Archive for October, 2012
There is much discussion right now about what evangelicals should do this presidential election. Some beloved brothers and sisters argue that the two party political system has provided two “evil” or at least undesirable choices. Therefore, they ask, why should one have to vote for the lesser of two evils. This is a principled stance.
Other beloved brothers and sisters argue that not to vote is to vote for the greater of two evils, or at the very least not to stand up for, for example, the rights of the unborn.
In light of the fact that we evangelical are sometimes gullible and may be tempted to listen to fringe voices, I thought I would simply list a few links from more thoughtful persons representing the various positions.
Albert Mohler, others – panel: The Mormon Moment? Religious Convictions and the 2012 Election
John Piper – I Am Going to Vote
Is it possible to be connected to Jesus (i.e., church member, baptized, etc.) and still not be a Christian? The Scriptures indicate the answer is yes; the primary example is Judas Iscariot (John 6:70-71; 13:21-30; 17:12). In John 15, Jesus reminds us that the Father planted the true vine and cares for the branches so that they would glorify Him by bearing fruit (15:1-2). In the Old Testament, we are reminded that God had planted Israel as the vine that would produce fruit; however, they produced sour grapes instead, so God declared that He would no longer prune them and protect them (Isaiah 5:1-7; Ezekiel 19:10-14). Now Jesus, not Israel, is the true vine. Jesus is the true Israel, the true vine that produces fruit (15:1-2). John’s fulfillment theology shows how Jesus fulfills the old age: Jesus turns the old purification waters into new wine (2:1-12); Jesus calls for the tearing down of the old temple and claims that He is the new temple (2:13-21); Jesus claims that the old worship tied to a time and place will be no more because new worship is not about time and place but about Him (4:19-41). So, Jesus is the true, fruitful vine that replaces the old, fruitless vine (15:1), and those who are His will bear fruit. Fruitfulness is an undeniable mark of a genuine follower of Jesus.
So, if Jesus produces fruit through His branches (i.e., disciples), and genuine branches bear fruit, thus showing to be true disciples, then what kinds of fruit glorify the Father (15:8)? John reminds us of the fruits of obedience (15:10), peace (14:27), love (15:12), witness (15:26-27). We also find in Scripture that followers of Christ should bear the fruit of repentance (Matthew 3:7-10); the fruit of Light which is found in all that is good and right and true (Ephesians 5:7-12); the fruit of lips which is a sacrifice of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15); and of course, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).
However, the important question is how does one bear such fruit (15:3-7)? The way in which one answers this question betrays the difference between religion and Christianity, for religion too proposes that its proponents bear such or similar fruit. However, whereas religion suggests that the individual is responsible for bearing such fruit in his or her own power, the gospel reminds us that we are incapable. The only fruit we can produce in our own power would be rotten. The gospel, on the other hand, reminds us that fruitfulness flows from a continuous, intimate and dependent relationship with Christ, which is initiated by God. Jesus initiates relationship to Him by His cleansing word (15:3). He is the one who has come to reveal the true nature and glory of the Father (John 1:1-18); the Spirit is the one who removes the heart of stone and gives a new heart that beats for God in the new, heavenly birth (John 3:1-8; see Ezekiel 36:22ff); and the only appropriate response is to believe in Jesus, whom the Father has sent (John 3:9-15), and to keep believing.
Genuine believers remain in continuous relationship with Jesus. If we are to bear fruit, we must remain/abide in Christ; apart from Him we can do nothing – no fruit (15:4-6). As the true vine, Jesus is the only source of life (14:6; 15:3) and thus, of fruit bearing (15:4-5). Those who do not remain in Christ do not bear fruit and will be cut off (15:6; Ezekiel 15:1-8; 19).
Genuine believers remain in an intimate relationship with Christ. In other words, true believers remain in Jesus’ words – His teaching (truth) is the life-blood that flows through our veins (15:3, 7). True believers also remain in Jesus’ love (15:9-10; cf. 13:34-35; 14:23), which is most clearly displayed in His death on the cross in our place (15:13). We are to love one another as Jesus has loved us (1 John 3:11-18; 4:16-21; Romans 12:9-21).
Finally, genuine believers remain in a dependent relationship with Christ. We must depend upon Christ and look to Christ and cry out to the Father in the name of Christ that He would bear such fruit through us (15:7). We are to pray for such fruit that glorifies the Father (notice how Paul prays in Colossians 1:3-14).
Do you have a continuous, intimate and dependent relationship with Jesus? Examine yourself and see if you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Look to Christ and keep trusting in Christ. Everything Jesus has said and done is for God’s glory (John 17:1-5) and our joy (John 15:11). There is great joy in abiding in Christ!
John Piper, Ed Welch, Kevin DeYoung, Jarvis Williams, Russell Moore
Forgotten Factors in Sanctification
- David Mathis, “Mission and Disciplemaking “
- Kevin DeYoung, “Bread and Wine“
- R W Glenn, “Work and Rest“
- Fernando Ortega, “Corporate Worship“
Sanctification in the Seasons of Life (audio only)
- Elyse Fitzpatrick, “Grand-Parenting “
- Carolyn McCulley, “Singleness“
- Sally Lloyd-Jones, “The Child, The Parent, and The Story” (forthcoming)
Also download the list of songs from each worship session.