All Posts Tagged: the church
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener.
Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes,
and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.
A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem;
and all the believers except the apostles were scattered
through the regions of Judea and Samaria.
Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church.
He went from house to house,
dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.
My undergraduate work was in biology. Then I pursued biochemistry at Michigan State University. With this scientific background I’m captivated by Jesus’ words because he knew fundamental, biological facts. Of course, this ought not surprise us.“ Everything came into existence through him. (John 1:1-3) “Everything was made through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16) E. Stanley Jones commented on these citations: “Everything is made to work in its inner structure in Christ’s way.” (The Word, p. 59)
Traverse City, Michigan Is surrounded by vineyards. Stop and inquire! Each owner will tell you the same thing: pruning is indispensable for productivity and profitability. With this as background we’re now prepared to closely examine pruning.
Our main text is amazing. By themselves branches are wild; that is, whereas they will grow and produce, biologically considered, they will not maximally multiply without human help. So, Father, the gardener, ” prunes every branch that produces fruit.” Note two facts: 1) Father prunes only branches that are in fact producing fruit and 2) the purpose of pruning is to enable each branch to produce MORE fruit.
The Greek word for pruning is καθαρος, the action of removing useless sprouts on a branch. Though the biological principles of pruning are well defined, the amplification of such would be too great a detour. So, I’ll just resort to pictures before and after pruning. The contrast is glaring! The pruned vine appears to be completely decimated.
Acts 8 indicates but one picture of pruning. Violent persecution broke out against the church. Not exactly a “Happy Meal” at McDonalds! However, just as Jesus indicated, the followers were forced to move out from Jerusalem! “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) What happened as a result? “Then, walking in the fear of the Lord, the churches throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria were multiplied.” (Acts 9:31) Here’s a map showing the growth of the church in the Roman Empire by the 3rd century Remember! The purpose of pruning is increased multiplication!
Here’s the final question: what exactly does Father use as His pruning shears? “We know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.” (Romans 8:28) Inclusive of anything and anybody, Father’s plan “fits into a pattern for good” for those connected to Jesus. The newborn church was driven of out of Jerusalem by severe persecution. This apparent negative happening Father used to multiply the building project, the church, of His Son.
You are together the body of Christ, and individually you are members of Him.
1 Corinthians 12:27
The story line of the The Ten Commandments is from the Bible. God miraculously delivered the Jews from 400 years of bondage for one reason: “They’ll realize that I … brought them out of Egypt so that I could live with them” (Exodus 29:46). After liberation the Jews are immediately instructed to build a transportable tent: “The people must make a Tent for Me, so that I may live among them.” (Exodus 25:8) When construction was complete, God moved in: “The Glorious Presence of God filled The Dwelling.” (Exodus 40:34) Then God said: “The twelve tribes of Israel are to set up camp around My Tent.” (Number 2:1)
Imagine a wagon wheel. There are twelve spokes imbedded in a central hub. The rim unifies the spokes in the hub. The twelve disciples (spokes) were connected to Jesus (hub). The Holy Spirit (outer rim) brought unity by keeping the dissimilar members in alignment. Note: there are no Lone Ranger followers of Jesus! If Peter wanted to follow Jesus, he had to relate to eleven other followers: “You are together the body of Christ, and individually are members of Him.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)
What was vaguely illustrated in Exodus was fulfilled in Jesus: “The infinite Life of God took shape before us.” (1 John 1:2) and “fixed His tent of flesh among us; and we saw His glory.” (John 1:14) That’s why Jesus was called “Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23) After Jesus “moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14) “He chose twelve disciples to be with Him” 24/7. (Mark 3:14
You’ve just been introduced to the CHURCH as designed by Jesus! It’s a Community of Life; liberated persons connected to and camped around Jesus 24/7.