Literal or Metaphor (Lordship or no Lordship)

Joh 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Joh 15:2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
Joh 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
Joh 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
Joh 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Joh 15:6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
Joh 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Joh 15:8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
Joh 15:9 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
Joh 15:10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
Joh 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
Joh 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
Joh 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
Joh 15:14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you.

I sat and watched this given as a presentation  for a children’s talk about 8 months ago. As Christians we are  told if we abide in Christ he will abide in us. Abide has various meanings which refer  to enduring in, remaining in, resting in and  to dwell in. All of these definitions are appropriate descriptions of how we should see our relationship with Christ, and also say something significant  about what our attitude be in regards  to our commitment to Jesus Christ.

My heading poses  the question is  Jesus speaking literally or metaphorically? I don’t presume children can’t make  the connection between  the illustration used here and how it relates to what Christ is trying  to say. However as I pointed out in my first blog some  Christians  think  the bible doesn’t use allegory or metaphor and should  be interpreted literally. Obviously Jesus isn’t literally a grapevine of a tree and we aren’t literally branches and pieces of fruit.

The intent is clear from what is said   that Jesus is likening our relationship with Him  to a tree or a vine in which he is the root or cause and we are the result and extension of His work.. We don’t exist in a vacuum, Christ is  the first cause or object from which all  things result. Likewise our faith (belief) doesn’t exist in a vacuum either. Our faith is an extension of what Christ has done  for us.

There is a movement within the church  that has been growing  for some time that says all  that is required  for salvation is a child like belief. In other words faith in Christ is a simple child like belief that assures  one of eternal life. They argue  that nothing more is required because we can’t earn  our salvation and even our fruit is not evidence of faith. To put it another way, our works can’t save us, our works cannot merit favor or helps us accumulate brownie points that will outweigh all  the bad   things we have  done in life  so  we will get in to heaven; so purely and simply all we need  to  do is ask Jesus into our life and confess him and we will be saved. So  the opposing views here are Lordship verses no Lordship salvation.

No Lordship salvation advocates argue what I have just stated above. They argue that repentance is not required  for salvation, that no change is required  on the part of the believer all  they simply need   to  do is believe and  they have eternal life. They accuse Lordship salvation advocates of teaching a works salvation or  to put it another way, Lordship advocates are encouraging believers  to pull themselves up  to heaven by their boot straps or that  they teaching salvation by merit or works. No Lordship advocates argue that when teachers  such as Paul Washer, John F. MacArthur  and James R. White talk about deep commitment that requires change on the believers behalf,  that it may cause  some  to fall away especially newborn Christians. No Lordship advocates criticize  the above   for telling people  that their behavior has  to change, that maybe  they  should not be listening  to  rock music or wearing  the style of clothes  they wear.

Oddly enough I have been present when some of  those self same No Lordship advocates have jumped up and down in the pulpit damning rock music, demon drink and clothes styles while they wear their three piece suits and ties and say how evil  the world is! Where is  the consistency? If all we need  to  do  to receive salvation is repeat a prayer or respond  to  an invitation  to receive Christ as our savior but  not Lord why bother with Church or the call   to be Holy? If what No Lord advocates say is  true then discipleship and fellowship are meaningless and redundant. In fact why bother reading   the bible at all? All  that is required is a simple prayer and it will all be okay nothing else  is really required.

So what does the passage above mean? From a No Lordship perspective (which is where I heard this illustration used) it doesn’t mean squat unless   they are saying that it doesn’t really matter if  you grow in Christ. Abiding in Christ means  you prayed are prayer and no matter what happens you’re okay. No that is  not  what  the passage is saying at all.

The branches of a vine or a tree  don’t just exist in isolation,  they don’t just appear  out of nowhere without being connected  to something. The fruit cannot exist or even survive without  the root system being connected. What happens  to fruit  that is taken off  the tree? It will eventually rot, it will die!

So what is Jesus not saying here? Works will not save  you. What is Jesus saying? He is saying  that our works are a result of faith in Him. Our fruit (works) is the result of faith. Jesus is the first cause and only cause of any work  that pleases  the Father because it is an extension of  our belief in Christ

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
Eph 2:9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Eph 2:11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands–
Eph 2:12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Nowhere in scripture does the bible say that salvation is based on merit in any way or form it says the exact opposite!

Rom 3:19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;
Rom 3:20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
Rom 3:22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
Rom 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
Rom 3:26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Rom 3:27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.
Rom 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

The Problem  to me is that Zane Hodges and other No Lordship advocates simply can’t deal with context. When  you provide a wider periscope   through which scripture  should be interpreted  it doesn’t always  line up  with what  you want it  to say. The bible is God’s revelation,  the bible is God telling us  what is required of us. It’s not us telling God what conditions we  will meet Him on, there is no negotiating what  the truth is where God is concerned.  Look at the example of Abraham where the Lord God made a covenant with him.Please note how  I stated this!

Abraham did not make a covenant with God. God made a covenant with Abraham . Abraham was put into a deep sleep and only  the Lord passed through  the pieces that were set down  for sacrifice. The Lord made  an agreement by himself, Abram believed and it was credited  to him as righteousness (see Genesis 15 ). Abram was  the recipient of the promise not a partner. In the same  way God initiates salvation towards us, There isn’t  much in the way of support   that man seeks after God. But  I digress!

My point is that abiding in Christ is an act of God, our works are an act of God, our salvation is an act of God, none of this  is an act of the will of man.

Some of  those  that I have formally  discussed   this  with  nod their heads in agreement and say of course its all the work of God amen brother! What they don’t see is  the logical fallacy or inconsistency of their own position. They agree  right up  to the point where I say if someone truly belongs  to Christ  they will bear fruit. their  will be good works  as evidence they are true followers of Christ. Then their eyes glaze over and  they  go into mantra mode where the brain no longer connects with their mouth,  they start quoting  all   the scriptures  that support  their argument and validate  their position.

Regardless of how  much evidence  they bring  to the fore the premise from which  they defend  their position is  false. Their premise isn’t even  biblical, its philosophical and even worse its humanists. Why can’t they make the connection based on the evidence?

To any of  you guys I have had this  discussion  with, (or versions  thereof) All I can say is  that some of  you need  to grow  a spine and stop seeking the approval of men or popularity etc. You claim  that  you are are not but  you simply can’t defend or wont defend   your position intelligently. What was  the implication of my last blog? Take a  tiny snippet of what  has been said  and make it say  something it didn’t and add a bold introduction and  you have character assassination. Don’t come  to me and act  like a friend or say  you are concerned  for my spiritual welfare when you act this way . You are doing exactly  what  the Jews  did   to  Christ before they crucified Him. Why would I fellowship in a place  that has moved   so far from where it began?

You started out well I heard  the preaching of repentance unto salvation. Not now! Where  do  you  go once  you sell out?

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