of righteousness by the judgment (pruning) of God. The pruning process the meek endure opens to them the secret ways of the Lord. In fact the meek will be guided by the eye of the Lord. This phrase indicates an intimate relationship that allows the eyes of the Lord to be seen and experienced.

pruning should be feared by only those who remain defiant and disobedient to the Holy Spirit. Should our hearts remain humble and teachable the judgments of God are peaceable and pure, they remove the cover of our carnal human nature to reveal the righteousness of Christ in us. John 15:26 clearly states that the mission of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the person of Christ. We often think that this is only applies to the understanding we have of Jesus, but I believe we have missed the greater application. The mission of the Holy Spirit is not only to reveal the person of Christ to us, but He is to reveal the person of Christ through us. The revealed righteousness is the goal of the Holy Spirit.

Through out the remainder of this lesson we will examine other principles that are associated with the vine of God, but we will look at them in reference to the other spiritual principles.

Cross Principle

Jesus taught that He is the true vine sent down from God. He also taught that His disciples are the branches that grow from this vine. On four occasions in John chapter Fifteen we are instructed that we must abide in the vine in order to produce lasting spiritual fruit. Consider with me a simple question. How can we abide in the vine of Christ without abiding in the mind of Christ? We understand that the vine of Christ is His essence, nature, and person. The answer to this question is simple. We cannot abide in the vine without abiding in the mind and person of Jesus Christ. Why is this principle important?

Phil 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (9) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: (10) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; (11) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (KJV)

1 Pet 4:1-2 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (2) That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (KJV)

Both of these verses indicate that the mind of Christ is designed to prune us from the lusts of the flesh, and to inspire us to do the will of God. These actions can only occur while we abide in the vine. Consider with me this possibility. The vine of Christ is the mind of Christ which is the cross of Christ. When we abide in the vine we abide in the cross. Simply stated, the vine is the cross with branches sprouting out in all directions. All spiritual vitality and life flows in our lives as we abide in the vine, but we must not forget that the vine of Christ is the cross of Christ. Let me paint a mental picture in your minds concerning this concept. The image I want us to see is the cross beam affixed to the cross. A word is etched on this beam in large bold letters, and that word is GRACE. The eternal fountain of God’s grace can be found only in the cross and the blood of Christ. God’s grace is the eternal spiritual sap that flows from the vine to the branches in order to nurture and mature God’s fruit in us. We will examine this concept more closely when we study the Grace later in this lesson.

Lets continue our study associating the true vine with the cross of Christ.

Rom 6:4-7 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: 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. (5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: (6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (7) For he that is dead is freed from sin. (KJV)

Gal 5:24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

We read in John 15:2 that "…every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (NIV)". The pruning away of our sinful nature is a guaranteed spiritual reality. Our Old Man is crucified with Christ that the body of sin might be destroyed. Remember this principle, when we abide in the vine we abide in the cross, and the Old Man within us is crucified. Is it possible that much of our spiritual frustration is the result of our resistance to the cross working in us. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. Is it also possible that much of our supposed spiritual warfare is the result of our wrestling with the cross of Christ not the devil?

Grace of God:

Let’s return to the picture that we imagined of the central beam on the cross with the name of GRACE carved into it. In order to experience the grace of God we must abide in the cross. We frustrate grace when we resist the working of the cross in our love relationship with Jesus. In order to be part with the vine we must be part with the cross.

Gal 2:20-21 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (21) I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (KJV)

This reference confirms the association between the cross of Christ and His holy grace. We are crucified with Christ, because Christ lives in us, and His holy presence will prune away the unrighteous actions and attitudes of the Old Man nature.

grace - charis (khar'-ece/5485); from 5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): KJV-- acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).

charis- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) grace: what affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech

2) good will, loving-kindness, favor; used of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

Its so important we understand that God sees us through the eyes of Grace not through the judgments of law. We cannot earn or merit the grace of God. It’s His free gift. God’s grace is not based on performance, but its based on the blood of Jesus. The vine principle and the cross principle are designed to reveal the value and power of Grace. When we are crucified with Christ our personal self-image is also crucified. God does not see us as failures (we are flesh – He knows we will fail – Psa 78:39), He sees us through the eyes of Grace, Love and Faith. The principle of Grace can be summed up in this one verse.

He Must Increase

John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease. (KJV)

The mission of Grace in our lives is to create the proper growing environment where the image and mind of Christ in us might increase, and His nature becomes our nature. Grace will cause us to decrease in our own self importance and image. All our frustrations and failures will decrease in the light of divine grace.. All that is of self must decrease. This is the function of grace. We see from the Greek word "Charis" that is God’s unmerited favor and His divine influence upon our hearts. Simply stated, Grace is the operation of the Holy Spirit in us and through us. God’s divine influence will cause all facets of our personal self image to decrease in order for Christ to increase in our hearts and minds.

Not By Law

Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (KJV)

Rom 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (KJV)

Its so important we understand that grace is freely given to us through the redemption (cross) that is found in the person of Christ. In order to enjoy the profound benefits of grace we must abide in our redemption (cross). We also must understand that our free gift of grace is not bestowed upon us through the working of the law.

Rom 4:15-16 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. (16) Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (KJV)

Rom 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (KJV)

Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (KJV)

These scriptures clearly state that God’s grace cannot be understood or experienced through adherence to any spiritual legalistic system. God’s grace cannot be understood through adherence to a law. Christians loose sight of this fact so quickly. We all understand that the Mosaic law came to an end with the advent of Jesus Christ, but we have substituted our own concept of religious law in order to prove our spirituality to God. We believe holiness in God’s sight is conditioned upon adherence to a dogmatic religious code of conduct. Many Christian denominations believe they have sole possession of God’s holiness, because their personal religious code is more austere. No one is justified in God’s sight through adherence to religious code. We cannot earn God’s grace by self will and personal adherence to a religious code of conduct. God’s grace is not based on Performance its based on a Person. Jesus must increase while we decrease is our personal self will.

Does God’s grace provide us with an avenue to sin? God forbid this shall not happen (Rom 6:1-2). Our personal desire to change and become like Christ is fostered by our love for Him. We change because we love Him and abide in His presence. An intimate love relationship with Jesus Christ causes us to abide in the vine, and allow the cross to crucify our Old Man nature. Never loose sight of the fact that our Old Man nature enjoys be religious in nature. This fact is proven by all the various religions of the world. Being religious dose not make us spiritual. Our spirituality is nurtured by our abiding in the vine.

