FRUITFUL IN EVERY GOOD WORK (4)
The people of God are fruitful in every good work, only because they are the children of God by the new birth. A creation relationship is never spoken of as being “born of God.” Nicodemus enjoyed a creation relationship, but was informed by the Lord Jesus Christ that he must be “born again” both to see, and to enter the kingdom of heaven.
In loving condescension the Lord, by speaking of earthly things, instructs us in matters of spiritual truth. So, to teach us the happy
relationship that now exists between God and His people, and the sufferings involved in their being born the children of God, He speaks of physical birth, natural children, and family life. In John 16.21 He refers to the pain and anguish of childbirth, and of the overwhelming joy that follows. Psalm 127 speaks of children being the “fruit of the womb”, and of the happiness experienced in a large family. One of the blessings of God-fearing parents is that of happy children “like olive plants round about thy table” (Ps. 128.3). Parental fruitfulness is manifested in their children by the joy and happiness they radiate simply by being children. “A wise son maketh a glad father” (Prov. 10.1). Not all the children born of the flesh are wise, and not all make glad fathers, but all the children born of God rejoice His heart because it is from Him that their fruit is found. “The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy” (Ps. 147.11).
It was at the time of our Saviour’s approaching sacrifice at Calvary, that He said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (Jn. 12.24). He also speaks of a woman being in travail, having sorrow because her hour is come, but afterwards of her joy (Jn. 16.21). Speaking of Himself, the Lord says, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” His hour was come, but He does not desire to be delivered from it, only that God, His Father, should be glorified by His obedience unto death, so fulfilling the law and thereby “bringing many sons to glory”. Oh, how mindful the Lord Jesus must have been of Isaiah’s prophecy: “When his soul shall make an offering for sin, he shall see his seed” (Is. 53.10, margin);
and, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied” (v.ll). For “the joy that was set before him”, the joy of finishing the work the Father gave Him to do, for this joy “He endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12.2).
The blessing pronounced upon Rebekah, “Be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them” (Gen. 24.60), was fulfilled by our Saviour’s obedience unto the death of the cross. The corn of wheat, by falling into the ground to die, produced much fruit, a multitude that no man can number, a nation, a holy nation was born in a day. “I, and the children thou hast given me”, will be powerfully expressed when Christ presents them faultless before the presence of God’s glory with exceeding joy.
It is only those who are children of God by the new birth who are fruitful in every good work. Before, they were children of wrath even as others, because every imagination of the thoughts of the heart was only evil continually. But now, we are told. God rejoices
over His people with singing, and only because they are His dear children by faith in His dear Son. “A wise son maketh a glad father”; the Lord Jesus is such a son. It is from Christ our fruit is found. All the promises of God in Him are yea and amen; exceeding great and precious promises whereby His people are made partakers of the Divine nature (2 Pet. 1.4). It is not of the Divine essence, nor of His incommunicable attributes, as God’s self-sufficiency, or His omniscience, but in a limited way made partakers of His communicable attributes, such as His love, His joy, and His peace. These are communicated by the Holy Spirit, and so spoken of as the fruit of the Spirit. Thus God’s love “is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us” (Rom. 5.5). “Beloved, let us love, for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God”. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4.7, 19). In like manner joy is imparted to God’s children: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full”. So, “we joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received reconciliation” (Rom. 5.11 margin). Likewise is Divine peace given to God’s children: “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace” (Jn. 16.33). “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you …. let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14.27). There is peace through the blood of His cross; peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
From God, in Christ, is all our fruit found; what have we that we have not received as the root cause of our own humility? The apostle Paul bows the knee unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 3.14). God has a large family, and He provides a good table. The household of God is a happy one, and each member thereof “as olive plants around His table”, growing in grace and knowledge, and made fruitful in every good work.
P. W. Scarland