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Monday, May 25, 2015

The True Vine & the Branches

The Gospel of Salvation: Part 1

The story of Adam and Eve is a basic Bible story and is probably known by most everyone.  The simplistic plot is Eve was deceived by a Nachash (a glowing, winged, serpent-type entity) and convinced to disobey the command of God then afterward Adam followed suit.  According to Paul, this disobedient act instituted the “law of sin and death.”  Sin and corruption entered Creation and the human race and everyone inherited this propensity.  See The Nachash in the Garden of Eden for more information.

For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.  (Romans 8:2 NET)

After some investigation, I discovered there is not an actual written law of sin and death.  It is a Biblical principle validated in many places throughout Scripture as described in Wuest’s Word Studies.

Kenneth Wuest:  The law here is not a written law but a regulative principle which exercises a control over the life of the believer. This regulative control over his life is exercised by the Holy Spirit. This control is in the form of the energy given the believer both to desire and to do God’s will, this energy coming from the life that God is, which in the believer is given him by reason of his position in Christ Jesus.

The Ransom
Jesus gave His life as a ransom.  Through the ransom, the Son of God paid the price of sin resulting in death owed by all and set people free from the law of sin and death, but there is a catch – we must confess our sins, repent, and follow Jesus into the Kingdom.  One must desire to be set free and become a willing subject of the King (or a citizen of the Kingdom).  It is not an automatic endeavor.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."  (Mark 10:45 NET)

For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God's purpose at his appointed time.  (1 Timothy 2:5-6 NET)

The sacrifice of the Lamb of God not only cleared one’s debt ledger but it also cleanses us from all confessed and repented sin.

But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:7-9 NET)

The Kingdom
The Gospel According to Jesus: Unwrapping Centuries of Confusion by Marc Carrier  Yet today, the gospel that is preached concerns only Jesus’ substitutionary death for our sins—rarely about His Kingdom. As a result, many evangelicals don’t even know what the Kingdom of God is.

Contrary to popular opinion, salvation is not achieved by believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, even demons know that fact.  That fact is important, but it is not the Gospel of salvation.

You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that — and tremble with fear.  (James 2:19 NET)

It is also not by merely asking Jesus into one’s heart during an altar call and then go home to watch TV and drink a 12-pack.  The salvation Gospel is to repent and follow the commandments of Jesus Christ (the will of the Father).  In other words, become a citizen or subject of the Kingdom of God.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of heaven — only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.  (Matthew 7:21 NET)

The first message of John the Baptist was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 3:2).  The Gospel of Jesus was and is the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, depending on the Gospel writer.  In the KJV, the Kingdom of God is stated 79 times and the Kingdom of Heaven has 33 instances, mostly in the Gospel of Matthew.  The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is very important as the ultimate sacrifice for sin and for the atonement of human beings to satisfy God’s requirement for justice, but to qualify for salvation, one must follow the life of Jesus and enter into the Kingdom of God.

ATONEMENT:  1. Amends or reparation made for an injury or wrong; expiation.  2. An individual's reconciliation with God by means of repentance and confession of one's transgressions. 3. The reconciliation of God and humans brought about by the redemptive life and death of Jesus.

God has provided a way for humankind to come back into harmonious relation with him,

The purpose of the atonement is this: to restore our hearts back to God in true repentance, turning away from sin and towards holiness and righteousness. Our salvation is as sure as our changed heart.

Is the Kingdom of God (or Heaven) something that will occur at the return of Jesus as some claim and preach?  Is it not present today?  If it is present, is it only a spiritual kingdom?  The Kingdom of God has a king and he sits in heaven at the right hand of God the Father.  The king is always present to the citizen through the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit.  It is generally understood the king will be physically present on earth during the Millennium.  Would it matter if He were present today?  To some, yes, to many others, probably not.  At the end of the Millennium, Satan is released for a short period and he deceives the nations for a battle against God.  The number of the warriors is listed as the grains of the sand in the sea (a large amount).

Revelation 20:7-9 NET  Now when the thousand years are finished, Satan will be released from his prison  (8)  and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to bring them together for the battle. They are as numerous as the grains of sand in the sea.  (9)  They went up on the broad plain of the earth and encircled the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and devoured them completely.

Many people will not honor the Kingdom of God even if the King is present.

The True Vine

John 15:1-5 NET  "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.  (2)  He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit.  (3)  You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you.  (4)  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.  (5)  "I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me — and I in him — bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.

Jesus is the true vine and God the Father is the gardener.  The Father removes (takes away) all non-fruit bearing branches.  The branches that remain are pruned (literally means cleansed) so they will produce even more fruit.  The pruning maximizes fruit bearing, exposes counterfeits, and maintains the citizen’s dependence on God.  The branch must remain in the vine (Jesus and the Kingdom) to bear fruit.  Those apart from Jesus and the Kingdom can accomplish nothing.  Remain (follow) Jesus and He will remain in you (salvation).  True salvation is both an initial and a continuous response. This theological truth is often ignored in our enthusiasm for personal assurance of salvation.  Fruit bearing (and salvation) requires always being a part of the Lord.

Those claiming to be Christian but do not follow the commandments of Jesus as a member of the Kingdom of God will be thrown out and become a piece of dry wood.  At the return of the Messiah, those dried branches will be gathered and burned (thrown into the fire), a parallel to the parable of the wheat and tares. 

If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up.  (John 15:6 NET)

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
(Matthew 7:19 NET)

The Gospel According to Jesus: Unwrapping Centuries of Confusion by Marc Carrier.  Our invitation to the Vine comes by grace through faith, in repentance and baptism. We remain on the Vine by abiding in Christ. Abiding in Christ is maintaining our obedient love relationship with Him (see John 15:10 below and John 14:15 and 21). There can be some level of obedience without love, but there is no love without obedience. And without such fruit, the branches will be cut off and thrown into the fire

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