Multiplied Grace

2 Cor 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (KJV)

2 Pet 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, (KJV)

Grace can be multiplied in us through the intimate knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. A relationship with Christ will produce in us a revelation of our personal weakness. When this occurs the power of God is perfected in human weakness.

Conclusion:

The vine principle is the foundation of our spiritual maturity in Christ. We cannot abide in the vine without abiding in the cross; they are one and the same. The remainder of these lessons will examine this concept is more detail as we study the four steps of being pruned for ministry.

 

 

Divine Doctrine

Lesson Two

In Lesson One we examined the vine principle, and how this truth relates to the cross of Christ. As we abide in the Vine of Christ we also abide in the Cross of Christ. Our relationship to the cross is the pruning agent used by the Holy Spirit to perfect our lives, and to implant the holiness of God. Never loose sight of the fact that the spiritual vitality found in the vine nurtures and matures the image of Christ in us – the New Man nature, but at the same time our Old Man nature is also crucified with Jesus. This relationship between the vine and the cross is the root to the internal conflict Christians endure as they mature in Christ (Rom 7:24; Gal 5:17; 1 Pet 2:11).

Also, in Lesson One we pondered the spiritual significance of the physical nature of the grape vine. We considered the fact that the grape vine is not an evergreen shrub, but it is a seasonal plant. All four seasons are necessary for the grape vine to produce fruit. From this example we can conclude that the fruit bearing cycle has four seasons (steps) that must be experienced in order to be fruitful. We also find evidence of this four step spiritual process in the writings of Paul: lets read these verses from his second epistle to Timothy.

2 Tim 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (KJV)

Nearly all Christians know and understand these verses, we memorize and quote them often. We know that all scripture is inspired by God, and that the holy writ can prepare us for the work of God. Consider with me another possibility concerning these verses. Let me present to you the possibility that Paul – under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – described the process used by the Holy Spirit to prune men and women for God’s good works and ministry. Let briefly list the process.

The remainder of these lessons will examine this process. We will also observe this process in the life of John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark and friend to the Apostle Paul.

Doctrine

doctrine - didaskalia (did-as-kal-ee'-ah/1319); from 1320; instruction (the function or the information): KJV-- doctrine, learning, teaching.

didaskalia- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) teaching, instruction

2) teaching a) what is taught, doctrine b) teachings, precepts

Heb 6:1-2 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, (2) Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (KJV)

We have a tendency to down-play the importance of doctrine, but it’s the foundation and heart of our Christian faith. We know that Jesus Christ is the true foundation of the church, but doctrine helps us to realize this fact. New converts that embrace the salvation of Jesus often are inspired to learn as much doctrine as they can. New converts are human sponges who will absorb the doctrines of Christ at an alarming rate. The absorption of doctrine is an absolute necessity for all faithful Christians, but in this truth we have a potential problem. In 1Corinthians 8:1 we are admonished that knowledge puffs up the human ego. Doctrine for the sake of learning can become a trap. 2Timothy 3:7 teaches that its possible to be caught in a trap of always learning new things, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. The knowledge of the truth cannot be learned in a class room, it must be experienced in the holy presence of God through intimate relationship.

We are exhorted in Hebrews to learn the principles of the doctrines of Christ, because these principles are the foundation of our Christian experience. The author of Hebrews also admonished us to venture beyond the doctrines of Christ into the perfecting process of being conformed to the image of Jesus.

Perfecting Process

perfection - teleiotes (tel-i-o-tace'/5051); from 5048; a completer, i.e. consummater: KJV-- finisher.

teleiotes- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) a perfector

2) one who has in his own person raised faith to its perfection and so set before us the highest example of faith

Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (KJV)

The same Greek word that is translated "Perfection" is also used to describe Jesus as the "Finisher" of our faith. When we consider this fact we can conclude that the perfecting process is the image of Christ being etched on our hearts.

Why must we understand this principle? The zeal of new faith often is enflamed with the passion of new doctrine. Our youth go to Bible colleges to be trained in the fine art of Christian doctrine. They fill their minds with hermeneutics and correct exegesis – according to the doctrines of their denomination, and after four years of learning we graduate them, pray for them, and ordain them ministers. But the question we must consider is this. Has this Bible college experience nurtured the perfecting process and the image of Christ being etched on the hearts of our youth?

Filled with doctrine, now our youth are sent into the world to proclaim the mysteries of the doctrines of Christ. The result of this action is usually frustration, disappointment, and ministry failure. Why must we sentence our youth to such a frustrated journey of human failure? The answer to the question should become more evident as we progress through these lessons. Let me share with you a true story.

A friend of mine from the church went away to Bible college. After several years he returned to Modesto, we renewed our friendship. During the years of his absence he acquired a Masters Degree. His own self-perception indicated that he was ready and able to function as a minister. It wasn’t long before ministry involvement frustrated him, and he was confused about his spiritual direction. One day, while in prayer with him, the Lord allowed me to see part of the problem. I shared with him these words. "Unless your Masters Degree falls into the ground and dies, it will abide alone. But if you allow it to die it will bring forth much fruit." Pride in our doctrinal knowledge can only frustrate the perfecting process of the Holy Spirit. Should we not learn doctrine because it might puff up our human ego? No, never let this be the case. We must allow the doctrines we learn to build in us a true understanding of Jesus, but we also must realize that doctrine alone will only frustrate us. We must allow our doctrines to open for us a channel of communication with Jesus. Only through relationship with him can we venture beyond our doctrines and go on into perfection.

The first step of our fruit bearing cycle is to learn the doctrines being taught us be the Holy Spirit. I have learned that each revelation of Christ we experience brings to us fresh anointing, faith and doctrine.

Spirit of Revelation

Eph 1:17-18 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (18) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (KJV)

revelation – Apokalupsis (ap-ok-al'-oop-sis/602); from 601; disclosure: KJV-- appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation.

apokalupsis- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) a laying bear, making naked

2) a disclosure of truth, an instruction

a) concerning things before unknown

b) used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all

3) manifestation, appearance

Is there a difference between doctrine and revelation? It may seem silly to ask such a question, but this is not the case. Our answer to this question will determine much about our personal experience with Jesus Christ. Often I hear Christians celebrate new insights in the Bible by thanking the Lord for their new revelation. Is understanding Bible doctrine divine revelation? The answer to this question is also paradoxical. The answer is "Yes" and "No". Fresh illumination in the Bible is a vital part of God’s divine revelation, but its not the revelation its self.

