FRUITFUL IN EVERY GOOD WORK
‘… trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord…’ (Is. 61.3)
When we see a branch laden with fruit, running over a wall, we know instinctively that it is united to a good tree, even though the tree be out of sight. And when we meet with a person who is in love with the Lord Jesus Christ, whose joy is in God, and who is filled with the fruits of righteousness, we know instinctively that he has not only been with Jesus, but that he abides in Him even as the branch abides in the vine. Here is a tree of the Lord’s planting.
All trees of the Lord’s planting are in fact transplanted. They have been lifted out of the miry clay, the dark, suffocating atmosphere of this present evil world, the soul-destroying realm of the devil, and planted anew in the garden of the Lord. This is His own vineyard of which He says, ‘I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.’ (Is. 17.3). The Lord Jesus says, ‘I am the true vine, my father is the husbandman (vinedresser), ye are the branches’ (Jn 15.1-11). Such trees or branches are cared for and cultivated by the all-wise and understanding Husbandman. They are rooted and grounded in the Saviour’s love and grow up into Him in all things, moment by moment copiously watered by the Holy Spirit. These are bound to bring forth fruit in due season to the praise of Him who has transplanted them out of the realm of Satan into the kingdom of God’s dear son. God’s word in Ezekiel 34 is presented in the form of a parable, the last verse translating the parable into spiritual truth:
Â•And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.’ The same principle applies here: the trees or branches are men, the husbandman and the true vine their God and Saviour.
In the natural realm transplanted trees know nothing of the experience. Men, however, are moral agents with an awareness of God. Their human environment is this present evil world, and they are disobedient to God because of the ignorance of sin that is in them: their understanding is darkened and they prefer darkness to light because their deeds are evil. Trees of the Lord’s planting, however, are very mindful of the hole from which they were digged (Is. 51.1); they remember the time when they were slaves of sin and the devil, children of disobedience even as others. They remember the terrors of the law by which they were convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit and the word of God; they remember how unutterably weary they became in their vain attempts to keep the law of ordinances. They will never forget their Saviour saying, ‘Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ and, coming to Him they found it to be even as He said, and by the
hearing of faith they learned of Him wondrous things. Christ Himself had obeyed the law for them; He had put away their sins by the sacrifice of Himself, bearing their sins in His own body to the cross of Calvary that they, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness. Planted together with Christ in the likeness of His death, they grow together with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. Freed from the bondage of the law, their first husband, they were married to Christ that by this sacred union they might bring forth fruit unto God. ‘From me’ says God, ‘is thy fruit found’ (Hos. 14.8). So the Saviour says: ‘Abide in me and I in you.. . He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit. Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit! (Jn. 15.4,5).
‘Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me’. Praise to God is often spontaneous. And who cannot but praise Him when he contrasts the pit whence he was digged with the altogether lovely place into which he has been transplanted. A suitable atmosphere in the Spirit’s gracious ministry, lush soil in the Saviour’s love, the Christian ‘tree’ is rooted and grounded in Christ, growing up into Him in all things, daily more conformed to His image in answer to prayer according to His will.
O Jesus Christ, grow Thou in me
And all things else recede;
My heart be daily nearer Thee
From sin be daily freed.
Under such conditions there is bound to be fruit. He who abides in the True Vine is a fruitful bough by a well, that runneth over a wall (Gen. 49.22). And it is by their fruit that they are known, known to be in union with the Lord Jesus; known to be in love with Him who loved them and gave Himself for them; known to joy in God through the Lord Jesus; known to have peace with God through the blood of Christ’s cross; known to be clothed in the righteousness of God, and to rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And all because they have discovered that His abounding grace enables them to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.
P. W. Scarland