Notice in the above verses that revelation is referred to as a Spirit, and the function of this Spirit is to reveal the person of Jesus Christ. The same Spirit also enlightens our understanding to the calling of Christ that is resident within each and every one of us. The mission description provided in these verses could only be completed by the Holy Spirit, therefore we can conclude that the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation is the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26-27; 16:7-11).

Other verses in the Bible that use the same Greek word also indicate that true revelation is the revealing of the person of Jesus.

Rom 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (KJV)

1 Cor 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: (KJV)

Gal 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (KJV)

II Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angel (KJV)

1 Pet 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (KJV)

1 Pet 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (KJV)

The revelation of Jesus is much more than spiritual illumination into the Bible. We are taught in these verses that the appearing of Christ at His second coming is also part of the same revelation process. Again I come back to the same question. Is Bible doctrine divine revelation? Again I answer the question the same way, and that answer is "Yes" and "No". The learning of Bible doctrine is a vital part of the revelation process, but its not the revelation itself. Revelation is simple terms is the dimension of Christ we currently are abiding in. if this is true then our personal revelation of the person of Jesus will also determine the our personal involvement with the vine of Christ and His holy cross. One thing I have learned about the Spirit of Revelation is the renewing process found in its ministry. Each new revelation of Jesus we experience will revive and refresh our call and anointing in Christ. It will also open to us new illumination in the Bible, and it will revive our faith and intimacy with Jesus. This simple truth is the personal goal alive and growing in the Bible doctrine we learn. When the Holy Spirit is teaching us doctrine our fruitful-ness is connected to the nurturing of revelation within us.

Winds of Doctrine

Eph 4:14-16 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (16) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (KJV)

We are considered spiritual children should our Christian experience be established on the doctrines we learn. A doctrine centered Christian is easily offended and tossed about. Should any person challenge the pet doctrines of this Christian, then the challenger is seen as an enemy. We must allow our doctrines to teach us about the person of Christ. When this occurs we begin the shift from being doctrine centered to becoming Christ centered. Lets consider for a moment the first reference we have of John Mark in the Bible.

John Mark – Step One

Acts 12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

Notice that John Mark was raised in a family whose house was used as a home church. This home church experienced the miraculous deliverance of the Apostle Peter from prison. We can assume that John Mark was raised in a godly home and taught the doctrines of the Christian faith.

Acts 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark. (KJV)

John apparently knew his doctrines well enough that Barnabas and Saul (Paul) took him on their first missionary journey. We will see that John Mark did know his Bible well, but this knowledge only covered a character flaw of youthful pride. John Mark was in the first step of the fruit-bearing cycle, he understood the doctrines taught to him. But God had greater plans for him that required John Mark to endure the frustration and pain of step two.

 

 

Godly Reproof & Correction

Lesson Three

Consider with me the possibility that the principle of spiritual reproof and correction are the next two steps in our fruit-bearing cycle. When we think of reproof and correction we think of harsh rebuke, but I do not believe this is an accurate concept. Lets study this concept together.

Spiritual Reproof

When we think of reproof we think of stern rebuke, but I think our study on this topic will not come to this conclusion.

reproof - elegmos (el-eng-mos'/5688); from 1651; found only in 2 Tim. 3:16: conviction (of a sinner), punishment, refutation of error, reproof. ***. This Greek word was not included in the original Strong's Dictionary but is found in other Greek lexicons. Alphabetically it belongs between Strong's number 1648 and 1649.

elegmos (el-eng-mos'); (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

from 1651; found only in 2 Tim. 3:16: conviction (of a sinner), punishment, refutation of error, reproof.

*** This Greek word was not included in the original Strong's Dictionary but is found in other Greek lexicons. Alphabetically it belongs between Strong's number 1648 and 1649.

Reproof - Elegmon (grk 5688)]. Better, "conviction." Occurs only here in the New Testament. Not occurring in Classical writers. Comparatively frequent in the Septuagint, mostly in the sense of "rebuke:" sometimes "curse, punishment." See Ps. of Sol. 10:1, but the reading is disputed with [elengchoo] (grk 1651). See the note on the verb [elengchein] (grk 1651), (John 3:20) (from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament)

Its interesting to note that this Greek word is only used once in the New Testament, and its occurrence is in 2nd Timothy. Is God a harsh God waiting to punish, rebuke, and chastise? I think not, but chastisement is a part of God’s pruning season, but our concept of reproof and chastisement are not the same as God’s concept. What is God’s reproof, and its goal?

(Reference Scriptures: Prov 1:23; 12:1; 13:18 15:10, 31-33)

Learning doctrine is the goal of step one, but knowing doctrine is not understanding truth. What is the hindrance that frustrates doctrine in its revelation of the truth? The answer is simple; it’s the puffed-up pride of religious knowledge. In order to reveal truth the Holy Spirit must deflate the religious arrogance of dogmatic knowledge. The goal of step two is to allow the fledgling minister to come to the end of his or her own self strength and pride. We might think that this is not necessary, but in order to be true ministers of the New Testament we must allow the Holy Spirit free expression through us. The typical Christian growth cycle from new spiritual babe to the holy, anointed minister of Christ requires a total self-realization that we can do nothing by our own strength and initiative.

2 Cor 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (KJV)

Notice that Paul the great truth Paul learned in the midst of his physical difficulties. When Paul came to the end of his own strength and abilities, he learned the great truth that God’s perfection is revealed and developed in the midst of human weakness. This truth is the crux of the Reproof stage of the fruit-bearing cycle.

John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. (KJV)

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (KJV)

John 5:30 I am able to do nothing from my self – independently, of my own accord; but as I am taught by God and as I get His orders. [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision.] Even as I hear, I judge and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will – I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose – but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me. (Amplified Bible)

Jesus taught this principle because He walked in its reality. Notice the statements made by Jesus. He realized that He could do nothing without the authority and anointing of God. The Amplified Bible expands on the message presented by implying that Jesus did not even consult His own will and desires. His whole purpose and aim was to do the will of His Father.

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. (KJV)

This principle is also presented in the Vine doctrine taught in John chapter Fifteen. We must come to the realization that without Jesus we can do nothing, nor can we produce lasting spiritual fruit. The purpose of Step Two is to teach the child of God that he or she can do nothing of spiritual value through human strength and will.

 

John Mark – Step Two

The New Testament is quiet concerning the mission trip that John Mark endured with Paul and Barnabas. We have an implied reference to John Mark’s failure during this mission trip in the heated argument between Paul and Barnabas.

Acts 15:37-41 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. (38) But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. (39) And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; (40) And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. (41) And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. (KJV)

Paul did not want to take John Mark on his second missionary trip even though Barnabas desired to allow him to join them. Paul’s reply to his friend speaks volumes. John Mark deserted the mission in Pamphylia; we can conclude from this event that John Mark came to the end of his own strength and ability. On the mission field, John Mark’s doctrine and religious training came under fire from world pressure and Satan. He was sifted as wheat, and the self-confidence of his religious youthful pride blew away as chafe in the winds of persecution and trial.

This event caused Paul to loose trust in John Mark, but Barnabas, the merciful one, desired to give his nephew a second chance. A sharp contention arose between Paul and Barnabas to the point that the partner-ship was severed. John Mark, during this mission trip, encountered the God’s reproof. He came to the end of his own strength, but now he was ready for step three – God’s holy correction.

Spiritual Correction

Is spiritual correction the same as spiritual reproof? On the surface they seem to be the same spiritual principle, but a closer examination will reveal otherwise. Lets examine the biblical concept of correction.

correction - epanorthosis (ep-an-or'-tho-sis/1882); from a compound of 1909 and 461; a straightening up again, i.e. (figuratively) rectification (reformation): KJV-- correction.

epanorthosis- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) restoration to an upright or right state

2) correction, improvement of life or character

Correction Epanorthoosin (grk 1882)]. Occurs only here in the New Testament. Twice in the Septuagint. Restoring to an upright state [orthos (grk 3717) erect); "setting right." (from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament)

The correction process is the third facet in the fruit-bearing cycle. Notice from the Greek word used that correction is the process of "Restoration to an upright state, a straightening up, an improvement of life or character." We only reach the correction process when we come to the end of our own initiative and strength. When we arrive at the place that we truly realize that without God we can do nothing, we are ready for God’s correction.

During the correcting process, God allows us to see ourselves in the light of His holy Scripture through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. The correction of the Lord is the restoration process when God heals our whole person from the effects of our human failure. The New Testament refers to this process as the perfecting of the Lord.

Perfecting Process

perfect - katartizo (kat-ar-tid'-zo/2675); from 2596 and a derivative of 739; to complete thoroughly, i.e. repair (literally or figuratively) or adjust: KJV-- fit, frame, mend, (make) perfect (-ly join together), prepare, restore.

katartizo- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

to render, that is, to fit, sound, complete: a) to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair, to complete b) to fit out, to equip, to put in order, to arrange, to adjust to fit or frame for oneself, to prepare c) ethically, to strengthen, to perfect, to complete, to make one what he ought to be

Our English concept of "Perfect" is not the biblical concept. To be perfect according to our modern linguistics is to have no flaw, wrinkle, spot, or imperfection. As previously stated, this concept is not a biblical concept. There are over fourteen different Hebrew and Greek words used in the Bible for the English translation of "Perfect" in the King James version of the Bible. The Greek word of "Katartizo" has a definition nearly identical to the correcting process defined by "Epanorthoosin".

When God is correcting His children, He is restoring them to an upright state. During this process, He is mending their broken hearts, and equipping, and putting in order their lives and character in order to do HIS work, not their concept of His work. This process is painful but glorious. At one point we see the corruption of our human flesh in the light of the Holy Spirit, and we also enjoy the light of God’s holy presence.

Its so important we understand that only the humble of heart can abide in the light of God’s presence. The Reproofing process is designed to bring to an end the corruption of human religious pride. Remember, Knowledge puffs up but love edifies.

1 Cor 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. (KJV)

During the Reproofing process, our knowledge cannot sustain us during the trials, persecutions, and demonic assaults of true spiritual ministry. When we are under the reproof of God, our religious pride is crucified and our human strength and initiative is taken to the cross. The goal of God’s reproof is to humble his children in love and edification. We determine the length of time we spend in each phase of God’s cycle by our willingness to humble ourselves in the sight of God.

Dead Works

Heb 6:1-2 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, (2) Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (KJV)

Heb 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (KJV)

The correction process of Step Three revolves around the purging of the dead works from our conscience that manifested in step two. The pain of step two emanates from the realization that our spiritual ministries were religious expressions of our human abilities. This fact adds up to dead works, and the purging process of step three prunes these works from our relationship with Christ.

Consider with me a possibility. Jesus used the analogy of a grape vine to describe his relationship with saints.

John 15:2 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. (KJV)

He taught that every branch that bears fruit will endure a purging – pruning – process. Why is a grape vine pruned? The answer to this question is simple. Grape clusters can only form on new growth. Every winter it is necessary for the vine dresser to prune away the unnecessary branches that will wither and die. We read that the blood of Christ will purge our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. We think that dead works are vain, empty religious activities. This may be the case, but dead works can also be the spiritual growth we obtained during the last season of fruit-bearing. New spiritual fruit cannot form on old growth, these works must be pruned away in order for new growth to sprout from the vine. Simply stated, we cannot live on last year’s revelation or spiritual insight. Our relationship with God must be a progressive revelation nurtured by an intimate relationship with Him.

God’s Workmanship

Heb 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, (21) Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (KJV)

1 Pet 5:6-10 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (7) Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (8) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (9) Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (10) But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. (KJV)

The goal of the Holy Spirit is to perfect God’s children so that they may be DOERS of God’s work. We frustrate God’s work by our own human pride and initiative. Christians often function from the self-centered religious perception. We think that working for God is doing God’s work, but this is not true. Religious busy work is not doing God’s work. We can only do God’s work when we are in intimate relationship with Him, and we join his activity and mission. God is working around the world, but often vain and fruitless church activity is not part of God’s mission.

Notice that we are God’s workmanship, and His goal is to prepare us to be agents of every good work (Eph 2:10). The Holy Spirit is working is us that which is wellpleasing to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, therefore the work of the Holy Spirit is to prune and cultivate our lives to be fruitful to the vine.

Peter realized the importance of humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and to cast our cares upon Him. This action can only occur when we come to the end of our own strength and initiative. He spoke of the process of a season of suffering (reproof, pruning), but he also encouraged his readers with the fact that the goal of the Holy Spirit is to perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle us. In these few words, Peter described the divine strategy in Godly reproof and correction.

Judgmental Guidance

Ps 25:8-10 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. (9) The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. (10) All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. (KJV)

We read that God guides the meek in judgment, and He teaches the meek his divine ways. When we speak of judgment we form in our imaginations a picture of a black robed judge pronouncing us guilty of our criminal activity, and being an agent of punitive sentences. This is a facet of God’s divine judgment, but its not the totality of true spiritual judgment. Its interesting to note that the meek are guided by God’s divine judgment and correction, but its also interesting to note that the same meek individuals are taught the ways of God by the Holy Spirit. We can conclude from this observation that judgment is not a fearful experience to those who walk in meekness with God. Divine judgment should be feared by those who tenaciously maintain their arrogance and pride in the sight of God.

John Mark – Step Three

Scripture is silent concerning this season in the life of John Mark. Maybe this is an important point to consider. When God’s hand of correction is upon His children it is a personal and private experience. John Mark must have suffered greatly from the realization of his human failure. During this season of his life, the arrogance of religious knowledge was deflated, but the love of God edified and built up John Mark. We can only conclude that John Mark learned the ways of the Lord while in meekness he embraced God’s judgments. John Mark also had a failing reputation with the great Apostle Paul that needed to be repaired and set in right order. During the correction process, John Mark repaired the damage in his reputation, and he restored his relationship with Paul.

 

 

Instructed in Righteousness

Lesson Four

In Lesson Three we put ourselves into the shoes of John Mark and felt the pain and frustration he might have experienced when he came to the end of his own human strength and initiative. We also learned about the pruning process used by the Holy Spirit to prepare us for spiritual fruit production. In this lesson we learned about the difference of working for God and doing God’s work. We will study the fourth step in the fruit bearing cycle, and that step is our instruction in righteousness.

instruction - paideia (pahee-di'-ah/3809); from 3811; tutorage, i.e. education or training; by implication, disciplinary correction: KJV-- chastening, chastisement, instruction, nurture.

paideia- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) the whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment). It also includes the training and care of the body

2) whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, especially by correcting mistakes and curbing passions. (a) instruction which aims at increasing virtue (b) chastisement, chastening, (used of the evils with which God visits men for their amendment)

Instruction Paideian (grk 3809)]. Better, "chastisement or discipline." See the note at (Eph. 6:4). In the Septuagint mostly "correction or discipline," sometimes "admonition." Specially of God's chastisement by means of sorrow and evil (from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament)

righteousness - dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo'-nay/1343); from 1342; equity (of character or act); specially (Christian) justification: KJV-- righteousness.

dikaiosune- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

  1. in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God a) the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God b) integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting
  2. in a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due

Step four in the fruit bearing cycle is the most exciting, but it can be the most challenging. During this season of our lives we are instructed in the righteous attitudes of being Christ’s disciples.

Lets restate the things we learned in steps 1 – 3. We do this in order to understand the attitudes the Christian must be experiencing in order to enter the arena of step four.

During Step Four we enter the new revelation of Jesus, and the image of this revelation is etched on our souls. Now we come to the question of the day. What is the revelation of Jesus Christ? We briefly examined this concept in Lesson One, but lets return to it again. The typical Christian concept associates revelation with new insights into the Bible. While reading the scriptures we experience a new insight into God or the doctrines associated with God. Is this process true biblical revelation? I think it is the fruit of true revelation, but its not the revelation itself.

revelation - apokalupsis (ap-ok-al'-oop-sis/602); from 601; disclosure: KJV-- appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation.

apokalupsis- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

  1. a laying bear, making naked
  2. a disclosure of truth, an instruction a) concerning things before unknown b) used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all
  3. manifestation, appearance

Eph 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (KJV)

The New Testament teaches that revelation is a Spirit that opens to us the mysteries of the person of Jesus. The spirit of revelation can only be the Holy Spirit, because it’s His mission to reveal the person of Jesus. I have come to the conclusion that true revelation is the spiritual dimension that we abide in with Jesus. We enter a new revelation when we are allowed to experience a deeper level of love and relationship with Jesus. Each new revelation carries with it new insights into the Bible, a refreshed anointing, a revived faith, and much more. It should be noted that the fruit bearing cycle is the process we endure in order to enter deeper revelations of Jesus Christ. The fruit we bear that glorifies our heavenly Father is the progressive revelation of Jesus in our hearts and minds.

(Reference Scriptures: Rom 2:5 16:25 2 Cor 12:1-2 Gal 1:11-12 Eph 3:3-4 1 Pet 1:13 Rev 1:1)

Being Christ’s Disciple

Notice that the Greek word "Paideia" has the application of tutorage, training and discipleship. Let me state clearly that we cannot consider ourselves to be Christ’s disciples if we are not enduring the fruit bearing cycle. The memorization of Christian doctrine does not qualify us for discipleship. Only when we endure the discipline can we consider ourselves disciples. In today’s military terms we can say that a person is not a Marine because he or she wants to be a Marine. A Marine is only a Marine when he or she endures the discipline and training of Marine bootcamp. Its possible to memorization the dogma and history of the Marines, but not be a Marine. Endurance of training is the only thing that qualifies people to consider themselves Marines. This principle is also true in our Christian walk. We cannot consider ourselves complete disciples of Christ until we have endured the discipline.

Luke 14:26-27 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (27) And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (KJV)

Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (KJV)

John 8:31-32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; (32) And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (KJV)

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (KJV)

Matt 16:24-25 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (25) For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (KJV)

Mark 8:34-35 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (35) For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. (KJV)

Luke 9:23-24 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (24) For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. (KJV)

To be instructed in righteousness by the Holy Spirit is to be nurtured as Christ’s disciples. Jesus taught in these verses some important truths about being His disciples. Let me list them.

In the verses presented Jesus taught that true discipleship is costly to the saint of God and to his or her family. Let me list the various elements that Jesus identified concerning discipleship.

We learn in this portion of the lesson that becoming Christ’s disciple will cost us control over our personal lives and fortunes. But the rewards are tremendous to those who discover the path of true discipleship. True discipleship demands sacrifice, but we will not make the necessary sacrifice until we are able to be instructed in God’s holy righteousness. This is the reason why true discipleship is a fruit-bearing cycle. We never arrive at the point of being considered by God as the total and complete disciple of Christ, as long as we see this process from our human point of view. But God sees our discipleship as a process of being conformed to the image of Christ. No matter our placement in the fruit-bearing cycle we are Christ’s disciples, but we can only determine the degree we allow image of Christ to become our own.

We must not loose sight of the fact that our walk with Jesus is a growing experience. As much as we try to put our relationship with Jesus into a mathematical formula, it doesn’t work. A relationship demands an investment of time and effort. With this thought, lets continue our study.

Curbing Passions

The Greek word "Paideia" that describes the instructional process that we endure when we are being instructed in righteousness, provides a valued insight into this process. We see that "Paideia" instruction has three phases, and each phase has as its goal and purpose the process of increasing divine virtue in our lives.

(Reference Scriptures: Rom 13:1 1Thes 5:23 1Pet 1:9 1Pet 2:125 1Pet 4:19 3Jn 1:2)

Ps 19:12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. (KJV)

Ps 90:8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. (KJV)

We see from this verse that our personal goal is to be cleansed from the secret faults that corrupt our lives. The only way our iniquity is purged is in the light of God’s countenance.

Rom 7:5 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. (NIV)

Gal 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (NIV)

Titus 2:12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, (NIV)

Since we understand that primary goal of phase four is to reproduce in our lives the image of Jesus, then we should consider the possibility that the sinful passions that corrupt would be crucified and the fruit of self-controlled, upright and godly lives will surface.

Love Relationship

True discipleship can only be fostered by a love relationship with Jesus. We also can only experience the discipleship that can be supported by the level of revelation we experience in Christ. Simply stated, we are Christ’s disciples only to the degree we abide in His presence. Lets look the writings to the Apostle of Peter to observe this process.

2 Peter 1:1-9 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: (2) Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, (3) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (4) Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (5) And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; (6) And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; (7) And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (8) For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9) But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (KJV)

Peter makes a profound declaration in these verses. The grace and peace of God is multiplied (nurtured, abounding) in our lives through the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is an interesting statement in light of 1Corinthians 8:1 that teaches that knowledge has only the power to puff (inflate, to swell, to make proud). This same verse also teaches that love has the power to edify and build up the body of Christ. How do we reconcile this apparent discrepancy?

This answer to this obvious paradox is found in the various Greek words used in the New Testament. The Greek word used in 1st Peter is a compound word with a profound meaning. The word used is:

knowledge - epignosis (ep-ig'-no-sis/1922); from 1921; recognition, i.e. (by implication) full discernment, acknowledgement: KJV-- (ac-) knowledge (-ing, -ment).

This word is a composite of two Greek words, and they are "EPI" and "GINOSKO". These two words give us a shade of meaning we would not normally see in "EPIGNOSIS".

Over - epi (ep-ee'/1909); a primary preposition; properly, meaning superimposition (of time, place, order, etc.), as a relation of distribution [with the genitive case], i.e. over, upon, etc.; of rest (with the det.) at, on, etc.; of direction (with the accusative case) towards, upon, etc.: KJV-- about (the times), above, after, against, among, as long as (touching), at, beside, X have charge of, (be-, [wherefore-]), in (a place, as much as, the time of, -to), (because) of, (up-) on (behalf of), over, (by, for) the space of, through (-out), (un-) to (-ward), with. In compounds it retains essentially the same import, at, upon, etc. (literally or figuratively).

to know - ginosko (ghin-oce'-ko/1097); a prolonged form of a primary verb; to "know" (absolutely) in a great variety of applications and with many implications (as follow, with others not thus clearly expressed): KJV-- allow, be aware (of), feel, (have) know (-ledge), perceived, be resolved, can speak, be sure, understand.

ginosko- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) to learn to know, to come to know, to get a knowledge by perception, to feel, to become known

2) to know, to understand, to perceive, to have knowledge of

a) to understand

b) to know

3) a Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman (compare Gen. 4:1)

4) to become acquainted with, to know

The word Ginosko/Ginosis is the type of knowledge that we acquire study and research. We send our children to school to learn Ginosis type knowledge. We read books and listen to sermons and cassette tapes in order to learn Ginosis knowledge. The knowledge referred to in 1st Corinthians 8:1 is this type of knowledge, and according to the Apostle Paul it has the power to puff our human pride.

Epignosis is a derivative of Gnosis type knowledge but it goes OVER, ABOVE, and BEYOND the normal path of human learning. When we apply the prefix of EPI to Gnosis we infuse this application in to the word. EPI has the application of that which is OVER, ABOVE, and BEYOND another object. When this word is applied to Gnosis we arrive at the concept of knowledge that is learned over, above, and beyond the normal path of human learning. What kind of knowledge can this be?

There is only one logical conclusion that we can form from this question. Epignosis knowledge must be the type of insight we gain from intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Let me clarify this concept. Lets say a biography exited concerning my life. All people who read the book would have a Gnosis type knowledge of me, but my wife would go beyond this type of knowledge into the insights acquired from intimate relationship with me. This process is the same with our relationship with Jesus. There is a knowledge, an insight, and a revelation reserved only for those who develop an intimate relationship with Jesus.

The instruction is righteousness that is the backbone of step four has this one concept as its root. We can only be instructed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, to the degree we allow our lives to be open to Him through a lifestyle of relationship. The true understanding of the righteousness of Christ cannot be taught by book, sermon or tape, it must be experience in the light of intimate relationship with Jesus.

We understand from the writings of Peter that escape the corruption that is in the world through lust by becoming partakers of Christ’s divine nature. To understand the doctrinal truths of God’s divine nature is not the same as being a partaker. We can only be a partaker of the divine nature to the degree we allow God’s nature free expression in our lives. This degree of divine experience can only occur through a love relationship with Jesus in prayer, Bible study, and godly deed. To partake of the divine nature is not a head knowledge learned in Bible school, its an intimate experience with our loving Savior nurtured through relationship. In order to clarify the issue, let me be blunt. No body can spoon feed us divine instruction in righteousness, we must acquire these insights from our personal relationship with Jesus. True discipleship is weighted in the light of our instruction in righteousness.

Fear of Man

John 5:30 I am able to do nothing from my self – independently, of my own accord; but as I am taught by God and as I get His orders. [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision.] Even as I hear, I judge and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will – I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose – but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me. (Amplified Bible)

There is another point we should consider when examining Step Four. Notice that Jesus did not even consult His own will, but His only desire was to do the will of His Father. The point I want to make is found in the following verses.

Gal 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (KJV)

1Thes 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. (KJV)

John 12:42-43 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: (43) For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (KJV)

The Apostle Paul clearly stated that as long as Christians are motivated by a deep human need to please men (human peers) they cannot even consider themselves Christ’s servants. The instruction in righteousness we receive from the Holy Spirit in Step Four will crucify this arena. Only when we arrive at the place were our hearts are dedicated to the gospel of Christ more than the pressure of our peers. Notice that God must try and prune the heart in order for our need of human acceptance to be crucified. In order to learn our righteous lessons we must love the Lord our God, with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Our heart is serving two masters to the degree we seek the praise and approval of humanity.

Image of Christ

Rom 8:29-30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (KJV)

2 Cor 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (KJV)

These two scriptural references clearly indicate that our predestined goal is to be conformed (changed) into the image of Jesus – from glory to glory. What is the image of Christ? I’m convinced that we make the image of Christ to abstract to understand or attain.

John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. (KJV)

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (KJV)

(Amplified Bible) I am able to do nothing from Myself – independently, of My own accord; but as I am taught by God and as I get His orders. [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision.] Even as I hear, I judge and my judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will – I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose – but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me.

Jesus presented to us in these verse the image of God that empowered Him. Jesus taught that this nature is established in the spiritual principle of Self-Weakness – God Strength.

2 Cor 12:9-10 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (KJV)

The Apostle Paul discovered this principle when he was tormented by his demonic thorn in the flesh. Paul learned that God’s grace is perfected in human weakness. The image of Christ is the metamorphosis of this perfecting process. We can conclude that to the degree we allow the image of Christ free expression we will manifest the personality of the Godhead. The New Testament teaches that one spiritual quality is necessary in order for us to experience the Godhead, therefore we can conclude that this characteristic is an essential part of God’s personality.

When the Holy Spirit is instructing us in righteousness, He is in the process of etching the image of Christ in our hearts. True discipleship is not learning an assortment of Christian doctrines, it is the process of being conformed to the image of Jesus. During the fruit-bearing process we will learn new doctrines concerning spiritual life and the person of Jesus Christ, but this learning process is only the by-product of the image of Christ being etched on our hearts.

John Mark – Step Four

2 Tim 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (KJV)

Look now at the John Mark we see in this simple request made by the Apostle Paul. John Mark is now profitable for Paul in the work of the ministry. This is the same John Mark that failed Paul and Barnabas and left them at Perga during their first missionary journey. This incident caused Paul to loose trust in John Mark to the point that eventually it resulted in the argumentative final separation of Paul and Barnabas. Now we see that John Mark is useful to Paul’s ministry. Evidently John Mark was pruned for ministry, and his faithfulness was nurtured by the Holy Spirit to complete his ministry call.

 

 

Pruned For Good Works

Lesson Five

The last three lessons defined the pruning cycle all Christians endure. Why do we endure this process? This last lesson will clarify this issue.

2 Tim 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (KJV)

Perfect Work

Perfect - artios (ar'-tee-os/739); from 737; fresh, i.e. (by implication) complete: KJV-- perfect.

artios- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) fitted

2) complete, perfect - having reference apparently to "special aptitude for given uses"

Perfect Artios (grk 739)]. Occurs only here in the New Testament. Not occurring in the Septuagint. The English Revised Version (1885): "complete;" but the idea is rather that of mutual, symmetrical adjustment of all that goes to make the man: harmonious combination of different qualities and powers. Compare [katartisis] (grk 2676) "perfecting," (2 Cor. 13:9): [katartismos] (grk 2677) "perfecting" (as accomplished), (Eph. 4:12): [katartisai] (grk 2675) "make perfect or bring into complete adjustment," (Heb. 13:21) (from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament)

Verse 17 presents to us the reason we are pruned by God. The Greek word "Artios" states the purpose of the four step fruit-bearing cycle. We are to be fitted, brought into complete adjustment, and in harmony with God’s will. Lets consider each of these points.

The four step pruning process is the perfecting process used by the Holy Spirit to equip us to do the work of the ministry. Let no mistake be made, the pruning process is not optional. We will be pruned by the Holy Spirit, the only thing we can do is yield to the process or resist it.

Equipped For Ministry

thoroughly furnished - exartizo (ex-ar-tid'-zo/1822); from 1537 and a derivative of 739; to finish out (time); figuratively, to equip fully (a teacher): KJV-- accomplish, thoroughly furnish.

exartizo- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

to complete, to finish a) to furnish perfectly b) to finish, to accomplish (as it were, to render the days complete)

Thoroughly furnished - Exeertismenos (grk 1822)]. The same root as [artios] (grk 739). It fills out the idea of [artios] (grk 739); fitted "out." Only here and (Acts 11:5) (note). Not occurring in Classical writers. (from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament)

We are equipped by God for ministry in order that we might teach a dying world about their need for God. Some might say that they are not called to be teachers, but this is not true. We all must be able to give an answer for our faith in Christ (1Pet 3:15). 2Timothy 2:24-26 also states that the servants of the Lord must be able to teach, instructing those who oppose themselves, and helping them to recover from the snare of the devil.

Eph 4:11-16 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (16) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (KJV)

It is so important we understand that the function and purpose of the five-fold ministry is to perfect the saints of God to do the work of the ministry. This point must be made very clearly. Every person has a ministry in the body of Christ, therefore we are accountable for our ministry to God. Every person is a gift from God to the body of Christ, and we must be His expression to an unsaved world.

We are pruned for ministry in order that we might come in the unity of faith and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and that the corporate body might grow into a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Jesus Christ.

The purpose and mission of the Holy Spirit has not changed since the foundation of the world. God will have a holy divine expression in Human creation. The point we must understand is that our blessing is found in a corporate expression of His church. We are pruned for ministry in order that we might function as a healthy joint in the body of Christ finding our place in the divine supply of the Lord.

1Thes 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. (KJV)

1 Cor 2:1-5 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. (2) For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. (4) And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: (5) That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (KJV)

Notice the conversion Paul endured in order to be trusted with the Gospel. Paul was pruned for ministry, and he also endured the four step fruit-bearing process. Paul understood that in order to put in trust with the holy gospel given to him, God tried his heart with the fire of divine revelation. He was open and naked before the Lord. During his trials he learned that being caught in the trap of being a "Man Pleaser" only frustrated his walk with God. Human speech and wisdom will fail the ministry of God, therefore Paul’s heart was exposed in the light of God through the pruning process and fruit-bearing cycle.

John Mark – Pruned For Ministry

Col 4:10 Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;) (KJV)

Phile 1:24 Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers. (KJV)

1 Pet 5:13 The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son. (KJV)

John Mark matured into a powerful and effective minister of the Gospel. The Bible and church history confirm the fact that John Mark reunited himself with Paul, and served in the ministry with him. The writings of Peter also reveal that John Mark served with him in Babylon. Church tradition also teaches that John Mark was at Ephesus when Paul wrote to Timothy during his second imprisonment, and urged him to bring John Mark to Rome in A.D. 66 Church tradition also teaches that John Mark was sent on a mission to Egypt by Peter, that he founded the church of Alexandria, of which he became bishop, and suffered as a martyr in the eighth year of Nero. Our beloved John Mark, the impetuous confident young preacher who failed on his first missionary adventure, eventually matured in the Spirit to become the author of the Gospel of Mark. We should have no doubt that John Mark was pruned for ministry.

Fruitful Grace

All that we have learned and discussed leads us to one conclusion. The fruit bearing cycle is not a one time experience, it is continually repeated throughout our walk with God. We must never loose sight of this fact, because a spiritual winter may be long, hard, and cold. When we are in the midst of a spiritual winter we have a hopeful promise from God that we will also enjoy the fruitfulness of a spiritual summer. During summer seasons of joyful fruitfulness, lets us soberly realize that we will also endure a winter season again. We determine the length of time we spend in each season by our response to the Holy Spirit.

Let us briefly look at the application of grace as it relates to our fruit bearing process.

grace - charis (khar'-ece/5485); from 5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): KJV-- acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).

charis- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) grace:

what affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech

2) good will, loving-kindness, favor;

used of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

3) what is due to grace

a) the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace

b) the token or proof of grace, benefit

1) a gift of grace

2) benefit, bounty

4) thanks, (for benefits, services, favors), a recompense, a reward

Take the time to ponder this Greek word, and see how it applies to our lives. Is God’s grace divine unmerited favor? Absolutely Yes! God’s grace is given to us freely through the redemption of Jesus Christ.

Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (KJV)

freely - dorean (do-reh-an'/1432); accusative case of 1431 as adverb; gratuitously (literally or figuratively): KJV-- without a cause, freely, for naught, in vain.

dorean- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

freely, undeservedly

This verse clearly establishes this fact. We do not deserve God’s grace but it is freely given through the redemption of Jesus. It is so important we don’t loose sight of this fact.

Rom 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (KJV)

Also notice that we have access by faith into this grace, and our relationship with this grace allows us to stand before God, and rejoice in the hop of His glory. Again, remember this point.

Rom 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV)

Righteousness is the fertile ground that allows grace to produce the fruit of eternal life in our lives. The Holy Spirit (God’s divine agent of grace) nurtures us through the fruit bearing cycle in order to provide more fertile building material of righteousness. When we allow righteousness free expression the end result is the fruit of eternal life.

Its so important we understand that the righteousness we manifest in our lives is the image and expression of Jesus. It is not our righteousness based on our religious dogma, it is the image and personality of Jesus being manifested in our lives (2 Cor 5:21-6:1).

Rom 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (KJV)

Should we think that religious work and performance is the essence of grace then we have missed the true purpose and meaning of God’s divine unmerited favor. Should we think that adherence to our personal or denomination legalistic religious code convinces God to love us with greater love and acceptance than we ignorantly do not understand grace.

God’s love for us is not predicated on our personal spiritual performance. His love is poured out to us through the eternal power of grace. Should we think that adherence to our personal dogma of holiness gives us preferential love and consideration by God then, again, we do not understand the total love and mercy of grace.

Many people are frustrated with their concept of God’s love, because they believe His love is predicated on personal performance, or the lack there of. We believe God rejects us because of our failures, but this is not the case. God knows we are flesh and subject to failure (Psa 78:39). God’s grace is not given to us through our spiritual performance, it is bestowed on us through the redemption of Jesus Christ.

Rom 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; (KJV)

2 Cor 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; (KJV)

Notice in this verse that grace has the authority to place spiritual gifts into the body of Christ. At this point we see that grace functions in the capacity of the Holy Spirit. Is it possible that grace is the Holy Spirit?

Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (KJV)

Gal 5:4-5 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (5) For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (KJV)

The Apostle Paul realized that is was possible to frustrate the working of grace. We would think that we frustrate the working of grace by our human frailty and our carnal sinfulness. I don’t think these actions frustrate the working of grace, but they might frustrate our walk with Christ (only to the degree we don’t repent). The context of this verse indicates that we frustrate the working of grace by our legalistic religious dogma. We frustrate grace when we see ourselves justified before God by our adherence to our dogmatic concept of holiness (taste not, touch not, see not, hear not). We also frustrate grace when we fail to engage in relationship with God due to our failure to adhere to our legalism. No flesh is justified before God through adherence to religious legalism. It did not work for the Pharisees nor will it work for us.

Eph 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (KJV)

Eph 2:5-7 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (KJV)

These verses reaffirm the concept that grace is imparted to us through the blood of Jesus. Our sins are forgiven now. Our forgiveness is not a future event conditioned on our adherence to moral legalism. Our forgiveness has occurred when we accepted the redemption of Jesus.

Why are these concepts concerning grace important to our study? The fruit bearing process will challenge our personal concept of Jesus Christ and the grace He imparted. Should we perceive that our acceptance to God is conditioned by our conformity to our personal legalistic code, then we frustrate grace and the nurturing cycle. Faith is the key that releases the power and influence of grace; not faith in our own personal worth, performance, initiative, and abilities, but faith in the person of Jesus Christ. Even a low self esteem based on the absence of personal performance moves the hand of God. This type of low self esteem only indicates a hidden legalism that frustrates the person. Their frustration is caused by their failed conformity to their personal concept of holiness, this is an action of faith in law not grace.

The goal of the fruit bearing cycle is to reproduce the image of Jesus in our hearts and minds. This can only occur when we come to the end of our personal legalistic concept of holiness, and we trust totally in who Jesus is and His completed work. We nurture the fruit bearing process when we rest in our faith and trust Jesus for our redemption. The Apostle Paul understood this principle when he instructed Timothy of the process that God would utilize to prove him for ministry.

There is a close correlation between Paul’s utterance to Timothy and the instruction of Jesus presented in John chapter fifteen. Let conclude these lessons by making this correlation.

Vine Correlated

John 15:1-11 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. (2) 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. (3) Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. (4) 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. (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. (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. (7) If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (8) Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (9) As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. (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. (11) These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

2 Tim 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (KJV)

John 15

2Timothy 3:16-17

Thoughts

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you

for doctrine

Through the word of Christ we learn truth and doctrine

As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me I am the vine, ye are the …. for without me ye can do nothing

for reproof

Without Jesus we can do nothing

every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit

for correction

The correction of the Lord is the pruning process

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you

for instruction in righteousness

We are instructed in righteousness when we allow the word of Jesus to abide in us.